Fun Family Devotional on Gratitude

Having a grateful heart and thanking God regularly for His many blessings can help your kids be more appreciative and generous. It doesn’t come naturally to many children – especially as they grow older. How can you encourage them to be more aware of their blessings and that they all come from God? This fun family devotional is a good starting point.

Grab a Bible, some plain paper and art supplies like markers, crayons or even paints. Before starting, you may want to draw a large heart on a sheet of paper for each of your younger children. (You can have older children draw their own hearts on their paper before doing the activity.)

Read the story of the Ten Lepers found in Luke 17:11-19. Focus especially on the gratitude of the last leper who returned to thank Jesus. Ask your kids why they think one leper came back to thank Jesus. Have them share why they think the others did not return to thank Jesus.

Remind your children that God expects us to be grateful for everything He has given us. Ask them why our gratitude or thankfulness is important to God. (You may have to ask them to think about how they would feel if they gave someone a very special present and the person opened their gift, shrugged and walked away.)

Give your kids the sheets of paper with the hearts drawn on them. Explain to them that God gives us many gifts because He loves us. Tell them you want them to illustrate as many things on their drawings as they can of things for which they should thank God. Encourage them to put personal things, as well as things everyone would have in common.

Once your kids have completed their artwork, have them share what they drew. Encourage them to add new items to their drawings if they wish. Ask your children to think of ways they can thank God for His gifts. (Make sure taking good care of them – stewardship – is mentioned as part of the discussion.) Encourage them to use their drawings this week as they pray, to help them remember to thank God for the many blessings He has given them.

100 Ways to Love Your Spouse

In a perfect world, all children would be growing up in homes with parents who have a strong Christian marriage. Unfortunately, even children whose parents have never divorced often see less than the best examples of ways to reflect God’s love to a spouse.

It’s not because we don’t love our spouses (at least most of us) or that we don’t want to show them we love them. It’s just that life with a house full of children is hectic and complicated. There is rarely enough time or energy to take a few extra minutes to make your spouse feel truly loved. Or is it easier than we realize?

Two new books, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife and 100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa and Matt Jacobson attempt to give busy spouses the help they need in showing active love to each other.

The authors have made the books extremely easy to read. Each page has a suggestion and usually only a short explanation for the suggestion. Every few pages, there is a short story that illustrates a particular suggestion in more depth.

I can’t speak for the suggestions on how to love your husband, but I would say the book of suggestions of ways to love your wife covers just about everything I have heard women say they wish their husbands would do.

I would imagine a couple of suggestions won’t really be your preference and that those will differ from woman to woman. It would be easy enough to cross out those suggestions and have your husband do the same for you in the book about how to love your husband.

The suggestions themselves are straightforward. Building a great marriage isn’t rocket science. It’s a matter of being intentional and consistent in all of those little things that can impact a marriage – especially when compounded over the course of years and hopefully decades.

I would highly suggest giving these books to newly married couples as well as to those who have been married for decades. Most of us could use a few reminders to do those things that make our spouses feel loved and our marriages healthier.

These books were given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. Affiliate links are included for your convenience.

How to Stop Everyone From Nagging You (A Special Post for Kids, Spouses and the Occasional Parent!)

Note: Tired of having to constantly remind others to do what they should be doing? Share the somewhat silly post below, then have a family discussion about the suggestions in the article. Why is having to be constantly reminded to do something, a possible sign of a “heart” problem? What needs to change in the ways you interact with one another?

Are you tired of everyone nagging you? Ever wonder why they don’t know you are already well aware of what they are constantly bothering you about? What if I told you there is a method you can use to eliminate almost all of the nagging people do that bothers you?

This method involves an exercise that will take a little work at first, mainly because you probably have several people bugging you about different things. It’s easy once you get the hang of it though, and will usually stop any future nagging as soon as you use it.

Step 1: Make a list of every person who nags you. Beside their name, list the things they are constantly bugging you about. This list needs to be very thorough or the method won’t work well.

Step 2: Accept that these things are very important to the person listed beside them. The reasons don’t really matter – you probably wouldn’t think they were all that great anyway. You just have to accept that the quirks that make them so lovable include an unreasonable expectation that you do these things consistently and in a manner they consider timely.

Step 3: Remind yourself of the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Is there a special possession you don’t want people to borrow without asking or perhaps even touch? Or something you are having to constantly remind others to do because it is important to you? Would you want them to respect your wishes, even if they thought you were being silly about it? Then you need to give the people that are nagging you the same respect about the things that are important to them.

Step 4: This step is crucial. Get up right now and do everything on that list. If it is something that needs to be done on a regular basis, do it immediately whenever the opportunity arises (like putting dirty clothes in the hamper).

That’s it! Repeat the exercise whenever you notice someone has begun nagging you. If you are really paying attention, you can complete the exercise before they even have a chance to nag you. That generally leaves them speechless for a time.

Remember, as unreasonable as others’ requests may seem, they are critically important to them. You will most likely never convince them those things are optional or unimportant. Your time is better spent completing the exercise, thereby giving yourself the peace you so richly deserve!

Raising Successful Teens

Many parents, especially Christian parents, worry about the teen years. They know those are the years when their kids will start making independent choices about their faith and their morality. The secret to relatively calm teen years is working with your children when they are very young.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t understand how much time and effort they need to put into Christian parenting. Often parents don’t realize they need to make some adjustments in their parenting until their teen begins making poor choices. The good news is that it’s never to late to do the things your kids need to build strong faith foundations and develop to their godly potential. It may be more difficult if you have waited until your kids are teens, but it’s not impossible.

The new book Raising Successful Teens by Jeffrey Dean is a great primer for parents who are still struggling a bit with Christian parenting. The book covers most of the basics including the roles of parents in the lives of teens, cell phone usage, communication and more.

I appreciated the editing of the book. Although the paper quality is not as good as many books, the editors took the time to add headlines to the various sections within a chapter. It makes it much easier for a busy parent to quickly skim to find the sections they need the most.

The advice itself is basic, but practical. There’s nothing particularly novel about the author’s suggestions, but that’s okay. Successful Christian parents understand it’s the basics that make most of the difference. Raising a child to become an active, productive Christian who bears fruit isn’t a mystery. Research is showing there are several specific concrete things those parents do that strengthens the faith foundations of their kids. This book covers quite a few of them.

If you are looking for a book to help your teen who has already made some life changing poor choices, this book may be a bit too basic to help. For average Christian parents – especially those who haven’t focused on the spiritual growth of their kids – this book will give you a lot of great suggestions for ways to “help your child honor God and live wisely.”

This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

Fun Activity to Help Your Kids See God

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV) Your kids need to be able to “see” God as one of the very basic parts of their faith foundation. The Bible tells us one of the best ways to see God is in His creation.

There’s a fun way to have a family Bible study time, enjoy God’s creation and teach your kids to see God in it. Grab your Bibles, a phone with camera capabilities or some of those disposable cameras or the newer “instant” cameras (similar to the old Polaroid cameras).

You can do this in your back yard, a local park or in a more dramatic National Park. Gather your family and review the story of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Share with them Psalm 19:1. Explain that although we can’t see God himself until we get to Heaven, God has created things to remind us of Him when we see them. Tell your children each of them may notice God in His creation in slightly different ways.

Give each child a camera. (If you want to do this in a low tech way, you can give them drawing paper and coloring pencils, crayons or markers.) Tell them you want them to capture the best images they can of things they see that make them think of God. Give them the time and encouragement to be truly creative and capture multiple images.

How you share the results of their efforts will depend upon the type of camera you chose. When you can see the photos, have your kids share why they chose those particular things as something that reminded them of God. Ask them to think of other things that remind them of God, but may not have been in the place you explored. You may want to also encourage them to say a quick prayer of thanksgiving and praise every time something reminds them of God. It’s a great way to teach your kids to see God for the rest of their lives.