Create a Fall to Remember!

Create a Fall to Remember!

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Each season brings it’s own cravings and fun activities.  It also brings many opportunities to do some soul searching, encourage each other and reach out to others!  You’ll love these ideas to use either in your own family or gift them to others. We’ve gathered a great list of activities, crafts, recipes, printables, decor and more for you to create a fall to remember!

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creating-a-fall-to-remember-pinterestSoul Food

Let’s start by feeding our soul with a little of God’s fall flavor. McKenzie’s way of digging into Scripture through Bible Journaling is inspiring and definitely brings a new perspective to God’s word.

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Sharing God’s love with others is a wonderful way to kick off the fall! Go on a Scavenger Hunt with friends, family or church group. Head out to your neighborhood or one that could use some tender loving care and love on the people there by doing different mini-service projects.

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As we look forward to the changes of fall and all the things that we can create, we can pray for the Lord to create a pure heart in us as well!

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Food

Kick the Morning off Right!

The first thing you reach for in the morning is coffee, right?  Well, that’s my husband. I prefer hot chocolate or a protein drink.  But as soon as I saw this deliciously, healthy version of a pumpkin spice coffee creamer I thought of him.

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These gluten-free apple cinnamon protein pancakes are so good you won’t even need to drown them in syrup!

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These Apple Harvest Muffins are perfect for mornings on the go.

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Fall Inspired Desserts

Ever since I was a child, desserts were what I enjoyed creating in the kitchen the most. As an adult, I still enjoy them but so enjoy finding recipes like this healthier apple crisp that chooses to not use refined white sugar, but instead adds an wonderful fall flavor by using maple syrup.

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These frosted maple cookies have me licking my lips.  I can’t believe I’ve never had these before.  Have you?

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It truly wouldn’t be fall unless homemade pumpkin pie is included!

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Fashion & Home Decor

I’m not one that enjoys shopping for clothes.  I do, however, enjoy shopping with friends who enjoy shopping and finding cute things for me to wear.  Now that I’ve moved into a warmer climate, I found this post about dressing for fall in a warmer climate to be helpful.

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Weclome guest with fall before they even enter your home with this adorable Hoop Fall Wreath.

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There are several fall themed signs for welcoming fall into your house.

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If you prefer to just add subtle hints that fall has arrived consider adding these 3 accessories

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Arts & Crafts

It would not be truly fall without crafts!  Craft fairs and festivals are some of my favorite places to visit in the fall.  I love seeing all the creativity and finding pieces that are draw in the season!

Engage all the senses with the most amazing apple cinnamon no cook playdough.

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This Autumn Hand Print Tree is such a cute way to capture our children’s hand prints and this could totally be made into a card to send off to the first person that pops to mind.

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Get the modge podge out and create a peppier fall look by mixing up the bright colors with your pumpkins!

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Get inspired by nature to create fun art like this digi-leaf art project!

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Activities

There are so many wonderful activities to do during the fall.  Visiting pumpkin patches is probably the first thing that pops to mind but don’t miss enjoying these other activities:

Visiting an apple orchard and picking your own apples!

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Interact with our feathered friends by creating an apple bird feeder for them!

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Fall & football go hand in hand.  Find budget friendly ways to decorate when you cheer on your favorite team.

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Explore nature with the fun fall scavenger hunt.

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Make art out of pressed leaves and flowers by making your own DIY Nature Press!

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Winding Down

There is something about fall that makes me want to gather with friends around my favorite drinks. Of course, Hot Chocolate will always be my favorite but since this is a fall round up post, I’ll share some others that are tempting me as well.

My Mother’s Quick and Delicious Apple Cider is one people always as about when they come over. It also makes a perfect gift for your neighbors!

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One of my favorite fall treats is a caramel covered apple and this Caramel Apple Cider recipe seems to be the drinkable version of that treat!

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And if you still need more ideas to dive into fall, check out these posts:

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50-ideas-best-fall-ever-1024x691

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What are some of your favorite fall activities?  

What is a new fall activity you are looking forward to enjoying? 

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Spiritual Bucket List Favorite Soups Confessions of a Homemaker Shine on Halloween

Praying Secret Agent Prayers

Praying Secret Agent Prayers

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

this-post-may-contain-affiliate-links-for-your-convenience-and-at-no-extra-cost-to-you-1
Playing Hide and Seek is one of the funnest games for kids. But what if we added a twist and created a game with prayers? A game where others get blessed, but don’t know by whom?  This is the Secret Agent Prayer Game!

Praying Like Secret Agents

To explain how to be a prayer secret agent, grab this month’s free Family Time Training Activity called Secret Agent Prayers.

It’s perfectly explains how there is a time and a place for everything and that includes prayer.

Sometimes, we pray publicly where others can hear and sometimes we pray secret agent style!

The Blessing of a Secret Agent Prayer

Knowing that someone has taken the time to pray specifically for you is one of the biggest blessings in life. But keeping that prayer anonymous can be difficult and a LOT of FUN!

First we start with praying about for whom we should pray?

God knows who needs extra blessings and prayers today. So let’s ask Him.

God, you know you needs extra prayers today. Who can I send a prayer to today?

Whomever comes to mind, write a prayer for them.

You can also write a prayer for someone you might see that day or someone who has blessed you!

Here are some ideas:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Other Family Members (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc)
  • Teachers
  • Neighbors
  • Workers from businesses you frequent
  • The person who is on the street corner
  • Missionaries

I had each of our four older kids whisper into my ear who they chose to pray for so that the others wouldn’t know.

Now, write out the secret agent prayers!

Writing out prayers is a wonderful gift both for the writer and the recipient.

Sometimes, asking a child to write out a prayer might make them freeze. If you need, prompt them with your own words or let them copy these words onto their own paper.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

It’s fantastic if your kids will write it in their own handwriting. It shows an extra level of care that one took the time to personally write the note. But if they can’t write yet, let them color and add their own flair to the written prayer.

This should be something fun and enjoyable, so if writing is a sore spot for kids, then find a way to allow them to personalize it. Maybe, clip out letters out of a magazine and allow them to glue the letters onto a page.

One of our kids, jumped up and down excitedly asking if s/he could include a picture drawing with the prayer. Whatever gets them excited to pray for someone else is great!  Let is be as simple or intricate as they are willing to create.

Most importantly, include who it is for BUT do not sign the prayer with your name!

Remember, it’s a secret agent prayer, so they will be blessed without knowing who did it.

Time to Deliver our Secret Agent Prayers

Now, it’s time to put on your secret agent hats and deliver the prayers. This might take some extra thought.

You want to deliver the prayer without the recipient knowing who it’s from. It’s ok if they find out but then it’s not a real secret agent prayer.

How to deliver your secret agent prayers?
  • Tape a secret agent prayer to a neighbors door or car window.
  • Send the prayer in the mail.
  • Slide it inside your friend’s locker at school.
  • Place it on your teacher’s desk.
  • Slip it into a book that the person is reading.
  • Write a prayer on the mirror so others will see it with the shower steam.
  • Hide it in a lunch box or a cereal box.

What other ways can they think of?

Interestingly enough, a couple of our kids chose to pray for people who we cannot deliver a letter to at the moment. For example, one wanted to pray for a homeless lady s/he gifted something to a couple of years ago. Another wanted to pray for their great-grandmother who has already passed. We talked about how even though we can’t deliver a physical prayer to them, we can still pray to God who will use that prayer for his glory.

Teaching our kids to pray anytime about anything is the most important lesson to gift them!

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18

Become a Total Access Member Now from August 23 – 28, 2018!

Family Time Training activities help us teach our kids and grandkids how to live out what the Bible teaches. Get access to all their activities that can be done in 20 minutes or less by becoming a Family Time Total Access member. 

The opportunity to become a Total Access member only happens a few times a year and now through August 28 is one of those moments. Since you are a Creating a Great Day reader, you can get an extra 10% off the annual membership just by using this discount code – CGDFAM818

Don’t miss the opportunity to unlimited access of 100s of fun Bible activities for your family! Check out the details here: members.famtime.com.

I love to use these activities when my kids have a question and I’m not quit sure how to explain it in a way that will stick. These activities help biblical concepts stick in their minds for years!

Be encouraged by these Family Time Training Activities as well!

Delayed Gratification Knocking Sin Out of Our Lives Kindness Cookies Prayer Wall

The Years at Home Filling Our Time-Capsule Well

The Years at Home Filling Our Time-Capsule Well

I look on, my gaze resting on her smiling face. She reaches her hand for the stem before her and gently plucks it, her smiling eyes turning around to meet mine. I have watched her harvest the dandelions of the field on many occasions, but this time was different. Like iron lead, so was the lump that I found resting in my throat.  I worked to etch the soft tendrils framing her face full of wonder and glee, this moment, I wanted to freeze in my mind. I listened even closer to the sound of her giggle, burning its melody into my memory. The escalator of time that she was standing on was weighing heavy on me. I watched her blow the seeds into the wind. I drop another memory into my motherhood time-capsule. The words are swishing around in my heart, “The days are long, but the years are short”. The sunlight dances on her hair; and I ask for not a moment to be wasted.

Before the bloom

These are the years where the soft buds of our children are forming. We only have so long, or rather so little time, before the blossom appears. If we are not careful, the blossom will have taken place and left us missing out on the joy and wonder of the bloom. A blossom never returns to the bud, time does not allow for such wishes.

The days of growth are crucial – they are the slow days of tending. If we are so focused on the task, we miss the joy of who it is we are caring. Sometimes we look so forward to seeing the blossom, that we forget about the wonder of the bud in-waiting.  Tending the tender buds, guarding for the day of its blossom – it is a task of patience, resilience, and attentiveness. But then the bloom… and the years of attending the bud are but a memory. While the blossom will be beautiful and we will love its new season of growth, I imagine there will be an ache in the remembrance of caring for the bud.

So, as the laughter flows, let us give thanks for the years before the bloom. In the stormy seasons, let us ask for wisdom where we have to guard and tend buds carefully. When joy falls like rain, let us tuck away those memories and store them for when seasons of drought come along.

The years before the bloom are hard, but they are also glorious.

Capturing moments

As we sit here, let us remember the gift of time-present. Laundry will eventually lessen, the messes will gradually stop showing up in various spaces of our home, and sleep will find its way back to us again. But what we have right now…we will never be able to recapture. It happens and it is over, just like that. The winds of change blowing through can not be sucked back in and held.

We cannot pretend that everyday will be perfect. But we can pray for every day to be captured for God’s glory and our good. We can begin by asking for a shift in our mindset and attitude. Let us be the ones who take the little time we have with our children and cultivate it well. The time-capsule of motherhood is before us, may we fill it well.

Ideas to nourish time with your children

  • Spending time in God’s Word together.
    • This is about enjoying God with your children. We can easily turn this into a lesson for them or we may approach this dryly…Enter into this time with reverence and awe. Point to the holiness of God and His goodness. Be in wonder of Him ALONG with your children. Make this time about worshiping Him.
  • Explore nature together
    • Here is a book that can help you along with this.
  • Unplug.
    • A time set aside that is device-free. No phones, tablets, or screens of any kind. Be present with each other. Laugh together. Enjoy conversation with each other.
  • Read books together
  • Start a new hobby together
    • Learn how to – knit, draw, cook, bake, build, etc. Let this be a group effort
  • Visit a local farm to pick fresh fruit.
  • Play board/card games

 

Starting some of these things (or all of them) might be difficult, but it will be worth it. Don’t waste away the years. Hold on to them and may your time spent in them be rich and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

No Matter Your Defects, God Can Use You!

No Matter Your Defects, God Can Use You!

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

“Oh, stink!”, I grumbled to myself as I pulled my wilted produce out of the refrigerator. I needed to make a batch of baby food, but I’d put it off too long and now my green beans, cauliflower, and zucchini were looking past their prime. I’m not sure if they would have even been sold in their condition if they were sitting on the shelf at the market.

I decided to go ahead and use them though. As I was snapping, and washing, and chopping, I couldn’t help but feel like those veggies- worn out and less than. Life had felt a little overwhelming and was only starting to spin faster. I was feeling guilty about all of the ways I wasn’t measuring up to my expectations.

The vegetables turned into a delicious puree that my baby loved. She didn’t know or care that the veggies didn’t look their best when I used them. Isn’t God able to use us in the same way? Couldn’t He still use me to be a loving and caring mother? Time and time again the Bible tells us of when God used someone who was “less than” do something great.

God Can Use You!

Just this morning I was reading about when God called Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites.

“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “How can i save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all of the Midianites together.”

(Judges 6:15-16)

For God’s Glory

God’s plan for Gideon was less about Gideon, and more about showing mercy to his children. Perhaps that’s why God likes to use the ones who feel like they don’t measure up. The truth is that all of us are blemished with sins and shortcomings. Even the strongest among us still need God. The arrogant ones take the credit, the humble ones know it’s only through God they can do great things.

Gideon’s story was centered around God’s glory. God wanted to make sure Israel would see that it was He who saved them. God sent home more and more men from their army so that Gideon had only 300 men with him to attack their enemy. God gave Israel their victory through Gideon, but make no mistake, it was the work of Lord not of man.

As a wife and mother I fall short in many ways, but I don’t want my story to be about me. Like Gideon, I want my story to be a reflection of God’s glory. With his help I can do great things, but not for the purpose of fulfilling my own superficial expectations. No, with his help, even though I am selfish I can offer life to my family in the way I tend to their needs and build our home. It is for the glory of his kingdom, not mine.

Take the pressure off of yourself to perform and decide to let God work in you. Let your story be about showing God’s grace and mercy to others. Let your story be about Him. Pray continually. Read the scriptures. Listen. Obey. Let him take you from wilted veggies to a yummy puree! No matter your defects, God can use you!

 

What Bible Time with Our Kids Looks Like

What Bible Time with Our Kids Looks Like

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

this-post-may-contain-affiliate-links-for-your-convenience-and-at-no-extra-cost-to-you-1

As a mom of 5, our Bible Time has looked different over the years. The last two years we have settled into a pattern that I am loving and the kids seem to do well with too. Since a friend asked what Bible time with our kids looks like, I decided I would share and hopefully encourage you in your Bible time too!

I posted a sweet picture of our 3rd child on Instagram and Facebook prepping the table for our Bible Time mid-morning snack. I am always amazed at how God’s word delivers exactly what we need to hear. On this particular day, we needed to be reminded that we are each invited to feast with God, but in order to do that we need to put ourselves and our excuses to the side.

What Our Bible Time Looks Like

1. It’s Flexible

We try to have our Bible time daily, but that doesn’t always happen. I would say at the moment we are running at a 90% success rate. We typically have Bible time around mid-morning, once all the kids are awake. We have one late sleeper. Since we homeschool, we can be flexible and I really enjoy it.

So sometimes we have our Bible Time at mid-morning, sometimes during lunch, and sometimes we have it at night over dinner with their dad. And other times we do it before heading off to bed.

Again for us, being flexible is key. Every day looks different, but most days, we have it mid-morning.

The location is flexible too. Many times we gather together in the living room, sometimes at the kitchen table, other times on the back porch while they snack and draw with chalk, and sometimes on the school room floor while they are putting puzzles together.

As long as they are paying attention and not causing a distraction, then I will allow them to color, play with legos, or color when I read longer passages.

2. Start with Songs & a Chant

Once the snack has been prepped and my precious daughter, who loves to present the food prettily has done just that, we start to sing. First, we sing the Books of the Old Testament, then the Books of the New Testament.

Then we pat the Bible while we sing the “B-I-B-L-E” song and add “YIPPEE!” to the end. It just makes it more fun!

Then, before I open to the passage we are reading for the day, I say/chant the following:

The Bible is the Word of God.
Everything in it is true.
It tells us all about how much God loves YOU!

Now, that our kids have heard it so often they, I pause and they fill in what I underlined above. Often times, they race to see who can say it the fastest. Sometimes, they finish before I can even start.

Recently, I also started asking if both the Old and New Testament go together or if they should be kept separate. I want our kids to understand this is one seamless story. We can’t just pick up in the New Testament and think we will understand what’s going on. We need to know what the Old Testament says to get a complete picture and understanding of the Bible all together.

3. Fuel the Soul & the Body

I typically present a snack along with our Bible time. This is for a few reasons:

#1 – It helps them gather together. My family eats several times a day. For some the mid-morning snack is what they call second breakfast and they will always come running when food is available.
#2 – They are eager for me to start. Mainly, because they are not allowed to start eating their snack until I have started the Bible lesson.
#3 – This keeps their mouths closed so they can listen better. When you have 5 mouths that like to give commentary, it’s a nice treat to be able to keep them engaged and listening.

4. Now, it’s time for the Bible lesson.

Several years ago, I became convicted about what we were reading for our Bible lessons. At first, I was using children’s bibles. They were ok, but they left out all the good details and even many of my favorite stories.

I believed that it was a good thing to read the whole Bible in it’s actual context to our children, instead of just working on surface details. God is in even the smallest details and I didn’t want them to miss out on his amazing ways by skipping what He has deemed important to share with us.

Of course, I remember praying about this and thinking,

“God, there are some parts that aren’t really rated G but your word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. It is good for teaching and rebuking and our family really needs to be taught, so as we come to the parts where I want to cover their ears, please help me explain it to them in a way that honors you and teaches them how to love you.”

And what God started teaching us was truly amazing!

Now, I will say, that I may wait to read over Song of Songs until their married. That book just might be a marriage gift to them. It’s a great book, but obviously still praying about that one!  LOL! 

Using a Chronological Bible

We started reading the chronological Bible, which was fantastic for me too. I wanted our kids to understand the timeline of the Bible. I remember being so confused as a kid and an adult about what happened when, so the chronological Bible allows us to read the Bible as one whole story instead of a bunch of little stories.

We have had many wonderful conversations around stories that I may have skipped over had it not been for asking God to help guide our conversations and their hearts.

For example, when we read the story of Lot and his daughters. I remember thinking,

“What in the world am I going to say?”

It was just like the Holy Spirit gave me the words and helped me out.

We read the passage then talked about how God created marriage with Adam and Eve. Anything outside of what that relationship looks like is wrong. We don’t have to talk through every wrong situation and I didn’t even point out the details after reading over it. We simply reflected on that if we know what God is wanting us to do, anything outside of that isn’t following His ways.

One of my older son’s favorite stories is when the ground opened up and swallows Korah alive. Now, that’s a story that definitely speaks to many things, especially how to react in a situation when you don’t agree with the leader God has appointed and how to handle your anger.

I can’t help but think about the richness our kids would have missed had we decided to hang back and wait to expose them to God’s word until an appropriate age.  What age is that any way?

Using the Timeline

Every now and then we have to pull out my favorite timeline to figure out when someone lived or what time period an event happened. I love to be able to place the Bible timeline along with what we learn in history, because surprise – it’s all part of the same history!

When we pull out the timeline, I’ll remind our kids that they too are part of this timeline. They are just as important as the people that we read about in the Bible. God has a calling for their lives too. He wants them to share God with others and encourage others in their faith just like those in the Bible encourage us to follow God too.

Reading through the New Testament

Reading through the Chronological Bible with kids takes a looong time. We still aren’t finished!

Sometimes we will read one little passage and discuss it. Other times we will read pages and pages. It just depends on their temperaments at the time and where our conversations take us.

We made our way up past Job and past the conquering of most of the Promised Land. We read through the teachings in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, some of which are hilarious!

Then, I decided to jump to the New Testament. We read all of Acts and now we are reading Luke!  LOL!!  We totally got that backwards, but that’s ok. I love reading Acts, so we will probably read it again after reading Luke. Then go back to the Old Testament.

I love reading the New Testament in light of the Old Testament because pretty much every principle mentioned in the New Testament can be found in the Old. So we like to talk about the similarities and see the points Jesus makes about each topic.

Family Time Training

We also like to throw in some Family Time Training Activities. They have a free activity every month. But they also have an activity vault filled with activities on almost any Bible subject you might want to delve into and help your kids understand.

5. We Pray

We tend to close out our bible time with kids in prayer. It is a good time to practice letting the kids pray. Allowing them to think of things they are thankful for and who we can pray for, provides glimpses into their hearts. It even lets us hear what they picked up from the Bible lesson that day.

These are the things we do during in our Bible time with kids. Some days go exceptionally well and the discussion flows and other days they are eagerly awaiting when they are excused. But what is important is that they are hearing God’s word. They are being trained to listen to it, absorb it, and talk about it. They are hearing the truth so they will know how to fight the lies with the truth.

Each time you choose to sit down with your child(ren) and study the Bible, the devil will not like it. He will try to make it not worth your time and wish it was just over and done with, but take heart!  Getting God’s word into the souls He created is so worth it. When it seems like a struggle, know goodness will eventually come from those moments!  May God bless you as you dig into His word with His children!

How do you do Bible Time with your kids? 

 

Check out these great lessons for kids!

Knocking Sin Out of Our Lives Kindness Cookies Prayer Wall Delayed Gratification

Hanging on to Dollar Bills: a Mini Guide to Big Saving and Less Spending

Hanging on to Dollar Bills: a Mini Guide to Big Saving and Less Spending

I’m a natural saver. I blame it on my dad. From the age of thirteen (and my first official job), my dad taught me to save. His method for my paycheck savings involved putting 50% in a bank account to be “saved” and the rest I could spend however I wanted.  I later figured out the purpose to my “saving” was so he could “borrow” (and not necessarily return) the money for family expenses that he and my mom couldn’t afford (or didn’t budget for).  Sometimes that meant 50% of my paycheck went toward groceries, school supplies, or gas for the car.  While this is not an example I would encourage parents to follow, it did get me into a habit of saving.

With Dollar Bills Come Great Responsibility

Over the years, I’ve read books and blogs, watched videos, and taught courses on how to save and spend wisely.  That by no means makes me an expert, but I have learned a thing or two about making the money that comes in last as long as possible. (I attribute this newfound interest in learning to my husband, who is an excellent teacher of good methods of handling money and all things finance-related.)
Every dollar is important (of great worth), and we have a God-inherent responsibility to be a great steward of each dollar we get.

(Insert song: She works hard for the money!)  We work hard for our money, don’t we, friends? Since we work hard to earn it, we need to learn to work hard to save it and spend it.

Today’s post is about spending!  It’s a little bit about saving too–frugal ways that allow us to hold onto those dollars so they last a little longer.

Couponing Done Easier

Ok, I’ve tried the whole Extreme Couponing thing. It doesn’t work for me!  To those of you who do it well, I commend you!  I’m not going to teach you anything extreme.  Instead, I’ll show you slow, diligent moderation.  If you want extreme, check out some of the Queen C’s (C for Coupons!) online like: Krazy Koupon Lady.

Frugal Couponing:  Guidelines I use when couponing

1.  Only coupon what you normally buy anyway.

I used to get caught up in all the coupons: “Buy 2, get 1 free.” “Buy 2, save 50 cents.” “Save $ on over-priced items that wouldn’t normally end up in the shopping cart and are a more expensive alternative even with the coupon.”

Don’t fall for these marketing techniques unless it’s:

a) something you need,
b) something you’re buying anyway,
c) something you need that quantity of, or
d) the best alternative, price-quality wise–if there’s a cheaper alternative you and your family can live with “this time,” then save and go for the cheaper alternative.

Side Note about “This Time”:  Part of being frugal (and a good steward of resources) is to keep a “this time” attitude.  It puts into perspective the short life of each purchase. When comparing brands and prices, think about the life of the product.  How long will it last? One week? A month?  Will my family survive with (cheaper toilet paper or generic ketchup) for just this month?  What about every other month?  Can they handle a cheaper, generic brand just this one time?  You might argue that the difference in price is only a dollar, or even only few cents.  

Remember our goal: to hang onto each dollar a little bit longer. That includes those few cents of savings on each item in the cart. It’s the small things. In order to be more frugal, we have to learn to make small changes now. Small changes now will turn into big changes later.  Every penny counts.  Don’t spend it “just because you have a coupon.”

2.  Use coupon apps.

There are so many money-saving apps out there. Depending on your city, some work better than others.  It might take some trial and error to find the apps that work best for you and your region, but if you want to save money, it’s worth the time to figure out.

Personally, I only use apps that give me real cash savings or cash back, not the ones that work on a points system.  There are some good points systems, but right now, I focus on real, immediate cash.

My favorite apps are:

  • Walmart Savings Catcher – download your receipt after each purchase and watch the real cash grow.  Transfer to PayPal or a Walmart gift card.  They also have an online version: https://savingscatcher.walmart.com/.
  • Kroger and Whole Foods coupon apps–because I don’t have to print anything.
  • I check the Krazy Coupon Lady app just for things I’m going to be buying anyway, so I don’t get caught up in the hype of spending gas, printer ink, and time running all over town to get free things or ‘money-maker’ things that I don’t need.  Time is worth spending frugally too!
  • Ibotta has become another favorite app.  I look for items I plan to buy, and then scan the item and receipt for cash back via PayPal or gift cards.
  • This app doesn’t usually have many items that I normally buy, but for the little time it takes to scroll through and upload receipts, I still consider Checkout 51 worthwhile.

Even if you average 25-50 cents per shopping trip (like me), that small change quickly adds up.  I’m currently at $5, but hey, that’s a free coffee!  Who doesn’t like free coffee? With Checkout 51, I can cash out when it reaches $20, in which case, who doesn’t like a free movie?  Or one hour of free babysitting? Compliments of a grocery app–yay!

3. Stay on Budget and Just Say No.

Have you noticed we live in an extremely high-consumption society?  The rest of the world calls us consumerists and gluttons.  Why do we let ourselves get caught up in the hype?

Part of frugal living is just saying no.  No to things we don’t need.  Delaying ‘wants’ until we’ve saved up to pay cash for them, which means saying ‘no’ for right now.  There is a time to spend.  Our culture is REALLY good at it.  Admit it, so are you!  I definitely am!

First, though, we need to learn to save.  Save for future needs, for emergencies, for wants.  Save just to save.  If you’re wondering why we learn to be frugal, it’s for those reasons just listed.

A Side Note on Saving:

Saving is the foundation to Big Giving.  Do you ever wish you had enough money to support a missionary for an entire year or build a hospital in a small village? Do you ever think about what it would be like to fund an entire non-profit event?  Or sponsor your kids’ sports team or band trip?

People who give big first had to learn to save big. I recently read that somewhere.  They learned to say no to things they didn’t need so that later, they could enjoy (and appreciate) the things they wanted.  To learn to save big, start small. Start with small, frugal decisions.  Talk it through with your spouse, kids, and friends.  Get them on board and excited.  They’ll hold you accountable and learn along the way!  Who knows? Maybe they’ll do this with you!  It’s so much more fun together!

Being frugal doesn’t have to mean turning into a skimpy cheapskate, but if we learn how to be thoughtful and conscientious about our spending–and saving–we will be on a good path to better things in the future.

Have any other easy couponing tips or apps to share?

hanging on to dollar bills_by tina

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