Tag Archives: Joy

Random Acts of Kindness

What’s a Random Act of Kindness?  Many times it’s a small or large  action done for a person to bring them joy. The beautiful by-product of doing a Random Act of Kindness is that it usually   blesses the giver too. 

Last week my family took out on a 1 week adventure to a Family Camp. It was the 5th year for us to go; we look forward to the play and relax time we have as a family each year in this place.  We pick many excursions throughout the week that puts our focus on fun together. But this year we stretched beyond our comfort zone and chose to spend a day serving in a camp nearby that has many sponsors helping to make it happen. We knew very little about Kids Across America when we drove there at lunch time. Our kids had agreed to trade a day of play for a day of work without hesitation, but we all felt the weight of the unknown as we got there. 

I can say without a doubt that the afternoon turned into one of our favorite parts of that week! There were things in that experience that were familiar, but there was much that seemed foreign to us. It was good for all of us to break out of our molds and work hard and learn new things and meet new people. It turned out to be  a wonderful day of planned Kindness.

The week before Camp, we had stopped at a Sonic for cold drinks during some errands. While ordering,  I got 2 extra Cherry Limeades for women we would see on our outing. When we got to the office, they had left for the day, but my boys were concerned on what to do with the extra drinks...in a random act of Kindness we began looking for the first 2 people we could find to share the drinks with. The 2 we found were so happy to receive an unexpected drink! There was joy and surprise and laughter and conversation all over a cherry limeade!! We got back in the car and marveled at how that situation had turned out; it was so random, but really blessed our day. 

A woman I met just the other day spoke some wise words to me in the brief time I had with her…she paused in our conversation and told me to ponder the word Growth. And so I am; and it is such rich word with many layers. There is room for growth in each day; Random Acts of Kindness will follow.  I encourage others to tuck that word into your hearts this season. 

On our Bucket List of Fun for the Summer, we have decided to add many more Random Acts of Kindness to our weeks. Both big and small endeavors reap large rewards for all involved. I hope many others will invest in these Acts; they refresh ones Spirit in huge dividends of growth!!

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

 

Hello!  Every day we use things that make our lives easier or bring a smile to our face.  I encourage you to take a look at your daily routines and see what those things are.  It was fun for me to dig a bit and see a few of my “favorites”  all together! Check out Loved One’s Favorites too… you’ll get great gift ideas. Here we go!!
KITCHEN TONGS:   I am seriously addicted to these little gems. I have a bunch of them because they only cost a couple dollars. They are so handy to pick up anything and everything! I even have some spares in our chip containers so that I don’t get “cheeto fingers.”.
MINI CROCKPOT : My favorite scent is ANYTHING Christmas. I used to put a pot on the stove with simmering spices and fruit so that the whole house smelled yummy…but then I found mini crockpots! They are fabulous!!  This is a wonderful gift during the holiday season to give with a recipe and ingredients for simmering. Lemons, cinnamon sticks, clove,and oranges are a good place to begin.
FELT TIP PENS:  These beauties are a little pricey, but there are sales and coupons out there to get them a bit lower. I love how bold the ink is.  I love that it doesn’t smear and drys quickly. I love to use these on to-do lists to perk up the mundane chores, and I love to journal and write pretty much everything with them. 

 

 

RAINBOW INSULATED CUPS WITH STRAWS:  Oh happiness! It’s simple I know, but I get more water drank in my day with a different colored cup each morning! I have the whole rainbow at my fingertips, and since they come with lids…they travel from home to car easily.

 

 

FLAMELESS CANDLES: With a house full of boys, it is in our Homes best interest to not light many actual candles with real flames.  This set is lovely and it comes with a remote and timers! I have some in our kitchen, and I have some programmed in the living and bedrooms. As bedtime routines begin, it is nice to enter those dark spaces with the glow of a flickering candle. I love my flameless candles! 
POM POM COASTERS: Are these not the cutest little splashes of fuzzy color?!  
The kids made these with cork and glue and pom poms one Christmas for family gifts, and I snagged a set for our Drink Station. Each morning this cheerfulness greets me at the coffee maker. (I had just as much fun making these as the kids.)

 

NERF WALL: This saved my sanity with all the Nerf wars that happen daily in our home.  
If you have darts and kids in your life, I recommend that you review our Nerf Wars post on how to make one of these stations. The kids helped design and paint the walls; and hanging it all up in the garage was fun for all of us!  Now the tag has been moved outside. When it’s over, I have yet to ask a boy to put their Nerf stuff away. They rush to the Nerf Wall to get the best hangers!! (Such a Win for us all.)

 

 TAILGATE TABLES: These medium-sized rectangle, collapsible tables will rock your world! I have never actually used them for their intended purpose…but I have used them for pretty much everything else. They fold and are lightweight.  I have these tucked all over the house. The make a quick puzzle, Lego, you-name-it project off the floor. They wipe down and have two adjustable heights. And the bonus feature is that if you find them during football season, then you have local color options depending on nearby teams! If you want a certain color, look at the teams. 
CANDY CATCHERS: When you are between 2 candy-laced holidays, the thought occurs of what to do with the abundance of sweets (?)…  Since there are multiple boys in our home, and boys are a tad competitive in everything, we had to find a solution to storing any excess of overflow.  The number of kids you have, is the number of compartments needed for the Candy Catcher. Personalize it so there is no confusion. No Sharing is an unspoken for this little kitchen tool. This container usually stays out of reach, so that a parent monitors consumption. I pull from its resources for school lunches and snacks mixed with healthier choices. This has gone with us on road trips with each persons snacks divided so they can eat them at differing paces. This is a fun Favorite for me!
PORTABLE HAMMOCKS: My most recent Favorite! I love these soooooooo much.  Each child received one for a gift. We learned how to “stack” them in trees from college students. It looked as if there were a herd of nomads in my back yard the first 3 days!! The kids stayed outside for hours trying out different trees. They took books, water bottles, snacks, journals, DS’s, and even a Ukulele!!  I confess that I also enjoy gently swinging and cloud-gazing; especially snuggled with one of my Cuties’.

 

Well there you go! Hope you got an idea or two to add to your Favorites. Take a mental break from this week’s mundane and enjoy mulling over some of your own Favorites; you have more than you realize! 
You, Lord God, have done many wonderful things, and You have planned marvelous things for us.  Psalm 40:5

Giving Joy & Gentleness

Christmas conversation promptsOur family has a Christmas activity we weave into our mealtime hubbub: answering questions from a tin of Christmas-focused conversation prompts. Even though we’ve been through these questions several times over the years, the answers vary as children get older and more introspective.

JoyOne of the recent questions was about the reason behind gift-giving during this season. The discussion included the gifts of the wise men and our gift of a Savior, then narrowed down to the mere joy of giving to others.

Probably one of the main stressors of the busy holiday season revolves around gift-giving: the generation of ideas, the investment of time and money, last-minute shopping, and eventually the late-night wrapping.

teacher giftsWhen we find something “just right” for a special person on our list and see genuine delight spread across her face as she opens her gift, we experience the joy of giving.

It’s in this moment of giving that we turn toward each other, share eye contact, and feel a closer connection to one another…we share a mutual tug on our hearts.

Imagine how much love God had for each of us as He gave His One True Gift to us by sending us Jesus. Through Christ we are pulled closer to God and may dwell in His Presence.post office drop

As I trudge through these last days before Christmas, grocery shopping and dropping cards into the mail,  I’m trying to hold onto this image of the Ultimate Giver offering His most precious gift.

This helps me let the details of the hustle-bustle fade a bit and focus on the interactions around me.hot cocoa

Being gentle with those around us and being mindful that this holiday’s joy may be smudged by loss or pain is an extension of God’s love toward others.

silver conesWhen our expectations of the holidays don’t come packaged with a jaunty red bow…

When disappointment piles up like crumpled balls of wrapping paper on Christmas morning…

When loss and grief drop around us  like pine needles fall constantly off the Christmas tree…

When rough spots in our relationships are highlighted during family gatherings…

God is with us in these tender moments, offering hope.
70s childhood ornament

boy in tuxAs as we share coffee cake with neighbors on a cold wintry night…

As we gaze at each other in the warm glow during Christmas Eve candlelight service…

As we watch eager children tear into their presents Christmas morning…

As we observe grandparents smile in remembrances of the past…

God is with us in these joyous moments, embracing us in love.candlelight communion
When stress begins to creep in again, I try to remind myself:

empty gift box

It’s not what is under the tree.

It’s who is gathered around it. 

 

It’s not what is in the box,

but WHO fills our hearts.

God is with us through it all, however this season unfolds for our families this year. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas!


“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace…

-Luke 2:14



 

Nerf wars

When you hear the phrase “Nerf war” do you envision hoardes of kids running through your house and yard shooting orange darts all over creation?

Or…do you imagine all the times you’ve been frustrated by the growing piles of dart guns scattered all over your house and have the urge to declare war on all things Nerf?

(I once found a dart in my ice maker…Whaaaat? “Somebody” had to have the freezer door hanging wide open while another “somebody” blasted him with darts?!?)

pile of dart guns

boy with nerf dartsWe have a little bit of both going on over here. With some inspiration from an old Pinterest post, we put our heads together to create some neutral territory.

Step 1: Claim some unused pegboard and attach it to the back of closet door in the garage (thanks to my hubby for some carpentry assist)

Step 2: Gather all the Nerf dart paraphernalia, relish in all their glory (btw: one of us partook of this step more robustly than the other)

Step 3: Scavenger hunt all over the garage for pegboard hooks of various sizes (sorry, broom: your resting place is now on the floor)

Step 4: Puzzle through all the different dart gun shapes and hang them within easy reach of active boysboy with dart pegboardStep 5  – Kids: Call your buddies over to launch a Nerf war! Parents: bask in the fact that all the Nerf stuff is OUT of your house. Woohoo!

*Optional steps if you want to up your game:

  • Visit your local hardware store and get some dart-orange paint (Valspar 2010-2 “Island Orange” was our choice. We got a sample can for $3.)

  • Use painter’s tape to mark off a pattern

  • Let your kiddo paint away! Let paint dry and then do a second coat.

    boy painting pegboard

  • After paint is thoroughly dry, carefully pull off painter’s tape to reveal your kid’s design.

    Orange pegboard for nerf guns

  • Load up the pegboard with Nerf guns (and maybe a light saber or two)

Gear up:

Nerf gun pegboard

Get READY…

boys talking dart strategy

+++++ AIM +++++

geared up

boys and Nerf guns

Fire away! —————–>>>

boys geared up with Nerf guns

…and, good luck finding all the darts before the lawnmower gets them first! 🙂

 

 

Joy

choose joyWhen we think of joy, we often think of a child’s beaming face on Christmas morning. All of the anticipation that has been building is finally at its peak. That little body is all atwitter ready to leap into the magic of Christmas. Each of us probably has some keen memories of Christmas mornings past, some that were fulfilling of all the hype and perhaps a few that were found lacking.

How long does that intense feeling of full joy last? Are we able to summon that same level of anticipation to see what our heavenly Father has in store for us each day…

or does our joy feel like it’s in bits and pieces?

Joy brokenAs adults we seem to catch glimmers of joy yet somehow that robustness of childhood joy eludes us. There are many references in the Bible about having a child-like faith. Perhaps the concept of unbridled JOY is a natural unfolding of that child-like faith: grab it with intensity and don’t let go!



“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for JOY and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14



Maybe we need to follow our children on this one…

–to discover the joy unfolding all around us, in the big and small details of everyday life

–to embrace the messy

–to surrender our agenda

–to adopt a child-like curiosity and anticipation of good things to come…the walkbig walking stick

Seeking joy throughout the year…

in the ordinary days,

not just dusted off at Christmas timeadvent cardwhere can you find YOUR joy today?

mom tackle

Fruits of the Spirit

Sometimes you don’t know when a simple craft activity is going to have a big impact. You’re just trying to keep those little people in your house engaged in something productive so they aren’t tearing the house apart!

Several years ago I led my boys through one of those Make-a-Plate kit projects and then actually managed to get it mailed. Some days the simple completion of a task is a major accomplishment, right, busy Mommas?” Since we were working on table manners and talking about how the kids could show kindness at school, I chose the Fruits of the Spirit verse and let them pick which concept they wanted to illustrate. Rainbows, trees, and stick figures emerged as those wriggling bodies slowed down to color and carefully write out these powerful words.



“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and
self-control.” Galatians 5:22

Fruit of the Spirit plate

We were all excited to receive the package of our completed plates! Each week we would choose one Fruit of the Spirit  to be our focus. We set that plate on a stand as a colorful reminder as we passed by it throughout the day. At dinnertime we enjoyed hearing about the gestures the boys made with friends, teachers, and soccer teammates to show that particular character trait. As parents, we shared examples from our workdays or stories from our childhood. Sometimes we used the plates as ice breakers for teaching moments as we redirected boyish antics at the table. When setting the table, we often shared knowing looks with each other as we placed a certain plate in front of a specific person, acknowledging “he sure needs a little extra self-control tonight” or “she needs some PEACE today.”

Fruits of the Spirit plates - devotional

When we signed up to go on a mission trip with our church and were asked to share a family devotion, we took our plates on the road — literally traveling 2,000 miles roundtrip to visit a children’s home in Mexico. We used the plates to illustrate our story of trying to put the Fruits of the Spirit into action in our daily family life. We helped lead the craft activity for those children to make their own plates. Many kids chose the phrase “Dios es Amor” = “God is love.”

Although we weren’t present when the Children’s Home received their shipment of plates, we Fruits of the Spirit platesheard it was a time of great JOY as these children received something tangible with their names and drawings featured. The following year our family returned to the same Children’s Home and we saw how much these plates were being used and treasured by children who had little of their own.

When we returned home from the mission trip, we made a poster to share at our local school and had another chance to share the Fruits of the Spirit in the context of a mission trip report. Several of the students were unfamiliar with the verse, but it became “real” to them when they passed the plates around during show-and-tell.
Fruits of the Spirit - sharing at schoolI was humbled as I realized how God had created an outreach of ministry from one small family project. Our family’s craft activity was shared with our church’s mission team families, about 100 Mexican children separated from their own families and then again locally with children at our sons’ classes at school. God is faithful. He reveals His GOODNESS to us through our small actions that He uses in big ways for His glory.

Fruits of the Spirit plates - missionsFruits of the Spirit plates - loveFruits of the Spirit plate - Jesus me ama