Every Child Deserves A Name

It’s been 20 years now and yet it seems like yesterday…

…the most difficult days of my life.

We were expecting our second child. Before we knew what was happening, within the first month it was over. A vapor as recorded in James 4:14. {HINT:Hover over the Bible verse for the NKJV.} Three months later, we found ourselves in the exact same situation. Initially, I had much appreciated support. But shortly thereafter, life surrounding me found it’s new normal. Almost, as if, those two lives never lived within my womb.

I grieved silently for years. Was I the only one who acknowledged their existence?  They were rarely spoken of. And even then, they were referred to as “The Miscarriages.” My arms ache for those little souls.

Memorial for Unborn Children~ BacktoFamily.net

Memorial For Unborn Children~ A sculpture by Martin Hudáček
https://evenifministries.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/410/


Continue reading~ Every Child Deserves A Name »

Resurrection Eggs for kids

Time for an Easter Egg Hunt!

And no egg hunt would be complete without a dozen Resurrection Eggs to tell the story of the very first Easter. Each egg has a surprise hidden inside. Symbols retelling Jesus’ journey to the cross and His triumphant resurrection. You can use these eggs with your own children on Easter Sunday, during Lent with your church family, or if you dare: host an egg hunt like I did one year.

I had great expectations for a lovely small party. God had other plans! 

Here’s my story:

Many Easters ago, I envisioned an elegant party for our youngest daughter and her friends. {Our oldest daughter joined me as co-host.} We made and mailed invitations for 5 of her young friends. Delicious desserts, handmade chocolates, finger sandwiches and yummy snacks were on our menu. I bought a DVD of a Veggie Tales Easter story for the girls to watch. We loved having parties and no party would be complete without a few games. We chose some fun games to play and I decided to end the party with a good old-fashioned Easter Egg Hunt! I purchased a dozen plastic eggs per girl. Filling them with goodies I found at my local Christian bookstore. I bought a carton of Resurrection Eggs, thinking this would be a fun way to share Jesus with the girls.

My plans were going wonderfully. The party would be perfect! Six little girls giggling; searching inside my small home for hidden eggs in their pastel Easter dresses. I numbered the Resurrection Eggs and would allow each girl to find two of them. As each little girl would present her numbered egg in order, I would tell them the story of Jesus and Easter and life would be good!

Those were my plans. Controlled. Quiet. Pink and Frilly.

Now, let me tell you GOD’s plan:

Once the invitations were delivered, it began.

The first phone call came. A mother asking if a few siblings could attend as well. I hesitated. [My plans!] But thought, I should share Jesus with those kids too. I did some recalculations and decided the girls could each find nine eggs now rather than fourteen. No big deal. Well, then…

…another call came followed by another. And so on. My party dreams were spiraling out of control. Soon I had brothers and sisters and cousins and friends and parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles on my guest list. You have to understand something about me. <<I am an organizational freak.>> I had notes upon notes and a schedule and party game rules and recipes for FIVE guests! What was I going to do?? I now had over FIFTY people coming! I couldn’t fit everyone inside my home!!

Panic set in and honestly, at first I was miffed that my plans were hijacked.

The thought to cancel played with my mind. I was no longer in control. Yet…somehow I sensed peace. Where I wanted to share Jesus with 5, God placed in front of me the opportunity to share Him with 50! Wow. What was I complaining about?? Ugh.

In the midst of my chaos, there I find God in complete control.

Once God had given me a much-needed attitude adjustment, I fervently went to work changing my entire itinerary. I bought more eggs while some parents helped by donating some. We hid eggs all around our homestead, recording the exact location of each Resurrection Egg. The children gathered on the patio while the adults stood close behind. One by one, the Resurrection Eggs were opened to reveal their hidden treasure. And the story of Jesus was proclaimed.

“You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well.”

~ Deuteronomy 4:9  (CEV)

Fancy food was not served. No frilly dresses. The DVD never played. My plans did not see the light of day. But His did!

And, it was one of the bestest days of my life!!

 

Hey Mom! Are you a Creep? If not, you should be.

“Mom, you are a creep.”

Years back when one of my girls called me a creep, she was treading on treacherous waters.

“WHAT did you call me??”
“You’re a facebook creep, Mom,” she said with a grin.”
“What on earth is a facebook creep?”
“Someone who reads other people’s facebooks.”
“I know I’m Just-A-Mom, and new to this facebook thing, but I thought the whole purpose of posting was for other people to read them.”
“Only if you’re facebook friends with them and it’s a recent post.”
“Well, sorry ’bout your luck, honey. But I don’t live by everyone else’s rules.”

A picture making its rounds online said “A worried mother has better investigative skills than the FBI.” I’d like to change that to an involved mother. A caring mother. A loving mother. It is our duty as parents to know our children. What they do online and who they spend time with. It amazes me the things kids post online. The language. The suggestive poses. The bullying. I wonder if the parents are aware or if they even care.

Hey Mom! Are you a Creep? If not, you should be. BackToFamily.net

About 8 years ago I was being mentored. Marcia is a few years older than me and also has  daughters. She taught me numerous lessons within those sixteen weeks. Lessons about God and the Bible, but also about life and mothering. In a world where parents don’t want to inhibit their children from what society has to offer, she taught me that being a Christian parent is sometimes like a salmon swimming upstream. We are called to do hard stuff. Make hard decisions. It’s comforting to know someone is in your corner rooting for you who’s been there.

Forbidden Friends

I’ve had to refrain my children from spending time with some of their friends in person and online. In past years we went over friend lists and  blocked some. Influencers of potentially harmful things. I recently heard a speaker sum it up like this:

Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.

I heard it another way too: How do you expect to soar with eagles when you fly with turkeys? There was a time I was struggling with a decision to put an end to a friendship my daughter had. I wondered if my daughter could have a positive influence on this girl if I allowed the friendship to continue. A friend of mine gave me a great analogy her pastor had told her. It’s great to want to influence someone in a meaningful way. But you have to be careful. Especially for a child. It’s like being on a chair and trying to help someone up. It’s much easier for them to pull you down. (Galatians 6:1)

The Dating Game

When it comes to dating set rules early. At what age? Will you allow dating or courtship? When I hear about a person of interest I check them out. What a person posts online for the world to see tells alot about them. The good and the not-so-good and the really-not-so-good.  I’ve heard of other parents who are intentional when it comes to their child’s dating. The Duggar’s for instance are a prime example. I was watching The Blessed Life with Pastor Robert Morris and he spoke of how he researches the characters of his daughters’ suitors, one way being checking their tithing history. He firmly believes that tithing is honoring God and if a man honors God he will in turn honor his wife. Know who your child is with. Don’t feel bad about your sleuthing. This is our children we’re talking about. And speak up if you don’t agree with something. My big pet peeve is the texting- I’m Here- when picking up a date. No! Get out of your car. Walk to the door. Knock. Walk the girl back to the car. And do the same when bringing her home. Oh, and be sure to say hello to her parents.

Hey Mom! Are you a creep? If not, you should be. BackToFamily.net

Warning Signs

When our daughter was a freshman at a Christian college, an upperclassmen committed suicide. It was an emotional time. Although I didn’t know the family, I felt heartache for the parents. The father was overseas on a mission trip. I read the young man’s facebook. I could tell approximately when some traumatic event must’ve happened to him. His posts transformed from uplifting and typical to hurtful and angry using strong language. His last post was a heartbreaking quote about love lost. Sometimes it’s easier to express deeply felt feelings through an online post rather than conversation.

Online Monitor

Know their passwords. Know their friends. Make sure they know the people on their friends list. Look carefully at the pictures they are posting. Do they show hints of their location? I saw one post of a report card showing the child’s name and full address. They don’t understand the dangers lurking online. It’s our responsibility to invest time monitoring if we are going to allow them on facebook and other social media outlets.

Eleven percent of parents joined Facebook specifically to “spy” on their children, and 55 percent use it to “keep an eye on them,” according to the 2011 Bullguard Internet Security Survey. (USA TODAY)

 

Gift Exchange Games

Gift Exchange Games~BackToFamily.net

The Gathering!

For many, many years my  husband’s family has been gathering to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We eat. We laugh. We exchange gifts. We eat. We catch up on the latest goings on with each other. We play cards and board games. And we eat some more.

Due to the continuous growth of the family, we have discontinued individual gift giving. Replaced it with a group gift exchange. Everyone brings one gift item suitable for male or female within a specific price limit. This way everyone can participate without breaking the bank. The games will work for any family- no matter the size.  The games will work for any special occasion and party too.

Choose a letter!

During our Thanksgiving feast we choose a letter of the alphabet to represent our Christmas gift exchange. This year L was the chosen letter. We set a budget of $10. Off we went shopping looking for gifts that began with the letter L in the range of 10 bucks. Then once we had our gifts selected, the wrapping was almost as crucial as the choosing. We are a creative family. Some boxes were humongous and some were tiny. As many different shapes and sizes as days of the month. Some were boxes within boxes within boxes. Some used duct tape to secure wrapping paper. Some electrical tape. Do NOT write your name on the outside of the package. Gifts are anonymous!

Gift Exchange Games~ BackToFamily.net

Like I said, we are a rather creative family. This year’s goodies included: BBQ flavored Larva, the game of Life, maple bacon flavored Lollipop, a toy Lamborghini, dill pickle flavored Lip Balm, gift cards for Long John Silvers, a camo Lantern, gift card for Little Caesar’s Pizza, Lemon heads candy, Lincolns ($5 bill), LCR dice games, Laxatives, Lamps, a stuffed Lamb, Lip gloss, a Lock, a Labyrinth game, Lance crackers, night Lights, Licorice, Lysol, hand Lotions, and Lavender hand soap among many others!

It’s Game Time!

The first year my sister-in-law, Cindy read a Left/Right story. Last year my niece, Jessica led us in a game of dice. It was similar to the December Dice game found here. This year was my turn. I searched the internet for ideas. Lots of great left/right stories can be found here. And here is a different way to exchange gifts by selecting slips of papers in a jar and following their instructions. I loved this Grinch game especially for youngsters.

I chose to use the Right Left Christmas Game Nativity Story found at www.diva-girl-parties-and-stuff.com. And I threw in a card game too as an added bonus.

Gift Exchange Games~ BackToFamily.net

Let’s Get Started!

I used 2 decks of playing cards and a printed version of the Nativity Story.

  • As our 35 family members made their way to sit in a circle they each chose one playing card per gift. Some brought additional gifts to represent family members unable to attend.
  • When everyone was seated and had a card in hand, I then randomly chose cards from the second deck I held in my hands. I called out the cards rather quickly and continuously until all the cards had been used.
  • When each family member heard their card called, they chose a gift from the center pile of all the L gifts keeping ahold of their cards.
  • I announced that all King bearers were Keepers. When opening gifts later, no one could switch gifts with them without their permission.
  • After clarifying which direction was left and which is right, I began to read the Nativity Story Left Right game emphasizing when I came upon the words left and right. The game worked well for our large group as the gifts really made their way around.
  • When the story was finished, I drew cards one at a time from my deck. The holder of the matching card could open the gift they now held or could switch with anyone holding an UNOPENED gift and open that gift. Once a gift is opened it belongs to its owner and cannot be switched. The contents were held up for all to see.

 

 

Cinnamon Ornaments

Hey Mom! Looking for a fun and easy Christmas craft to do with the kids? Here ya go.

Making Cinnamon Ornaments has been a fun family tradition in our home for years. The Holiday Season officially begins by rolling out a batch of these yummy smelling decorations. They can take up to a week to completely dry so be sure to make them ahead in plenty of time before decorating your Christmas tree. Your home will smell fabulous!

Cinnamon Ornaments ~ BacktoFamily.net

To make your Christmas gifts more festive tie them on packages with ribbon. Your child can give them as gifts to teachers, instructors, school bus drivers and Sunday School teachers. Make a dozen as a gift to Newlyweds to celebrate their first Christmas! So many possibilities…

C’mon! Let’s get started!

Gather your ingredients and supplies:
  • 7 bottles (2.8 ounce) of ground Cinnamon
  • 1 quart Applesauce
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of ground Cloves (optional)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of grated Nutmeg (optional)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of ground Allspice (optional)
  • Ribbon, Yarn, or Twine
  • 4 Wire Cooling Racks or Paper Bags
  • Small straw
Gather the family and let the fun begin:
  1. Blend 6 bottles of cinnamon and the other spices in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the applesauce one cup at a time.
  3. Knead with your hands till smooth.
  4. Divide the mixture into fourths.
  5. Dust your counter with the remaining bottle of cinnamon as needed.
  6. Dust the rolling pin and top of dough ball with cinnamon.
  7. Roll each section to ¼” thickness onto the cinnamon covered counter.
  8. Cut out with your favorite cookie cutters. Gingerbread men look especially nice!
  9. Cut a small hole in the top with a small straw.
  10. Place on racks to dry. This could take up to a week.
  11. Turn daily to dry evenly. They will get lighter as they dry.
  12. Thread with ribbon, yarn, or twine.
  13. Makes about 4 dozen ornaments.
Picture Tutorial:

Cinnamon Ornaments 3~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 4~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 5~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 6~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 7~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 8~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 9~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 10~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 11~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 12~ BacktoFamily.net

Cinnamon Ornaments 13~ BacktoFamily.net

Left Behind Movie 2014

LEFTBEHIND ~ backtofamily.net

In an instant, millions of people around the globe disappear.

Those left behind, thrown into chaos, searching for answers.

My family and I went to see the new Left Behind movie with Nicolas Cage on opening night.

Full disclosure: I went as a Christian to support a Christian movie. That’s about it. I was skeptical. I have read the books and loved the videos based on the books starring Kirk Cameron. I wasn’t expecting much from this latest movie.

I wasn’t expecting to be blown away!

Seriously! I loved it. It made me laugh. And at times, cry. It was suspenseful to say the least. And the end?? It found me leaning back in my seat, white knuckles gripping the arm rests. My daughter reminded me, “Mom! You know how it’s gonna end!” Yep. I sure did. But still…my heart raced.

#AreYouReady? backtofamily.net

I especially loved Lea Thompson (Back to the Future, Hallmark’s Jane Doe) as Irene Steele. The cast did a great job bringing the characters to life. Read about one of the cast members wild past on The Blaze here. While it seems the movie received less than favorable reviews from critics, the movie goers themselves gave rave reviews on various websites.

Here’s what the Dove Foundation had to say: “Left Behind” (2014) has earned five Doves from The Dove Foundation, our best rating. It is entertaining, suspenseful, and will motivate viewers to examine their own lives.

Dear friend, I hope you will consider making the drive to the theatre nearest you showing Left Behind. I really don’t think you’ll regret it.

#AreYouReady? backtofamily.net

#AreYouReady?

I hope so friend…

What to Pack for College

Here we go again!

Our last chick is spreading her wings and leaving our nest.

John-Boy Walton left for college wearing a Beanie and Knickers, carrying an attaché case filled with a notepad and pencils. He commuted 23 miles in a car that barely reached 25 mph. Boy, have things changed.

When Kristen left for college, I wanted to send with her everything she might need. Many comforts of home. Now that Hannah is leaving soon I decided to make a list of everything she may need. They fit alot of stuff into those dorm rooms. They can get overwhelmed if they take too much in the beginning. Lists are good to weigh out which items are worth taking and which need to stay home. Which items will be needed now and which can be brought later.

What to Pack for College~ BackToFamily.net

Photo Credit: Toy Story 3 still image

Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin came out the year our firstborn went to Kindergarten. Which is where Christopher Robin was also headed. I believe to this day I still haven’t watched that movie in its entirety. Boy could I relate to how lost Pooh felt without the constant companionship of his best friend.  The movie turns me into a blubbering mess. Even to this day! Then, 13 years later as she headed off to collegeToy Story 3 came out. Andy was also headed to college! Yeah, more tears. I did get a great idea from the movie though. Let’s clean out the bedroom! Three boxes: Take to College, Yard Sale/Giveaway, and Put in Storage. How can so much accumulate over 18 years?

Anyway, here are the exhaustive lists I came up with. Perhaps they can help you when your little chicks leave your nest. Always be sure to check with the college to see what is allowed and for size preferences. Keep in mind your student’s needs will depend on what is available to them in their dorm or apartment such as air conditioning, kitchen, and personal bathrooms. And obviously, boys’ needs will differ slightly from girls’ needs.

Highlight the lists below, right click, and print them out to take with you on your shopping adventure!

Go through the lists with your student just as I will with mine. Cross off what is not needed/wanted and add any additional needs/wants.

Miscellaneous

  • File Box for receipts, school paperwork, important papers, manuals etc.
  • Insurance information
  • Emergency phone numbers of family members listed their cell phone and written on paper.
  • Stamps/Envelopes/Stationary
  • Small amount of Cash: There are always last minute lab kits, fees, Taco Bell runs, and other needs that come up.
  • Flashlight/Batteries
  • Heating Pad/Hot Water Bottle
  • Ice Pack
  • Fish tank-20 gallons or less/small fish/food
  • Aloe Vera plant
  • Box fan/small fan
  • Broom/Dustpan/Electric Broom
  • Area rug
  • Small trash can/bags
  • Small toolkit
  • Board games/playing cards

 

First Aid Kit

  • Durable plastic container to hold the items below
  • Solarcaine burn spray
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Eye Drops
  • Ibuprofen/Minerals for PMS
  • Variety of Band Aids/Antibiotic ointment
  • Benadryl for bee stings/allergic reactions
  • Sudafed for colds
  • Multi-Vitamins
  • Vitamin C/Zinc lozenges
  • Cough Drops

 

Toiletries

  • Contact lens case/solution
  • Prescription glasses/case
  • Sunglasses
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Make-Up/case
  • Tissues
  • Coconut Oil (make-up removal)
  • Sunblock/Aloe lotion
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Plastic Shower Bucket
  • Toothpaste/floss/toothbrush
  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Hair Care  products
  • Head bands/ponytail bands/bobby pins
  • Homemade laundry soap/fabric softener (vinegar)
  • Shower gel/soap
  • Shave cream/razor
  • Facial cleanser/moisturizer
  • Liquid Hand soap

 

Linens

  • Two sets Twin XL Sheets (dorm mattresses are longer than standards)
  • Comforter/Pillows/Blankets
  • Bath towels/hand towels/washcloths
  • Dish towels/dishcloths
  • Beach towel
  • Hamper tote/basket
  • Clothes hangers
  • Expandable Curtain Rod/Shower curtain for open closets
  • Shower curtain for bath tub

 

Electronics

  • Laptop (w/Skype for chat sessions)/Sleeve/Mouse/Cords/MS Office or OpenOffice.org
  • Surge protector/Power strip
  • Camera/SD cards
  • Cell phone/charger
  • Printer (with USB port and USB cord)/scanner/copier
  • copy paper/ink cartridges
  • 19″ TV/DVD player
  • Karaoke Machine
  • Radio/speakers/ear-buds
  • Alarm Clock

 

Clothing & Accessories

  • Business outfit(s) for mock interviews/church
  • Seasonal clothing due to space
  • Sweat pants/exercise pants/exercise shirts w/sleeves
  • Bathrobe/flip-flops for shower
  • Socks/Undergarments
  • Shoes/Boots/Sandals/Athletic Shoes
  • Jacket/Hoodie
  • Hats/Scarves
  • Rainy weather: Umbrella/Raincoat/Rain boots
  • Jewelry
  • Sewing Kit
  • Small suitcase/Duffle bag

 

Desk & School Supplies

  • Bible/Devotional
  • Backpack
  • Desk lamp/bulbs
  • Family picture in a frame
  • Digital frame with SD card of family/friends pictures
  • White tack gum/Command Hooks
  • Posters/Wall Decorations
  • Desk Calendar
  • Agenda/Planner
  • Pens/Pencils/Highlighters
  • Notebooks/paper
  • Calculator
  • Post it notes
  • Message Board (cork board/dry erase)
  • Stapler/paperclips/scissors/tape/rubberbands

 

Appliances & Kitchen

  • Check for permission and size regulations first!
  • Paper plates/cups/napkins/forks/spoons
  • Dinnerware/Bowls
  • Silverware
  • Glasses/Mugs
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Dish drainer/mat
  • Cookware/Utensils
  • Mini Fridge 5.5 cu. ft.
  • Ice Cube Tray
  • Tea Kettle
  • Keurig machine
  • George Foreman Grill
  • Panini Maker
  • Air Popcorn popper
  • Small Microwave
  • Hair Dryer
  • Flat irons/curling irons
  • Dish soap/dishwasher detergent/rinse

 

Food

  • Sturdy tote with tight fitting lid
  • Shelf
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Fresh Fruits/Veggies
  • Keurig cups
  • Microwavable food cups
  • Crackers/Munchies/Granola bars
  • Water pitcher with filter
  • Small juice bottles
  • Small chocolate milk cartons
  • Greek yogurt cups
  • Applesauce/fruit cups
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Canned foods (tuna/veggies/soups/meats/etc)
  • Freezer foods ( blueberries/veggies/Fruit Juice bars/etc)
  • Shelf stable foods (seeds/nuts/etc)
  • Salt and Pepper grinders/Spices/Dried Onions/Garlic
  • Hot Chocolate Mix/Tea bags
  • Honey

Remember, it’s best not to try to take everything that will be needed all year long. Take what is needed for the time being and exchange clothes and other items on trips home.

First Love

He’s a girl’s first love.
True unconditional, everlasting love.

He is handsome. Funny. Strong. Gentle.

When both my girls were younger, they each proclaimed when they grew up they were going to marry him!

He can fix anything from broken bikes to broken hearts.

A girl’s first love may even take her out on a date.

Watching this video of a girl’s first date will tug at your heartstrings!

You can read about the story behind the video here. It was a real first date!

Check out the company behind the video here.

100% of the profits made from BeCause of Camilito are donated to one of three Compassion International funds!

Our family sponsors an adorable young girl through Compassion. As a matter of fact we just received a letter from her yesterday. She drew an adorable picture for us of her bunny.

I just came across this video and BeCause of Camilito today.

From what I can see, they appear to be a genuine company with a heart for God’s children.

Their video of a girl’s first love was so cute I just had to share with you.

First love ~Back To Family.net

photo credit: Screenshot from The Best First Date video (http://youtu.be/GiOJuIPl8vE)

A girl’s first love. Her prince charming. His name…Daddy!