We’re moving!

So… here I go, moving from this wordpress.com site to wordpress.org. I pretty much do NOT know what I’m doing, but here we go! For now, this old site will be live until I figure out how to do the merging correctly, but all new posts will show up at http://www.traci-smith.com

Please start following me there!

Mentor Monday: Love Your Kids for Who They Are (not what they do), Lynn Smith, Supermom

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How fun and exciting to think about having my mom as the second mentor on Mentor Monday. Nobody’s mom is perfect, but mine is pretty darn awesome. She inspired many of the activities in my book, she is hilarious and creative, and she’s always there for us. I knew I wanted to feature her on Mentor Monday, but I couldn’t decide which of her many life lessons to include. As I thought about it, though, I kept coming back to one of her most constant refrains: “Remember, I love you for who you are, not for what you do.” What a lovely thing to have ringing in your ear as a child.

 I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of my favorite Bible verses mirrors this language almost exactly. Titus chapter 3, verses 4 and 5 “When the kindness and love of God our Savior came, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Growing up I was a fairly success oriented kid. I liked school so much that I cried when I couldn’t go, I wanted to be in the science club and the environmental club and the band and the writing competition. I liked to achieve things. My parents were very supportive of all these endeavors. They proudly displayed awards and sat through band concerts, they took pictures and hung them on the fridge. They were encouraging, but they were very clear that the things I achieved didn’t earn me their love. In fact, my mom regularly said “Remember, Traci, I love you because of who you are, not what you do.” She wrote it down and put it in envelopes and cards, and she whispered it in my ear all throughout my childhood and young adulthood. I don’t know if it meant a lot to me as a child, but I remember it now, all the time.

Of course we want success for our children, but more than this, we want them to be at peace with themselves, confident that they are loved by God and loved by the adults in their lives. Take a page out of my mom’s playbook: tell your children you love them for no other reason than that they are yours.

mamaAbout my mom: My mom, Lynn Smith, is amazing. She’s funny and silly and she takes lots of pictures. She’s a master at connecting with her grandkids through Skype, hates to sew with a sewing machine, and loves her children unconditionally. Thanks mom!

photo credit: Sarah Clapp

 

 

 

It’s Here! It’s Here! 2016 Family Practices Calendar!

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Back for 2016, the wildly popular Lenten Practices Family Calendar! Families loved this calendar last year, and this year it’s available for $1.00 for personal use. See other listings for church use.

The activities on the calendar are based around the “3 Pillars” of Lent. Prayer [P], Fasting [F] and Almsgiving/Service [S]. The pillars are rotated throughout lent with simple activities. On the prayer days, use the word provided to inspire a prayer you write, draw, or sing. All of the activities are suggestions. Modify them for your own family. © Traci Smith, 2016. All rights reserved.

There are some notable changes with the calendar this year.

1. Based on feedback from last year, there are no fasting activities on Sunday, in accordance with Roman Catholic Tradition. (Note: severe restriction of food is *not* the type of fasting recommended in these activities, they are much milder, such as refraining from sweets for a day, or similar.)

2. This calendar includes a coupon code for FREE SHIPPING for my book, Seamless Faith, from Chalice Press.

Please see last year’s calendar for an example of the kinds of activities included. This calendar is very similar, has some duplications from last year, but also has plenty of new material to keep it fresh and interesting.

Get it here

Valentines Traditions & Little Love Letters from God!

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It’s impossible to think that Valentine’s Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. I seriously need to get my Christmas Tree down #notkidding. Annnyyyyway, even though it’s coming up alarmingly fast, Valentine’s Day is a great day for kids and traditions. Last year I made up this fun list of 50 things to do with families on Valentine’s Day. Feel free to print it out, post it on your Facebook wall and send it around. Which one might you do this year?

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This year, I’d like to add another Valentine’s Day tradition: Write a Love Letter to God. Sit down and think of all of the reasons your family loves God: God is gracious and slow to anger, God is merciful, God is our friend… The love letter could be quite simple and a sweet way to connect a secular holiday to a faith practice. To make the practice even more magical, after your child wrote the love letters to God, you could say “Guess what? Now we’re going to read some love letters from God” and you could present your children with the book Love Letters from God! I think it would be memorable and fun. You could even make it a yearly tradition and stash the book away as the Valentine’s Day book.

 As I mentioned when I interviewed the author, Glenys Nellist awhile back, it’s a gorgeous book with beautiful illustrations littlelovelettrsand the thrilling ability to read a love letter to your child with each story. One of the things I asked Glenys about in that Q&A was whether or not a board book would ever be available and… huzzah! It is now! It’s called Little Love Letters from God, and it’s a mini version of the original. I don’t like it more than the original, but I definitely like it just as much.  Predictably, when we read it through the first time, all Samuel wanted to do was open all of the letters and read them. And you know what? It’s not a bad thing for a child to hear over and over and over again. Dear Samuel, I love you. I love you. I love you. There’s even a place to write the child’s name in the book if you like. Each story comes up with  different attributes for God and a different reason that God loves the child. It’s absolutely the message that we tell our children every single day. God loves you.

So… tell your children that you love them, but also tell them that God loves them.

Here’s the fun part… Zonderkidz is giving away a copy of Little Love Letters to a reader of this blog! Yay! All you have to do is type a comment on this post saying who you would read the book to (or give it to) and you’ll be entered! I’ll use random.org to pick a winner and announce it on January 28!  (Note: Zonderkidz requires that entrants have a street address — no PO Boxes, please. This giveaway is also only open to US addresses.)

Note: Please submit your comment only once, comments need to be approved, so they may take up to 24 hours to show up. 

 

UPDATE: Congrats to Dena who was the winner!! 

 

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Coming Soon: Lenten Family Practices 2016

Friends, we’re already getting lots of inquiries about the Lenten Family Practices Calendar for 2016! The 2015 version was a huge success and I’m excited to put out another version that will be just as exciting and meaningful.

This year the lenten family practices calendar will cost just $1.00 for a personal download and $35.00 for a church license that can be reproduced up to 100 times. This helps keep this blog running and compensates for the extra time I put in to these special projects.

The calendar will launch on February 1, 2016.  Watch this space, the Facebook page, or sign up for the email list for all of the advance scoop! 

Can’t wait!

Mentor Monday: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Tracy Germer, Arbonne Area Manager

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I’m super excited to start a new blog series called Mentor Monday where I share wise advice from friends who have mentored me in one way or another. It seems to me that life is made up of small pieces of good advice that end up being life changing. The best advice I’ve gotten about life or work or parenting has often been the simplest. The goal of this series is to pass along little stories like this and to highlight the advisors themselves. My hope is that the simple advice that I’ve received will be helpful to you and that you’ll get to meet some incredible people along the way. No promises that I’ll post every Monday, but when I post, I’ll post on Monday. Because who couldn’t use good advice on a Monday?

The first piece of advice comes from my friend, businesswoman, and detox-guru Tracy Germer. It’s the most common sense advice we never follow: eat more fruits and vegetables. Awhile back Tracy posted this funny meme:

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And then, a few days later we had the following text conversation (paraphrased, per my memory.)

Me: Ugh. I’m overwhelmed, and busy and kinda sad and still in my bed.

Tracy: You need a salad for lunch.

Me: What? I have no time for salads. No to the salad. Plus, that’s not what I need.

Tracy: I’m bringing you a salad. Dropping it off. Salad drive-by.

And know what? She did. It was a homemade salad with fruits and vegetables along with some Yerba Maté  tea (which is for another post) Guess what happened? I felt better that day. I felt better, in part, because a friend cared enough to drive across town and deliver me a salad, randomly. (I mean… who does that?!) but I also felt better because instead of my usual scrounging around the church for leftover cookies or fast food drive-through, I had a real lunch. The Tracy G salad drive-by changed my lunch routine. I eat salad now for lunch, most days. Every day I have more veggies. I don’t have some fancy new year’s resolution to lose 50 pounds or follow x,y,z, diet. I do have a plan to eat more fruits and vegetables. Why? Because it’s the most common darn sense advice in the universe.

It’s so basic, in fact, I feel like it’s hardly worth mentioning, much less starting a blog series with it. Here’s the thing though: It is worth mentioning, because nobody ever does it.  The CDC recently found that only about 13% of us eat enough fruits and vegetables. Fancy diet advice? You don’t need it, just… Eat a salad for crying out loud. Tracy’s begging you.

tracyAbout Tracy (the very first mentor featured on Mentor Mondays!) In addition to being the only person I know who will bring you a drive-by salad because you’re feeling sad and overwhelmed, Tracy is an area manager for Arbonne. I love Arbonne products. My favorites are this body scrub that smells like sunshine in a jar, the sleep well spray, and (recently) these energy fizz sticks. (Note: I received no compensation from Arbonne or Tracy for this shout out. Well, other than that salad, of course.) Check out the Arbonne, and buy it from Tracy.

 

 

 

 

Ask, Bless, Sparkle, Memory, Give, Receive, Love, and (Letting G0)

At about day 18 I stopped writing my daily reflections as I challenged myself to do. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I would come back and write them later and post them, or if I would let it go. A lot of things started going on: getting ready for Christmas Eve service, caroling the neighborhood, our church potluck and music… a woman who was visiting our congregation was put on hospice care (she died on Christmas Day, her service was yesterday). At first I felt guilty for not writing every day as I had planned, I sat down on Day 19 to write about ask and I realized that what I really wanted to ask myself was this: Is it ok to just let this challenge go? I often struggle to finish what I started, and so there was a part of me that wanted to press on with sheer stubbornness just to finish, just because. But I realized that the writing was a spiritual challenge, meant to provide discipline, yes, but also to provide rest and comfort, and it was causing more stress, another thing to “do.” So I axed it. It was the right decision. It occurs to me that as we think about the new year and what we’d like to take up, we ought to think as well about what we might put down.