Month: October 2015

Make a Memory Table for Someone Who has Died #AllSaintsDay #KidMin #SeamlessFaith

memorytable2

Tomorrow is All Saint’s Day. Today is Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve. There are so many cultural traditions around this time of year in the US… dressing up, carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating. The one tradition that I like to emphasize with families is the idea of remembering family members who have gone before us. On All Saints’ Day, November 1, we name those who are important to us who are now part of the church triumphant.

This activity, creating a memory table, is a way to teach children about someone they may not have had the chance to know who is important in your family. Alternatively, it’s a way to remember a family member or friend who has died. There are more detailed instructions in the book  (along with 49 other activities!) but here’s how I did our memory table this morning with my boys, ages 3 and 4.

I gathered a few things together that reminded me of my grandmother, Fern Smith, whom they have never met.

  • A picture of her
  • A crochet hook and crochet project (because she liked to crochet)
  • Measuring spoons (because she was an excellent cook and baker)
  • A Beatrix Potter book (because she brought home some Beatrix Potter prints from England)
  • A few candles

I said “I made this table of things about my grandma, your great grandma, and I want to tell you about them.” I explained each of the things and then lit the candles. I said “My grandma was a very special person, just like your grandma. Amen.” And then we blew out the candles. Very simple. It would have been a much more involved conversation if my children were older, and I think in future years we will be able to have longer conversations. As my children get older, I’d like them to be involved in selecting the items that go on the memory table.

What do you think, would you make a memory table for someone in your family? What would you put on it?

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4 Spiritual Practices to Reduce Anxiety and Stress #spiritualpractice #anxiety #stress

Like so many people I struggle to find peace amid stress and anxiety. Anxiety and stress take so many different forms in our lives: headaches, panic attacks, muscle tension, and on and on. Negative effects of stress on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being are well known and researched. What to do about it? When stress and anxiety becomes overwhelming, it’s often important to consult a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist or all of the above. The advice on this post is not meant to substitute for those important resources.  That said, here are some of the things that I use that have helped me tremendously.

headspace1. Meditation – I’ve wanted to learn to meditate for a long time but never found a system or method that helped me learn until I found HEADSPACE. Headspace is an app that teaches you, step by step, how to meditate. The first 10 lessons (10 minutes each) are free. There is a subscription service after that. I’ve been using Headspace for about 2 months now, and I love it. Give it a try!

biblejournalb2 2. Bible Art Journaling I’ve written about Bible Journaling HERE and HERE and given some tips on how to get started and what resources to use. I find that Bible Art Journaling is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.

 

 

 

 

 

mandalacoloring3. Mandalas and Coloring Books for Adults. Adult Coloring is all the rage recently, and with good reason.  Here is a link to a nice book of mandalas, and here is a lovely one called Beauty in the Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

gratitude4. Gratitude Practices  Gratitude has many scientifically proven benefits. There are many ways to establish a gratitude practice, from writing in a journal every day, to simply jotting down five things for which you are grateful once a week. I have a journal that I write in sporadically, and Elias and I also list five things on Sunday evenings and share them with one another.

 

 

 

 

Bonus: Here are a few other things that have helped me with stress and anxiety. Maybe give them a try!

  •  Relaxation therapy (aka the best nap in the world!): When I have gone in for relaxation treatments for anxiety, the practitioner puts me on a table with cushions under my neck and knees, puts noise canceling headphones on my ears that play nature sounds, puts a lavender scented eye pillow on my eyes, and (the most luxurious part of it, for me) covers me with a  weighted blanket. I lie there and take a 30 minute luxurious relaxation nap break. I have yet to recreate this whole setup at home, but it is one of my goals, because I come out of each treatment feeling great. Your own at home relaxation spa! Give it a try!
  • I try to cut back on caffeine when I’m super stressed and add tea to the mix. One of my favorite teas recently is lavender. (Sensing a theme?) I also use lavender candles, lotion and bubble bath.

 

Those are all my tricks and tips! Happy relaxing and de-stressing!

 

FCC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links! Happy Shopping!

 

 

Smart Phone Meditation – 4 Minute Meditation With Your Phone #spiritualpractice #seamlessfaith

cellphonemeditation

I’m glued to my phone, just like so many people. Recently I’ve been thinking about a few ways to not be. I have a few ideas rolling around in my head about how to become unglued and I’ll write a post about those sometime soon. For now, though, here’s a way to use your phone as a spiritual practice. It’s so easy!

  1. Go to your text messages. Pray, specifically, for the last five people in there, whoever they are. (One minute)
  2. Go to your photos, is there something in there that brings you joy or makes you thankful? Thank God for it. (One minute)
  3. Open up a news app or go to a news page… scroll through the headlines, praying for the issues that you see. (One minute)
  4. Open a Bible app (or use google) and read Psalm 145. (One minute.)

So easy, and so unexpected, right? We did this in our parenting class on Sunday and had some interesting discussions about it.

Source: This meditation is adapted from one that Lily Lewin did at a conference I was at awhile ago.

Marking the Days God has Given #spiritualpractice #kidmin #seamlessfaith

So… my iMovie skills are… Elementary. But I just love this practice.

Unfortunately, the only way to see it right now is on Facebook! I’m a mess! I’ll work on getting this embedded in this post, but for now, enjoy.

One of the things that brings tears to my eyes is the idea that I wrote Seamless Faith with my own children in mind, but sort of forgot about that. In an effort to really focus on connecting with my boys, I started to use the faith practices from Seamless Faith that are designed for toddlers. So fun.

This practice is amazingly simple. Find a way to attach stars to a page (right now we’re using star stickers, but have done velcro stars in the past. Pro tip: laminate or contact paper the stars so they don’t rip, that was our problem.)

Ask your children to say “Thank you God for Another Day” as you put the stars on the page.

This is a great practice for preschool aged children.

The thing I love most about it is that it encourages the children (and I) to remember that each day is a gift. We don’t judge the day. We don’t talk about whether it was a “good day” or a “bad day” we just say thank you for the day and mark its passing.

For more information or for 49 other practices just like this, check out the book!

Parenting Practice: Write Some Goals Down… Stick ’em On the Cabinet #spiritualpractice #parenting #itsenough

parentinggoals

True confession: many times I don’t feel like I’m “living up to” what I should be as a parent. I know lots and lots of dads and moms feel this way, but sometimes it feels like an extra weight on my shoulders. After all… I wrote a parenting book, for crying out loud. Are my kids going to be like the cobbler’s kids who have no shoes? Am I the one who has great ideas for everybody else’s kids, but not my own?  It’s a lot of pressure, not going to lie. I read a lot about parenting. Blogs… articles… listicles… books. Sometimes I think it helps. Sometimes I know it doesn’t. For me, the struggle is not in knowing what to do, but in actually applying that knowledge. It’s like being healthy. Everybody knows that going for a jog and not eating cheese fries is healthy, but going for a jog is a lot of work, and the cheese fries are convenient.

So what helps? Well… here’s one thing that has been working for me. It’s super simple.  I didn’t do it for you (or y’all as we say in Texas). I did it for me, but since it’s working, I thought I’d share it. It’s really easy. Embarrassingly easy. Ready?

I wrote down some goals. 

I stuck them on my cabinet. 

I read them every morning while I wait (impatiently) for my coffee to brew.

That is it. Seriously. Nothing else. I don’t achieve all of the goals every day, but they’re there. It’s like parenting food for my brain. I’m going to share my goals with you, but I don’t think you should just copy them. I think you should write your own. Here are some tips that will help you:

  1. Don’t overthink them. You probably have an idea about what will help you in your parenting. In fact. I know you know what to do. Sit down and write them down.
  2. Try to frame them in the positive. Instead of “don’t yell” write “Speak calmly.” Don’t we have enough voices trying to judge us already? We don’t need to judge ourselves.
  3. No more than… say… 12. I mean… how many goals can you reasonably have? I wasn’t aiming for 10, but 10 came out. There are 10 commandments. Seems like a good number. But you can have up to 12.
  4. Just do you. Think of things that are realistic for you. I wanted to put something like “no screen time” on mine. Not realistic. My boys are going to watch Daniel Tiger every single day. I’m fine with that. I’m not judging myself against somebody else’s parenting. I’m judging myself against mine
  5. Get extra help if you need it. This is the hardest part, but if you need help with your parenting, you can get it! Find a coach. Reach out to a friend. Don’t do it alone; We’re all in this together!

There you have it. Good luck! If it helps to share yours, I’d love to see them! Post a link to your pictures here.

My goals for parenting Clayton and Samuel

  1. Look them in the eye.
  2. Notice what they are doing and talk about it.
  3. Focus on them individually and together each day.
  4. Avoid working on other things when it is our time.
  5. Include them in chores and tasks.
  6. Sing to them.
  7. Read to them.
  8. Create art.
  9. Say yes whenever possible (even creatively).
  10. Keep a quiet voice and non-towering presence.

Good luck!