11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day)

How do you celebrate the fathers in your life?

this grateful mama

11 Ways For Mamas & Kids To Express Gratitude On Father’s Day (And Every Day) | thisgratefulmama.com

Can you believe that Father’s Day is already just over one week away? Father’s day is one of my favorites to prepare for – it’s a dedicated day to show my husband how much I appreciate him, and a day to help our children express how grateful they are for their daddy.

I often struggle with how to best express this intense appreciation and gratitude. We just want it to be a special day honoring the one who is so special to us.

Last year, we gave my husband a photo desk calendar, celebrated with a family meal, and our 3-year-old son gave a framed set of interview questions and answers. This year we want to shake it up a bit. Here’s a few ideas we’ve used in the past or are considering for this and future years.

(Now…if you are my husband reading this….this might be a good place to stop or you may…

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Doubt

 

Doubt | thisgratefulmama.com

Last year, my daughter and I studied the book of John at Bible Study Fellowship. One theme that struck me was how John, a disciple and close friend of Jesus, identifies himself.

The one whom Jesus loved.

I was baffled by how it seemed to be new information even though I have studied John before. God’s timing is perfect – it took the entire year, but He finally revealed why this theme was so important to me.

To explain why, I need to first give you the backstory.

Our third child was born in May of 2016. She, like our firstborn son experienced silent reflux symptoms and spent her first months writhing and screaming in pain. It was gut-wrenching and we felt helpless.

Again.

Unlike the first time around, we had previous experience. We recognized the symptoms and assumed we knew what to do. Then our doctor agreed so she began reflux mediation.

But symptoms remained.

Long story short, we later learned she had a tongue and lip tie that was corrected by a pediatric dentist. Once healed, she was able to eat without choking or gulping air. Her reflux was controlled with medication.

Life settled down. She no longer writhed in pain.

And we put it behind us.

Well. Not quite.

My emotional distress over the issue lingered. I wrestled with why a child should endure such pain. And WHY it happened again to one of our children.

As feelings surfaced, I distracted myself. I reasoned – it was over, we had moved on. We had a healthy, thriving and now happy baby.

Lingering on what was felt like the opposite of gratitude. And I was grateful she was feeling better.

So I ignored it. Stuffed it. 

This was building to be more than just a little distress. Old, deep-seated emotions and pain from the first time when we watched our son struggle now mingled with the new these fresh new emotions. The old emotions had not lost their sharp, raw edge, even with the passage of time. (I’ve shared some about difficulties during my first year as a mom before. I’m not going to rehash it now but you can read about it here.)

The truth is, babies are born with all kinds of maladies and challenges – reflux is by far, not the worst. But when anything causes your child pain, it affects you deeply as a parent. This time around, our daughter’s pain also affected our other children.  They too coped with the stress of their sister’s pain and their parents’ attention being consumed by the baby.

Now, on to my doubt.

The last day of BSF is ‘sharing day’ – picture 500 women and an open microphone. Women share publicly what God has done in their lives through the study.

It’s amazing.

The morning was crazy and I was running late. As I slid into a row towards the back, I sighed with relief.

My plan was to just sit and listen to other women praise God for what He had done in their lives that year.

Then this funny thing happened. I kept having this strange thought that I needed to share. My heart started pounding and I thought – not in front of all these people.

Nope.

If the Holy Spirit has prompted you to share something before, then you know exactly what I’m talking about – whether to one person or before 500.

The heart pounding – it’s a THING.

Suddenly I’m scribbling notes with a pink sharpie on an old receipt – trying to get my thoughts in order before I head up front.

Several times in the study of John the topic of doubt came up. Each time, I quickly assessed myself (as in, not really) and pridefully said, of course I don’t doubt God!

He is who He says He is. Nothing is too hard for Him. His word is true and powerful. 

How could I doubt Him?

The most famous example of doubt is in John 20. ‘Doubting’ Thomas is not with the other disciples when Jesus appears to them after the resurrection. Thomas does not believe the disciples account and wants physical proof – to touch Jesus’ wounds.

You guys, Jesus is so kind.

He knew Thomas’ doubts and soon lovingly gave the opportunity to see and touch His wounds, without reprimand. Thomas believes and proclaims, ‘My Lord and My God!‘.

During the lecture the week we studied Thomas, we were challenged to ask God to show us our doubts and bring those doubts to Jesus. It was so compelling, I began praying before we even left the parking lot.

It wasn’t long before it was clear that I did have doubt.

I never doubted that Jesus was ABLE to prevent our children’s pain.

I never doubted He was ABLE to heal them at any time. 

We prayed and prayed. Both children were healed in His unique way, and in His time. But not in OUR Time.

So I doubted His love

For our son. For our daughter. For our family.

For ME. 

We placed our hope and faith in Him in our distress and didn’t get the response we desired. We prayed boldly. We trusted.

We pleaded and cried out before Him as we held our sweet hurting babies.

And for a time that seemed far too long, they kept on hurting.

And doubt creeped in.

Looking back, I see God’s faithfulness. He carried us, sending help and comfort, even when it felt He was far away and unresponsive.

If I had read Thomas’ story at the beginning of the year, I would have likely ignored what it challenged me to see – I wasn’t ready to face my doubt. 

But God’s loving kindness is so gentle. Before He revealed my doubt, He impressed upon me that my true identity is the one whom Jesus loves. And how the same is true for each of our children.

It is no accident that all these feelings from our firstborn were stirred up and relived with our daughter, just before starting the study of John – the gospel of love.

I will never fully comprehend on this side of heaven what God was doing when He allowed our babies to struggle. But He does show us glimpses of His work. I believe ONE reason He allowed this again in our life was to free me from the burden of doubt. 

Only after He had prepared me by showing me His steadfast love, did He reveal I doubted it. And carried around those feelings for the last 7 years.

That is long time to carry around doubt laced with pain.

So, tearfully but with unexpected boldness, I found myself speaking into an open microphone before 500 women proclaiming God’s love and confessing my doubt.

The God of restoration revealed my doubt, not to shame me, but to free me. He did it to redeem the part of my soul I had shut off from Him because it was shrouded in the fear that God didn’t really love us as I desperately needed Him to.

What a wonderful God we serve – who doesn’t leave us in our broken condition and continues to actively capture and heal our hearts! 

And He will continue to help us break free from the broken we harbor and carry around inside.

Today I stand in that freedom, knowing there will be other difficulties and hard things in my life and in the lives of our family that will challenge my faith and the truth of God’s word.

Without a doubt, there will be other doubts. 

This experience has shown me how in the past I’ve judged Thomas for his doubt.

You know what? ‘Doubting’ Thomas gets a bad-rap.

We all encounter doubts. Walking with Jesus in the midst of a broken world means we are imperfect and incapable of imperfect faith. Doubt is reality. There’s a little Thomas in all of us – when we claim to never doubt, we are deceived by pride.

As with every Bible character, their examples of imperfection and God’s loving response is left there for people just like me. And you. I’m so grateful God included Thomas’ story in the Bible to encourage us in our doubt. God wisely let us know that even one of the 12 disciples, who walked side by side with Jesus here on earth, had doubts too.

Today I stand better equipped to handle new doubts because I have experienced firsthand how Jesus knows my doubts, before I do. He does not waste them. Instead, He gently uses doubts to strengthen and embolden our faith. He draws us closer to Him and will continue to do so until we are with Him and like Him in eternity.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

Amen.

 

Doubt | thisgratefulmama.com

PS: If you aren’t familiar with BSF, you may want to be! It’s an international organization providing FREE, true to God’s word, Bible studies to men, women and children. Next year’s study is Romans and starts in September – check it out!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables)

Somehow, the baby turned ONE in May. To celebrate we did a Twinkle Twinkle Little Star party. Her decorations were very simple.

Lights

These Paper Star string lights were a simple addition to set a ‘twinkling’ mood for the party.

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Entryway Picture Wall

A picture wall welcomed guests in the entryway. It was fun to pick out our favorite 4×6 photos from the first year. To keep with the theme we added a few patterned scrapbook paper stars.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Birthday Photo Banner

Every birthday at our house includes a large photo banner strung across the main room. The banner includes one picture per month from the previous year intermixed with a birthday message – Audra Grace Is One. Clothes pins covered with pink sparkle washi tape gave the black and white banner a pop of color and ‘twinkle‘.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Cake

To make cake-smashing fun for the baby who cries when her hands are dirty (maybe she’ll be the cleanest child), we opted for a tri-color layer cake with simple white frosting between layers. It’s not fancy, but worked great (she didn’t really like touching squishy cake layers either so I am grateful for time saved by not frosting the whole thing!)

Paper Star string lights were a simple addition to help set the mood for the party.

Decorations

Now for some simple decorations you can print at home.

You guys, I am so excited to announce the first FREE printables from thisgratefulmama!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.comThe images are centered on 8.5″x11″ paper so you can leave them as they are or trim them to be square. Just click on the links below and print the PDFs on white cardstock.

 

 FREE Printables

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.comTwinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

How I Wonder What You Are

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.comTwinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Up Above The World So High

Like A Diamond in the Sky

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Do You Know How Loved You Are

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.comTwinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

One is Sweet Take A Treat

She Twinkles Wherever She Goes

 

Happy Birthday little one!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Free Printables | thisgratefulmama.com

 

How I Became A Human Vending Machine

How I Became A Human Vending Machine | thisgratefulmama.comOnce upon a time I began giving our kids snacks in the store – a welcome and needed diversion, providing extra time and distraction. And, a more pleasant shopping experience for all.

The goal of the store snack is time.

MORE time.

Now, I’m not saying my kids are unruly or unmanageable without snacks. Most of the time, they are great. I can count on one hand times our kids have melted in the store – with or without snacks. They know how to behave. But when it comes to kids, even with the best laid plans, melt-downs do sometimes happen so we need to be prepared to deal with them with grace and move on.

Every child, even the most pleasant child, has a time limit. That limit may vary but could be caused by boredom, hunger, fatigue or some unexpected issue. Whatever the looming threat may be, we’re always on the melt-down clock when running errands.

For us, snacks keep the peace while warding off the real and serious problem of the hangries.

Tick-tock.

At first, the kids slowly ate and talked while we shopped. It was really quite lovely. Foods that take time to chew are first on the list: carrot sticks, snap peas, apple slices, etc.

These bags of healthy goodness were a win-win – they ate without complaint, and stayed happy longer. Generally, appetites for lunch weren’t ruined, and if they were it was OK – they got the good stuff in first.

For a while – it was almost foolproof.

Gone were the days of running through the store at break-neck speeds tossing things in the cart to get in and out before the melt-down clock ran out.

Our pace was just right. Leisurely, even.

I seemed like a brilliant solution. And maybe it was

But the glory-days of snack shopping was limited to about one year. As the kids grew older, that shiny brilliance has faded.

It isn’t that snacks don’t work anymore. They do. But trips just aren’t leisurely anymore.

Snacks can be a slippery slope. If there’s one snack, why not another, and another?

We’re back on the clock – but now it’s the snack clock. Better get everything done before the snacks run out.

My now older children scarf down even the chewiest snack in 2.2 seconds. They don’t want to chat and eat, they just want the next snack. Fast. So they inhale them – I mean, do they even chew them? At dinner, the same foods would take FOR-EV-ER.

Bottomless pits, I tell you.

I delay the next snack by requiring that we find a garbage to get rid of our trash first. It’s kind of a game, but more so just a tool for getting a few minutes between snacks. You can find us easily, my kids are the ones shouting at the top of their lungs – mom, I see a garbage!

Hooray (note sarcasm)...now you can have more snacks.

It seems that the store snack solution has slowly made me into a real-life human vending machine. For the payment of quiet, happy children, I fork over snacks while I get my workout pushing a cart loaded with 3 children and all our stuff at record speed.

It’s a mad dash, but, generally still a pleasant one.

Now that the kids are older, snacks still include healthy veggies and fruit. To try and slow the bigger kids down, they get beef jerky, raisins, roasted chickpeas or sunflower seeds (no shell), and mini bagels. The chewier, the better.

As you may assume from that list, sometimes snacks become lunch. It isn’t ideal, but does work out well if you need to do a lot of errands in a row. 

Plus, returning home and immediately plopping them in their rooms for a rest still feels somewhat shiny and brilliant. Unloading groceries in peace is a gift.

Don’t tell my kids, but I may also keep a bag Dum-Dums in my purse for emergencies (ahem – when snacks run out). IF the kids were good the whole trip, they just might get one.

I’m not above bribing them.

But one could argue that all store snacks are bribery – I prefer to use the word incentives. 

Although snacks no longer provide a luxurious shopping experience, they are still effective in making our errands happier on a regular basis – and for that I’m grateful.

The human vending machine – yep, that’s me. Or perhaps more like the genie from Aladdin – Poof, what do you need?

Either way, I’m OK with it.

How do YOU feel about snacks in the store? 

Gifts Moms With Little Ones Will Love

Need a last minute Mother’s Day gift idea?

this grateful mama

collage-final

Do you know a mom with little ones that you would like to bless this Christmas?

Well.

Then this list is for YOU! Whether she’s your mom, wife, friend, or daughter, here’s some gift ideas she’ll love.

*Note – I am not affiliated with any of the gifts below, these are simply some of my favorite items that I think other moms could use and would like.

thermosNo Spill Coffee Mug – You guys, this Thermos Stainless King 16 Oz Travel Tumbler is the best. Ever. I’ve been using mine daily for 3 years and it’s still in great shape. Why so great? I just throw it right in my purse or diaper bag because this lid DOES NOT leak (as long as you close the lid – a grievous mistake). Keeps coffee piping hot for 5 hours, or cold things cold for 9.

coloring-bookColor-therapy – What could be more soothing than…

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DIY Glass Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces

Looking for a meaningful Mother’s Day gift idea? You have plenty of time to make a Photo Pendant Necklace!

this grateful mama

DIY Glass Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces | www.thisgratefulmama.com

You guys…

I’ve been working on a tutorial, but it isn’t done, and I just couldn’t wait any longer to share a photo of one of these necklaces!

Consider this a sneak peek because I just can’t help myself.

In July, our family celebrated the birthdays of my mom and my husband’s grandma. This year we found ourselves at a bit of a loss of what to give. Neither of them really need anything, nor do they really desire more ‘stuff’.

While they appreciate ALL gifts, personal gifts (especially those involving grandchildren or great-grandchildren) often elicit the most joyful response. You know, the face-lights-up-with-delight kind of response.

Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly collecting supplies to make photo pendant necklaces. I wasn’t sure when I’d make them or who to give them to, but it was something I really wanted to try. Taking my time to buy supplies, I was able to buy everything on sale or with…

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Just Once More…

In just 2 short weeks, this baby will be ONE and no longer a baby! Relishing these last ‘baby’ days as we head into a new stage of life.

this grateful mama

Just Once MoreI love being pregnant. Some people think that is weird, and I’m ok with it. I don’t love the nausea, aches and pains, or interrupted sleep, but there is just something incredibly special and sweet that words cannot quite describe.

At first, despite the sickness, I love the knowledge that a little someone is being knit together inside of me. There is simply nothing that compares to the truth that God, Himself, is creating and carefully making a person with their own unique features and personality. A miracle within. It is the knowledge that He chose me to be this child’s mom, my husband to be her dad, and that this baby is the perfect addition to our family.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full…

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