15 Sanity-Saving Indoor Activities//Guest Post by Lindsey Bell

I want to welcome my new friend & TMI Ministry Partner, Lindsey Bell. I think you will be blown away by her practical wisdom! Read all the way to the bottom to get details on her giveaway, and please take some time and leave her your comments and ideas.

Let’s hear from Lindsey:
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Winter is in full swing where I live, so we’re spending a lot of time inside. Some days (let’s just be honest), that means I need some sanity-saving activities.

Here are 15 easy and fun things to do with your kids when you’re stuck indoors.

15 Sanity-Saving Indoor Activities:

1. Read a book.

Or better yet…write a book or act out a story.

2. Build a fort with blankets, chairs, and pillows.

Then put some of your child’s favorite toys in the fort, and you’ll hopefully keep him busy for at least 20 minutes.

3. Play indoor hopscotch, tic-tac-toe, and bull’s-eye bowling.

Use masking tape to create some fun family games. Check out this post for photos and more ideas.

4. Pull out some of your favorite games and puzzles.

Candyland and Don’t Break the Ice probably haven’t been played for a while, so dig them out of storage, and your kids will feel like they’ve gotten a new toy.

5. Go on a treasure hunt.

If you want to make this super easy, go ahead and get out those Easter eggs a little early. Your kids won’t mind at all.

6. Get in the kitchen.

Bake some homemade chocolate chip cookies or another favorite treat.

7. Play in the bathtub.

Who says baths are reserved for when you need to get clean? Fill the tub with water, throw in some cups and bowls, and your kids will have a blast.

Or…if there’s snow outside, bring some in and fill the bathtub. Then arm your little ones with dump trucks or measuring cups and spoons.

8. Camp…inside.

Put up your tent in the living room and enjoy some “campfire” food for dinner like hotdogs or s’mores.

9. Play Hide and Seek.

This is a game kids of all ages enjoy. For older children, try playing this game in the dark.

10. Play some games with paper cups.

This post has a lot of fun ideas.

11. Have some cardboard box fun.

Put some crayons in the box, and allow your children to draw whatever they wish. Or turn the box into a playhouse or car.

12. Make paper airplanes.

You could even get out that masking tape and make some targets on your floor to see who can get the closest.

13. Have some fun with toilet paper rolls.

I love the ideas in this blog post.

14. Look through old photos.

Your kids will love to see themselves as babies. They will probably also enjoy seeing pictures of you as a child or young adult.

15. Check out my Pinterest page for more Indoor Crafts and Activities.

Let’s Talk: What other fun things do you like to do with your children indoors?

This post is part of Lindsey Bell’s December blog tour. To enter to win Lindsey’s MEGA-GIVEAWAY (the winner will receive 6 books!), leave a comment on any of Lindsey’s guest posts this month (including this one).

For a full list of participating blogs (and ways to enter!) visit this post on Lindsey’s blog.

*photo courtesy: unsplash

imageAbout Lindsey Bell:
Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity: 52 Insights from the Parents of the Bible. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at any of the following locations:
Her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com
Her website: www.lindseymbell.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LindseyMBell
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorLindseyBell
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LindseyMBell01

imageAbout Searching for Sanity:
Have you ever looked at your beloved children and wondered, what in the world am I doing? Why did God trust me—of all people—to raise them?

Motherhood is the most difficult job many of us will ever take. Searching for Sanity offers moms an opportunity to take a breath, dig into the Word, and learn from parents of the past. In short devotions designed for busy moms, this book uses the parents of the Bible—both the good and the bad—to inspire today’s mothers.

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Posted in faith-filled blogs, giveaway, guest post, household, mentors, motherhood, mothers, online resources, parenting, practical wisdom, products | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Count Your Curses?

imageI was singing along to the old hymn recently,

“Count your curses,
Count them one by one…
Count your many curses,
See what evil has done.”

Don’t click the exit button. I’m obviously aiming at sarcasm to get your attention. And mine.

I don’t know why I go through seasons of negativity, but I do. And nothing is more convicting than the myriad of Thanksgiving quotes, prayers & messages that light up my social media news feeds.

It’s actually kind of like spiritual whiplash. One month I’m reading about the latest ministry split or controversy, what that pastor did or didn’t do, how evil things in the world are causing it to spin off its very axis…then bam, Thanksgiving week hits and all of a sudden I’m supposed to give thanks with a grateful heart and get along and never ever complain. About anything. Because then I wouldn’t be giving thanks in all circumstances.

Wait, I guess that sounds a bit negative.

Seriously, though, it’s incredibly humbling if you think about it. I’m grateful we celebrate Thanksgiving every year and that those reminders exist to flip my gaze. But why is it so easy for me…for us…to get sidetracked in the first place?

I want to wake up every single day with thankfulness dripping from my tongue, genuinely overflowing from my heart and mind. Because God is good. Because He never changes. Because He loves me. Because the Lord is just and righteous and merciful and kind. Because He saved me.

“Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sins are put out of sight.
Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”

Romans 4:7-8, Psalm 32:1-2a, NLT

“What joy…” The NIV says, “Blessed are they.”

Oh believers, we are forgiven. Our sins are tossed way WAY far away. The Lord has cleared our records!!!

It’s my post-Thanksgiving math assignment. To count my blessings, to count my joys, no matter how much evil tries to stack up against them. And I can find no greater place to start than what the Lord did on the cross.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t air our grumblings before God. He says we can approach Him with confidence about every burden we face (1 Peter 5:7, Eph. 3:12, Heb. 4:16) . It means that at the end of the day, He can enable those of us with open and willing hearts to see our complaints and sufferings through the light of the cross of Christ, the One who daily bears my burdens and exclaims, “Nothing is too difficult for Me!”

Let’s do the math together, my friends.

“Count our blessings,
Count them one by one.
Count our many blessings,
See what God has done.”

***”Count Your Blessings” Hymn: Words: John­son Oat­man, Jr., in Songs for Young Peo­ple, by Ed­win Ex­cell (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois: 1897).

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Posted in burdens, christian living article, Christian walk, confidence, everyday moments, faith-colored glasses, gratefulness, holidays, humility, living worship, salvation, social media, spiritual maturity, stress, struggles, surrender, thankfulness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Your Kids Have Good Ideas

imagePlease stop by The M.O.M. Initiative website for my latest post. I always enjoy your added bits of wisdom and encouragement, and it helps other moms too!

Click here: http://www.themominitiative.com/2014/10/24/kids-good-ideas/

And speaking of good ideas, it might be good to get blogging again. Very soon, my friends.

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A Sigh Of Faith

 

Faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does.”

I have no idea which pastor or teacher said this, but I wrote it down in the side space of my Bible, right beside the story of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego in Daniel 3. In verse 16 it says, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

 

“Faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does.”

So this morning, I took all the stuff that’s been bugging me, the burdens I’ve been carrying around, the concern I have for the Church and the world…I laid them at the feet of my Father.
I gave Him my “whys.”
I came close to listing them here, but why would I do that? For your whys are way different from my whys. And God’s ways in answer to the whys are different from all of ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

 

“Faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does.”

Even though God is able, we need to remind ourselves and those around us, that even when His plan differs from what we are praying & hoping for, we will not give up and bow down to the solutions the world (or our own reasoning) has to offer as a quick solution. It may be cliche, but The Lord not only knows best, but He really, REALLY cares for us too.
A deeply personal and real relationship with Him makes a real difference in all that comes against us, in all that that would keep us from surrendering stuff to Him, in making Him our all in all. Because at the end of each day, can we honestly say, “It was He who carried me through”? and “I waited on Him”?
Sometimes, it’s not a “sign” of faith we need to be looking for, but a “sigh” of faith we need to surrender all…
My hope is in You, Lord. I lay all my worries & complaints before You. I place my trust, confidence & faith in You. Help me to stay focused on who You are instead of what I’d like you to do, walking in surrendered obedience no matter what.

“All my longings lie open before You, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You.” Ps. 38:9

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Posted in anxiety, burdens, Christian walk, doubt, faith, faith-filled living, God's faithfulness, stress, struggles, surrender, unbelief, why, worry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judger Turned Judged

image  When I was a new mom, I wanted to appear to everyone like I had my act together and knew what I was doing. But like any other new mom, I didn’t. One of the ways that I coped with the hypocrisy was by jumping on the bandwagons of other moms I admired. They were who I wanted to be, or at least who I wanted others to think I was. And honestly, by the grace of God, most of the bandwagons I jumped on turned out to be pretty good choices. But the state of my heart was another story. I was making motherhood about right performance instead of about a real process, and this led to none other than self-righteousness. Yuck. And that led to judging others. Double yuck.

Do you know what I mean by bandwagon? Merriam-webster.com defines it as “2:  a popular party, faction, or cause that attracts growing support.” What’s funny is that with almost any issue, there are bandwagons traveling in opposite directions. For instance, rocking your baby to sleep versus laying them down awake. Breastfeeding versus formula. Homeschooling versus public or private education. Dating versus courting. And on and on it goes.

Come read the rest of the post & chime in on the discussion at The M.O.M. Initiative!

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Oh, That Forgetfulness!

I used to be able to remember everyone’s name…give me a phone number or a street address? Yep, I’m your gal. I was so good at math and numbers. Memorizing facts (as long as it wasn’t about dates in history) was my forte.

But for awhile now, it seems as though that gift is only a memory, pun intented. I blame it on having children. ;)

One thing I don’t ever want to forget, however, is the power that comes from the Word of God. If I concede to that notion, I’m doomed.

“For the Word that God speaks is alive & full of power–making it active, operative, energizing & effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) & [the immortal] spirit, & of joints & marrow [that is, of the deepest parts of our nature] exposing & sifting & analyzing & judging the very thoughts & purposes of the heart.” Heb 4:12, AMP

But I do forget, I’m ashamed to admit. I can become dull & lazy. And I know I’m not alone.

So I guess this is a gentle reminder, a bit of a nudge to myself & to you as well. Abide in Christ, the living Word. Dig into His Truth in private & examine it with other Christians as well. His goal in confronting us is to bring us into closer relationship with Himself. When we face our sin and our struggles in the light of His Word, provision and healing can come.

“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to understand & sympathize & have a fellow feeling with our weaknesses & infirmities & liability to the assaults of temptation, but One who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.

Let us then fearlessly & confidently & boldly draw near to the throne of grace–the throne of God’s unmerited favor [to us sinners] & find grace to help in good time for every need–appropriate help & well-timed help, coming just when we need it.”

Heb 4:15-16

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Posted in anxiety, Christian walk, confession, confidence, forgiveness, God's faithfulness, God's Word, power, stress, struggles, weaknesses, worry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Being Real Is So Stinkin’ Hard…

Authenticity is not a new word, it’s been buzzing around in Christian circles for some time. We’ve been told to be authentic. Be the real deal. The Bible makes it clear that our love for God and others should be authentic as well.

“Let love be without hypocrisy,” Romans 12:9 says (NASB). Or the NLT puts it this way, “Don’t pretend to love others. Really love them.” Another version says, “Love must be sincere.” Another, “Let love be genuine.”

Who knew there were so many ways to express the importance of authenticity!

And therein lies the dilemma. The fact that being real before God & others is good & right & honorable & Christ-like…well, is it any question it’s upside down to our natural inclinations?

I’ve been pondering this as I prepare to confront other women with this truth at The M.O.M. Initiative’s Better Together Conference next week. We as women (& human-kind in general) long for connection. But even more, way deep down, we desire real connection. Superficial is fine out on the fringe. Surface talk can keep us from being totally alone…but without those relationships that are safe as we “work out our faith in fear & trembling,” we continue to long for that which we know is missing. That which God intended to help sharpen us, refine us…that which God intended for us to help sharpen others, refine others…

But it’s a risk. When we are honest about our struggles, our shortcomings, our insecurities, our strongholds, we risk rejection. We also risk flattery and enablement. We risk abandonment. It seems that there’ s so much more to lose when we live and love genuinely than when we keep others at a distance.

And isn’t it the same in reverse? When that person we’ve admired or put on a pedestal for so long begins to confess what’s really going on in their life, we have to face the conflict within ourselves to decide whether we really want to be close to them or not.

It’s the hard ugly truth.

That’s one of the million reasons we need to cling to God’s grace. His grace loved us “while we were still sinners.” His grace is unrelenting. His grace denies selfishness, has no pretense or falseness. Christ loved people even when they rejected the truth about Him. Christ stayed true to His person and purpose even when He didn’t meet the expectations others had of Him.

And He can enable us to live in this same way. As we confess our need for His genuine love to work in and through us every single day, He will be faithful in the process. Yup, that word again: Process. We won’t see instant perfection; rather, progress as we continue to abide in Him. And even though it’s stinkin’ hard, it’s worth it…if not this moment, eventually it will be.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. 1 Thess 5:23-24

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Downplaying Your Teen’s Drama

imageI’ll never forget the day my then 14-year old (now 16) daughter argued, “Well, I’m not you, Mom. I haven’t been abused like you were, but my pain still hurts. And I hate admitting that to you.”

I’m not gonna lie, I learned something that day. But even now with a 19-year old son and 16- & 14-year old daughters, I’m still tempted to revert back to showing them how much better they have it than I did (or many others do).
And you know what?

Dismissing, downplaying, diminishing…dissing my teen’s troubles, though understandable at times, is the wrong approach to teaching them gratitude and perseverance.

Read the rest & share your wisdom on this topic at The M.O.M. Initiative

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Posted in condemnation, daughters, family, grace, household, motherhood, mothers, parenting, raising teens, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

And the Winner Is…Friendship

image I honestly can’t remember the last time I looked at the stat counter on my website. I stopped keeping track of numbers on any social media or any of my blogs a long time ago…not because I’m “so popular I don’t have to look at the numbers.” But because God has helped me not to focus on it at all. It doesn’t matter whether I’m talking with one person or fifty or five thousand…the stuff He inspires me to write or encourage others with is the same.

But sometimes I do wonder what lands people on my blog. When I looked at the main keyword search on almost every page, “friendship” topped the list in some way, shape or form. Isn’t that interesting?

I guess at the end of the day that’s because we all want it. God built it in us to need that connection. It’s one of the topics I speak on and celebrate…but even more specific, I’ve noticed that parents & grandparents want to teach their young’uns about how to choose good friends and be a good friend.

That’s why I think the devotional God laid out for me to write many years ago is still in the largest demand today, at least as it pertains to what I’ve written. Every time I read through it, (other than finding things I’d like to re-word or improve upon), I’m reminded of something God wants to teach me about being the kind of friend I should be…and the kind of friend I should be reminding my teens they should be.

So if you are looking for a devotional to do with your elementary-aged child this summer, consider this. It’s free, and it’s set up in such a way that you can be involved in the process of guiding them in truth and wisdom. I hope and pray it ministers to every one who reads it. You can find it & print it here:

http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/34338897

There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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But It’s Broken…

imageSome of the most heart-wrenching tears of my children were cried in their toddler years after a toy would break. One was dropped accidentally, another cracked unexpectedly. Sometimes one was thrown in anger, only to shatter after hitting the floor or the wall. The worst was when brother or sister or friend would break it after a reluctant sharing of that special toy.

Crocodile tears. Sobs. I’d scoop them up, try to comfort them, “shhhhh, it’s okay,” I’d whisper while rocking them back and forth, their face in my neck or shoulder.

“But it’s broken, Mommy!” My heart would actually break with them. Even though it was just a toy, their loss and pain was mine too.

I was thinking about this today, praying a great deal about it lately. So so much brokenness around me.

broken hearts.
broken dreams.
broken relationships.
broken promises.

Broken people.

Even inside of me, I struggle with my own brokenness. My neediness.

I know it sounds trite to some when they are walking in the thick of it. I know something of that myself. We can sometimes clench our teeth and plant our feet deep in an attitude of resistance to the Truth that would set us free. But it doesn’t change the Truth that it is in Jesus Christ that “all things hold together.” That He alone is the only sure foundation.

None of this means those broken dreams get put back together again. It means you can take what’s broken to Jesus and He will hold you together spiritually and provide you everything you need to survive and even thrive through the struggle.

Whatever is a mess in your life, in your heart…whatever is broken….I beg you to cry out to Jesus, let Him scoop you up and provide you with comfort and care and rest and strength. Lean into Him by way of His Word and prayer. Your loving Father cares and is faithful to provide you with a better life than you could’ve ever thought up on your own.

That broken thing is not your identity. Christ is.

Nothing’s ever too broken for Him.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Col 1:17

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Col 3:3

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Ps 55:22

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Ps 34:18

for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’
Acts 17:28

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