Day 1: Start with Prayer

My younger daughter went with my husband to Take Your Child to Work Day a couple of weeks ago. While she was there, she did an activity to find out what types of jobs she might like. Nearly all of her interests ended up being active things. She got a zero in the types of jobs that require lots of thoughts and analysis.

My younger daughter is like a lot of us. She’s a doer. She wants to jump right in and get her hands dirty. She doesn’t like waiting for directions, and she rarely stops to think before she jumps into an activity with both feet.

I tell you this because I know many of you are ready to jump into planning for your summer with both feet. You want to do something. You want to fill your binder with pages of things to do with your kids this summer. And what I’m going to ask you to do today is going to go against that nature. Because today I want you to simply be still and talk to God.

Now, don’t panic. All of you who printed off your pretty cover and made your binder yesterday will still get a printable to go in it. But the focus of today is going to be talking with God. The worksheet is just there to help you do that.

You can have a successful summer without starting with prayer. You and your kids can do fun activities, you can grow and learn, and you can get to the end of the summer feeling pretty good about what you’ve accomplished. But if we cover our summer in prayer before we get started, we get all those things plus we know that we’re on the path that God wants us to be on.

Right now, you may be reading this thinking that you know exactly what you and your kids need to work on this summer. You’ve noticed behaviors that need to change and interests that need to be nurtured. But when we lay all those things at God’s feet, we may find that God has different ideas of what our kids need to learn.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do,¬†and he will establish your plans.” We want God to be the leader this summer. We want to go down the paths that He wants us to walk.

So, today, spend some time in prayer over your summer. Ask God to show you what He wants you to do with your kids. Ask Him to help you make the most of the time you have, whether it’s all day or simply time together in the evenings and on the weekends. Then, listen for His direction.

For all you doers out there, you’ll find a printable for your binder here that will help you collect your thoughts and help you hear what God is saying. Write down your prayers. Pray for each child. Then write down what God says and how He wants you to respond.

Starting our summers with prayer, sets us up for success. It lets us discover what God has planned for our families before we start making plans. Turn your summer over to God today. It’s the best way to get started on The Best Summer Ever.

If you missed yesterday, be sure to check out the beginning of our The Best Summer Ever series. And don’t forget to head over to the Facebook page to join in the discussion.

Linking up today with Time-Warp Wife, Growing Home, and A Pause on the Path.

Friday Introduction: Motherhood on a Dime

Driving home from my parents’ house last night, my husband said something about us having been married almost 16 years.

“Have you really been married that long?” came the question from the back seat.

“Yes, we have,” we answered.

“That’s a long time,” said my oldest.

Sixteen years is a long time, but it seems to have sped by. I think the older we get the faster time seems to pass. I remember that a year seemed a whole lot longer when I was a kid.

As we bring 2011 to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the year just past and look forward to the year to come. I love the start of a new year. I love to get out my new calendar and see all the blank pages just waiting to be filled. At the start of a new year, we get a clean slate, a chance to do new things and walk new paths.

I’m not much for new year’s resolutions. I find I always lose interest after a few weeks, but I do think the beginning of the new year is a great time to set goals — whether they be spiritual, physical or monetary. It’s a great time to focus on things we want to do differently, whether it’s reading a new book or changing the way we deal with our children.

Set aside some time in the next few days to sit down with a notebook, your calendar and God. Ask God to help you decide what your goals should be for the year. We can make all the plans we want, but if God isn’t in them, we’ll never succeed. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Spend some time praying over your new calendar. Commit your days and your plans for this year to Him. Ask Him to guide your steps as you walk into the new year.

Sometimes making plans and setting goals can seem overwhelming. Where do you start? If you need some help getting started, check out the goal brainstorming questions over at Motherhood on a Dime. This is a great resource for getting started on figuring out your goals for the year.

If we start our year with our eyes focused on the goals God wants us to have, then our homes, our families and our co-workers will all benefit. Make time in your life to hear what God has to say about where He wants you to go in this new year.

Are You Ready For Summer?

I know it’s hard to believe, but summer is just around the corner. As we flip the calendar page to May, my kids only have three weeks of school left. Then it’s a seemingly endless stretch of lazy days until August.

I love summer. I love getting to spend lots of time with my kids. I love that there are a lot of days in the summer where we get up with nothing on the calendar. The hustle and bustle of the school year settles into a more restful pace.

Summer is a fantastic time to reconnect with your kids and focus on teaching them some things that they won’t learn in school. It’s a fabulous time to create some intentional moments with your kids to share with them God’s truths.

But, that won’t happen without a plan. For the next few weeks, the blog is going to focus on planning for summer. We’ll look at how to get ready for an intentional summer and how to implement some of those ideas into your everyday life. This week, we’re going to focus on planning for summer.

And that starts with prayer. I’ve found the key to a successful summer, like most anything else in life, begins with me on my knees.

Before you can plan anything, you need a direction for your summer. It’s easier to be intentional about using the time in your summer if you have one or two things on which to focus your energies. Summer is a great time to work on attitudes and behaviors that indicate a godly character. With your kids out from under the daily influence of other kids at school, sports or activities, you can work one-on-one with your kids on those character qualities that you most want to see them develop.

Today, I want you to ask God what He wants you to do with your summer. Follow the guidance found in Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

  • Ask God to make this summer a special time for you and your kids. Ask Him to help you look forward to the long stretch of days with your kids with anticipation and not dread.
  • Pray over each of your children, asking God to show you the specific things He wants you to teach each of them this summer.
  • Lay your calendar before you and pray over it, letting God show you how to fill those days.
  • Ask God for patience and understanding for your kids as you all work back into a routine of spending more time together this summer.
  • Ask God to show you two or three truths that He wants you to share with your kids this summer. These are the things around which you want to build your summer activities.
  • Pray that your summer would be filled with fun and laughter for both you and your kids.

As you commit the days of your summer to God, really seek His will in choosing the things you will teach your kids this summer. You want to be ready to take any opportunity to teach your kids but having a plan for some of those moments means you won’t get to the end of the summer and feel like you missed a golden opportunity.

Don’t read this blog this morning and skip this step. I promise if you spend the time in prayer about how to best spend your summer, God will reveal exactly the things that your kids need to know. If we go on about our plans without submitting to God’s plan, then we and our kids will miss out.

Memory Monday: A Fresh Start (Proverbs 16:3)

It’s the start of yet another year. We’ve all got a clean slate, a year of calendar pages that are open and full of possibility. Lots of people like to make resolutions at this time of year, but I find that resolutions don’t generally get me very far. As our pastor said yesterday, “If resolutions worked, we’d all be fit, skinny and rich.”

The problem with resolutions is that we tend to set the bar ridiculously high. I’m not a super organized person, and there have been many years on January 1 that my resolution has been to become a person who has “a place for everything and everything in it’s place.” Guess how often that works. Yep, I still file by putting things in piles.

Instead of resolutions, this year spend some time asking God what direction He wants for you this year. Use the start of this new year to discover where God is leading you. I know that in 2011, God has amazing plans for you and your children. Take a few moments to look around and see where God is working. When you see Him working, join Him.

The first of the year is also a good time to sit down with your family and set some family goals for the year. Find our from your kids if there are new things they want to try or learn. Discover what each other’s dreams are for the year. See if you can’t go about fulfilling some of them. As you sit down and plan your year, keep in mind this week’s Memory Monday verse: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). As you make your plans for this year, remember to give them to God.

Use this opportunity to teach your kids to give their plans to God as well.

  • As you make plans and set priorities for the year, pray together as a family that God would direct your steps this year. Ask Him to place people in your lives that you can help and to give you opportunities to share God’s love with others. If your children see you turning your plans over to God, they will gain a better understanding of the importance of doing so.
  • Talk with your children about how we can make plans, but we always need to be open to letting God change them. God’s plans are always better than our own even if the change in plans causes disappointment in the short-term.
  • Let your children be active participants in helping to plan things. Help them to look around their community and find needs that they can meet. Show them how to look for places where God is working and find ways to join Him.

As you plan your year with your family, put aside the resolutions and create a plan that you commit to God. May 2011 be filled with possibilities and amazing blessings from God.

Summer’s End

The kids are back in school, and the weather forecaster just predicted tonight’s low temperature to be in the 50s. I guess summer is officially over. Before you let the lazy days of summer slip too far into the past, take a few minutes to evaluate how it went.

At the beginning of the summer, I challenged you to make your summer count and be intentional about the things that you did this summer. Now that summer is over evaluate how you did. This isn’t an exercise in beating yourself up for not accomplishing everything you would have liked. You want to take some time to evaluate what you did do, so you can better understand what works and doesn’t work for your family. That Jell-o fight may have sounded like a great idea but when you actually did it you discovered you have a child who hates to have slimy stuff thrown at her.

You may have had several things planned that you didn’t get to do. Don’t worry about it. Sometimes God takes you in a different direction than the one you had planned. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” That verse doesn’t tell us that everything we plan will succeed, just that when we commit our plans to the Lord, whatever happens is a success. Proverbs 19:21 tells us “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Keep that in mind as you evaluate your summer.

Now, to the nuts and bolts of evaluating your summer. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down all the things you planned for the summer. Next to each one, write down how you think the activity went. If you had a goal for what you wanted to teach your kids this summer, write it down and evaluate how well you accomplished that goal.

Next, sit down with your kids and ask them what their favorite parts of the summer were. Make notes of what activities they would like to do again and which ones they didn’t like. Ask them if there was anything they would have liked to do that you didn’t get to do. Put those things on your list for next summer.

Find some quiet time and sit down with your lists. Pray over your lists and ask God to show you anyplace where you could do things differently. Ask Him to show you the things to put on your list for next summer that you might not think about on your own.

Finally, talk with other moms about what they did over the summer. Some of my best ideas have come from other moms. Put any of those ideas on your list for next summer.

Now, tuck your lists away where you can find them in the spring and enjoy the cooler, routine-laden days of fall.