A Simple Way to Teach Kids How to Pray

teaching kids about prayer - guest post at happyhomefairy.com by Jeannie Cunnion, author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child - love this encouragementToday I am BEYOND thrilled to have Jeannie Cunnion guest posting at Happy Home Fairy!  Jeannie got in touch with me after reading my post called The Grace Response.  We made an instant connection and she offered to send me a copy of her book, Parenting the Wholehearted Child.  As soon as it arrived, I dove right in and LET ME TELL YOU – this book is seriously my new favorite.  Jeannie offers so many practical ideas to point our kids (and our mama’s heart) to Christ – I think I must have highlighted every single page.  One part that stood out to me in particular, however, was Jeannie’s encouragement on teaching kids how to pray.  I love her simple model for prayer that children AND adults can use to draw closer to Jesus.  Take it away, Jeannie!

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A prayer I pray often is simple.

“Lord, help.”

Motherhood will do that to you. Because God doesn’t just work through us to shape our kids. He also works through them to shape us!

And the deeper into mothering I get with three boys, the more praying I do.

I pray, not because it always changes the situation, but because it changes me.

I need God. I need the power of God, working in me and through me so that I can be a reflection of His love to my kids. And I need the grace of God, working in me and through me when I fail to be a reflection of His love to my kids (which, let’s be real, is often)!

Teaching our children how to pray is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

And while praying, “Lord, help!” is a wonderful prayer to teach our kids, it’s only the beginning.

So what else can we teach and model for our kids when it comes to prayer?

For starters, our kids will be thankful to know that prayer is something we can do anytime, about anything.

Anytime:

Prayer isn’t just for blessing the food or asking God to keep us safe while we sleep.

We can encourage our kids to pray before they start their day to ask God for his blessing and guidance.

As they go about their day, they can pray when they sin or make a bad choice and they want to ask for forgiveness, when they feel happy or see something beautiful and they want to give thanks, when they need help controlling themselves and they need God’s strength, or when they feel sad or scared and they need God’s comfort.

And they can pray as they lay their head on their pillow at night, giving all of their fear and worry over to Him.

Anything:

This is huge! Our kids must know that there is no request too big, no feeling too bad, no shame too great, and no feeling too unworthy to express in prayer.

We can come before God with honesty, with our struggles, and even with our doubts, and He will receive us with open arms.

Prayer is not telling God what we think He wants to hear, nor is it telling Him anything He doesn’t already know.

Prayer is getting real with God.

We never have to fear his rejection!

Friend, if praying is new to you, or maybe you are just struggling to lead your kids in prayer, I want to share with you one of my favorite ways to pray with our boys.

We use four simple words to guide us in prayer in the evening:

“Wow, Sorry, Thanks, and Please.”

(Throughout the day you’ll find us praying any portion of this prayer, particularly the “sorry” one, as we are a family who messes up a lot but also seeks forgiveness a lot. If we know anything, it’s that the grace of God never runs dry.)

It looks a little something like this:

Wow – We acknowledge how amazing God is. It might sound something like “God you are so loving. God you are so powerful. God you are so generous.” Or as my youngest son recently said, “God you are my hero!”

Sorry – We confess our sins and receive God’s endless forgiveness.

Thanks – We thank God for everything He has given us for daily life and everything He did for us in giving us His one and only Son Jesus.

Please – We present our needs and worries and fears and hopes for ourselves and others before Him.

It’s a wonderful way to end the day with our children. Not only does it help each of us grow in our relationship with God, but it also gives me a window into their souls. Listening to the thoughts of their hearts is my favorite part of the day.

***This post is an edited excerpt from Parenting the Wholehearted Child.

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I have been teaching my own boys this simple model for prayer and posted a photo about it on Facebook HERE.  Happy Buddy now begins all of his prayers with, “Wow, God!” :-)

Y’all, I love sharing the things that I love and Jeannie’s book is at the top of the list.  If you are trying to find just one Christian parenting book that has it all – THIS IS IT!  I know you will love Jeannie’s heart and be inspired to share the Lord’s sweet grace with your kiddos in fresh and practical ways.  You can buy it on Amazon HERE.

*Follow Jeannie on Facebook HERE, Instagram HERE, and subscribe to her site HERE.* 

Thank you, Jeannie, for being a part of Happy Home Fairy today!

The Big Box

big box fun 6

Our sweet babysitter, Miss Cathy, gave us a large box from their recent washing machine purchase and LET ME TELL YOU.

You would have thought she had given my boys the MOON.

I set it out in the living room so that Happy Buddy and Happy Baby would find it when they woke up.

big box fun 3big box fun 4big box fun 2Happy Buddy had it all decorated – including a welcome mat – before 6 am.

He hung handmade drawings inside on the walls (although the jury’s still out on what he drew in the picture hanging over the window – any thoughts?  Is it a flower?  A man running for his life?  Tadpole?).

He filled it with bins full of books, walkie-talkies, pillows, a football, and pretend snacks.  Everything a boy could possibly need in a new home.

big box fun 10He covered it with a sheet so that he had privacy, of course.

When Happy Baby woke up he decided that he wanted his own house.

I happened to have a box from an inexpensive toy organizer I had recently purchased at Target (which I put together myself.  I used a screwdriver and everything! #feelingproud).

big box fun 7big box fun 8Happy Buddy even made a welcome mat for his brother’s new house.

big box fun 9And now they have their very own neighborhood.

I am not going to lie, having these giant boxes in the living room is kind of making me crazy.  Usually with items of this size my OCD will get the best of me and they will be by the curb the next day because I just can’t stand the extra mess (do you remember the bunny?  We still have it!).  Our house is already small, so adding 2 huge boxes makes it feel like we literally have the MOON in our living room.

But I am choosing to let it go because the boys are just so happy.

Plus they are learning how to be good neighbors.

big box fun 11Ringing the doorbell…

big box fun 5Enjoying one another’s company…

big box fun 12Annnnnd this is a picture of Happy Buddy throwing his brother out of his house because he was tired of entertaining.

Every day the Happy Buddy thanks me for not throwing his house away – lol!  I guess I need to lighten up a bit and let them be kids and have fun.

It’s summer after all.

Have your kids ever had the opportunity to play with a big box?

– Julie :-)

*Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, sweet friends!  Thank you to those who have contributed to my dream!!  I am praising God for you!  We are ALMOST to my goal!  If you haven’t already, will you pray about donating to help Fund the Fairy?  I would be so honored to have your support! Xoxo

How to Prepare Your Child for the Dentist

Is your child a little nervous about getting their first teeth cleaning Check out this fun article for helpful tips on how to prepare your child for their first trip to the dentist!Last year I shared on my Summer Bucket List that we would be taking Happy Buddy to the dentist for the first time.

My little man was quite nervous about this experience and with a history of some problems with oral sensory processing (check out my post about Picky Eating HERE), I was also scared that things would not bode well for us in the dentist’s chair.

Not to mention I didn’t exactly have a great track record of remembering to stay on top of his teeth brushing (probably because he went ape on us whenever I mentioned it and eventually just gave up the battle – I KNOW, #badmom), so you could say there was some concern that he might have 40,000 cavities.

I decided that Happy Buddy needed to be prepped for his doctor’s appointment so that he would know what to expect and I set about finding creative ways to do so.

As it turned out, the Happy Buddy did AWESOME at the dentist’s office.  In fact, he asked me later that day if we could go back.

I’m thinking it had something to do with the birthday cake-flavored fluoride and the chocolate flavored toothpaste (which seems a little counterproductive to the whole philosophy of a dentist, if you ask me).

But I do think beyond that, the prep we did to help Happy Buddy get mentally ready for Dr. Thomas made all the difference in the world.

Here are the 5 things we did before our first dentist appointment…

1.  Read books about the dentist.

First thing we after I scheduled our dentist appointment was load the kids in the car and hit the library where we checked out anything we could find in the kid’s section about dentists.

There are books featuring Curious George, the Berenstain Bears, and Little Critter that are fun to read and provide a good idea of what to expect.

2.  Download a dentist themed app for kids.

After the library trip, I did some searching for an app for kids about the dentist.  We found THIS ONE called Tiny Dentist and the Happy Buddy still plays with it to this day.  The player gets to swap places with the dentist and clean teeth, fill cavities, and even extract the ones that are just beyond repair.

3.  Pretend play a visit to the dentist.

This was by far my favorite thing we did to get the Happy Buddy ready for his first dentist experience!

We set up an area in his bedroom with a towel and pillow for him to lay on.  I put on an apron and got his toothbrush.  Then I welcomed him to my office and introduced myself as the hygienist.  I helped him into the ‘chair’ and proceeded to put a paper towel on his chest.  Next I carefully brushed his teeth, provided him with a cup of water to swish and a bowl to spit.

Then I announced that I would be getting the dentist to have a look in his mouth.  This is the part where I got the hubs and he came in wearing yard work goggles and holding a drill.  Hahahaha!  I posted a picture of it on Instagram HERE.

The hubs was pretty hilarious and got to work on Happy Buddy’s mouth.  I think he ‘removed’ about 5 teeth.

Lol – I guess there is no wonder Happy Buddy had such a pleasant experience at the real dentist because we probably traumatized him with our fake one!!! :-)

4.  Sing about it.

Click over HERE to find a hilarious song about brushing your teeth.

5.  Pray about it.

Finally, with everything that is new or even scary for our kids, we do our best to commit it to prayer.  The few days leading up to our appointment we prayed for peace, for Dr. Thomas, and we reminded ourselves of Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you WHEREVER you go.”

Even to the dentist!

I am happy to report that Happy Buddy had no cavities last year.

And we even went again this summer and received the same good news!

Plus the hubs put a reminder in my phone that goes off every night at 7 pm and we drop everything to brush our teeth – no matter what.

So I guess maybe I’m not such a bad mom after all. ;-)

What helps your kids when they go to the dentist?

Happy Dentist-ing!

Recipe – Easy Taco Soup

Super yummy, super easy taco soup recipe at happyhomefairy.com. I can't wait to make this for my family!

I’m always on the look out for Mexican-inspired recipes because the hubs loves anything with a little kick.

This recipe makes a TON so make sure you take some to your neighbors or that sweet mama at church who just had a baby (I’m talking about you, Katie!  I hope y’all enjoyed your Taco Soup!). ;-)

Taco Soup

*Recipe adapted from i heart naptime

Ingredients –

  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey (I have tried this both ways and it is always good!)
  • 2 T taco seasoning
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 half of each green, yellow, AND red pepper, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can corn
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup salsa (I usually add more)

Directions –

  1. Brown the beef in a large pan, drain.  Add onions, peppers, and taco seasoning and saute for several minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until everything is mixed nicely.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Top with your favorite Mexican toppings (sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, etc.).

Enjoy!

yummy taco soupDon’t forget to check out these other great Mexican recipes from Happy Home Fairy…

peachy pork picante - a super easy and delicious speedy weeknight dinner the whole family will LOVE!Peachy Pork Picante

Taco Pizza of heaven

Taco Pizza

Taco Pockets

Happy Taco Soup-ing! :-)

*I’m so humbled and in awe of what the Lord is doing through kind, generous, and obedient people like YOU at my Go Fund Me page!  Thank you just isn’t enough to adequately express what is in my heart…  Check it out HERE and be a part of the magic! :-)

Psalm 51 Soap Review and a GIVEAWAY!

psalm 51 soap giveaway 1Today I am excited to share with you a product created by one of my dear friends, Sarah.

I met Sarah a few years ago when she emailed me because her daughter was facing a difficult medical diagnosis and she thought I might understand what her family was going through.

Boy did I ever!  We emailed back and forth and became fast friends.  Fast forward one year and her daughter got to be in my first 2 year old class!

Sarah’s testimony and heart for the Lord is a powerful one – one that influences everything she does.

Especially her business.

Here is what Sarah has to say about how and why she began making Psalm 51 Soaps

“A few months after I started making soap, I was reminded of a song I used to sing in church as a little girl.  The song was based on Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

I immediately thought of soap and how it cleanses and renews our skin.  The parallel to Jesus and how He washes away our sins and renews our spirits inspired me to name my soaps after that verse.

Going deeper, making soap involves a chemical reaction where lye, which is caustic on its own, is combined with oil and is transformed into something beautiful, cleansing and pure.

Our relationship with Jesus is similar – on our own we are unclean and sometimes even caustic! ;-)

But Jesus takes all of our sin, negativity, and baggage and through forgiveness and restoration in Him, we are cleansed and made beautiful and pure.  We are a new creation!

While my soap will never have the magnitude of restoration that we have in Christ, it is my hope and prayer that someone will see my soap’s name, look up the verse, and perhaps be changed as a result.

All of my soaps are handcrafted using quality ingredients from reputable soap supply companies who use sustainable products and practices.  I list all ingredients I use on my website (www.psalm51soap.com) so customers know what they are getting and using on their skin.  I use all natural ingredients wherever possible – the main oils and butters in my soaps are typically coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, Shea butter, and mango butter.  For scent, I use either all-natural essential oils, or “nearly natural” fragrance oils when a particular scent cannot be achieved using only essential oils.  For color, I use a combination of natural colorants, such as activated charcoal for black or rose kaolin clay for pink, and skin-safe mineral micas.

I hope you will stop by and be renewed by Psalm 51 Soaps!”

psalm 51 soap giveaway 1psalm 51 soap giveaway 2psalm 51 soap giveaway 3psalm 51 soappsalm 51 soap giveaway 4psalm 51 soap giveaway 6psalm 51 soap giveaway 5Sarah gave me a few soaps to review for my sweet readers and I loved them all!

The planet one was my favorite – so much detail!  The boys were so excited when I tossed it into the bath with them the other night and we got to talking about how God created the universe.

And the soap with the mustache made me laugh out loud!  She calls it, “I ‘Mustache’ You to Wash Your Hands.”  Who wouldn’t want to wash their hands if they had this soap sitting next to their sink?!

Each soap has unique character and a pleasant aroma.  I think you will find her selection to be fun and varied – there is a soap for everyone!  Check out Psalm 51 Soaps today!

GUESS WHAT?!

Sarah is so sweet she is letting me give away 2 soaps (the mustache soap and the flamingo soap) to 1 lucky reader!

To enter, simply ‘LIKE’ Sarah’s Psalm 51 Soap Facebook page (click HERE) and then leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my sweet international readers).  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, July 19 (EST).  A winner will be selected shortly after (meaning the next day as I probably will be in bed at that time – ha!) and notified by e-mail.

Happy Psalm 51 Soap-ing! :-)*I’m so humbled and in awe of what the Lord is doing through kind, generous, and obedient people like YOU at my Go Fund Me page!  Thank you just isn’t enough to adequately express what is in my heart…  Check it out HERE and be a part of the magic! :-)

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes… {{Fund the Fairy!!}}

FUND THE FAIRYWhen I was in Kindergarten our teacher set up little writing centers where I would go every day to create stories about spaghetti and unicorns.

When I was in elementary school my parents sent me to a writing camp with a real-life children’s author where I got to ‘publish’ a book about a little girl whose rocking chair came to life at night and flew her all over the city.

When I was in middle school I carried notebooks with me wherever I went and wrote stories all day long about characters named ‘Amber’ and ‘Tiffany’ (in between playing MASH with friends because finding out which celebrity I would marry and how many kids we would have and whether or not we would live in a box or a mansion was also an extremely important use of my time).

When I was in high school I kept a journal filled with prayers and the deepest longings of my heart.  I wrote about becoming a writer one day.

When I taught 2nd grade, teaching creative writing was by far my strongest suit.  I loved giving my students the tools they needed to be authors and stir a human heart with written words.

One time when the hubs and I were on a vacation before we had kids, we sat on a Florida beach making our lifelong Bucket List.  Mine had several hilarious and next-to-impossible things like ‘Go on tour with my favorite band’ and ‘live in a house with high ceilings,’ but the number one bucket list item was ‘WRITE.’

Then I had my babies and the Lord called me to write this blog – He called me to share my heart – the good, the bad, and the JESUS.  He inspired me to help sweet mamas like you find fun and easy ways (crafts, recipes, FREE Printables, etc.) to build a happy home.

After 6 years of blogging, I can say with 100% confidence that THIS IS WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO DO – this is what makes me come alive.

This is my dream.

And it’s time to start investing in my dream.

I want to make my blog into something that will make it possible for me to earn an income and help support our little family.  I am a preschool teacher and my husband is a worship pastor, so you know we’re bringing in the Benjamins (just look at the photo above – we can’t even afford to buy me jeans without holes – hahaha!) :-)

After a million hours of prayer and the counsel of my husband and pastor’s wife and others, I have decided to start a Go Fund Me page to help me raise the money we need to cover the costs of migrating and designing a new site that will allow for advertising and better organization of Happy Home Fairy resources.

This is a HUGE leap of faith, but I feel confident in my calling – helping moms like you is what I am most passionate about!  {{And if you are wondering from what I mentioned in THIS POST, we decided to forgo the new floors in order to make sure we are prioritizing our investments.  Yay for dirty carpets!! #sacrifice :-)}}

Have you been blessed by this site in some way?  Has a FREE Printable helped you in a pinch or a post of encouragement strengthened your mommy heart?  Do you believe in my mission to help moms?  If so, even just a $10 donation could help!

Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  Today I am choosing to boldly step out and pursue my dream of being a writer and encouraging moms all over the world to build a happy home.

Will you join me in making this dream come true?

Click HERE to Fund the Fairy!

– Julie

How to Defeat Evil and Why I Didn’t Like the Minion Movie

Why I Didn't Like the Minion Movie and how to raise kids who fight for what's GOOD instead of evil.Happy Baby is OBSESSED with Minions.  For the last year and a half that sweet boy has fixed his little heart on all things yellow, vitamin-shaped, and wearing overalls (you can see his Minion birthday party HERE).

He sleeps with about 20 different toy Minions in his bed – all ranging in size from as small as the cap of a tube of toothpaste, to as big as a pillow.

He has multiple sets of Minion pajamas, slippers, hats, and even underwear.

His passion for carrying DVDs with him everywhere he goes consistently narrows down to his top favorites – Despicable Me 1 or 2 or the version that came out featuring just the Minion mini-movies.

We loved Despicable Me 1 and 2.  Those movies were light-hearted, humorous, and fun with really redemptive story lines – which was great for those of us who have children that like to watch movies 14,000 times in a row.

Needless to say, when they started advertising for the Minion movie, my husband and I were like NO BRAINER.  It would be a perfect summer family fun outing!

After weeks of counting down, when the movie finally released this past Friday, we were front in line at the theater.

As the plot unfolded, however, I must have glanced over at the hubs several times – sometimes in surprise, but mostly in disappointment.

While there were some cute, funny moments where the boys laughed out loud and at the end there was a really great moment where Kevin ‘sacrifices’ his life to save everyone, I thought the majority of the other characters and surrounding themes were just plain weird, with several of pockets of inappropriateness, and well… darkness.

Happy Buddy is a literal SPONGE and will remember anything and everything about a movie.  The problem is he typically absorbs all of the bad stuff about a show and then I have to work really hard to remind and reteach him about the good stuff.  For this reason we usually research a movie quite religiously before we see it, but with the Minion Movie we felt confident it would deliver and didn’t bother to check reviews.

I wish I had (or at least paid more attention to the previews).

The whole movie is about the minions’ quest to find the most evil person in the world to serve.  Along their journey they encounter evil villain after evil villain (many of whom are actually scary and without the heart that Gru seemed to have in the Despicable Me movies), which eventually leads to an evil villain showdown at the end of the movie.

The amount of focus on ‘evil’ was really what left me feeling somewhat icky when the movie was over.

I know it’s ‘just a movie’ and there were plenty of people who saw the movie and didn’t feel the same way, but for our family, the battle with the flesh is so incredibly real.  The pull toward the ‘bad’ or the ‘evil’ is already so much a part of our sinful nature that throwing it around in front of my kids’ faces for almost 2 hours is really undoing and frustrating.  We got home from the movie and of course the boys were running around the house menacingly shouting that they were EVVVVIIILLLLL and going to take over the world.

{{Insert forehead slap here.}}

As I made dinner I started to feel kind of discouraged.  Beyond the movie, I was already feeling heavy from the last couple of weeks of negative news report after negative news report and how it just seems like evil is really taking over the world.  The movie and my boys’ behavior were sort of the icing on the cake of some thoughts I had already been thinking about concerning the bigger picture of a dark world and how to make a difference.

How do I raise kids who fight for GOOD?  How do I raise kids who want to be Heroes for rightness and light and truth in a world that is increasing in darkness?

That’s when the hubs walked into the kitchen and invited me back to the bedroom to see a project he had been working on for the last 20 minutes.  When I got the bedroom I saw that he had hung a mirror that I had scribbled down on a to do list the day before.  I had no intention of him even seeing my to-do list yet let alone complete the project so quickly!

I burst into tears.

Of course the hubs was stunned by my response and immediately asked if I was pregnant – hahahahaha (I’m not).

My emotional outburst had less to do with hormones and more to do with a reaction to my husband’s display of goodness in the middle of my train wreck of negative thoughts.

Romans 12:21 says, “Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.”

We cannot forget that all the evil in the world cannot ever defeat us because of JESUS’ good work on the cross.

And that inspires us to get out there and find ways to defeat the darkness with the light we have from Him.

This is the message for our children.  While I wasn’t a fan of the Minion Movie, we did have a really good conversation with our boys at dinner about good vs. evil and how to be a true hero.

True heroes lay down their lives for someone – true heroes look for ways to bless others.

Like hanging a mirror, or sitting with someone at school who looks lonely, or standing up for the kid getting picked on during recess…

True heroes share their toys, hug someone when they are hurt, bring a gift just because, use their tongue to build others up instead of tear them down…

The Message Bible translates Romans 12:20-21 like this, “Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”

If you’re wondering how you **with the Lord’s help** can raise kids who fight for what’s right, start by teaching them how to do good to everyone.

I wonder what the minions would be like if they chose to get the best of evil by doing good?

For starters, I imagine they would share their bananas – ha!

– Julie :-)

**I will be the first to admit I am really sensitive to material that might negatively influence my kids because my kids seem to absorb it more than others. Every family is different. You can find another review of the movie over at Plugged In.