The First Week of School – WE SURVIVED

I just wanted to let y’all know that we made it through the first week of school.

Maybe I am looking for words of affirmation because, as you know, this is no small feat. :-)

happy baby first dayHappy Baby is happy – as usual.  He seems to be enjoying his new class, although he hasn’t been napping during nap time.  This unfortunately creates a certain amount of emotional CHAOS right around the time I am trying to cook dinner (which I somehow managed to do 3 times this week – knuckle bumps!).

happy buddy first dayHappy Buddy did awesome during his first week of Kindergarten.  I am very proud of him, y’all.  I’ve made it very clear to him that I see God working in his life. ;-)

the boys and the first day!As for me, the Lord gave me a tremendous amount of peace about going back to school to a new class – which I needed because at bedtime the night before the first day I was praying over Happy Buddy and he suddenly sat up and bonked his head into my lip.  I ended up with a giant fat lip and flaming red mark for all my new preschool parents to see and be suspicious about entrusting their child to someone who is clearly getting into street fights on the side.

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all of my dear readers.  You are such a blessing to me and I am tremendously grateful that the Lord has allowed me to be a small part of your life!

How was YOUR first week back to school?

– Julie :-)

5 Little Prayers For My Kindergartener

5 Prayers For My Kindergartener

My little boy is officially in Kindergarten.

Can anybody tell me what happened to the last 6 years?!

We had Meet Your Teacher on Monday and I am fairly certain that Happy Buddy was fine (mostly because he literally asked me to hurry up and leave), BUT I WAS A HOT MESS.  My stomach was all tied up in nervous knots.  I was seriously breaking out in a sweat and hugging people without raising my arms so that no one noticed!!!

Releasing my son into the classroom is a big act of faith.  I have found myself worrying about all kinds of things!  Like will he be a good friend?  Will he follow the rules?  Will he complain about having to do desk work?

Whenever I start wringing my hands in anxiety about my child, I know it’s time to get on my knees.

One of the most powerful things we can do for our children is pray for them.  I can take whatever concerns I have for my son’s future, get in his room at night, give those concerns to Jesus in prayer, and walk away with the peace that God heard my heart.

There have been SO many times where I was troubled about something I was seeing in Happy Buddy’s behavior, or I was burdened to see something new in his behavior and after I started praying about it, the Lord did not fail to answer in some way.

This is my hope as we enter the new school year!

With that said, here are 5 Scripture-based prayers that I am praying over Happy Buddy as he starts Kindergarten…

Hard Work

Lord, I pray that my child will remember that he can do all things through Christ who gives him strength (Philippians 4:13)!  As his hands write out math problems and complete assignments, may he do so with a happy heart, knowing that he is working for your glory (Colossians 3:23).  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Kindness

Lord, I pray that my child will be kind and compassionate toward his classmates and teachers (Ephesians 4:32).  May his speech always be gracious (Colossians 4:6).  May he never repay evil for evil but always seek to do good to others and to everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:15).  May he seek out the lonely child on the playground and defend the child who is hurting.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friendship

Lord, I pray for my child to have friends who will sharpen one another like iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).  May he have wisdom and discernment to choose friends who will be good company and spur him on toward love and good deeds (1 Corinthians 15:33, Hebrews 10:24-25).  May he be a leader among his friends by always being the first one to share, offer a kind word, and do what’s right.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Self-Control

Lord, I pray that my child will not stir up shenanigans during times of instruction! :-)  May he offer his body to you as a living sacrifice and may he be transformed by the renewal of his mind so that he may discern your will (Romans 12:1-2).  May he discipline his body like an athlete, training it to do as it should (1 Corinthians 9:27).  May he keep his tongue from evil (Psalm 34:13).  May my child show his love for you, Jesus, by obeying your commands (John 14:15).  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Heart of a Servant

Lord, I pray that you will give my child eyes to see opportunities to be a blessing.  May my boy have a heart of humility and serve others in love (Galatians 5:13).  May my son use his gifts well by helping others (1 Peter 4:10).  May he let others use the monkey bars first and may he choose the back of the line for the water fountain because the greatest among us shall be servants (Matthew 23:11).  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Lay those burdens down, sister!  The Lord knows what your child needs and He is in control!

How are you praying for your child this new school year?

– Julie :-)

*Many of these prayers and the heart behind them were inspired by Brooke McGlothlin’s wonderful book, Praying for Boys.

I Faced the Cookie

face the cookieface the cookie win!

The teachers at my school went back to work this past week.

It was a week of emotions!

First I had to say goodbye to my boys, whom I have spent every moment of every day with for the last 2.5 months, and surrender them to the provided childcare – which, as it turns out, was way more fun than being home with their mama (I pretended to not let that bother me as I thought about all the sacrifice I made for them to have fun with that big box in our living room for 4 long weeks).

Meanwhile I was in my classroom working and working and cutting out 3,000 laminated things and missing my boys like crrrazy.

And I was also trying to stay awake because my body had forgotten what it was like to get up at 5 am again.

Before we got to work in our rooms, however, every morning we gathered as a faculty to have a time of devotions and worship.

Our headmaster shared a good word with us that gave me such a renewed passion for sharing Jesus with my 7 precious students.

He said, “You might be the only Bible your kids read this year.”

Can you even handle that?!  What a privilege and responsibility!

After our devotions on Wednesday morning, our headmaster invited us to the gym for some team-building exercises.  (Because nothing says BOND like a bunch of Minute-To-Win-It Games where you have to put panty hose over your head or see how fast you can eat an entire donut – in front of all of your colleagues.)

The stakes were high – the winning team would get a whole extra paid day off of work.

I had to ask some of my friends for accountability because sometimes, when I get my game face on, things get ugly and  I forget to be kind in the race to TAKE EVERYONE ELSE DOWWWWN.  {{Remember, I don’t like waking up at 5 am.}}

I volunteered from my team to Face the Cookie.

I ended up with cookie dust all over my hairline and a crumb in my contact for the rest of the day, but I got that cookie in my mouth.

The only bummer was that 5 other teams got their cookies in their mouths first.

School starts on Tuesday and I will face my 7 little cuties whom I have been praying for these last 2 weeks.

And instead of cookie dust in my hair, I will probably have a mixture of paint and boogers on my pants.

Pray for me! :-)

– Julie

*You can find lots of fun Minute-To-Win-It game ideas HERE!*

20 Little Phrases to Speak Life Over Your Kids

20 phrases to speak LIFE over our kids!There is a woman in my church who is famous for her saying,

“They will become what you tell them they will be.”

She is referring to our kids and how important it is to speak life into their precious ears.

Because if you’re fed a steady diet of, “You’re a bad boy,” “You’re not good enough,” “You are impossible!” “You are naughty,” “You make me crazy!”, “You always/never…”, “What were you thinking?!”, etc., then your inner voice gets programmed into believing those statements are true {{WHICH THEY ARE NOT}}.

Our kids sin because it is a part of their fallen nature.  But don’t forget that their sin does not define them.  The precious blood of Christ does!  Nothing – not even that tantrum they just threw in the supermarket – can separate them from our Savior’s love (Romans 8:28) – thank you Jesus. <3

The Bible says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” (Proverbs 18:21).

As mamas, we get the high calling of being the voice our kids hear the most while they are little.  The older they get, the more voices they will hear (and this world carries a lot of voices that sound like death), so I am trying to focus now on speaking words to my boys that bring life to their hearts.  I want them to learn now how to rehearse truth-filled phrases in their minds when tempted by the enemy to head down a destructive mental path.

I want my boys to know who God says they are, to Whom they belong, and how to take hold of the abundant life He has for them.

Here are some of the little life-giving phrases I have used with my boys over the years, as well as a few others I gathered from some of my dearest mama friends.  I truly pray this resource blesses your happy home!

20 Life-Giving Phrases for Kids

  • “I see God working in your life.” (You can read more about this phrase and how I use it HERE.)
  • “I love you and Jesus loves you most of all.” (I speak this over my kids every night!  You can see a video and find details about it HERE.)
  • “God is always with you!” (Matthew 28:20)
  • “You are a beloved child of the King!” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
  • “You are a gift from God.” (James 1:17)
  • “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!” (Philippians 4:13)
  • “God has a good plan for your life.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • “You are strong in the Lord!” (Ephesians 6:10)
  • “With God, all things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26)
  • “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
  • “You are loved – no matter what.  There is nothing you can do that will change that.” (Romans 5:8)
  • “Jesus loves spending time with you and so do I.” (Luke 10:38-42)
  • “Let me pray for/with you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • “Trust Jesus with (insert here – this situation, this fear, this desire, etc.).” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • “I love that God helped you (insert here something that your child did – be creative, work hard, think of others, do the right thing, bless someone, sacrifice something that meant a lot to them, be kind to a sibling) today!” (Psalm 28:7)
  • “God is concerned about every detail of your life.” (1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 10:30, Psalm 139:1-3)
  • “There is so much grace for you.” (Hebrews 4:16) I say this one while hugging a child who is broken over his/her sin.
  • “I’m sorry – will you forgive me?” (1 John 1:9) This is for when WE make mistakes and sin against them – our kids NEED to know that we are sinners and in need of a Savior – just like them, and “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
  • “Thank you, God, for this precious boy/girl!” (Isaiah 43:4)
  • “I am so happy/proud/honored/blessed that God made me your mama.”

As I was texting with my pastor’s wife about this topic, her teenage kids chimed in and said that the thing they hear their mom say a lot when they make inaccurate observations about themselves or situations they face is a passionate, “That is a lie from the pit of hell!  Get behind me satan!” (Of course not referring to your child as satan but to the one who brought up the lie).

It sounds extreme, but our kids need to be extreme when it comes to mental paths that don’t glorify God or honor His heart for His precious kiddos.  We have to nip those lies in the bud and point them to Jesus!!

How do you speak life over your kids?

– Julie :-)

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.

The Carousel Kindness

carousel1carousel 2carousel 3carousel 4

When my mom was a teenager she used to work at the carousel on the Boardwalk.  They would play a game where every time the carousel circled around, the rider had a chance to stretch their arm out and try to grab a small ring from this funny little contraption.

If you got the golden ring, you won a free ride on the carousel.

Well, they STILL play this game at the carousel ride and guess what?!  Happy Buddy got the gold ring!  You would have thought someone handed him a hundred ice cream cones he was so completely ecstatic.

Then on his second free ride, HE GOT THE GOLD RING AGAIN.

While I was so thrilled for Happy Buddy’s victory, my heart started to see an opportunity for kindness.  He already got his free ride and it was time for us to leave the park, so now he could bless someone else with a free ticket!

I had visions of him giving it away and us rejoicing over the chance to be Jesus to someone.

As Happy Buddy excitedly exited the ride showing off his second ticket, we did a little dance and celebrated the moment.

Then I jumped right in by dropping a few hints about being kind and giving his ticket away – how it would feel so wonderful to sacrifice in order to make someone else so happy – like JESUS. ;-)

Of course he said yes!

Haha – NO.  Instead he clutched the ticket to his chest and said he wanted to take it home and frame it.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed!  It would have been such an awesome, tangible moment to share God’s love!

And I could have chosen to push my agenda on him, but you know what I realized?

That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.

He worked hard for his prize.  I mean, I worked hard for my diploma and I’m allowed to hang it on my wall, right?

There will be plenty more opportunities for him to show kindness.  Like the other day when I wasn’t feeling well and he came in my room and asked me if there was anything he could do for me.

And then how he told Happy Baby tonight how he loved being his brother.

And then when we were in the car yesterday and he saw a homeless man and was moved to write a note for him that said ‘God bless you!  You rock!’

He is a good boy – even if he didn’t give away his carousel ticket.

You might think I’m a little crazy for even writing about this, but the whole situation reminded me of how I sometimes get these inflated expectations of perfection with my kids.  I need to keep in mind that kids are kids.  He is growing and learning just like I am.

As it turns out, every time he sees his little carousel ticket he gets excited all over again and now our whole family sees that little ticket as a tangible way the Lord showed great kindness to our sweet Happy Buddy.

I think I am going to hang it up next to my diploma. ;-)

– Julie