6 Ways to Nurture a Grateful Heart


6 Ways to Nurture a Grateful Heart

We all want to help our children grow to have grateful hearts, but I admit – it can be incredibly hard in our society. We have to try harder to block the excess and the “entitlement” attitude and allow tenderness and mercy to seep in. The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World by Amy McCready has been very helpful in opening my eyes and helping me find ways to parent more effectively in this area. 

As I journey through this “second” season of parenting again with a five year old, I am reminded of the little things I can do each day to help be intentional in teaching gratefulness.

Set the Right Example

I was convicted of this and have been more intentional in my speech. We want our children to say “please” and “thank you”, so shouldn’t we model that? How many parents do you see saying “thank you” to there two or three year old children? It is through example that kids learn best, and teaching gratitude is no different than anything else in that respect. Children do learn what they live.

Teach by Showing Them How to Be of Service to Others

Even something simple, such as holding a door for an elderly person, is a small way we can show them how others appreciate us and our actions. It is also a way to put a smile and a lift into a stranger’s day, which always creates a good feeling within the person who is doing the kind act as well. You would be surprised how many times a simple gesture like this can occur in your normal day-to-day activities, in places like grocery stores, school, or shopping trips.

Make a List

This is on my list to begin during our dinner time, creating a simple list of what each person is thankful for. During this Thanksgiving season you could even make this Thanksgiving Tree decoration to help visualoze all the things your family is thankful for.

Teach Gratitude While Going Without Things

What can your family go with out? Whether it is intentional or not, like losing power for a day, you can take opportunities to bring in some reality to how life is for those who are not as blessed as we are.

Show Them How to Be Thankful for the Little Things in Life

We can easily forget how the simple things really are things to be thankful for. Having food to eat all the time, friends to play with, and having plenty of toys and school supplies are items to truly appreciate. Kids have no concept, especially if having these things are normal and they have never been without.

Teach Them to See the Good in Someone They Don’t Like

This is one I need to be reminded of often – so when you are having to go through it yourself, it provides the perfect opportunity to share that with your child. Being an adult is hard – but being a kid these days can be just as difficult as we learn to respect others and respond to others in kindness. This is hard when they’ve been mistreated, I totally know that. We have had the opportunity to talk about situations that have happened and share how we can respond better and with God’s love rather than how our spirit wants to respond.

It is all about developing character. If we want our kids to grow up having grateful hearts, it all starts with us and how we portray that in our homes.

Praying for Your Children’s Love of God


Praying for Your Children's Love of God

As a parent who has journeyed through the stages of parenting full circle, this is by far one area that I have not been diligent enough in – praying for my children to LOVE GOD.

As I learn to train myself in new habits, I certainly want to pass along how you can impact your children in the most powerful way.

Often times we feel that we have all the power or control in how our children turn out. I have learned the exact opposite. Our energy is better spent praying and releasing control to Jesus rather than getting uptight and overworked on managing behavior and freaking out.

Do not get me wrong – it is our job to train our children – however I have found in my years of parenting, both as a married couple and as a single parent, I have not been as diligent in my handing over my children to God and His control as I could have been.

It is clear when you read the verses in the Bible about raising children that not only are we to pray for our children and pray for their love of God, but we are to also set a good example to our children. We want them to see what a Godly life is like, why it is good, and how to accomplish living such a life.

The example that Jesus Christ gave us is clear.

Jesus lived a life without sin, and was punished for our sins, so that we might live. What better example is that about how we should strive to live and be for our own children?

When Christ was dying on the cross, He prayed for the people. Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This is an example of how God would like us to pray for our own children. We can be in prayer that not only that our children grow to love God and appreciate His gift to us, but that they be forgiven for what they do not know. In addition, while we cannot be perfect like Jesus, we can strive to be like Jesus – living without sin as an example to our children.

When we falter, and we will, we can point out to our children that we are not perfect like Jesus was, but that we strive to be like Him. Jesus was love personified. He was full of love, slow to anger, compassionate, and gracious. This is what we, as parents, should strive to be like. I need constant forgiveness for my temper and lack of empathy with my children. I have received grace and one of the biggest life lessons my children can see is me asking them for forgiveness when I have sinned and become angry.

Love is easy when it comes to our children, but slow to anger is not as easy. But, that is how Jesus behaved and how we must strive to be, while praying that our children love God with all their might.

The thing is, if we set this example for our children there is no doubt that they will grow in love for Christ because they will see His true nature within your behavior and your actions. Your children are watching. When we can live out completely what we believe it is more impactful than any lecture, discussion, or consequence.

Celebrate Your Child’s Uniqueness


Celebrate Your Child's Uniqueness

Just like a snowflake or a fingerprint, every child is unique in their own special way. Every child has a unique way of feeling, thinking, and interacting with others. Some children are shy, while others are outgoing; some are active, while others are calm; some are fretful, while others are easy-going.

As a loving and nurturing parent, it’s your job to encourage your children to embrace their uniqueness and celebrate their individual qualities. During my seasons of raising biological children, a step-son, and now an adopted son, I have experienced how I need to help encourage each child to be their own self, instead of me directing how they should be.

I love these ideas for helping to keep me focused on creating individuals rather than molding them all to be like how I would see them.

Allow Individuality 

Allow your child to express themselves through their interests. They may find a creative outlet in theatre, dancing, or art, or they may be exceptionally talented in the sciences. Encourage them to embrace what they like to do, what interests them, and what makes them happy. Help them realize that they don’t need to worry about being “like everyone else.”

Power of the Positive 

Teach your child to make positive choices, and praise them for good deeds, behaviors, and positive traits they possess. Be specific when identifying these things, rather than just general statements. Encourage them to become actively involved in their community, and introduce them to activities that promote a sense of cooperation and accomplishment.

Firm and Fair

Be firm yet fair when handing down discipline for misdeeds or misbehavior, and make certain the rules and consequences for breaking the rules are clearly defined. Show a cooperative, loving, and united front with your spouse when it comes to discipline.


Accept and celebrate your child’s uniqueness. Remember that your child is an individual. Allow your child to have his or her own personal preferences and feelings, which may be different from your own.

Mistakes Happen

And finally, encourage your child to be true to themselves by doing the same. Show your child how to make positive choices with the choices you make, and that nobody is perfect and you too make mistakes. Show your child that mistakes can be a great learning experience, and that they should not be ashamed or embarrassed about making them.

Our Simple Family Devotion Time


Our Simple Family Devotion Time

I will be the first to admit – family devotions are not an area of strength for me. And to be really honest, I can carry a lot of guilt around this topic because I always feel we as a family should be doing more.

I have gone through seasons as a parent where we would spend 30 minutes with family devotion time. When I was a single mom and my children were much younger, we had our devotion time right before bed. It worked at that time for us, and I used this book as my guide, The One Year Devotions for Kids #1.

The One Year Devotions for Kids #1I really enjoyed that each day’s lesson had a focus on a key theme from a Bible story. My kids really enjoyed the contemporary story that was shared and there were application questions as well as a memory verse. We would then pray after reading and had an index card system to pray through requests from family, friends, and our sponsor child. We mixed the cards each evening so we all had turns praying for different people.

It worked for several years.

When we became a blended family and the age span of our kids really spread, family devotion time became really rigid and, honestly, a bit boring. It was hard to incorporate everyone’s age level and comprehension into one time. So we began just discussing things during our dinner hour, maybe a question from our Sunday service or a topic of conversation that a child had with regard to something that was going on at school.

Let me just say, there is a never ending source of topics you can discuss and filter with scripture from everyday life – and honestly it is so valuable. It worked for a period of time.

Then we had a little guy come into our lives and we were thrown back into the toddler stage – along with having teens and young adults. WOW! Talk about tricky.

We have tailored our family devotion time back to being very simple. We end our dinner time reading a short story that is directed toward our preschooler (well, now kindergartner) and it also has worked well. The older kids still participate and often times help the younger one understand the story and how it is reflective of everyday life.

Then after we are finished, the conversation may continue with the older kids sharing some takeaways from their lives.

These are the two books we’ve used in the past two years and I really like them. They are economical and well-written.

The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers (Little Blessings) The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers 2 (Little Blessings)
I hope this gives you some help in determining what might work for you and your family. I  am no theologian, no bible scholar either, but I do want to attempt to bring something to our family devotion time.

Thankfully for me, my husband is the one to lead in this area. However, I know that many of you may struggle with that and perhaps your husband has not made a step up to help in this area. If you’ve shared your desire, and you do not see engagement, then I would suggest you doing something small and intentional and invite him to participate. You just never know how the Lord will work in that area for your family.

6 Tips to Strengthen Your Teen-Parent Relationship


6 Tips to Strengthen Your Teen-Parent Relationship

I have survived the teen years with two kids so far (still have two more to go). I have picked up a few strategies I feel have helped me create a space to encourage the relationship with each of them. I felt the back to school season might be the perfect time to share with those moms who have some older kids.

Just like when you were a teenager, you wanted to spend time with your peers rather than with your parents or family, right? Or at least that was me. I had a healthy mix of both. However, I think it can be a tough transition for parents, especially when you have your first child enter the teen years.  

There are ways to create conversation and continue to stay connected without being the parent that asks too much or seems too much like you are giving a speech. Here are some tips:

1. Talk More

It’s better if you start the conversation. It can be just, “How was your day?” Try to discuss many things instead of interrogating. Find interesting topics, such as sports, entertainment, friends, and school experiences to make it relaxing.  

2. Listen

If your teen shares some criticism, listen and ask what he/she expects you to do. Talk about this wisely, not emotionally. It’s good for your teen to be able to express his/her feelings to you. Just be an ear to listen.

3. Set Rules

Your teen needs to recognize what is and isn’t acceptable and what the consequences of misbehavior are. Therefore, you should set (or rather negotiate) some rules with your teen to keep him/her on track. Allow some freedom of choice, but when things do not work out well, pull back the reins.

4. Consider Your Teen’s Point of View

See your teen as your friend and respect his/her opinion whenever you discuss something. This also shows that you pay attention to him/her and consider him/her as important. I have found this particularly important when we have dinner conversations and specifically when we have discussions about our faith. I have to remember that this is a time of growing and discovery, so encouraging that path is good.

5. Encourage Your Teen’s Interests and Talents

Most teens like to try new things. Let yours choose what he/she desires, even if don’t agree with it because, for example, it has the potential to be dangerous. Giving support is the best you can do, while you keep monitoring that the new activity is actually safe. Moreover, this idea is a good way of teaching your teen how to be responsible.

6. Do Things Together

This one is surely a great opportunity for you to improve your relationship with your teen. Our schedules are busy, but when you set aside time to spend with your teen, it sends a powerful message – YOU ARE IMPORTANT! I love that. Games, biking, soccer, playing catch, and going for a frozen yogurt together are great examples of just “hanging out”.

Warm and positive communication without underestimating your teen is key to a successful relationship between the two of you. Clearly it won’t work at once. Try the tips progressively and enjoy your time being a parent of a teenager.