Tag Archives: living life on purpose

Friday Favorites: Christmas Cards=Prayer Cards

28 Nov

FRIDAY Favorites

I am excited to have a dear friend and mentor, Dr. Kimberly Thornbury, with a Guest Post today. I had the splendid pleasure of working with Kimberly while we were both at Union University. It was then that she introduced me, a newlywed at the time, to her family’s House of Prayer. At the time, I longed for the day that I could start this tradition with children of my own. If you are wondering what to do with the charming Christmas cards forthcoming in your mailbox once December 26 arrives, enjoy Kimberly’s tradition and incorporate it into your home during 2015.

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When my two daughters were very young, I wanted to teach them about the importance of prayer, and also help them understand more about family and friends they had not yet met. In 2004, shortly after Christmas, I took an old green Pampers wipes plastic bin, covered it with construction paper, and filled it with Christmas cards our family had received that holiday season. I stapled a 3 x 5 index card to each of the Christmas cards, and wrote down specific prayer requests related to that particular family or individual.

During meal times, our two daughters were very interested in the new ritual of pulling out a colored photo. We would pass around the photo and pray specifically for the person or family on the card. Often times, we would write updates on the back of the card. Although we didn’t pray for these people daily, we would pray for them regularly and most certainly consistently. Our prayers became less monotonous, more creative and more intentional.

Sometimes if we didn’t have a card on someone, the girls would take time to find a picture of someone in a magazine (for example the president of the United States) and create a card. Tragic situations, would often result in the girls writing words like “Haiti” on 3 x 5 card.

That little Pampers box looked like a tiny house, and it was also a symbol for the Thornbury family being characterized as a “house of prayer.” Over the years we have moved to a small cardboard “Amazon” box, but I am sure more “pinterest” moms would make something super cute out of wood.

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I have worked with college students for over 20 years. As I mentor college students throughout their tenure at the University, often times I will pray over the students I am mentoring through my house of prayer card system. You can imagine their delight, when I copy the back of the card a few weeks before their wedding day, reminding them of God’s answered promises to them. Biology tests were passed, boyfriends who were not God’s best for them faded away, they reached their goal of graduation, and will soon be married to their beloved.

Also, when someone is going through a particularly hard time (like a friend whose son was recently diagnosed with leukemia), we will find their card in the stack, update it, and pray for them right there on the spot.

When we have guests come over, the house of prayer is a way for us to explain the Gospel to others, and our belief in intercessory prayer.

I’m a fallen mom, and so thankful for God’s grace in my life. I am far from perfect, but this God-given idea has really worked for our little family, and been a tool to draw us closer to Him.

Dr. Kimberly Thornbury is the Vice President for Institutional Research and Strategic Planning at The King’s College in New York City. She can be reached at kthornbury@tkc.edu or on Twitter @kthornbury

Friday Favorites: Handprint “Thankful Tree”

24 Oct

FRIDAY Favorites

When I observe my calendar inching ever so close to November, I know that one of our family’s favorite traditions is right around the corner! Each November our family erects a tree in our kitchen. It’s not just any tree; it’s a tree filled with handprints from all 5 family members. During the month of November, we daily each add a handprint to our tree, and on each handprint is written something for which we are thankful.

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This short moment during breakfast or dinner seems microscopic when compared to the remaining 23 hours and 50 minutes in the day’s remainder. However, by intentionally pausing, even for only a few minutes, to reflect on God’s gracious, abundant, never ending blessings in our lives is refreshing, humbling, beautiful. I pray, too, that is memorable for my children. I pray that they will clearly see that “every good and perfect gift IS from above…” (James 1:17), that Mommy and Daddy, aka “the grown ups”, also, need the discipline of regularly, consistently coming before God to thank Him for all that He does for us.

No matter how you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, find creative ways the entire month of November to cultivate thankfulness within your family. Hearing your children and family members articulate reasons of thankfulness is truly something for which you will be thankful this year and the years to come.

For details on how to create your own Handprint Thankful Tree, read this previous post.

 

 

Seeds Family Worship–All CDs $9.97!!!

13 Aug


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ALL Seeds Family Worship cds are currently on sale for $9.97!! We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Seeds! Read this previous post for an exorbitant amount of reasons WHY we adore our Seeds Family Worship cds!  Or, do not stop go, do not collect $200 and go shop ’til you drop right now!

If you are new to Seeds Family Worship, know that by ordering ONE cd, you get TWO copies of that cd! This is their “buy and share” vision! (Isn’t that marvelous!?!?!?!) So, get some birthday present or Christmas shopping done! Or, call your BFF and order a gaggle of these cds together to split shipping costs. (Because who really ADORES paying for shipping?!?!? Splitting shipping costs is what BFFs are for, ya know?!?!?)

So, enough reading, go shopping! I can’t wait for you to get God’s Word stuck in the heads and hearts of your children (and your own!) via Seeds Family Worship’s brilliant musical masterpieces!

Also, if you’re in the Nashville area like me, there is a LIVE Seeds Family Worship/What’s In the Bible? event September 5th. There are other locations this fall as well. Go here for more information and to purchase tickets.

A Letter To My Parents on Their 43rd Anniversary

11 Jun

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My brothers and I with my parents (May 2014).

My parents are celebrating their 43rd Anniversary today. I am forever indebted to them for their love, discipline, encouragement, support, selflessness, and faithfulness to not hide the things of God from me (Psalm 78:1-8). This is the second year in a row on their anniversary that they have kept our sons for my husband and me due to commitments that we’ve had. (Thanks, guys!!!) Again, they are selfless and love us well. Six years ago, my husband and I had almost 3 year old and almost 1 year old sons, and I believe that only after becoming a parent myself did I truly begin to appreciate what a gift God gave me in my Mother and Father. I wrote them a letter that day on the occasion of their 37th Anniversary, and six years later, the words still ring true. I love you, Mom and Dad! Thank you for demonstrating God’s love and grace to me as a child and continuing to do so as an adult. I pray that these same words can be written by our sons to my husband and me when we’ve been married 43 years; it will only be by God’s grace, if so! To those of you who are moms or dads, aunts or uncles, or godparents reading this post, never underestimate the impact that you can have on the life of a child! Praying that each of us will be faithful to the words of Psalm 78:1-8 …that the next generation might know the ways of God. Mimi & Pop and Mosley boys

My parents with my 3 sons. Thankful for their investment, now, in my own children!

Happy 37th Anniversary! What a wonderful blessing, as a child, to know that my parents still love each other and have kept their marriage vows. Now that I have children and know the stresses and bumps in the road that come along with life, I have even more respect for what you both did for Phillip, Carl, and me as you raised us. Thank you for investing in & being steadfast in your marriage and honoring your vows during your childbearing/childrearing years. I see the temptation of investing too much in your children and sacrificing your marriage, and I know of the physical and emotional energy required to nurture and to strengthen a marriage with young children underfoot. The easy road would have been to not go the extra mile in your marriage and to be selfish and lazy with the minimal excess energy you had during those years. However, you were not and did not and for that I am grateful. As Jamie and I, too, have made the decision for me to stay home with our boys, I recognize the sacrifices that you made, Mom, to give us what we needed most–love, nurturing, and instruction from our Mother. I know what it’s like to be with small children all day and extended family hours away. I know, Dad, the pressures placed on you as the sole financial provider. I am grateful that you both valued us–not material possessions–and were willing to sacrifice the financial gain that accompanies a double-income household. As an adult, I now understand the ‘shoestring budget’ that the five us lived–and thrived–on! I never knew that we were living on a ‘shoestring budget.’ I never felt that I missed out on anything; we were rich in my eyes. You were creative with what we had, and it is amazing to relive memories of family vacations and youth camps and to know that those memories were a gift from you. You both did without certain things in order for those memories to be made. We, as children, did without things that you would have liked to have given us, but I can’t even begin to think of what we had to “do without.” I have no memories of every lacking anything! With all of the external pressures of life weighing down on our family, I never felt the pressure, stress, uncertainty that was possibly there. This is where the greatest gift you gave me was evidenced. The faith that you both have in Christ obviously carried you through those days. That same faith was passed on to us. You instructed us in the ways of God and His Word. You loved and valued His bride, the church, by your actions. You cultivated that in me. You did not teach us to fret and to worry about life. For if you had done so, I would remember that. Instead, you taught us to love the Church and to trust Him as our Sustainer and Provider. That was evident because that’s what I remember. Oh, and did He provide! What a wonderful blessing to be able to look back on His gracious provision to our family! These same things that you valued–God, our family–are what we long to pass on to our boys. We feel the weight of the task before us. However, it is a gift of God’s grace that we have such a wonderful example from you both to reflect on and to learn from. We are thankful that even as Grandparents you are investing in our boys the same way that you invested in Phillip, Carl, and me. Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” As parents, you gave me a graceful garland for my head and a beautiful pendant for my neck through your instruction and teaching. Both of which were both rooted in the wisdom of God’s Word. I wear them today as a testimony and fruit of your labor. This is what I celebrate today on your anniversary.

Your VERY grateful daughter,
Suzanne June 11, 2008 (and 2014!)

Seeds Family Worship–15% OFF COUPON (ends 5/16)

15 May

Seeds of Character
We LOVE Seeds Family Worship cds! (You can read here to find out more about what Seeds Family Worship cds are and HOW MUCH we love them!) If you’ve been wanting to order some of these fabulous cds, you can save 15% when you use the coupon code: SPRING.

Also, Seeds CDs come with 2 cds when you buy 1 cd. They want you to keep one copy for yourself and give one away! Don’t you just love that?!?!? So, keep that in mind when you order. These cds, therefore, make GREAT gifts! Just a note that the code doesn’t work on the “Give ‘Em Seven” bundle.  The Seeds of Character cd shown above has a GREAT song that teaches all of the New Testament books of the Bible. I’m hoping, hoping, hoping, they’ll come out with one for the Old Testament books.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Easter Traditions Pep Talk

13 Apr

 

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Happy Palm Sunday! I’m reposting from last year’s Easter archives. Here’s the article from last year. It’s a pep talk to get you ready for being purposeful and celebrating Christ with your family this week. You can do it, and have fun!! 🙂

Praying that your family will have a wonderful week celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection. He is risen!

 

HeartFELT Truths Easter Banner (& a Coupon Code!)

18 Mar

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Whitney from HeartFELT Truths graciously gave our family an Easter Banner to use last year. Awwwwwwwwwww, we love it!

The Easter Banner is for use during Holy Week. Day One begins on Palm Sunday, and the Easter Banner concludes on glorious Easter Morning! For more detailed information, aka “the girl version,” read my review of the HeartFELT Easter Banner.

Here’s the finished product with all pieces on the banner:

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Whitney has multiple options for her Easter Banner.

Option #1: You can download FREE instructions for her Easter Banner on this blog post (Scroll to the bottom of the post to see “Free Instructions” in a downloadable .pdf form.)

Option #2: You can order the complete Easter Banner or a DIY Easter Banner kit from her Etsy Shop. Suzanne Shares readers get 10% off when you use this coupon code (expiration: 3/27):

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If you have problems with the coupon code working, mention it in the “Order Notes” box and Whitney will refund them the difference after your purchase.

I love having this wonderful resource to purposefully engage our family with Scripture during the Easter season! I’m excited to share this resource with you!

Friday Favorites: Honey for A Child’s Heart

14 Mar

FRIDAY Favorites

Last week’s Friday Favorites was about a devotion book that our family uses during Lent to focus on Christ. I decided to keep this second edition of Friday Favorites in the literature genre as well. Today, I am delighted to share about a book that has helped me to love books and to unearth quality literature–for my children and myself–from the thousands of books on the library’s shelves. Enjoy!

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One day I almost turned in my library card. Yes, you read that correctly. The gal who writes profusely about books that she adores almost gave back her free library card to the librarian. This same gal almost vowed to never darken the doors of a library again. At the time, I was a mother of two wee ones, ages 3 and 1, and I was doing what I thought all “good” mothers did. I took them weekly to the library for storytime, and after storytime, we would check out books. Again, all “good” mothers read to their children, right? So, I followed suit and let my boys pick out books. I remember one of my college roommates had an entire class on Children’s Literature. Being the social work major that I was, that class wasn’t on my radar. Since my extent of children’s authors included Dr. Seuss and no one else, I wasn’t very instrumental in their selections. Plus, I thought letting my sons pick out the books that they wanted was so very gracious of me.

We took the books home and read them, week in and week out, but one day I finally had enough. The books that I had been reading to my boys were dull, seemed to all involve jokes about bodily functions, and were were simply lacking. Deep down I felt there had to be something more to this “reading to your child” activity. My heart yearned for more, but I didn’t know what or how. I was frustrated and unsure of what to do with said frustration, so I decided….to just be done with the library. I envisioned marching into the library, slamming down my library card and marching right back out again. Reading with my sons was a chore, a chore in the same vein with laundry, dusting, and changing dirty diapers. I did those things out of duty; there was no delight. Reading to my boys had become just that–duty with no delight.

Honey For A Child's Heart

As I was having this internal conversation, my mind recalled the title of a book that I had read about or that someone had mentioned to me previously, Honey for a Child’s Heart. Thankfully, at this point I had not marched into the library and relinquished my library card. I did what any good library patron would do when intrigued by an unread book. I scoured the card catalog for it. Good news; my library possessed a copy of it. I checked it out and devoured it. (Whew! Glad I still had that library card!) This book was just what I needed as it gave me list after list of book recommendations for children. Greater still was its gift to me in this–a vision for the active role that books can play in the life of my children and our family.

“Children have two basic needs…milk and honey from their parents. Milk symbolizes the care given to physical needs…. Honey symbolizes the sweetness of life, that special quality that makes life sing with enjoyment for
all it holds.”– Honey for a Child’s Heart

Gladys Hunt helped me identify what was missing with my interactions with my sons. There was much milk being offered by me on their behalf, but the honey was missing. I knew not how to get there, but thankfully, Hunt guided my steps with each page of the book. “Good books are rich in honey…” she wrote, so that was where I would begin. Instead of marching myself into the library to return my library card, I marched myself into the library with Honey for a Child’s Heart in hand. I would, literally, open it to the first page of the book lists and pick those books off the shelf. It became my BFF as through it our whole family was introduced to marvelous stories, unforgettable characters, timeless authors. No longer was reading to my sons drudgery; it was my delight. We were feasting on honey together, and it was uniting our hearts in a manner that was joyous.

Fast forward 6 years, our little brood now includes a third son, and we are half a decade in to the Honey for a Child’s Heart experiment. I count and measure my life by books, ones that have marked me, set my life on a different trajectory. This is, indeed, one such book. A diet of honey, drinking deeply from it, has introduced us to Charlotte and Wilbur, children who lived in a boxcar, a courageous Olympian and missionary, Eric Liddell and countless other people and tales that have left a little piece of themselves in our hearts.  The greatest imprint of Honey for a Child’s Heart on our family has come in what Hunt calls, “the pleasure of a shared experience” through literature. This particular chapter, upon first reading the book, drew me in. The idea of books creating shared experiences, drawing a family together made my heart want to explode out of my chest! This was my greatest desire, and so we jumped in to read alouds with school and together as a family. What started as an experiment our family has since become a reality. Feasting on honey has created commonality, laughter, shrills of “one more chapter, please, Mommy,” and joy. Just thinking about the memories of varied books that we’ve consumed together over the last 6 years, literally, brings tears to my eyes. What a journey it has been; so thankful.

So, if you’re wavering back and forth about whether or not you should turn in your library card, pick up Honey for a Child’s Heart. May it inspire and instruct you as it did me and our family to intentionally fill our lives, hearts, and minds with quality literature, honey, as Hunt calls it. The last half of the book is filled with page upon page of book lists including various ages, authors, genres. Use it to guide your book selections on your library storytime days, as I did and still do. (Yes, I still take my copy with me to the library to direct my steps! Or, even better, buy the Kindle edition and take it on your phone or tablet to whip out in the middle of the library! All the cool kids take books to the library. You didn’t know?!?!?) As I have begun adding honey, quality children’s literature, to our family’s diet, it has increased my appetite, personally, for rich literary prose. This led me to pick up Honey for a Woman’s Heart over Christmas. I’m looking forward to the unknown adventures and worlds to which it will introduce me. I’m sure it will mark me in the same manner the “kid version” has done. Come, join me in this journey; you and your family will never be the same.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Easter Advent Calendar: The Word Became Flesh

5 Mar

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With today being the first day of Lent, our family is starting my friend’s book, The Word Became Flesh, which is a devotion journeying through the life of Jesus during the 40 days of Lent. I wrote a summary about it last year, you can read it here. It works similarly to the Advent Jesse Tree that we use at Christmas. There is a Scripture to read each day, and you can make ornaments to go along with each day’s reading. (My boys love this part! We hang ours on a grapevine wreath.) It is a wonderful, focused time of daily Scripture reading with our family anticipating Easter, and I LOVE IT! 

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Last year, I had the books available for purchase through my blog, and the good news, this year, is that you can now purchase the book from Amazon! Follow this link to do so.

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We have a second Easter Advent Calendar that we use during Holy Week. I will be writing more about it soon as well! To make sure that you don’t miss a single post, go “LIKE” Suzanne Shares on Facebook or sign up to receive blog updates via email on the right hand side of my blog, “Follow Blog Via Email.” Exciting, exciting stuff going on at Suzanne Shares! YAY!

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Valentine’s Day tradition: Valentine’s “stockings”

3 Feb

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I’m reposting this from last year. We introduced Valentine’s stockings in our home as new tradition. It was a HIT with our boys, and since I LOVE giving gifts, it was a hit for me, too! ha! I know people have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day, but for my husband and I, it has become a fun day to verbalize, yet again, to our sons that we love them and are thankful that God gave them to us! Parents, kids never get tired of hearing that from their parents. (I’m a “grown up” and still find joy, security when hearing that from my own parents!) So, parents, lavish your children with words expressing your love of and for them on Valentine’s Day and every day!

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Read the post to learn how to make these, or let them inspire you to make your own “bag” of some sort. Seriously, a decorated brown paper sack would suffice! Just do something FUN together with your family to remind each member that he/she is loved: 1) First and foremost by their Creator, God and 2) by YOU!

“We love because He first loved us.” I John 4:19

Come back tomorrow, and I’ll have a FREE Printable and some Valentine’s Day book suggestions. 🙂