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10 Valentine’s Ideas for Your Family

February 6th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Start some new traditions with your children during the holiday of love.
By Mary May Larmoyeux

Ahhh … February. The month of hearts and roses and love.

Would you like to begin some new family traditions this Valentine’s Day? Then the following ideas have been written just for you.

1. Ask the kids to tell you how they think Valentine’s Day began. Write down what they say. Then do some research with the children, online or at the library, and see if their ideas are correct.

2. Designate the month of February as a time to show special love in your home. Read the following paraphrase together of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Message).

Love never gives up. 
Love cares more for others than for self. 
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. 
Love doesn’t strut, 
Doesn’t have a swelled head, 
Doesn’t force itself on others, 
Isn’t always “me first,” 
Doesn’t fly off the handle, 
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel, 
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 
Puts up with anything, 
Trusts God always, 
Always looks for the best, 
Never looks back, 
But keeps going to the end.

Then discuss each of the above characteristics of love at the dinner table on separate nights. For example, “Love never gives up.” How have friends and family stood by one another in good and bad times?  What did God do after Adam and Eve sinned that showed that He did not give up on mankind?

3.  Plan a unique scavenger hunt with the kids for Dad (or Mom). Help the children make and hide clues, taping a small chocolate kiss on each one. Have meaningful gifts at the end of the hunt. Possibilities include handwritten notes of love and appreciation, personal certificates of service (I will wash your car, clean out the garage, cook dinner, etc.), drawings, homemade treats, framed family pictures, etc. To make the scavenger hunt extra special, end your time with a family trip to the pizza parlor or bowling alley.

4. As a family, think of those who may be especially lonely on Valentine’s Day, then brainstorm ways that you could show Christ’s love to them. The kids may want to make unique Valentine cards, bake heart-shaped cookies, or invite them to a special lunch or dinner.

5.  Cultivate a sense of appreciation in your children by helping them express appreciation to their grandparents. Have each of the kids write Grandma and Grandpa individual Valentine’s Day notes. On February 14, personally deliver the notes along with an arrangement of flowers or a balloon bouquet. If grandparents live out-of-town, mail each note in a separate envelope and also call Grandma and Grandpa.

6.  Make February 14 a “red letter day” for your family. Decorate the kitchen or dining room with hearts, red and white streamers, and heart-shaped balloons. Wear a red outfit or apron and serve the family heart-shaped pancakes; add some red food coloring to the syrup. Make heart-shaped sandwiches for lunch, and choose dinner entrees that are red.

7.  Mail each of your children a Valentine’s card from you and your spouse. Share not only why you love your child unconditionally, but also your gratitude to God that your son/daughter is your child.

8.  Tell your children how you celebrated Valentine’s Day as a child. Then have the kids call/visit their grandparents to see how they celebrated it. Talk about ways that Valentine traditions have not only changed, but also remained the same.

9.  Help the kids make an “I love you because” book for someone special (parent, grandparent, pastor, teacher, etc.). In addition to writing and drawing heartfelt messages, include some favorite photographs and artwork. For a lasting keepsake, have the book bound at a local print shop.

10.  With your spouse, decide on personalized ways that you can show love to each of your children on Valentine’s Day. Spend time praying about how to best do this. While love for one child may be expressed by time, another may feel loved by words of affirmation or gifts. You may want to read The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.

Meet the Author: Mary May Larmoyeux

Mary May Larmoyeux writes for FamilyLife and various publications. She is the coauthor of The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart. Mary and her husband, Jim, have two married children and a growing number of grandchildren. You can visit her at

Never Have I Ever: Parenting Edition

February 6th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Score 1 point for every thing you have NOT done as a parent… Be honest!

21 Things I REALLY Want for Christmas as a Mom

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family

By Laura Hanby Hudgens (source:

For weeks now, my kids have been asking me what I want for Christmas. And I have said the thing that I am supposed to say, that I always say — I don’t need anything. I just want  all of my children to be happy and healthy.  It’s true. I don’t need anything. And I do want my children to be happy and healthy.

But they are good children, so no matter how often I say that I really don’t need anything, they will pool their money and buy me a new bathrobe or nightgown or a maybe well-intentioned kitchen gadget. And I’ll be grateful because I know they are buying me presents because they love me and want to show me that they care.

But here’s the thing. I’m lying. I don’t just want healthy, happy kids. Sure, that’s the most important thing, but there are a few other things that I desperately want. So maybe this year I will give my family my real Christmas list…

  1. I want everyone to lick or wipe the peanut butter off the spoon before dropping it in the sink. Better yet, lick it off and drop it in the dishwasher.
  2. I want never to hear the word SHOTGUN! again.
  3. I want never to open the cabinet and find a box with approximately two tablespoons of cereal left in it.
  4. I want a vehicle free of dead french fries and straw wrappers.
  5. I want all the socks in the whole world (or at least in my house) to find and keep their forever mates.
  6. I want kitchen countertops free from crumbs.
  7. I want someone else to feed the dog. C’mon, that was the deal.
  8. I want to stop pretending that the little flecks of green in the pasta are seasonings. It’s spinach, y’all. OK? It has always been spinach.
  9. I want to sit down with my coffee or my computer or my book for more than five minutes at a time before someone says, “Hey Mama! Will you…”
  10. I want to always be able to find a pen. And my scissors. And the duct tape. Seriously. Who keeps running off with the duct tape?
  11. I want to stop repeating myself.
  12. I want to stop repeating myself.
  13. I want a TV show that comes on during primetime that I can watch with my whole family and that does not involve wildlife or wild lives or people wearing camo or having sex — and that will not be interrupted by commercials for tampons, erectile disfunction or Victoria’s Secret.
  14. I want to learn how to use the television remote control, and I want the kids to forget how to use the television remote control.
  15. I want, just now and then, to arrive at church with a relaxed, well-dressed family at least 15 minutes early.
  16. I want to pray more as a family.
  17. I want to play more as a family.
  18. I want to sit down to dinner more often.
  19. I want to cook from scratch, and I want someone else to clean the kitchen.
  20. I want more nights at home with my family and fewer nights all going in different directions.
  21. I want to slow down time.

Obviously, some of the things on my list are within my family’s power to give me and some are not. But in the end, I know I will get a bathrobe or a nightgown or a kitchen gadget. And that’s OK. Because even though whatever I get might not come with a lifetime supply of spotless kitchens or perfectly matched socks, it will come with love. And besides, I really could use a new bathrobe.

7 Simple Ways To Raise Non-Materialistic Children

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family


Ironically, many children raised in wealth demonstrate the same tendencies as those who are raised in extreme poverty: depression, despair, attempted suicide, drug and alcohol use, and shoplifting.

Why this behavior?

The parents, who are often too busy making money sacrifice meaningful time with their children.

Admittedly, raising children in a world obsessed with stuff is a tough, tough job.

As savvy advertisers target these kids from early youth, and as their peers are quick to sport whatever the latest and greatest may be, the parents must be vigilant in teaching their children that such possessions do not make one happy, and, in fact, are detrimental to true happiness.

So . . . in this materialistic society, how does one go about raising non-materialistic children?

These tips will help:

1 – Practice What You Preach

If you buy cars to impress others, shop regularly just to be shopping, and “have to have” whatever the latest electronic gadget might be, don’t bother reading the rest of this article. Why? Because what you do screams to your children louder than anything you can ever say.

Albert Schweitzer said it well, “There are only three ways to teach a child. The first is by example; the second is by example; the third is by example.” Your first step, therefore, is to purge materialism from the person you see in the mirror.

2 – Spend Time With Your Children

Do you find yourself giving gifts to your children to make up for lack of personal attention? If so, you are instead sending the message that you think stuff is more important than a close relationship. Let the “Cats In The Cradle” lyrics resonate deeply. This Harry Chapin classic is a haunting reminder that once those child rearing years are gone, you will never get them back.

Cherish every moment you can spend with your children.

3 – Rein In Your Christmases

Somehow, someway, many parents missed the memo: “Christmas is not a license to overly indulge your children.” No matter how you justify it, overspending on your children just because it is Christmas is still overspending on your children (be sure to get on a Christmas budget). Try celebrating the true spirit of Christmas with your children instead of piling up stuff for them.

Our children, who are now grown, still have fond memories of the hours we spent together baking cookies and making homemade Christmas cards to give the inmates at a local prison. Create your own family traditions that involve time together and giving to others. Your children will cherish those memories.

4 – Help Them Prioritize Their Own Money

As your children become old enough to have their own money, help them prioritize that money. A very simple plan is to give some, save some, and spend some.

If you emphasize giving, you will be helping your child develop a heart for others. Because giving is the opposite of materialism, you need to constantly demonstrate a giving spirit.

5 – Support A Child In A Poverty Nation

Need something for that “giving” money to go for? How about supporting a child in a third-world country. Children have a natural empathy for other children, so if your kids can support a child with real needs, they will not only learn to love that child, but will also appreciate whatever material possessions they already own.

6 – Take Them On Foreign Mission Trips

I have been fortunate enough to accompany all four of my children on short term mission trips to Mexico. Three went while in high school; the fourth as an adult.

Nothing, absolutely nothing will impact kids more than seeing poverty up close and personal. Amazingly, the lesson my kids came back with over and over again was how happy those people (who had nothing) were. Talk about an antidote to materialism . . . these short-term mission trips have been firsthand proof that stuff doesn’t equal happiness.

Check out this article if you need to raise money for your mission trip.

7 – Take A Field Trip To A Dump

I borrow this idea from Randy Alcorn’s book, Managing God’s Money. Show your children all these piles of “treasures” that were once Christmas and birthday presents. Discuss how everything we own today will likewise end up in a junkyard like this one. Read 2 Peter 3:10-14 together (a passage that tells of how everything in this world will some day burn), then use this teachable moment to discuss true riches which transcend life here on planet earth.

Ask them this question: “When everything we have ever owned is someday burned, what, in your lives, do you think will last forever?”

In what ways are you helping your children avoid materialism? What could you be doing better? Leave a comment!

(recommended by Dave & Reb of “Let’s Talk Money” radio show)

Reverse Advent Calendar

December 12th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family

Many families use fun Advent Calendars to help countdown the days until Christmas. Each day you receive a chocolate or a small gift… A Reverse Advent Calendar helps you to GIVE rather than receive.

Join us each day from December 1st through 24th as we add an item to a basket or hamper to give to a local shelter.

Follow along to see what we’re including in our hamper for Restoring Hope Ministries…. for daily posts and Advent reading.

Click here to download a printable list of items.

Suggested items:
December 1 – Granola Bars
December 2 – Hot Chocolate
December 3 – Water Bottles
December 4 – Men’s Boxers
December 5 – Women’s Underwear (sizes M & L)
December 6 – Deodorant
December 7 – Q-Tips
December 8 – Herbal Tea
December 9 – Toothpaste
December 10 – Toothbrush
December 11 – Face Cloth
December 12 – Towel
December 13 – Lip Balm
December 14 – Gloves
December 15 – Socks (for men)
December 16 – Socks (for women)
December 17 – Cough Drops
December 18 – Vapor Rub
December 19 – Cookies
December 20 – Fruit Cups
December 21 – Jell-O Cups
December 22 – Women’s T-Shirt
December 23 – Men’s T-Shirt
December 24 – Band-Aids & Gauze

Candace Cameron Bure: Creating memories with my family on vacation means ‘everything’

July 5th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family

Candace Cameron Bure is one of the busier actresses around. When she’s not reprising her role of D.J. Tanner-Fuller on “Fuller House,” she’s starring in Hallmark movies and writing books.

Oh, Mylanta, that’s a stacked schedule! But each summer, she finds the time to get away with her family.

“Summertime, we always take a few weeks,” she told TODAY in a recent interview.

Edible Gifts for Mother’s Day

May 1st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Hey, Dads! Round up your crew and whip up one (or all) of these treats Mom will love on her special day. Then prepare for lots of XOXOs!

Homemade Chai Tea Sachets

Bring new meaning to her daily tea break: Write the brewing instructions on colorful paper tags, and decorate the other side.
Edible Gifts Homemade Chai Tea SachetsPhoto Credit: Biz Jones

Makes: 8 Tea Bags

  • 2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 16 green cardamom pods
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • ⅓ cup loose black tea leaves
  • 16 (5 inch) cheesecloth squares
  • 8 (6 inch) baker’s twine pieces

1. Combine cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns in a heavyduty zip-top plastic bag. Crush spices with a rolling pin. Toss together spices, ginger, and tea until blended.

2. Bundle 1½ Tbs. tea mixture in a double layer of cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth tightly with one piece of twine. Repeat with remaining tea mixture, cheesecloth, and twine.

Brewing Instructions (to Write on Gift Tag): Bring 1 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat, and add 1 tea bag; let steep 5 minutes. Add ⅓ cup milk, and heat until warm. Pour into a mug, and sweeten with honey or sugar to taste. 

Tip: Pile the tea sachets high in a pretty new mug. Or put loose tea in a jar and give with a mug and tea ball.

Poppy Seed and Parmesan Cheese Straws 

A crunchy indulgence perfect for this special day! Serve some in a treat jar, and then save the rest to enjoy as a family later.
Edible Gifts Poppy Seed and Parmesan Cheese StrawsPhoto Credit: Biz Jones

Makes: About 18 pieces

  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup finely grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • 1 package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
  • 2 tsp. poppy seeds, divided

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss together cheeses, garlic powder, red pepper (if using), and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together egg and water in a mug.

2. Unfold 1 pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface. Roll to a 10×10-inch square. Brush pastry with egg wash. Sprinkle with half of cheese mix. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. poppy seeds. Press mixture into pastry. Cut pastry into nine to ten strips. Lay each strip on a baking sheet, and twist a few times. Chill baking sheet in fridge until ready to cook, and repeat with remaining pastry. 

3. Bake, rotating pans once, until lightly browned and puffed, about 14 to 16 minutes. Cool completely.

Tip: Arrange the cheese straws in a mason jar for easy gifting—and snacking

Candied Pistachio Apricots

Delicious dipped fruit is easy for kids to create from start to finish. 
Edible Gifts Candied Pistachio ApricotsPhoto Credit: Biz Jones

Makes: 25 pieces

  • 1 cup dark chocolate melting wafers (such as Ghirardelli)
  • 24 dried apricots
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped roasted, salted, shelled pistachios

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place chocolate in a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave, stirring at 30-second intervals, until melted and smooth, about 1½ minutes.

2. Dip two thirds of each apricot into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on baking sheet, and sprinkle immediately with nuts. Let stand until firm, about 30 minutes. 

Tip: Tuck the apricots away in a gift box layered with wax paper.