Thursday, June 18, 2009

Purposeful Activites & Garments of Praise

Bethany asked:

What is your favorite purposeful and Biblically-minded and FUN activity to do with your children?

I'm looking for ideas, so please don' feel the need to limit yourself to just one thing :) I just haven't found our niche in this area, but I'm not giving up!! Thanks!!

I think I will begin with a story...I hope you don't mind.

Have you ever gotten into a negative cycle with your children? Where you purpose with everything in you that you will find
something positive to say to them only to be faced with the need to correct their behavior over and over again? Where it seems all that they have to say to one another is negative and critical? (No, you say, your family is perfect? Maybe you should come back tomorrow...:))

Awhile back I found myself and my children stuck in a pattern of negativity and after I dropped the older two off at school I sat in my favorite chair, Bible open, and cried. I felt like such a horrible parent. Try as I might, things just weren't improving. I couldn't bring myself to do the Bible study that I was a part of at the time. Instead, I just flipped through my Bible and read all of the verses that I had highlighted, underlined, or wrote little notes beside. (If you are one of those people who don't write in your Bible, you are truly missing out...and so are your children I might grandfather's Bible is precious to me; notes and all.) I do that sometimes when I am discouraged. When I don't have any specific direction and my heart is just calling out to God to open my eyes and heart to something that He has for me.

I came across the verse,
"and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61:3

I began to pray that my children would "be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." And I began to cry again wondering if they ever would be. If they are ever going to "get" what I am attempting to instruct and teach them in.

And then it hit me. "a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." My heart was despairing -my own parenting skills and the apparent
lack of teachable spirits within my children. It was as if God lifted my chin and spoke to me. "You need garments of praise."

Now, I am NOT a crafty person (really truly NOT.) But God gave me this idea to create "garments of praise" with my children. I drove to my local craft store and bought t-shirts in the sizes of my children and my husband (because I firmly believe in a mothers ability to help cultivate positive relationships between father and child), bought special fabric markers, and went home. I wrote their names in the center of their shirts in a glow-in-the-dark bubble paint and counted the minutes until I could go pick them up from school.

After they unpacked their things I had them come to the table. I passed out their shirts and told them that we were going to make "garments of praise" for each other. We would focus on one person at a time and they would need to tell me all of the positive things that they could about that person. I was so excited. They were not. Silence. I decided to begin with a neutral party - Dad. I asked them to think up all the positive things that they could think of about their father and I started it off:

"He is a great tickler!" (One of their favorite things to do when he gets home.)

They began to chime in...and I wrote:

"He's a good mower." (He had just mowed the lawn the night before.)
"He makes money so we can live in our house."
"He builds great with Legos!"
"He makes me laugh!"
"He's a good snorer!" (lots of laughing going on now.)
"He's a good eater!"
"He's a great bike rider."
"He loves God."

Then I switched shirts. O.k., what about Beauty? (My daughter)
"She's a good bike rider."
"She's pretty." (My daughter is GLOWING after my son said this...)
"She's a good reader. (Full smile breaking across her face.)

On and on it went until all of the shirts were finished. Praise is such a powerful thing. By the end; the atmosphere in our house had completely changed. They even called out a few of my positives although I hadn't planned to make a shirt for myself. They LOVE their shirts. If one of them is having a tough day; the shirt goes on. Not because I have told them to do it; because it is affirming to them what their family members believe to be true about them. They were also so excited to show my husband his "garment of praise" when he arrived home.

So there is one idea. But the point I hope is not missed is that when we need ideas; we can call out to our Heavenly Father who is the wellspring of everything good. He WILL prompt our hearts into action with our children if we are willing to seek and then to LISTEN. This question and post has reminded me of that truth. (Thanks Bethany!)

Two more quicker ideas:

1. We play something called, "Who Am I?" at the lunch/dinner table (usually when the four of us are still waiting for our two year old to finish eating.) We do both animal and people versions. Basically we take turns giving clues about an animal or person until someone guesses correctly. One clue is given at a time until someone guesses the correct answer. An example or two:
*I was created on the fifth day.
*I am nocturnal.
*I am considered wise.
Who am I? (Any guesses?)

Or for a person:
*I was one of Jesus's Disciples
*I was a passionate person
*I cut off a soldier's ear in the Garden of Gethsemanie
Who am I?

My husband is also a trivia buff so we do a lot of Bible Trivia in our home.

For service related projects:

My daughter enjoys making cards for people when I am making meals for them. I don't ever require it of her. She has received enough words of affirmation from those who have received them to keep her going.

We try to serve our neighbors.

One set of our neighbors has physical limitations so my son will often bring their paper to their doorstep.

We also planted a flower bed in the front of their house while they were on vacation last year (My daughter's idea - we took a little bit of a risk; but we know them well by now so we were 99% sure that they would love it.) We planted three flowering bushes - one for each of the kids. (They each planted their own bush.) And my daughter will go over and weed it for them. (Not consistently; but she tries.) They did love it in case you were wondering!

We encourage our kids to take initiative - if they see something that needs to be done (or even could be done to make things better) do it! Around our own house and our neighbors as well. (After checking with us and them.)

Lest you think that they are perfect children and I am a perfect parent at the end of all of this; just re-read that first paragraph. We take one day at a time bathing in the grace and forgiveness that God provides so lavishly.

AND BETHANY & I COULD REALLY BENEFIT FROM HEARING SOME OF THE THINGS YOU ALL DO AS WELL! So, please share generously, even if it is just something you have had an idea about doing and haven't tried yet. We can all learn much from one another!

Many Blessings!


*I do have one question so far that I will be doing my best to answer tomorrow; if you have any additional questions feel free to ask. This (official) Q & A will end tomorrow.


Still Learning said...

A garment of praise? That was genius! I absolutely love the idea. Thanks!! I think we need some of those. I think I need one too, lol.


Sun-Kissed Savages said...

I love this. Love it. And I think I may make mine little blanket or wrap garments of praise, to cuddle and sleep with or bring with them. Something to cover them when they need it...
Wow, thank you.

We're just starting to implement "reminder packs" for chores and things. I want to have Bible and prayer first, so the kids will get into the routine of having their own quiet time before they even come out of their rooms and meet together as a family. Those are "behind the scenes" things that they aren't always aware of us doing.

I've also started praying with and over the kids, rather than just for them when I'm alone. They need to hear it. Especially when we're in the midst of sibling rivalry!

I know I'm supposed to give YOU ideas, but I'd love to hear more of yours!

Gretchen said...

What a great idea in the garment of praise and the other "initiative-taking" things, Shanda. I need to chew on this. If I come up with anything we've done I'll share via blog or email. I'm sort of in a slump with my two though, so this is quite an encouragement.

HappyascanB said...

How neat!!! I am definitely saving this one for a future day. . . . Thank you so much for sharing!!

Belinda said...

Such a great post really I mean it. Makes me want to be alot sweeter to my boys. Thanks I needed this today.

christy rose said...

Wow! I was a little behind on visiting you! But, I am caught up now! I love the question/answer thing! I have learned a lot about you today.

This post was full of wonderful ideas. I know the feeling on negagtivity and correction. Only God can give us the wisdom to do what He showed you. Thanks so much for sharing your heart and your ideas!

Bethany and crew said...

Thanks, Shanda, for taking the time to give such a thorough and encouraging response!! I love your ideas!!

Like you, I believe in the power of sharing our hearts and our ideas in the hopes that others may benefit and glean their own bits of wisdom- I know I have been greatly blessed by other Moms!! That, and I'm nosy and enjoy hearing about how other families operate, giggle. I think that qualifies as "good nosy" though, so....

Thanks again!!

Farmgirl Paints said...

That was definitely a God idea...the garment of praise. How cool is that?? I have to admit we don't have very many purposeful activities:0 We do read from a devotional occasionally and try to memorize scripture, but I know I need to find some practical applications. Your post made me think!

Kathryn said...

What a glorious idea, Shanda! I love Isaiah 61:3 and spiritually dress in my "garment of praise" every morning, but I never thought about making a physical one! Love it. :-)

Jennifer said...


I really like the garments of praise. I love to purposefully praise/encourage/appreciate each other in our family. My kiddies are grown but we used to play "I appreciate you because..." while riding in the car - sometimes, of course, they would be silly but usually they would get into it...of course, the one being appreciated was always beaming!

One other idea (you may have heard of) was a Sweet Rewards Jar (basket whatever you have) that we filled with lots of fun things we would like to do together as a family. Whenever we all had a good day - getting along/working together/etc - we would pull one fun thing out of the jar and have fun together!

So glad your children including YOU while making garments of praise :) Great post!

Kristen said...

I do love this story! I needed to hear it again,with the scripture refference. It is an inspiring idea, and I love the scripture. I think we'll try tiaras!

Sarah Dawn said...

Loved God's creativity and His love pouring from you words today. I'm going to come back here more often and splash around.

May you be drenched in His goodness today!

Blessings from Costa Rica,
Sarah Dawn

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

You asked if I could expand a bit on "reminder packs." Here's the link: