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Birthday Myth Busting: Create a Terrific Birthday Party without Breaking the Bank!

The best birthday party creates birthday blessings for everyone, including Mom. (Especially Mom!) Plus, they don’t have to break the family budget. Enough with over-the-top birthday parties for kids! Today, Anna and I put our heads together to do some birthday myth busting. We hope you enjoy our list of easy, fun, and yes, really cheap ideas.

Flash From the Past 

Seriously, my mom was a genius at creating fun in the cheapest, easiest ways. Still, I’m getting so old, it’s hard to remember any birthday party from my childhood! Somehow, knowing the most unforgettable birthdays may fade in our memory, helps relieve any self-induced pressure. After all, if the kids aren’t going to remember the details, moms can freely to focus on the relationships instead! (Get free weekly ideas for building fellowship-based relationships here!)

Probably my most memorable birthday party as a child was the year Mom invited my friends to come over dressed as their mommy or daddy. Imagine! Two little boys even showed up as a judge and a preacher! Naturally, in the era of stay-at-home mommies and glamorous 60s television, the little girls dressed in faux mink stoles with gloves, rhinestones and yes, cigarette holders! Très chic!

Next, flash forward to the 90s when Anna’s favorite birthday party included an excursion to Shreveport to see the western art of Russel and Remington in person at the R.W. Norton Museum. Well, you get the idea. Clearly, the simplest birthday, tailored to fit the child’s interests, are by far the best. Simple is best.

Busting the Myth of Over-the-Top Birthday Parties

“I’ve gotten to where I only plan parties I can cancel at the last minute,” laughs Anna. “Last year my sweet son was sick on his birthday!” (For more common-sense parenting ideas from Anna, check out our other podcasts here.)

Of course, if you still feel the pressure to create Pinterest perfect birthday parties, we hope you’ll tune in for all the easy, freedom-inducing ideas she shared in our interview for Fireside Talk Radio. (Listen to our full podcast above.)

Dirt Piles and Black Ninjas

Anna likes to tell of one family who waited to order the dirt for their landscaping, so they could time it for their son’s birthday. Delighted little boys played with abandon in a huge dirt pile, sprinkled with all his trucks and shovels. Some very dirty boys enjoyed one of the best, and easiest, birthday parties ever, featuring, of course a “dirt” cake made of crumbled Oreo cookies and pudding.

Another favorite birthday party memory for our family featured a black ninja party in Anna’s back yard. “One of my wonderful friends has a son who is a creative inspiration. He’s hilarious and wonderful,” laughs Anna.

“‘If I was going to throw you a birthday, what would you like for it to be?’” Anna asked the little boy. “My only instructions from him were ‘black ninjas.’ He wanted us all to be black ninjas. Rather than red ninjas or green ninjas. Black ninjas.”

To accommodate his request, Anna cut scrap black fabric into mask length strips, collected card board from an appliance store, and bought many rolls of boxing tape. As families arrived, adults cut the eye holes in the black ninja masks. 

“The eyeholes were all wonky depending on how good they were at cutting with scissors,” Anna explains, “Some of the adults were the wonkiest because they put them on over glasses. It was so funny.” Her back yard soon morphed into a black ninja village of card board forts. (For many more creative ideas for kids, check out Fireside Talk Radio.)

“The best thing that came out of it was we got a group photo of all the people their in their black ninja masks!” Anna’s backyard has been the location of so many hilarious birthdays, she’s starting to get them all confused. “Was that the birthday I gave them all squirt guns and put the kiddie pool inside the fort?”

For Teen Age Girls

Are parties for teenage girls stress inducing for mom? Not necessarily! For instance, one way you can get some relief is by letting high school girls plan their own party. It’s a grown up thing to do, so they find it inspiring to manage a party budget and plan thoughtful surprises.

“I took our child hood tree fort and all the cushions and tablecloths you had and made a little bower, like a little nest, for our high school girls friends,” recounts Anna about one twinkle-lit surprise party she planned as a teenager. Her menu included cute little box lunches. “We climbed up there and celebrated together, like a secret fun place to be grown up girls together.”

And Grown Up Girls, Too!

In another birthday blessing for a newlywed friend, she hosted a special moment at the park in early Spring. Come and go, keeping it simple made the afternoon easy for everyone to spend a moment together basking in intersecting friendships. 

“One of her girlfriends, who I love as well, helped me host,” reports Anna, “We invited everyone, all the grown up women, all the generations, young and old, all who love the birthday girl. We had some finger food and water bottles and punch, but mainly we congregated in the park and told her how much we love her.” Sometimes a small, simple party encourages everyone included, not just the sweet birthday mommy who might enjoy a few extra hugs for her birthday.

Grand Blessing

Like parties, birthday presents do not have to break the bank, either. For instance, even Grandparents can feel overwhelmed at the pricey plastic toys marketed for kids today. Especially when we’re blessed with many grandchildren, birthdays can start to tax fixed incomes. Cha-ching! Here are two ideas to put the focus on blessings, rather than fancy gifts.

Completely free, birthday jingles are a nice way to give a lasting blessing to your toddler grandchildren. A birthday jingle is a short tune praising some special attribute of the child. You can steal a tune from the latest advertisement or an old hymn. 

Not a musical person? No worries. Chants and raps work just as well. Best of all, by calling attention to positive characteristics of the child, you’ll teach the rest of the family to appreciate those good qualities, too.

The Blessing of Books

If you still want to buy a gift, Anna and I vote for classic books. I love the way the title page provides the perfect place to write a short note with the date. Nothing inspires great note-writing like classic literature highlighting courage, faith, or sacrificial love! Birthdays are a great moment to write a short birthday blessing for your growing grandchildren.

Writing an annual birthday blessing in the front of each book means your grandchildren will have a personal collection of great literature and a reminder of their grandparents’ affection.

Are Donation Parties Right for Your Child?

Finally, I wanted to address one more birthday party myth. One popular trend is clever and fun for the right child. If your child wants to sponsor a birthday party food drive or donate gifts to a charity, what a beautiful idea! Donation parties may be perfect for your child. But if they aren’t, don’t waste emotional energy worrying about it.

You sure don’t want to train your happy child to resent your spirituality! You may think it’s a great idea for him to be generous, but he might not be there yet. So, don’t put yourself on a  guilt trip if your child doesn’t want to give away his birthday presents this year.

Here’s why: In order to foster generous stewardship, it’s first necessary to foster ownership. A sense of confident ownership is fundamental to generosity.

True Generosity Involves Sacrifice

Here’s what I learned with our kids. I wanted our children to be adults who give from their hearts. Generosity includes sacrifice, though. Contrary to what many of us were taught in my childhood, it’s okay to enjoy the things you own. We don’t have to feel guilty about material blessings. 

In order to be truly generous, we do have to be willing to let go of a personal blessing to enjoy the better blessing of sharing it with others. In the process, true generosity reflects Jesus’s own generosity of giving up His own earthly life to share a better, eternal blessing with us.

The Stewardship of Managed Blessings

As parents, our end goal is to raise good stewards, not host amazing birthday parties. Stewardship is managing all the blessings entrusted to us, so that many people are blessed as a result. In order to be generous, a child must first recognize he has something valuable to give. Receiving valuables (even if it’s just toys for now) may be the first step in understanding ownership and sacrifice for your child.

Stewardship includes making responsible decisions about taking care of his valuables. When he’s ready to share, who will he trust to pass the blessing on to others? Consequently, another part of stewardship is learning to identify those nonprofits and ministries who responsibly steward blessings and resources as well.

In a variation of the donation birthday party idea, you can craft a special donation that fosters your child’s own passions. For instance, a few days before the birthday party, take your child along to give eight blankets to a homeless shelter in honor of your child’s eighth birthday. Or, together as a family, donate sixteen bags of dog food to your local animal rescue agency in honor of your teenager’s sweet sixteen.

The Gift of Lasting Blessings

Looking back, I loved my mommy and daddy dress-up party as a child. But the best part was when my first grade teacher showed up with a book! My mom was touched that my teacher would take time on a Saturday to drop by my party. Mom’s amazement and gratitude translated itself into my heart, too. In fact, my children love the book she gave me, treasured today by another generation of grandchildren.

If you’re wondering what to do for the next birthday at your house, keep these truths in mind. Bigger and more expensive is not better when it comes to birthday parties. Together is better when it comes to birthdays!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, the One who chose the day of our birth, we praise You. You knew us while we were yet in our mother’s womb. You know our lives from before conception to the moment we leave this earth and beyond. As mommies plan the next party to celebrate the birth of a child, we ask for Your inspiration.

Give each child a sense of their own value, O Lord. Have mercy where it’s needed in the lives of children who don’t know what it means to be celebrated. Reach deeply into our hearts and touch us, so our lives reflect the love You pour out on us. Give us grace to create fellowship and lasting companionship with those we love. Let us have courage to build strong relationships filled with blessings. We don’t know about tomorrow, but we have today. Therefore, today, we praise and celebrate You, O dear One. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!!

What are your favorite birthday memories? How has your child surprised you in a birthday moment? If you had it to do over, what would you do differently when it comes to birthdays?

More Adventures to Come!

We’re so excited to have our interview with Prayer Walking Janet McHenry coming u soon. Plus, don”t forget to tune in for entrepreneurial wisdom from two of our favorite successful people, Intern turned CEO, Yaziri “YO” Orrostieta and Writer/Publisher Mike Sahno.

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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A Natural Sanctuary in Your Outdoor Space: Backyard Summer Adventures

Quick as a wink, a little fairy friend moved into our garden with furniture from our toy box.

Every child deserves a chance to explore and learn from nature in the safety of their own backyard. Yep, even if your backyard is a porch or a balcony! Creating a natural sanctuary is as simple as inspiring a child’s natural imagination.

Who Has Time?!

If just thinking about outdoor family excursions induces groans, we invite you to relax! Even with full-throttle family and work schedules, you’re gonna love the ideas Anna tosses out. Mainly because they’re so free and easy. A natural sanctuary for your child’s imagination already exists just a few short steps away.

Fireside Talk Radio, Creating a Natural Sanctuary: Backyard Adventures.

Outdoors: Natural Sanctuary for Your Child’s Imagination

No place inspires imagination like the great outdoors. For instance, yesterday, her daughter brought Anna an egg found in their backyard.

“About the same moment she showed it to me, it was being crushed because her little fingers couldn’t figure out how to hold it delicately enough,” laughs Anna, “But she was so proud of it because she and daddy found it in the yard. He’s teaching our children to love nature right now because that’s what their Daddy does.” However, a child-like perspective differs from an adult’s, Anna warns. 

Gifts from nature often surprise Mommy. “‘Momma, Momma, look at this beautiful flower,’” Anna offers as an example, “and its some little weed they’ve pulled out of the grass!” Still, even the busiest mommy can pair nature with imagination to create natural sanctuary for kids. Enthusiastically, Anna offers four ideas for creating a natural sanctuary for your children. 

Why Imagination Matters

Nature instructs us, stirring our imagination. Stimulating your child’s imagination produces lasting benefits in all future relationships. Why? Because it’s impossible to love others without imagination.

In order to love people well, we have to empathize. Empathy requires us to imagine life from others’ perspective. Compassion means we’re able to relate to others’ needs, sorrows, and joys. Connecting with others requires our imagination. Imagination is crucial to all relationships. (Get free weekly ideas about creating great relationships, here.)

Blessedly, we fostering imagination in our children is easy. We can create a natural wonderland for inspiration in our own backyards. Any outdoor space will do. Actually, smaller is often better when it comes to creating a natural sanctuary for your child’s imagination!

Establishing Safe Boundaries

The best outdoor spaces give children safety and boundaries within the watchful attention of adults. For instance, Anna raves about the fence her father-in-law installed in a portion of their yard beneath the window where she draws. 

Not only did he create a safe environment for our mutual grandchildren. Simultaneously, he enlisted the help of our son, the children’s uncle, thus teaching him how to build a relatively inexpensive, yet beautiful fence out of wood and wire game fencing. Voila! So many people blessed by one man’s ability to imagine a fence!

“My fence is cheaper than chain link and much more beautiful,” exclaims Anna, “My toddlers have a lot more independence and freedom because I know they’re safe.” (For more cheap, family-friendly ideas, click here or listen to the above podcast.)

Providing A Canopy

Safe boundaries may also include a covering overhead. For example, there’s something so protective about a full canopy of oak trees. We all need a place set apart to unwind, relax, and let our minds rest.

“I’ve noticed with kids they want a destination, a place that’s set apart and feels special,” Anna explains, “whether it’s a fort or like my kids, a spot in the bushes where they feel safe, like it’s their secret.”

For an easy solution with toddlers in mind, Anna suggests a beach umbrella in a big pot of sand. A small chair beneath it provides an enticing place for a child’s imagination to flourish. Easy and inexpensive is the key as family needs change. Her own back yard has a sail awning secured to a nearby tree with eye hooks and rope.

Stimulating All Their Senses

As a teacher, Anna quickly suggests numerous ways to engage your children’s imagination outdoors using all their senses. For example, she mentioned planting herbs for the child who learns via taste and smell. Or, for the child who is energetic and tactile, there’s big muscle games like learning the alphabet by hopping on stones marked with chalk. Then, for those who are more audio, don’t forget wind chimes and musical instruments.

“My sweet daughter wanders around our brick planters with her plastic guitar singing to herself. Her favorite place to do that is outside,” Anna mentions. (Turtles, teenage girls, chalk, and fairy gardens? On our above podcast, Anna shares dozens more fun, even silly, things to do in the back yard. Or, click here, for more podcasts.)

Get the Grands Involved

Especially with a wise partner, outdoors stimulates all the senses. For instance, grandparents can provide a simple craft, like a birdhouse or bird feeder, to inspire the next generation of outdoor lovers.

Creating a sanctuary outside may serve multiple generations of family members. For instance, some grandparents may control their outdoor space for serious reasons, like to avoid falling.

Yet the idea of a sanctuary prompts instant family unity. Imagine a porch with planters for boundaries and twinkle lights overhead. Now, both elders and youngsters feel safe and inspired!

For instance, the fairy table pictured above is a wasabi cup. Perhaps it contains a shiny button or a marble, but I’ll never tell. Surely we all know, fairies like folks who can keep a secret.

Go Barefoot

Finally, don’t forget to go barefoot! “You always had a designated digging zone where we knew we wouldn’t get in trouble if we wanted to take a shovel and make mud,” Anna reminded me, referring to our mutual conviction that kids are happiest when they freely engage with dirt and shovels.

Honestly, as young parents, we were just relieved when their younger brother couldn’t get into their tree fort without an adult’s help. (For many more adventures from our kids’ childhood, listen to the whole podcast above. Or, click here to find more inspiring conversations.)

Intentionally Nurturing Imagination

Our family is very intentional about nurturing imagination in the next generation. The neighborhood kids were never just children in our backyard; they were princesses or pioneers or woodland creatures. Finding an abandoned barge, they instantly became adventurous, swashbuckling pirates. (For more Anna stories about tree forts, abandoned barges, pillowcase flags and oh-so-much-more information than I would have shared, listen to the whole podcast embedded above. Or, click here for more fun podcasts!)

“I think we named the boat The Explorer,” adds Anna wistfully.

When parents provide opportunities for their kids to imagine, they set in motion empathy and compassion. All of which become a real blessing for future relationships. Imagination allows us to connect with other human beings.

So, next time you trim your bushes, let the kids make a quick fort with the trimmings. But first, Anna offers one more piece of advice: “Make sure no insects, like wasps, have decided to make a home there, too!”

We Love Hearing from YOU!

How have your kids used their imaginations in your own backyard? What’s your favorite tip for creating a natural sanctuary on your porch? How do grandparents foster a love of the outdoors in your kiddos?

May I pray with you?

Dear Father, Oh, how we admire Your creation! The beauty of Your nature is reflected in all that You made! We rejoice to go barefooted in the warm sand or drop our fingers in cool water. We see Your reflection in the way a bird soars or a turtle nests. Thank you for the sunny smiles of children at play. Teach us to cozy up under the safe covering of Your love. Let us marvel at the pattern on a shell or the glory of a gentle breeze. Remind us that the growth of a flavorful herb is an expression of Your love and tender power. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Coming Soon

Don’t forget we’re starting a series on entrepreneurship soon, featuring Yo Work Hub CEO Orrostieta and Author/Publisher/ Entrepreneur Mike Sahno! We can hardly wait!

Janet McHenry will be joining us soon to share how prayer walking fits the active lifestyle of another generation of young mothers (and grammies, like me!) And I have some more surprises toward the end of the summer, but I can’t announce them yet! So stay tuned!

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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The Not-So-Normal Life of Prayerwalking Janet McHenry

"That's only five words: you walk and you pray," she laughs. Now, she's written over 25 books, six of them on prayer, including Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline. Today, she's widely considered an expert on the topic of prayer and prayerwalking. Naturally, I couldn't wait to invite her on to Fireside Talk Radio to answer my own personal questions about prayer.


Janet began by sharing how prayerwalking developed in her own life. Of course, many of us can relate. Whether you're a mommy to toddlers or an aging grandmother, most women multitask at caring for everyone but themselves.

"I was falling apart physically. The worst moment was when I stepped out my door and found myself in a crumpled heap because my knee had given way," explains Janet, "I knew I needed to do something about my health, but I also knew that God had been calling me for a long time to spend more time with Him."

Fortunately, prayerwalking quickly developed into a lifestyle for Janet, as she learned to seek His companionship, transforming her perspective on prayer. Oh, and she wrote the book, too! (For more about Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline, click here.)

Strange Coincidence

Just as her book on prayerwalking was taking off, another strange situation developed. Through a string of false accusations, Janet's husband, a respected rancher, was charged with animal abuse due to the death of a few cattle lost during a blizzard.

Hearing the story sounds like something out of a John Wayne movie. But six long years later, when the charges were finally overthrown in appellate court, Janet and her family had a whole new appreciation for how Jesus feels about injustice. (To hear more of their experiences in Janet's own voice, click below.)

Circled with a P

"Years ago, as I began prayerwalking, I realized I wanted to know more about prayer," Janet remembers, "This hunger developed in me and I began reading my Bible straight through and marking all those places with P and a circle."

As I listened to Janet describe her study methods, I thought, if only! If only I had the good sense to mark every prayer reference with a P in my own Bible years ago. What a treasure trove!

"I particularly began to focus on Jesus's prayer life, what He taught about prayer, His prayer practices, and His prayers themselves," adds Janet, "Even how He continues to pray for us today." For instance, she mentioned a special kind of prayer for parents.

The Hand Off Prayer

"I kinda call that the Hand Off Prayer," laughs Janet, from John 17 in the upper room, "He knows what's ahead. He prays for Himself, He prays for His disciples, and He prays for even those who will believe." For modern parents, Janet offered this insight.

"For His disciples, He says basically, ‘Here they are Lord, I've finished my work with them. Now they're yours.' He's giving them over to God. For us as parents, that's a really healthy prayer as well."

Fortunately, Janet taught at Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference  this year and I got to be there. Certainly, she provided some of the best training I’ve ever received on how to write. Because I’m a sponge for that stuff now, I’ve actually received quite a bit of training. Even so, her exercises stand out, reflecting how well-trained she is herself in the art of writing AND teaching. (If you need a speaker, I highly recommend her for your next event. You can find her here.)

Janet McHenry shares about PrayerwalkingShown here in her cowboy boots, Janet invites new generations to join in prayerwalking.

Fact or Fiction?

“I had thought I was going to write some great Christian novel, which never happened,” Janet laughs now. But, hey, there’s still time! Perhaps a Hallmark movie script about a small town gal and her rancher husband who overcome injustice and end up with movie crews following them around all day? Stranger things have happened. 

Actually, Janet is no stranger to media attention, it turns out. In fact, when her prayerwalking book came out to a media blitz, including national magazine attention, a journalist and a photographer did follow her around town for three days.

As an English teacher in her town’s only high school, sporting the flurry of a film crew, folks started asking, “What’s going on, Mrs. McHenry?”

Meanwhile, the dark cloud of injustice loomed on the horizon, like a storm in a wild west shootout. After one failed attempt to clarify the truth, she and her husband fired their lawyer to represent themselves in appellate court. Together, using the original court documents, they researched and listed all the ways the original judge prejudiced the jury.

Interestingly, research and content analysis is a natural skill set for those who love to write! Eventually, their perseverance paid off and the false conviction was overturned.

Jesus Faced Injustice

Because we live in a time when people really struggle with injustice, it’s important for those who’ve lived through it and understand it to be able to speak out. For this reason, I’m grateful to Janet for sharing her story and wisdom in this podcast and the other one we recorded together, Forgive Relentlessly, Praying in the Face of Injustice. (Click here to find both.)

“Jesus certainly faced injustice and I can speak to that as well. I understand the heart of those who struggle with injustice in their lives. I would love to give them a little more help.” (To learn more from Janet, click here.

As for my personal reading list, I just finished up Janet’s book The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. What a read, like a conversation with your best friend over coffee! Plus, it’s a great reference book for anyone who wants all that prayer info in one place, like pastors, teachers, or prayer warriors. Shhh, don’t tell William, but he’s getting an autographed copy for Christmas. (To find her website book store, click here.)

When Life Feels Out of Control

“We think we should be able to control our destiny,” Janet says, “When it’s not controllable at all, we get frustrated. We want to try to manipulate a situation or a person in our life. That’s just probably not going to work.” Thus, a tested kind of trust in God develops in those challenging moments. 

“Ultimately, as we grow in the faith, we learn releasing, submitting, committing ourselves; that’’s not a bad thing. There’s less anxiety as we put things in God’s hands. Even if we have to do that hour by hour, over and over again. He is a good, good Father, He loves us. He knows what is best for us. We can put our trust and our faith in Him.”

We Get to Choose

Moment by moment, we all get to make choices. To develop a powerful, prayerful lifestyle, Janet recommends choosing time in God’s word, that is, the Bible. 

“You’re thinking about it, you’re meditating on it. You look at life in such a way that you realize where ever you are there’s a need for prayer. And so you develop a praying lifestyle. But when you’re really in a conversation and communion with God all day long, it begins to show.”

Finally, Janet compares a life of walking with God in prayer to the lines, crinkles, and wrinkles we get as we age. Time spent with God begins to show, she suggests gently.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, we come to You now, Your children. Like the disciples in the upper room, we don’t know what is about to happen. Yet, we can know You, if we so choose. Quietly, You invite us into companionship with You, giving us ongoing access to You through prayer. We lift our trembling hearts to You now, declaring ourselves unworthy of Your love and attention. Yet, because of Your Son’s love for us and His sacrifice, You receive us, beloved and worthy. Thank You, O Lord for the record of Jesus’s prayers. What a beautiful gift You prepared for us! Thank You for His ongoing intercessions on our behalf. Even now, we pray to You in His beloved name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What is the most profound lesson you’ve learned about prayer? When you feel distracted, how do you refocus your mind to pray? What is the one question you wish someone would answer about prayer? 

Coming soon:

Next week, Janet joins us again to discuss the ways justice and forgiveness come together in prayer. If you’ve ever felt the pain of injustice, you won’t want to miss what she has to say. Then, we can’t wait to share all the insight gleaned on the new wave of entrepreneurship. First, Author and Publisher Mike Sahno comes on, followed closely by Work Hub CEO YO Orrostieta .

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Independence Day: How to Foster Independence in Kids and Country

How do we foster healthy independence in our own kids and in our nation? The two seem inseparably  linked to me. So, I brought in my expert on childhood philosophy and fun, my daughter Anna Pierce, to brainstorm some fun ways families can foster freedom in our country by nurturing healthy independence in their own children’s heart. What she says may surprise you. (For our complete interview, click below or go to Fireside Talk Radio.)

Anna and I chat about how to foster independence in healthy ways for family and country.

Maybe, like us, your family has a strong independent streak. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Especially when we think about how our forefathers committed to fight for freedom. Still, with toddlers and teenagers, independence can flat wear out parents!

Have some fun

A national holiday is a great time to reboot and focus on family fun. With summer in full swing at our house, we float watermelons so often, my grandchildren may think they grow in water! Anna suggested neighborhood parades and collecting kiddie pools for all kinds of fun. (For more on initiating neighborhood parades, listen our 28 minute podcast above.) 

“I’m going to fill one kiddie pool with ice and drinks. And I’m gonna fill one with cold water for the adults,” laughed Anna. But she doesn’t mean drinking water. “I’m going to put all my lawn chairs in a circle so the adults can soak their feet in the cold water while the kids do water balloons and squirt guns.” As an artist, Anna also likes face painting for backyard gatherings.

“There are tons of homemade recipes for face paint,” adding one caveat because food coloring and drink mixes can stain skin for a long time, “read the recipe carefully and try it somewhere it won’t show first!” (For more ideas to create fun family memories, click here for more podcasts.)

To foster independence in our kids, remember kids always learn better when they’re laughing and having fun. Once the stage is set for fun, make the holiday more memorable by emphasizing the reason we celebrate.

Acknowledge with Gratitude the Sacrifice of Others

In order to emphasize the sacrifice of heroes, Anna anticipates asking one of her husband’s dearest friends to talk about why he served in the military.

“Because just asking another adult a question in front of someone younger is a way of honoring them,” Anna says, “I visualize asking him questions about why he chose that (to serve) in front of our son.”

In order to honor beloved elders who did not serve, she suggests changing up your questions only slightly. When we show gratitude for others’ sacrifice, we foster independence in our kids as they learn to serve others, too.

“You can ask them to explain something to your kids like ‘Why do we honor the flag?’” Anna suggested several more questions, like What do the colors represent or Why is the eagle a symbol of our country. All those symbols prompt powerful messages, according to Anna. (To receive free weekly ideas about fostering freedom in families and communities, click here.)

Promote Education

“Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.” ~ George Washington, January 8, 1790, in his first annual address.

Our forefathers committed to the idea that people should be educated in order to read, to learn, and to participate fully in public discourse, thus ensuring all the freedoms for future generations. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, all these wonderful freedoms we have hinge on our citizens’ understanding of the rights we enjoy, according to Anna.

As an enthusiastic educator, Anna offered a list of fun ways to teach kids to respect and cherish our nation’s history, starting with memorizing speeches and important documents. After the Declaration of Independence, she particularly likes Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The rhythm of the poem captures the horse’s hoofbeats and the anxiety of danger. Freedom always includes danger and sacrifice, including additional historic moments of freedom.

“Throughout American history, other leaders influenced our national perspective on freedom, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King,” added Anna, “They dealt with some of the same issues again. People were making sacrifices because they wanted freedom.”

Additionally, don’t forget to teach your kids all the verses of patriotic songs. For instance, as with America the Beautiful, many of our most patriotic songs are actually hymns of gratitude to God for freedom. (For more ideas about raising creative kids, click here.) By revering God, we foster independence in our kids by teaching them to look to God, not men, for direction.

Never Marginalize Free Will

As citizens of a spiritual kingdom, how do Christians reconcile their loyalty to God and country? For Christians, there’s something so glorious and freeing in a deep understanding of how much God loves freedom. That is, God loves freedom so much He gave individuals free will to choose their path. In fact, He loves free will so much, He created a plan to pay for our mistakes and our sin nature long before humanity’s arrival here on earth.

By giving us each a free will, He set us free to choose a relationship with Him or to reject Him. 

Christians recognize and cherish a beautiful truth. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the price of our sin. Thus, we can come into a relationship with God freely.

I know, I know, that beautiful truth often gets lost in the rhetoric. Certainly, those who do not follow Jesus can’t be blamed if they miss the main point altogether. (For Free weekly ideas about how faith can impact family unity, click here.)

To the outside world, it must seem like Christians struggle with perfectionism, always focusing on the sin of others, without acknowledging our own human frailties. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. (For more of Anna’s thoughts about how poor choices can impact the whole family, listen to our interview above.) Free will means Christians still face the same temptations all humans face to choose selfishness.

However, with God’s Spirit Himself residing in our hearts, we now experience a new kind of freedom; the freedom to choose wisely with others’ best interests in mind. Beyond all imagination, true freedom is really about the freedom to choose a relationship with God.

Raising Kids with Healthy Independence

Unselfishly channeling your child’s natural independent streak is for warrior parents, not wimps. But, hey, we come from strong freedom-loving stock! (We’ve got lots more ideas for raising creative kids here.)

“It is an era of life where we are raising children, but our goal is for them to be independent adults,” Anna continues, “They are going to be their own individual people. Independent implies free. They are going to have to make choices and utilize their free will.”

Will your child disobey and rebel? Or will your child stand alone for what is right in the face of cultural pressure to do what is wrong? We can foster independence in our kids by modeling a healthy respect for their free will.

“The prayer of my heart as I’m parenting is that everything we do would equip them to be powerful, brave, and faithful in how they utilize their free will,” Anna summarizes tenderly.

Gratefully, our family sends out our heart-felt gratitude to all who currently serve sacrificially in our Armed Forces and our First Responders on this day when we celebrate our nation’s love of freedom. May you be safe and blessed and may your families prosper.

May we join together in prayer?

Dear Father in heaven, You are the One who leads us. You bless us with freedom. In fact, freedom was Your idea in the first place. Your Son even paid for it with His life. We thank YOU! Thank You for the gift of free will. Thank You for the freedom we enjoy in this country. We gratefully acknowledge that heroes went before us to secure the freedom we enjoy to day.

As we consider the sacrifice attached to freedom, we thank You for those currently serving on our nations behalf in order to preserve peace. We ask that You would faithfully bless them and their families. Preserve their families. Protect our troops today. Protect our first responders today. Please, O Lord. Grant them wisdom, courage, and strength for the tasks they face. Provide all the supplies, equipment, technology, and intelligence they need to make wise decisions and execute their responsibilities precisely. Give us wise leadership. Help us remember to turn to You, O Lord, for guidance. We seek Your wisdom now. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

“America, America, God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.” ~America The Beautiful, 3rd verse, Katherine Lee Bates 1859-1929, Samuel A Ward 1847-1903.

Coming Soon:

Next week, Anna regales us with a zillion ideas for creating backyard adventures in the natural sanctuary of the great outdoors. Okay, maybe not a zillion, but whole bunch! 

Plus, I soon welcome Janet McHenry, Yaziri “YO” Orrostieta, Mike Sahno, and Jeannette Hanscome, and Melissa Moore. Yep, this is shaping up to be an amazing season of interviewing some of my all time favorite heroic people! Plus, sharing it all with YOU!!!

We love to hear from you!

How are you passing on deeply spiritual truths to your kids and grandkids? What are some of your favorite ways to make history fun? Which songs and hymns touch your heart every time?

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Delightful Dad’s Day and Father’s Day Fabulous with Anna Krafve Pierce

Delightful Dad’s Day: How to Create Father’s Day Fabulous with Anna Krafve PierceMy young hubby with two of our sweetie-pies way back when….

How can we possibly balance life with ear infections, crazy schedules, nonstop chatter, and create a Delightful Dad’s Day? Oh my! Married, single, working, or stay at home, with toddlers or teens, all moms want our own Father’s Day Fabulous!

Anna Krafve Pierce joined me recently on Fireside Talk Radio to share some simple and freedom-packed ideas. She started with a story about the potential of self-fulfilling prophesies.

Delightful Dads

“Sometimes, the phrase self-fulfilling prophesies has negative connotations,” she laughs, “but they can have a positive impact, too.” For example, she tells how her husband responds each time stories of his toddlerhood pop up. Apparently, he was active child. Of course, mercifully, he doesn’t remember the details.

“I was delightful,” he always concludes any stories from his youth. Naturally, as a new mom-in-law, I adopted Delightful as my nickname for this fine leader.

“When we had kids of our own it was just the obvious thing to describe them as delightful,” laughs Anna, happily reporting that her kids fulfill the prophesy. Plus, “God delights in us, too,” she affirms.

Confession: I’m a Father’s Day Failure

If you’re stumped about what to do for Father’s Day, you are not alone. Personally, I wasted a lot of time using Father’s Day to train my husband, so he could do a better job of surprising me for the next Mother’s Day! Eventually, I thought to ask him what he liked best about Father’s Day.

“Father’s Day was never about me. It was always about the kids,” he answered as sweetly and honestly as can be! With freedom in mind, we came up with some easy-does-it ways to honor the father of your kiddos, no matter your situation. (Click here to sign up for more weekly fun ideas and encouragement.)

Fortunately for mothers everywhere, hilarious stories come with the motherhood territory. Stories can be an easy way to honor Dad.

#1 Begin with a Delightful Story

“I’ve started telling them (Anna’s kids) stories on Father’s Day,” Anna explains, “Plus, I’m collecting his (her husband’s) quotes.” She zeroes in on stories recounting his successes. Now, their kids beg for repeats of their favorite Dad stories. Don’t forget to video the stories!

Additionally, by collecting wisdom from various sources, the people you honor will feel blessed. Plus, your kids can replay their wisdom often, as a cherished video keepsake. Win-win-win!

Speaking of videos, your children may want to prepare an annual tribute to their father. Even if he lives far away or travels with his work, hitting replay will encouraged him to foster his relationship with his kids. (For more of Anna’s activities for kids, click here to find our podcasts.)

#2 A Good Laugh

Laughter restores our soul. Why not write down the hilarious things your toddlers say about Daddy? For teens, a collection of jokes in a booklet makes a terrific and thoughtful present, especially when the jokes are personally edited to fit their dad’s favorite pastimes.

#3 The Way to a Man’s Heart: A Picnic

Picnics, deviled eggs, the great outdoors? Truly, nothing puts a smile on a man’s face like a huge sandwich with all the condiments. Unless, you include his best friend’s family, too. Even in his own backyard, if you throw in some family sports, like whiffle ball, disk golf, or extreme croquette, he’ll enjoy a holiday to remember.

#4 Picturing Happiness

In a different kind of surprise, Family photos taped everywhere might delight Dad with a happy treat. At our house, my hubby habitually tapes family photos to all surfaces. No painting or mirror escapes his collection.

“I have a theory that you’re saving money, like on counseling or something,” Anna laughs, “Every time Dad sees those photos of us as little ones, it’s a little endorphin rush because it’s associated with such sweet emotions and memories for him.” Yep, it’s quirky. But this is the man who thinks Father’s Day is all about the kids.

Being Single and Awesome

Many women grieve over the idea that there is not a man in their homes to shepherd their kids. On Father’s Day, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge our many friends who are single-handedly raising kiddos.

“God is a Good Father to us even when we don’t have an earthly father who’s there for us,” says Anna, having watched closely as friends rocked the single parent role. 

For instance, my dear friend, media guru Sandra Beck shared some great tips on how to recruit good men without overwhelming them to minister to your sons. (For Father’s Day, why not give yourself the blessing of her wisdom on how to be your family’s champion.)

Wisely, Sandra suggests clarifying the limits of your request. Being single and awesome means you can ask for help without imposing.

All the Good Men

It’s so important to honor all the good man in our lives. They’re out there! Case in point, James Kemp came on Fireside Talk Radio to talk about impacting kids beyond your own family. Through the chess clubs they’ve started all over Dallas and surrounding areas, he demonstrates how we can stand in for families. (For more from James about legacy building for creatives, click here.)

Of course, mentoring programs also offer positive male influences, as Civic Leader Tony Johnson pointed out. (Click here, to find Tony’s wisdom on how good men and women team up to mentor together in the school lunchroom.)

Romance is Alive, Even When Child Raising is Hard

“You used to say that one of the most romantic things you ever did together was be parents,” confides Anna in our Father’s Day episode of FTR. “I didn’t get it until I was parent myself.”

To be honest, I’ve gotta admit when Dave and I stole a quiet moment away from the kiddos, pressing issues always popped up to spoil the mood. For us, date night seemed to end in bickering. (For weekly ideas to get past bickering and create rich companionship, click here.So, why call parenting romantic?

Anna thinks romance exists in all the shared things, so she made a list: “shared delight, shared sacrifices, shared struggles, shared prayers.”

Share the Love

“If you can find someone to share some of it with; it’s the same feeling,” explains Anna. “I can share all those things with God. I share all those things with you, too.” Whether you call it romance, unity, or companionship, Anna nailed something important.

“There’s this fellowship that happens because children exist,” clarifies Anna, “As parents, you get a front row seat on this.” Anna calls this the “beautiful creative process where we’re just taking after our own creative heavenly Father.” Grandparents, friends, trustworthy neighbors, esteemed elders can all join in the companionship created by raising kiddos.

“When you’re exhausted and don’t have time for what the world says is romantic, chocolate and wine and candlelight, the daily things can be romantic. It’s an incredible endeavor you’re doing together,” she emphasizes.

Now, in honor of dads everywhere, let’s conclude with a couple more quick, practical gift ideas. (For weekly tips, click here.)

Two More Quick Gift Ideas

“Two weeks before the big day I asked my son, ‘Do you want to buy your dad a present?’” explains Anna. Since he answered yes, her son spent a week earning coins. Then, he didn’t want to buy anything with them, he just wanted to give his dad the money.

“My son instinctively knew what would speak to him (his dad),” laughed Anna about the way her husband is training their son to save money.

If you’re still wondering what to do, here’s one quick go-to idea from our family. We love painted rocks! Kids think it’s terrific to make anything that involves paint. Plus, you can create them outside where there’s almost no clean up. Then, hiding them can be a family adventure.

My most treasured rock finds came from hospice when my mom was passing on to heaven.For that reason alone, although it may sound silly, I think painted rocks are a wonderful way to bless others! You just never know what another person may need! Everyone can create a rock to share on Dad’s Day, the day we celebrate the Rock in our lives! Why not make it a theme and add rock and roll music!

Whatever your circumstances, please remember you have a Father in heaven who loves you very much. He designed you for creativity and to be a positive influence for pure good in our world. Most of all, He designed you for companionship with Him. That’s the Fabulous Father you have and the Delightful Dad you get to share with your children!

May we pray together?

Dear Good Father in heaven, You love us faithfully and tenderly. Thank You for being a Father we can trust. We honor You now as the Ultimate Parent. Give us grace to be creative, as we look to Your example. Help us put away any residual pain or bitterness from the past and soak up today’s joy. May we be kids who reflect our Father’s unbounded love and delight in each of His children. Please surround us with trustworthy friends who can joyfully unite in our parenting endeavors. Help us honor the good men in our life. May we express Your delight to our own kids. In Jesus’s name. Amen

We love to hear from you?

What are some of your most profound Father’s Day memories? How will you jazz up Father’s day to honor someone else? How are you praying for something special this year?

To sign up for weekly ideas on creating fellowship in your family and warming up the companionship in your life, click here. You a welcome companion in all our conversational adventures!!

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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