Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

5 ways to have one-on-one time with your kids

Ideas for quality one-on-one time

A study in March 2015 showed that parents are spending more time with their children now than ever before. In fact, the amount of time we’re spending with our kids keeps increasing. But, if you talk to most parents they don’t feel like they are actually spending enough one-on-one time with their kids. I’d guess that’s because the research is looking at quantity of time more than quality of time.

It’s a struggle that my family faces. Both of our kids are in school now. With a third grader and kindergartener, we are careful of monitoring their after-school activities so we don’t get too busy. Each of them are allowed to pick one extracurricular activity that goes for the entire school year. We recently agreed to let them both participate in a school play knowing that it would increase their activities for a couple of months, especially for our daughter who, as a third grader, has a larger part than her kindergarten brother.

Once you add in things like homework, making dinner, making lunches and cleaning up from everything, our evenings are pretty full even when the kids don’t have any activities. We are together and have family dinner almost every night. We chat around the dinner table, which is something my husband and I set as a priority when we first became parents. But when it comes to actually having one-on-one time with our children, we have to be more intentional.

One-on-one time is so important for our kiddos. I can literally see the difference in my children’s attitudes and mannerisms when they learn that they get one-on-one time. They perk up. It doesn’t take a long time or something complicated to make a difference. It just takes a bit of planning and undivided attention (no cell phone!).

1. Share a meal.

I can almost bond over food with anyone. I love food! But, this is true with my kiddos. I love getting a chance to eat with just one kiddo at a time. We’ve done this both as one-on-one time with each other individually and also as one-on-two time with both my husband and me but only one kiddo.

Right now in being busier, we actually are able to accomplish this one more. One night this week, for example, my daughter had play practice until 6 and had to be at gymnastics at 7. My son had to be at his Ninja Zone class at 6:30. My husband and I divided and conquered. He took my daughter and had dinner at Subway in between activities. I had my son who wanted frozen pizza at home before his class. It was a great opportunity to connect with our kids individually.

Another way I’ve found this works well is going into have lunch with them at school. My kids’ school is open to having parents come in for lunch whenever they’d like to as long as we sign in. My son’s lunch ends right as my daughter’s is beginning. And there are special tables just outside the cafeteria we can sit at, which really does give us a chance to connect one-on-one. I also really enjoy seeing them in their element at school and interacting with their friends. I also keep it simple and usually just have them eat their lunch that I packed for them.

For the one-on-two dates, we have even left one kiddo with a babysitter and gone out. A babysitter for us means grandparents because we are fortunate to have both my parents and my in-laws living within 10 minutes of us. But, even with grandparent time, our kids still make us promise that they’ll each get a turn to go out with us one-on-two. They enjoy having our undivided attention.

2. Take advantage of time in the car.

That scenario above where the kids have classes within a half hour of each other happens every week. My son’s Ninja Zone class is 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and my daughter’s gymnastics class is 7 to 8 p.m. Both classes are in different buildings about 10 minutes away from each other. So my husband and I split up to take them. We alternate who goes with whom so we have a chance to see each of them do their thing.

I’ve had some great conversations with both of them on the way to and from classes. Sometimes they share more about what’s going on with them at school. Sometimes they tell me something they’ve been worried about. And sometimes, especially with my son, they tell me about all the plans they’re making. (I call my 6-year-old son “my little man with a plan,” because has a plan and explanation for everything, even if he’s taking creative license with it!)

3. Go on dates.

We get to have dates every so often around here with our kiddos. For the past two years, a local community organization hosts a daddy/daughter dance in the fall. My husband takes my daughter and they always have a great time together. My son and I plan our own date during that time. In fact, I wrote about our most recent back in October. We don’t have to do something extravagant. My son really just wanted to go to the playground and out for ice-cream. But we have fun and get to connect in a different way. We get to chat about what’s going on with them and we try to make sure that we are doing something they are interested in and want to do, which is also incredibly important.

4. Take turns playing.

Our kiddos love for my husband and I to play with them. Now that they are both in school and have more going on, we don’t get to play nearly as often as we once did back when they were itty-bitties. But something we started back then has continued until now and is still one of their favorite things: one-on-one play time. We set a timer and spend time with each kid playing whatever they want to play and then switch.

My kids love this so much that it was their only requested activity over winter break when I asked them what they wanted to do during their time off from school. Even just a half hour each is enough and they love it. My husband and I do, too.

5. Go shopping together.

You don’t have to love shopping for this one to work, because I certainly don’t love shopping! I’ve enjoyed numerous shopping trips with one kiddo at a time picking out presents for the other or even just shopping for clothes. There’s something special about being out with just one kiddo at a time for both them and me. A couple of weeks ago, my son and I went to Target to have him try on jeans. It was sort of laborious and shouldn’t have been fun, yet we had a good time together anyway.

Taco cornbread bake recipe

An easy twist on taco night your family will love!

I have a couple of particular eaters in my family, but we all agree on Mexican flavors. Taco anything tends to go over well. I first tried this recipe on them a couple of months ago. Since then I’ve made it a few times because we all liked it so much and it’s easy.

While my family would be happy eating tacos a couple of times a week, I like to change things up. This recipe still gives that taco flavor but in a different way. Who can complain about combining tacos and cornbread? We love both around here!

It starts with a basic Jiffy cornbread mix. You know, the one you buy that is less than $1, which is super nice! Mix it together with an egg and 1/3-cup milk into a batter then spread into a greased 8×8 pan. I use a glass baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

The prepared batter spread into the baking dish.

Stick that in the oven at 350-degrees for 15 minutes. While that is baking, prepare your meat that will go on top of it. While you could use more meat or add in some black beans, my family isn’t big on meat or beans. I use with 1/2-pound of seasoned ground chuck and find it’s the right amount. That said, we also use about 1/2-pound of seasoned ground chuck for the four of us when we eat tacos. We really aren’t meat-heavy around here.

HOWEVER, that works in my favor. I usually fresh ground chuck when making tacos, which is usually packed in 1-pound packages at my local grocery store. So, I cook the full pound, season it and then freeze the 1/2-pound we don’t eat in a Ziploc bag. When it’s time to make this (or nachos!), I pull it out of the freezer, thaw it (usually in the microwave because it’s easiest for me) and it’s ready to use. I freeze it flat to take up less space.

Whenever I freeze cooked hamburger, I mark it clearly along with the date.

So, for this recipe, preparing the meat for me means thawing it out. While the meat thaws, I mix together sour cream, shredded cheese and onion for the top layer.

The cornbread layer will be finished after 15 minutes as being soft-set. It looks like this:

Once you have the cornbread layer out, spread the meat gently over the top. If you are using more than 1/2-pound, it will cover the cornbread more densely. Below you can see below that 1/2 pound covers it completely.

Top the meat layer with the sour cream/cheese/onion mixture and spread evenly over the top. I usually dollop the mixture out in blobs over the top and spread each just a bit. Minimal spreading for this works best!

Once the sour cream layer is on, it goes back in the oven at 350-degrees for 20-25 minutes until it’s warm and the cheese is melted. It comes out looking like this:

All that’s left is to cut and serve! I usually let it set for about 5 minutes before cutting into it. It doesn’t come out in slices and looks a bit messy but it’s so good! You can easily top the bake with diced tomatoes or lettuce or whatever other taco toppings you like. We don’t do that in our house. We serve it alongside tortilla or corn chips and dip the chips right into it for some added crunch.

It’s so yummy that even my most particular eaters will eat it and get seconds, which is great! This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9×13 dish to feed a crowd.

Taco cornbread bake

Ingredients
  

  • 1 package 8 1/2 oz corn bread/muffin mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2- pound ground chuck cooked with taco seasoning
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cornbread mix, egg and milk until well blended.
  • Spread it into an 8x8 baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes.
  • While the cornbread is baking, prepare the ground chuck. You can either cook 1/2-pound ground chuck (or more if your family desires) with 1/2-packet taco seasoning or used taco meat is frozen and thawed.
  • Mix the sour cream, cheese and onion together in a bowl. (I usually rinse and dry the one I used for the cornbread mix and use it again to save on the number of dishes.)
  • Carefully spread the meat over the baked cornbread.
  • Dollop and spread the sour cream mixture over the meat.
  • Put it back in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until it's heated through and the cheese is melted.
  • Top with shredded lettuce and diced tomato, if desired, or eat as is (which is what we do around here!).

The pain of being left out and the joy of being loved

Being left out hurts, but God never overlooks us

Most of my life, I’ve struggled with feeling left out. Sometimes I was intentionally left out or excluded. Other times I was just overlooked. And sometimes I just perceived it that way. It’s happened a lot.

When you’re a quiet person, it’s easy to be overlooked. You’d think that would make me more talkative or strive to include myself in things. It works almost exactly the opposite. Once I start feeling the pinprick of being left out, I tend to shut down even more. It’s a vicious cycle that continues over and over.

Growing up

As a kid, I was the youngest and quietest. My older brother was (and still is!) more vocal than I was and my older cousin, who we spent a lot of time with, was the same. The two of them were boys and closer in age than I was to them. They paired off many times while I flew solo. I didn’t always mind, but sometimes I did. I felt unheard many times, because it’s very easy for my voice to get lost in boisterous conversations.

It was outside of family that I struggled the most. Again, being quiet worked against me in being included. I also seemed to have a knack for picking friends who wouldn’t stay friends with me. There was the girl in fifth grade who told me in a catty tone about how she was having a Halloween party and inviting everyone in the class except me. (Later she was working at a retail store with which I had an issue and she had to treat me with respect and kindness. The adult me high-fived the fifth grade me over that!)

We will just skip over middle school because middle school stinks all around. I think that’s true for everyone! High school brought its own challenges. I had three really close friends turn their backs on me at different times throughout those four years of high school. It smarted a lot.

One of them went to my church and not only turned her back on me but took the rest of the youth group with her. That was hard. Fortunately, I was dating my husband by then and he was able to come to some of our youth group outings, which made them much easier. But it was difficult. I’m not a person who looks back fondly at memories of church youth group.

As an adult

As an adult, I’ve continued to struggle with this feeling for all those same reasons yet again. I am almost 40 years old, and I STILL struggle. I’ve learned to talk about it with my husband; he’s a great gauge to see if I’m really being left out or if I’m just being oversensitive. I’m thankful to have him around to help me out, because I truly need it.

And all of this is why God embracing me means so very much to me. He never leaves me out. He is never snarky. God doesn’t get his friends to all stop talking to me. He doesn’t overlook me because I’m quiet. My Father doesn’t talk over me. He opens His arms, invites me in and holds me close as we chat.

I cannot think of anything greater than that. There are innumerable songs about this very thing, but lately I have been loving Hillsong’s “Who you say I am.” I love the following part in particular:

“In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
I am chosen
Not forsaken”

Finding a place with God

I cling to that promise on the days and times when I’m feeling out of sorts. My Father has a place for me. He hasn’t forgotten me or excluded me. He’s got a place for me in His house — both on earth and in heaven. And His house on earth doesn’t mean just the church. Like most Christians, I have been hurt by the church. I have been left out by the church at all ages of my life and different churches, because churches are filled with people. People aren’t perfect.

But, God is. I can fellowship with Him on earth any time I want. He is my friend when I feel friendless. He never leaves me out when I feel forgotten. I am chosen and have never been forsaken by Him. And neither have you!

Whether you’ve struggled with feeling left out your whole life like I have or whether you’ve struggled with something else, God loves you, has a place for you and calls you His child. He hasn’t forsaken you, no matter how far you’ve fallen or how hard life has smacked you. He is right there, holding on to you and longing to fellowship with you.

I’ve got to say that as someone who continues to fight this battle of feeling left out, there is no greater reassurance than knowing that my Heavenly Father always has a place for me. Always. Not just when it’s convenient. Not just when I remind Him. And not just when He happens to look my way and notice me. Always. Always! Praise God that He loves us so very much!

25+ Valentine’s gifts for kids under $20 from Amazon Prime

Valentine’s gifts kids will love that don’t include candy or toys!

I really enjoy Valentine’s Day. I love celebrating love with my family. I tend to be a sentimental person anyway, and Valentine’s Day gives me an excuse to do so!

I start on Feb. 1 with putting hearts on my kids’ bedroom doors each evening of the things I love about them. I do that through Feb. 14. This year I even added in doing hearts for my husband on the back of our closet door of the things I love about him.

While I love loving on my family, I kinda don’t want to break the bank to express that to them. I promise I’m not cheap, but by the time Feb. 14 rolls around, we’ve had Christmas and then my son’s birthday at the end of January. I’m not inclined to buy my kids big gifts or toys.

I’m not all that included to buy them candy either, though, I usually get some small candy for them. I do like to get them each a gift or two I know they will like and will make them feel special but won’t break the bank.

With that in mind, I went in search of good Valentine’s gifts for kids under $20 and figured I’m not alone in my quest to avoid toys, candy and cheap trinkets that will get thrown away, broken or forgotten within hours. I’ve found some good stuff!

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

And everything is Amazon Prime eligible, so if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get it within two days with free shipping. If you aren’t an Amazon Prime member, no worries! You can sign up for a free 30-day trial and take advantage of the free, two-day shipping for any of these items. Nice!

For Girls

These Melissa and Doug butterfly and heart stamps are super cute. My daughter loves anything related to crafts like stamps, markers, paints and stickers. We’ve always had great luck with Melissa and Doug products. Even better these stamps are a great price at only $6.99 as an add-on item, but spending $25 at Amazon is pretty easy to do!

I love this grow your own crystals jewelry set from Alex. Combining a science activity of growing crystals with creating pretty jewelry is hitting it out of the park! Educational? Check. Cute and fun? Check. All of that on top of only being $9.99, and I’m pretty sure this is going in my daughter’s Valentine’s Day gift bag this year!

Another great option is hair accessories. Right now my daughter is into scrunchies. We discovered that you can get huge packs of them on Amazon for great prices. My daughter has loved this pack of 52 scrunchies in various textures and colors that are only $5.99 right now on Amazon. They are good quality with elastic that is stretchy but not loose.

If scrunchies aren’t her thing, these coil hair ties work for even my daughter’s incredibly thick hair without getting caught. They are ideal for ponytails and come in all sorts of different colors.

Headbands are another great option for pretty much any girl with any length of hair. My daughter is a big fan of anything with glitter and sparkle and always has been. (She totally gets that from me!) That’s why this 8-piece set of glitter headbands called to me. You can also opt to get them with glitter bows or plain bows if that is more your daughter’s style.

If your daughter likes to draw or write or both, this sketch book is an awesome find for Valentine’s Day! It says “Best Daughter Ever” on the front, which is sweet and I’m sure true. (Though, I will debate that mine is the best daughter ever, but we’ll let that go for now! Hee, hee, hee!) It would also pair well with the Melissa and Doug butterfly and heart stamps above. And for $6.99, it’s a great deal!

Another combo that works well for girls is this Klutz Bath and Body Activity Kit. You get to make your own bath bombs and products to use in the bath, which is great for science skills, and is also fun to use! At 9, my daughter is getting more and more into beauty type products and this fits right in with that while also still being age appropriate. Its price tag of $8.62 makes it that much better!

We really are fans of Melissa and Doug products, which is why I’ve got another one on the list for you! This Decorate-Your-Own Wooden Heart Box craft kit is not only cute and priced well at $6.99, but it’s something that’s can stick around for years. My daughter did this kit when she was 5. Now, four years later, she is still using her wooden heart box. I love stuff that has longevity like that!

If your daughter has her ears pierced, earrings are also a great option for a Valentine’s Day gift she will love but won’t add extra clutter to your house. Stainless steel heart studs are a good option for Valentine’s Day. For $7.99 to $10.99, you can get one, three or five pairs of different metal colors. They are so incredibly cute!

My daughter loves earrings, but we discovered after getting her ears pierced that she is allergic to all metals except gold. So if you want/need gold-plated earrings that are dangly and sparkly (which my kiddo loves!), check out these 18-K gold plated dangling heart earrings for $14.99. They come in four different colors, including a gorgeous purple. (Of course, I love anything purple!)

For Boys

I’ve got to say the first item on my list for my son is an unexpected one. But we were out shopping last evening for new jeans for him and he spied rain boots. His level of excitement over them surprised me. He gave me a whole spiel about how he’s never had rain boots before. So now I’m thinking I need to make this happen for him. Living at the dead end of a street now, we are in a great spot for him to splash in puddles. I found some rain boots that came in all sorts of cute colors and patterns. They average $20 in price. Some are just under and some are a dollar over based on the pattern and size. My son wears a size 3 and would love the dino print, which is $19.90.

We love coloring and crafting at our house. Well, my kids do. I like to color, but crafts aren’t my thing. That comes from their dad. However, my son is hard on markers. Being 6, he likes to color full force with whatever he is using. So new markers are always a good idea and these Crayola Washable Super Tip markers are our favorite. They come in a pack of 50 colors and can both be used for fine line and thick line, which is a great idea! And I love that they are truly washable, because we’ve gotten marker all sorts of places. Add in that they’re only $13.11, and I’m one happy mama!

And if you’re getting markers, you might as well add in a cool coloring book to use them in. I love this Lego Marvel Avengers and Batman super heroes coloring book. First, my son loves anything Lego, including super heroes, yet we don’t have any Lego coloring books, so it’s a total win. Second, he likes super heroes from both comic universes, and this includes both DC (Batman) and Marvel (Spider-man, Ironman, Captain America, etc.). For just $6.99, it would work well with the markers to make a nice gift. Of course, it would also be great solo or with crayons if you prefer.

Another great idea for boys is a sticker mosaic art kit. My son grabbed a couple from our craft drawer recently and had such a great time with them. Stickers are always fun and the fine motor skills practice to remove the small stickers and get them in the squares is terrific. If your kiddo is still learning colors or numbers, these are great for that, too. Amazon has a pack of eight sticker mosaic sheets for $12.99 that have dino, animal and space themes. These really come in handy for bad weather days or traveling.

Dinosaurs tend to be a favorite for almost all boys I know in elementary school and younger — my 6-year-old son included. This National Geographic Fossil Dig Kit includes three real fossils (both bones and teeth). It comes with an educational book to help kids learn as they play. And even better to kiddos, it means they get to play in the dirt! We really like the National Geographic sets. They’re made well and priced well. This one is only $9.99.

Depending on who you are, you might consider Legos toys. I guess technically they are, but they are so great for building and engineering skills that I’m on board with them even for Valentine’s Day. My son is super in to Legos right now and can now follow the manuals on his own to put sets together. He got one of these Lego Creator Might Dinosaur 3-in-1 sets for Christmas and loved it. What’s cool about this set is that you can build three different dinosaurs, a T-rex, triceratops and pterodactyl. However, be aware that you can only build one of them at a time. Amazon has the set for $11.99, which is a good deal for Legos.

If your kiddo isn’t so into dinosaurs, the Lego Creator 3-in-1 kits come in other versions as well. There is a Lego Creator 3-in-1 Mythical Creature set, also for $11.99. It builds a dragon, troll and giant spider. If neither of those would be a good fit, there is also a Lego Creator 3-in-1 Deep Sea Creatures set for $12,93 that builds a shark, crab and squid.

Stickers are such a huge hit with kiddos. I love when they come with a book that you need to place the stickers in. Then I don’t have to worry about them getting stuck places they shouldn’t or being left on clothes that go into the washing machine! This Ultimate Sticker Book for the Marvel Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse is a great deal with 100 stickers for only $5.82. The sticker book includes information about Miles Morales, the main character in the Spider-verse movie who my son fell in love with, as well as some villains and Spider-man allies.

Books

One of my other favorite gifts for Valentine’s Day for the kids is books. Sometimes I go with holiday themed books and other times just with books they’ll be interested in.

Picture Books

We love Pinkalicious! While my daughter has almost outgrown picture books in general, she still loves Pinkalicious. And a Pinkalicious Valentine’s Day book, “Pinkalicous: Pink of Hearts,” for $6.29 is hard to pass up. Our son enjoys Pinkalicious, too, since most of the books include her little brother, Peter, who has gotten so popular he even has his own series now.

I grew up enjoying the Berenstain Bears books and my kiddos have enjoyed them just as much. I am constantly surprised by how many different ones I find about all sorts of topics. So it makes sense that “The Berenstain Bears’ Funny Valentine” exists. Even better, the book only costs $3.99. It would be a great addition to your kids’ Valentine’s Day gifts without putting much of a dent in your wallet.

If you’re looking for something that isn’t holiday themed, consider “Dinotrux” from Chris Gall. This is the book that inspired the series on Netflix with the same name. My son is in love with this book. While he is generally past the age where he wants to read the same book over and over and over, this is one exception to that. Amazon has it for $6.99.

One of my all-time favorite books we read with our kids is “God Gave us You” from Lisa Tawn Bergren. It is such a sweet story of a mama bear and her cub as the mama recounts the cub being born and what a gift the cub is from God. I totally get choked up when I’m reading it sometimes. It is precious! We have a few other books that are part of this series as well, but “God Gave us You” is our favorite!

Chapter Books

Valentine’s Day can also be a great time to give your kiddo(s) the gift of a new book series to fall in love with. Right now we are currently reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” together as a family. Both my 6- and 9-year-old are enjoying it. My oldest wasn’t sure that she’d like the series. She resisted it for a while, but now that we’re into it, she’s loving it. And I’m enjoying reading the book again for the second time and finding little clues of things yet to come that I missed the first time around. You can buy the paperback versions for $8.87. (If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read this book for free on your Kindle. As an avid reader, I love Kindle Unlimited. I’ve been a member for two years now. I got it as a gift from my husband and am so glad he had me try it. I LOVE it!)



Another favorite series of ours is Geronimo Stilton. This newspaper-writing mouse has all sorts of adventures. The series has even branched into prehistoric times and space! Of course Geronimo Stilton has a Valentine’s Day book. “Geronimo’s Valentine” would be a great way to get into the series. These chapter books are a little bit lighter and work well for kids just starting to read chapter books or younger kids who are beginning to enjoy chapter books being read to them. They have illustrations throughout to break up the text.

The Owl Diaries is another great series for early chapter book readers or listeners. Just like with Geronimo Stilton, the books have some illustrations throughout to break up the text. They follow an owl named Eva and the adventures she has going to school every night. They don’t have to be read in order, but the best place to start really is with the first one, “Eva’s Treetop Festival.” And don’t let the pink on the cover fool you; these books are just as much for boys as for girls. My son has enjoyed them as well as many of my daughter’s male classmates. There was one point in first grade where she and some of her classmates were trading these library books around as they devoured them!

Going a little more advanced, the Goddess Girls series has captured my daughter’s heart. The series starts with “Athena the Brain.” The characters are based on Greek gods, but written from the perspective of them being in school together as they are growing and learning. My daughter loves these books so much. She has enjoyed many passages so much that she comes running to me to read them out loud.

Last updated Feb. 11, 2020.

Affirmations from kindergarten that we all need to hear

Three simple sentences can be life changing

Last week I was in my son’s kindergarten classroom at the end of the day to bring in cookies to celebrate his birthday with his classmates. He’s my second kiddo in this kindergarten class, so I’ve been in and out of it quite a few times.

But last week I heard something I hadn’t heard before. It was the end of the day and the teacher was having all the students gather their belongings. As they were settled in and waiting for dismissal, she asked them to use sign language to say a few things. Sign language isn’t new. Both of my kids have learned it in kindergarten, and I love that it’s part of their curriculum. The sign language wasn’t what got me, though. It was what she had them say.

I am important.

I am special.

I am smart.

Then, in true kindergarten teacher fashion, she said to them, “Boys and girls, remember that you are important, special and smart.”

I found myself overwhelmed in that moment. What a wonderful moment! (And what a wonderful reminder of how much I love their school!) Can you imagine what the world would be like if each of us not only heard but believed those affirmations every day?

I don’t know if all the kindergarteners go home to hear those kind of things. I know that we try to speak positively in our house, but I doubt I say those things so clearly to my children as often as I should.

The wonderful thing about 5- and 6-year-olds is that they believe these words without feeling embarrassed. They don’t feel a need to explain themselves. They accept them without downplaying them. They listen to them without hearing an inner voice saying that they aren’t these things.

Can you imagine if every day of your life you heard those words and believed them? What if boys in upper elementary struggling with their aggression heard these words every day? What if girls in middle school struggling with body image heard these words every day? What if teenagers facing peer pressure heard these words every day? What if college students struggling to make their way in the world heard these words every day? What if young mamas doubting their momming skills heard these words every day? What if husbands and fathers stressing over providing for their families heard these words every day? What if retirees working to redefine themselves heard these words every day? What if YOU heard these words every day?

You are important.

You are special.

You are smart.

What a difference we would see in our world. I can imagine the change starting in each of us. Having a reminder that we are important, special and smart shifts our attitudes just enough to make a difference. Suddenly we have enough confidence to try new things and not shy away from challenges. Suddenly we understand we are worth taking care of and start living more healthy lifestyles. Suddenly we are free to love others more fully and stop beating ourselves up.

We can easily look at our children and see these truths, but we often miss them when we look in the mirror. I can tell my children they are important, special and smart and believe it 100 percent.

However, when I think of saying them to or about myself I start to fade. It’s hard to believe them about ourselves. But God created us. He made us important, special and smart. As I tell my kids, God doesn’t make junk. If our Father thinks these things about us, then who am I to question the Creator of the universe?!

I have to believe that I’m not the only person who needs to hear these words. And I have to believe my son’s class aren’t the only ones who need to hear them either. Maybe what we need to do is learn a lesson from kindergarten and tell ourselves these things every single day. Isn’t it at least worth a try? I sure think so!