Families With Grace

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

Bible verses about faith and trust

10 Bible verses and 3 songs to encourage you on your faith journey

God and I go way back. Honestly, I can’t remember a time in my life without Him, and I’m so thankful for that. Though I’ve been a Christian for decades, I still have times of wavering faith and trust. I have never turned my back on God. However, in hard times I have wondered how much I could truly trust Him. I’ve questioned whether my faith was strong enough.

And each time, I learned that I can trust Him completely. I can ask God for help with strengthening my faith when it starts getting shaky. If I can turn my eyes to look at Him instead of looking around me, my faith and trust are made stronger.

Just like with any relationship, our relationship with God is a day-by-day thing. I don’t mean that as in we need to doubt our salvation, but I do mean that in the way we choose each day (and sometimes each moment) to live in line with God or not. It’s our choice to make Him a big part of our lives or keep Him tucked away in a small corner of our lives.

A couple of things help me most when my faith and trust in God get shaky: Bible verses and music. I’m encouraged to realized that God clearly knew we’d have moments of weakness and doubt. He knew that we’d struggle with faith and trust. So He packed His Word full of verses to encourage us on our faith journey. God knows our weaknesses as humans, and He loves us anyway. He gives us the tools we need along the way. It’s just up to us to utilize them.

Bible verses about faith and trust

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

I love this reminder of what just a teeny, tiny amount of faith can do! Have you seen a mustard seed? They are 0.1 inch in diameter! That’s tiny. Jesus is telling us here that even if our faith is small, it is still powerful. Can our faith be big? Of course! But even when it isn’t, it is still powerful.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

I struggle with confidence in myself. And sometimes that can influence the confidence I have in God. I can slip into a negative attitude like, “I know God can fix this, but I don’t think He will.” I don’t usually utter those words aloud, but God hears them in my heart. This verse, though, convicts my heart. Faith is being confident in the God we serve. I can’t be confident in myself and that I’ll always come out on top, but I can be confident God knows what He’s doing and will come out on top. I am assured and can be hopeful that no matter what life brings, God is there with me. What better description of faith is there?!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Faith and trust really do go hand-in-hand. If we have faith in God and Who He is, then we can trust He will always be with us. Not only does this verse remind us we can have faith and trust in God, but it also tells us God is a God of hope. Trusting in Him will bring us joy and peace. And, finally, it reminds us that the power of the Holy Spirit can fill our hearts to overflowing with hope.

“‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” – Mark 10:52 (NIV)

This is one example of many in the New Testament where Jesus heals someone based on their faith. They truly believe in Him and His power. He sees our hearts and knows our faith. Does this mean we will always get what we want? No. Does it mean we will always be healed on earth? Also, no. But it does mean that God sees you and will reward your faith. It also means our faith is about following Jesus. Instead of running off to live his life in a way he’d only previously imagined, the former blind man immediately followed Jesus. He knew where his blessing and healing had come from. We, too, know where our blessings come from and can put our faith in Him!

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.” – Psalm 119:30 (NIV)

Faithfulness is a way of life we can choose. We choose faith even when our faith is shaken and wavering. Sometimes when we go through the acts of faithfulness, it grows our faith. I have had times when my heart just wasn’t into worshipping God. Yet, I found myself drawn along in worship with other believers and before I knew it, God blessed my heart and encouraged me. Living the life we know God has called us lead will draw us closer to Him, even when we are resistant or out of sorts.

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” – Romans 10:17 (NIV)

I’ve been going to church my entire life. I cannot begin to tell you ever sermon I’ve heard preached or Sunday School lesson I’ve sat through. But, they have all impacted me. They have served to grow and strengthen my faith. This verse plainly tells us that faith comes from hearing the message, which is the word of Christ. Keep on reading God’s Word, meeting with His people and listening to music that focuses on Him to keep your faith in tact.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

The peace in this verse is like that talked about in Philippians 4:7. It is God’s peace that is beyond our understanding. When we trust in God, no matter how dire the circumstance is, He can give us peace that doesn’t make any sense. He can bring us comfort and assurance through every moment.

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

This is a good verse to remember for those times you feel like giving up. I love the reminder to trust in God and in HIs name because He has never left me. Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past helps me have faith and trust in Him even more in the present.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” – Psalms 56:3-4 (NIV)

My all-time favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 41:10, which reminds me that God is always with me and I don’t have to be afraid. These verses takes that even a step further. Not only can we trust in God when we’re afraid and have Him give us peace, but we can rest assured there is nothing of eternal consequence others can do to us. We sometimes need to hear the perspective that God is so much bigger than the hard times we go through.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Trusting in God looks like letting go of trying to make sense of things. If we are leaning on His understanding, then we are not leaning on our own. Faith and trust often don’t make a lot of logical sense. As we choose to follow God, we can decide He knows what He’s doing more than we can understand. Many times later on we are able to look back and see why He did things that didn’t makes sense at the time.

Faith and trust through music

When we are struggling with our faith and trust in God, remembering His past faithfulness is helpful. One lesson I have learned is God won’t ever leave me hanging. He has proven time and again that He’s right there with me every step of the way.

A couple of newer songs have recently really spoken this message to me. The first is “Yes He Can” by Cain. I love the message and reminder from this trio that God has always been there in the past and will be now.

Another song that speaks to my heart in so many ways is Bethel Music’s “Goodness of God.” It reminds us how God has always been faithful and so good. It’s one of my favorite songs!

Finally, Andrew Peterson has a song called “Faith to Be Strong” that has been out since 2000 and still inspires and uplifts me. I remember this song really touching my heart after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Sometimes more than anything, we just need to ask God for faith. Our Heavenly Father knows our faith and trust in Him can waver. He is ready to help us with both. It’s OK to be honest with Him about our feelings and ask for help!

Sugar cream squares recipe

A 5-ingredient, family-favorite sugar cream squares recipe

As a lifelong Hoosier, I’m quite familiar with sugar cream pie. It’s certainly popular here. But I don’t enjoy many pies and, honestly, I don’t really like sugar cream pie. (I know. My Hoosier “card” may be revoked for saying so!) However, growing up, my aunt often made this sugar cream squares recipe. And those I love.

When we went to St. Louis last year, I was excited to try its gooey cake. When I did, I found that it tasted a lot like this sugar cream squares recipe, but it wasn’t quite the same. Ever since then, I’ve had a hankering for these delectable squares, so I had to pull out the old family recipe and make some for us.

I’ve eaten this recipe many times, but I hadn’t yet made it myself. I was surprised to find it only takes five ingredients and is so incredibly easy. Sometimes when we have something nostalgic, it almost takes away the magic of it when we make it ourselves (or maybe that’s just me!). But this was just as good. It tastes like childhood in a creamy, sugary, sweet way. My family devoured it.

One other item of note is that this recipe uses cream cheese. I’m a longtime proponent of not using cream cheese in most dessert recipes. I feel like it almost always belongs solely in the savory foods category. But, I’m totally on board with it in this sugar cream squares recipe. Probably mixing in all the powdered sugar helps!

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.

The first layer

First, get your oven preheating to 350-degrees and then start with making the crust or bottom layer. Melt one stick of butter or margarine. I do this in the microwave, usually at about 60 or 70% power. Then stir in 1 yellow cake mix and one egg. It will come together as a thick mixture/dough like this:

Next, put your crust mixture in the bottom of a 9×12 cake pan. My Rachael Ray cake pan is great for not sticking, but if you’re unsure, spray yours with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.

Spread the mixture as evenly as possible over the bottom of the pan to form the crust in this sugar cream squares recipe.

Set the pan aside and make the second layer next.

The second layer

Next up in this sugar cream squares recipe is the second or top layer. Soften your cream cheese if it isn’t already, and place it in a large mixing bowl. I made the top layer in my stand mixer to save my arm some work, but you could definitely do this by hand as well. Add 3-1/2 cups of powdered sugar to the bowl with the softened cream cheese.

Stir or beat them together well until they are combined.

Once they are combined well, add in two eggs and keep mixing until the eggs are totally incorporated. The mixture will should have the consistency of cake batter or a runny pudding.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the top of the crust layer and spread it evenly in your pan.

Time to bake

Put the sugar cream squares into your preheated oven at 350-degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until it’s golden brown. I baked mine for 38 minutes and until it looked like this:

Let the sugar cream squares cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before cutting them. The great thing about this sugar cream squares recipe is that they are delicious warm and delicious at room temperature. Either way, I know your family will love them as much as mine does!

(Keep scrolling past the printed recipe to find a video of the recipe!)

Sugar cream squares

With only five ingredients, this sugar cream squares recipe is as easy to make as it is delicious to eat. It'll become a family favorite!
Prep Time 3 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1 stick butter (or margarine) melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 15.25-oz. yellow cake mix
  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 350-degrees.
  • Melt the butter and mix it with the yellow cake mix and one egg. The mixture will be thick.
  • Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of a 9×12 cake pan. If the pan is not non-stick, then apply some non-stick cooking spray to the bottom of the pan first.
  • In a large mixing bowl, soften the cream cheese. Add 3-1/2 cups of powdered sugar and mix it thoroughly by hand or with a mixer.
  • Add two eggs into the cream cheese mixture and continue mixing until it is well combined.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake mixture already in the pan. Spread it evenly over the top.
  • Bake at 350-degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve either warm or at room temperature.
Keyword 5 ingredient dessert, easy dessert, family recipe, Hoosier pie, sugar cream, sugar cream pie, sugar cream squares

Dealing with addiction in marriage

How your marriage can survive addiction

I’m excited to share this blog post about dealing with addiction in marriage with you. This isn’t something I’ve dealt with personally and appreciate Charlotte Walker of HomeSafetyHub.com taking on this difficult topic for Families with Grace. She has some helpful ideas for guiding your marriage through a struggle with addiction. Charlotte herself has been passionate about safety her whole life and enjoys writing about topics related to homes and home life. (Don’t miss her other guest post about house hunting with your family!)

While any relationship worth having takes effort, if you are dealing with addiction in marriage, then it’s going to take even more effort from you and your spouse to survive. Addiction is responsible for tearing many families apart, but that does not mean your marriage is destined for failure.

Discuss the problem

Having a conversation with your spouse about facing their addiction can be overwhelmingly scary; however, it is necessary in order to move forward. While the discussion may be uncomfortable for you both, some measure of discomfort is inevitable when seeking change. If you continue to choose not to speak up about the issue, your spouse may take your silence as condoning their behavior, which makes you an enabler. 

Whether you decide to talk to your spouse alone or through a family and friend-assisted intervention, it’s best to do it when they are not under the influence, tired or upset. Keep in mind that your spouse may not be open to admitting they have a problem, and you can almost count on some type of denial or minimization at first. However, you must be persistent in your efforts to break down the walls and discuss how their substance abuse is hurting you and what needs to be done as far as recovery. 

Once your spouse opens up and admits to having a problem, begin discussing their options for treatment. There are outpatient and inpatient treatment options available, but if this is their first time being treated for addiction, encourage them to stay at a residential drug rehab facility for a minimum of 30 days. An inpatient facility will give them time away from distractions and bad habits while providing a safe space for them to detox and begin the recovery process. 

Forgive them

Undoubtedly, your spouse’s addiction has caused you a lot of pain and turmoil, which doesn’t make it easy to forgive. However, if you really want to save your marriage, then it’s necessary to get to the root of the issue, let it go and move forward. Even if you and your spouse decide to temporarily separate to sort through the issues, forgiveness is imperative to repair and reestablish the relationship. 

Your first step to forgiveness is to gain an understanding of the addiction and start looking at it as a disease that is separate from the actual addict themselves. It may be necessary for this breakthrough to come in marriage therapy. Even though your spouse may have hurt you or made poor decisions while under the influence, remember it was the addiction that caused them to lose control of their actions. You may be hurting, but keep in mind that your partner is plagued by guilt as they realize their mind and body has been consumed by addiction.

Understanding the process of addiction will help you gain clarity and compassion for your spouse, which will make it easier for you to forgive them. While being empathetic toward your spouse does not minimize what you have been through, remember that forgiveness also benefits you by giving you a mental sense of wellbeing. 

Be supportive

In order for your spouse to have a fighting chance at beating their addiction, they will need your full support. Having your support will give them the confidence needed to trust themselves and regain control of their lives. You can offer support by attending group meetings with them, which will also give you a deeper look into the reasons behind their addiction and ways you can help them cope in the future.

Also support them making healthy decisions, like creating a healthy work-life balance. By learning to say “no,” delegating tasks at work and prioritizing your tasks, you can develop a routine that allows you to devote more time to personal matters. 

A workout routine can really help battle addiction. It’s not easy to do physical activity in an altered state, and working out will help with sleep as well as help them feel good about being sober. It can also help manage stress, which is a big part of recovery.

Battling an addiction is never easy, and a substance abuse disorder can have detrimental effects on a marriage. You and your spouse will have to go through a painful healing process, but with patience, support and love, your relationship can survive this difficult time.

Find more help

Don’t be afraid to seek help for your struggle with in addiction in marriage. Find a wide array of resources from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline. Connecting locally with a Celebrate Recovery Group, a Christian program for all kinds of addictions, can also be helpful.

Slow cooker potato chili recipe

A simple summer dinner idea!

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I’ve got another simple summer dinner idea for you this week: slow cooker potato chili. It’s an easy recipe that has you using your stove before the day gets hot. Your slow cooker does the rest of the work.

I love making food in my slow cooker because I can do it early in the day and then basically forget about it. The last time I made this potato chili, for example, we had a play date at the park and came home hungry right at dinner time. It was perfect to come into our house with dinner ready for us. And this slow cooker potato chili recipe is a nice mix of meat and potatoes with just a hint of spice that is delish on a hot summer day (or a cold winter day!). Honestly, it’s a year-round weeknight family dinner you’ll love!

Prepping the ingredients

Start with getting your ground beef cooking. For us, I used 1/2 pound of ground beef. You can use up to 1-1/2 pounds if your family loves meat or you’re feeding a lot of people. My family isn’t big on eating meat, so using 1/2-pound to serve the four of us this potato chili was perfect. You want to crumble, brown and then drain your ground beef. (You could also use ground turkey or ground pork for this. I actually tossed in a small amount of mild Italian sausage with my ground beef that I had left from another recipe.)

Cooking the meat is the only active cooking you’ll do for this potato chili recipe. If you have cooked and crumbled ground beef in your freezer (like I often do), then you don’t even have to do this step!

While the meat is cooking, you want to prep your salsa and your potatoes. I use mild salsa for my family because the majority of us are not into spicy food, but you could certainly use medium or even hot salsa if you family likes spicy. A quirk of some of my family members is also that they don’t like things chunky. So when we have salsa at home for any reason, I puree it in my food processor. Using it in this recipe, I do the same thing, but you can totally skip this step if you don’t mind some chunks in your potato chili.

For the potatoes, you want to dice them up. I cut them relatively small, but they could have been even a bit smaller. You can use Yukon gold potatoes, but I love these petite gold potatoes. Even better, they come pre-washed, so all I have to do is cut them! In a pinch, you could also use southern-styled frozen hash browns just like in this easy slow cooker potato soup.

Putting it together in the slow cooker

The very first thing I do before making anything in my slow cooker is to line the slow cooker. It makes clean-up a million times easier! Making this potato chili recipe is no different.

If you don’t use slow cooker liners, give your slow cooker a bit of a light covering of non-stick cooking spray. Then pile all of your ingredients, except the cheese and sour cream, into the slow cooker. I add meat first.

Then add in the 1.5 pounds of potatoes.

Next, pour in 16 ounces of salsa (pureed or not).

After that, add in 1 can of condense cream of potato soup.

Finally, add 1 tablespoon of chili seasoning.

Give everything a good stir so it’s combined, put the lid on your slow cooker and set the temperature to low.

Cooking and serving the potato chili

Let your potato chili hang out on low in your slow cooker for about 8 hours until the potatoes are tender. I stir it every couple of hours because I work from home and can do so. Here is what it looks like about halfway through the day:

Finally, when it is all finished, it looks like this:

Spoon the potato chili out into bowls and serve it warm. It’s so yummy! My daughter and I like to add black beans to ours. So I open a can of them, strain them and then we add them in to our individual bowls. (The potato chili is so hot, that we don’t even need to heat the beans.) You can use any beans your family likes. If you want to add them into the slow cooker to cook all day, that also works. It just isn’t an option for my family.

We have also added frozen corn in with the potato chili and love the flavor it brings. You can put the frozen corn into the slow cooker from the beginning or steam it in the microwave and then add it in to individual bowls. So good!

And then my own philosophy is that cheese and sour cream make any chili better. That’s true for this potato chili as well, so I top mine with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

My family likes to eat this potato chili with corn chips that we can scoop the chili with, but you can also try it with tortilla chips or crackers if you prefer. Either way, it’s a hearty, filling dinner that won’t heat up your kitchen on hot summer evenings!

Slow cooker potato chili

An easy slow cooker potato chili perfect for weeknight family dinners
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 pound ground beef, pork or turkey can use up to 1/1-2 pound depending on your family's preferences or to feed more
  • 1-1/2 pound gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1 16 oz. jar salsa
  • 1 10.5 oz. can condensed cream of potato soup
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 15.25-oz. can black beans optional
  • 1 12-oz. bag frozen corn optional
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese optional
  • 1/2 cup sour cream optional

Instructions
 

  • Cook ground meat in a large skillet until browned and crumbly. Drain the meat and put it into a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker that is lined with a slow cooker liner or lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  • If desired, puree the salsa in a food processor to avoid chunks. If not, move on to the next step.
  • Add the diced potatoes, salsa, cream of potato soup and chili powder. If desired, add 1 15.25-oz can of strained black beans and/or 1 12-oz. bag of frozen corn. (You can also add the black beans and corn to individual bowls after the potato chili cooks. The beans can go in at room temperature, but heat the frozen corn before adding it.
  • Cook in the slow cooker on low temperature for 8 hours, until the potatoes are tender.
  • Serve with optional shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream on top.
Keyword chili, crock pot, ground beef, ground beef recipe, meat and potatoes, potato chili, slow cooker

Check out these other simple summer dinner ideas:

Grace-filled sibling relationships

20 ways Christian moms can encourage good sibling relationships

When my husband and I talked about having kids, we talked about sibling relationships and what we wanted for our kids. Before deciding for sure to add a second child to our family, we talked about it even more. Sibling relationships can be wonderful, but they can also be complicated.

Both my husband and I have older brothers, and we have different relationships with them. From the beginning of our parenthood journey, we have worked to be intentional in encouraging grace-filled sibling relationships for our kids. We want them to be friends. Our prayer and desire is for them to be close and be able to turn to one another throughout their entire lives.

Now 9 and 12, my children do get along well. They enjoy spending time together. (And they also enjoy spending time apart!) They aren’t perfect, but all-in-all they have a good, solid relationship. They look out for each other and often, my youngest has more courage to try new things with his big sister than with anyone else, including me! My husband and I continue to be intentional about encouraging their sibling relationship and helping keep it on the right track.

20 ways to encourage good sibling relationships

So today I’m sharing 20 ways to encourage good sibling relationships based on our experiences. I even talked to my kiddos for their input for this post!

1. Remind your kids that they have each other and always will.

From the time our youngest was born, we have told our kiddos they have to stick together. Reminding your children that they have a special bod in their sibling relationship is important. Friends will come and go, but siblings will be around for most of their life. And that’s a bond to celebrate and grow. After all, as we remind our kids, nobody else in the world knows what it’s like growing up with their dad and me as parents. So they can always bond over that!

2. Don’t compare your kids to each other.

I know this can be tricky. After all, our experiences as parents rest solely on our experiences with our own children. But our kids have their own strengths and weaknesses. Comparing them to one another only serves to drive a wedge between them, and that’s not at all what we want to do. It’s difficult to not resent someone who your parents are telling you is better at something than you are. With that in mind, be careful to not compare in subtle ways either. Praise and discipline as equally and fairly as possible.

3. Speak positively about their siblings to your kiddos.

A great way to encourage good sibling relationships is by saying good things about your kids to their siblings. Of course we have grouses and gripes with our kids, but focusing on those and complaining about them to their siblings is only going to weaken that relationship. Instead, mention to your daughter how funny her brother is. Or point out to your son how kind his sister is. This helps our kids learn to look for the positive attributes in one another rather than focus on the negative ones.

4. Don’t allow negative talk between them.

When it comes to positive language, don’t allow your kids to bad-mouth each other to each other or to other people. Your kids won’t always get along (mine certainly don’t), but there’s a difference between having a disagreement and being mean to each other. We don’t tolerate name-calling and putdowns in our family, including between our children. Our kids also aren’t allowed to bad-mouth their sibling to their friends or others. Doing so only hurts that sibling relationship.

One bonus we’ve found to this rule is that our kids’ friends treat the sibling kindly also. For example, the friends of my 12-year-old daughter are kind to our 9-year-old son and even say hello to him at school whenever they see him, regardless if our daughter is around.

5. Let them have a chance to work through conflicts but step in to help resolve the conflict when necessary.

Part of teaching our kids is helping them know how to work through conflict with other people. Managing sibling conflict is a great way to start, because our family should always be our safe place. But we want to make sure conflict is resolved in a positive way. Early on, my husband and I had to help our kids with resolving conflict much more often. Nowadays, however, I hear them have a disagreement and figure out a compromise without flying off the handle. There are still times we have to step in when someone is getting frustrated, but they are learning and growing. No relationship is perfect and learning how to resolve conflict in a positive way is important.

6. Create an attitude of grace throughout your home.

One of my biggest goals as a Christian mom is to create a home filled with grace, faith and love. And that attitude of grace extends throughout the entire family. We continue to work on helping our kids learn to give grace to each other (and us as well). One of the biggest ways we have done this is practicing a small attitude shift as a family in assuming the people we love are not intentionally trying to hurt us. Giving each other the benefit of the doubt goes a long way to forging better relationships.

7. Make opportunities for family fun.

The best relationships we have are those in which we have fun together. Sibling relationships are no different. Come up with ways to have fun as a family and put your kids together in fun ways. One of my kids’ favorite things right now is planning a family yes day. We pick a day and their dad and I have to say yes to whatever they ask us (with some rules). They work together to plan a fun day, and we all giggle together. Other times, it’s small ways that we have fun like having a water balloon fight, going out for ice cream as a surprise treat and playing games together.

8. Develop your own family traditions.

We often have family traditions for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but having smaller traditions is just as important. Sometimes these traditions can look like routines. For instance, each evening before bedtime, our family gathers to pray and read. Usually we read chapter books. We’ve read through the entire Harry Potter series, part of Percy Jackson and are now nearly finished with “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” from C.S. Lewis. We know that each evening, we have 15 to 20 minutes as a family that we don’t do anything else, and we love that time! These traditions and routines help our kids feel closer to each other as well as to my husband and me.

9. Pray together as a family.

That evening time we have to pray together is great for building sibling relationships as well. We don’t go for super long prayers that are highly personal and in-depth. Instead, we talk about people we know who need prayer. In joining together in prayer for someone or something, our children’s relationship only deepens and grows in ways that matter most.

10. Have dinner together at least a few nights a week.

If you can’t manage dinner together every night, then at least make it a priority a few nights a week. During the school year, we have dinner together at the table nearly every night. During the summertime, we are a little more lax and have dinner together while watching a favorite show or movie a couple of times a week. Having that time to eat and talk about what’s going on in our lives is important and helps grows our kids’ relationship. It gives them a chance to be more involved in each other’s lives and happenings. They learn more about each other and what’s important to each other.

11. Support each other’s activities and interests.

We do our best to encourage our kids to support each other’s activities and interests. If there is a school program or performance or anything else, we expect everyone to go and be supportive of the other. This past school year, for example, our daughter was a manager of the middle school track and field team. So, her dad, brother and I showed up for and even volunteered at some of the meets. While our kids go to the same school, their concerts are on different nights. We expect them to go along for their sibling’s performance and be just as excited for them. Knowing that you sibling supports you goes a long way toward bettering your sibling relationship!

12. Pray for their relationship.

We’ve got so many things to pray about for our kids, so it might be easy to overlook praying for their sibling relationships. But don’t forget that. I have prayed from the beginning that my kids have a good, strong and healthy relationship. I want them to enjoy each other and like each other, not just love each other. So I ask God for help in growing their relationship together and guiding my husband and me to raise them in a way that draws them together rather than apart.

13. Help them grow in their own relationships with God.

It’s important to help our kids grow in their own relationships with God as well. Their relationship with God impacts every part of their lives and all of their relationships. The closer they are to God and growing in Him, the more loving and caring they’ll be with everyone — including their siblings! (Don’t miss this free printable of a parents’ prayer to help you pray for yourself as you are raising your children.)

14. Watch and listen to wholesome content.

We don’t only watch and listen to Christian entertainment, but we are careful about what our kids are exposed to. Some movies and shows just aren’t appropriate for them due to bad language, inappropriate content and wrong attitudes. The more they are exposed to those things, the more normal those things seem and the more likely they are to behave differently. If we’re watching something and see siblings working against each other, we talk about it with our kids. What should the characters have done?

And I am a huge proponent of listening to Christian music. It’s hard for me to be grumpy with the kids or for them to argue with one another when praise music is playing. Sometimes if they start getting short with each other in the car, I turn up the worship songs until they can’t help but laugh and move on. It works!

20 ways to encourage good sibling relationships

15. Promote teamwork.

We’re big on family teamwork. And family teamwork includes giving our kids a chance to work together on tasks. They may grumble sometimes while cleaning their bathroom (hey, it happens!), but in the end they feel accomplished together for what they did. Having a chance to work as a team and take pride in what they do together strengthens sibling relationships.

16. Encourage playtime together.

When our children were younger, they were more inclined to play with each other because they didn’t have much choice. Nowadays, one of our kids is old enough that she’s not as into playing while the other is still at an age where he enjoys playtime. So sometimes we require them to play together. That can look like anything from pretend play to doing art together to building something together to even watching a certain series together. The goal is to make sure our kids get time to spend together in a playful way and enjoy each other’s company.

17. Protect their time together.

Speaking of spending time together enjoying one another’s company, we must protect our kids’ time together. I’m big on not over-scheduling our kids. I want my kids to have a chance to be bored and to find their own things to do. That also means we aren’t so overscheduled that they don’t have time to be with one another. Protect their time so they can have time together as well. Having time together in positive ways is an important part of building strong sibling relationships.

18. Have one-on-one time with them.

Spending time one-on-one with your kids can strengthen their bond with each other. No matter how old they are, our kids want our attention. They want to know we are listening and paying attention to them. Making sure to find ways to have one-on-one time with them helps them not be resentful of each other seeming to get more attention at different times. Our family has found a variety of ways to do this. Right now what’s working best for us is to allow each of our kids to have 20-30 minutes of one-on-one (or two-on-one) time with us after bedtime two nights a week. We read through special books or just talk during that time.

19. Travel together.

No matter how big or small the trip, traveling together is a great way to grow family bonds and strengthen sibling relationships. We have made memories on bigger trips like to Orlando, Fla., and the Grand Canyon as well as on smaller trips like camping in a nearby state park. Even day trips and staycations count. Basically any time spent out of the daily grind works!

20. Reminisce together — even the about the crazy moments!

Take time every so often to reminisce together. I love memory photos that come up on social media or through my Google Photos. I often show them to my kids as well. Showing them things we’ve done that they’ve forgotten or how they snuggled together when they were small help them feel closer. One of the fun things about family and siblings is having memories with them that nobody else in the world has. Don’t forget to help your kids remember those moments that connect them!

Easy baked sopapillas using flour tortillas

A simple summer dinner dessert idea!

Continuing on with the simple summer dinner ideas, I must include a simple summer dessert idea: easy baked sopapillas! I have a sweet tooth all year long. But I don’t want to spend forever in the kitchen or hours with my oven on during hot weather. I love desserts that are easy and delicious — perfect for hot summer days.

One of my favorite summer desserts is this whipped pudding pie recipe my family loves. But lately we’ve also been loving these easy baked sopapillas using flour tortillas. My daughter, actually, is the person who usually makes them for us. They are a perfect ending to a summer meal, especially something Mexican like this stuffed peppers skillet recipe.

Another bonus to these baked sopapillas is that they use ingredients I always have on hand, so I don’t have to plan ahead for them. Win-win!

Getting started

Preheat your oven to 400-degrees. Line two baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper. This makes for easier clean-up. If you don’t have either, then be sure to spray the baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or grease it with butter.

Next, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. I usually do this in a small bowl in the microwave.

Place four flour tortillas on your prepared baking sheets. I use taco-sized flour tortillas for these baked sopapillas and can usually fit two per baking sheet.

Brush each tortilla with melted butter to cover the top well.

Sprinkle each with about 1 tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. I usually have premade cinnamon sugar to make life easier around here because we like it on so many things. But it’s super easy to make yourself if you don’t have it. Just mix 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon.

Baking the sopapillas

Put the baking sheets in the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes until golden brown and crispy. If you are using two baking sheets, switch them on the racks about halfway through for even more even baking. The baked sopapillas may bubble up a bit, which is completely fine!

Serve the baked sopapillas warm. Top them with whipped cream, cherries, chocolate syrup, vanilla ice cream and/or honey if desired. Usually we keep it simple with whipped cream and cherries. My son, however, loves them most just plain. No matter how you serve them up, these baked sopapillas are delicious!

Easy baked sopapillas using flour tortillas

Stacey A. Shannon
A super easy cinnamon tortilla dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 4 flour tortillas taco size
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (or mix 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon)
  • whipped cream optional
  • cherries optional
  • chocolate sauce optional
  • honey optional
  • vanilla ice cream optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
  • Place 4 tortillas on a baking sheet(s) lined with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper. (Or at least sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.)
  • Brush each tortilla with butter.
  • Sprinkle the tortillas with the cinnamon sugar, about 1 tablespoon per tortilla. If needed, use your clean fingers or a spoon to make sure the cinnamon sugar is spread over the tortilla.
  • Put the tortillas in the oven for 8 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  • Serve topped with whipped cream, cherries, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and/or honey, if desired. Enjoy!
Keyword baked sopapillas, dessert, easy dessert, sopapillas, sopapillas with flour tortillas, weeknight dessert

Check out these other simple summer dinner ideas: