A Simple Idea for Spending time with Your Kids While Spending No Money

treasure-map

Lisa and I both work from the house, so finding things to do with our son can sometimes be a challenge (like hanging out during the summer months). We have lots of great churches in the area that provide VBS during the summer, but we don’t want to ‘over VBS’ him – because it IS summer…and its ok for him to be bored…just a bit.

This idea happened during the summer, but you really could do it anytime.

One afternoon he and I were hanging out while Mom was working, and we decided to find a letterbox. Letterboxing is like a scavenger hunt in your city where you find hidden boxes filled with rubber stamps and a notepad. You stamp their notepad, and also use their stamp to stamp your notebook. Then you hide the box again for the next person to find! (Here’s more info making it clearer, and no that isn’t the idea, but letterboxing is free too)

We found one that was hidden close to our mall, so after finding it, we decided to grab something to drink inside.

On a whim, I thought it would be fun to do a scavenger hunt in the mall. I made a quick list of 10 things that I thought we might be able to find, and then we searched thru the mall to find them.

We didn’t buy anything, we merely checked each item off our list when we saw the ‘thing’.

Here was our list:

  1. A Green Shirt
  2. Someone wearing flip flops
  3. a Red “R”
  4. Mickey Mouse on Something
  5. Basketball (picture or real)
  6. Something that looks like a fire
  7. Unwrapped Straw
  8. Something Pink in a bottle
  9. Tennessee Titans Logo
  10. Beanie Boo

The Beanie boo was the most difficult thing because he wanted to buy one. Also, it took us a while to find Mickey, but then we went to the Hallmark store. Then we found several…and just marked down how many we actually saw!

So there is a quick fun idea that didn’t cost anything other than a drink in the food court – and really, you don’t even need to do that.

It’s one of those things where you are spending intentional time with your child and making a memory in the process. Lots of fun, and really easy. And the list can be anything you can come up with off the top of your head.

Get Me a Hamburger and Step On It. (I can’t believe I did it)

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Lisa and I plus Grandma were talking at the dinner table about the foods Dean used to to eat when he was little. He was a pasta fiend. Especially lasagna.

From ages one to two he inhaled lasagna like there was no tomorrow. Then somewhere about four, it all changed. He wouldn’t touch the stuff. We still don’t know what that’s all about. He laid off all meat ‘type’ products until he was about 6.

Then he began to like to chicken and hamburgers. For some reason he won’t go back to pasta. But I’m sure that’ll happen.

We’re talking about this in front of him at the dinner table. He was visibly upset, but I assumed it was because he wasn’t eating the one pork-n-beans ‘bean’ we had put on his plate to try before he could be excused.

Apparently, it wasn’t about the bean. It was about the embarrassment of being talked about at the dinner table. Which he told me later.

Poor kid.

I understood his embarrassment.

…And Step On It!

Legend has it that my Grandpa wanted a cheeseburger.

It was one of those special visits from the Grandparents, and Dad must have been making burgers on the grill.

Three year old, bright eyed Stu was eager to help out any way possible.  When Grandpa asked little Stu to

“Get me a hamburger and step on it”

I knew just what to do.

And yes, you know where this is going. If you don’t, you’ve never had a small LITERAL child running around your house.

I grabbed the burger from dad and got it over to Grandpa. Dropped it on the floor. And stepped on it.

Awesome.

Needless to say, that story was put on parade for as many Christmases, Thanksgivings, and birthdays as I can remember.

It was always told right along with stories of other funny things I did as a kid which I’ll have to tell you about later.

But I remember that embarrassment  too.

Story as a way to remember

Its a funny thing, stories.

They help us remember events – especially of the ones we love. You probably can come up with at least one or two from your kids, or your parents or grandparents if you just sit here for a second and think about it.

They connect us in ways that nothing else can.

As Dean told me he was upset and embarassed about us talking about his dislike of Lasagna , I told him I enjoy him as he’s growing up. Then I told him some of the best ways to enjoy one another are to tell stories.  And my intent wasn’t to embarrass, but to celebrate him and the memories we have shared.

Then I told him my ‘Step on it’ Story…which got a good laugh and a… “Can I go tell Mom!!?”

 

Do you have a (least) favorite family story that everyone loves to share during the family get together?

Great Talks: Ric Elias

I love great speakers. Over the coming days, weeks, years, I am going to highlight some great speakers and thoughts from people who have influenced my speaking and thinking!!

Fasting to start the year

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“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-18

Sometimes I feel like talking about fasting is like talking about fight club. There is only one rule of fight club.

You don’t talk about fight club.

And that, for some reason, has been my feelings about fasting. I feel like I won’t be ‘as holy’ or get as ‘close to God’ or something if I talk about it.

Needless to say, I went back and forth about this post.

Fasting for Us

So, our fasting routine is probably closest to the Daniel Fast. We eat fruits and vegetables, cutting out meats, sweets, carbonated drinks,  breads and pastas. For us, we DO eat croutons and cheese on salads, and do have ranch dressing and creamy potato soup.

Also, we decided that fasting the TV was a good thing for us. (You don’t realize how much you have slipped back into watching television until you STOP watching television!)

Since the year is 365 days, we fast for 36 days, offering God 1/10th of our year.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!”

Genesis 28:16

There are 3 Things that I believe Fasting does to help me, and maybe they will resonate with you too.

1. Fasting Makes me aware of God. Like Jacob, many times, I have no idea that God is close to me. Life gets going really fast, and I just pay no attention. Fasting causes you to deliberately make choices in reverence for God. ‘Oh, I can’t eat that because I am fasting’…I’ve done that 2 or 3 times already this year. Its an awareness of God’s thereness – as my pastor likes to say!

2. Fasting is an offering of my year. I want to honor God with my life, and sticking with the principle of giving…I want to give him the beginnings – the first fruits – of this 365 days. It feels like I should have been doing this every year of my life, but that didn’t happen, so we are doing the best with the time we have left! :)

3. I realize what I can live without. We live in a blessed nation, city, and state. Starbucks within 3 minutes, Walmart in 10, and I work most of the time from my house, and I don’t have to wear shoes if I don’t want to. Thats pretty amazing, and I take lots of my life for granted. We have (what seems like) stuff out the wazoo, and with an 8 year old, we have accumulated even more stuff! Fasting is like an intentional emptying of yourself to let God fill you up.

Fasting resources that have helped us:

Bill Bright’s writing on Fasting – This is an 11 part online series that was very helpful in getting us going. He writes mainly to those going on a hard fast (only water and juices), but the principles are still applicable.

Jentezen Franklin’s Website – Again, this website is very helpful with  a scriptural basis for fasting. His book ‘Fasting: Opening the door to a deeper, more intimate, more powerful relationship with God‘ was also very insightful!

What do you do to honor God with your year?