Thursday, May 19, 2016

Popsicle Praise: Our Sweet Summer Family Faith Activity

The Nesdahls have completed Pouring Acts of Faith and summer is right around the corner. Once school ends we pretty much say "Adios" to defined agendas and find success in summer freedom - closing out the pool, getting sweaty at the park, jumping on the trampoline, watching a movie in our pajamas. Whatever. Each day looks a little different based on temperature and energy levels and what sounds fun.

So, when we decided it would be fun to do another faith forming family activity I knew it was important to be a low stress activity that could happen at anytime of the day anywhere.

Our recent activities have been focused on God sightings and the Holy Spirit in action. Now we're going to get into the Word because Scriptural knowledge affirms us, arms us, and lays the foundation for life.


Popsicle Praise.

What can I say. Our kids love popsicles so they were fresh on my mind.

Each Sunday the kids will draw one popsicle stick - well, that was my original plan but then these foam popsicle stick shapes were much cheaper for way more and they actually look like popsicle colors so they won out. I'll be able to use the many remaining for projects down the road, I'm sure.

On each stick is some most adorable washi tape because it makes me smile and looks cute, but even more importantly there a verse reference. For the most part, these are very short scriptures. I think we need to start small so that the girls realize they can do this.

Here's our winning line up.

1 Chronicles 16:11 "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always."

John 3:16 "For God so loved thew old that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

1 John 4:19 "We love because he first loved us."

Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

1 Timothy 4:12 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for the believers in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity."

Proverbs 18:10 "The name of the Lord is a fortified tower, the righteous run to it and are safe."

Psalm 56:3 "When I am afraid, I put my trust in You."

Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."

2 Timothy 1:7 "For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline."

1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray continually"

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Proverbs 13:20 "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm."

My goal with the selected short Scriptures is that they will know that God loves them, is always there for them, and empowers them.

Within these verses I see place to discuss God's goodness, how the Lord is near, that our love is an overflow of experiencing Jesus' love for us, and the importance of our friendships + ability to not only make good choices but be a difference maker.

There are 14 popsicle praise sticks for the 14 Sundays we have in summer. Wow, that makes summer sound lengthy! Then we will recite the Scripture as a family each day to cement it in our brains.

The nice thing is we can do this around our dinner table or in the car or when sucking on popsicles during the 10 minute break at the pool, naturally fitting in to our different looking days.

And all these items only cost a few dollars.

You could easily use this activity within homes or Sunday School classrooms and the Scripture choices can be adapted to accommodate your kids' age, capabilities, and what you aim to teach.

Our kiddos are pumped about the pretty jar.

I'm excited for our family to have these sweet Truths to forever fall back on.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

Hey, friends! My broken finger is finally healing - albeit still swollen - but it's no longer stopping me from typing OR dancing. Last weekend was the dance recital. My girls were incredible and I kicked it like cool cats with 32 other alumni. Clearly Jesus did not deem the fish nets reason to return :) All the Nesdahl ladies had a blast.

Though my computer work was on hiatus funny mom moments were not. Let's get to some real mom confessions.

1. "Some people only sleep in underwear," This is what one of the girls told one of our pastors. Why? I don't know. It had nothing to do with the conversation and both myself AND my husband sleep in pajamas. They do not see this in their life or the TV shows they are allowed to watch so why they decided to verbally vomit this to our pastor of all people I do not know. Jesus, be near.

2. The fire department visited the neighbor's house the other day because their carbon monoxide detector went off and Ava serenaded them with "Happy Birthday" as they made way into the house. It was no one's birthday.

3. One of the girls' dance teachers is pregnant. Ava told me she wanted to go say goodbye to Miss Amanda so we go up to her and Ava says, "When that baby kicks, how is it going to get out?" Ummmmm, WHAT happened to "goodbye?!" Thankfully, she found herself some juice on the way out and completely forgot about her question.

4. I love my robe and pajamas. Like maybe to a weird degree. So, in the winter, it gets dark at like 4:30 here, which means when we get done with our daily activities I can just come home and get in my PJs. I'm not going out in the dark. Well, now it is light until 9ish so I'm going to have to change my tune but this habit is not easy to break. Feel for me people. I will be the crazy mom if I have my PJs on when kids are still in my yard. Since the girls' bedtime is 8pm I thought that was a safe transition time but apparently not. My man put down new mulch last night and wanted me to see it at 8:45 so guess who checked out the spruced up front yard landscaping in her robe and pajamas? That's right, yours truly.

I hope you've had an amazing few weeks. The school year is coming to a quick end so I'll be returning tomorrow with what our family is going to do for a simple summer faith activity.  Be sure and check back if you're looking for something to do in your home :)

xx Melissa

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

Happy Wednesday, y'all. I had something special planned for today but I need to limit my typing due to what will be the first real mom confession. Let's get going.

1. I think I broke my pinky finger playing tetherball. I LOVED the game as a kid and the older two girls play it at recess now so we thought it would be fun to have a Nesdahl family tournament. In the match against the my stud muffin I was beating him *awesome* when I hit the pole due to my super strong follow through. My whole hand went numb and I galloped my way out of the circle, writhing in pain. My man? He was so focussed on victory he FINISHED THE GAME OUT before checking on me to ensure the win. Whatever, man. Watch out. When I come off the injured reserve I will be unstoppable. In the meantime, I taking Motrin and limiting pinky movement. Being a fun mom is risky business.

2. I put in a call to our pediatrician office and didn't hear back all day. This is weird. They always call right away, so I was venting my frustration + surprise and a friend said, "Check your blocked calls?" What blocked calls is a thing? Apparently. And sure enough, I'd missed like seven calls over the year. I totally came clean with the pediatrician's office the next morning but everyone around me at dance got a pretty good laugh out of the deal. Now that I know I can block calls, you better believe I'll be using it for unwanted spam calls. It was a mixed bag discovery.

3. Yesterday Ava turned five. I remember when they placed her in my arms and now my baby celebrated the "kindergarten right of passage" birthday so don't even ask me how I felt about that. In true girl form, she woke up asking to go shopping for shoes and with a fancier lunch request. The good news for us is that no date will be able to afford her before we give our blessing. Bonus. Anyway, it was a crazy day and we didn't get her gift wrapped before she informed us she wanted to do cake so you know what we did? "Hey, Ava, close your eyes and when we say 'surprise' pop your eyes open to find out your present."

We can't be awesome all the time and there were perks. NO CLEAN UP NECESSARY.

I hope you had a great week and if you have a little one that might enjoy learning about God through nature make sure you get in on the Owlegories giveaway! And, to all of you that messaged me about how the free Date Makers & Breakers printable created good discussion in your home, I'm so very humbled. Keep up the good work of invested parenting!

xx Melissa

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Owlegories Review & Giveaway: Theowlogy Your Kids Will Love

Today the kids got out of school early. Since it was unseasonably cold outside, the girls and I used it as opportunity to snuggle up on the couch and preview Owlegories, a gospel-centered DVD series that encourages children to grow in relationship with God through five adorable owls.

Are they not the cutest?

Gus, the overall-wearing, pancake-loving, witty-speaking one is totally my favorite. Not surprising for a food-appreciating, sarcastic girl like myself.

In each episode, the delightful owls go to theowlogy school to find out their learning assignment – always found in nature. Upon hearing from the professor what they are to study, they fly out into the world and begin. DVD 1 covers the sun, the seed, and the water. DVD 2 inspects the ant, the fruit, and the butterfly.

Their experiences are cute and funny, but the lessons are priceless.

There are three takeaways for each nature element to help youth better understand God and trigger living a more faith-filled life as they spot the item in their everyday.

I love that!

It helps children connect the dots between faith and life in a way I’ve seen no other Bible series do.

The girls had to cut away from watching to go to dance but the second we got home they asked to watch again, going right from one movie to the next. It was fun to see them get so excited about a film I knew would help them see The Lord in a new way.

Anything that can help nurture our children’s closeness with Christ is a win in my world and Owlegories effectively does this by offering new perspective through the world in which they live.

I get to bless all of you with 25% off anything in their online store using the code NESDAHL25.

One of you is going to be the lucky winner of DVD volume one. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment about why you’d like to win this. For additional entries, share this post on Facebook and/or tweet the link, creating a maximum of three entries per person. Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each of these shares.

I will use to draw a winner from the continental U.S. If your name and email is not attached to your profile, please add it to your comment so that I can reach you.

Entries will be accepted through 9pm on Sunday, May 8, 2016.

Thank you to Owlegories for asking me to be a part of your blog promotional tour. It was a joy to watch with my girls!

* Pictures provided from Owlegories. All opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

Here we are at Wednesday. Time to laugh. Laughter is so good for the soul. And, it was our word of the day discussion in Pouring Acts of Faith last night so that was super fun. To go around the table and lift up such joy just made the laughter start again.

So what are my confessions?

1. I bought a 2 bag box of cereal at Costco. It only had one boxtop on it and I felt seriously ripped off. This is the true sign of being a PTA nerd.

2. I surprised Grace with donuts for breakfast during standardized testing week because I'm sure that it what the principal meant by serving a good breakfast.

3. Our weather has been down right confusing lately. One day it was sunny, warm, and no wind (which seemed a miracle in and of itself) so I decided to walk to pick up the girls from school. We live a little over a half mile from the building. They got out and we started to play on the equipment because it was one day when we did not have dance. I was feeling all cute in my lightweight white capris and bright colored shirt. It was glorious. UNTIL IT SUDDENLY STARTED TO RAIN. Like sheets of rain. So, I yell at the girls that we need to go, and we take off, but four-year-old legs can only travel so fast. And Hannah and Grace thought going home in the downpour was a blast. I, on the other hand, was not so pumped. "RUN! I was just trying to be a good mom and now I'm wearing white pants in the rain AND there is going to be worms." Gross.

4. Ava was eating strawberries at the table, bites the end off, and loudly exclaims, "Butt cheeks." The girls all erupted in laughter. Me: Ava, where did you learn to call strawberries butt cheeks?"

Never in my life did I think I'd hear myself say that, but parenting equals a life of surprises!

Laugh today, friends. Life's too short to go a day without it.

xx Melissa

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Date Makers & Breakers: An Interactive Dating Discussion Printable for Parents & T(w)eens

Dating is a gargantuan subject that often leads to awkward silence.

As the mother of three young girls, two of which society classifies as tweens, I understand how silence might feel easier. Lord knows when my eight-year-old asked me about crushes and love in Subway of all places stuffing my face with a big bite of sandwich lured attractive. But not better.

Without discussion we can’t know what our children are thinking any more than our children can know what we pray for them. It demands sit-down time and the exchange of words.

Interactions with young people affirm this desire. Recently, one young teen wrote that she wanted to start dating but didn’t know what would make a good boyfriend. Her parents hadn’t approached the topic and she feared asking might upset them.

The collective parent heart would scream, “Ask us!” Whether our daughter is eight or fifteen we, in theory, want to be the one to guide the discussion. Youth left to media or the advice of their peers is set up for disaster. Yet we freeze a little bit too, don’t we? Most of the time the questions seem to come from left field, leaving no opportunity to calmly craft the perfect answer in advance and we know everything about their innocence, relationship health, and set up for potential marriage is at stake. That’s no pressure at all.

One thing I emphasized with my eight-year-old was how I knew her daddy was a good man to date. In conversations with teens and at youth retreats I’ve further developed that to suggesting a physical list of date makers and breakers. What is a must to saying “yes” to a date? What are automatic disqualifiers? These forward thinking questions create a natural selectivity to only entertain time with those who might be good for us.

So now I’ve created a simple-to-use date makers and breakers interactive discussion printable for you to print off and use with your child(ren).

Obviously the date makers column is for...

To finish reading the post & get full instruction for the printable, please visit MODSquad here

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Real Mom Confessions: When the 8 Year Old Asks About Crushes & Love

Today's a special day. TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY Charlie asked me to officially be his girlfriend. We were two (obviously smart) 16 years old kids on a Holy Commotion church trip, having no idea we just said the first yes to the rest of our life.

This was before the time of cell phones and constant cameras at the ready so we have no photo to document that moment, but here's one from when we went to the winter formal as friends a few months before.

My college roommate commented, "Your hands don't scream awkward at all." True story.  It's amazing we went on to dance that night. It's even more incredible to me that I get to spend every day with that boy. No matter what we face, I will always smile in his embrace.

In light of this day, I bring you a real mom confessions highlighting a conversation about crushes and love that happened in public because...of course!

Hannah: When did you fall in love with daddy?

I start to explain that love is a process. That you don't necessarily know that you love someone right away. Dating is a ground to better get to know someone.

I'm trying to do this conversation right, all the while thinking Oh my gosh, Lord, I just wanted to take them to some Subway. This is a bit intense.

They quickly got bored with my lengthy explanation and Hannah goes, "I don't think you get it. Like a crush."

Me: Falling in love and crushes are different.

Ava: Did you have a crush on dad in college and just kiss him lots.

She starts making a kissy face in the aisle of Subway. Awesome. DEEP FREAKING BREATHS.

Me: A crush is where you get that sense that you like somebody. There are good things to know about a crush first. For example, I knew your daddy loved Jesus, that he treated me nice because we were friends for a long time, and that he wanted to be a dad someday, and I wanted to be a mommy. Love is where you believe you could be together forever and you choose to stand by them.

Hannah: So did you have a crush or love?

Me: Well, I had a crush first that developed into love. Now I have both.

I'm not sure this is going well.

Grace: What if you get a crush on a boy who loves Jesus and treats you nice but doesn't want to be a dad?

Maybe I'm doing okay.

Me: Well, whether or not a person wants to be a parent isn't easily changeable and not something you want to seek to try to change in someone else. So, if you really wanted to be a mom, it would be better, even though not easy, not to date them before you get too attached and then have to get your heart broken.

Ava: Do crushes and loves kiss?

Me: You could, although you want to be careful about your kisses.

Hannah: This all seems like maybe you aren't getting it.

I'M NOT GETTING IT?!?! Please, tell me how it works, child. I'M JUST TRYING TO EAT SOME SUBWAY FOR GOODNESS SAKE. I didn't get the memo that we were going to be having this important chat. 

One of the girls changed the topic and they moved on like kids do without looking back. I looked at each of them as they chatted, preferring that it went a little different because they are all at such different places of cognitive development. I'd have wished to have them alone. Not with a four year old. Not in Subway. But life is spicy and so much of parenting is all about responding to the curve ball.

I didn't hit a home run but I think it was a decent at bat. So, here's my encouraging thought today, parents - Parenthood isn't victorious through one great swing but in consistently showing up, willing to respond to whatever is thrown your way. 

Seeds were planted for the future, I can hope. Maybe they got a clearer sense that real love is complex and much different than the Disney fantasized, where comatose women wake up and immediately marry the stranger who just kissed their face.

This will do until it next comes up.

Preferably not in Subway.

Happy dating anniversary, Charlie :)

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