Summer Serving Badges: 10 Ways Your Kids Can Love Others

Summer Serving Badges - 10 Ways Your Kids Can Love Others

Do you want your kids to have a focus on serving this summer?
Try this!

I am always looking for ways to weave serving others into our lives.  It is my desire that my kids would fight selfishness and develop a heart to serve.  And after last summer’s failure, I decided to be intentional and create Summer Serving Badges.

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Here is how it is going to work:

Each child will have their own chart and set of badges.  As they complete one of our service tasks, they will cut out the shape and glue it to their Summer Serving Badge chart.

These are the tasks:

  1.  Say a Kind Word to a Stranger*.
  2. Collect Food for a Local Food Pantry.
  3. Send a Card to Someone.
  4. Help Someone with Outdoor Work.
  5. Bless Someone Who Is Elderly.
  6. Raise $___ for ___________ Charity.
  7. Do Something Nice for an Animal.
  8. Make a Treat to Share with Someone.
  9. Donate Clothes or Toys.
  10. Bless a Person or Family who is Going through a Difficult Time.

*At their current ages, my kids understand they are fine talking to strangers when I or my husband are present.

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Would you like to join us in a summer of focusing on service?  Download my Summer Serving Badges.

Try the same tasks we are doing or create your own with the blank badges included in the download.

Tip:  When printing, uncheck “Fit to Page.”

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I am excited to watch my kids’ hearts continue to grow for others.  How do you help your kids develop a heart to serve?

Download >>  Summer Serving Badges

 

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Encourage Other Moms With A Sweet Reward & Free Printable

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. #BlissfulMoments #CollectiveBias

 

Encourage Other Moms with a Sweet Reward & Free Printable - Celebrate Every Day With Me (2) (3)

 

Years ago, I remember sitting in our pediatrician’s office for my child’s annual check-up.  After the exam and exhausting my list of questions and concerns, the pediatrician turned to me on the way out and told me I was doing a good job.

Just a few words of encouragement touched me in a way he could never have imagined.  It was something I needed to hear.  And even now, in a world of questioning so much of what I do as a parent, those words still stir my heart.

Motherhood is tough work.  There are hard decisions, trying times of figuring what is best for YOUR kid, fielding different opinions . . . and oh yeah, discipline.

Sometimes you just need to hear that you’re doing a good job.

So let me tell you, sweet mom, that you are doing great.  You are a blessing to your kids and to those around you.  And although you are probably exhausted and weary at times in this journey of motherhood, you are important, valuable and precious.  Thank you for all you do to serve and love your family.

Encouragement is a wonderful thing.  So often, we see moms tearing each other down because of opposing views on child-rearing.  I mean, seriously, have you seen some of the social media comments when someone talks about breast-feeding vs. formula, spanking vs. no spanking, behavioral issues . . . and the list keeps going on.

What if we could be encouraging other moms in their journey instead of bringing them down?  What if YOU could be the one who gives words of encouragement to a mom when she needs to hear it most?

 

Be the Mom Who Encourages Other Moms - A few small words can make a difference.

 

Maybe that mom behind you in line at the supermarket is exhausted because she has been up with a colicky baby or with a super sick child (which was me last weekend).  A friend of yours may have a kid who is struggling with behavior, school work or adjusting to changes in family life and that mom is questioning the best approach to handling the situation.  Both are in need of encouragement.  Even moms facing everyday challenges of motherhood could use a smile from someone who understands.

Do you want to be the mom who encourages other moms?  I know I do!

Today, I have a simple idea to be a blessing and offer words of encouragement to other mothers.  And trust me, it is easy!  I even have a free printable to help.

So, the first step is deciding who you will encourage.  Are you in a moms’ group or Bible study?  Maybe you can encourage some of the moms on your street or at the bus stop.  Is there a special group of  mothers with which you frequently get together?  Start brainstorming.  With a simple and kind gesture, you could be speaking words of love and encouragement to a fellow mama’s heart.

I decided to send a note and treat to the young moms at my church, those with kids in the Nursery and Toddler Rooms.  I remember back to those baby and toddler years.  They were super fun, but also super tiring.

So here is what I did:  At Walmart, I picked up boxes of Betty Crocker™ Sweet Rewards, the new soft baked bars that are a fun and yummy treat for a busy mom.  If I still carried a diaper bag, you’d find a stash of these bars in there!

There are three varieties:   Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar, Caramel Brownie Bar and Butterscotch Blondie Bar.  Because I wanted to provide a variety for the young moms, I bought all three kinds.  And of course, I had to sample each one so I could tell you which was my favorite . . . which, incidentally was the Butterscotch Blondie Bar . . . hello, my new sweet friend!

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Now if you’re like me, you’ll want to gather your materials and plant yourself on the couch with a cup of tea and an old movie.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • Betty Crocker Sweet Rewards Bars
  • printable tags (download below)
  • a pen
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • jute or a pretty ribbon

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Before you get too cozy, download and print these tags:  Blessing & Encouragement Tags

Note:  if you have the option on your print preview screen, be sure to UNCHECK “Fit to Page.”  This will allow your tags to be slightly larger and print as created.
 

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And don’t forget to sample the bars yourself.  😉
 


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Next, you will need to cut out the tags and punch the holes.
 


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Sign each tag with your name and if you’d like, you can get personal by writing the mom’s name at the top, if it fits your situation.
 

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Punch a hole in the wrapper of the Sweet Rewards Bar.  * * Take care not to break the seal * * You can feel the ridges of the packaging.  Punch within those.
 

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Last, tie your tags to the bars with your jute or ribbon.
 


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Then, you’re all set!
 

Be a mom who encourages others

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I put the bars in a basket with a rough-edged note and will be leaving it in the Toddler Room for the sweet moms to enjoy right away or stick in their bag for on-the-go.
 


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Here is where I found the bars at the store, in the cereal aisle:

Betty Crocker Sweet Rewards

 
Have words of encouragement meant something to you as a mom?  Who can you encourage today? Click here to be inspired and find your blissful moment.

 

How to Find Opportunities to Serve Together

How to Find Opportunities to Serve Together

Over the summer, I had these great aspirations of a big service project for my kids.  But truth be told, it was so busy and overwhelming that I never got to doing one.  How awful is that?

Everything was moving so fast between the house, living at my mom’s and summer camps/workshops.  Life felt so chaotic that it was all I could do to take care of ourselves.  We were too busy to be a blessing.  Too busy to help others.  And that is something that makes me sad.

So when school started, I became more deliberate about finding opportunities to serve together.  I prayed about opportunities and quickly, the Lord presented them.

I asked a woman at our church if there was anything my kids could do to help with our church’s ongoing clothing drive, maybe sorting kids clothes by size.  She came back to me with the dilemma of tangled hangers that caused her much frustration when trying to hang the many clothes.  Sorting hangers was something my kids and I could do to help!  We sorted the types of hangers, grouped by 10 and rubber-banded them together.  We made it through two big boxes and still have more to get to.

Not too long afterward, our church had a outreach ministry night.  A lady came and talked about human trafficking while our children, back in one of the Sunday school classrooms, made bracelets for children of prostitutes in Bolivia.  And while the young kids didn’t know that detail of their lives, they knew they were sending love to children in tough situations.

And as if one-two-three, the following week, one of our local Christian radio stations, 95.5 the Fish, ran a charity drive for Feed the Hungry where they were asking for donations.  My kids and I listened to the broadcast as we drove to school, learning that it only takes $6 to feed a child for a month.  Pulling from their own cash and my contribution, we made a donation.  It wasn’t a large donation, but it was something.  And my kids were considering the needs of others.

You may feel at times, like I did, that opportunities can be hard to find.  That they take too much effort or time.  But what is amazing to me is that the Lord provided opportunities to bless others simply by my heart’s desire to do so.  Serving can be simple.  Sure I hope to take the kids overseas someday on a mission work, but for now, sorting hangers and making bracelets is ok in my book.

Pray for opportunities.  Ask your Pastor or others in charge of different ministries at your church.  Call a food pantry, a homeless shelter or a local charity and ask what their current needs are.  Is there anything that your family can help with?  We don’t need to serve in glamorous ways.  It can be up in a stuffy back room simply being a blessing to another human being.

How about you?  How do you find the opportunities to serve together?

And if you have young ones under foot, check out my ebook, Teach Me To Serve:  99 Ways Preschoolers Can Serve and Bless Others.  It will inspire and motivate you to develop a heart for others in your child.

Softsoap Gift Basket for the Exhausted Mom

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
All opinions are mine alone.  #FreshAndGlow #CollectiveBias

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Do you know a mom who has been running non-stop?  Maybe she is dealing with circumstances that are beyond the usual busyness of everyday life.  Is there a new baby who won’t sleep, extended family challenges or health issues that are wearing on her?  Let’s talk today about being a blessing to the exhausted mom.

We’ve all been there.  The feelings of being pushed to our limits or so overwhelmed with things that we think we may lose it…or if nothing else, simply break down and cry.  Many times there are situations that are beyond our control.  And those are the things that seem to test us the most.  Imagine yourself in this position and then imagine a sweet friend stopping by with a special basket of goodies put together just for you.  Wouldn’t that lift your spirit?

Last week, I went to Wal-Mart and picked up some items to give to a precious mom I know who has a lot on her plate and it seems the hits just keep coming.  I wanted things that would provide this mom with some relaxation and a little pampering.  Have you ever hopped in the shower and opened a new bottle of body wash and found it to be such a treat?  I love opening a new bottle, smelling the scent and feeling how luxurious a thick lather is on my skin.

Softsoap has new Fresh & Glow body washes that sound amazing.  I picked up their new hydrating shower cream with Milk Protein Almond & Coconut Extracts, ready to soothe a mom’s dry, winter skin.  And the exfoliating fruit polish with Apricot Seeds, Orange & Kiwi Extracts (all 100% real) will exfoliate and give her a healthy-skin glow.

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Softsoap Gift Basket

 

What I included in my Softsoap Gift Basket:  Along with the body washes, I added a thick towel, a big bath sponge, a vanilla candle and Peaceful Piano cd.   I loved the color of this basket as well!

 

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A thoughtful gift basket of pampering doesn’t just give a mom a break from everyday busyness, it reminds her that she is cared about and loved.   And incidentally if you are the exhausted mom, let me send you a virtual hug and a reminder that you are loved.  Maybe you need to relax with a special new body wash, too.

 

Softsoap placement in Wal-Mart

 What would you include in a gift basket to pamper a fellow mom?  

The Salvation Army Red Kettle: A Simple Way You & Your Kids Can Help Others

Disclosure:  I participated in a campaign on behalf of Influence Central for The Salvation Army.  I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

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Have you heard the bell? Have you seen the red kettles?

If you have, then you’ve seen The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign and witnessed a simple way you and your kids can “do good” and help others.

The Salvation Army is one of the world’s largest and oldest providers of social services.  Having been in the U.S. more than 130 years now, it’s faith based mission of meeting human needs in His name without discrimination continues to this day.

Did You Know?

Through the public’s generosity in 2013, in the United States alone:

  • The Salvation Army served more than 58 million meals to the needy.
  • 204,000 people received rehabilitation services through donations to Family Stores.
  • Over 203,000 underprivileged children attended day care and summer day camps.
  • The Army provided nearly 10 million nights of shelter.
  • 324,000 people received help during times of disaster.
  • More than 4 million families and children were served during the holidays.
  • More than 1.8 million people received help through senior, medical and institutional services.

Isn’t that amazing?  Another fact to love is that all donations remain in the communities where they originate.

a simple way for you & your kids can help others

 

What The Salvation Army Red Kettle Means to Me?

The Red Kettle is a chance to help others in need.  It is an opportunity for me and my kids to give and bless others, to put into practice remembering the needs of others.  And at its simplest, the kettle is a conversation starter for my family to talk about the less fortunate and the importance of giving.

At a time when it is easy for kids to be absorbed in getting gifts, the Red Kettle is a way to involve our children in helping those in need and reminding them to share from what God has given us.

How to Involve Your Children in the Red Kettle Campaign:

  • Talk about the Red Kettle Campaign and the needs of others.   The Salvation Army serves the homeless, the aged and lonely, the ill, the inmates of jails and other institutions, the poor and unfortunate.
  • Over the next few weeks, count how many Red Kettles your family sees and donate a set amount per kettle.
  • Pick a family donation amount and let your kids contribute by giving of their own money, doing extra chores or even selling toys on Facebook groups to raise money.
  • Skip a meal (or minimize a meal for young children) and donate the money you would have spent to a Red Kettle.  Remind them that many people go without meals because they don’t have the money to buy food.

Salvation Army bell ringer

 

My #RedKettleReason for Giving This Holiday Season:

This year, The Salvation Army is making Red Kettle giving a social experience by encouraging people to share their reasons for giving with the hashtag, #RedKettleReason.  It is a great opportunity to think about why you are giving, the difference your donation can make and learn why the rest of America is contributing to the red kettle.

My #RedKettleReason for giving is because there is a need and I can do something.  We are called to care for those in need and the less fortunate.  My family has been greatly blessed and this is a wonderful opportunity to help others.  

How about you?  What is your Red Kettle Reason?

Share your reason by clicking here to tweet:
My #RedKettleReason for giving is . . .

or Start Your Own Red Kettle at
www.onlineredkettle.org

Learn more by visiting:
www.RedKettleReason.org
www.Facebook.com/SalavationArmyUSA
www.Twitter.com/SalvationArmyUS
www.Blog.SalvationArmyUSA.org

 

 

Make a Difference Mondays

Make a Difference Mondays

Are Mondays hard for you?  If so, we are about to change that!  With this family-directed, service-oriented idea, we are going to take the focus off ourselves each dreaded Monday and start focusing on others.

The idea comes from reader, Kim Sullivan, and she and her family call it: 

Make a Difference Mondays.

Each Monday, Kim and her two boys (ages 8 & 10) find a way to serve others.  Some of their service activities have included making homemade chicken noodle soup for a friend who was sick, her boys helping an elderly neighbor clean up her yard and collecting food for the local food pantry.

One Monday, the boys cleaned out their rooms to find items to donate to others.  Kim had them research different organizations online and select a charity.  In doing the research, the boys discovered that needs of children were many.  So they went back to their rooms and found shoes and clothes they could offer as well.

This past summer, Kim’s husband was the special recipient of the week.  He was having an intimidating surgery so Kim and the boys made him a care package for the hospital.  They researched five Bible verses relating to the comfort that God provides and wrote their dad a letter with each verse, sharing how the verse can help him to not be afraid.  Kim put each letter in an envelope and wrote on the front, “Open If You Are Feeling Anxious” or “Open and Read to Know God is With You.”  The envelopes went into the care package along with pictures, drawings and their dad’s favorite treats.  Their dad wasn’t going to be able to see his boys for five days, so I imagine the care package was very dear to his heart that week.

Other ways Kim’s family focuses on serving:

“We are really trying to instill the concept of having a servant’s heart. We have also done large group activities with their youth group from church.  At Christmas time last year, we went and decorated the dining room at a senior apartment building.  The residents were so appreciative and our youth group got to share the Gospel with a few of them.  It was an awesome experience!  This year, we will be going to our local Senior Center and decorating their Christmas tree.”

Thanks so much for sharing all your ideas with us, Kim!  I love your Make A Difference Mondays.

What would be an idea your family can do together to serve others?

I Can Teach My Child

Showing Love Conquers Hate for an Autistic Child that was Bullied

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As a mom, hearing a story of bullying breaks my heart.  I don’t understand how people can be so cruel and I cannot bear the thought of such behavior towards my own babies.

This story not only breaks my heart but it makes me sick to think of this boy being treated with such indecency.  It is just wrong.

In Bay Village, Ohio three teens challenged one of their fellow students, a fourteen-year-old boy with Autism to take the ALS Ice bucket challenge. But instead of ice water, the teens dumped a bucket off the roof of a house filled with urine, spit and feces on the teen.

Can you imagine?  I am appalled for this boy and his parents.  I cannot imagine their heartache.  But for the purpose of public awareness, they have decided to share the story.  And that is when Give Forward heard about the incident and became involved.

I was recently introduced to Give Forward, an on-line fundraising site, that allows everyday people like you and me to start a fundraiser and show support for someone when they need it most.  To show this boy and his family that love conquers hate, Give Forward has started a fundraiser for his family.  They want him to know that he is a hero for recognizing that what happened was wrong and being able to share it with others.

Often when something bad happens, it can be hard for people to know how to help.  And often, the more people surrounding the person, the less individuals are inclined to do.  There is actually a term for it:  bystander apathy.  Have you experienced it?  Something tragic happens and because there are many other people present, you don’t take any action to help.  You assume someone else will step up.

Give Forward provides a compelling opportunity to respond to injustice and tragedy.  We don’t have to stand by and do nothing.  We can start a fundraiser.  We can contribute to a fundraiser.  And we can show love and support to someone who needs it.

If you would like to join me in supporting this Ohio boy and his family, please click here to donate. #love>hate

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for this post, but please know I believe in this cause and have donated personally.  All opinions are my own.  And if you are curious about the amount of donation that actually goes to the individuals, I am quite impressed with Give Forward’s 99.5%  rate.  

Serving As A Family: “When More Is Not Enough”

Serving as a Family and a look at When More Is Not Enough by Amy L. Sullivan

The other day as my daughter and I were leaving Aldi, we walked past an older gentleman returning his shopping cart to the store. Isn’t that quarter thing brilliant at achieving results?  As we passed by him, a shopping receipt and six dollars in cash fell out of his pocket.  He was unaware.

I stopped him, grabbed his items and promptly delivered them back to the rightful owner.  He was entirely grateful and even made a comment again as he was walking back to his car.  About 3-4 minutes later, as I was still unloading my unbagged cart items into the back of my messy car, he came back with two mini-Snickers.  They were somewhat melted from the heat of the sun and he shared that he keeps them around for his grandchildren, apologizing for their condition.  But nonetheless, he wanted my daughter and I to each have one.

As he was turning to go, I noticed an EKG pad on his chest just tucked behind his button-down shirt.  I wonder what his day was like.  I thanked him and we both went on our way.  As my 5 year old and I drove away, I asked if she knew why he gave us the candy.  She answered correctly and I felt I scored one point in the good example arena of teaching my children to serve.

Now, raising givers most assuredly involves us, the parents, being good examples.  But it is more than that.  It is taking deliberate steps in involving our whole family in turning from self-focus to other-focus.

Amy's bookcover

I recently had the opportunity to read Amy L. Sullivan’s new book, When More is Not Enough – How to Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want and Give Them What They Need.  I have gotten to know Amy over the last year and love her heart for others.  She is the real deal and I am so excited for the launch of this book.

Her book is a must-read for a family wanting to serve.  And it isn’t the kind of book that will make you feel guilty.  Amy is motivating, engaging and … well, she is plain funny too.  Pulling from her own experiences (and let me tell you that this lady delivered a baby on the side of the street with the help of strangers), she will walk you through her family’s experience of turning hearts from an inward focus to considering and acting upon the needs of others.

In This Book, You Will:

  • Discover how to get started serving as a family
  • Work towards goals that engage your family’s interests
  • Be inspired to be generous with your skills, strangers, time, prayer & money
  • Find practical ideas for your home, community and world
  • Open the door to heart-checking conversations in Amy’s Dinner Table Dialogues
  • Find lots of awesome resources in the back of the book

Do you want to start serving as a family?  Then go grab a copy of Amy’s book, When More is Not Enough – How to Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want and Give Them What They Need.

P.S.  ALL proceeds of the book go to support the Transformation Village, a new housing development for women, children and families in crisis in Western North Carolina.

P.P.S.  Check out this great trailer:

Accolades for When More Is Not Enough

 Disclosure:  This post contains an affiliate link.  Please see the my Disclosure Policy on the About Page for more information.