Life in Lape Haven

Archive - March 2016

The Happy Talent of Play

Life in Lape Haven: The Happy Talent of Play. We need to encourage our children to develop their talent for play and make sure that our own skills in that area stay sharp, too.

The other day as I was folding clothes in the living room, the boys were playing a few feet away. Elijah is on Spring Break this week, and while they had been crazy earlier, fighting and whining, Elijah and Josiah were behaving well now and getting along happily. In fact, they were loudly enjoying themselves.

As I worked, instead of blocking them out, I intentionally tuned in through the chaos of the boys playing together to listen to what and how they were playing together.

Just on the other end of the couch where I was stacking clean clothes, the boys had constructed a “fort” with a blanket stretched from the main couch to the end table to the smaller chaise we’d brought down from upstairs on Saturday for more party seating for Josiah’s birthday.

From their little corner hideaway came the giggles and chatter that only come from true play and imagining. With nearly all the pillows in the house either underneath them as their floor or propped up against the piano bench as doors, the boys were pretending to be a king (Elijah) and a prince (Josiah).

I’m not certain what their storyline was because it changed frequently. However, I gathered that there was a “bad guy” that they had to fight, but they didn’t want to leave their castle. With my suggestion that they post trustworthy guards at the gate when they went to battle, Josiah’s new stuffed Chewbacca was recruited and placed at the opening of their fortress.

Probably the best thing I heard that day was their conversation with their new guard as they prepared to go fight:

Elijah: “How many people have tried to get into the castle?”

(Elijah pushes the button on the talking Chewbacca): “Arrrrgghroooowrrr arraaggh.”

Elijah: “Eleven million?”

Chewbacca: “Arrrggghrooowrrr.”

Elijah: “Ok.” To Josiah, “He’s put them all in the jail. Let’s go.”

Josiah: “Ok. Let’s go get the bad guy.”

Chewy makes a pretty impressive guard – he put eleven million people in jail in one day!

I love it when my boys really play like this, using their imaginations and creativity, rather than just wanting to sit and stare at a tablet or TV screen (we like technology and media, but we don’t want our children to be bogged down by it). Actual play allows them to build memories together and bond as brothers and friends, learning how to get along and find unique solutions to resolve their imaginary (and real) conflicts.

I especially love when I can witness them playing together or better yet, join in with them. (Post-birthday-party clean-up had me playing a bit of catch-up with the housework first, though. I did, however, get to play some “Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel” with them a bit later.)

From the time our boys could speak, one of their favorite questions for Brad and me is, “Will you play with me/us?”

And while we know we can’t be at their beck and call all day long, we do our best to get down on the floor, or under the blanket fort, or out in the yard, and play along.

Today we had a chance to visit a local park as a family for about an hour or so, running around the huge playground and exploring the pathways and pond. As we wandered around the area, we went through a rather nice shelter house that had this saying carved over one of the two fireplaces (seriously, fireplaces in the shelter house):

Life in Lape Haven: The Happy Talent of Play. We need to encourage our children to develop their talent for play and make sure that our own skills in that area stay sharp, too.

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” Emerson

Brad laughed at me for snapping a picture of the quote, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget it later.

We were there with our boys, playing, nurturing a talent that I want them to use every day for the rest of their lives and making sure that Brad and I don’t let our own talent for play get rusty.

As parents, we like to encourage our kids in practicing piano or learning to draw or developing any other number of skills, giftings, and abilities that God has given them. This little quote reminded me that I also want my boys to be very talented in knowing how to play, to create their own fun, to make-believe and pretend, and to find joy and adventure in a simple walk around the block or a dash across a field.

We can’t forget the importance of this talent, in both our children and ourselves.

Life in Lape Haven: The Happy Talent of Play. We need to encourage our children to develop their talent for play and make sure that our own skills in that area stay sharp, too.

If you need a little inspiration, here are some fun quotes about the importance of play:

“Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.” –Stuart Brown, M.D.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” – Mark Twain

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good.” – Lucia Capocchione

“Do not…keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” – Plato

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

“Surely all God’s people…like to play.” – John Muir

“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.” – Pablo Neruda

Josiah’s Star Wars Birthday Party

Life in Lape Haven: Josiah's Star Wars Birthday Party. Our littlest boy just turned three, and we celebrated with a fun Star Wars birthday party. Here is the scoop on our costumes, decorations, cake, and more with links to all the printables and recipes I used.

This post contains a couple of affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you use the links. 

Three years ago we welcomed our little daredevil, Josiah, into our family, and this past weekend, in addition to all the Easter festivities, we celebrated his third birthday, Star Wars style.

Now before I get too far into this, I just want to say that we do birthdays the way that we do because our family enjoys it. Before I was a stay-at-home mom, most of the jobs on my resume had event planning as part of my job description. I have fun planning, creating, and setting up our parties and putting my own DIY touches on them. Of course, even though I love doing parties, I also love not spending a ton of money on them because after all, it’s just a kid’s party. So, I try to do a fun party frugally.

In addition, my boys have inherited their mother’s love of playing dress-up, and ever since Elijah attended a cousin’s pirate-themed costume birthday party when he was two, he has wanted to do costumes for his birthday. Since we can usually throw together fun costumes really inexpensively, and we try to pick themes that lend themselves to easy, simple costumes, this has become our family’s tradition.

If you see parties as just a bunch of fuss and bother, that’s fine. Celebrate your way. Even though I scroll through Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, I NEVER feel as though I HAVE to throw a perfect party such as you see on there. We just take the things that will be fun for us and forget the rest.

I also ALWAYS ask my boys what they want to do for their birthday. They are free to say they don’t want to dress up, or we can go to the park or out to dinner, or whatever they’d enjoy (within reason and budget). So far, they have always wanted a party at home with family and costumes. I also let them help decide on the theme.

When Josiah chose Star Wars for his party this year, I was surprised, and I wasn’t.  They’ve only seen parts of the original Star Wars movie (you know, the REAL Star Wars), so I didn’t think they were that into it. However, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Star Wars stuff is kind of EVERYWHERE this year. So, yeah.

 

THE INVITE

With every party we do, I always start with a plan: a theme, color scheme, costume ideas, menu, and an invitation, which I always create in Photoshop. (You could probably use PicMonkey, too, although I never have.) I generally make my invites as a 4×6 or 5×7 because then I can just have them printed like photos if I need to have actual copies to hand out or mail. I also create an event on Facebook, which works well for most of our family. Since we have about 25 people when both sides of our families – Great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins – all come, we usually only have family at these parties.

Here is the invite I created for Josiah:

Life in Lape Haven: Josiah's Star Wars Birthday Party. Our littlest boy just turned three, and we celebrated with a fun Star Wars birthday party. Here is the scoop on our costumes, decorations, cake, and more with links to all the printables and recipes I used.

I found the characters on a free print-out that I downloaded, and I cropped each character out in Photoshop. The font I used is the free font, Star Jedi.

 

THE COSTUMES

When Josiah picked his theme, I knew I was going to be Princess Leia because she’s really the only girl character from Star Wars that my boys know. However, wearing a white long-sleeved, long gown when hosting a 3-year-old’s birthday party is not the most practical idea. Thankfully, Leia had some better options in the other movies, and with white pants, a white turtleneck, and a white puffy vest, plus my snow boots and an updo of Heidi braids, I was able to recreate her look on the ice planet of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back.

Life in Lape Haven: Josiah's Star Wars Birthday Party. Our littlest boy just turned three, and we celebrated with a fun Star Wars birthday party. Here is the scoop on our costumes, decorations, cake, and more with links to all the printables and recipes I used.

Of course, my hubby had to be Han Solo to my Leia, and he had the easiest costume of all: jeans with red masking tape, cream-colored shirt, black vest, and a silver-spray-painted, cardboard cut-out belt buckle on his gun holster.

The boys went back and forth about who they wanted to be, but thankfully Josiah decided on Luke Skywalker (tan pants, a cream tunic, brown belt, and a too-big brown hoodie) over Darth Vader, and Elijah lucked out when I found a Finn costume (from the newest movie & who he really wanted to be) on clearance! Most of the pieces for our costumes were either stuff we already had (I always save our costume items) or things I picked up at the thrift store. Our guns came from the Dollar Tree.

Our Labradoodle, Vinny, was our Chewbacca. I just cut off a piece of brown shelf liner that we had and looped it over him to create a super simplified bandolier. I don’t think he truly appreciated the honor it was to be the coolest Wookie ever.

 

THE DECORATIONS

For parties I usually decorate rather minimally. I make sure that we have a backdrop or decorations at the food table, and then I come up with a background for pictures in the living room.

In the kitchen, I used a black plastic tablecloth hung behind the food table to create an outer space feel. I bought a pack of white paper star cut-outs, spray painted some of them gold and silver, and then taped them to fishing line that was thumb-tacked to our ceiling in front of the background.

Life in Lape Haven: Josiah's Star Wars Birthday Party. Our littlest boy just turned three, and we celebrated with a fun Star Wars birthday party. Here is the scoop on our costumes, decorations, cake, and more with links to all the printables and recipes I used.

A gray paper lantern with a couple of tweaks became our “Death Star” looming over all the goodies. I found a diagram of the Death Star online and printed it out so that the circle for the laser beam was the right size to be proportional to my paper lantern. I also took a black Sharpie and made an equator around its middle.

The addition of a Star Wars movie poster on another wall in the kitchen completed that room.

Our picture backdrop was again made from black plastic tablecloths. Since I’ve used these kinds of tablecloths before for backgrounds, I’ve discovered that the easiest, most secure way to hang them is to fold it over to the length that you need it and tape a hem on one end. You basically create a curtain out of the plastic. I then run a piece of string through the hems and tie it up over our living room pocket doors.

A few more strands of fishing line with stars tacked in front of the plastic curtains, and our picture area was done. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was better than just a plain wall.

 

THE FOOD

We always hold our parties in the afternoons, which means we don’t need to feed everyone a full meal. However, we always have fruits, veggies, and cheese and crackers to snack on before the cake and ice cream are served, plus tea and lemonade to drink. To carry the Star Wars theme through the goodies, I printed out these super fun food labels that were full of great ideas and delightful puns. My favorites were Han’s Rolos and Luke Skywater. I totally bought Rolos just so we could use that. 🙂

We also made our version of “Wookie Cookies,” decorating my regular recipe for No-Bake Cookies with a chocolate candy melt bandolier and white chocolate chips as the ammo. I let my boys add the “ammo,” which they thoroughly enjoyed.

 

THE CAKE

I have made every birthday cake for my boys since Elijah’s very first one, and this year was no exception. I’m not a great cake decorator, but I try to do something fun with them.

For Josiah’s cake, I made a classic white cake and filled it with strawberry jelly and one of my favorite icings, Cloud Frosting. Made with cream cheese, cream, and powdered sugar, this easy, yummy icing is always a hit, plus I knew that it would go well with the strawberry jelly filling.

Life in Lape Haven: Josiah's Star Wars Birthday Party. Our littlest boy just turned three, and we celebrated with a fun Star Wars birthday party. Here is the scoop on our costumes, decorations, cake, and more with links to all the printables and recipes I used.

To make the strawberry filling, I heat a few cups of an all-natural strawberry jelly in the microwave and then stirred in a little over half a package of unflavored gelatin to help it set up better and not make the cake soggy. I had never tried that before, but it worked really well and tasted delicious.

To decorate the cake, I looked everywhere for a simple star decoration or candy. Finding none that would work, I decided to try my hand at homemade marshmallow fondant, using a recipe I found on Pinterest. It worked really well and was actually a lot easier than I anticipated. The worst part was all the powder-sugar fingerprints I left around my kitchen. I only made about ¼ of the recipe, initially thinking I’d just try it out before I made my stars, but when it came together so easily, I went ahead and cut out my stars ahead of time. Once they dried out a bit, I brushed them with a gold icing and let them set up.

Through my Pinterest searching for Star Wars ideas, I came across these free printable Star Wars cupcake toppers, which gave me the perfect toppers for the cake. I cut out the characters and taped them to some bamboo skewers, and with my stars surrounding them, it made a perfectly fun cake for Josiah’s day.

 

ATMOSPHERE, FAVORS, & FUN

One thing that I always try to have ready for our parties is a playlist that matches the theme, and a Star Wars party is nothing without an epic soundtrack in the background. I loved being able to use our Amazon Prime access to their music library and create a playlist with all the songs we needed. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

Technology also helped us create a memorable encounter for Josiah with Darth Vader. My oldest nephew, Jericho, who is a big Star Wars fan, is in the Airforce and stationed in South Carolina. Knowing that he had a Darth Vader costume from last Halloween, I asked him if he would be so kind as to call us on Skype during Josiah’s party while in his Vader costume.

Life in Lape Haven: Josiah's Star Wars Birthday Party. Our littlest boy just turned three, and we celebrated with a fun Star Wars birthday party. Here is the scoop on our costumes, decorations, cake, and more with links to all the printables and recipes I used.

Josiah’s reaction was priceless. While we were all talking to my niece-in-law over Skype, she played a sound bite of Darth Vader’s breathing as Jericho walked into the frame in costume. Josiah ran from where he’d been standing in the middle of the room to the couch along the wall, squeezing in between my sister-in-law and my grandpa. After the initial surprise wore off, though, our little guy had fun getting birthday wishes from one of his favorite characters.

While I had planned to play a game of “Find the Droid” with the kids, one of the Star Wars party games we found, they were all too busy just having fun together to focus, so after Josiah opened his presents and thanks his guests, we handed out the favors for the kids so that they could just keep playing.

Favors are always a maybe-maybe not thing for us at parties. As a parent, I’m not thrilled when my child brings home little trinkets and extra stuff that they didn’t really need. However, as the hostess, if I can find something that is fun token, I try to give the children something. Plus, I think this also encourages my birthday boy not to be as selfish about his day, since I generally have the boys hand them out.

For Josiah’s favors, we gave out Star Wars tote bags (from the Dollar Tree) and bubble wand “light sabers.”

Life in Lape Haven: Josiah's Star Wars Birthday Party. Our littlest boy just turned three, and we celebrated with a fun Star Wars birthday party. Here is the scoop on our costumes, decorations, cake, and more with links to all the printables and recipes I used.

Then just like that, our boys were outside enjoying a beautifully sunny day with their cousins, blowing bubbles and fighting off imaginary Storm Troopers.

I’m pretty certain that the Force was strong with this party, or at least our little Jedi thought so. 🙂


Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid: #2 – My Parents Never Expected Us to Be “Perfect Preacher’s Kids”

Life in Lape Haven: Confessions of a Preacher's Kid: #2 - My Parents Never Expected Us to Be "Perfect Preacher's Kids" - Expecting our children to always behave and never make mistakes is wrong, especially when we place the importance on the outward appearance and not their heart.

Last week I introduced a blog series based on my experiences growing up as a preacher’s kid.  In these “Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid,” I’m sharing what I’ve learned about Christianity, following Jesus, and the church from my behind-the-scenes perspective and how it affects how I’m laying foundations of faith for my own children.

Today’s Confession: My Parents Never Expected Us to Be “Perfect Preacher’s Kids”

We all know that no one is perfect, so saying that my parents didn’t expect their children to be perfect doesn’t seem like that profound of a statement.

However, in some church environments, there is a certain expectation or higher standard held up for not only the minister, but his entire family. They are set up as an example for the entire congregation to follow.

When I say “expectations or high standards,” I’m not talking about God’s standards for those leading His people. Those are a given. Your pastor should be living a life that is pleasing and honoring to God. Absolutely. He should be in fellowship with and accountable to Godly counsel. His house should definitely be in order. (1 Timothy 3:1-13)

But order doesn’t mean perfection or flawless. It means the home is under God’s authority, His presence reigns there, and that the parents are next in the chain of command, leading their children, dependent on God’s grace and wisdom.

Those expectations and standards are right.

However, sometimes people add to this, adding a pressure of perfection to those other requirements that is impossible for any human to maintain. They have an ideal of what they believe that the pastor, his wife, or his children should be like (very friendly and outgoing, always in a great mood, supernaturally holy and reverent, dressed in a certain way, etc.)

And while that can be difficult for a pastor or pastor’s wife, it’s even more difficult for a child.

Children are still learning every day. They make mistakes every day. They will most likely misbehave often. They haven’t perfected the art of sharing and putting others first, so they might be selfish at points. There will be times when they will be loud and rowdy or cranky. Their attention span is generally going to be shorter than an adult’s.

Thankfully, my parents understood this. And while I saw other minister’s children held to impossible standards by their families or congregation members, I wasn’t. That kind of pressure and emphasis on behaving because you’re being watched rather than because it comes from your heart creates someone who is good at playing along with Christianity but their heart is far from Christ. (Isaiah 29:13)

Life in Lape Haven: Confessions of a Preacher's Kid: #2 - My Parents Never Expected Us to Be "Perfect Preacher's Kids" - Expecting our children to always behave and never make mistakes is wrong, especially when we place the importance on the outward appearance and not their heart.

Of course, while my parents didn’t expect unrealistic perfection from us, they did require us to behave as they knew we could and should, based on our age and experience, and they prayed for us and had faith that God would keep us as we grew in Him.

My mother once had a conversation with another woman in ministry where this woman basically told my mom, “Oh, I expect my children to experiment with drinking and other things that they shouldn’t. They’re kids.” My mom’s reply was, “I don’t,” and she defended the foundation that she knew was being laid for us and her faith in God to lead us and His Holy Spirit to convict us. She didn’t demand for us to be super holy and perfect, but she also didn’t give us permission to live like the world. My parents trained us, discipled us, and disciplined us as needed. But our behavior wasn’t about the impression we were making or because we were the preacher’s kids. It was about becoming more like Christ and doing what was right and pleasing to God. If my parents hadn’t been in ministry positions, they would have trained us the exact same way.

As a little girl, I was a talkative, boisterous, wiggly child with boundless energy, a solid stubborn streak, and a temper thrown in just for fun. (My mother has laughed about how much my oldest son is like me, even to the point of telling me that she kind of feels sorry for me since she knows what I have to deal with sometimes.)

If any church member expected me to sit completely still and absorb every word spoken during the sermon and not doodle or fidget or fight with my brothers, they were probably sadly disappointed.

Some people seem to expect a child who is following Jesus to behave like a tiny adult, with a maturity that he or she hasn’t arrived at yet.

I loved Jesus. I absolutely did. But I was still a child, and even as I grew, I wasn’t perfect.

Life in Lape Haven: Confessions of a Preacher's Kid: #2 - My Parents Never Expected Us to Be "Perfect Preacher's Kids" - Expecting our children to always behave and never make mistakes is wrong, especially when we place the importance on the outward appearance and not their heart.

As an adult now, I have to remember that with my own children and the children I teach at church. While I can train my boys to be quiet during prayer (“close your eyes, sit still, clasp your hands” are just tools to help them focus), they aren’t going to last through a ten-minute interceding without at least looking around at some point. I can teach them how to respect God’s house and take care of the church, but they are still going to break out in a run occasionally, either entering or exiting the building, or talk loudly (even yell) when they get excited about something.

And as they grow and mature into older children, then young adults, they still aren’t going to always do everything right or be perfect, but Brad and I are prayerful that they will become more and more sensitive to God’s leading, as we continue to lead them in their walk with God, praying with them and over them and being the examples that they need. We never want their behavior to be based on an outward appearance. We want it to be motivated by their relationship with Jesus and His work in their lives.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Philippians 3:12

Looking into the Tomb

Life in Lape Haven: Looking into the Tomb. Just as it was for the women who came that Sunday morning long ago to prepare the body of Jesus, it can be intimidating, mysterious, and a little scary to look into the tomb and be reminded of sin, death, and sacrifice, but the empty tomb is there to show us Life and Victory.

I didn’t want to do it.

I remember – I really didn’t want to do it.

I was 6 or 7 years old, standing on the stage of our little church, going through dress rehearsal for the children’s Easter production, and playing the part of one of the women who came to anoint Jesus’s body at the tomb. I’m not sure which woman I was supposed to be. All I remember for certain was that my character was supposed to be the one who looked into the empty tomb.

And I didn’t want to do that.

Little girl me didn’t want to look into the giant black hole of the tomb…which wasn’t even a hole. It was a picture, painted on a large canvas as part of our set and scenery. My own mother had painted it.

I knew it wasn’t real, but still there was something intimidating, almost mysterious, and a little scary about it. Sometimes having a good imagination backfires…

So, they switched me with one of the other girls playing another one of the women at the tomb. One who didn’t have to pretend to look in.

It’s laughable now that I was so hesitant. It was just a set.

Or maybe I was just really in character that day.

Wouldn’t the women who’d come to prepare Jesus’s body be slightly unsettled to see the huge stone rolled to one side, exposing the opening of the dark tomb? Wouldn’t they hesitate a little before they went in to investigate?

I’m certain there was something intimidating, very mysterious, and a little bit scary about it.

Yet once they went in, well…it was probably still somewhat intimidating, very mysterious, and a little bit scarier.

Jesus wasn’t there, but an angel or two were.



It wasn’t what they expected when they’d set out early that morning. They’d seen Jesus die, knew that His body had been placed in this borrowed tomb, and though they were no doubt grieving deeply, they were dutifully coming to prepare His body and find some closure.

To find an empty tomb instead?

I don’t know that they were instantly aware of what it all meant. In Mark’s telling of that morning, he says of the women in Chapter 16, verse 8, “So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

After the angel tells them that Jesus is alive and to go tell His disciples that He’s going to meet them all in Galilee (verses 6 & 7), the women flee, trembling, amazed, and afraid until Mary Magdalene actually sees Jesus in the garden later (verse 9).

I’ve often wondered why Easter isn’t celebrated as “big” as Christmas is, even among Christians. Yes, we celebrate Easter, but not with tons of decorations, two months of songs, multiple parties and gatherings, or any of that.

Easter is the biggest point in human history, the most triumphant and victorious, but its joy is different than the joy of Christmas time.

I think the answer is in those verses in Mark.

It’s easy to look into the manger. It’s a lot harder to look into the tomb.

The tomb reminds us of our mortality and our sin. It reminds us of sacrifice and struggle.

Looking into the tomb is intimidating, mysterious, and a little scary.

However, it takes looking in to see that it’s empty, and that emptiness means that sin and death were defeated, that Jesus was and is victorious, and that through Him, we are, too. It’s through the empty tomb that Jesus brought us life.

We may not fully understand the entirety of the miracle, but even an inkling of it is enough to leave us trembling and amazed and in awe of our Mighty God, His love, and His power.

This Easter, take a good look into the tomb. It may be intimidating, mysterious, and a little bit scary, but it’s still empty.

Feature picture courtesy of CreationSwap/Joel Millhouse.

Tried It Tuesday: How to Get Grease Stains (Even Set-In Ones) Out of Clothing

Life in Lape Haven - Tried It Tuesday: How to Get Grease Stains (Even Set-In Ones) Out of Clothing - After finding grease and oil spots on my son's shirts, ones that had already been washed and dried, I decided to find a simple way to get the grease and oil stains out of his clothing.

My children are really doing wonders for improving my laundry skills and stain-treating know-how lately. First it was the hunt to figure out how to get rid of dry erase marker on my 5-year-old’s pants. Then, thanks to my 2-year-old, I learned how easy it is to remove silly putty from fabric.

This week, Elijah’s sloppy eating habits have sent me on a new quest: How to get grease stains – set-in ones, too – out of clothing.

(This post may contain affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission when you use the link.)

Last week my son wore a brand-new yellow polo shirt to church and at lunch spilled pasta sauce on it. My hubby used cold water to sponge it off, and I thought we might have dodged a stain bullet. I even pretreated it before washing it, just to be safe. However, I was disappointed when I went to fold the laundry and saw three very obvious oily, grease splotches on Elijah’s only-worn-once new shirt. Ugh.

Then that night as I was pulling clothes out of his dresser for him to wear to school in the morning, I picked out a long-sleeved dark blue shirt, only to toss it back down in defeat when I noticed that it had some mysterious greasy-looking stains on it, too.

Determined to salvage these two shirts, I looked for solutions online for how to remove grease or oil stains from clothing. Having tried the chalk idea in the past with little success, I skipped that, and we didn’t have any WD-40 on hand, so that knocked out a good number of Pinterest search results for removing grease spots.

Then I found one that promised that I could get the grease out, even if the item had been through the dryer, using only items that I had in my house!

It required Spray ‘N’ Wash stain treater, baking soda, dish detergent, and an old toothbrush. Check, check, check, and check!

I was ready to treat, scrub, and wash, and hopefully save two shirts.

Following the directions I had found, I treated the shirts with Spray ‘N’ Wash and used the toothbrush to scrub it in. Then I heavily dusted the treated areas with baking soda and scrub some more. (Actually, Josiah came in and wanted to help, so I let him do some scrubbing). After that I added some dish detergent, scrubbed a final time, and then let the shirts set about 10-20 minutes.  (The instructions online said you could leave it anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.)

After washing and drying the shirts as usual, I laid them out on the table for inspection.

Sadly, the yellow shirt still had some visible staining, even though it was much less than before. The blue shirt actually looked completely stain-free, however, which made me very happy. It wasn’t until I took a picture of the blue shirt, using my flash, that I could even see even a hint of a small stain or two that I must have missed treating the first time through.

Having evidence that the solution would help, I put the yellow shirt through a second complete stain treating and scrubbing, then washed and dried it again.

This time, the stains were pretty much gone. Again, it only shows up vaguely when I took a picture with my flash on. To the naked eye, it looks like a stain-free shirt again!

Tried It Tuesday: How to Get Grease Stains (Even Set-In Ones) Out of Clothing - After finding grease and oil spots on my son's shirts, ones that had already been washed and dried, I decided to find a simple way to get the grease and oil stains out of his clothing.

So, now I know that Spray ‘N’ Wash, baking soda, and dish detergent are a great combination for getting grease and oil stains out of our clothing.

I wonder what new stain my little boys will find for me to become an expert on next…

Here’s a hint: It’s grass stains! 🙂

Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid – #1 Being Raised in Church Isn’t Enough

Confessions of a Preacher's Kid: Being Raised in Church ISN'T Enough. While having your children in church is a great start and a good foundation for their Christian walk, just being in church isn't a guarantee that your child will follow God all their life. But there is more that you can do to help encourage their lifelong relationship with Christ.

Some of you know that I grew up as a PK – a “pastor’s kid” or “preacher’s kid” –  although I guess the correct terminology would be a “minister’s kid” because my dad wasn’t always in a position as the pastor, but he and my mother have always been in ministry of some kind (music ministry, youth leaders, elder, etc.), even before they were married. Having the upbringing I did has given me a unique perspective on Christian life and a behind-the-scenes view that generally only other kids from ministry families know. Having known plenty of other PK’s, though, I know that my experience wasn’t always typical even among them.

So I’m starting a sort of series for Mondays, for at least a few of them, to share what I’ve learned throughout my life about Christianity, church, and following God’s calling, and how this affects how I approach laying the foundation of faith for my own children.

I’m calling it “Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid.”

Today’s confession: Being Raised in Church ISN’T Enough

Since we were preacher’s kids, most people would say that my brothers and I were “raised in church.” In Christianese, “being raised in church” means that, generally, you come from a Christian home and you’ve grown up attending church regularly (a PK more than attends church – you practically live at church at some points). It means that all your life, you’ve learned about Creation, Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions’ Den, Esther, and all about Jesus’s birth, His ministry on earth, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. You’ve probably learned several dozen memory verses, as well as the books of the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Fruit of the Spirit. You know songs from multiple generations of church-goers – hymns, Sunday school songs with motions, and contemporary praise songs. You know the order of a typical service and when to clap or when to stand.

What “being raised in church” or even being a preacher’s kid doesn’t always mean is that you actually know Jesus and have a solid, growing relationship with Him.

What it doesn’t always mean is that you continue going to church once you are out of your parents’ home and on your own.

What it doesn’t always mean is that you step out and seek God for how to use the gifts and talents He’s placed in you to reach the lost world around you.

It’s sadly true.

Being raised in church is not a guarantee that your child will follow God. It’s a good foundation and a great start, but it’s not a sure thing.

Confessions of a Preacher's Kid: Being Raised in Church ISN'T Enough. While having your children in church is a great start and a good foundation for their Christian walk, just being in church isn't a guarantee that your child will follow God all their life. But there is more that you can do to help encourage their lifelong relationship with Christ.

I’ve seen it over and over again from the time I was young.

As one of the church kids who gave my life to Jesus at an early age (4 years old) and who has continued to grow in Him, stayed in church, and is active in serving, I’ve had parents ask me what they need to do to help their children continue to walk with God throughout their lives. They want to know why I’m “still in church” when other former minister’s kids and church kids are not.

My answer is this: I wasn’t raised in church. I was discipled in church. There’s a HUGE difference. The word “disciple” is more intentional. It means to “teach or train,” while “raise” just means “to grow.” I didn’t just grow up. I was discipled.

(Now I will say, no matter how well you do in teaching your children, you can’t make them follow God. They still have freewill and a choice. However, if they’ve already made the decision to follow Jesus, then they need to be discipled and encouraged to continue growing in their relationship with God.)

I was taught and mentored by people (beginning with my parents) who had a high expectation of what God could do in and through children and young people. My time in Sunday school, children’s church, and youth group were not about entertaining me, keeping me happy, and teaching me to just be a good person. It was about discipling me, training me, preparing me, and teaching me about Who God is, what His Word says, who I am in Him, how the Bible applies to my life, finding out what His plan for my life was, and uncovering my gifts and talents so I could use them to reach and bless others. I had teachers and mentors who challenged me, held me accountable to living in a way that was pleasing to God, and spoke the truth in love into my life.

Confessions of a Preacher's Kid: Being Raised in Church ISN'T Enough. While having your children in church is a great start and a good foundation for their Christian walk, just being in church isn't a guarantee that your child will follow God all their life. But there is more that you can do to help encourage their lifelong relationship with Christ.

One of those teachers was Miss Betty, a mighty, powerful woman of God who adores children almost as much as she does Jesus. She was my Sunday school teacher when I was in second or third grade, I think, but she didn’t water down the gospel for us because we were young. She fervently believed that God could speak to us and that we could understand and hear Him and follow His leading. She emphasized the importance of knowing scripture for ourselves. I remember her telling us that we needed to know what God’s Word said and bring our Bibles so we could see it for ourselves when she or anyone else was teaching or preaching.  She also taught about our authority in Christ and how we could pray, quote scripture, and rebuke the Devil in Jesus’s name.

You might not think that that last point was important for a child or that we shouldn’t scare them with talk of the Devil or demons. But you know what? I needed it. As a little girl of 7 or 8, I dealt with not only occasional fear at night, as most children do, but there was also a time period of what I now know were attacks from the Enemy to steal my peace and rest. Whether it was a few days or a week or so, I don’t remember, but as I was falling asleep at night, I would hear voices in my head, not talking to me, but about me to each other, and they would argue and be nasty to each other. It was just weird and unsettling, and it was NOT my imagination.

However, thanks to Miss Betty and my parents, I knew that my Mighty God was with me, and I knew what to do. I prayed, out loud, and I quoted 2 Timothy 1:7, over and over – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” – until there was peace in my bedroom, my mind, and my heart.

Another person who discipled me was my high school youth pastor, Scott, who is probably the best youth pastor ever. He never let us stay comfortable in our walk with God. From his very first sermon as our youth pastor, he challenged us and pushed us to step out in faith, to go deeper with God, to know His voice and follow Him, and to expect God to do amazing things through our obedience.

When I approached Scott about how so many of our youth would do well in dramas and skits, he looked right back at me and said, “Then why don’t you start a drama team. I’m putting you in charge. You lead it.” That was not what I wanted or anticipated, but Scott was calling me to step up. If God put it in my heart and gave me the vision for it, there was a reason. (THAT was a growing experience for sure.)

Of course, my most important teachers were my parents. No matter how many great preachers or leaders I learned from, my parents were my first examples of what it meant to not just “stay in church,” but to stay in a relationship with Jesus. They lived it out before my brothers and me every day, and not just because they were in ministry or because it was their “job.” It was because they loved God. For my parents, ministry flows out of their relationship with Him. It’s never been about obligation but rather obedience.

Confessions of a Preacher's Kid: Being Raised in Church ISN'T Enough. While having your children in church is a great start and a good foundation for their Christian walk, just being in church isn't a guarantee that your child will follow God all their life. But there is more that you can do to help encourage their lifelong relationship with Christ.

Parents, while there will be tremendous people that God will put in your children’s lives to lead them and train them, you need to be their primary example. You need to disciple your children. Be intentional with your conversations. Let them know how God has changed your life, and share what He has spoken to you lately and how He has used you. Be honest and transparent about how God is stretching you or dealing with you in a certain area. Teach them how to read the Bible and pray. Challenge them to dig deeper in the Word and seek God. Watch for their gifts and abilities and encourage them to find a way to use them for God’s glory. Pray, pray, pray for them. And yes, take them to church.

But if you want to help them have a genuine, thriving relationship with God, don’t just raise them in church. Disciple them.

Perhaps the “preacher calling” runs in the family – Elijah has already given his first sermon!

Want to know what my other “confessions of a preacher’s kid” are?:

#2 – My Parents Never Expected Us to “Perfect Preacher’s Kids”

#3 – I Don’t Talk About God All the Time

#4 – True Ministry Isn’t Easy or Glamorous

#5 – How I’ve Maintained a Strong Faith

Feature picture courtesy of CreationSwap/Bobby Ross.