Life in Lape Haven

Author - Kishona

The Courage in God With Us

The Courage in God with Us - Life in Lape Haven. Throughout the Christmas story, each character was given a task that required them to be brave, especially Jesus. And yet, His courage to come live among us now makes it possible for us to have courage to do whatever God has called us to, knowing that He is Immanuel, God with Us.

In the middle of October I was driving our two older boys to the first practice for our church’s children’s Christmas program.

Elijah had auditioned a week or so earlier, and having earned a part in the cast, he was especially excited.

Josiah, on the other hand, was acting rather miserable. We’d had a busy week, and at not-quite-six-years-old, he usually needs more rest than his older brother, so I thought he might just be tired. But when I asked him what was wrong, he surprised me by saying that he didn’t want to go to practice.

I reminded him that he needed to practice in order to be in the program, but he said,

“I don’t want to be in the program.”

Again I was surprised because at the auditions, even though he was too young to really try out for a big part, he’d eagerly followed Elijah in to the other room when they asked for people who wanted to audition for a solo.

So, I dug a little deeper with him.

“Why don’t you want to be in the program? I think you’d have fun.”

To which he replied, with a little quiver in his voice, “It would make me nervous.”

Knowing that Josiah is my more sensitive child, one who is more shy and struggles at points with confidence, his fear hurt my heart.

The Courage in God with Us - Life in Lape Haven. Throughout the Christmas story, each character was given a task that required them to be brave, especially Jesus. And yet, His courage to come live among us now makes it possible for us to have courage to do whatever God has called us to, knowing that He is Immanuel, God with Us.

Because I knew he would do so well – he’d try hard, learn the songs and motions, and have a great time being a part of it all – if he only gave it a chance.

So this is what I told him:

It’s okay to be nervous or a little afraid. I’m pretty sure everyone will be. It’s a big thing to get on stage in front of lots of people.

But guess what? Sometimes it’s good to do things that we’re afraid of. Because you know the good thing about being nervous or afraid? It gives you a chance to be brave. You don’t need courage when you’re doing something you aren’t scared to do. So it’s okay if you’re nervous because I know you have courage.

Plus, when we decide to be brave and do something scary, it gives us a chance to trust God, and we give God a chance to prove that He’s right there with us, to help us do what we can’t do by ourselves.”

Josiah gave me a quiet “Okay,” and we went to practice.

I didn’t realize the impact of our little conversation, though, until the next week at practice, when he was one of the first kids to volunteer to sing a small line in one of the big numbers. His excitement and pride over being given 3 words to sing by himself (although he does sing them 7 times throughout the song) was precious, and his diligence to practice and work on singing louder and clearer – yes, just those 3 words – has made me so proud of him.

The Courage in God with Us - Life in Lape Haven. Throughout the Christmas story, each character was given a task that required them to be brave, especially Jesus. And yet, His courage to come live among us now makes it possible for us to have courage to do whatever God has called us to, knowing that He is Immanuel, God with Us.

It’s also made me think about how so much of the Christmas story required bravery and courage. Each person who was a part of the events of Jesus’s birth had to decide to trust God even when they were nervous, afraid, intimidated, or even in danger. Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men – God called them all to rather overwhelming tasks. They bravely chose to be obedient, to submit to God’s plan, to have faith that He would be right there with them to help them do what they couldn’t do on their own.

And yet, in some ways, Jesus showed the greatest courage of all.

While I don’t think God actually fears anything, and yes, He knew the outcome and the reason, He also knew what it would cost Him. Humbling Himself, the King of Kings, to leave the gloriousness of Heaven to come dwell among us – the lost, sinful, and broken–in our fallen world. He came loving us and longing for relationship with us, knowing that despite all He would sacrifice, He would be “despised and rejected” by so many (Isaiah 53:3).

And still He came because He wanted to be Immanuel, God with us. (Matthew 1:23)

With us – His Holy Spirit in us – so that when we face challenges, trials, or heartache, He can strengthen us, equip us, and guide us like never before, helping us do things that we can’t do on our own.

With us, so that when He calls us to follow Him, we know He’ll never leave us or forsake us, and we can trust in His good plans for us (even if they intimidate us some times).

With us, so that we can know Him, His grace, and forgiveness and have an eternal relationship with Him, and we can boldly approach the throne as children of God.

With us, so that we have the power to be His witnesses, sharing His love with others as courageously as He did.

And “with us,” so that when a tender-hearted little five-year-old chooses to step out and be brave despite his nerves on the day of his first Christmas program, God will be right there beside him, ready to prove His presence with overwhelming peace and confidence, strengthening Josiah’s faith and trust in the One he’s so proudly singing about and celebrating.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Feature photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

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Homemade “Little Drummer Boy” Drum Christmas Ornament

Homemade Little Drummer Boy Drum Christmas Ornament - Life in Lape Haven. These adorable little drum Christmas ornaments are an easy, affordable craft for you and your kids to make for your Christmas tree or as a holiday decoration.

Growing up with a brother whose birthday is 2 days before Christmas, I learned something: You always keep the birthday and Christmas separate.

Then I married a man who shares his 5-days-before-Christmas birthday with his father, and the separation thing was confirmed as fairly universal for December babies.

And then, of course, I had a baby in December, less than 2 weeks before Christmas. And while last year, I was good and  managed to pull off a non-Christmas birthday party theme for our littlest guy that still went okay with our already-up Christmas décor in the house, this year I’m breaking the birthday-Christmas separation rule… at least a little bit!

Isaiah will still get individual presents for both days, and his birthday presents will not be wrapped in Christmas paper (a big pet peeve for some December babies).

But the theme is “The Little Drummer Boy,” which is totally Christmas….but also TOTALLY Isaiah.

(By the way, this post contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through those links. For more, see my full disclosure.)

Homemade Little Drummer Boy Drum Christmas Ornament - Life in Lape Haven. These adorable little drum Christmas ornaments are an easy, affordable craft for you and your kids to make for your Christmas tree or as a holiday decoration.

From the time he learned to clap, we noticed that our youngest has pretty decent rhythm. At barely a year old, he was mimicking the intro to The Greatest Showman’s “This is the Greatest Show,” complete with well-timed “chhh” sounds for the stomping. He watches the drummer at church closely, and he fights his way into the storage room where his daddy’s older electronic drums are set up. (It was originally for his older brothers, but he pretty much thinks they’re his now.)

The icing on the cake was the day I showed him For King & Country’s version of “The Little Drummer Boy,” and that video overtook his love for “Baby Shark”! Hallelujah!!!!

So, to help tie the party theme in with all our regular Christmas decorations, my mom and I put together some super cute little drum ornaments and drumsticks to add to our tree. I also made a slightly larger drum to use as additional decoration and for Isaiah to play with.

Since they turned out so well and were not hard at all once we figured out a process, I knew someone else out there would like to know how we did it. So here you go.

Homemade Little Drummer Boy Drum Christmas Ornament - Life in Lape Haven. These adorable little drum Christmas ornaments are an easy, affordable craft for you and your kids to make for your Christmas tree or as a holiday decoration.

LITTLE DRUMMER BOY

DRUM CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
SUPPLIES

Round Cardboard Tube (the sturdier the better)

Red Acrylic Paint (Or whatever color you want)

Fabric

Gold Elastic Ribbon (Or similar rope or tie material)

TOOLS

Ruler

Pencil

Paper

Box Cutter or Hacksaw (depending on tubing thickness)

Paintbrushes

Scissors

Needle

Skewer, Nut Pick, or Equivalent “Tool” 🙂

Homemade Little Drummer Boy Drum Christmas Ornament - Life in Lape Haven. These adorable little drum Christmas ornaments are an easy, affordable craft for you and your kids to make for your Christmas tree or as a holiday decoration.

The true idea for the drums came from my mom, who’d saved some industrial cardboard tubes from my grandpa’s screen printing shop a couple of weeks ago. While she’d originally planned some other craft for the tubing, she decided that making drum ornaments were a better use for them. (Thanks, Mom!)

So, while you probably don’t have access to the cardboard tube we used, you could use mailing tubes, an oat box, or even paper towel tubes. However, remember the sturdier the material, the longer your ornament will last – especially with kids around!

The fabric we bought was in the upholstery section and has kind of a suede-y feel. We wanted something strong enough to not rip once holes were poked in it and the ribbon was tied through and pulled taut. We also wanted it to look like something a drum head would be made of, obviously. Thankfully the material was on sale, and we only bought half a yard. Depending on how many drums you’re making, you really don’t even need that much. (So far, we’ve made 6 drum ornaments and one larger drum with plans for at least 4 more ornaments for my nephews and niece).


HOW WE MADE THEM
1. Cut the tubing into drum size

Our drum ornaments were 2-1/2 inches tall. The larger oat box drum was 4 inches. Depending on the size of your tube, decide how tall your drum needs to be. Then, using a ruler, measure the height you want, and make a pencil mark. Turn the tube, and add another mark at the same height. Once you’ve gone around the entire tube, you can use a piece of paper wrapped around the tube to connect your marks and draw a complete line all the way around. You can repeat that process for each additional drum down the tube.

Using a box cutter or hacksaw or similar sharp tool, carefully cut along your lines.

2. Paint your drums

We used acrylic red paint and paint brushes that we already had and painted the drums, making sure to keep the strokes on the same direction. We even let all three boys help us, and their drums turned out just fine.  It only took two coats for the ornaments to be fully covered.

3. Cut out the drum head

This was, by far, the trickiest part of the process, as we needed to figure out the right shape and size. We settled on a rounded hexagon shape, and then my mom cut it down more to a slightly sheriff’s badge shape. 🙂

To save you time, I’ve scanned our pattern, so you can download it and resize as needed. This is the size we used for the ornaments, and this is the size I used for the larger drum.

Just trace the pattern on the backside of your fabric, and cut it out. You’ll need two drum heads for each drum you’re making.

Homemade Little Drummer Boy Drum Christmas Ornament - Life in Lape Haven. These adorable little drum Christmas ornaments are an easy, affordable craft for you and your kids to make for your Christmas tree or as a holiday decoration.

4. Lace your drum heads together

On the underside of each drum head, use a needle to poke a small hole in the center of each of the six points, leaving a little fabric so the tab won’t rip easily.

To make the holes large enough for our gold elastic ribbon to go through, we widened them using a nut pick or wooden skewer, because that’s what we found worked. 🙂

Once you have two drum heads with ribbon holes, lay one top-side down and place the other on it, top-side up, but so that the points are staggered, not directly aligned. Then lace them together, taking your ribbon through the top side of each. Stitch them until you have only two or three holes left. Don’t pull the ribbon too tight, as you’ll want enough ribbon to stretch over the sides of the entire drum.

We didn’t measure and the cut the ribbon. We just worked from the spool, leaving extra length on the end to be tied off later.

5. Put the drum heads on the drum

Separating your laced drum heads, slide them over the (dried) drum. Once it’s all together, adjust the drum heads so that they are centered and even on the drum. Then adjust the ribbon to be spaced neatly and taut.

(Note: On my larger drum, I used two of the plastic oat box lids on the top and bottom of my drum – cut from an oat box- to give it more stability since I knew Isaiah would be handling it.)

To finish it up, lace the last sections together, adjust your ribbons, cut it from the spool, tie the ends together, trim them, and tuck them under one of the points of the drum head.

 

TO HANG THE DRUM ORNAMENTS

You could either just set the drums in the branches of your tree (which is what I did), or you can attach an ornament hook to one of the ribbons.

Homemade Little Drummer Boy Drum Christmas Ornament - Life in Lape Haven. These adorable little drum Christmas ornaments are an easy, affordable craft for you and your kids to make for your Christmas tree or as a holiday decoration.

BONUS:  Drumsticks!

For our little drummer boy, we couldn’t have drums without some drumsticks! So here’s how we made some simple drumsticks for the tree.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Dowel Rods (matched to fit into the knob – ours were .312 in diameter)

Wooden Knobs (ours were a 3/8” hole)

Paint

Glue

Ribbon


HOW MAKE A DRUMSTICK

1. Glue a wooden knob onto the end of a dowel rod. We just squirted glue into the knob hole and put the dowel in. Apply a little pressure, then set it aside to dry. You could also use hot glue. We placed ours in a Mason jar while they dried.

2. Once the glue dries, trace a ring around the center of the knob. We used a piece of ribbon that was the right thickness. Just wrap it around the knob, and trace with a pencil.

3. Paint the ring. Again, we put them in the jar as they dried. Then we erased any showing pencil mark.

4. Criss-cross two drumsticks slightly and tie them together (around and between) using a ribbon.

5. Stick them in the tree or on top of a larger drum.

There you go! Cute little drum ornaments and drumsticks for your Christmas tree or other holiday decorating.

Homemade Little Drummer Boy Drum Christmas Ornament - Life in Lape Haven. These adorable little drum Christmas ornaments are an easy, affordable craft for you and your kids to make for your Christmas tree or as a holiday decoration.

 

 

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Our Simple Approach to Family Devotions

Our Simple Approach to Family Devotions & Tips for Your Family Bible Time - Life in Lape Haven. Sometimes the thought of doing family devotions or reading the Bible with your kids can be overwhelming & daunting. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here's the simple way we do devotions as a family and some tips for your family's Bible time.

& Tips for Your Family Bible Time

 

Recently my boys had nearly a week off school, and they surprised me a bit by falling right back into the routine I’d started with them over the summer of doing a mini Bible study and journaling time at breakfast. In fact, they actually ASKED to do it, and of course I wasn’t going to say, “No.” 

 

Because we all want our kids to WANT to read the Bible, right?

But I know that sometimes just the thought of doing devotions or reading the Bible with your kids can seem overwhelming. We realize it’s important to lay a good Godly foundation for our children, and we really want to do this part of our parenting job well, but getting them to pay attention, knowing what to read, thinking “am I doing it right?” or “am I doing enough?” – it can be daunting and immediately discouraging.

I think that is why I was surprised that my boys were asking about doing our morning Bible time. To me, my efforts this summer to spend time in the Bible with our boys felt unorganized and nowhere near the thoughtfully planned out and neatly executed ideal I’d had in my head.

Life, however, said, “You barely have time to get a shower, let alone write out a 2-month daily Bible study for your boys right now.” Maybe someday…but not yet.

So instead of waiting until I had time to create my fabulous summer Bible plan, we used a very simple approach, and I just started doing it. (And if you are looking for tips, that’s your first one!)

Our Simple Approach to Family Devotions & Tips for Your Family Bible Time - Life in Lape Haven. Sometimes the thought of doing family devotions or reading the Bible with your kids can be overwhelming & daunting. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here's the simple way we do devotions as a family and some tips for your family's Bible time.

(This post contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission when you use those links. For more details, see my full disclosure.)

 

START SOMEWHERE

Since our boys were little ones, we’ve been reading the Bible or at least one of their little storybook type Bibles, to them at bedtime. So we’d technically already started somewhere.

For our summer, though, I wanted to do a little in the mornings since that would give us more focused time.

I also grabbed a few composition notebooks one day at the store, and voila – Bible journals! No, journals are not at all necessary, but for me, it was a way to say, “Yes, we are doing this. This is one way we will set aside this time.”

Plus, both of our older boys love drawing, so this was also a way to get them to focus that interest on Jesus for a bit.

The next morning, I brought my Bible and the notebooks to the breakfast table. Even though I didn’t have a set plan, I picked a set of verses, read it out loud to the boys, talked about it with them, and then had them choose one of the verses that I’d read to write or draw about in their journal. (I figured if a verse stood out to them, there was probably a reason).

That was it.

For our morning time or nightly reading, that’s how we do it. Brad or I read a section of scripture (a Bible story, a Psalm, or a random verse), and we talk with the boys about what it means, how it applies to us, and how it fits with other things they’ve already learned. We also pray about it, that His Word would be impactful, changing us and helping us to be more like Him.

There was no particular theme or guideline really for our summer. Sometimes I found a verse or story to answer a question they had or in response to a situation or because they just wanted to read it. Other than that, it was whatever I had on my heart that day.

Some days we had more time to read and draw/write, and others we only spent a few minutes. It’s not so much about daily quantity as it is about really letting at least one verse or main idea get into their hearts.

And of course, once they started back to school, mornings were a bit too crazy. So we went back to doing more of our discussion and longer readings in the evening at bedtime, minus the journaling time after.

It doesn’t matter when you do it, but again, just that you do something, start somewhere.

 

GETTING THEM TO PAY ATTENTION
KEEP IT SIMPLE, BUT NOT SUGAR-COATED

While I’d love to dive deep into all the symbolism and connections intertwined within the pages of the Bible with my guys, but right now, some of that is way over their heads.

We need to keep it somewhat simple, something they can understand easier, but also allow room for them to be challenged and discover new things.

So, while we’ve kind of steered clear of Leviticus and Revelations for the present, we don’t just stick with Noah’s Ark or Daniel in the lion’s den. Nor do we edit everything out, within age appropriateness (Song of Solomon, however, will be waiting a little longer, too :)).

I remember when Elijah first read about how David cut off Goliath’s head after their infamous match. He said, “They never told us that at church!” as if we’d been holding out on him.

I said, “Well, sometimes they have to be careful about the preschoolers and younger kids.”

But he’s old enough now that that detail fascinates him and makes him want to dig into God’s word more.

And it’s not just the battles and warriors that draw him – although being a boy, he loves those – we also had a really good discussion about God’s holiness and the importance of obedience after reading about how Uzzah died when he touched the Ark of the Covenant, even though it seemed he was being helpful (2 Samuel 6). It’s not an easy thing to explain, maybe, but it is foundational for them to understand and think about.

Those details and discussions are why we don’t always read entire chapters or passages or stick to a schedule for our day’s reading. Sometimes one verse needs explained or a word like “righteousness” needs defined.

And if you don’t know the answer for them, be honest. Then look it up together and pray about it.

Again, it’s about getting the Word into their hearts and giving God room to move in them, not just following a checklist.

Don’t be afraid to broach the big topics that are within your child’s capability to at least start to grasp, and also don’t worry if they completely understand everything. I daresay, we adults don’t understand it all yet, either.

EXPECT THEM TO BE CHILDREN

Of course, even if you’re reading the most entertaining or well-loved Bible story to your kids, keep in mind that they are still children. Expect shorter attention spans (another reason for reading less at a time) and fidgeting.

When you’re reading, read with enthusiasm and stop often during longer passages to make sure they are following and understanding. Pay attention to the words you’re using, too. “Sanctification” might need some clarification. (Again, it’s okay to Google it if you need help! 😉 )

I’ve also found that it helps my boys to have something small to do, like coloring or Legos or even eating breakfast, while they listen to the reading. (There have actually been studies done showing that fidgeting helps with concentration.)

So give them some leeway. Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be a somber, hushed time. If they are being respectful and attentive in their attitudes, allow them to wiggle, giggle, and ask questions.

 

KNOWING WHAT TO READ

Sure, I said that we didn’t use a plan for our devotion time this summer, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t ever use a devotional book, guide, or that we stick to one Bible for all of our reading.

When they are very young, we read from a children’s story Bible, even a board book, or use the YouVersion Bible app for Kids (Isaiah, my nearly-2-year-old has been getting into this and wanting to read “ba-ba” – Bible – before his bedtime).

For older toddlers and preschool-age, I also really love Steadfast Family’s Play Through the Bible, which gives you creative ways – crafts, snacks, games – to talk about the same Bible story throughout the day or week in a way your little one will grab onto.

Once they get a little older, you can upgrade to a “big kid’s” Bible (Elijah LOVES his Action Bible & his Kids Study Bible), or even go straight from your own Bible. We’ve used Elijah’s study Bible more recently so that they get those extra details I mentioned before.  We’ve been working our way through some of the “history” books in the Old Testament, and it’s been full of great lessons and take-aways as well as plenty of action and adventure for our boys.

In addition, we’ve been reading Priscilla Shirer’s Unseen devotional that goes along with her awesome children’s fiction series, The Prince Warriors, that our whole family loves. Both the devotional and books are all about the armor of God and spiritual warfare.

I’m also looking forward to starting Our 24 Family Ways by Clay & Sally Clarkson with our boys in the new year.


REPETITION

Since we were already in the habit of reading something from the Bible at bedtime, during the summer, for our nighttime reading, I tended to reiterate what we’d talked about in the mornings, or  I’d have my boys remind us what we’d studied earlier in the day.

Because just like everything that our children learn from day one, repetition is huge in helping them learn, remember, and apply what they’ve learned.

So there’s nothing wrong with reading the story of King Josiah or Elijah on Mount Carmel (favorites with our boys for obvious reasons) again…and again…and again. Just as God does with us, our kids can notice new things each time they read His Word.

And of course, memorizing verses through repetition is great for them (and us!)

AM I DOING ENOUGH & DOING IT RIGHT?

Perhaps the best lesson I learned from seeing how eager my boys were to do their morning devotions after thinking I was just “doing something” instead of my “ideal” was this: God’s Word can stand on its own. It doesn’t need all my embellishments and fanfare to be effective and life-changing.

So it isn’t dependent on my eloquence or even me totally understanding everything there is to know about the Bible.

My boys still remember the verses or stories if I mention them. They’ve both shown growth in their walk with God. Somehow, despite my kind of winging it at times, God’s Word was and is being hidden in my children’s hearts and taking root.

Is it okay to give my kids activities and organized lessons to help them understand and remember a scripture? Sure. Does having a plan ensure that you cover a lot more of the Bible with your children? Probably.

But even without those things, God can reach our children’s hearts when we just make the time to bring them His Words.

(Of course, we should be living it out for them daily, as well, as “living epistles” who show them the value of time with God by spending time with Him ourselves.)

Our responsibility is setting the table, if you will. Opening the Bible and sharing it with them. Giving them a chance to taste and see just how good God is. Planting the seeds and praying that He brings the harvest.

If you’re doing that, it’s enough. You’re doing it right.

Because it’s God and His Word alone that stirs the hunger and feeds our spirits, even in the youngest hearts.

Does your family do “devotional” time together? What are some of your favorite resources?

Get more ideas & encouragement from this real-life mom as I experience God’s faithfulness through the joy and chaos of motherhood.

Join my email list!  

 

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How We’re Saving on Back to School

How We're Saving on Back to School, Life in Lape Haven. With two boys heading to school this year, we have twice the supplies to buy as we outfit the boys for their new year. So, I've been looking for ways to save and tips that will stretch our back to school budget as we get ready for that first bell in a couple of weeks. Here are ways we've been saving so far and how you can, too.

While it seems like only yesterday that we saw Elijah off on his first day of kindergarten, unbelievably he’s heading into 3rd grade in a few weeks, and it’s our sweet Josiah who’s getting excited about starting school this year. Knowing how wonderful Elijah’s kindergarten experience was for all of us, we aren’t really worried for Josiah – we know he’s going to love it. But it does mean that we now have two kiddos to get outfitted and supplied for a new school year. Having to get twice the stuff means I’m looking for all the ways we can save money and time that I can, and I thought I’d share some of the best deals and tips from our back-to-school preparations so far. (By the way, this post contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through those links.)

How We're Saving on Back to School, Life in Lape Haven. With two boys heading to school this year, we have twice the supplies to buy as we outfit the boys for their new year. So, I've been looking for ways to save and tips that will stretch our back to school budget as we get ready for that first bell in a couple of weeks. Here are ways we've been saving so far and how you can, too.

SHOP THE CLOSET

Before we even started shopping bargains and deals, the boys and I sorted through all their clothes. Yes – all the clothes currently in their dresser and closet. I had them try on anything they hadn’t worn in a while and weeded out clothes that didn’t fit or ones that they simply didn’t wear or like. (With all the clothing swapping we do among both sides of our family, not every kid likes the same stuff). It actually didn’t take all that long, even though the boys weren’t especially enthused about the process.

However, we discovered that Elijah has grown way too much this summer and basically needs an entire pants overhaul, while Josiah is pretty much set to start the year with what he has, minus some new tennis shoes and socks. And as I said, we share clothes with lots of cousins – a perk to having pretty much all boys and all living within 20 minutes of us – so we have a good supply of winter clothes in the next size up for Josiah and even some for Elijah.

Of course the other “closet” I shopped was my stash of school supplies that I already have at home. Not only do I keep whatever comes home unused or in decent shape at the end of the school year, but I also try to buy extra at the start of each school year when everything is at its cheapest. My stock pile already had a few bottles of glue and a good supply of pencils as well as Elijah’s pencil case, a couple pairs of scissors, and more. Unfortunately, keeping the boys out of the stash the rest of the year, especially over the summer, has been tricky…so we didn’t have as much to pull from as I’d hoped. But I guess they’ve been staying busy with crafting, drawing, and coloring while I’m cleaning or cooking, so I can’t complain too much. 🙂

How We're Saving on Back to School, Life in Lape Haven. With two boys heading to school this year, we have twice the supplies to buy as we outfit the boys for their new year. So, I've been looking for ways to save and tips that will stretch our back to school budget as we get ready for that first bell in a couple of weeks. Here are ways we've been saving so far and how you can, too.

EBATES

You’ve heard me talk about this site before, but let me just say it again – We love Ebates.com. It’s a site that gives you cash back just for buying what you were already planning to buy! Anytime you’re shopping online, start at Ebates and search for the online store you want to buy from. You can also install the Ebates toolbar app, which will blink green when Ebates offers anything on the site you are shopping. Having it in my toolbar has helped me save money so many times when I would have forgotten to start at the actually Ebates site. Either way, you’ll earn cash back on your purchases, and they often have coupon codes that can be applied to your order as well.

For Example: Josiah needed a bookbag, of course, and since we knew Elijah’s had only lasted him a little over a year, we wanted to find one that was going to be extra sturdy. From researching I found a few highly recommended companies (most sites said LL Bean, Pottery Barn Kids, & Lands’ End), and we started looking.

When I got to Lands’ End, I saw that they offered a “40% off one item” coupon when you signed up for their email, so I did. That would make one of the more highly reviewed backpacks the same price as the average bag on Amazon or the store. It was a good deal!

But, as we looked for Josiah, Elijah (watching over his little brother’s shoulder) found one that he really liked. Curious, I clicked on the Ebates button on my tool bar (which was already working for us to give us 2% back), and I looked at the coupon codes listed. Tah-dah!!!! They had a “40% off YOUR ENTIRE ORDER” code, which allowed us to get 2 sturdy bags at a huge discount and gave us free shipping, plus our cash back. Win-win-win!

I can’t promise you’ll always find that great of a coupon code, as they change constantly, but knowing that Ebates has usable codes at the ready without me having to search for them is a great timesaver.

(Oh, and Elijah’s bag from last year would have been fine to start the year with, but it was already showing enough wear that we know it wasn’t going to last the entire year. Here’s hoping these bags live up to their reputations!)

If you don’t use Ebates already, you can sign up via this link(Plus, you’ll get a $10 bonus once you’ve purchased over $25 online – easy to do when prepping for a new year!) Not only is this site great for online back-to-school shopping, but it’s amazing during the holidays!

How We're Saving on Back to School, Life in Lape Haven. With two boys heading to school this year, we have twice the supplies to buy as we outfit the boys for their new year. So, I've been looking for ways to save and tips that will stretch our back to school budget as we get ready for that first bell in a couple of weeks. Here are ways we've been saving so far and how you can, too.

Look how big Elijah’s first backpack looked on his little kindergarten self!

AMAZON

Speaking of online, with a little comparison shopping, you can save money by buying certain supplies online. And if you’re using Amazon Prime, you can often get them with free 2-day shipping!

One of the supplies we got this year was a big pack of Expo Dry Erase Markers. If your kids’ school supply list is like ours, it can request anywhere from 4 to 6 or more dry erase markers, depending on the grade. This year we needed 10 total. So when I searched Amazon and found a 12-pack of Expo Dry Erase Markers for just over $7, I knew that was a great deal because Walmart had the same brand and size in an 8-pack for almost $15. (Not sure how long that deal will stay at that price, though, as Amazon’s prices can fluctuate).

By the way, if you have a student heading to college this year (or one heading back), they can get a 6-month FREE trial of Amazon Prime, which includes special deals for them plus the awesome 2-day free shipping. Plus, if they decide to join Prime, they get it at 50% off!

 

CHEAT SHEETS & DEAL SITES

One of the ways that I knew those dry erase markers were a deal was because I had a supply list cheat sheet!

Last year I discovered the Back-to-School Cheat Sheet that Laura from the Passionate Penny Pincher puts together, and it made our supply shopping a breeze. It compares the prices at 4-5 major stores for the most common school supplies, so you can tell when something is a decent deal or a great deal. I made sure to download it again this year, and in one trip, we quickly crossed off most of the boys’ lists at the lowest prices. You can get it here.

Crystal Paine, the MoneySavingMom, also keeps up with all the deals at back-to-school time, and she updates her site daily with the best deals that she’s found and how to save even more when you use coupons on top of the sales. You can find her running list of Back to School Deals here.

 

ALDI & DOLLAR STORES

When it comes to the paper products, plastic bags, disinfectant wipes, tissues, and such on your child’s school list, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on brand names. Aldi is where we stock up on those. I mean, we use them regularly in our house, so we know they are decent quality. They just don’t cost as much. 🙂

And sometimes you can score deals on random items at your local Dollar Store. They even take coupons!

 

TAX-FREE WEEKEND

Here in Ohio, the first weekend of August is a state-wide tax-free weekend on all things back-to-school, from supplies, clothes, shoes, and even diapers!

We’ve never had the chance to take advantage of the tax-free weekend yet as we’ve had family commitments or something else the last few years on that weekend. However, this Friday, we’re planning to do our shopping for the boys’ clothes and shoes because that’s going to be the higher priced shopping trip. Plus, buying the school supplies earlier meant the boys had more options to pick from, and we won’t have them out all day long on what is probably going to be a crowded shopping day. 🙂

Here’s more information on Ohio’s Sale Tax Holiday

About 14 other states also have special tax-free days near back-to-school time. You can search online or check this list for details on how and when you might be able to save a little more!

 

So, that’s how we’ve been saving as we get our two older boys ready to head off for another year of learning.

What are your best tips for back-to-school preparations? Have you found any great deals this year? 

Get more ideas & encouragement from this real-life mom as I experience God’s faithfulness through the joy and chaos of motherhood.

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Finding Strength in the Midst of Messy Motherhood

Finding Strength in the midst of Messy Motherhood, Life in Lape Haven. Difficulties, struggles, failures make up a lot of our mothering journey, and we can't face them alone. Thankfully God is ready to give us His strength and use our legacies, the good and bad, for His good, including leaving a mom legacy that leads our children to Jesus.

This past weekend did NOT go as planned, not in the slightest bit.

And we had plenty of plans. I had plenty of plans.

A friend’s daughter’s birthday party, a fun surprise family event, teaching the preschool class on Sunday morning, writing this post (only not with THIS story in it).

Instead, I had two children down with a pretty nasty stomach bug.

Worse yet, I was down, too, and more completely than my kids.

And it was frustrating.

I couldn’t do much of anything. I was beyond tired and barely able to do more than just lie around. These weren’t the memories I’d wanted us to make for this weekend (or any weekend ever, honestly).

But still, there I was. Trying to comfort a cranky toddler (one who was suddenly wanting to nurse more than the twice a day we’ve weaned down to) when I felt weaker than I have in a looonnng while. And trying to referee our oldest two (as I lay on the couch) – one who was sick and one who’d started this whole sick business earlier in the week and was now feeling better – as they took full advantage of the lax in structure and routine.

My husband was there to help most of the time, but still, giving when I felt so depleted myself was hard. It was exhausting.

It was motherhood.

Of course, this is not the part of being a mom that we talk about with expectant mothers at a baby shower, but every mom has been through, or will go through, some version of my weekend at some point – probably more than once.

In fact, messy, less-than-picture-perfect moments make up a lot more of our mothering journey than we’d like to admit.

Finding Strength in the midst of Messy Motherhood, Life in Lape Haven. Difficulties, struggles, failures make up a lot of our mothering journey, and we can't face them alone. Thankfully God is ready to give us His strength and use our legacies, the good and bad, for His good, including leaving a mom legacy that leads our children to Jesus.

They don’t all have to be literally messy (yes, there are PLENTY of those), but difficulties, loss, disappointments, struggles, insecurities, failures – we moms face them pretty much daily.

And often, we try to face them on our own because, after all, we’re #MamaBears, #OneToughMomma, and so on – which, to an extent is good, because #MomminAintEasy.

But even as amazing as moms are, we aren’t strong enough on our own to face everything we will go through. To be honest, we aren’t strong enough on our own to face MOST of what we’ll go through.

As weak as I felt physically over those days of sickness, I’ve felt even more so as a mom when I’ve not known what to do to help my kids or when I’ve blown it – yet again. Thankfully, the Bible reminds us that:

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

We don’t have to do this alone or in our own strength.

Because, as I’ve said often, parenting isn’t something we were intended to do independent of God.

Days that I try to parent in my own strength always end up as disasters.

But when we allow God to guide and strengthen us, He brings joy, peace, and purpose to our chaos and frustration. Yes, He can use even our disastrous days for good, even if it’s simply drawing us closer to Him.

When we allow God to guide & strengthen us, He brings joy, peace, & purpose to our chaos & frustration.Click To Tweet

Of course, this means spending time with Him, in His Word and in prayer, and while finding the time can be hard with all the demands and busyness that come with motherhood, it is so vital. Not only for ourselves and our outlook, attitude, and strength, but also for our children.

They need to see that our relationship with God is a priority and that He is our true strength. Our children witnessing God’s presence in our lives is one of the ways He can redeem even our worse weaknesses and failures.

In her new devotional, Leaving Your Mom Legacy, my blogging friend Kristina Gorr of Messy Tired Love (whom you might remember from our recent Mom Life series) reminds us,

“Even in the midst of the messy tired love mom moments that tell us we don’t have time, we’re too tired, we’ll never make it, God’s Word won’t disappoint us.”

She further encourages us that as we focus on our relationship with, and obedience to, Jesus that “our mom legacy will be unshakable, spirit-filled, heaven-bound, and eternal. Not only will our children see God’s glory through us, so will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

I was taking lots of encouragement from her words over those not-so-great days this past week when everything was crazy, and I was really glad that I’d had the privilege of reading her debut devotional to share with you because I needed it oh, so much myself.

(By the way, this post contains affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you use the link.)

Finding Strength in the midst of Messy Motherhood, Life in Lape Haven. Difficulties, struggles, failures make up a lot of our mothering journey, and we can't face them alone. Thankfully God is ready to give us His strength and use our legacies, the good and bad, for His good, including leaving a mom legacy that leads our children to Jesus.

Leaving Your Mom Legacy is a 30-day study all about letting God use every bit of your story –even the messiest, most disappointing parts – to grow you and, at the same time, help point your children to Christ.

In the first part of the book, Kristina uses examples of mothers from the Old Testament, many of whom had struggles and plot-twists beyond anything  I’ve ever had to go through, to show us how our lives can relate to theirs and how God stepped into it all and used their legacies – the good and bad – for His glory.

Then she challenges us to be moms who are intentional about the legacy we are leaving, outlining several Biblical characteristics and habits for us to pursue that will lead us closer to God and help us fulfill His purposes for us as we live the example we want our children to follow.

This devotional isn’t a fancy-phrased, fluffy read, but rather an honest sharing of her heart’s desire as a mother to live a life that directs her children to Jesus.  Kristina’s transparency and vulnerability free us as fellow moms to believe that God can use our legacy, no matter where it started or what’s been thrown our way or what choices we’ve made, to shine His grace, truth, and power into our children’s lives.

Kristina also includes plenty of scripture references in full, so that you are getting encouragement straight from the Bible, too. She knows all about mom life and the effort it takes to make time to feed our spirits. Her clear purpose is always for us to draw closer to God and hear His voice, and her short devotional selections create a springboard of sorts, with each day’s scripture and “Daily Reflection” designed to lead you into more personal time seeking God, journaling your heart, and growing in Him.

Because a mom who finds her strength in the Lord, even during those frustrating, messy moments – and weekends – of life, will leave an amazing legacy that her children will be compelled to follow, and it will be one that leads them straight to Jesus.

————-

Thank you, Kristina, for the opportunity to share about your book. (While I did receive the devotional as part of her launch team, all opinions about it are my honest thoughts. I truly did enjoy it!)

Finding Strength in the midst of Messy Motherhood, Life in Lape Haven. Difficulties, struggles, failures make up a lot of our mothering journey, and we can't face them alone. Thankfully God is ready to give us His strength and use our legacies, the good and bad, for His good, including leaving a mom legacy that leads our children to Jesus. If you’d like to learn more about Kristina (a fellow Ohio native!!!) or read more from her, you can follow her online devotional site, Messy Tired Love, and you can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Finding Strength in the midst of Messy Motherhood, Life in Lape Haven. Difficulties, struggles, failures make up a lot of our mothering journey, and we can't face them alone. Thankfully God is ready to give us His strength and use our legacies, the good and bad, for His good, including leaving a mom legacy that leads our children to Jesus.She’s also set up a FABULOUS GIVEAWAY that you can enter for your chance to win not only her devotional, but lots of other awesome goodies as well. —> GO ENTER!

Of course, as I love doing when I find a book that I know will be a blessing and encouragement to my readers, I’m also giving away a copy of Leaving Your Mom Legacy, so make sure you enter below!

And if you just can’t wait to see if you’ve won, and you want to start learning how to leave a powerful mom legacy right now, you can grab it for your Kindle or order the paperback on Amazon.

— LEAVING YOUR MOM LEGACY GIVEAWAY —

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Thanks for entering! This contest is open to residents of the U.S. only and runs from Thursday, July 26 (12:00 a.m.) through Thursday, August 2, 2018, at 11:59pm EST (I know, specific.).  The winner will be notified by email within 48 hours of the contest ending. Winner has 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected.

 

Get more ideas & encouragement from this real-life mom as I experience God’s faithfulness through the joy and chaos of motherhood.

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How God Can Use Your Faithfulness in Motherhood

Growing Up On Manna: How Your Struggles Can Build A Legacy of Faith for Your Children 

What I’ve Learned About My Wife’s Life as a Stay-At-Home Mom  {Mom Life Series}

 

5 Lessons for Motherhood from History’s Only Perfect Teacher {Mom Life Series}

Mom Life Series: 5 Lessons for Motherhood from History's Only Perfect Teacher. Day 5 of the Mom Life Series features a post by Lisa of The Merry Momma. She's sharing what she's learned from the world's greatest parenting expert & teacher.
All this week, I’m sharing my blog space with 4 very dear blogging friends who also write to inspire and encourage moms. Together we are bringing you a special 5-blogger collaborative series all about life as a mom. It’s aptly named the Mom Life Series. 🙂

What I've Learned About My Wife's Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom, Told by a Dad at Home Unexpectedly: My husband thought he knew what my days as a stay at home mom looked like - cleaning and taking care of our children. However, when he unexpectedly found himself with time "off," he got a front row seat to my everyday and a new understanding and appreciation for life as a stay at home parent.


Mom Life Series: 5 Lessons for Motherhood from History's Only Perfect Teacher. Day 5 of the Mom Life Series features a post by Lisa of The Merry Momma. She's sharing what she's learned from the world's greatest parenting expert.It’s the final day of our Mom Life Series, and I pray you’ve enjoyed each day! Our last post is from Lisa of The Merry Momma. She’s sharing lessons she’s learned from the world’s greatest parenting expert. I hope you are encouraged and inspired as you read!

 

5 Lessons for Motherhood from History’s Only Perfect Teacher

Ted Tripp, Kevin Leman, James Dobson, Sally Clarkson … These are all people I’ve read and respected for their Godly wisdom on parenting. Motherhood is a tremendous responsibility, and I seek all the advice I can get, especially from those who have gone (and succeeded) before me.

But even the so-called “experts” aren’t perfect. They are human, they are fallible, and they don’t always espouse my beliefs or convictions on certain issues. That’s the thing about blindly following human speakers or authors — they aren’t God. And their word isn’t supposed to be mistaken for His.

But there is someone who is God, and His example can be followed completely and confidently.

That someone is Jesus, and while his humanity makes Him perfectly relatable, His deity makes Him perfectly reliable. Of anyone who has ever walked or will ever walk the earth, He is our ideal example in every area of life. And though He was never a mother, there are lessons from his earthly ministry that can be applied to motherhood.

The following five lessons are the greatest I could ever learn from any parenting expert.

—> Click here to continue reading “5 Lessons for Motherhood from History’s Only Perfect Teacher” by Lisa at The Merry Momma

 

Make sure to catch each day of this special series.

Day 1: 6 Powerful Ways to Be Christ-Centered Every Day by Laura of Fantastically Four

Day 2: The Pros and Cons of Mom Failure by Denise Renae

Day 3: The One & Only Parenting Book You’ll Ever Need by Kristina of Messy Tired Love

Day 4: What I’ve Learned About My Wife’s Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom, Told By a Dad at Home Unexpectedly by Me 🙂


 

Get more ideas & encouragement from this real-life mom as I experience God’s faithfulness through the joy and chaos of motherhood.
Join my email list!  

 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:

How God Can Use Your Faithfulness in Motherhood

How We Changed Our Family Atmosphere with One Question

3 Things I Know About Becoming a Mother

Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid