Archives for January 2014

Love them well, love them fierce by Ellen Stumbo

If you are a parent, perhaps you’ve wrestled with this thought at one point or another, “Am I doing enough for my kid?”

Those thoughts tend to creep into our minds, especially if our kids are struggling. Whether it be related to academic performance, their friendships (or lack of friendships), even their behaviors at home. “Is there something I could do to make things better for my child?”

Ask any special needs parent, and you might discover they wrestle with these thoughts often. Disability can be a daily struggle for our kids, and as their parents, we try to do whatever we can to help our kids. Maybe the solution is the new physical therapy approach that is helping many children with cerebral palsy, or the new speech program that is breaking through and getting non-verbal kids to talk! There is always something more we could be doing.

But we have more in common than you think, because we are parents, and because we want the best for our kids, regardless of their abilities.

So I say to you today, my fellow parent of typical children or children with special needs. Just love your kids, love them well, love them fierce.

There might be more than you and I can do, but what our kids need to most is our unconditional love. They need to know that we got their backs, that if they fall we’ll be there to catch them. If they struggle, we will gather around them and cheer them on. If they mess up, we’ll teach them the right way to follow. And they need to know we are their biggest and most devoted cheerleaders.

Every new day is an opportunity to show them that love, to build their character, to point their hearts and minds to a God that loves them far better than we can.

So let’s love our kids, love them well, and love them fierce!

Ellen Stumbo Head ShotEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor. Visit her at

Weekend Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Giveaway: Teen Slimline Bible


The slimline New Living Translation text Bible is the perfect size for busy teens to carry with them wherever they go—now available in new trendy TuTone designs. Classic reference features include a dictionary/concordance, end-of-Bible helps, full-color maps, a ribbon marker, presentation page, and gilded page edges.

ParentLife readers have the chance to win one of five copies! Enter through the form below (giveaway only open to residents of the U.S.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Christian Valentines


Valentine’s Day will be here before we know it. Despite my indifference toward the Hallmark holiday, my kids ADORE it. (Balance Time Day, according to my daughter at 2 years old.) I like to use their infatuation as a tool to reinforce the gigantic love of God – and help them pass it on to their little friends.

Here are some Christian Valentines ideas!

christian valentines


These beautiful cards are downloadable from Etsy so you can print as many as you want once you buy the file.



Sweet, free printable Valentines from Link goes directly to the printable PDF.



I am IN LOVE with these little Valentines from Etsy seller Cherry Berry Design. You can download them for $6 and print on cardstock.


Take inspiration from Grace Elizabeth’s and make your own beautiful cards with Scripture.


These lovely printable hearts with Scripture from 1 Corinthians are free and gorgeous! What a beautiful little gift for your spouse.

How do you emphasize God’s love on Valentine’s Day?

Friday Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Snack Food Substitutes to the Rescue! by Beth Aldrich

Feeling uninspired this winter when it comes to servings your kids healthful snacks? Here’s an article from Beth Aldrich we originally ran in August 2011 to give you some pointers! Share your favorite snack to serve in the comments!


You might be needing an old-fashioned after-school snack to satisfy your kids until dinnertime. Here are some healthy snacks that you’ll feel good about putting on the table.


Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Muffins


Old-Fashioned Rice Krispies Treats redux: Prepare this old time favorite recipe, but substitute high-fiber cereal or MultiGrain Cheerios and add some dried fruit to the mix, such as dried cranberries or raisins.

Anything on a stick. Kids love to eat finger food — and if they get to “create” it, even better. Set out bamboo skewers and several bowls of fruit, diced lean turkey breast, cheese, veggies, etc. and let the kids “make” their own snacks. You can control what foods they’ll use for their creations, and they love the decision-making and activity part of the project!

Anything in a Tortilla! Kids will eat almost anything wrapped in a tortilla, so get creative. Smear some low-fat cream cheese and sliced strawberries or pears and cheddar cheese or even just peanut butter and bananas. The kids can also take over and make their own creation.

Make Your Own “Mix”: When you take your child to the grocery store bulk bins, they love the idea of scooping and weighing the items. Let them select a few of their favorites for a homemade energy trail mix with seeds, nuts, popcorn, dried fruit and coconut, and yes, maybe even a small portion of chocolate nibs or drops! Have your child portion the completed mix into snack-sized plastic bags or mini containers and take them on the go for a quick pick-you-up snack!

Bagels, Baby! Nothing says satisfaction more than a bagel. Make it a nourishing snack by purchasing whole grain bagels and top them with organic jam and low fat cream cheese. To make them even more kid friendly, but them in thin slices and arrange like spokes of a wheel around the plate. What looks different and interesting yet familiar usually attracts kids to the plate!

What are your favorite after-school snacks to serve (or eat!)?

Beth Aldrich is a Certified Health Counselor and author of the book, Real Moms Love to Eat: How to Conduct a Love Affair with Food and Still Look Fabulous (New American Library, January, 2012).Twitter: @RealMomsLuv2Eat

Friday Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Hello, Mornings?

Power Buzz
source: sea turtle via Flickr

I really like to pretend that waking up before my kids doesn’t make that much of a difference.

I have three kids 5 and under, I say! I am tired! I need every bit of sleep I can catch! And I do think it’s true that when the baby isn’t sleeping through the night, I needed to try to catch up on sleep in other places. But now he is, for the most part. {Although the last two nights my 3-year-old has been up twice and my 5-year old once … but that’s not the norm.}

Last night I set my alarm for 5:30 and went to bed about 9:45. I had a 5 a.m. wake-up call from Joshua, and just went ahead and got up at 5:15 after I nursed him. And now, at 7, I’ve had some quiet time with God, showered and washed my face, dressed, had something to eat and two cups of coffee, and am writing a blog post. I feel completely different than I do when I let my daughter wake me up at 7:00 and growl at her to go ask her dad for breakfast.

I still need to figure out where to fit in exercise. I probably need to eat a healthier and more complete breakfast than an apple and cheese. But it’s a giant start. Feeding my brain with positive messages from the Bible before I start anything else makes such a difference in my day.

There’s a whole, well, movement on Twitter about Hello Mornings, a challenge to get up before your kids and study the Word. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for a place to start.

Do you get up before your kids? Have any tips and tricks to share?

Jessie Weaver When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three kids 5 & under.

Friday Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Planning for the New Year as a Family

family resolutions


2014 has sprung! Let’s ignore all the blather about how old we’re getting (when did YOU graduate high school?) and instead get to the point. Whether on paper or just in passing thought, you probably make some sort of resolution for yourself each new year. Have quiet time, go to church, lose 20 pounds, stop spending.

But why not involve your kids? Sit down together with a pen and paper (or be trendy and use chalk and a big chalkboard-paint wall) and talk through some things you want to do as a family this coming year. Less of a bucket list and more of an goal sheet, this is a great way to hold yourself accountable and get everyone thinking on the same page.

Here are some ideas to help you start.

  • Family Traditions – What are some traditions you have or some you’d like to start? Vacationing the same place each year, having a weekly game or movie night, or just having a family devotion before bed? Traditions help keep families together and feeling connected.
  • Places to Go, People to See – This is your “bucket list” stop. What are some places you’d like to visit this year? People you want to see or write to or reestablish a connection with? Think outside the box: could you write to a missionary? Send cookies to someone in the military? Visit a shut-in?
  • The Family Who Eats Together … – “According to a number of reports issued by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), children who eat at least five times a week with their family are at lower risk of developing poor eating habits, weight problems or alcohol and substance dependencies, and tend to perform better academically than their peers who frequently eat alone or away from home.” – Huffington Post
  • Parent-Child Dates – How will parents make sure each child has individual attention? Ask your kids and see how they respond. How do they envision spending one-on-one time with each parent?
  • Weekly Schedule – Talk through how much your weeks hold. Do they seem crammed, with no time to enjoy rest and down time? Would your kids enjoy adding an activity or changing what they participate in?

I hope you’ll take these bullets as some jumping-off points. Let me know if you decide on any “family resolutions” for 2014!

photo credit: Elle_Ann