Posts filed under Parenthood

Christmas Morning Tradition

I blogged briefly about the Christmas scavenger hunt my family does on Christmas morning.  My kids are all excited on Christmas morning to open presents.  We have always waited to open presents.  We first eat breakfast, read the Christmas story and find baby Jesus – not particularly in that order. 

As I am always trying to incorporate Jesus into all things Christmas, it seems fitting to have created a scavenger hunt based on the Christmas story.  This way my kids can read the story of Jesus’s birth while hunting down our baby Jesus to add him to the nativity scene. One Christmas my husband and I stayed in bed and handed them the first clue, just to buy a couple more sleeping moments.

Here is an example of one of our Christmas scavenger hunts.  The clues change each year, but the story stays the same.  The only rules for the kids are that they must go in order and they have to stay together. 

To prepare the scavenger hunt, I print out the clues and cut them into strips. Then I hide them in the right spots being careful to number them so I don’t get confused.  I save the first clue to give to the kids and make sure that at the last clue, baby Jesus is there also.  I instruct the kids to put the baby in the nativity scene and sometimes I hang around and take pictures.

  1. Luke 2: 1-3 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  And everyone went to their own town to register." Clue: Caesar was a famous Roman ruler with a salad dressing named after him.  Where do we keep the dressing?
  2. Luke 2:3-5 “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Clue: When Daddy pledged to Mommy, he gave her a ring. Where is the box it came in?
  3. Luke 2:6  “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.Clue: If you were a baby in this house, where would you sleep?
  4. Luke 2:7She (Mary) wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Clue: We have a manager we are adding straw to each day.  Where is that manger?
  5. Luke 2 8 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Clue: Daddy has a “field” he tends to day and night.  Where do you water that “field”?
  6. Luke 2:9-10An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” Clue:  We have many angels in the house.  Which one has the clue?
  7. Luke 2:11-12 The angel said ‘Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” Clue: There is a small town in our house.  The clue is in someone’s house.
  8. Luke 2:13 - 15 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’" Clue:  Find Bethlehem on the globe.
  9. Matthew 2: 1-2  “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” Clue: When we listen to worship music, where are we?
  10. Matthew 2:9-10 “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed”. Clue: There is a lighted star on the house.  Where is it?
  11. Matthew 2:11 "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." Clue:  If we were going to diffuse Frankincense, where would we do that?
  12. Matthew 2:19-20 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds (and the wise men) returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Clue:  What gift does God want us to give from OUR HEARTS?  In what Princess Parables book do we find the treasure box?

Hopefully this inspires you to do a scavenger hunt for Baby Jesus! 

What other fun traditions do you do Christmas morning?

Merry Christmas everyone!

~Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!

St. Nicholas


            My first Christmas after became a Christ follower, I was adamant about Santa.  I was so upset that the world focused on Santa instead of Jesus this time of year.  I mean that is what the REASON for the SEASON is, right?  So I took every ornament I had and every Christmas decoration with a Santa (even my mom’s) and I threw them away.  I was so determined to not have Santa taking over my Christmas because you do know that Santa spells SATAN if you unscramble the words, right?  I was very idealistic, and before you write me off or click off the page, let me tell you what I have experienced.

            So many of you know that Santa Claus was once a real person – a saint for that matter. He has many names: Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, Noel Baba, Pere Noel, and of course, St. Nicolas.  The real Saint Nicolas lived in Myra (today’s Turkey) in the 3rd century.  He was a bishop who inherited a good sum of money.  He heard that a man’s three daughters did not have dowry to get married so he took it upon himself to bring a bag of money.  Legend has it he threw the bags of money in the windows twice for two of the daughters.   When it came the third daughter’s time, the windows were locked.  Instead, he threw it down the chimney and the money landed in a stocking.  He was so beloved throughout his town and in the church he became a saint.

            By the 12th century, women in France were making little gifts and leaving them on doorsteps for children signing them “from St. Nicholas”.  In America, they introduced Santa Claus in the 19th century as they were looking for traditions.  See, St. Nicholas’s birthday is Dec. 6th and it made sense, to them, to bring him into Christmas. 

            The problem is HE has become Christmas for most people today.  He has taken over the phrase “Believe” - which should refer to our Savior - and has changed St. Nicholas’s incredible story to stockings, chimneys, a belly like jelly, “naughty and nice” list, the North pole, elves and a flying sleigh.  Instead of the nativity scene invoking a sense of awe over the Savior and bringing us to our knees, we focus on “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house”. 

            The amazing thing is this St. Nicholas was an outspoken troublemaker in the Roman Empire.  And Emperor Diocletian (who was a really mean Caesar) wanted him to stop preaching Christianity.  St. Nick was jailed not once but twice, for spreading the news of Jesus.  His “true life” story is one of suffering, simplicity, generosity and humility.  And the nativity of Jesus is the same kind of story.

            If you would have asked me when I was 25, what we should do with Santa Claus, I would tell you to throw him out.  He should have no part of Christmas, but today I don’t agree.  BECAUSE of Santa Claus, America celebrates Christmas in a BIG way.  If it wasn’t for him, it would be a less than important holiday because the world does not know the Savior.  So I thank God that because of him, we are allowed, given the green light, to talk about Jesus.  And the make-believe story of Santa is good and pleasing and does fit this verse.  Now we are starting to celebrate even in November.  I am even okay with Christmas decoration before Thanksgiving because it gives me a longer time to talk about Jesus freely everywhere.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

            What do we as a family do with Santa?  We have taken on the tradition of St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6th (his birthday).  On the night before, the kids put their boots at under the tree at the front door.  In the morning, I fill them with oranges, chocolate and a present.  When the kids were younger, we got a picture with Santa. That night as part of Advent, we read the St. Nick book. We never wanted to lie about Santa being real so we just didn’t.  The rest of the season we focus on Jesus.  My kids are always amazed that people spend so much time on Santa during Christmas.  I always remind them that we are grateful for Santa because he keeps Christmas going.  Also it is a reminder to us how much people are looking for the Savior.

            The kids have liked the tradition as they get presents twice a month.  On Christmas morning, they do a scavenger hunt to find baby Jesus and put him in the manger.  We open three presents – like the wise men brought to Jesus.  We call them a Want, a Need and a Surprise.  We don’t really bring up Santa again except when we watch a fun movie.

             I am not saying give up Santa if he is entrenched in your celebration.  I am just giving you ideas to ponder.  I am asking you to ask yourself if Jesus has the full limelight in your home at this season. Is he front and center in your celebrating?  I think Satan likes to distract us with a lot of things, and he can use Santa just like anything else. If we are going to seize the season, we have to save Santa from taking over!

What are different ways you celebrate the season?

Won’t you join me this Sunday, Dec. 6th as we celebrate St. Nicholas Day?

~Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!

How to Not Stress Out This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is behind us . . .  Let the craziness begin!!!

Do you feel it?  The stress and the rush of this time of year just arrived.   It started this morning (or last night) with Black Friday.   It will continue on until December 25th.  You will add decorating the whole house (inside and out), lots of activities and parties (all fun!), shopping, wrapping, baking . . . . you know the drill!  All added to your regular schedule.  Ah, have I stressed you out?

I have spent many years frenzied and hectic - not being able to accomplish this task of doing everything perfect at Christmas.  There is only so much time in each day and only 25 days in the month to accomplish so much!  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, I had my surgery right before the holiday season. I was panicked I would not be able to pull off the normal Christmas for my kids.  And then at the end of those 6 weeks surgery recovery, my sweet dad died. I was in grieving mode and planning a funeral at the beginning of December. So Christmas 2011 was going to be different. It really got me thinking about the purposes in all of the traditions we did as a family and all of the busyness of the holiday. God reformed my way of thinking so that I can seize the season and experience more of Jesus!

If you go to my house right now and open any drawer or closet, you will most likely find a mess.  Some of them might be clean, but not all.  I am naturally a procrastinator.  I don’t want anyone to think I am super organized. I work best under pressure and that is how I used to approach Christmas. Because the old me would run crazy through Christmas so busy that I could barely hold my breath.  I was terribly rushed through the beauty of this lovely time of year.  My time with the Lord suffered, my relationship with my husband and kids suffered, my life was just one blurry mess.  Then it was over and I felt depressed because I never got to “enjoy” it. 

Does anyone else feel that way?  Or have you? 

First, in order to be sane in the month of December, I have to have a plan.  My plan starts in August, when I order all the Christmas cards using the family picture we took over the summer or this year in February!  I start shopping in October and planning early. Real Simple has a great list of how to start early.  I know that we are know at the end of November and you will either read them and panic or read them and say “okay I am on track”.  Start where you are today and just do it! In any case, I don’t want you to read this and feel stressed.  My goal is to help you to start with a plan, if not this year, then next. Tackle this year as best as possible. 

Second, I need to remember my priorities.  This is why I make a Christmas plan!  What are my priorities during the holiday season?  What can I forget or what event can’t we miss?  I plan ahead to know those things.  For God is a God of order and not of confusion as we find in 1st Corinthians.  He lays out his plans in Genesis and references us doing the same in Luke.  So this idea is not mine, it is God’s idea for us to be thinking ahead. I like to take everything through a grid.  There are so many events we are invited to in December.  We have a question grid that helps us figure out what to do.

            Here is what we ask:

            Is this part of tradition?

            Does it fit within our desire to serve others and the community?

            Will we grow closer to Jesus as a result of this event?

If it doesn’t fit into this grid of questions, we say “no”.  Sometimes it is hard to say no to the fun things, but it keeps me less stressed and therefore is necessary.  I have created these self-imposed rules to make my life have margin.

Why does all the planning and prioritizing matter?

Because the goal here is Jesus, not the to do list.  Giving ourselves attainable goals is to insure that we are ready and not just flying by the seat of our pants. Having a plan gives us margin, to experience and be all that God wants us to be.  It gives us time to play with our kids, help those we see in need and time to spend in Advent (resting and having a Christmas Sabbath).

We celebrate Advent here at the Young’s house.  I could never do this if I didn’t have a plan.  Every night with the kids we open a book, eat chocolate, pray for the Christmas cards we received and read some scripture.  This is why we celebrate Christmas – to be focused on the coming of our Lord.  There are lots of ways to do Advent.  I love Sarah Mae’s Christmas countdown with ideas on each day and how to bring more of Christ into the season.  In my quiet time and with the kids, I have enjoyed Ann Voscamp’s Advent books bringing to life the birth of Jesus.

Seizing the season means that I am taking back control of the things that I have control over.  Then God will be able to interrupt me will HIS plan!  Nothing is worse than for God to have an assignment for me in the BIG PLAN and I don’t have time for it!

Happy planning friends!  I can’t wait to hear what God does with your margin this year!

~Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!


Does Your Princess or Knight Eat Too Much Sugar?

The holidays are just around the corner.  This means a battle with my will power and the endless sweets available.

My kids are just like me.  They eat too much sugar.  They crave it during the day.  They think about how to get more of it, either by baking themselves or raiding the cupboards when I am not looking.  Funny, I tried to teach them to curb the sweets all their life. The holidays are an excuse to overindulge.

Now battling cancer for so many years, I am not supposed to have any sugar.  I go through months without even fruit.  Then I breakdown and binge on sugar (honey, agave or organic cane sugar) for a weekend or a couple of weeks.  I know I shouldn’t, but honestly, it is really hard.

Sugar is so bad for me – for all of us.  We all know it.  In fact, cancer feeds off sugar.  One reason we love it is because sugar activates the reward centers of our brain.  This releases feel-good neurotransmitters, like dopamine and endorphins.  Sugar also helps shuttle the amino acid tryptophan into our brains that is converted into serotonin – this helps us feel calm.  No wonder when I am stressed with the kids or having an argument with my husband, I reach for a muffin or a scone!

I know I crave sugar when I should really be searching for the Lord in these situations.  I have uncovered a life-long idol in my life.  Food takes the place of God. 

My kids are learning and watching me. So we have an open dialogue about sugar and eating healthy.  You would think because I eat healthy my family does, too.  When I am struggling with my health, sometimes the easiest food is not the healthiest.  However, looking back over the last four years, I can see the changes I have made with our food choices.  I am really in charge of the food they eat, for the most part.  I shop. I cook. I am in charge of their daily food.

My kids all eat a variety of vegetables and fruit each day.  They will drink smoothies, eat seaweed and take their supplements.  But cutting out sugar continues to be a challenge.  I am taking an honest look at the holidays and putting into practice the steps here to help my kids eat less sugar starting with Thanksgiving.

Obviously, we can’t change all the parties and the feasts that happen this time of year, but we, as the moms, can change what we are doing at home.  We can open the lines of communication and help them see how much sugar is “allowable” for our bodies.

Here are a couple of practical tips for this time of year and for the new year to reduce the amount of sugar in your family’s diet.

• Read the nutrition labels

            When buying food, check out the labels.  Try to buy things with 3 grams of sugar or less.  If you have an option, go for the one with the less grams.  Kids should try to stay under 50-70 grams a day.  A big glass of 100% juice can be as much as 28 grams of sugar, so try to just be aware of how much sugar your kids are consuming.  We try to limit the kids’ drinks to one juice drink a day and go for water the rest of the time. Sodas are allowed only once in a while, when we are out.  I never buy them for the house.

• Learn sugar’s aliases

            Sugar can be listed under a variety of names.  High Fructose corn syrup, honey, cane syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, agave and maple syrup are all SUGAR!  Many processed foods will use a couple of these ingredients.  We have to be the detectives. Fake sweeteners are associated with weight gain and feed our desire for sweets.  They are also carcinogenic and do not belong in our kids’ food.  Leave those items with fake sweeteners on the shelf.

• Opt for unsweetened or less sweetened.

            You are in charge of holiday baking.  Buy ingredients that are labeled “no sugar added” or “unsweetened”.  Applesauce, baking chocolate, canned fruit, non-dairy milk (coconut, almond, etc) and nut butters are all available in unsweetened versions.  Also when baking, add less sugar than the recipe calls for.

•Be prepared for the parties

            I try to feed my kids before we head out for a holiday event.  This way they will be less likely to eat a bunch of junk.  Sure, I know they will still have the holiday cookies, but instead of eating 10 for dinner, they will only eat two because they are full.  I also bring snacks to eat in the car when we are running between events for the same reason. If I have to bring something to the party, I bring a healthy, fun option.  If you look on Pinterest or Google, there are plenty of healthy, fun options for the holidays.

•Don’t bring the junk into the house

            I am so nostalgic.  I see snowman shaped cookies and I think how much fun it would be for the kids to eat them.  I have to remind myself that they are going to eat PLENTY of fun food this time of year.  If I can establish a one sweet a day rule, then the kids can decide what they would like to have.  Most of the time, my kids like to wait for dessert after dinner.

As I look over this list, I think it is a good list of guidance for all of us, not just for the kids.  We don’t need to gain weight during the holidays, if we are just a little prepared and if we just exert a little self-control, we too can eat less sugar at the holidays this year.

“He will eat . . . honey at the (right) time.  He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.  Isaiah 7:15

~ Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!

Impacting Your Culture!

There is a great movie coming out this weekend – Woodlawn.

The movie is based on a true story of a small town set in Alabama in the 1970’s.  A gifted high school football player learns to embrace his talent and his faith as he battles racial tensions on and off the field.  This inspirational new “Christian” movie is all about learning to love and unify during a time of hate and division. Many “big” Hollywood names have shown up for this movie:  Sean Astin (The Hobbit, Rudy), Nic Bishop (ABC’s Body of Proof), Sherri Shepard (NBC’s The View, 30 Rock) and Oscar-winning Jon Voight, just to name a few.  This is not your old-fashioned low budget Christian movie.

I want to encourage you to go see it with your whole family.  Yes, I am hoping you will fork out the $10+ per ticket and see it in the movie theater.

I know you can wait and watch it on Netflix or rent the DVD, but here are a handful of good reasons to NOT do that.

1.  Supporting Christian movies sends Hollywood a message.  Growing up, there were very few Christ-centered movies.  Finally, Hollywood is acknowledging the 91+ million Christian movie-goers.  In the past, Christians were portrayed in movies as pedophiles, killers or strict-no-fun kind of people.  They are seeing us and hearing us now, so let’s support the effort.

2.  Going to watch Woodlawn is good for your whole family.  The movie is rated PG -  so take everyone.  Your older kids will enjoy a well-made movie and with good acting and your younger kids will be excited to see a “grown-up movie”.  But most of all, you can have a wonderful conversation afterwards about the truths and questions this movie is bound to create.

3.  Woodlawn is a good tool to reach the lost.  Nothing speaks to culture like movies.  Woodlawn is a natural bridge in conversation with someone who doesn’t know Christ.  This will make you relevant around “the water cooler” at work or at the playground talking to moms.  Aren’t you looking for a way to talk about Christ to strangers?  Here is your opportunity!

4. Christians need to unify behind the message.  Hollywood has the ability to reach millions of people for Christ.  People who have no faith will buy a ticket to a movie about football and not even know it is a Christian movie.  They will stay and be entertained by the good acting and moving story.  However, they will also take away a piece of God’s truth in the process.  We Christians have to unify our dollars and our influence behind messages like Woodlawn.  Then Hollywood will hear our unified voice and keep making more movies like this one.

5. Going to see Woodlawn helps endorse fellow believers.  We are blessed to know a few people in the faith-based movie-making arena.  Most of our friends are sold out to Jesus and really want to make a difference in the world.  They are not in Hollywood to make the big bucks, but there to impact culture in a way unheard of before.  They are missionaries in a field untouched by Christians in the past.  They are going head-to-head with the evil one as they impact a world that doesn’t know Jesus.  So by going to see Woodlawn and other movies to come in the next years, you are supporting a missionary in hostile territory.

I hope to see you all at the movies on October 16th when Woodlawn premieres.  Go and make a difference!

Check out the movie trailer!

~ Jeanna Young


When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life,  redecorating her home, loving on her husband,  planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!

5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Anything!

God made such wonderful food for us to eat!  I found having children they tend to lean toward the processed, colorful and sugary foods not found on trees or in creation. No matter what we eat at home. 

“How do you get all your kids to eat their veggies?” a new mom asked me recently.  I thought about it for a moment and I realized all four of my kids eat whatever is served at the dinner table.

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Gen 1:29

As a cancer survivor (twice now!), I cook pretty healthy.  Sure, my kids still love all the plastic, colorful foods created by man, but I want them to eat what is beneficial for their bodies and love it.  We will always have choices when we leave our home.  My kids go to birthday parties and enjoy the cake and candy, just like yours.  But when we are home, I am in charge of what they eat.  I do the grocery shopping and most of the cooking.

Reflecting over the last fourteen years, here are a couple of things we have done.

  1. Be the best example to your kids.  My kids see me eating lots and lots of veggies.  In fact, if I eat anything that is different from my normal fare, the kids notice and say I am cheating!  By doing this, my kids have oftentimes asked to try my food and experimented with something, just because I am eating it.  Don’t be the mom telling her kids to eat healthy while she stands there with a Frappuccino and a scone in her hand (I used to be this mom!).
  2. Be stealth with your ingredients.  I am stunned what my kids will eat if they don’t know what it is or if it is covered up somehow.  Zucchini with cheese, smoothies with kale, and cheeseburger soup loaded with veggies.  I always look for recipes with veggies in them. Even traditional classic dishes have alternative choices now on the internet.  I have also switched my kids to “look alike” snack items with much better ingredient list.  They have no idea because it tastes good.
  3. Get your kids involved in cooking.  Some day your little princesses and knights will be old enough to help in the kitchen.  When they are, you will be amazed at what they will eat, if they have a hand in making it.  Even my 14 year-old son prefers to take a salad to school instead of a sandwich.  If he makes it, he is more apt to eat it.  Sometimes it is “kids’ day” and they are in charge of cooking dinner.  I am amazed at how similar they will cook dinner to how I would.  Something is rubbing off!
  4. Tell them they have to try everything.  They say it takes 10 to 15 tries before a child will eat – and like – a different food.  Wow! That is a lot of stress to get them to eat one thing, let alone a whole bunch of new foods!  Yes, it is.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart.  As parents it is our job to train them up in many areas.  I believe teaching them how to eat healthy and with good portion control is our job.  So what if they won’t eat it? (see below under ‘drastic measures’)
  5. Watch documentaries and internet videos about healthy food choices.  Nothing has a more radical effect on my kids than videos about good food or bad food choices.  Movies like Food Inc, Super Size Me, Forks over Knives, etc. will impact their food choices – and yours.  Last night my husband had the kids watch a YouTube video about “leaky gut” that promoted probiotics.  All my kids got up this morning and took all their vitamins and probiotics without me having to ask.

Our Drastic Measure

When our kids were little (under 4 years old), they all had a day where they refused to eat their food.  Every one of them. Luckily, I had a wiser older woman in my life who suggested we adopt an old principle dealing with food.  We decided to do what folks in the “old days” used to do and I am so glad we did.  Back to the days of no-nonsense parenting, I guess.

So when our little kids put up a fuss about their dinner, we asked them to eat it.  To at least take a bite.  And if they didn’t, then we would let them know they wouldn’t get any other food until they ate their whole dinner.  I realized very quickly this was a power struggle.  It really had more to do with them wanting the power than something different to eat.  So I served the same plate of food for breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner.  They were allowed to have water, but no other food. Not one snack.  There was so much whining, so much crying and so much demanding, I wanted to give up.  Obviously, this was a day I had to cancel everything and stay home with them.

Eventually, every single one of them got really hungry and ended up eating the entire dinner – even ice cold.  One of them went hungry for 36 hours!  Only one of them did it two times.  But I can tell you this: after this moment, they all ate their dinner or at least tried it and there was no argument (or power struggle) over “a bite” to try it.

It may sound drastic, but it worked for us and all four of our kids!  I also know it has worked for other friends, too.  Was it painful?  Yes!  Was it an inconvenience?  Yes!  But all my kids are great eaters now.  I just asked them all if they remember those days and we all got a good laugh about it!

What are ways that you have gotten your kids to eat healthy food?

Posted on October 9, 2015 and filed under Motherhood, Parenthood.

Jackie's Journey: Do You Have Enough Faith to Pray?

If there was ever a time in history that called for us to fall on our knees…this is the time!

 “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin;

pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.

 Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children.”

Lamentations 2:19 

Does your prayer life show the value of your children?


Years ago a godly friend from Nebraska, Ginny Steele, gave me an alphabet of character qualities with scripture that I could consistently and systematically pray into my two little Princesses.

It has now been extended as a prayer into the lives my seven grandchildren.

 It began with:

  1. Alert to subtle sin and how to avoid involvement in it.  (Mark 14:36)
  2. Bold to live for Christ and share the gospel.  (Acts 4:29)
  3. Compassionate to the needs and hurts of others.  (Col. 3:12,13; 1 Jn. 3:7)
  4. Dependability even if it involves sacrifice!  (Rom. 14:12; Psa.15:4)
  5. Eagerness and Endurance to accomplish God’s best.  (Gal. 6:9)
  6. Fruit of the Holy Spirit(Gal. 5: 22,23)
  7. Gentle and Generous (Lu. 6:35-38; Pro. 15:1; 2 Cor. 9:6; 1 Thess. 2:7)
  8. Humble enough to realize God and others are responsible for whatever achievements are attained(1 Pet. 5:6; Jas. 4:6) and verbally grateful!
  9. Initiative to respond without being asked.  (Psa. 87:15, 16; Rom. 12:21)
  10. Joyful because of harmony with God and others. (Psa. 97:11, 12; Pro.15:13)
  11. Kind heart. (Hab. 3:18; 1 Peter 1:8)
  12. Love for God, His Word and others.  (1 Jn. 4:7, 8; 1Cor. 13: 3)
  13. Meekness of spirit.  (1 Peter 3: 4; Psa. 62: 5)
  14. Never forsake the Lord.  (Joshua 24:16)
  15. Obedient to God and other divinely appointed authority.  (Deut. 5:29; Rom. 2:13; 2 Cor. 10: 5)
  16. Patience to wait on God.  (Jas. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3,4)
  17. Quality time with God daily and Quiet spirit.  (Psa.46: 10) Quick to confess sin. (1 Jn.1:9; Psa. 46: 10)
  18. Repentant heart leading to knowledge of the truth(Job 11:14, 15; 2 Tim. 2:25)
  19. Self-Control…a Separated Life.  (Titus 2: 11, 12; Gal.5: 24,25)
  20. Truthful and Thankful with Transparent motives.   (Eph. 4:25)
  21. Unique Ability to live by faith in the Living God.  (Gal.2:20; Eph. 2:8; 2 Cor. 5:7)
  22. Virtue (Moral Purity) of spirit and life. (1 Thess. 4:3)
  23. Wisdom to see life from God’s point of view. (Ecc. 2: 26; Jas. 1:5; Pro. 9:10)
  24. Exalt God in everything. (Ex. 15:2; Psa. 99:5; Isa. 25:1)
  25. Yield personal rights to God for victory over Anger. (Matt. 16:24-26; Gal. 5:24; Lu. 2:28; Titus 2:11, 12: Col. 3: 5)
  26. Zero in on God’s Will daily.  (Rom. 12:2; 1 Jn. 2:17; Psa. 40:8)


Will you join me in obediently and faithfully

praying daily for our children and grandchildren?

Your prayer life for your children demonstrates their value to you! 

“Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin;

pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.

 Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children.”

Lamentations 2:19

Five Times a Week

All great change in America begins at the dinner table” – Ronald Reagan

As we start into the new school year, I begin to protect the family calendar.  More importantly, I have to guard our family dinnertime with all my might.  Every sport and kid activity desires to claim this precious tradition and rob my family of our time together.  The every day moments that make us “The Youngs” are on the line.  The opportunity to pour into my kids during this daily practice will change who they are.

When the kids were little, every meal was at the dinner table.  But as they grow older, our goal is always a minimum of 5 family dinners together.  This can be either sitting down in our home or out to dinner. Meaning, of course, no cell phones, iPad, TV or invited guests.  Dinner together involves my family together – eating, talking, praying, laughing and loving. 

Here are just a couple of benefits:

1.  Your kids will eat more vegetables and new foods that you introduce.  At our house, you are required to eat the vegetable on the table.  Whatever it is.  We started this in the beginning.  They don’t have to finish the starch or the meat, but the veggies?  Definitely!  My kids will only eat a new food at our dinner table.  At least, I can get them to try it!

2. Your kids will be more emotionally healthy.  Studies show kids who eat with their families at least 5 dinners a week are less likely to get depressed, think of suicide or develop an eating disorder.  84% of teens were quoted as saying they would rather eat with their family, but “don’t tell my parents”.

3.  Your kids will learn to say “no”.  Kids who dine with mom and dad regularly are less likely to take a chance smoking, drinking or using drugs.  Connecting with mom and dad on a regular basis gives them the parental engagement most kids are looking for.

4.  Your kids will do better in school.  Only 9% of kids who eat dinner with their families 5 times a week struggle in school compared to the whopping 40% of kids who don’t.  Studies also suggest talking with adults helps vocabulary and manners.

5.  Your kid’s heart will bond to yours.  If you go the extra mile, not just eating together, but conversing and laughing together, your kids won’t want to miss dinner.

What do we do?

Our family starts dinnertime at the preparation where at least two children are involved as part of their daily chores.  One child has the chore of setting the table and one child helps mom prepare.  We rotate day to day.  We get dinner ready and chop vegetables.  Most the kids are happy when there is a new recipe to surprise everyone with or if it is a favorite family meal.  When dinner is over, one child does the dishes so mom can have a break.

When we all sit down to dinner, we have a routine everyone can count on.  First, we wait for everyone to get their food.  Next, we pray and thank the Lord for the food and we bless it to our bodies.  Thirdly, kids eat quietly while mom and dad talk for about 5 minutes.  Honoring my husband this way is always appreciated.  As the kids have gotten older, the rule has gotten more difficult to keep.  Still, it is part of our dinnertime.

We try to make things fun!  We have a box of questions to use to create fun conversation.  Many of our guests request we ask these at dinner.  Also we do what is called “Pits and Peaks”.  Tell us one thing (or more) that went well today or where you saw God at work – PEAK.  Tell us one thing that didn’t go as planned or areas God might be growing you – PIT.  Drawing out my children and hearing about their day (even if I have been with them) is priceless.

So as I am filling in the calendar for the new year, I put in the soccer, tennis, ballet, AWANAs, speech & debate and youth group.  Remembering when will dinner be.  On some days, dinner will be at 5:30 p.m. so we can all get to church and other days it will be at 7:30 p.m. when everyone is home.  Flexibility is the key!  I know our pastor’s parents told us sometimes they waited until 9:00 p.m. when everyone was home.  The family that eats, prays and laughs together – stays together! 

Maybe Ronald Reagan is right.  By keeping this practice, we may change the face of America!

How are you keeping the family dinnertime sacred?

*Statistics from

When Princesses Grow Up...

"The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ..."   Romans 8:16,17

Some day your princesses will grow up . . .

I have two daughters. They came out of womb with the notion they were born for royalty.  No one told them this.  At about 18 months, my oldest daughter started to gravitate to everything pink and fluffy.  Before she ever saw a Disney princess or wore a costume, she put left over fabric around her and danced around saying, “Look at me mommy! I’m a princess!”

When they were little, my girls used to dress up in the most frilly, sparkly princess dresses and twirl around.  Nothing was too pink or too glittery to ever wear.  They would change their girly outfits from our well-stocked “dress up” box every hour.  Setting up tea parties, make believe lands and fashion shows were a daily occurrence.  Every once in a while, they would even try to put an outfit on their brothers.  This was regular life in the home of princesses.

I believe each of us is born a princess.  God made us to be a daughter of the King.  It is innate.  Before we ever see a Disney movie or a picture of Cinderella, our girls know they are made for greatness.  God has given them this gift of a purpose and a plan on this earth – our royal heritage. 

What a huge blessing and privilege it has been for our family to be given the stewardship of the Princess Parables ministry.  My girls were eight and five when the books first came out, and they couldn’t wait to dress up and help mommy at the booth.  But times change and our girls grow up!

In the last couple of months, my almost thirteen year old has decided being a princess is not for her.  She is maturing and likes to wear jeans with plaid shirts and Converse tennis shoes instead of lace and frills.  She wants a modern bedroom, not a princess bedroom.  She has asked to not dress as a princess at the conventions anymore and not have her identity be “a princess”.

While this was a huge blow to me and it has taken me a while to get used to, I can see God at work.  Even though it is our family ministry, my daughter can take on other jobs of service, and she doesn’t have to “dress up” anymore.  We are still working on her role exactly, but she does need to grow and figure out who she is.  And more importantly, who she is in Christ!  I need to keep my relationship with her whole because she is my heart and my love.

She will always be a princess on the inside.  She is a daughter of the true King and is created for greatness. God has His perfect plan for her.  She is still gracious, loving, kind, willing to serve, excellent in character and poised - even if she doesn’t wear a crown.  I am so grateful for the many years we have had this experience together.  I just honestly never saw the end coming.  I didn’t know one day it would be “her last” day to “dress up” at a convention.  Luckily for my heart, I still have one daughter (for the time being) who likes the Princess Parables.

So last weekend, I listened to my girls and we remodeled their “Princess” Bedroom.  Gone are the pink and purple walls. Here instead is a contemporary gray and turquoise palette. We have removed the case of porcelain dolls and tucked away the American Girl Dolls.  The princess beds have been traded for modern white ones.  And a sleek white IKEA desk has taken the place of stuffed animals and toys.  

As much as I would have liked them to stay little and be princesses forever, it is just not God’s plan.  I love the women they are becoming and the friends they are to me.  Yes, we have our “moments” in these young adult years, but they are a growing time for all of us.  I can’t wait to see all God has planned for their lives.

My advice to you moms of young princesses:  ENJOY!  If your girl wants to wear her princess dress to the grocery store, let her.  If they invite you to a tea party, go! I wish I had more often.  Take lots of pictures.  I realize now in the many of the “normal” moments of life, I never took pictures.  Some day, it will be their “last” and they will not stand up and announce it.  Enjoy every moment!

I am going to miss the frilly dresses, pink frosting and glitter everywhere, for certain, but I welcome these new grown up young ladies God has blessed me with!  It is a new season!

 I guess I will just have to wait for grand baby princesses to spoil!