This Beautiful Inheritance

Monday, February 23, 2015

Three Tips for Raising Kids Who Won't Rebel

Looking back over my adolescence, I am so thankful that I never went astray and "sewed my wild oats," so to speak. I don't mean to sound arrogant or boastful. I know it is only by the grace of God that this is true. But I think back over my teen years, specifically, and don't even recall a temptation to partake in the activities that typically mar the high school years. So I have to ask myself, what did my parents do right? No, they weren't perfect. But there must have been some things they did that helped keep me on the straight and narrow when so many others diverge onto other paths. I ask myself these questions because this is what I want for my kids. My hope and prayer is that they too will stay true to themselves, their faith, and their family when all their friends may do otherwise.

After some reflection, I came up with three things my parents did that I believe helped me become a (though imperfect) devoted, non-rebellious teen and adult.


1. Time together as a family. When I think about my childhood and teen years, I see myself with my parents and my sister. We spent a lot of time together. Granted, my dad was self-employed and got to be home a lot. But even when he was at work, us girls were often there with him. As a family, we spent a lot of time at home together, watching TV, playing board games, eating meals, and doing nothing. We didn't stretch ourselves thin with 100,000 extracurricular activities, but when we did have ballgames or events to attend, we went together. We also took a lot of vacations together, which are some of my fondest memories. I know not everyone has this ability, but it shaped our family culture by creating shared experiences and adding glue to our family bond. Yes, I went to public school. But though I was there eight hours a day, it didn't "scar" me the way some people think it will. Because what I had at home was so much stronger. At home is where my security was, where my values were molded, and where my people were.

2. One-on-one time with dad. I have to say, my dad excelled in this area. Having daughters didn't stop him from taking us out for quality, one-on-one time. From the time we were potty-trained, he alternated taking me and my sister to Razorback basketball games, which were four hours away. We made these trips until we were... well we still occasionally go. A teenage friend of my sister once commented, "You spend that many hours in a car with your dad?! What do you talk about?" My sister was baffled. What would we not talk about? It was never awkward for us to spend alone time with Dad because we had just always done it. Research tells us that involved fatherhood makes a world of difference for kids. Those with involved dads do better academically, have fewer discipline problems, and become more responsible adults. This is true for both genders but I believe it is especially important for girls. Girls need their dads to show interest in them, to make them feel special, to show them affection. Research shows a strong relationship with Dad improves females' mental health, work performance, and relationships with men. Divorce and other family dynamics can sometimes make this a challenge, but it should not be an excuse. If you are a single mom, I encourage you to encourage quality time with your kids and their dad if at all possible. The two of you may have your differences, but him being present in their lives is unequivocal.

3. Faithful church attendance/involvement. My parents say they never remember me or my sister once saying "We don't want to go to church today." And the reason we never said it was because it never crossed our minds. Not going to church because we were tired, didn't feel like it, or because something good was on TV was simply out of the realm of possibility. If the doors were open, we were there. It's just what we did. I believe this was beneficial for us in so many ways. First of all, it taught us faithfulness and commitment. We didn't half-heartedly do things. And when we were committed to something we didn't flake out. Honestly, this is a lost virtue in today's society. People don't want to commit to anything that doesn't meet their needs at the time (church, marriage, friendships, diet plans). But if we can teach our kids that sometimes we do things we don't want to do because it's best for us... that is a priceless gift. Being actively involved in church also holds your family accountable. Old fashioned as it may seem, it may be more difficult for a teen (or anyone) to get involved in questionable behaviors if she knows her youth pastor, pastor, church family, etc. is keeping tabs on her and holding the standards high. Perhaps the best way, though, church keeps young people on the right path is through the fellowship and support of like-minded believers. It's comforting, especially as a young person, to know "you're not the only one" who's not gone off the deep end. Being a part of a church family that is making good choices, seeking the Lord, and moving in the same direction as yours may be just the moral support your child needs.

None of these "keys" are THE "key," of course. There is no magic formula. The only real key is the grace of God, and of course, fervent prayer. These are just easy, practical ideas you can implement into your family life that I do believe will make a difference. Do what you can do, and leave the rest to Him.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Love You Because... {A Valentine For My Husband}

I love you because… you are a caring, involved, playful, passionate dad, just like I always dreamed for my girls.

I love you because… you are the hottest, best looking man I know, and I’m extremely attracted to you. I wish I could make you believe this is 100% true; I don’t just say it because I’m your wife.

I love you because… you are so naturally friendly. You are a rare jewel in a busy, self-centered world.

I love you because… you’re compassionate. You see people, really see them. You notice the underdog, the overlooked, the needy. And they’re drawn to you too.

I love you because… you’re good in social situations. I never have to worry about “taking you out” into crowds of new people the way some women do. You’re never rude. You don’t say awkward or inappropriate things. You keep conversation going and make everyone feel at ease.

I love you because… you’re a manly man. You get dirty. You hunt and fish. You know how to gut a deer and bait a hook (isn’t that a country song?). You don’t get manicures and you don’t lay in tanning beds. I love that.

I love you because… you don’t play video games. I’m just sayin’.



I love you because… you work hard. So hard. You’re gone constantly and you do it all for us.

I love you because… you’re so talented. This is another thing you don’t believe but it’s true. From the time we started dating, I’ve been amazed you could sing/play guitar/build muscle/beat box/draw/write/swim/run/crack jokes/recite movie lines/imitate voices/etc. so well.

I love you because… you’re patient with me. You stick with me. When I criticize and nag too much, when our views on things are 1,000 miles apart, you hang in there and keep believing in us.

I love you because… you balance me out. You keep me from becoming too legalistic, too harsh, too narrow minded. Our kids will be more well-rounded because of you.

I love you because… you’re intelligent. You may be just an ‘ole country boy, but you know more about the world than I ever will. From world history to American history to the canonization of scripture to WWII to ISIS… you’re the man to ask when I have questions. And I’m thankful our kids will have you to ask too.

I love you because God gave you to me. And though sometimeswe fight and argue and wonder how God could pair up two opposites, I believe this marriage was meant for our sanctification. I love you because, before the beginning of time, God created you, knowing exactly what I needed to make me who He wants me to be. I trust Him, and I love you because you’re mine. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Duck Commander Devotions for Kids {Giveaway}

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.

I'll be honest and tell you up front that I have never seen a full episode of Duck Dynasty. We don't have the station that it comes on, so I've just never had the chance to sit down and watch it. However, I know the gist of the show, and I know the beliefs and values of the Robertson family, and when Tommy Nelson offered us a kids' devotional from the Robertson clan, I knew I wanted it! I figured this would be a devotional my girls would love because I knew it would talk about things they enjoy: being outdoors, animals, getting dirty, and spending time with family. I was right and it was an instant hit.


The girls ask to do these devotions and jump at the chance when I suggest it. Each one includes a brief message with an anecdotal story from the Robertson family, a scripture, a prayer and an "action" step. My girls were amazed to find out that the "characters" in the book, like Bella and Sadie, are actually real people. Now I want to get some of the Duck Dynasty series on DVD so my girls can see the family they've been reading about. Here's a quick video about the book by its authors, Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard.

          

To win a copy of the book, just leave a comment telling why you love the Robertson family. Then enter via Rafflecopter below.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

15 Tips for an Affordable, Enjoyable Walt Disney World Vacation

{This is a guest post written by my mama, Deborah Skarda. And ignore her first sentence. She is an expert.}

I am by no means an expert, but I LOVE travel, and I LOVE Disney! Through the years, we have visited Walt Disney World several times, and we just returned from a trip with the whole family, including our three young granddaughters. I feel I learn a little more each time, so if you are planning a trip to WDW,  here are just a few of my “Disney tips” I wanted to share to hopefully make your vacation a little less overwhelming.

1. SAVE $$ -We built up Chase credit card points with our personal and business cards to pay for much of our trip, cashed in our jars of change, saved Christmas money, etc. I also gave the kids Disney tickets as Christmas gifts.

2. GO DURING OFF SEASON IF AT ALL POSSIBLE- Late January to mid February and mid-September to mid-November. Although the weather is still very pleasant most of the time, the crowds are much more manageable.

3. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! - You can ask my kids, everything goes better when you have a plan. Do your research. Two good tools for research are touringplans.com and the mom’s panel on disneyparks.disney.go.com under the “vacation planning” tab.

4. GET A TRAVEL AGENT- Disney has become very complicated, so you need an experienced person to navigate you. I love doing this myself, but most people don’t, so this is very important. My cousin Becky Newton is an expert Disney travel agent and would love to assist you. The best part is that travel agents are free! Her email is rebecca.newton@sbcglobal.net.

5. DO A CHARACTER MEAL- Our one real splurge this trip was a princess brunch, but it was worth the extra $$ we had to save to do it! Made three little girls very happy! And three big girls were pretty excited too. :) (Reservations for these meals must be made very early. Talk to your travel agent!)



6. IF YOUR TRIP IS A "ONCE IN A LIFETIME," WAIT UNTIL YOUR YOUNGEST CHILD IS AT LEAST 5 OR 6 YEARS OLD.-You want them to remember it, and children are just more manageable in the parks by this age and can ride most rides.

7. IF YOU ARE TRAVELING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN, SPEND TWO DAYS AT MAGIC KINGDOM- Little ones slow you down, and because there is so much to do at MK, there is no way to do the whole park in one day.

8. PLAN A DAY TO REST IN BETWEEN PARKS- Chances are, you will regret it if you don’t. When we were much younger, we did all four parks in four days. By the third day, the “magic” was gone, and by the fourth day, all I wanted was a soft bed!

9. IF YOU HAVE PRESCHOOLERS, DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL- We only did two parks this time but still had a blast! We talked to a young couple with two preschoolers on the plane who did all four, and they said "never again."

10. HAVE A BUDGET- Know what things cost before you go. Have a limit for meals, souvenirs, etc. and stick with it so you don’t come home worried how you’re going to pay bills!

11. SAVE MONEY BY STAYING OFF PROPERTY- We stayed at a very nice Staybridge Suites close by. We had credit card points to pay for rental cars, but most nearby hotels have shuttles to take you to the parks, as did ours.

12. WEAR ATHELTIC SHOES- And I don’t mean cute little slip-on Sketchers but the big ole full-size athletic shoes.  Trust me, your feet will thank you at the end of the day!

13. DOWNLOAD THE MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP TO YOUR SMART PHONE- This is such a valuable tool. You can make meal reservations, check ride wait times, make fast pass selections, buy park tickets, etc. all with the tap of your finger.

14. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FAST PASS- Make three “reservations” for rides at specific times, with little or no line. Learn all about it with your Disney app or Disney website.

15. IF YOU PLAN TO FLY, WATCH SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FOR THEIR SUPER SPECIALS FROM MEMPHIS TO ORLANDO- We flew nonstop for $135 round-trip, but even without those special rates, you can usually fly their “Wanna Get Away” fares for around $200 round-trip. And another great thing about Southwest is that bags fly free!

What tips do you have?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Our Walt Disney World Vacation, 2015

Well our kids' first trip to Walt Disney World is in the books! I believe it was everything they dreamed it would be... and that was a lot! They had been anxiously, desperately counting down the days from Christmas until our trip, and now that it's over, I think we're all a little sad. But we're also so thankful for the opportunity and the memories. My parents blessed our family with this trip, and we will never be able to repay them for their generosity. We will all cherish the memories (and the pictures) for the rest of our lives.

My niece, Baylor, Eden and Selah excited to head to Disney World!
Eden and Selah with their Mimi at the airport
Eden excited to take off on her first plane ride!
We arrived in Orlando Monday afternoon and headed straight to Downtown Disney for dinner. We ate at the T-Rex restaurant, which was probably the coolest restaurant I've ever been to. It felt like we were eating inside a Disney ride. There were dinosaurs all around us, along with glaciers, trees, fish, etc.


The next day was the one we had been waiting for for so long -- Magic Kingdom! We were all excited!


It was a long, tiring day but also so fun. Magic Kingdom is packed full of magic and fun for little ones. We rode ride after ride all day long and still didn't get it all done.




The next day was our "off day." We didn't go to a park, but it ended up being an AWESOME day! My girls had an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Downtown Disney at noon. This was actually the thing I was most looking forward to on our trip. They were both really excited about getting all dolled up like princesses, but unsurprisingly, Selah flipped a switch when we got there and refused to get anything done. Eden, on the other hand, loved it! It was so precious watching her grin from ear to ear as she got her hair, make-up and nails done by her very own "fairy godmother."




I was really bummed that her sister wouldn't do it with her but was so happy for Eden. She couldn't stop looking in the mirror! I've never seen her so proud and it just made my heart smile.



After the boutique, we had lunch reservations at the Grand Floridian Resort to dine with all the Disney princesses! I didn't realize what a treat this would turn out to be! My girls were in awe meeting all the "real" princesses. One at a time, they each came up to our table and chatted, smiled for pictures, and signed the girls' autograph books. We met Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, and Belle. I was just as smitten as the kids!





The Grand Floridian Resort was beautiful! We loved exploring the grounds and pretending like we were staying there. ;)



We finally got a picture of the whole group.
On Thursday we went to Hollywood (MGM) Studios and had another great day. There weren't a lot of rides there for the kids, but there were some really cute shows, and we finally got to meet Mickey! It was the perfect ending to a wonderful week.



On Friday we soaked in the hot tub at the hotel and let the kids swim in the (heated) pool, and we flew out Friday afternoon. We all agreed we weren't ready to leave so we think that means it was a great trip! And we are already looking forward to the day we get to do it again! We are blessed and thankful. Come back tomorrow, when I'll have a guest post by my mama, the travel expert. She has some incredibly helpful tips for planning an enjoyable Disney vacation you can actually afford!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's a Big Weekend

Today is my birthday. I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I am 28 years old... and that this year I will celebrate my ten-year class reunion! I feel like, by now, I should have a hefty savings account, a clean house, and a clue what a 401k is. But I have none of those... maybe by 30?

Anyway, yesterday we had a little celebration (i.e. cake and presents) with my family because yesterday, my dad also had a birthday. He turned 54 a year older.


He doesn't look a day over 39, right? :-) He assured us that no matter how old he gets, he will never "dress old." And we know that's a fact. He'll be the only 85-year-old man that shops at American Eagle... I can see it now.

For my birthday today, I'm doing something really exciting -- packing! And I'm actually not being sarcastic, because tomorrow we leave for Disney World, and I am *almost* as excited as my kids! They We have been counting down the days since Christmas, and we are thrilled that it's finally here! I'll share a full run-down when we return with a cuteness overload of pictures, I'm sure. Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 2, 2015

God Loves You! {Berenstain Bears Giveaway}

I have been given one copy of The Berenstain Bears God Loves You by Family Christian Stores to review and one to giveaway in exchange for my review here. All opinions are completely my own.

Happy New Year! What better way to start the new year off than with a giveaway, right? Today's giveaway book has the perfect message to teach your kids this new year -- "God Loves You."


Such a simple message, yet we so often don't believe it. When bad things happen or we don't get what we want, we question His goodness and if He really loves us like He says. Right now, I'm reading the book The Shack, and it is reminding me in beautiful ways that His love for me, for us, is real. And it has nothing to do with our circumstances. This message is so foundational in our faith (even though we need to be reminded over and over again), which is why I love this Berenstain Bears book, perfect for teaching the message to kids.


The Berenstain Bears have been some of my favorite books since I was a kid. But only recently have we discovered the faith-inspired stories with our favorite characters. My girls love these books just as much as I did growing up. The stories are so applicable to things our kids go through. And I love the folksy tone the stories are told in. In this book, Brother and Sister Bear try out for the school basketball team and the school musical, only to land the undesirable positions of team and stage "manager." Mama and Papa help remind them,though, that they have much to be thankful for, and God loves them even when they don't "make the cut."

To win a copy of The Berenstain Bears "God Loves You," leave a comment telling me how you help teach your kids that God loves them. Then enter via Rafflecopter below.

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