Bringing Up Boys: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Bringing Up Boys - An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Okay, I’ll just come right out with it.

I LOVE raising boys! 

I never would have guessed when I started this motherhood journey that having sons would be so much fun.

Sure, they’re noisy (super-noisy!) and messy and energetic, but boys are awesome too.

And you know something? Now that our oldest “boy” is no longer a boy – but a young man of 21 years – I’m more convinced than ever that it is more than worth it.

The last time he was home for Christmas and he put his strong arms around my shoulder and told me he missed my hugs  . . . . well, there’s nothing quite like it.

Maybe you’re a mom who is in the “thick” of raising a son and could use some encouragement? Some ideas on how to make the most of it? How to reach his heart?

Bringing Up Boys - An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

Encouraging and Helpful Articles on Raising Sons

24 Ways to Prepare Your Young Man to Become A Gentleman
Boys Are Awesome and The Best Way to Love Them
9 Things I’d Say My Mom Got Right
What’s the Best Way for A Mom to Show Love to Her Son?
21 Questions Your Son Really Needs You to Ask Him
Instilling Vision in Our Sons
12 Lessons I Want Our Son to Learn Before He Turns 12
Raising Our Sons to Seek After God
7 Steps to Raising A Courageous Young Son

So now we’ve got one son who is off and well on his way, but then there are these three little guys . . . .  noisy, messy, and energetic!

And awesome. 

Bringing Up Boys - A Helpful and Encouraging Resource for Raising Sons

I love raising boys, don’t you?

In His grace,

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P.S. Here’s another resource if you’ve got girls: Growing Up Girls: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Daughters

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

Growing Up Girls: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Daughters

Growing Up Girls: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Up Daughters

You probably know that I have four daughters.

And that I love these girls all to pieces. Each and every one of them.

They are my dearest friends and the ones I go to when I need prayer or encouragement. Or help. Or even advice, now that they’re getting older.

And coffee. I definitely go to them for coffee.

And they come to me for chocolate.

So you can see that we’re very close, these girls and me.

Even though each one is so different with her own unique personality. With her own individual strengths and weaknesses. And me with mine.

And we talk together and laugh and sometimes cry. Then talk some more and hopefully laugh again.

Because . . . well, because we’re girls, I guess.

And we’re growing up together.  These girls and me.

Growing Up Girls

Maybe you’ve got girls too?

If you do, then I’ve gathered some of the words I’ve shared over the last few years about raising daughters and some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Plus a few things from their daddy too. Stuff I hope will encourage and help you with your girls too.

Encouraging & Helpful Articles on Raising Daughters

21 Questions Your Daughter Really Needs You to Ask Her

How Does Your Daughter Grow Up To Be Your Very Best Friend?

One Hundred Things I Want to Share Before She’s A Bride

To My Daughter: A Good Man Is Worth Waiting For

24 Ways to Prepare Your Young Girl to Become a Lovely Woman

A Dozen Ways to Look After Your Daughter’s Heart

6 Truths Every Daughter Needs to Know

My Dear Daughter: A Word About Love Stories and Happy Endings

And from a Dad’s Heart:

8 Things Every Daughter Needs To Hear from Her Dad

20 Daddy-Daughter Dates

Growing Up Girls

And now I’m going to tell you something that you already know, but I have to say it anyway.

They grow up fast. These girls.

The next thing you know, she’s a woman and not merely a girl. And not only your daughter, but hopefully your friend too.

Drinking coffee and sharing chocolate together.

Talking, laughing, crying, and praying together.

Because that’s what grown-up girls do. ;)

Growing Up Girls - An Encouraging Resource

In His grace,

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P.S. Here’s another resource if you’ve got boys: Bringing Up Boys: An Encouraging and Helpful Resource for Raising Sons

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

The Grandest Wedding You’re Ever Going to See

The Grandest Wedding You're Ever Going to See

Have you heard of the show “Once Upon A Time”?

It’s all about fairy tales with a modern twist and I love it! Growing up my favorite kind of stories were fairy tale stories. What’s not to love about villains, magic, sword wielding princes, brave, but in distress, princesses, and of course, true love’s kiss?

There are a plethora of stories about the power of true love. It can wake a sleeping princess from an enchanted sleep, or turn a beast into a prince. True love saves and makes whole. It creates a bond so strong that it all but guarantees a happily ever after ending.

But as we grow up we exchange our beloved fairy tales for something more “realistic”. We now flock to the movies to watch down to earth stories and yet, the theme of love and rescue can be found even in our modern stories. Whether they’re comedy or adventure stories we love seeing justice prevail and true love win.

These stories resonate with us because we know there is something terribly wrong. We see it in ourselves and in the world around us. We know that we need to be rescued, that the world is not as it should be, that evil needs to be defeated, and we need a hero–a deliverer.

All this talk about rescue and love reminds me of the story of the Bible.

From Genesis to Revelation we see a story of curses and of sacrifice, of a prince, a kingdom, and a bride, the defeat of evil, and the prevailing of good. We have a story that includes a dragon, supernatural powers, and battles. Driving the whole story is true love.

Best of all, this is our story, and it is much more real than what is reflected in fairy tales.

In our story sin brought the curse of death (Gen 3). A curse that marred our beauty, clothed us in rags, and turned our hearts to stone, leaving us for dead.

But our story is also one of hope. It is the affection and power of Christ our King that awakens us from this sleep of death (Song of Sol. 1:2). It is his gentle, yet powerful touch on our hearts that begins to remove sin’s iron grip (Ezekiel 36:26) so we can once again do right, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8).  This King of ours cleanses us and then dresses us in robes of righteousness and other fine linen (Rev. 19:7,8; Is. 61:10).

And in the end a terrible dragon will be defeated,  there will be a grand wedding in a Kingdom so amazing there aren’t words to describe it.

The Grandest Wedding You're Ever Going to See

Right now we find ourselves in the middle of the story.

We are waiting for our true love to come for us. While we don’t know when that will be, we can be certain that He will come for us and we are called to be ready for His arrival.

We should pour over His love letter to us, the Scripture, and know our Prince as well as possible.

We should beautify ourselves not with outward adornments, but with a beauty that comes from within (1 Peter 3:4). With kindness and purity of heart, with love, faith, joy, patience and contentment.

So read fairy tales to your children, awaken in them the imagination and wonder of far off places where anything can happen. But make sure to remind them of an even greater story, a story of true love shown in a blood sacrifice. Of a kingdom so wildly beautiful and amazing that even the best story tellers can’t do it justice.

Remind them that truth and goodness will win and that all those whose faith is in Christ our Redeemer King will be saved.

He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:10

Grapefruit Doughnuts {& The Gift of Hospitality}

Grapefruit Buttermilk Donuts with Candied Zest | Club 31 Women | #grapefruitIt was nine o’clock and I was sitting in my favorite white chair feeling the weariness in my body.

I was tired.

It was a long day of making sure school work got finished, nap times took place, chores got done, dinner made, and bath time completed. Somehow, I had even managed to squeeze in a quick workout for myself – which proved to be challenging since I had taken the last week off due to a cold.

As I sat there in my cozy white chair, perusing the internet half-heartily, I listened to my daughters chatter on the couch. They were going to attempt to join me in my bed that night so we could all sleep together. A sweet thought, but two kids and one adult in a queen size bed equals not enough space.

I informed them that we would be headed to bed soon. Grace disappeared upstairs for a few moments and reemerged in the living room with their Picture Bible.

I knew it was a habit of theirs to read their Bible every night before bed. Grace sat there and read to Eden about how the priests and pharisees were trying to trap Jesus by asking him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar or not. (Matthew 22:15-17) Grace left the chapter on a cliffhanger and told Eden they would read Jesus’ answer the following night.

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

I remember thinking how clever that was of Grace to keep it a mystery. Everyone loves a little intrigue.  I know I do.

Not too much later, after our teeth were brushed and we were jammed into my bed and the lights were turned out, I asked if I had any volunteers who would like to pray. Grace eagerly said, “I will,” and proceeded to pray for so many people! All of the people we had read about in our Prayer Point magazine, and then all of the people mentioned during our women’s Bible study and during our praise and prayer time at church. I was shocked that she remembered so many names and so many specific details that had been mentioned.

Grapefruit Buttermilk Donuts with Candied Zest | Club 31 Women | #grapefruit

A Heart for People

We all said, “Amen,” and I laid there amazed at what a beautiful, godly heart she has for others. Every evening, she and her sister sit on the floor of their bedroom and read Bible stories. They have such a heart for people and love them so much. I think that is one of the things I admire the most about my almost-11-year-old daughter Grace – she sees the best in everyone.

That is such a wonderful and unique gift that the Holy Spirit has pressed upon her, and she has gladly accepted. (1 Corinthians 12:4 & 5)

As Grace’s mom, it’s a beautiful thing to witness. Not that she has arrived, but that the Spirit is clearly working through her as her father and I attempt to diligently train her in the way she should go. (Proverbs 22:6)

As I drifted off to sleep, I didn’t feel as weary as I had before. I felt rejuvenated and full of hope for my kids.

The Gift of Hospitality

I’m sure (I hope!) my kids will have other spiritual gifts as well. I’ve been showing them when the an opportunity presents itself to show the gift of hospitality.

Hospitality doesn’t always mean having people in your home. Take hospitality on the road…or right across the street!

When I made these grapefruit doughnuts last year, we had just had a snowy storm pass through. I whipped up a batch of these bright and springy doughnuts and brought them over to our neighbors’ house across the street to share.

Grapefruit Buttermilk Donuts with Candied Zest | Club 31 Women | #grapefruit

Our kids often learn by watching, and having them watch us can be one of the best ways to learn to be a servant of Christ and use those spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has entrusted them with. I tell ya, I think watching your kid blossom spiritually is one of the most beautiful things I ever witnessed.

~ Chels {Catz in the Kitchen}

*What kinds of spiritual gifts has the holy spirit entrusted to your child and how can you encourage them in it?

Grapefruit Buttermilk Doughnuts with Candied Zest
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
And now for something completely different... Yes, these are grapefruit donuts, and yes, they will make you and your tastebuds dream of spring. Enjoy!
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Collect the zest from one grapefruit. Cut four two-inch long strips of the zest from the second grapefruit, and slice them thinly. Collect three tablespoons of juice from either or both of the grapefruits.
  2. Use non stick cooking spray to coat two six-cavity donut pans.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, 1½ cups sugar, baking powder, ginger, and salt, and mix well.
  5. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, canola oil, vanilla, and the zest of one grapefruit, and whisk until combined.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir.
  7. Spoon batter into pans, filling each cavity to a bit over ¾ full.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for five minutes before turning donuts out on a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar and grapefruit juice until smooth, then set aside.
  10. In a small saucepan, combine strips of zest, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 3 tablespoons water, and bring to a boil.
  11. Reduce heat to a low flame, and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Strain.
  12. Toss zest immediately in remaining unused sugar until coated.
  13. Transfer to cutting board and chop.
  14. Dip the top of each donut carefully in the glaze, then place on a wire rack glaze side up, allowing the excess to drip off. Sprinkle immediately with chopped zest.

Overnight-sausage-egg-cheese-breakfast-casserole by Catz in the KitchenTry another delicious recipe from Catz in the Kitchen:

Overnight Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Casserole


The 8 Best Things About Having A Bunch of Kids

8 Best Things about having A Bunch of Kids

I guess I might as well come out with it.

I’m the mother of 8 children. And I love it.

This often surprises people when they learn that I have all these kids. They’ll say things like, “But you don’t look like a mother of 8 children!”

And then, occasionally,“Do you actually like having so many kids?”

I’m never sure how to answer that first one (Thank you…I think?).

The answer to the second is easier, Yes, I do.  I love it! Which some people seem to find interesting.

I could write a long list of all the things I love about having a bunch of kids, but here are some of the best . . . . 

The Best 8 Things About Having A Bunch of Kids

1.   I love the joy they bring. How their sweet faces look up at me with so much love.  The hugs. The laughter. The fellowship of family.

2.   I love all that I learn from them. They remind me to stop and wonder. They ask good questions and challenge me to think.They reveal areas in my life that I – apparently – need to work on. Ouch.

3.   I love how they have built-in friendships. If you’re bored or lonely, there’s always a buddy nearby. Someone to help with the work or someone to play a game. Someone to talk to or someone to snuggle.

4.  I love watching the older ones care for the young ones. How the teenagers get the opportunity to be selfless and put aside their own plans. The chance for them to look after the interests of these little guys—and their reward of smiles and sticky kisses.

The 8 Best Things about having A Bunch of Kids

5.   I love that I still have a young ones at home. Even if their older siblings have left home to pursue their own calling (Why do they grow up and go off on their own anyway…??).

6.   I love how much fun they are! Let’s face it, there’s nearly always a party going on around here. The little boys wake up ready and raring to go and the older girls look forward to the late-night thingYawn.

7.   I love how the little ones look up to their older siblings. For instance, our oldest son is something of a celebrity – a basic rock-star –  to our young boys whenever he comes back from college. Thankfully, he walks with God.  Could be worse, I figure.

8.   I love how they can reach the world. In ways that I can’t. Children seem to have this ability to soften even the hardest of hearts. There’s something about young people that breaks through the toughest barriers. They’re a bright light in a darkening world.

8 Best Things About Having A Bunch of Kids

So however many children you have – whether one, four, eight, or twelve – they are a gift from God, aren’t they? Children are truly a blessing.

*I’d enjoy hearing those things you love about being a mom to your children too! Share?

In His grace,
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson

 (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Raising Heavenly Minded, Down to Earth Kids (small)*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get 2 FREE eBooks, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage and Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids).

That One Question That Unlocks {The Door to Your Child’s Heart}

That One Question That Unlocks So Much

“Pray for this one,” I told my friends that I knew would pray.

It was a subtle drip of negativity coming from this child whose once-orphan wounds had threatened to be scars. Subtle enough that no one bumping up against the world outside our home would see, subtle enough to avoid what might incur discipline. (But mama’s have an eye for what brews under the surface.)

I didn’t just hear it, I felt it. The passive-aggressive drip that said less about the sibling or situation of which they were speaking and more about the torrent underneath all those words wore treads under my everyday mama-hood.

So I talked to God.

Change this one’s heart, God. You are healer, would you heal these wounds spilling up and over in front of all of us? Make this one new.

Weeks of prayers became months and I was settling in to what Nate so often calls “the long view.” It may take a decade to see this heart move. You hone your eye for the little milestones when you see the haul ahead as long.

But one day this thought came to me.

What if I made a shift? 


Love Unhinged

I’d done it before with variables that just weren’t budging. Not frequent enough for it to be second nature, but I had stories of how God moved in the one right in front of me when I started asking “what’s the issue, lodged within me?”

So over a series of days I asked Him: “what is it in me that’s adding to this child’s mess?” It’s a hard question for a mama who knows the history of her once-orphaned child’s wounds. I could list the perpetrators — people and time and loss. I live the consequences of life’s big hits on this child. I’ve studied them. Did I really play a part in all this negativity? This child couldn’t be more different than how I walk.

I wrestled through all those reasons not to ask, while still remembering my history. This wasn’t the first time I played a role, subconsciously.

And just as soon as I asked, I knew.

I needed to love different.

I needed to love unhinged.

This one was craving a love from me that required nothing of them to get it. They needed belly-tickles and a game of chase and time without instruction or correction, but expectation-less love. They needed my delight, not my dutiful kiss or my quick hug because that’s what mommies do.

This child needed to see that spark in my eye as I looked into theirs — the kind of spark a mama can’t muster on her own.

I’d been trying. Striving. Mimicking love. But in all of my effort, I’d neglected to see my own heart’s failings.


Something in Me

Two of us sinners in a relationship make two of us culpable. Always.

When I spend all my energy searching out the flaws in another, God’s love — through me — gets stunted. This reconciliatory love can not move towards its full expression in this child or in me if I am unbending.

And I was unbending.

Isn’t it easy? Especially with a child. We study their gaps and wait for their healing — all in the name of God’s timing — when maybe, just maybe He’s waiting on us to ask “what is it in me?”

I spent nearly a decade of my life avoiding this question. It spanned most all of my relationships. Something ingrained in human nature leads us to believe that this question is the death-trap. We’re going down when we take eyes off of them, and ask Him for a lens on us. Justice is when their wrong is righted or their hurt is finally healed. It can’t possibly be me, here.

“What is it in me, Father?” digs my grave.  Death-trap it is, I suppose. The kind of death that invites life.

It is this very question that’s putting an end to years of this child’s severed story bubbling up and over the rest of us.

I asked. I heard.

There was something in me.

So I repent and stumble towards turning in the form of words and belly-tickles and games of chase. I ask God to give me that spark in my eye that this child will know is just for them. I ask for an unnatural love, imparted. I bend.

And this kid? This one with history and hurt and a dozen reasons to be hindered for life, they begin to show signs of change. Friends, my stuck-child is getting unstuck. Surprise hugs and unsolicited kind words and that note on my desk that read: “I love you Mommy and I know you love me.” My child has spiked a giggle.


The other day I heard songs from the kitchen — from this one whose known a new form of mama’s delight — and I knew it was from God to me: never stop asking the question your flesh most resists. When you go low, with them I am lifted up.

For the mother, the wife, the daddy, the pastor, the co-worker, the sister, the best friend and the neighbor: when was the last time you asked Him — when faced with that rift in another — what is it in me?


Sara Hagerty, EveryBitterThingIsSweet

For Your Continued Pursuit: Matthew 5:5 | Psalm 25:9 | Matthew 7:1-5 | James 4:6-10 | 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 | Matthew 11:29-30

Photographs compliments of Mandie Joy.