Back to School: How to Teach our Kids Life Skills

This post contains affiliate links for Skill Trek. I am excited to tell you about it! See my full disclosure about affiliate links by clicking here.

Fall is almost officially here, and we feel it because it’s back to school time. This elicits both a sigh of relief and a bit of nail-biting for most parents. Will our kiddos move ahead this year in their readiness for all the world holds? Are they learning the life skills they need to navigate it well?

Life Skills

Whether parents choose private, public, homeschool, or unschooling, I’m fairly confident most of us want our children to succeed. I think we all want our kids to be happy while they are learning too. We have mainly educated our kids through the public school systems (in Canada and in the U.S), though we forayed into Christian Schooling for a couple of years for one child, and virtual schooling for the two others. Each model has its benefits and drawbacks, but we’ve managed, and our children have thrived all the way through.

Back to School: How to Teach Our Children Life Skills

Sending my firstborn off to University recently, while seeing #firstdayofschool posts everywhere, has made me a bit nostalgic. It has forced me to consider the paths that led to this point. Have we prepared him well?

As I’ve thought this through, I’ve realized that much of what he needs to succeed he didn’t actually learn in school. Yes, he gleaned a lot there, and we’ve had some awesome teachers along the way. But he learned many of his most important life skills outside of the classroom, away from textbooks and technology.

This is #joyletloose.

When life becomes a vibrant classroom, life skills abound. Click To Tweet

Some of the skills that top my list as most important are:

  • Looking people in the eye
  • Listening well
  • Having a strong handshake
  • Extending hospitality
  • Respecting our elders

 

Then of course add in such things as cooking a variety of foods, laundry care, home repairs, money management, conversation and table etiquette and the list goes on… There are so many things we can add to the curriculum of life. And parents (and grandparents!) of littles, it is never too early to begin!

 

Skill Trek

Life skills are learned through repetition, in an environment that feels natural and enjoyable. They are internalized best when someone who loves them brings them alongside. And learning goals can be set according to the values that parents see as important in the adult world.

It just so happens that I stumbled on this great resource just last week. Skill Trek is a program designed for parents who want to make life skill learning a key (and fun!) part of home life. We didn’t have such a resource as our kids were navigating their younger years, but I wish we did! 

Whether your family is just entering the school world or starting into their teens, they can become Trailblazers, Rockhoppers, or Cragsmen. And Skill Trek promises 500+ skills are available to you in innovative and fun ways, with a reward system that encourages good habits to form through practice. Their goal is to banish boredom in your home, and to help everyone thrive!

Here are just a few of the testimonials I’ve read:

Skill Trek has exceeded everything I hoped it would be.  My children are eager to earn nuggets and master new skills, and the lessons have been fantastic jumping points for further discussion and learning.  I highly recommend this program to all parents of children!” ~ Dawn of Cedar’s Story

 

“My kids keep asking “Can we do Skill Trek?” They love their [trail]guide and earning nuggets! I love that they’re learning a wide range of life skills. It’s a busy mom win, for sure!” ~ Tauna of Proverbial Homemaker

 

So whether you’d want to include this in your homeschooling curriculum, or slip it into your after school routine, I encourage you to check out Skill Trek to see what you think! And I’d also encourage you to intentionally set some goals for your children. What are those key attributes you see in vibrant adults that they can learn now? What are the things you want to be sure they live naturally by the time they set out the door for university?

Goal-setting

Joy Let Loose adults are very often those whose childhoods were impacted by patient, loving mentors. How can you come alongside your children (or grandchildren, or other children you love) to help them grow to let joy loose?

I made a printable goal-setting sheet for you to get started. Download the PDF here. 

Life Skill Goals Sheet

How about you? What are some life skills you are instilling in your children that are invaluable to you and your family?

Elizabeth Joy

How to Live a Life that Overflows with Thankfulness

Last Monday I had my second opportunity to lead in prayer on Facebook Live. It was the fifteenth day of  21 Days of Prayer for Waterline Church, where I am the Director of Relational Arts. You know, I absolutely loved my time leading online and experienced fantastic engagement with the people who joined me live. We talked about how to live a life that overflows with thankfulness.

How to live a life that overflows with thankfulness

Thankfulness

The theme that book-ends each week of our 21 Days is  thankfulness. Therefore, we begin and end each week with gratitude. The Scripture I shared was Colossians 2:6-7.

 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Col. 2:6-7 NLT)

I love how the Message words this same passage:

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6-7 MSG)

 

#BOOM

Paul paints a clear correlation here:

Rooting + Building our lives in Christ  —>  Strong Faith + Thankfulness

I believe most of us want to be thankful people. And I think many of us want to have strong faith. But it’s hard to muster those things up. It seems they depend on our rootedness in Christ, which leads to lives built up in Him – living Jesus.

When we begin to live Jesus, to truly walk out the things we’ve learned (from the Word, from our Pastors, from our worship songs, from others’ life stories), then our faith grows, and we become thankful people.

Does that sound scary to anyone? Doesn’t walking out what we’ve learned mean stepping out before you are sure God will catch you? Isn’t that kind of like jumping out of the plane before you know for sure the parachute is going to open up?

 

That’s faith, my friends.

Faithfulness is one of the spiritual fruit listed by Paul in his letter to the Galatians.

Spiritual fruit grows naturally in people rooted in Christ. Click To Tweet
Fruit

One of my sons likes to grow things.

At any given time, we could have potted plants from pineapples and cantaloupe to avocados and tomatillos in various stages of growth around our house and patio. I don’t know if any of you are gardeners, but I’ve noticed that sometimes fruit grows v-e-r-y slowly. After all, nurturing young plants requires incredible patience and diligence. And it generally helps if he keeps going back to check them, care for them, and assess their progress.

Sometimes I think our spiritual fruit grows in us so incrementally that I wonder if we even notice. And I wonder if we forget to keep track of its progress.

So, I want to help us notice fruit.

Monday evening, during prayer time for the 21 Days of Prayer our church is walking through on Facebook Live, I issued a challenge I’d like to extend here too. Instead of looking for external things to be thankful for (let’s face it, there are a TON), instead, why don’t we start to look internally for some fruit to thank God for?

Overflowing and Spilling Over

Did you notice that Paul said our thankfulness would overflow? The Message version says, “spill over.” That means it comes from the inside. And it can’t be contained.  After all, things that overflow come out from somewhere, and can’t be held in any longer.

So what’s on the inside? What’s going on inside of us that might begin to spill out thanks? 

One key to natural gratitude is being diligent to acknowledge and express what God is doing in us. Click To Tweet

Now, an incredibly important discipline for the joy-seeker and the one who wants to be grateful is to  look for things to be thankful for. So let’s start the inward search. Let’s take inventory of our fruit – the ones that are ripe, and the ones just blossoming.

Notice Fruit and Discover Thankfulness

 

Printable to inventory your spiritual fruit

 

Download the free printable

As you take your time considering each of these spiritual fruit, allow God to direct your thoughts. Important: Recognize that our fruit doesn’t grow all at once. Often we are in a season where God is helping us to grow just one type of fruit. Other times several types might be growing at once, but you’ll still find it s-l-o-w.

How do you start?! Survey your day today. Do you notice you reacted differently to any situations than you might have a few months ago? Think about conversations, or your inner thoughts. Do you have a sense of contentment where there used to be anxiety? Do you notice you have been able to be more kind to someone difficult in your life?

Where are you changing?

Then, as you notice that you indeed have grown, even if it is just a small amount of growth, begin to celebrate that! Speak it out to the Lord. Write it in this Colossians 2:6 journal, leather notebook, or on the printable above. And tell a prayer partner or friend.

Let your living spill over into thanksgiving. 

 Live a life that overflows with thankfulness

Habits take time to form. So I invite you to keep today’s printable handy. Let it remind you to go back to the garden again and again. Assess growth, nurture and cultivate it. And with every new leaf or new blossom, thank God – loudly! Praise Him that fruit is growing and you are living Jesus.

Those who do overflow with thankfulness.

Elizabeth Joy

Reclaiming Joy: 3 Prayer Prompts to Help You Find Joy Again!

Sometimes we straight up need some prayer prompts for reclaiming  joy. We need guidance how to navigate this life and all its unexpected happenings with a perspective that is hopeful. If you agree, read on…

 Reclaiming Joy

Life is Hard. We need to actively work at reclaiming joy. Take the 3 Prayer Prompts challenge to find your joy again.

Hope doesn’t necessarily come naturally to many of us. Rather, it often lives trampled in the dirt of disappointment. So we need help to pick it up, dust it off, and then walk in it.

There are things in our lives that seem to thrive on stealing our joy and our hope. Discouragements, doubts, heartbreak, and fears all connive to strip the joyful person of a hopeful heart and render him or her joyless. We wonder if we will ever find our way back up again.

But it is not our destiny to remain there, my friend.

In fact, Scripture tells us to rejoice and be glad, because our reward in Heaven is so great (Matthew 5:12). And it says to rejoice in the Lord at all times, and always be full of the joy of the Lord! (Phil 4:4)

Is that even possible?

Well, I suggest it is, but we have some work to do to get there. We need to be on mission reclaiming joy if we haven’t been living a rejoice-always kind of life.

We need to get on mission reclaiming joy if we haven't been living a rejoice-always kind of life. Click To Tweet
Rejoice Always

So, let’s start small.

What if, for the next 3 days, you chose to be deliberate about reclaiming joy?

What if, for the next 3 days, you chose to be deliberate about reclaiming joy? Click To Tweet

 What if, no matter what life threw at you in those 3 days, you grabbed this goal by its seemingly impossible horns, and didn’t let go, not for one stinking second? Or if you did, you grabbed right back on to it again? What if?

Are you up for that challenge?

If you are, then I applaud you. And I want to encourage you in it! I’d love for you to join in the discussion over on my Joy Let Loose Facebook community. Could your reclaiming joy journey impact others?

If you aren’t up for the #ReclaimingJoy challenge yet, then I also applaud your honesty, and pray you will take the time to prepare for it. You can jump in anytime!

The #Reclaiming Joy Challenge

Each day, as early as you can, set aside 15 minutes to spend by yourself. This time is similar to The Morning Joy Challenge. But this time, we are on an even more specific mission.

  • Quiet your mind, breathe deeply, and spend a few moments simply relaxing. Then move in to the Prayer Prompt for the day. The printable below is to help you.

Reclaiming Joy Infographic

Download it here!

  • Read the verse several times, slowly. Allow certain words to stand out to you. Look them up, if you want to. This is a good resource for that (simply type the English word in the top search bar.)
  • Focus your thoughts, and then your prayer, on something that stands out to you. Ask God to show you where this particular verse is applicable in your own joy journey. Confess the areas where you have with-held yourself from Him, or deliberately gone another way. Acknowledge areas where you know you are already maturing. Re-read the verse, and ask the Lord to help you lean in to Him today. Plan for hope!
  • Then as you go about your day, remain conscious of how God is with you.
  • Finally, at the end of the day, revisit the morning’s Prayer Prompt. God may show you something you hadn’t noticed before.
What’s next in Reclaiming Joy?
  1. If you are taking the reclaiming joy challenge, let us know in the comments below!
  2. And after you’ve focused on your #ReclaimingJoy prayer prompts over the next three days, I’d love for you to report your progress either in the comments, or in the Facebook Community.  We need community to spur us on! Use the hashtag #ReclaimingJoy.
  3. And, if you haven’t yet, subscribe to  Joy Let Loose to receive even more Prayer Prompts in your inbox. I won’t be spammy – I promise!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Believing in you as you begin #ReclaimingJoy!

Elizabeth Joy

Friday Fun: It’s the Little Things (Try Some New Fonts!)

It’s been a while since I’ve put out a Friday Fun post at  Joy Let Loose. I’ve been too busy moving into our new place, and then having fun on vacation with my family. 🙂 But we’re back, and Friday is here, so let’s have some fun today, shall we? Because, it’s often the little things in life that bring us the most joy.

*You’ll see some affiliate links in this post, which means that I will earn a small percentage if you click one and make a purchase. But don’t worry, I’ve been checking out these links, and think you’ll love them!

Penmanship

When I was a little girl (before fonts were really a thing…) I used to doodle a lot, writing and re-writing my name until I perfected my signature. I loved trying new ways of styling my letters. Thankfully, this helped me to develop good penmanship.

Unfortunately, penmanship isn’t as important in our now-digital world. It seems many kids don’t even learn it in school anymore. That’s crazy to me! However, it is what it is, and we learn to adapt.

So, remember one Friday when I suggested we Write Our Thanks? I hope you found someone you could do that for. But I bet some of you are hesitant to do handwritten notes because your penmanship might not be up to snuff these days. But, even if you don’t prefer to  write by hand,  you can always send digital thank-you’s to people in your life. 

Try New Fonts

Enter the world of fonts. (Thank you, Steve Jobs!)

New Fonts HungryJpegI recently discovered an awesome collection of fonts and graphic packs at https://thehungryjpeg.com/bundle/The-Hungry-JPeg/, and since I’ve been downloading some new fonts, I’ve had SO MUCH FUN! 

Not only can I add more variety to the fonts in my blog posts at  Joy Let Loose, but I can use them on digital cards, in emails, and other places where I’d like to improve a digital message. It’s like adding a little human-ness back into the world of typefaces. So, since I’ve been playing around with the font package I picked up this week at TheHungryJPEG, I thought I’d share it with you. I’ve been pretty impressed with the number and variety of fonts and graphic packs you can get for low prices!

Whether you enjoy mystical fonts or pretty graphics, there seems to be something for everyone. And the great news is, ThehungryJPEG often offers monthly specials and FREE or $1 packages! And beyond that, they can help you find some fantastic photos, as well as some stunning new WordPress themes. Truly, they offer something for everyone!

It’s Friday, so why not play around with some  new fonts today, and let some joy loose? Have some Friday fun making creative designs and inviting new fonts into your life. And why not let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below?? I’d love to hear how your Friday goes! 

Elizabeth Joy

How to Make a New Home When You Can’t Stay Where You’ve Been

Our family moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. And then one week later, we left.

One step forward, two steps back…

Actually, we left for vacation – 26 hours of driving back to what still feels like home, but isn’t, and to places where our history still tugs on our heartstrings, but can’t be our present reality

The relief of welcoming arms, long-term friendships, and family relationships embraced us like the salty air: cool, comfortable, and without pretense.

There's something so refreshing about not needing to make a first impression. Click To Tweet

When life changes happen (like a ministry move, a significant loss, or a job transfer) a new normal is thrust upon us. We have an immediate choice to adapt – or not. Depending on the circumstances, we can choose to dive in to the startingover of life, and the writing of a new chapter. Or we can resist by clinging to what once was.

How to Make a New Home

We’ve moved a lot in the twenty years we have been married. I’ll be the first to admit that, in my twenties, these moves were exciting. My husband and I lived on the precipice of adventure when we were young. We looked at ministry relocation and a new home with great anticipation.

But as I’ve gotten older, (and now that we have moved away several times from people and jobs we have loved dearly), I have a keen sense of the amount of energy it takes to start life all over again. 

And this is kind of where I have sat for the past 11 months since we started over…again. 

Two new houses (first a rental, now our own), new neighborhoods, new ministry, new country… Each footstep has felt measured, like it just might take the last bit of energy that I have.

But I’ve still taken the steps…

I’ve had to, otherwise I would sink under the weight of my own resistance. 

So, how do you make a new home when circumstances dictate that you can’t stay where you’ve been? Here are some key steps I take. In fact, I will be taking many of these as soon as we get back to our new home from vacationing at our old one…

Seven Crucial Steps to Make a New Home
  • Tie Some Ribbons Before You Leave

The reality is that things don’t stay the same. The people you are leaving behind will keep on living and changing, just like you will. As you prepare to move, wrestle with the sadness of leaving, and allow some closure to come to your relationships.

A few will rise to the surface as friendships you will be willing to cultivate from a distance over the long haul. You’ll know which ones those are. For the rest, spend time thanking God for the season you’ve had together, and have open conversations that display your gratitude for the relationship you’ve had.

Give yourself permission to tie a bow on this segment of your life before moving on.

  • Drive, Walk, Sit

If you have the luxury of time to house hunt, and the ability to spend time in your new area for a bit, take advantage of it! Drive all over, walk through neighborhoods, sit in parks. What personality do different areas have? Where do you feel the most you?

I was fortunate enough to be able to pair house-hunting with teaching one of my sons to drive. With a willing chauffeur who needed to accrue driving hours, we ran the roads and got a great feel for the areas that felt most like us.

God is already in this next season ahead of you, and He can place people perfectly. Be patient to seek Him in this. Drive, walk, and sit until He shows you where to put down your roots.

  • Allow Yourself to Dream of your New Home

There are always things to feel a little nervous about when heading into a new chapter. But don’t allow fear of the unknown to overshadow your hopes of what might be. Be proactive to dream.  Joy comes in the morning.

What stages of life will you (and your family members if you have them) potentially celebrate in this new home? Is this going to be a developing season, or a simplifying one? What milestones might be coming up in the next few months or years? Ask God the help birth dreams in your heart and mind for what is to come.

Once you figure out where to live, let your imagination run wild about how to permeate your home with your personality. Large renos or small DIY projects give you permission to invest your heart and soul into your new home. Joanna Gaines is my hero in this regard, sharing great insights about it in The Magnolia Story. Whether you are a professional decorator or not, let your personality shine!

  • Consider Your Potential Impact

It’s so easy to approach a move to a new home with a list of our own needs. But what if we came to it from the standpoint of the potential impact we might have there? Could God have a specific community for us to pour into?

Spend time considering what gifts you bring to the table. How might you most naturally impact the people in the neighboring apartments or houses at your new home?

Check out The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door to get an awesome perspective about your call to your neighbors. What new relationships might God be preparing for this next season of life? Where might God want us to let joy loose? When we approach home shopping from the perspective of our potential impact in addition to our own needs, I guarantee we will look at our neighborhoods with different eyes.

  • Ask and Listen

People love to be heard. Your new neighbors all have stories they’ve lived and stories their lives are still writing. The very best thing you can do to show them value is to learn them. Ask questions, and pay rapt attention to their answers. You are being written in.

And come to these conversations prepared to share a bit of yourself too. If the people around your new home are people God has placed in your life, it’s easier to dive right in than to let the awkward silence happen…you totally know what I mean! 🙂

  • Allow Yourself to Re-visit

From my moving experiences, it’s best not to return to the place you’ve left right away. But it is important to re-visit at some point, if you are able. I’d recommend waiting at least a year.

Two things are important about this return:

1) It is a good touch-point with people you know and love. It allows you to be able to share, face-to-face, what God has been doing in your lives.

2) It also helps you see the reality that things don’t stay the same. The place and people you left are not frozen in time, waiting for you to come back. Seeing that they’ve moved on gives permission for you to do so as well.

  • Learn From Where You’ve Been

Some of us have moved a dozen or more times. Others have planted deep roots and intend to remain forever. Still, change may be coming. And either way, the past not only impacts our future, it prepares us for it.

What things about your former home did you love that you can bring to your new home? What life changes can you make right now for this new season? What mistakes can inform your next steps, and what best practices can you bring forward?

The rearview mirror is a great coach, but we need to keep our eyes on the windshield. Click To Tweet

Learn from where you’ve been, but embrace the adventure of the road ahead.

Make a new home

One Step Forward…

Sometimes change is thrust upon us. We usually have a choice about how to respond to it. Whatever it is that brings about the move to a new home, find God in it. His joy will be there too. Each of these seven steps may need to be taken one at a time, but each will help in the process of discovering a new normal in a new chapter. So start by taking that first step; it’s exciting to consider what God might do.

Your turn:  What advice do you have for people getting ready to settle in to a new normal in a new home? Comment below!

Elizabeth Joy