Teacher Gift Tags + Free All About Me Printable Book – UPDATED

We started our first day of homeschooling here this week, which has led to a few VERY busy days, but also very blessed days.

Our first day was pretty rough, but yesterday was really a great day, and I’m looking forward to this adventure God has in store for us.

A friend’s mom, and awesome woman of God, reminded me this week that “God doesn’t call the prepared, He prepares the called.” It brings tears to my eyes to just type it, because I can’t think of a better way to describe this journey we’re on. I felt anything but prepared Monday morning, but had no doubt that this was where He was calling me to be. I know it won’t be easy, but He promises we can do all things through Him. Praise God.

My little one (who is still doing a few mornings of preschool this year) summed up my emotions pretty well on Monday morning…

A little of “I’m really freakin’ excited”

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A little of “What the heck am I doing?!”

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And, thankfully, a little “Phew, we made it through the first day.”

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And here’s a sweet picture of my big girl on her “first day of school”

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And by the way, I should mention that she’s loving school. At one point I asked her if she was bored and she answered “No mama, I LOVE this!” That certainly makes it all worth while.

Now for the free printable! I know it’s nothing pretty, but I wanted to keep it simple so my girls could color it in themselves. This is an “All About Me” book that I hope to have the girls fill out at the start of every year. Whether you homeschool or not, you can use this as a fun keepsake for your kiddos as well (and it makes a great first day of school activity)!

Print each page, cut along the dotted lines, and use a tape runner or double-sided tape to secure the pages together, back-to-back. We then punched 3 holes on the left edge of each page and used book rings to put it all together!

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Our book in process:

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Lastly, if you’re looking for a gift idea for any teachers this year, I just put these fun lotion and nail polish tags up in my shop:

teacher gift, teacher appreciation, teacher gift tag, lotion gift tag, bottle gift tag, first day of school, lotion bottle tag, teacher lotion tag, back to school, gift for teachers

printable, teacher gift, teacher appreciation, nail polish gift tag, teacher gift tag, teacher polish tag, back to school, first day of school, last day of school, end of year gift, gift for teachers

And don’t forget the clipboard idea…there are instructions in my May Inspiration post. Here are the ones we made for our preschool teachers this year:

Clipboard

UPDATE 5/27/15 – I have these fun new candle tags up in my shop now too!!

teacher gift, teacher appreciation, teacher gift tag, end of year gift, gift for teachers, teacher candle tag

Hope you enjoy!

Hugs to you this week ~ Sara

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As We Send Our Littles Off to School

“I pray for the bad days to be erased and for the great days to be magnified. But most of all I pray that it is the reality of Jesus that becomes the bedrock of their souls.” – Lysa TerKeurst

This week, and in the next few weeks to come, many mamas will send their littles off to school for the very first time, and many others will send their kiddos off for their very last-first day of school.

As we do, many of us will cry. Many will feel worried. Some of us will feel a loss of purpose, and others might feel regret for things we wish we could change. Maybe longing for just a little more time. Time to right what we wronged, time to do things a little bit better. Time to just sit and spend with our kids.

If you’re feeling thoughts like these, hold on sweet sister, and pray hard into these truths:

  • God is our Redeemer – He can redeem our failures. Our lost time. Our children. Us. He is our Beginning, and He is our End.
  • It’s never too late, no matter how old our kids are, to start making more time for what really matters. Every new day He gives us, we can choose to start over, and give our best with the time we have.
  • God loves our sweet children even more than we do, and we can fully trust them into His hands.
  • Finally, remember that God has a plan and a purpose for us all. Sending our kiddos off doesn’t take away our purpose. Our purpose is always the same – to glorify God. So let us pray to seek His will in our lives, and to glorify Him in all we do.

You’re a good mama, friend. You’ve made awesome memories with those kids of yours. Hold on tight to those memories, and look forward to all the new ones you will make together in the years to come.

Surrender to Him alone today, and in the days to come, and pray for the bad days to be erased, the great days to be magnified, and above all else, that Jesus will become the bedrock of our kids’ souls.

Hugs as you send your babies off (no matter how old they are) in the weeks to come ~ Sara

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This summer my big girl lost her first baby tooth, and…

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learned to ride her bike. Growing up so fast. Thankful for the sweet memories.

The Sound of the Wind + Free Scavenger Hunt Printable

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“I’d give up all the brushes in the world and my basic black skirt just to have her back. But some things you just can’t tie down.” – Beth Moore

Skimming through the book “Feathers From My Nest” by Beth Moore this morning. As with all her books, it’s an amazing read.

It’s a dreary day here today, and as I flip through the pages of this book, I’m reminded, even more so than normal, that the days with my girls are so fleeting. At the ages of just 5 and 4, I’m painfully and daily aware that these precious faces will all too soon be leaving our nest.

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“Since the first day my children went to Mother’s Day Out, I dreaded the proverbial empty nest like a terminal disease. I literally collapsed on the mailbox when the school bus had the gall to kidnap my kindergartners.” – Beth Moore

And although I’m so achingly aware of the shortness of this season in life, there are still many, regrettably even most, days that I don’t make enough time to really soak up the precious moments offered today.

This past Friday, I wasted away nearly a whole day cleaning my oven. I’ll save you the time and tell you baking soda and vinegar really does not work that well to clean an oven (at least not an oven as dirty as mine).

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I did eventually get my oven respectably clean, but the most redeeming part of my day was the hour break I took in the middle of this mess to really spend with my girls.

It’s a constant struggle for my distracted mind, but the moments when I completely detach from the world, and focus all of me on these girls…those are the moments that I feel completely overflowing with the love and grace of my Savior. Ahhh, yes…I can almost hear His whisper in the quiet of the wind.

We did a backyard scavenger hunt on what could arguably have been the best (weather) day ever, and somehow being out in all the glory of His creation made our time together even all the more awesome.

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We finished the scavenger hunt with some swinging. Ain’t many things better than watching pigtails blow in the wind and little faces light up after saying “yes, I will push you on the swings.”

It’s never too late to start making more time for what really matters. Start today and then wake up and start all over again tomorrow. His mercies are new everyday. Praise God.

Here’s the scavenger hunt we used. It has a great outdoor hunt on one side, and an indoor hunt on the other side. The girls loved it.

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Whatever you do today, keep God at the center, and commit to be all there.

Hugs ~ Sara

Mama: When We Fail – God Redeems

This week I spent some time with a dear friend. I’m so thankful for her friendship because she’s honest. The kind of honest that reminds you that you’re not alone…that we all struggle…that I’m not the only one who thinks this mama thing can be really hard.

And it also reminded me that we mamas all need to lean on each other – for love, support, an ear to listen. God didn’t mean for us to do this life alone.

So this honest friend of mine tells me she feels hopeless. That some stuff is just too far gone…too late to fix. And my heart is screaming NO! It is never too late!

And then I realize that this is my story too. And it’s true for me. And it’s true for us all: It’s never too late. Never too far gone. Never beyond the healing hand of our Lord and Savior.

How awesome that what feels hopeless in our own lives, can become full of hope through the lens of another.

So thank you sweet sister for sharing your story, which is really my story too. And thank you for teaching me that what I know is full of hope in your life, must be hopeful in mine also.

The developer in me feels like I have to give you something more than just words each week. Something concrete that you can use to help you – like a list, calendar, schedule. I feel like I’m failing you if I don’t.

But this week I feel convicted to just share words. To you, to my dear friend, and to myself.

Words that God has put on my heart:

Dear Mama,

I know how hard this journey can be. I walk it with you everyday. I might not understand the details of your individual struggles – some more difficult, some less so – but I know that all of our lives have trying days, and hard seasons.

I know that you can feel hopeless. Lost. Like there’s no way to put back all that’s been broken. I feel it too. But we’re wrong.

God is our Advocate. The Perfecter of our faith. Our Comforter, Deliverer, Mediator, Physician, Purifier, Redeemer. Our Beginning, and our End.

Did you read that? Your God is your redeemer. He is capable to redeem all that is lost. He is your physician, capable to heal all that is broken.

Don’t let Satan convince you of anything less. Show him your faith is a faith that can move mountains.

All throughout the Bible, we read stories of heroes. Heroes who were desperately lost, desperately in need of grace, and desperately full of sin. And all throughout, God redeems them. The only requirement on their part was surrender. A surrender of themselves to God alone, and a cry out to Him for help.

We must cry out to our God for help. We can’t do this on our own sister. But God. He can heal it all. Do you believe it? Do you? Believe it.

He can redeem your failures. Your children. You. In this moment, at the end of this day, and at the end of everyday until He calls us home.

All that is required of us is a life of faith. We must love Him, and trust Him. Trust that He has a plan, and He can do all things.

And remember sweet mama that you were made for a greater purpose than all this. You were created for eternity. So when, in this life, you experience those feelings of hopelessness and loss, of defeat and failure, remember that those are tugs toward eternity…reminders that THIS is not our home.

We will never have it all figured out while we are here. We will never have it all together. But this doesn’t mean we can’t live a life full of faith, that can be passed on to our children. This doesn’t mean God can’t richly bless us and heal all that we have broken.

And sister, when you find yourself looking around, please know that anyone who makes it look easy isn’t being honest. All of us have different lives, but none of them are perfect.

The reality is that motherhood has seasons that are bare-boned hard, where all our days can seem to fly by in a crying, screaming, wrestling blur of failures and despair. But God is our redeemer. So keep your eyes looking up instead of all around, and surrender your life to Him…into His always open hands, capable of healing all that we mess up.

I love you sister. And I have full confidence that if you just look to your Creator, the One who created us, our children, all…then He can and He will redeem our lives when we ask.

So put on your armor this morning and ask God to be with you today. You’ve got this, and more importantly, so does God.

Hugs ~ Sara

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life is often not this peaceful and smiley, but we never take pictures of the bad or tough stuff, do we? Still, I’m thankful for these redeeming moments of grace.

Just Be Still

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Another school year has come and gone, and now I’m left just wonderin’ how the time escaped me so quickly again.

This was the last year of preschool for my big girl. This week she mastered the monkey bars all by herself, and she can swing high as the sky without even one push. Seems like just yesterday she made me a mama for the first time, but she’ll be 6 this summer. That means she’s 1/3 of the way gone. A third. The first 6 years have gone like a blink, and I only have two blinks left before my time is up? How?

And then my baby – she’s finally starting to hold her pee pee all night. If she makes it for two weeks, we promised the girls a bunk bed. Is it wrong that I really just want her to stay in diapers and a toddler bed forever? I love how her little diapered butt barely squeezes past the rail to slip into bed with her blankie and tiny little pillow. She turns 4 this month…how’d I let it go so fast?

I get up once a night to take Kate potty. After she’s back in bed, I’ve been having trouble getting myself back to sleep with all these thoughts on my mind. One night this week I was up for over an hour – I had to turn on my light and just write out all that I was thinking. I wept and cried, and just prayed for God to please help me remember all the precious moments He gives me with my babies…I’ve been massively failing at just stopping and soaking it all in.

Too often, I busy myself all day long with stuff that doesn’t matter for eternity. I struggle with restlessness, and I hate to just sit down, but when I do – and I make the time to enjoy those precious moments – my stress eases, my shoulders relax, and I can feel the presence of my Lord more than ever.

On Mother’s Day I decided to have a crabby moment. My husband wasn’t saying what he wanted to do for dinner, so I pouted off to the kitchen, made a picnic dinner, and took the girls outside…I didn’t make anything for him. Nice, right? He rolled with it, and joined us in the backyard, and the cool thing is, we totally enjoyed our time together. I actually just sat and soaked it up. My girls loved it, I loved it, and it ended up being the best thing we could’ve done. My stress and anger completely went away, and I could SO just see and feel God. When I take time to be still and really BE with my kids…I find Him.

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“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

And certainly this is the key. If I just be still, I show my kids the love they need and want, and I find my God. He hides in these moments…in these quiet places that I foolishly fight so hard to miss.

So how can I make more time…more space for these moments to unfold? First, I must pray, and then I need to act. And the one thing I know I must do is be more intentional by planning these moments into my day. I must plan to spend time with God and with my family. I must plan to be still. Just as I plan cleaning and other tasks, I must also plan this. So this week I’m going to work on a daily schedule for both my girls and myself. I’m also going to make some lists of all the things I think are important for each of us to schedule into our days, weeks, months…activities with our families, friends, and the world, and then I hope to share them next Monday.

In the meantime, I want to focus on the positive in all of this…which is that God has given me another day to change, and to do better. He’s given YOU another day. Here are some lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “Who You Are” by Unspoken:

“You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far that you can’t get back when you lost where you are. It’s never too late so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are. So let the ashes fall wherever they land, come back from wherever you’ve been. To the foot of the cross, to the feet of Jesus. The feet of Jesus. At the foot of the cross you change who you are.”

So let’s focus on these things this week: it’s never too bad that you can’t change who you are, and do better…we must intentionally schedule still moments into our days. I know not everyone struggles with these issues, but I know I’m not alone either, so if this is hard for you too, will you work on this with me?

Hugs ~ Sara

P.S. If you’re interested in some motivation for your week…here is a list of songs that I listen to on replay everyday (and seriously annoy my husband with) 🙂 These are songs that inspire me as a mama to focus on the right things, and give my best:

Blink by Revive
Not For A Moment by Meredith Andrews
Worn by Tenth Avenue North
Who You Are by Unspoken
Words by Hawk Nelson
One Thing Remains by Kristian Stanfill
Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman
Find Your Wings by Mark Harris
Lift Me Up by The Afters
Little Boy On His Knees by Cheri Keaggy
In Better Hands by Natalie Grant
Slip On By by Finding Favour
You Are by Colton Dixon
One Heartbeat At A Time by Steven Curtis Chapman

And if you’re really cheesy and old like me…here’s a CD label to go with it 😉
I made these for my sweet small group ladies…

Avery Print from the Web, v5 Document
For use with printable Avery CD labels

And if you missed it…check out the housekeeping printables from last week: https://gonelikerainbows.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/complete-houskeeping-printable-set/

Real Life

Mt. Frank my husband calls it...we usually dig out and wear everything before it ever gets folded. The mountain has been known to reach half way up the window many times...
Mount Frank my husband calls it…the clothes usually all get worn long before they ever get folded. The pile’s been known to reach well above the window more than once…

I don’t journal, and I’ve never written more than a page in a diary, but one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to serve as somewhat of a journal for my girls…something they could look back on when they’re older…something that might serve as a testament to just how much I love them, and just how hard I worked to be better…to be a good, Godly mama.

With this goal in mind, I set out thinking I should only write things that would remind my girls of the good stuff…the loving stuff…the stuff I want them to remember. But I’ve been wondering, is this attitude doing them an injustice? If this is the only view I give them of my motherhood journey, will it make them feel like failures if they are struggling mamas someday? Will it leave them thinking they can never measure up?

The truth is, being a mama is hard. Like really, really hard. I truly believe there are some mamas out there who really have it all together…like they really do, I’m just not one of them. I want to be, and I’m trying to be, but I’m not. So this week, I’ve decided to be more vulnerable and share more about some of my real life struggles…my weaknesses…shortcomings…sins.

Here are some real life snapshots from our home:

Our coat closet. I jammed a bunch of junk in there before company arrived one night...6 months ago. I have no idea what all is in there now...
Our coat closet. I jammed a bunch of junk in there before company arrived one night…6 months ago. I have no idea what all is in there now…
Our bedroom closet...I'm not really sure what has happened in here, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't been clean more than about 3 days over the last 5 years.
Our bedroom closet…it speaks for itself…
My side of the bathroom. Again, I have issues with clothes. I use my tub for a closet more often than a for a bath. And for some reason, I never like to shut that one drawer on my vanity...easily my husbands biggest pet peeve.
My side of the bathroom. The tub serves as a closet more often than a bath. And for some reason, I just never like to shut that left drawer on my vanity…

I’ve left out plenty of equally scary spaces…like our garage, my van (which is so dirty, I’m sure it’s growing things), my oven (which I worry might set the house on fire every time I turn it on), and our bed (which usually only gets made after my husband gets home from work)…oh and the orange rings that often decorate the inside of my toilets, or the shower drain that smells like month-old sweaty socks.

Many nights I fall asleep with my jeans still on, dishes still in the sink, and wet laundry in the dryer. It’s a struggle to fit a shower into my every day…and who has time to shave their legs? This week my Allison even asked why my daytime clothes are the same as my pajamas. Shoot. And ya’ll already know I struggle with yelling, impatience, control, OCD, and spending more intentional time with my family…just to name a few.

The thing is, we all have struggles, and we all have sin. Mine might look different, worse, or maybe better than yours, but we can’t judge or compare ourselves to each other. We all have different obstacles we’re overcoming and different pasts we’re unwinding, that have led us to where we are. Some of us start out as mamas with a lot more junk that we need to let God heal, and it might take longer for us to “get it all together,” but as we do, we need to let God be our only standard.

“I don’t like labels…I want to be a good mom for the kids God has entrusted to my care. I don’t want to be a slacker mom or a supermom. I just want to be the kind of mom God intends for me to be…I want to be me, and I’m okay with that.” – Lysa TerKeurst

The lady next door who always has her hair and makeup done, her house perfectly clean and decorated, and the most well-behaved kids I know…she is not my standard. She is not who I should want to be more like. I need to set my eyes on Jesus – the author and perfecter of my faith – who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God! Yes! This is who I want to be more like, who I need to be more like. I know I will never be perfect, nor does God expect me to be, but I also know that He is calling me to be better…to give him the best I can, with what I have been given.

So I need to take an honest evaluation of who I am, how I’m living, and how I can better myself – to bring glory to God, and to serve my family. God wants my best. My children deserve my best. And truth is, I can talk for hours about how I just don’t have time to fold all my laundry or wash all those dishes, but then how do I explain all the hours spent Facebooking, or researching how to make homemade yogurt? Seriously…

“If you’re a mom, God has called you to mother those children. If you’re a wife, God has called you to bless and serve and fulfill the needs of your husband, to be a keeper of your home. That’s God’s calling. When you do that, you are serving the Lord. Don’t get distracted.” – Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Not only is it my calling to stay focused on these things, it’s also my responsibility to set an example for my kids. My decisions, words, and actions all shape who my children will become. They will model my behavior. So…

“What example are you setting for your kids about working? Do your kids see you working around the house – going the extra mile to create an orderly, cozy home for them? Do they see you do everything as unto the Lord? Do they see you grumble and complain about the daily tasks required of you?…I do try to set the same standard by upholding the same work ethic I expect of them and working alongside them. We are a family that plays together, prays together, and works together. I want my kids to know that whatever I expect of them, I expect of myself…Our attitude about work will set the tone for the way our kids see it.” – Lysa TerKeurst

So I want to encourage us all to start by first admitting that being a mom is hard. We don’t have it all together, and we are desperately in need of a Savior. Admit this to other moms, and to your kids. It’s an injustice to everyone to pretend that you’re something you’re not.

Second, we need to realize that NO mom is perfect. No one is as awesome as they look on paper, in pictures, or on Facebook. We all have our own issues, and we absolutely cannot let ourselves focus on trying to be like anyone other than Jesus.

Lastly, armed with these truths, we must be honest with ourselves about our shortcomings, and the areas that God is calling us to be better in. Then, we must pray for strength, grace, courage…set our eyes on Jesus, and start working hard to be the mom God is calling us to be.

One of my goals in working towards all of this is to create some lists and such that I know will help me to stay focused. My goal this week is to finish creating a printable to do list, shopping list, menu plan, cleaning schedule, daily schedule, and chore chart for the kiddos. If I get them all done, I hope to share them all next week, so you can print them if you think they’d be helpful for you as well.

So take heart friends, you are a good mama. You do not need to be like your perfect next door neighbor, but you do need to be your best, so ask yourself this week – what steps can you take to be better today?

Hugs ~ Sara

Oh! And remember – Wednesday is May 1st. Check out my blog May Inspiration for some ideas for May Day, Mother’s Day & end-of-year teacher gifts! 🙂