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How to Unwrap the Greatest Gift at Christmas with your Family

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Greatest Gift of His Rest

2020… a year like no other! Back in March, when this whole shutdown started, I distinctly feel God telling me it’s time to rest. I don’t mean rest entirely, but rest in Him, rest in His faithfulness and goodness, His provision and His mercy. It has been quite a year, but He has brought us through until now!

2020 into Focus

Christmas is soon upon us. We celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday, whether with our families physically, virtually, or in spirit, and we need to wrap this year up with a renewed focus on our Creator. 2020 needs to put our lives into focus, which I suggest, may be why God allowed all of these things to happen?

I am in my office, looking at page traffic on Mom’s Priority, and a popular page is a product for Ann Voskamp’s Greatest Gift set. It has been around a few years, but I’m looking at it now, and I think the time is right for our family to renew our focus on Christ.

Ann Voskamp - Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Unwrapping the Greatest Gifthelps you celebrate the best love story of all time with your family! Ann Voskamp expands her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree
Ann Voskamp – Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Greatest Gift Advent Devotional

We have a tradition to read a Bible verse relating to the coming Christ every day in December. The Bible verses are clothespinned to a strand of garland strung along our bannister. As we take turns reading the verses, we take an Andes mint as a reward (usually just for our son- he is the only one who really appreciates them!). It’s just been a fun tradition and Bible reading time for our family for Advent. Maybe we miss a night or two and read several at a time- we’re not super strict about it. But, that time, coming around the table to read the Bible…it’s holy and I hope the tradition sticks with our kids and they pass it down to their families.


Advent Traditions

Anyways! This Greatest Gift book and set… it hit me this morning and I think we need to get it, to go along with our Advent tradition. Our kids are getting older and it is somewhat juvenile, but the message of God’s sovereignty…how he cared for us and planned it all before even Jesus came along, way back in the Old Testament… I want to reflect on that before our kids are grown!

Advent in 2020

Our church routine has not been what it used to be, and maybe you are in a similar situation. As parents, we still have the most important responsibility to teach all of these eternal things to our kids! (Deuteronomy 5:6-9) Here is the link for the booklet and devotions (from DaySpring) or here for the devotional book (from Amazon) if you are interested in this advent devotional as well. Just enough time to get it here before Advent begins! There are plenty of other great devotionals out there. I’d love to hear what you are planning for Advent this year! Send me an email or comment below!

7 Safe Sunscreens ~ Mom Recommended ~ For Kids

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It’s that time of year again, time to get outside more and enjoy the outdoors, for our health! At the same time, we know we need to apply safe sunscreen on ourselves and our kids. Is it just me, or do the ingredient lists on the back of these sunscreens we use scare you too? You know there is a problem when my usually non-sensitive kids are complaining of face sunscreen causing their faces to feel burned. I’ve read about chemicals in sunscreens causing problems with a person’s endocrine system, and more research needs to be done. We all need to do our best at determining what’s best for our own families.

You may be looking for safe sunscreens because you are planning a trip and your resort is banning chemical sunscreens. I didn’t know this until recently, but the chemicals in the traditional sunscreens are being blamed for coral reef disappearances. So, resorts in Hawaii and the Florida Keys especially are beginning to ban chemical sunscreens.

Everything is a balance, and we are all just doing our best, BUT I want to share with you sunscreens we’ve found that may be a little healthier and more natural. Here is a list of 7 safe sunscreens for you to try.

Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or endocrinologist, and am sharing products that have helped me and my family and friends. Please see a doctor for medical advice.

7 Safe Sunscreens to Try

  1. Sun Bum

    What’s great about this sunscreen is it is “Hypoallergenic and Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Gluten, Cruelty and Paraben Free to ensure a fun day in the sun,” according to their description. It’s oil-free, smells great, and doesn’t irritate our family’s skin like some others do.
  2. Alba Botanica Sensitive Sunscreen spray. What’s great is that this sunscreen is free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and synthetic fragrances, and it is an easy spray-on mist.

  3. Blue Lizard. This is a zinc oxide product, so it goes on thick and there is a white residue. It is mineral-based, which means it works and it does not contain oxybenzone and octinozate.

  4. ThinkSport Kids. Free of biologically harmful chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, paraben, phthalates, PABA, 1,4 dioxane, and UV chemical absorbers.
  5. Cera Vie Hydrating Sunscreen. This is a zinc-oxide based sunscreen, without parabens and oxybenzone. Our dermatologist recommended it.
  6. Coola Organic Sunscreen – At $36 a can, this product is more expensive but it smells great and doesn’t feel greasy or chemically.
  7. All Good Baby and Kids Sunscreen. This coral reef safe sunscreen uses zinc oxide, but its surprisingly easier to apply than most.
Safe Sunscreens for Kids

Fun in the Sun Coming Up!

We all have so many fun times to look forward to with the weather warming up, and I hope you take a look at these safe(r) sunscreen suggestions for your family. We could also add to this safe sunscreen list Rodan and Fields and Beauty Counter products. There will always be give and take with the pros and cons of each product and each of us as moms has to make the best decision for our families at the time (and no judging!). Wishing you many fun and safe memories with your family this summer, whether is be at the beach, the lake, or at home in your backyard.

For other posts, encouragement, or to join our community, please visit Mom’s Priority.

Parenting During Covid-19

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An assuredly major mark in future world history, this Covid-19 Pandemic is life-altering and habit-changing. Who knew that in the matter of a month’s time, we could go from our “normal” lives of working, going to school, eating out at restaurants, shopping in stores at leisure, playing sports, rushing around…to staying home, completing schoolwork, work, shopping, all online.  Parenting during Covid-19 is not for the faint of heart, and we are all just doing our best.  We all have different situations:  some have “essential” jobs and others may be filing for unemployment.  Some have young kids who can be exhausting to keep busy, and others have teenagers who wish for peace.  We all know of someone who is sick, and we do our best to stay healthy ourselves.  As we all parent through this time, we have to be patient and forgiving with ourselves.  

Changing Habits

My daughter and I have started walking 3 miles a day with our dogs. We still get up at a reasonable hour because I believe we need to be on somewhat of a schedule for our health and for school and online work, but we do not set alarms.  We watch TV together and play games. As a family, we work around our (new-to-us-that-needs work) property.

During this time, my husband and I have decided to let the kids watch more TV, play more video games, and facetime and talk on the phone and text more often, because that IS their social time with their friends right now, and we believe they need that.

This whole quarantine thing is getting old, even for this introvert, but we want to be a part of the solution for our community and country. As we pray for those who are sick, or on the front lines, we also pray we do not get sick.

Healthier Eating Habits

During this crazy time, it’s not unusual to eat 3 real, homecooked meals a day around the table as a family. We are eating healthier these days. I make sure we get our fruits and vegetables and real food, not as much processed. Simple meals we like, made with real ingredients. I can’t say we are losing weight, though, because we are home and eating ALL THE TIME! Our animals wonder what is up because their humans are always here!! This whole quarantine thing is very strange. Every morning we wake up and think it’s a dream, but quickly realize the reality we are in.

Parenting During Covid-19

It all sounds strange, but there is so much good to this situation too. While being at home together all the time brings its own set of stressors, and we are fortunate to have a large property and house (fixer upper, but still, we can all retreat to our own corners!), I have found that this time is forcing us to deal with some parenting issues that in our busyness, get relegated to the back burners.

For too long, we have gone from commitment to commitment, with little time to slow down. Our kids are in school with their teachers and then at their after school activities, and we are parenting in the margins. And we are all generally exhausted at best then! But now, we get the opportunity to love each other family member through this situation, and slow down, appreciate each other, and work through the issues as they come up!

This is important to me, and I am thankful for this time to slow down. I don’t want to get to the finish line, and I’m not sure where that even is, maybe when they go off to college or maybe it’s way beyond that, and realize that we didn’t do the work that mattered. Proverbs 31- even though I fail often, this is my ideal. I want to make sure we parented where it mattered. That our kids knew that we were in their corners and that we expected growing character and integrity among them. More than anything, I want them to know that their worth is in God’s high view and calling of them, and everybody else’s falls less than that.

Parenting Books

I occasionally read new parenting books, and I’ve ordered a few new ones to start soon. We want to be faithful to the calling of being parents. I would love to hear what parenting books have shaped your role as parents. Some that I have read through in the past are below. I believe it’s so important to pray for our children continually and teach them, as it says in Deuteronomy 6:5-9. These books have been insightful to us through this parenting journey.

Devotionals for Kids

5 Best Kids Devotional Books

What insightful books have you read that you recommend? You can comment below or email us at [email protected]. This Covid-19 came out of nowhere to us, but God is not surprised. We can use this time to glorify Him by enjoying the people he has given us in our families and working to love them better. Praying for all of you readers to have peace, sanity, wisdom, love, and good health in this time!

3 Gift Rule

Christmas Gift Giving


When our children were babies, we implemented the 3 gift rule that someone told us about. Just as Jesus received three gifts from the three wise men, you’ll remember from the Bible story, our children receive three gifts from us! This simple rule has simplified Christmas for us! Someone told me about it years ago, and how it gave Christmas deeper meaning to their little children and a chance to share the story of the birth of Jesus. There are still plenty of gifts around the tree, because you buy for others. Likewise, they receive plenty because of extended family Christmas gatherings. But the message that we share around the tree is the story of Jesus and the three gifts of the wise men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

3 Gifts of the Wise Men

3 Gift Rule

What is the 3 Gift Rule?

So, what are these three gifts, and how do we implement that into our family Christmas tradition?

Gold: Something that they really want

Frankincense: Something that they need (like clothes)

Myrrh: Something to read or to help them grow (a book, devotional, or CD usually)

The message on Christmas morning is not one of extravagant material gifts, but of the most extravagant gift we could ever receive: eternal life because our Savior came and took the punishment we deserve. Our family is far from being holy or un-materialistic. These small steps, though, keep Christmas focused and keep our children from only caring about what they will receive under the tree Christmas morning! Our family time is meaningful and enjoyable. Christmas morning, along with Christmas Eve, is one of my most favorite days. We celebrate family and our Savior. I cannot remember who first told me about the 3 Gift Rule, but I am so thankful they did!

For more posts from Mom’s Priority about Christmas time giving:

Teach Your Kids to Give

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes


Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Filling Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes is a Christmas tradition for our family.  In a simple gesture, the kids and I gather our gifts to go in the boxes typically starting on Fall Break.  We try to send out by early November, so the kids who receive them do so by Christmas time.  In these boxes, we include the following:

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Items to Include

    • Simple toys, like a jump rope or bouncy ball

  • Wooden games or puzzles from the dollar store
  • Basic hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, comb or brush
  • Clothes, such as a T-shirt, underwear, socks, and possibly flip flops or another kind of shoe
  • School supplies, like notepads, pencils with sharpener, pen, or markers
  • Whatever our child enjoys at their age, such as matchbox cars or little dolls, gets included
  • A handwritten note
  • Books are always welcome

Prayer Suggestions

Most importantly, the kids and I pray for the child who will receive this gift.  We pray for the hearts of the children who receive the gifts, for the volunteers who serve by promoting, collecting, and distributing the boxes, and for this ministry to be effective in reaching people.

Shipping to Another Part of the World

We can pay $9 to have it shipped, and we can track where it goes online through Samaritan’s Purse.  These shoeboxes are an amazing start to the Christmas season because they turn our focus outward.  It’s an incredible learning opportunity for the kids.  Undoubtedly, the kids want to know more about the country and culture that this child is in.  It teaches our children empathy and an age-appropriate awareness of the world we live in, outside our community.  My prayer, like many other parents, is that it fosters in their hearts a love for other people who come from different backgrounds than us.  I pray that their love grows as they grow, and that they want to share the love of Jesus Christ with others.

Operation Christmas Child Legacy

Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes bless others, but I think we are the ones who are truly blessed.  We coordinate these with our church’s mission opportunities, but you can give a shoebox regardless of church affiliation.  Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has distributed over 147 million boxes!  Learn more at the official website here.  

For more ideas of ways to teach your children about giving, see Christmas Giving with Kids.

Teach Your Kids to Give

Christmas Giving with Kids

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Tis the Season…for giving, and sharing the Love of Christmas with others. Your kids are never too young to start- it’s up to you to teach your kids to give and look out for others. Even though we do some of these things,  I want our family to be more intentional at Christmas-time, and throughout the year.  Looking for needs, meeting them, and showing appreciation: these are habits I want to have and instill in our kids.  Here are 33 Ways Kids can Give this Christmas (without much money spent!):

Teach Your Kids to Give This Christmas

Teach Your Kids to Give

Christmas Giving for Kids

1. Give a warm blanket to the homeless
2. Leave a thank you note and small gift card for the mail carrier  

thank you postal worker
3. Thank your bus driver with a note, gift card, and big hug!
4. Sing and play Christmas carols at the local assisted living center
5. Pack a shoe box for Operation Christmas child

Read More

How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude at Home

The Cure for Entitlement:  Gratitude


My son has been excitedly asking about our gratitude jar for the past month.   Filling the jar with things we are thankful for is a tradition we do every November.  Every day in November (ideally… we often have to catch up!), we write down things we are thankful for on slips of paper and add them to the jar.  On Thanksgiving Day, we read all of our notes aloud.  It is a humbling and gratifying experience to say the least.  To hear aloud my family members say things that maybe I never think to be thankful for, this fills my heart!  This is what Thanksgiving is all about!

Get Our Hearts Right

It surprises me that he asks and even remembers! Our gratitude jar simply sits on our kitchen table for one month out of the year.  It precedes Christmas, which can become an extremely materialistic time of year if we’re not careful.  I love that it makes an impact on him, and I hope we keep this tradition for many years to come.  More than anything, in our entitled world, I want our kids to know the source of everything.  I want them to know that it comes from God, and not from any work they can do themselves.  Sure, hard work is often rewarded, but this gratitude is what separates the entitled from the humble and thankful.

Simple Jar or Bucket

Don’t fool yourself into thinking your container has to be Pinterest-worthy to use!  A gratitude jar (or gratitude bucket!) can be as crafty as you want, or have time, to make it!  It’s the practice, the habit, of daily writing down things we’re thankful for that we’re after.  If you have time to make it super-cute, then by all means, do!  This year, my usual glass apothecary jar was being used for something else.  So, we are using a galvanized bucket with a ribbon tied at the top!  Times are busy right now, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to miss this opportunity!  Who knows how many more years our kids will want to do this?!  I do hope it sticks with them.  But regardless, it will be a fulfilling memory to store away for future thanksgivings.

Solutions to Raising Grateful Kids

Beyond this simple idea of a gratitude jar, here are other ways to raise grateful kids in this entitled world:

  1. Express thankfulness in prayers and blessings.  Thankfulness is a key element of prayer, and in blessings at meals, we bless the food and thank God for providing it.  Creating this habit reminds us daily to focus on God, and not on ourselves.
  2. Give gifts and serve in the community When you give generously, you think of the receiver and it forces you to look beyond yourself.  Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our situation, that we fail to look outward.  Giving good gifts to teachers and others in the community helps us to voice our appreciation of their work.
  3. Get into nature and experience the awe and beauty around us, given to us by God.  How can you look at a sunrise and not be thankful?!
  4. Live intentionally. Instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, focus on what your purpose is and do that well!
  5. Keep Christmas about the cross, and not just wanting more “stuff.”  We can challenge ourselves to give and not just want.  The 3 Gift rule helps our family keep away from all of the “I wants.”

Expressing Gratitude Creates Long Term Impact

the cure for entitlement is gratitudeUltimately as parents, when we “teach” our children, we’re really teaching ourselves, right?  This reminder every November is good medicine for me AND it’s great for our kids.  We’re raising up the next generation, and who wants a bunch of spoiled adults running around!  Long term, I believe practicing gratitude creates healthier families.  Think of how much better you sleep when you’re not overspent and overworked?  When you’re able to focus on living intentionally, grateful for each day.  There are even studies pointing to gratitude reducing anxiety and depression in adults.  The results of one study are preliminary, but it suggests practicing gratitude actually rewires the brain!  Knowing that the future ahead for our children is not going to be any easier, I want to give my kids all the tools to have long, productive and meaningful lives.  Gratitude is a simple answer.





For more posts related to family and living intentionally around the holidays, join our newsletter and click to read these posts:

Christmas Giving with Kids

Three Gift Rule

Living Intentionally as a Mom

Meals around the Table

family meals moms priority

Family Meals

As we get back to school and life gets busy, it is easy to let meals around the table slip in importance. Study after study shows, however, that on multiple factors, having family meals together is the single most important thing we can do for our kids’ health.

Benefits of Meals around the Table

  1. Physical Health– According to the American Association of Pediatrics, families who eat 3 or more family meals together per week, reduce their odds for being overweight by 12% and eating unhealthy foods by 20%.
  2. Academia– Family meals and the dinner conversations that accompany them increase children’s vocabulary and ability to produce and understand stories.
  3. Psychological– Family meals give children a place to be heard and understood.
  4. By the teenage years, teens who eat dinner together report lower teen pregnancy rates, depression, and eating disorders.

On the side of mom, however, it is difficult to get healthy meals on the table every night with overwhelmed schedules when it is much easier to pick up fast food!  One of the priorities of Mom’s Priority is healthy families, so here are some family meal ideas to help you when you get overwhelmed:

Read on…

Something to Work on… Being an Active Mom

Active Mom

Mom’s Priority ~ Active Mom

“The less physically active a mother is, the more likely her child will be sedentary early in life”

WOW!! This study from the American Academy of Pediatrics keeps coming back to haunt me, as I am not as active as I would like to be!

Mom’s Priority

“Mom’s Priority” means many things to many moms, and to me, it includes modeling good habits that they can one day call their own. Being an active mom, athletically, is something that I struggle with, but hope to improve upon. With limited hours in the day, exercising often gets cut, and even more so, exercising WITH my kids is a challenge. But, there are so many ways to incorporate physical activity into our daily routine.  Read on…

Healthy Kids Snacks

healthy kids snacksAs we start a new school year, it’s like we press the reset button on our habits.  Eating healthy, and particularly eating healthy snacks, is something we try to do and teach our kids!  Unfortunately and fortunately, kids’ habits are impressed upon them by their friends and peers.  I’ve seen it both good and bad for ours!  Our kids are picky eaters, so seeing their friends try new foods helps our cause some days!  On other days, our kids only seem to want junk food.  It’s a battle we constantly have to fight, as we raise up our children to become healthy and make good choices!  When the kids walk in the door at home after a long school day, we want to have healthy options for them!

8 Healthy Snacks Kids Love

  1. Smoothies – Our kids love the texture of smoothies!  Add anything to strawberries and bananas!  This is by far our favorite recipe

[ultimate-recipe id=”45013″ template=”default”]

For more recipes and kid-friendly snack ideas…

We’ve listed some great healthy kids snacks HERE .  These are just a few; we would love to hear your ideas too!

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