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Mason Jar Leaf Lanterns

Fall is a fun time for tween-friendly crafts. These lovely mason jar lanterns decorated with fabric leaves are easy to make, fun to look at, and they make excellent gifts for grandparents and friends!

8-oz Mason jar
Fabric fall leaves
Mod Podge (matte finish)
Sponge brush

Clean the Mason jar with soap and water to remove any dust, dirt or oil. Apply a layer of rubbing alcohol inside and out to eliminate any traces of grease (which can prohibit the Mod Podge from adhering correctly). Allow the jar to dry completely. Avoid touching the sides of the jar with your fingers, so you don’t leave oily fingerprints.

Peel the plastic veins from the fabric leaves so they can lay flat. Using the sponge brush, apply a layer of Mod Podge to the outside of the jar, about the size of one leaf. Wait a few minutes for the glue to become tacky, then press the leaf onto the Mod Podge and hold until it sticks. Allow it to dry, then repeat this process until the outside of your jar is covered in slightly overlapping leaves. Be sure to hold down the edges of the leaves until they adhere completely to the jar.

Allow the leaves to dry thoroughly, then cover them with a generous layer of Mod Podge for sealing. Set the jar aside to dry overnight. Then set a tea light inside the jar and enjoy your beautiful lantern!

Preparing for Holiday Travel with a Family Travel Kit

Are you planning to travel with kids to visit loved ones for the holidays? To ensure a smooth and harmonious trip, consider packing a family travel kit. It’s the ready solution to anticipated hiccups on the road (or in the air). Here’s what we recommend storing inside your kit:

1. Airline tickets, maps, reservation receipts or other important documents. Keep these must-have papers immediately on hand by packing them in a safe pocket of your family travel kit.

2. Cash. Whether for highway tolls, vending machines, or quick pit stops at a drive-through, cash is a handy way to fund minor travel expenses within limits. As soon as the cash is gone, it’s gone. This helps prevent overspending!

3. Snacks. Pack a supply of granola bars, trail mix, gum or lollipops (especially if you’re flying or driving through mountains, to help with ear pressure), or whatever favorite foods your kids will eat on the run. This helps stave off requests to stop for fries or expensive airport concessions at the first pang of hunger.

4. Activity books, travel games or playing cards. Keep everybody occupied with age-appropriate puzzles or brain teasers such as Mad Libs, Bible trivia, sudoku, or road sign bingo.

5. Earbuds or headphones. Give everyone a chance to chill out with their favorite music, podcast or audiobook. Or, if you’re driving, play Adventures in Odyssey on the stereo for the whole family to enjoy.

6. Over-the-counter medicines. Nothing ruins a trip faster than a headache or stuffy nose. Bring a supply of gentle pain medicines or cold remedies, as well as tissues, bandages, and wet wipes—just in case.

7. A Bible and/or family devotional. Spend long waits at the airport exploring one of our Faithgirlz devotionals or tween-friendly Bibles.

8. Finally, bring a joyful attitude! You can’t fit this one in a travel bag, but remember—God goes before you on your travels, and He will equip you to face any frustrations or interruptions along the way. Pray for a patient heart so you can lead your family well and enjoy time with loved ones when you get to where you’re going.

Happy trails!

10 Scriptures About Gratitude

This month we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that’s not only about turkey dinner and football games, but especially the Christian value of gratitude. Throughout Scripture we are admonished to be grateful, because a heart filled with thanks is a heart tuned to God’s blessings. Here are ten special Bible passages to share with your family this month—all about the importance of gratitude.

Psalm 95:1–3
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.

Psalm 118:29
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Colossians 2:6–7
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Philippians 4:6–7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:28–29
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Revelation 7:11–12
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

2 Corinthians 9:10–15
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Encouraging Your Tween to Befriend Others

Throughout the Bible, Jesus is given many mighty names—Savior, Redeemer, Prince, King, Lord. And yet He humbles Himself to accept a different kind of name as well.


“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

To be like Jesus means to befriend others. Just as Jesus loves and accepts us, we are called to love and accept the people around us—even when it’s difficult.

Does your tween have trouble making new friends? Or perhaps she has many friends and is not in the habit of reaching out to kids who are lonely or different. Regardless of your daughter’s social tendencies, it’s important to encourage her to be like Jesus to those around her. Here are some ways you can do that.

1. Ask your daughter about kids at school who seem to be alone often at recess. Has she noticed them? Is she one of them? Building awareness is the first step. These days many schools have a “buddy bench,” which makes lonely kids easier to identify. Teach your daughter to keep an eye out for kids needing a friend—or to sit on that buddy bench without shame if she needs to.

2. If your daughter has an established group of friends, warn her not to become so exclusive that other kids can’t break through. Encourage her to welcome other kids into her group’s game or activity. She can be a leader in showing kindness to others.

3. On the other hand, if your daughter is shy, encourage her to take small steps toward building relationships with others. Simply smiling and saying “hi” can feel like a scary move, but it could lead to the start of a friendship. Your daughter won’t know until she tries. Then if the other kids don’t respond well to your daughter’s gesture of friendship, remind her to stand confident on her identity in Christ. She is loved, beautiful, and fully accepted—and nobody can change that. Regardless of how the other kids react, she has still honored God by being friendly.

4. Explain how kids who seem mean or strange or nerdy are all God’s created ones, too—just like she is. And there is value to be found in every person. Jesus wasn’t afraid to be seen with people others considered outcasts. Is your daughter willing to be like Jesus in that respect?

5. Finally, make friendships a team effort. When your child shows interest in befriending another girl, invite the girl and her mother out for ice cream or frappes—together. Get to know the mom as your daughter gets to know the child. This way you’ll be demonstrating the love of Christ for your daughter and giving her a wise example to follow.

For more help on this topic, check out our book, Girl Politics: Friends, Cliques, and Really Mean Chicks by Nancy Rue. It’s perfect for exploring friendships and tween social drama from God’s point of view!

Family Harvest Celebration Ideas

October brings plenty of pumpkins, scarecrows, and fall treats galore. This year, choose a fun activity to celebrate harvest season as a family—while blessings others at the same time! Here are some ideas.

Photo booth—Decorate your front porch with hay bales, corn stalks, pumpkins, leaves, and bushels of apples—then invite neighbors and friends to come over for a photo shoot! Using the porch scene as a backdrop, you can snap the pics with your camera then either text the photos to each family or print and frame them as a special gift.

Pit stop—While neighbors are out trick-or-treating, park in your driveway and serve hot dogs and apple cider to passersby. It’s a great opportunity to greet families and share the love of Christ!

Decorate pumpkins—Invite your children’s friends or neighborhood kids over for a pumpkin decorating party. No carving necessary—just dish out a bunch of markers, stickers, paint supplies and accessories then encourage the kids to let their imaginations run wild. Consider handing out awards for best dressed pumpkin, most creative, funniest face, etc.

Special delivery—Assemble treat bags filled with candy, stickers, small toys or prayer cards and deliver them to a nearby homeless shelter or sanctuary for abused women and families.

Treasure hunt—Create a list of “treasures” to find as a family, such as: a red leaf, a painted rock, a carved pumpkin, a pot of mums, etc. Then go on a hike around the neighborhood, checking off the list. Everywhere you find a treasure, leave a note of encouragement for others to discover. Once you’ve worked together to complete the hunt, go out for dinner at your favorite family restaurant.

However you choose to celebrate the harvest, remember to focus on outreach rather than exclusivity this time of year. Why? Because God called us to share the good news of Jesus with others. And harvest season is a wonderful chance to do just that.

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:10—11)

12 Memory Verses About God’s Faithfulness

Scripture memorization is an excellent way to hide Gods’ Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11), where it can act as a trusty guide for your life. This month, invite your daughter to focus on God’s faithfulness as you reflect on all the ways He has been good to your family in the past and will continue to provide and protect you in the future.

2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

2 Thessalonians 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

1 Corinthians 1:8–9
He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 55:22
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Psalm 33:4
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

Lamentations 3:22–23
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Psalm 36:5
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

Psalm 86:15
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Plan a Fall Break Staycation

Looking for ways to make the most of your fall break—without having to travel too far? Here are some fun ideas for family activities close to home.

Pumpkin patch—Find a pick-your-own pumpkin farm and take a hay ride out to the pumpkin patch. Spend an hour or two selecting the perfect pumpkins for your front porch, then enjoy a cup of hot apple cider and cookies when you get back home.

Corn maze—This time of year, many local farms offer fall family amusements such as corn mazes, hay bale slides, tractor rides and much more. They’re a great way to get some fresh air and lots of laughs as you enjoy God’s creation outdoors.

Baking fest—If your tween loves to bake, then plan an afternoon filled with flour and sugar and cinnamon, oh my! Find some new or favorite fall recipes such as pies, cobblers, quick breads, muffins and so much more. Fall is the perfect time to experiment with new pumpkin or apple recipes—two comfort food staples.

Coffee date—And speaking of pumpkin {spice}, why not enjoy a quiet visit with your daughter at her favorite local coffee shop? Bring a list of fun conversation starters such as “If you could be invisible for a day, how would you spend it?” or “What is one question you want to ask God?”

Craft day—Fall is a great time to get crafty with pine cones, wreaths, leaves and gourds. Take a walk through your local craft store for inspiration and invite your tween to fill a basket with crafting supplies to use on your special fall-break crafting day. Consider getting a head start on Christmas gifts by making homemade ornaments, jewelry, or cards for loved ones.

Read!—Finally, fall break is the perfect opportunity to catch up on your rainy-day reading list. Pop some popcorn and invite your daughter to snuggle on the couch as you each get lost in a good book. For recommendations, check out our Faithgirlz fiction books especially for tween girls.

Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

Ah, school lunch. Day after day, it’s tempting to toss a Lunchables in the backpack and call it a meal. But as our tweens grow and work hard to focus in class, it’s vital to provide them with food that’s both nutritious (fuel for the body and brain) and appealing (so they’ll actually eat it instead of mooching cookies off a friend). As many parents know, that’s quite a tall order. But it can be done!

Here are some quick and easy ideas for healthy lunch box meals for the tweens in your household.

Wrap it up. So many nutrient-rich ingredients can be disguised inside a tasty wrap sandwich. Try whole-grain tortillas stuffed with lean turkey or ham, protein-packed cheese or hummus, and plenty of sliced or shredded veggies such as red or green peppers, cucumbers, olives, carrots, spinach and more. Pack a small container of dipping sauce for added fun on the side. Consider cutting the wrap into bite-size pinwheels for tweens with loose teeth or braces.

Fruit and nuts. In a pinch, a baggie of dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate chips can sustain your tween with protein and fiber through the afternoon. Try spreading peanut or almond butter inside a pita pocket and filling it with fresh strawberries or banana pennies.

Grab-and-go “snack” lunch. Who says lunch needs to consist of a main entrée? Keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with quick grab-and-go components such as hard-boiled eggs, single-serving containers of yogurt or guacamole, whole-grain chips and crackers, veggie sticks, berries or grapes, or bottles of 100% fruit and vegetable smoothies. All-natural or organic snack bars such as Larabar, Luna, Clif or Kind are also great for tossing in the lunch sack to round out a healthy meal.

Nacho average lunch. Make lunch a Mexican fiesta by packing a stash of tortilla chips and all the sides. Think black beans, salsa, grilled chicken chunks, lettuce, avocado slices, shredded cheese and more. Package each in baggies or small plastic containers and let your tween stack all the ingredients on a paper plate to nosh on nachos for her mid-day fuel.

Leftovers! If your child has access to a microwave at lunchtime, pack a healthy portion of leftovers from whatever you ate for dinner the night before. There’s no extra prep involved, and you’ll be certain your child is eating something kid-tested and Mom-approved.

Whatever you choose to pack, once in a while include a little note from Mom or Dad reminding your tween how much you love her and that Jesus loves her, too. These days she might act too grown-up for lunch notes, but she’s not. She needs your encouragement just as much now as she did when she was little—or maybe more.

Helping Tweens Resolve Conflict

The tween years are fraught with tumultuous emotions and social drama. Whether it’s with parents and siblings or friends and classmates, conflict is bound to occur in your tween daughter’s life. And when it does, help guide her toward resolution with these principles from Scripture.

Go straight to the source. In conflict, it’s tempting to gossip about the offending party rather than address the issue directly with her/him. Teach your daughter that godly character involves keeping the argument confined to a safe circle—which may involve parents or teachers for the sake of safety and guidance, but does not need to involve friends or classmates on the fringe.

Make the first move. If your tween is in a fight with a sibling or friend, encourage her to take the initiative in smoothing things over. Regardless of her role in the conflict—whether she’s in the right or wrong—somebody has to step forward and begin the conversation. This follows God’s command in Romans 12:18 that says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Be humble. Proverbs 16:18 tells us, “Pride goes before destruction.” Guide your daughter to humble herself, admit her role in the conflict, and address the other person with kindness and mercy. We can waste a lot of time demanding we’re right. The question is—would you rather be right, or be made right with one another?

Remember the golden rule. A key guideline for all of us is to treat others the way we would want to be treated. This comes directly from the book of Luke, verse 7:12. So encourage your daughter that when she is in conflict with another person, she should refrain from doing anything she wouldn’t want a friend to do to her. This alone can prevent many complications and hurt feelings.

Forgive. Finally, extend forgiveness and move on. Holding a grudge is not in God’s character, and it only hurts us in the long run. We are the recipients of God’s amazing forgiveness; therefore, He wants us to spread that forgiveness to others as well. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

Here’s an important caveat. These guidelines can help with occasional spats or frustrations, but do be aware of any persistent conflict between your tween and a classmate or peer, which might be a sign of something more severe, such as “frenemies” or bullying. Encourage your daughter to talk with you openly about her social struggles so you can keep tabs on her spiritual and relational growth in a way that encourages her to accept others while also standing up for herself in humility and love.

Motiving Your Tween to Do Homework

Homework. Who does it frustrate more—the student or the parents? While the younger elementary years required a parent’s close guidance with homework tasks and schedules, tweens can begin taking on more personal responsibility for their school assignments. Here are some tips for motivating your tween to be proactive about tackling her homework.

Give her time. Today many families jam-pack the calendar with after-school activities, making it difficult to find adequate time for homework. Take a close look at your family agenda and determine how and when you can set aside consistent quiet time in your child’s schedule for school assignments—even if it means cutting back on some “fun” pursuits. Ultimately, the entire family will be happier if homework is not a constant headache.

Provide space. Designate a special desk area or table where your tween can focus on completing her homework each day. Make sure it’s not cluttered with non-school-related junk, like family bills or siblings’ toys, and consider decorating the space according to your daughter’s favorite colors or style. Better yet, get her involved in setting up this homework area with furniture or décor of her choice. If she takes ownership in the space, she’ll be more likely to use it.

Stock sweet tools. Does your daughter have a favorite pen or marker set? Buy it for her. Is she crazy about colored paper clips or fancy file folders? Keep them supplied at her homework station. Whatever small tools you can provide to motivate her to get to work are worth it for the payoff of a homework-motivated child.

Reward her progress. Devise a system for rewarding your tween for completing assignments or earning good grades. These can be immediate gratification rewards such as a half-hour of screen time for finishing the day’s assignments, or a longer-term motivator such as earning points toward a new bike or clothes shopping. If appropriate, also reward her for doing her homework without you having to remind her twelve times a night.

Encourage her. Praise goes a long way toward shoring up a tween’s heart. So speak up when you notice her making good choices and being proactive with her schoolwork. Tell her you’re proud of her behavior and remind her that it honors God. After all, she is working for Him and not for human masters (Colossians 3:23).

Ultimately the greatest reward for growing responsible about homework—or anything in life—is the result of becoming more like Jesus. Now that is something worth working toward every day of the school year and beyond!


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