Sneak Peek at the new Chivalry Challenge

Sneak peek at the new Chivalry Challenge. The book is out in May!

Today, I unveil the official knight’s Code of Chivalry that ended up in the book and a free poster download for you as we begin the countdown to the book release at the end of May! Here is my original chivalry challenge post that inspired the book!

Today, I want to take you back to the beginning, six years ago when we first embarked on this quest.

“Boys, boys, come here. I have an exciting announcement!”

At the sound of exciting and announcement, they came running. Would it be ice-cream, an extra trip to the park, a playdate with friends, the end of naptime? Their minds were teaming with wonderful possibilities and I could see that their curiosity was piqued.

As my three boys gathered around, I pulled out a few books, including my childhood favorite, St. George and the Dragon, that I only pulled out for special occasions because my mother had inscribed a special note to me in it and my boys tended to get a little rough with their books.

“I have a mission for you, a quest that only the bravest and strongest of boys can undertake.” Eyes widened as they took in this news, not one of them was even tempted to admit weakness or fear.

“I think it is time to embark on knight training.”

“Knight training?” came the quizzical response.

“Yes, we are going to train to become knights. We will read about the exciting adventures of knights and practice your sword fighting skills.”

Cheers erupted as they started waving imaginary swords.

“But most importantly, you will learn how to live according to the Knights Code of Chivalry. Every young page would begin to learn what it means to live a chivalrous life and knights would remind one another to live up to the code. You boys are no different. I think you are ready for the chivalry challenge!”

Free knights code of chivalry poster download. Book out in May! #intentionalparenting #raisingboys

And with that I revealed the code of chivalry with a grand medieval flourish and began reading with the accent of a town crier making an important announcement.

“Hear ye, hear ye. Calling all knights in training who aspire towards the lofty role of knight. Listen to these words and take heed. Learn them well and walk in this way.”

And thus began our journey into knight training.Inspire boys to become "knights in training" and live up to the code of chivalry!

Six years ago we posted this in our home for the first time, little knowing how much it would affect our lives. Six years of learning to live by the code, six years of their imagination lit by the wonder of the Middle Ages and the feats of great knights. It has changed the way we parent and changed the way our boys have viewed these years of childhood. Life is by no means perfect. We are all very much in progress. But there is purpose and direction as these knights in training, our men in the making, progress through the years of childhood.

And today, I am sharing with you the code of chivalry that forms the framework for my upcoming parenting book and to let you know that my publisher has moved up the release date to May 30th!

Inspire boys to become "knights in training" and live up to the code of chivalry!

Roots of Chivalry

Chivalry is something that has fascinated people for over 1,000 years. The roots of medieval chivalry date back to the time of Charlemagne. We see threads of these early ideals of chivalry woven throughout the French epic, Song of Roland, a song sung by troubadours all over medieval Europe. This epic juxtaposes the story of two knights, highlighting the treacherous betrayal of one and the unyielding loyalty and bravery of the other. From this poem, 19 elements of the knight’s code of chivalry were showcased as the fledgling idea of knighthood took shape and force. Of these, I chose ten elements to focus on with my children and write about in my upcoming book.

Some historians contend that the idea of chivalry was formulated as a means of civilizing the warrior class. This very well may have been. Charlemagne who preached these tenets often struggled to live up to it and felt the pull between his faith that taught mercy, forgiveness and care for others and the warrior spirit that wanted to justify anything for the sake of victory and conquest. Charlemagne and others knew that without belief in God and a holy standard of right and wrong that a warrior became a mercenary, hiring himself out to the highest bidder. Training in chivalry along with training in the art of warfare was needed.

An entire culture was built around the ethos of the chivalrous knighthood. It became so compelling and so powerful in the shaping of young men that soon the nobility sought to include their sons in this knight training whether or not it led to their sons actually becoming practicing knights.

Why? While knight training developed the mind, it also touched the heart. It sought to teach empathy and social order that made for civilized societies.  Human nature, of course, made for an imperfect living out of the code. This is why knights continually called themselves to return to these ideals. Knight training raised up a generation of leaders who were ready to stand against injustice and protect the weak. It raised up a generation who pursued the way of generosity and pursue honesty in their dealings. It raised a generation who persevered until their very last breath as they gave their best to whatever quest they embarked on.

It is this embodiment of chivalry that has captivated people ever since and still today has the power to captivate our boys’ imagination and propel them towards becoming the kinds of leaders that our world so desperately needs.

It is this training that I write about in my book that will release in May. What does it mean to take up knight training in the 21st century? How can we embrace our role as trainer and help our boys embrace their role of being “in-training?” This is what I write about because these are questions we need answered here and now as we raise up the next generation.

This summer you will have the opportunity to issue your own chivalry challenge and invite your boys into the adventure of Knight Training! I wish I could step back in time and give myself this book back when I started. But the beauty of this challenge is that it spans the entirety of childhood for our boys just as much as it did for the knights of old. And in our cultural climate, we desperately need a return of civility and chivalry! So without further adieu, I give you a sneak peak at the Code of Chivalry!

DOWNLOAD: Knights Code of Chivalry Poster 

Inspire boys to become "knights in training" and live up to the code of chivalry!

Why I’ve been MIA… It’s a baby.

Hey there, remember me? I used to write in this space with frequency. Then we moved to Texas and health issues cropped up, leading to a year of rest… Little did I know that this time of rest was preparing us for a year of big ch-ch-changes!

I’m having a baby!!! I don’t know about you, but when I’m pregnant, the baby pretty much takes over my brain. And that is my explanation for why I haven’t been very active here. This baby is due to arrive next June. Are you confused yet? This little baby of mine was conceived last December, which means I’m already 11 months into this “pregnancy.”

As you can see, this is a very different kind of baby. While we wouldn’t mind adding another cuddly little person to our family, that door seems to be shut. This baby that I am growing right now is a book baby.
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Don’t I look excited, nervous, and maybe already a little bit sleep deprived? I’m signing my contract which means that I get to officially tell you all.

I’m working on a book about raising boys. It’s about the grand call and adventure of raising knights-in-training and what it means to raise chivalrous boys in a 21st century world! The official title will probably be Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys.

I had no idea how much work it would take to write a book. It was my major focus this summer and why I turned down a few speaking engagements to do it. As much as I love to get out and encourage other families in person, I knew that this would take every extra bit of time outside of being wife and mom.

The Back Story

So this book baby… I guess you could say that it all started in May of 2015 when a reporter from the New York Times contacted me. She was writing an article on teaching manners and wanted to interview me about a post I had written years earlier on our chivalry challenge. I’ve done my share of media interviews, so I didn’t really think much about it.

Afterwards, when I didn’t hear back from the reporter, the interview faded from memory until December when she contacted me again. It was going to go live soon. A friend of mine had just had a really bad experience with a news interview and suddenly I was nervous. It’s been nearly 18 years since our last bad experience with a reporter. We still cringe when we think about it.

The day before we left for Arizona for the holidays, the reporter emailed me to inform me the article was live online that day and would come out in print the following day in the Times. When I hopped online to read the article, I noticed the hyperlink to my blog and frantically set about to freshen up that old blog post so people coming over could find it. I flung it out there the following morning before grabbing my keys and setting off on our 15 hour drive to AZ.

Like any blogger, I enjoyed my 15 minutes of “fame” as traffic exploded for a few days and then forgot about it as we enjoyed time with family and friends until a few days later when I received a strange email in my inbox.

Long story, short – an editor from Penguin Random House reached out to me about writing a book. After prayer, my family and I decided to make the leap, as my mind swirled with the possibilities and the vision for the book really took root! So it has been a crazy year over here. I found a wonderful agent, wrote my first book proposal, finished up our homeschool “year” and speaking commitments before settling down this summer to write in the margins of life.

It was a summer and early fall of 5am writing sessions at places as glamorous as my grocery store and McDonald’s because they were far less distracting than coffee shops with the loud music or home where I am always needed! Weekends were spent sequestered away in the library. We made a secret trip to AZ this summer so my kids could play with cousins while I hid away and thought and wrote and wrote and thought all day every day.

I’m so excited to share everything that is tucked away in this book. It is full of so many things that I am passionate about – the power of play and the imagination and the importance of good books. It is a book about embracing all that makes boys so incredible and about inspiring and equipping them to own who they will become. It’s coming next summer!

For now, I’m in a bit of a breather period for a couple of weeks and we are enjoying having weekends back as a family! I am not getting up as early and we are enjoying the rhythm of learning and living! Long walks, zoo trips, spelling lessons, grading copious amounts of math, and a return to more read-aloud time is the norm once again.  I’ll also be back in this space, writing once again.

Until then…

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Our Secret to Surviving Long Road Trips

ScreenFreeSuccess

Anyone have some long road trips planned for this summer? We don’t, but that’s only because we clocked about 60 hours in the car at the end of last year…  Surviving with your sanity intact is imperative.  Being ready and willing to do it again is the cherry on top.

I want to share our biggest secret to surviving long road trips and doing so screen-free!

A few years ago I wrote a post about Creative Travel Ideas for Young Kids. When my kids were little, I took as much care with preparing for a road trip as a general would planning an invasion. For our really BIG trips (6 hours to California) I loved to do an hour-by-hour countdown with special activities to pull out along the way.  And when we would fly, I’d break my little to no screen-time rule to let them watch a movie.  I figured that being stuck in a metal box in the sky was NOT the place to be for a melt-down or restless child, so we’d sedate them with a movie which was a special treat for our screen-deprived children. I broke that tradition a few years ago when we flew over the same weekend, that I had agreed to participate in a national “Screen-Free” week. I lived to blog about it later.   But even with the movie my kids would watch on our trips across the country, I was still careful to pack special toys or books to occupy them during the remainder of the flight.

Everything has eased up since then. Now that the kids are older, I throw a few things in a tub for the car, being sure to pack some special items to occupy the 4-year-old and we set off.  Only now we live in Texas where you can drive A.L.L. D.A.Y. and still be in Texas.  Anything under 6 hours is now considered a quick road trip because it takes 15 hours to get to see my family and 9 hours to drive and visit my hubby’s family.

While the kids are older and better able to sit still, we’ve honed in on the BEST way to pass time in the car…  Audio books and audio dramas!

Our absolute favorites, hands-down, are the audio dramas from Heirloom Audio. Have you heard of them? Listened to them? If not, you seriously need to check them out!  This is the newest venture from the former producers of Adventures in Odyssey! The boys received their first one for Christmas 2 years ago.  They fell in love with In Freedom’s Cause, which takes us into the life of William Wallace. He was an amazing man of faith and conviction – a true hero that I love introducing to my boys.

Last fall, I shared about how sick I had been and how we fell in love with In Lee in Virginia which was the perfect companion to our study of the Civil War. We loved them so much that I packed a portable CD player in our aging minivan on our road-trip that we took around Thanksgiving because our CD player in the car was broken. You would not believe how quiet a car full of kids could possibly be as they strained to hear the story from my portable CD player. Thankfully, we had a new-to-us minivan for our 15-hour drive to Arizona. Yes, 15 hours of me with 4 kids as we departed for Arizona for a couple of weeks before Rich joined us at Christmas.  Yes, that was the time we drove ALL DAY and were still in Texas…

We survived, thanks to hours of these audio adventures!

In recent weeks, as we’ve simply been driving around town, we’ve been listening to one of their newest adventures, The Dragon and the Raven. After listening to it one weekend, my middle guy surprised me with this little impromptu note on Monday morning…

thankyou

He’s especially excited to now jump into the book that inspired the story that I just happened to have on our bookshelf and was hoping he’d read this summer! #win

Let’s Give Them Access to Real Heroes

The more I look around at what the world has to offer our boys by way of entertainment, the more I’m sold on reading great books to them, exposing them to these kind of heroes via audio dramas. Boys need heroes.  Girls do too, but in an age where boys tend to be adrift without a sense of purpose, I’ve found that filling our boys minds with the stories of brave men who have gone before, performed heroic deeds, made a difference in this world is so very important. These accounts inspire my boys to want to make a difference too. They inspire them to apply themselves to the work of learning and growing up so that they too can make a difference in their culture, in the world they will be thrust into.  And with how things are going, we are in desperate need of modern-day heroes, people who have firm convictions, people who are willing to live selflessly to serve others, to serve a greater good and to draw people to the truth and the One who is Truth.  And I love to watch the role that these audio dramas play in this unfolding of their going from boys – to – men.

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So if you are looking for a way to make the hours in the car just speed by, if you are looking to inspire your kids with some amazing real-life heroes, and you want something they will want to listen to over and over again, then check these out. I’m sure they will become favorites in your home and car, just as they have in ours!

If you would like to order the series now click here.

With this special package you will get:

  • All four audio dramas (The Dragon and the Raven, With Lee in Virginia, In Freedom’s Cause, Under Drake’s Flag –there are 2 copies of each audio drama so that you can give one to a friend!)
  • Study Guide and Discussion Starter Sets for each audio drama
  • Award-winning soundtracks from each audio drama
  • Poster Art from each audio drama
  • Four limited edition Henty Collector Coins
  • ALL of this for only 79.95 !!!

Here are the details:

Recommended Ages: 6+ (some intense action and war scenes, complete with sound effects)

The Dragon and the Raven
Historical Setting: Alfred the Great, 800’s AD, England
Lessons: Mercy, Courage, Faith,
Duration: 2 hours

In Freedom’s Cause
Historical Setting: William Wallace, 1290’s-1305 AD, Scotland
Lessons: Persistence, Courage, Humility, need for God’s guidance
Duration: 2 hours

Under Drake’s Flag 
Historical Setting: Sir Francis Drake, 1500’s, England
Lessons: Courage, Conviction, Character, Faith
Duration: 2 hours

With Lee in Virginia 
Historical Setting: Robert E. Lee, Civil War – 1860’s, United States
Lessons: Loyalty, Freedom, Human Dignity, Honesty, Faith
Duration: 2 hours

{Disclaimer: While we have listened to and loved these audio’s for a few years now, I was sent The Dragon and the Raven for free and compensated for my time invested in putting this post together. All opinions are solely my own. Please see my disclosure for more information.}

5 Great “Faith-Building” Chapter Book Series for Boys

Here are 5 series that will inspire your kids in their Christian faith, books that they'll want to read again and again. This post may contain affiliate links.

Books make such wonderful gifts.  But for active boys, the element of adventure is paramount. These books are certainly not for boys only, but for any child that loves adventure! Finding good books that inspire our children is high on my priority list.  I can remember the countless hours I spent reading adventure books as a girl and especially loving the one’s that encouraged me to live radically and yet practically for the Lord.  My desire is to encourage the budding faith in each of my children and inspire them to pursue God whole-heartedly.  It’s easy to get a hold of books at the library, but for my home library I prefer to buy a few classics and then plenty of out-of-print living books in addition to books from a Christian worldview.  These kinds of books are becoming increasingly harder to come by at the local library and these are the books that I want my children to reach for again and again.  So here are 5 wonderful series that might bless your family as much as they’ve blessed ours!

  1. Imagination Station Series – (aimed at 6-12 year olds) I mentioned them in my general post on books that inspire faith last week. There are 14 fun books in this series that follows two cousins as they travel back in time via the Imagination Station to witness various events in history.  They are exciting, full of adventure, and have seamlessly woven in faith lessons.  We read the first book for a boys book club and were hooked.  We’ve gradually been building up our collection and currently own the first 9 books.  You can buy them individually or in sets of 3 (books 1-3, 4-6, 7-9) or buy the whole set at once.
  2. Sugar Creek Gang Series – (aimed at 9-14 year olds) Amazing lessons of courage, faith, & friendship are tucked into each of these adventures.  We own the first 16 books and my 10 year old has read them all at least twice.  Now my 8 year old is working his way through them.  I love how they weave everyday Christian thoughts and messages into it from a young boy’s perspective. You can buy them in groups of 6 books, or just start with the first one and see if your kids like it.
  3. LightKeepers Set: 10 Boys Who…  (aimed at 9-14 year olds) I want to raise world-changers, children who are inspired to do whatever it is that God has in store for them.  Stories have an ability to inspire our kids to do just that and this series is no exception.  (I love the girl set too!)  Our children need real-life heroes and these books showcase several of them.  Each book features a biographical sketch about several amazing boys/men and how their faith influenced what they did.  They are not only interesting to read just for fun, they are wonderful to have on hand to go along with our homeschool studies.  The set includes:
    Ten Boys who Changed the World, Ten Boys who Made a Difference, Ten Boys who Made History, Ten Boys who Used Their Talents, and Ten Boys who Didn’t Give In 
  4. Chronicles of Narnia – (aimed at 8+) Do you own this classic series?  If not, I think it deserves a place on everyone’s bookshelf.  My parents owned a paperback set and we wore them out reading and re-reading them.  She ended up upgrading to a hardcover set.  While the kids won’t grasp the allegory without discussion, once they do the depth tucked into this delightful series will continue to grow and deepen the more they read them.
  5. Cooper Kid Adventures – (aimed at 10-18) Don’t be fooled by the word “kid” in the title.  This is an action packed series that is probably too intense for younger kids. I love how this reviewer summed them up:  “Combine the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew with Indiana Jones, make them Christians in search of Biblical artifacts, and you’ll get the gist of these novels.”  The series follows Dr. Cooper a biblical archaeologist (and widower) and his two kids as they head out into the field.  They are full of action, adventure and showcase faith and a loving family in action.  My mom read these aloud to us as girls and we had many lively discussions about the Bible, archaeology, good vs. evil, and the spiritual realm.  I then went on to read them multiple times by myself. You can purchase them individually, buy the first four books in the series or you can buy all 8 at once.  Once you’ve read the first book to set the stage and establish the characters, each of the remaining books can really be read in any order.

This is post 30 in the series. To check out the rest series31 days of gift ideas that will spark and foster your children's love of learning and feed the imagination!

Related Posts:
10 Adventure Books to Build a Boy’s Faith
11+ Books that Inspire a Girl’s Faith

Raising Daniels
King-Focus
Knights-in-Training {including a free printable}

Kings, Queens and Knights, Oh My! Gift Ideas (Day 2)

Inspiration for medieval themed gift ideas for kids! {31 Days of Gift Ideas that Inspire Learning}

This post may contain affiliate links.

Oh the middle ages… What kid hasn’t fallen under the spell of this mesmerizing period in history. It is alluring for boys and girls alike. Today for my first themed gift guide, I want to share some ideas of some amazing gifts that will capitalize on their interest in or pursuit of learning about this period in history.

First off…  Medieval Costumes for Kids.  Costumes enable your child to transport into that period of history.  Kids don’t NEED costumes.  All they really need is an active imagination, but I’ve found that a few key costume pieces and accessories can pack a powerful punch and make for great gifts!  I usually try to get one or two items that are specific to that time in history and then also find items that can be used for other historical periods as well.  As this series progresses, you’ll notice overlap of some of my favorite items!

Gift Ideas for Your Knight

Gift Ideas for your Young Knight | part of a 31 day series of gifts that inspire learning

I have three boys. Battles, bravery and chivalry captivated their attention long after we first delved into this period of history in our studies. Part of that is because it is just a fascinating period of history and part of it is because I was strategic in gathering some amazing gift ideas for them.

Knight costume – this Melissa & Doug outfit is fabulous.  My nephew has it and loves it.   This knight costume comes in S, M, and L, making it easy to buy for your little or your big guy! Costco also carries some great knight costumes at this time of year.

Knight Armor Set – We have three of these sets and my 10 year old still squeezes into it for battles!  They’ve used it when we learned about the Armor of God, morphing it into a Roman soldiers garb.

Playsilks – we love playsilks.  I’ve waxed eloquent on them before.  We use them for all kinds of things.  With three playsilks, you have a knights costume – front/back and belt! They also make for great capes that boys and girls both love!  If you don’t own any playsilks, I highly recommend you remedy that, pronto!  We love the 100% silk playsilks, but you can also get a beautiful polyester playsilk set for less.

Foam Swords – I’m partial to form swords and yes, I buy them in bulk.  They don’t last forever, but it is impossible for the kids to hurt each other with them.  Occasionally you can find these at the Dollar store or in the dollar bin at Target.

Castle Tent – This pop-up castle tower tent is amazing.  It’s always a hit with both boys and girls.  I love that it is easy to take down and store flat!

The Making of a Knight – A captivating book that follows a young boy through the process to becoming a knight

Kitchen Knight  – This is one of my all-time favorite illustrators.  The story will inspire your boys to chivarly and brave deeds.  If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll want to pour over this book again and again.

Any of these combined together are sure to win a boys heart and capture his imagination. {31 Days of Gift Ideas that Inspire Learning Series}

Robin Hood DVD w/ Errol Flynn – a “must-watch” for boys and girls alike!

Bow & Arrow Set – What is a knight or Robin Hood without his bow and Arrow.  You do have to be careful with these and they tend to break after a while, but my boys will play with the bow even long after the arrows have all snapped.  I did call the company and they sent me out a replacement set of arrow free of charge a few years back.

Robin Hood Hat – Your kids don’t necessarily need a full costume.  Sometimes a simple hat is enough to do the trick.  My boys have used their hat for Robin Hood play, Peter Pan and for dramatizing the life of William Tell!

Stick Horse – This wooden horse is a staple in our house.  We own three of them and they’ve withstood countless hours of rough boy play.  I had my concerns when my mom first gave these to my boys.  I had visions of them turning them into weapons.  In the 4-5 years that we’ve owned them, I’m proud to say no one has been clubbed with these wooden stick horses.  These are a true gem.

Imaginative play is the place where a child’s information acquisition comes to life and is cemented into long-term memory.  Any time we can engage the imagination our children cement into working memory all of the wonderful things they are learning about.  Another toy that accomplishes this in a beautiful way are toy castles.  There are so many options out there and tomorrow I plan to give you a castle comparison of the best castle sets on the market.

 

Gift Ideas for Your Princess

Boys aren’t the only one’s enthralled with this period of history. As the oldest of three girls, we adored studying this period of history. The books available, the idea of princesses and kingdoms, beautiful calligraphy and side-saddle horse riding captured our attention. And the dresses…. Oh the dresses.

As girls, we loved watching Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood and feasted on the many outfits of Maid Marrian as we tried to fashion our own from our dress-up collection. Of course, my boys also love the movie, but for the adventure aspects because they could care less what Maid What’s Her Name is wearing…

It’s time for Dress-Up!

Here are some beautiful dresses to consider:

Gift Ideas for your Little Princess that will promote learning through play!| part of a 31 day series of gifts that inspire learning

1. Guinevere Costume
2.. Renaissance Maiden Costume
3. Renaissance Queen Costume
4. Renaissance Damsel Dress
5. Pretty Maiden Dress
6. Crimson Princess Costume
7. Purple Renaissance Queen Costume
8. Enchanted Princess Costume
9. Panne Velvet Costume

Gift Ideas for girls learning about the Middle Ages! Spark the Imagination! ~ Part of a 31 day series of gifts that inspire learning

Did any of you ever play with paper dolls when you were young?  My sister’s and I spent hours playing with paper dolls and the Dover Historical Paper Dolls were our favorites! A great way to explore the customs and dress of the medieval ages in a fun and painless way would be to get your daughter a set of these Medieval Costumes Paper Dolls.  The details are exquisite and the imaginative play options are endless!

Do you have a child who would love to learn the medival art of caligraphy and illustration?  This combination would inspire her and equip her.

Inspire your girl {or boy} by giving them the inspiration and tools to explore the medieval art of illustration and calligraphy!
Marguerite Makes a Book – This luciously illustrated book gives you a peek into the process of illuminating manuscripts.
Quill Writing Set
Learn Caligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering and Design

 

Whew.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a tour of some fabulous toy castles as we round out our exploration of gift ideas for the Middle Ages.

Here are a few blog posts from our medieval adventures:

Knights-in-the-Making
Knights-in-Training {free chivalry printable}
10 Adventure Books to Inspire a Boy’s Faith

 

 

Want to follow along so you don’t miss a single post in this 31 days of gift ideas that will inspire learning?  Enter your email address below. {Your privacy matters.  Emails are never sold and only used to receive blog post updates.}


To check out the whole series, click here.31 days of gift ideas that will spark and foster your children's love of learning and feed the imagination!

Power of the Imagination

Imagination propels kids painlessly into worlds of creative output & problem solving. Let's guard this time to play, to pretend, to become.

It was a crisp Thanksgiving afternoon when my two young sons came bounding up to me as I joined them in my in-laws backyard.  Eyes shining bright they each grab a hand and pull me forward.

“Pretend, mom.  Just pretend, ok?”

And then they reveal THE lamp post.  This is no ordinary lamp post.  Long gone are the memories that their Pa collects these babies.  No, this is THE lamp post from Narnia.  And just like that we step out of the wardrobe and into the magical realm of Narnia.

Before me are King Peter and Edmond.  They beckon me to join them.

In these woods, I answer only to the name of Susan.  I have a bow (yes, pretend it has a string) and I know how to use it.  But these brothers of mine are quite protective.  Edmond insists on taking up the rear to keep me well protected between the two of them as we traipse through the bit of woods we have here.

The boys battled.  We hunted for food and roasted wild turkeys.  The boys debated whether or not deer bones or turkey bones could make the same caliber of stock as chicken bones.  I smile, thrilled to watch them work out some of the nutrition lessons we’ve learned.  We scaled the old crumbling walls of Cair Paravel while the boys discussed battle plans.  And we went in search of beavers.  Pa finds us and tells us of a real beaver family that lives in the creek by our woods.  He shows us the tree they’ve felled.  Eyes grow wide as our imaginative play hits a stroke of concurrent reality.

The imagination is a powerful tool.  Once lit it propels kids painlessly into worlds of creative output and problem solving.  It kindles the formation of their own stories and is a delight to behold.  It is magical to enter into alongside them.  I’m reminded again to guard their time – this precious time to play, to pretend, to become.  I’m inspired afresh to find great books on which their vivid imaginations can feast upon.  I’m thankful that they grab my hand and pull me into the magic and wonder of a child’s imagination.  I am Susan.

Related Posts:

Unleashing the Imagination

Not a Stick!

Screen-Time – Brain Wasting Opportunity

Indoor Reading that Inspires Outdoor Exploration

10 Boy Toys that Ignite the Imagination

More Inspiration for this Adventure of Faith

Inspiration for this Adventure of Faith - let's ground our children in the Word of God so they can remain completely fearless, absurdly happy despite constant trouble.

Completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.  Sounds like a recipe for adventure to me, doesn’t it?  It always does in the theoretical sense although when you are walking through a season of ‘trouble’ it certainly may not feel like that…  Nevertheless, it is this kind of adventure that I want my boys to understand when it comes to walking with Christ.

When we walk out our lives moment-by-moment relying on the Holy Spirit there is peace, peace that makes us completely fearless and even absurdly happy in the face of constant trouble.

In light of the books I recommended last week, my mind couldn’t help but drift to THE Book.  You know, the ultimate adventure Book, aka the Bible.  Have any of you read the book of Acts to your children?  Talk about adventure!  We love to dive into the Message paraphrase or bringing up the Faith Comes by Hearing site and letting them fall asleep to the Word – the action-packed, living-on-the-edge Word that relays not only God reaching down to us, but also our call to join Him in kingdom work…  Have you heard of Faith Comes by Hearing?  I believe I found out about them from Ann Voskamp several years ago.  It is such a neat ministry and they now have audio Bible translations available in over 700 languages.  Not only do we listen to the dramatized readings in the ESV (or a couple of other English translations), but sometimes we’ll play around and listen to it in another language.  It is exciting to think that people the world over are being transformed by the Word too.  You can test it out here!

Constant trouble can be a constant drain unless we are bathed in the Word.  When I lose sight of the ‘adventure’ it is usually because I am not reading my Bible.  I tend to focus more on circumstances instead of the One who holds me in the palm of His hand.  One of the best gifts we can give our children is the habit of turning our attention to the One who not only called us into this adventure, but also equips us for victory.

Oh what a privilege we have to show our kids what this walk of faith, this adventure can be like.   Let’s go into the rest of this week expectant – knowing that God gives us freedom from fear, profound reasons to be happy and yes, constant trouble.  Praying for you all!

 

As I think of this walking by faith and walking through trial, I can’t help but think about my friend Amanda.  Some of you may remember when I asked you to pray for her last year.  A year ago last week, this friend of mine, then 29 and 14 weeks pregnant with her 5th child suffered a massive stroke.  Talk about a trial…  Miraculously surviving the first few days and weeks was only the beginning.  I wrote of weathering storms and witnessing the strength of generational faith as we continued to have our families co-op last summer. God has sustained her and brought her so far and her son was born in November – beautiful and perfect.  But it doesn’t mean it has been easy.   This family has had to walk by faith on so many levels.   It’s been a while since I updated all of you and wanted to share this inspiring post her mother recently wrote about their last year…  Please continue to pray for her – for full healing and so she can resume full care of her family and the adventure of homeschooling that she loves so much.

Coming up next: Our Family Birthday Celebration – or how we made our anniversary a family celebration too!

10 Adventure Books to Inspire a Boys’ Faith

Living a life of faith is a grand adventure. Here are 10 books to inspire our boys to embrace the adventure of following after God!

There is something magnetic about boys and adventure.  They simply go together.  At the whisper of adventure I find my boys stand more erect, alert.  It’s almost as if the adrenaline has started to pump before anything has actually started and they are hooked.  Well, when it comes to talking to my boys about walking in relationship with God I always emphasize the adventure.  Because walking a life of faith, completely surrendered to God IS an adventure.  There is kingdom work to be done and radical living for those that heed God’s call…

My goal as a parent is to cultivate this desire placed in each of them for adventure and help them recognize the grand adventure found in Jesus!  As a book lover, I thought I’d compile 10 books that help facilitate this and ignite a boys sense of wonder and desire to pursue this adventure of serving the KING of kings!  I’m reminded of our KING-focus and our journey to become modern-day knights!

Here are several picture books and a few chapter books that have inspired (or I hope will inspire) my three boys (8.5, 6.5 and 5 years old) to embrace the wonderful adventure God has for us!

1. Good Morning, God

This book embraces the idea of everyday faith and how boy energy can be funneled into living whole-heartedly for God. {Yes, I’m writing about this book, AGAIN!}  It is perfect for the 7 and under crowd!

2. The Squire and the Scroll

Oh the boys love this book.  They are inspired to keep the Word of God close as they read this captivating allegory!

3. The Evergreen Wood

I love Pilgrims Progress and this Beatrix Potter-esque book is a family favorite of ours.  We picked it up at a used book fair several years ago and read it every year during our summer cabin getaway.

4. Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrims Progress

Living the Christian life certainly isn’t easy or always ‘safe’.  This is another favorite take on Pilgrims Progress which is an allegory of walking the Christian life.

5. His Mighty Warrior: A Treasure Map for Your King

OK, I haven’t read this one, YET.  But it just vaulted to the top of my Amazon wishlist and we will be getting it soon.  With our King-focus and my boys fascination with everything medieval, I know this will be a winner.  {ETA: Bought this and ADORE it!!!  Oh it is so winsome and definitely inspires the pursuit of the faith adventure!} Speaking of new books I want to check out, I’m intrigued by this one too: A Warrior Prince for God.

6. Voyage with the Vikings

We discovered this one last year in Xander’s book club.  It is the first in an Adventures in Odyssey Imagination Station series.  This book takes two kids back to the days of Leif Eriksson and showcases his faith and the challenge of being a Christian in a pagan culture.  Xander couldn’t put it down and he’s already read it a second time!

7. Stories of the Pilgrims

We discovered this a few years ago.  It is an engaging read-aloud that follows the pilgrims from their days in England under persecution, to their journey over to the New World in search of freedom to worship God as they wished.  As we read this, it opened up dialogue about how deep their faith was and what they were willing to sacrifice in order to worship God.

8. Nathan Hale: Patriot Spy

Want to give your boys a real-life hero who loved God with all his heart?  We loved this beginner chapter book about Nathan Hale.  We discovered how he wrestled with God in prayer before becoming a spy and his faith during his final days.  Inspiring!

9. Brutchko 

My boys haven’t actually read this yet, but it was a childhood favorite of mine about a 19 year old boy who goes down to reach a remote unreached tribe in South America.  It is a riveting story and one I can’t wait to introduce to my boys.  Adventure in hyper-drive!

10.  The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

…and the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia. I had to mention this beloved series.  I was blown away when the boys recognized the parallels between Aslan and Jesus without me even telling them {and even before Aslan went to the stone table}.  The boys are mesmerized with this series and it currently monopolizes much of their pretend play right now.

{Case-in-Point: These are no ordinary knights.  It is Reepicheep and the High King Peter from Narnia!} Books inspire boys sense of adventure! Reepicheep and the High King Peter!

Related Posts:

Raising Daniels
King-Focus
Knights-in-Training {including a free printable}
10 Toys to Ignite A Boy’s Imagination
10 Books to Build a Girl’s Faith
5 Great “Faith-Building” Chapter Books

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10 Boy Toys that Ignite the Imagination

10 boy toys that ignite the imagination and lead to hours of creative pretend play!

 

The imagination is such a powerful tool.  A child at play is a beauty to behold.  What looks like mere child’s play is actually learning at work.  Because imaginative play is so important, I love to select toys that encourage this kind of play, this solidification of learning…  So today, I want to share with you 10 toys that my boys have loved and have encouraged their imaginative play.  I selected these toys because they are typically used in open-ended ways which make the possibilities in playtime simply endless.

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1. Play Silks ~ I’ve written about these beauties so many times.  They are the ultimate open-ended, imaginative play inspiring toy in my opinion.  If we had to up and move and could take only one toy, these would be it!

2. Cowboy Boots ~ With three boys in the house, our cowboy boots have been well used and not just for cowboy play.  A good pair of boots can ‘make’ just about any costume – soldier (every era), farmer, explorer, etc…  With luck, you might find a pair at a thrift store.   We’ve completely worn out our smallest pair which went through nearly daily use for each of our boys.  They make a great birthday or Christmas gift, so even if you can’t thrift a pair, I think they are well worth the price to add them to the pretend play arsenal!  They also look nice for regular wear too.

Costumes help feed the imagination!

3. Costume Jackets ~ We are huge fans of costumes over here.  I hit the jackpot a few years ago when I found two Captain Hook costumes at our homeschool support group clothing exchange.  These red jackets get worn at least weekly and came in handy when we were studying the Revolutionary War last year.  Patrick Henry made his favorite speech in this jacket and there were many a battle between the patriots and the redcoats…  Again, I check thrift stores and keep an eye out during the fall for sales on costumes that I think would make a good addition to our costume bins.  It doesn’t even have to be something complicated.  One of my Oma’s old cardigans and a police shirt stand in for patriot coats!

4. Hats, Hats, Hats!  Hats go a long way to light up the imagination.  I’ve found that my boys will get quite creative and use hats for a variety of different imaginative play situations and have grown to think of hats as so critical that they’ll make up their own in a pinch.  We own two different kinds of Tri-corner colonial hats the fancy one I just linked to and an ordinary ‘work-horse’ one here that has been stomped on and get used for Revolutionary War era play and pirate play.  Cowboys hats are worn frequently.   The Newsboy cap I found when Xander was in the Cheaper by the Dozen play has seen a lot of use too! Again, thrift stores are a great place to find hats and occasionally I’ve found some good ones at Oriental Trading Company.

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5. Stick Horses ~ These wood stick horses are played with every day because everyone needs a horse, right?  We had fabric ones before that the boys wore out.  A few years ago, my parents bought the boys each one of these wooden ones.  I was initially a little worried about them possibly being used as a weapon against each other, but they’ve all had a decent amount of respect for their ‘horses’ and each other and haven’t hurt anyone. 🙂

Stick Horse and costume is the gateway to anywhere! imagination2 Just about anything will be made into a sword or gun...

6. Swords, Guns and Arrows oh My…  For some reason, I had an idea that I was going to limit weapons in my home.  When my oldest was merely two years old, he caught a glimpse of an old b&w World War 1 movie that my Opa was watching.  Just a quick glimpse resulted in him converting his powder blue teddy into a machine gun…  I quickly realized that even if I didn’t supply them with toy weapons, they would make them one way or another.  We’ve allowed toy weapons and have talked about chivalry, proper use of toys and such…  We are constantly picking up foam swords from the Target $ bins when I see them and this plastic armor set has been used when learning about the middle ages, as Roman soldiers when acting out Bible stories and put to use when we were learning about spiritual armor.  Duct Tape and hot glue are our very best friends in elongating the life of these beloved toys. Pop guns are another FAVORITE.  We got a screamin’ deal on them one year and bought one for each boy in our family. We’ve loved ours and again, they are simple and open-ended enough that they get used in all kinds of settings.  And of course our bow & {suction-cup} arrow sets have been used until they fall apart too!  This company has great customer service and has sent out replacement arrows when the boys have broken theirs.

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7. X-Drum ~ Now this is a toy that surprised me.  A few years ago, the boys received a rhythm kit that contained this drum.  They enjoyed making music, but the design of this drum has lent itself to countless open-ended play uses.  The boys love to slip a playsilk or belt through the handles and strap it to their waist.  They’ve played marching band many a time after seeing The Music Man.  They’ve also used it to be drummer boys going into battle and have used it as a Viking and knight shield.

Beautiful and multi-use wooden stacking bowls imagination6

8. Colored Wood Stacking Bowls.  I love Waldorf-inspired wood toys and these gorgeous bowls top the list.  My babies and toddlers love to stack them and find hidden ‘treasures’ that we’ll place under some of them.  My preschoolers have played lots of sorting games and they have come in handy as my boys have played all kinds of imaginary games – including ‘house’.  For all of their macho, rough and tumble tendencies, they also love family and play ‘house’ with surprising frequency.  If bright primary color aren’t quite your thing they come in natural stain, cool or warm colors.

PVC make for great open-ended boy toys

PVC pipes make for great open-ended boy toys!

9. PVC Pipes.  These aren’t necessarily toys and I’m not even sure how we acquired them, but we have a couple of PVC pipes of varying lengths and diameter.  The boys LOVE these and use them for spears, cannons, a looking glass and a telescope!  If you don’t have any, you could try the dumpster at a construction site or buy a piece at Lowe’s.

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10. Wood Blocks.  And finally wood blocks!  They enrich all kinds of pretend playtime!  We love our basic big blocks and our citi-blocs.

These are the primary creativity, imagination boosting toys we love over here. 

What delights your children and fosters their imagination?