Category Archives: Family

Reverse Advent Calendar for Christmas

a box food of food donations for a reverse advent calendar

Have you heard of, or done, a reverse advent calendar before?

I may have been living under a rock because this concept of a reverse advent calendar was a new one to me. But what a great idea. Especially this year when non-profit organizations are struggling more than usual.

We all know how a traditional advent calendar works. They are something that is used to count down to Christmas.

Maybe it is filling in a component to a manger scene each day or opening a flap on a picture. Growing up we placed felt ornaments on a felt tree. Today, in our family we have a simple one where the kids take turns moving the heart one pocket further each day.

In recent years, advent calendars have become more elaborate and more expensive. Often kids will receive chocolate or a small gift each day. Lego even has advent calendars. There are sock advent calendars.

In a season that already includes so much chaos and receiving of gifts, a reverse advent calendar is a nice way to help our kids remember to focus on others!

I love things that are simple and easy to do, even as a busy mom with young kids. This fits the bill perfectly!

There are a couple of simple free printables that you can use – you’ll find them at the end of the post.

a picture of a white drawer advent calendar with a graphic for a reverse advent calendar

What is a Reverse Advent Calendar?

Basically, instead of receiving something each day you follow a calendar and give something to a non-profit organization each day leading up to Christmas. It is easiest to have a box or basket in your house to collect the items in and then deliver it at the end.

Have a list with 24 lines for the 24 days to finish Christmas Eve. (Or 25 lines for the 25 days leading up to and including Christmas.) On each line you’ll write down what you are going to donate that day.

You can do one item per day, or you can organize what you are donating from most to least expensive and collect 1 the item on day one, 2 on day two etc.

What to Do For a Reverse Advent Calendar?

  1. First, you’ll need to decide what charity (or charities) you would like to collect items for.

Here are some ideas:

  • Food pantry
  • Clothes closet
  • Homeless shelter
  • Pregnancy center
  • Foster care
  • Veteran care
  • Humane society
  • Any other local organization you care about
  • You could drop the items off anonymously to a family you know needs things

2. Unless you are involved with the organization you choose, contact them and ask what needs they might have this winter.

You might as well spend money on things people need rather than something that will take up precious storage space and never get used.

3. Use the organizations suggestions to start filling in the lines on your Reverse Advent Calendar.

Other options instead of the simple printable version:

  • you can make a paper chain with what you are collecting for that day on each link. Every morning your kids can remove a link.
  • Write on slips of paper and put them in the reusable advent calendar you normally use.
  • Make your own advent calendar and replace the candy or gifts with papers saying what you are collecting that day. Here are two ideas.

4. Share with your kids what you are doing and why! Let them get excited and feel a part of this event:

  • Take them each day (or week) to purchase the items.
  • Have them read the calendar every day and put the appropriate supplies into your collection box.
  • If you have little kids, you could also hide the day’s items around your house and the kids have to go on a treasure hunt to find them and put them in the box – my kids would love this!

(If you are including Christmas Day in your calendar, do this first thing in the morning before you dive into presents and stockings. Start your day thinking about others, and have your kids know how fun it is to give.)

5. After Christmas, be sure to take your children with you as you go to drop off the supplies. You could even have them make thank you cards for the organization for the work that they are doing.

Now, here are some free printable reverse advent calendars I put together for you. Simply print them out, fill in the details, and hang it on your fridge!

Have you done a reverse advent calendar before? Which charities did you collect supplies for?

Gifts for a Pastor’s Wife (& kids) to Make them Feel Appreciated

Thank you card on a table with graphic of gift ideas for your pastor's wife

Let’s talk about an often over looked part of church ministry. We know to appreciate our pastors, but what about their wives?! This post is all about ways to appreciate her and ideas of gifts for the pastor’s wife (and their children)!

[ For honoring your pastor check out these posts: Ways to Encourage Pastors,
Gift Ideas for Pastors, and an easy Chex Mix Pastor’s Gift].

Vase of flowers and list of pastor's wife gifts

Our pastor’s families sacrifice a lot with all the time spent on call, visiting in the hospital, dealing with stressful situations, and having an unpredictable life. 

Birthday’s, holidays, and Minister Appreciation Month are all the perfect time to do a little something for them to let them know we appreciate their service to our church as well. The problem can be actually coming up with ideas of gifts for the pastor’s wife and meaningful ways to appreciate them.

We don’t want them to feel neglected and unappreciated, so these things can be a sweet way to show your gratitude. 

Andrea, a pastor’s wife in the Twin Cities and mother of 4 children, ages 2-11, is back again today to share some gift ideas with us.

Guest Post by Andrea

Take some time to get to really know your pastor’s wife and build a friendship. Knowing likes and dislikes will help you as you decide the best gifts for you pastor’s wife and how to really show her she is appreciated.

Ideas of Gifts for a Pastor’s Wife:

1. Food. Arrange for someone to bring a meal for your pastor and his family twice a week during the month of October. Find out their likes/dislikes and allergies! If you know your pastor’s wife loves brownies, make them a pan!

2. Cleaning. How about a house cleaning service? (Know your pastor! If they wouldn’t feel comfortable with you cleaning their house, consider giving them a certificate to a cleaning company?)

3. Physical pastor’s wife gift:

  • Gift cards addressed to her for: spa/hair salon, coffee shop, favorite clothing store. (Please don’t offer to take her shopping – this can be very awkward! Instead, give her a gift card and offer to babysit her kids while she goes out shopping.)
  • Take her out for a movie or coffee.
  • Send her flowers on her birthday.
  • If she enjoys outdoor activities, take her out for hiking, tennis, boating, etc.
  • Small gifts that you know she’d appreciate. Whether books, a necklace, a gift bag of treats she might not splurge on herself. If you don’t know her well enough to do this on your own, ask her husband or children for ideas!

4. Practical ways to encourage your pastor’s wife.

  • Write her a note of encouragement and appreciation.
  • Pray for her instead of criticizing and judging her.
  • Don’t listen to or participate in gossip about her.
  • Give her grace: she is human just like you. Don’t hold her up to your expectations: pastor’s wives are not all the same. They are uniquely made by God with personality, talents, strengths and spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit determined were best for them. Some are introverts, some are extroverts. Maybe they can play piano, others cannot. Some love to serve in children’s ministry, others do not. Some are called to women’s ministries, others are not! Allow them to be who God created them to be, not who you expect them to be. 

thank you card and list of pastor's wife gifts

4. Don’t forget your pastor’s children!

  • Give them a gift card especially for them (ice cream shop?), or take the family somewhere fun (waterpark, indoor playground, disc golf, etc.)!
  • Make each child a gift basket of their own with their favorite items.
  • Write them a note of encouragement and appreciation.
  • Pray for them.
  • Give them grace: they are humans just like everyone else’s kids. Give them freedom to make mistakes, freedom to learn and mature.. If you have a concern, talk to your pastor lovingly about it as you would want someone to talk to you about your own children. (Don’t have different expectations for his children than you do for your own!)
  • Don’t listen to or participate in gossip about your pastor’s children. Take a stand in that moment and remind the gossiper that they are just children who are in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus, just like all of us.

5. Couple Time. Give the pastor and his wife time together. Give them a gift card to a restaurant and babysitting services. Don’t just offer to babysit the kids, ask them specifically, “Can we schedule an evening for me to babysit your kids?” Many times they might feel awkward to approach YOU with a request to babysit. It’s better if you approach THEM with a specific offer.

6. Respect their family time! Avoid calling their husband and father on his day off, or during dinner hours or on vacation.

7. Remember. Be sure to remember them on their birthdays and anniversaries! Send a card in the mail. Pray for them.

Be sure to read the comments for more ideas, especially on the importance of non-tangible gifts and our words!

What are you favorite ways to honor your Pastor’s family? What are your favorite gifts for a pastor’s wife to give (or receive if you are a minister’s wife)?

If you missed the earlier posts, don’t forget to check out Ways to Encourage Your Pastor and Gift Ideas for Pastors.

bucket of fresh flowers and graphic about ways to appreciate your pastor's wife

vase of flowers and ideas for pastor's wife gifts Originally published October 3, 2014. Updated September 15, 2020.

Awesome Gifts for Kids Under $10

purple present next to a tree

With birthdays, Christmas, and other events buying presents for all the kiddos in your life can really add up! Today, I wanted to put together an fun list of gifts for kids all under $10! The perfect way to let a child you know you care and thought of them but still let you stay within your budget.

[Check out this post for more tips on Christmas presents on a budget!]

With Christmas around the corner, some of these ideas would not only make a great Christmas presents, but you could also use them as a bigger stocking stuffer item. They would also work great for Easter basket fillers for your children or even a Valentine’s present.

Affiliate links are used in this post. See disclosure page for more details.

Fun Gifts for Kids Under $10


If your kids are as obsessed with Beyblades as mine are, they will love getting a new one to battle with. You can find a Beyblade or a Beyblade with launcher for under $10 on Amazon or also in the toy section of a Walmart or Target.


Puzzles are always a hit with my kids. For Preschool and Kindergarten age kids, be sure to check out the giant floor puzzles. I found these Frozen and Paw Patrol options for under $10! For younger kids check out this chunky puzzle or puzzles with big knobs.

Once you get up to kids a little older, you can find some jigsaw puzzles with less than 100 pieces under $10 on Amazon. For puzzles larger than that, check out Dollar Tree! You can find puzzles from 24 – 500 pieces for just a dollar! My kids have enjoyed many of these (and you don’t have to stress if they lose a piece.)

Gift Card. 

What child doesn’t appreciate a gift card? A $5 card you give with something else or just a $10 gift card will be enjoyed. My kids love having spending money to buy what they want – whether for toys, games, craft supplies, or their favorite fast food type restaurants!


 If you know a reader, they will never turn down a good book! You can start with board books for babies and toddlers (even my 4 year old still loves board books) and go all the way up to chapter books and classic novels! I will put together a post with book gift ideas broken down by age. If you need help in the meantime, let me know!


Buy a Blu-ray or DVD of a favorite movie. They will love having it available to watch again and again.


Fun snacks are always a favorite. When mom buys the groceries things tend to be simple. You can spoil the kids with special treats, snacks, and candy that they don’t normally get. Isn’t that a perfect gifts for kids under $10 idea? Even older kids appreciate yummy food!


 All three of my kids love game nights! Something as simple as Uno or Skip-Bo is always a hit for them. Or look into Qwixx and Spot it!

I know many games can be well over $10, but the basic games are still a lot of fun. Watch for deals around Thanksgiving and Christmas to get more expensive games for less.

We also enjoy Clue, Rummikub, Sequence (and Sequence for Kids). We love playing Pictionary when we are with their cousins and believe it or not, my 7 and 9 year old have been loving the themed Monopoly games lately. We have The Christmas Story version.

Another go to is Apples to Apples Jr.


Crafts Kits. 

Again, crafts are something that all of my kids enjoy! The DIY kits are always fun because they get to make new projects (and I like that all the supplies are right there). Here are just a few that I found! (All of these were under $10 when I added them to the post.)

Don’t for get to check Hobby Lobby, Walmart, and Target for craft kit options too!


I know outfits will be more than $10, but think of something like a fun T-Shirt, dress, or even accessory. Often times you can even get a cool shirt on sale for $5 and you could include something else with the piece clothing.

Craft Supplies.

Yep, I know we just talked about craft kits but this is something different.

Go to Dollar Tree (or buy when school supplies are on sale or using a coupon at Hobby Lobby) and gather together a much of an assortment of craft stuff as you can and put it in a plastic tub for the child.

Next time they want to create, they will have all the necessary items!

Things from glue (or a glue gun for older kids), pipe cleaners, different kinds of beads, stickers, glitter, pompom balls, streamers, yarn etc! The possibilities are endless.


There are so many fun socks out there! Find a pair for $5 and stuff it with some extra goodies (or a gift card) or get a pack for $10 and let it be the gift! Don’t discount looking at Walmart and Target – I’ve seen some super fun options lately. During winter months you can always consider fuzzy socks as well.


A legit flashlight (or lantern or headlamp)! Kids love these and I know my kids are always raiding our flashlight drawer. Having their own (that you label with their name) would be a great gift!

Seasonal Items.

Think about what time of year it is and what kinds of things kids do outside! Winter toys & sleds, chalk, bubbles, hula hoops, water toys, bug catchers, beach towels, plants etc. It’s always fun to receive something new to use on outdoor adventures. You can find some fun seasonal gifts for kids for under $10 on Amazon or your local dollar store or even Walmart.

two kids sitting on a couch and parents giving them gifts

Right there are 13 different categories of gifts for kids under $10 to help you jump start your gift buying this year! These ideas work for kids of a variety of ages and the options really are endless.

Other Gift Guide Posts:

Gifts for Preschoolers
Gifts for 2 Year Olds
Gifts for Preschool Boys
Gifts for Teenage Girls
Gifts for Teenage Boys
Under $10 Gifts for Women
Frugal Gifts for Him

One last money saving tip, when you find these types of things on clearance or on sale for a great price buy a couple and build up a small gift stash in your closet. Perfect to use for your own kids or for friends. It saves you money from having to go out at buy something full price.

What are your favorite gifts under $10 for kids to give?

Pastor Appreciation Gift Ideas That They Will Love

church steeple and a gray sky with words pastor appreciation gift ideas

It’s time to start thinking of pastor appreciation gift ideas!

Every October during Minister Appreciation Month I find myself searching for frugal and creative options. Gifts that will actually be used or are meaningful and that I can purchase on my budget.

Even if it’s not October, birthdays, Christmas, and work anniversaries come around every year and are great time to pull out some of these pastor appreciation gift ideas!

As you think of gifts for pastors, remember that simple is okay. You can do something meaningful on your budget. The pastors will appreciate you thinking of them and taking the time to do it.

wrapped box and a list of the best gift ideas for pastors

Last week my sister shared 10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor (those are great free pastor appreciation ideas too) and today she’s back to give us some pastor appreciation gift ideas that are free and some that require finances.

Be sure to read this post for ideas on what to give your pastor’s wife and kids.

Pastor Appreciation Gift Ideas:

Guest Post by Andrea

Pastor appreciation ideas that don’t require finances.

1. Give him your time. Volunteer to spend a Saturday at his home to help with around the house projects: mowing, painting, fall clean up, window washing – you name it! (These are never ending at our house!) If you are handy with tools help him renovate part of his home. If you are handy with cars give his car an oil change and tune up.

2. Plan a potluck/picnic in honor of your pastor. Plan to serve his favorite food (steak, anyone?). Tell the pastor’s family they don’t have to bring anything!

3. Don’t rely on your pastor to reach your community. Do your part! Bring your friends! Invite them to small groups, services, picnics and special events. Invite your friends for dinner or a game night and invite your pastor over to meet them.

4. In the same way, don’t rely on your pastor to care for those in your church. Visit someone in the hospital, send flowers to someone who had a baby, make a meal for a family who is going through sickness. Call a family who missed church.

5. Wash and service his car for him! (Or give him full service car wash certificates.) We constantly use our family cars for ministry – picking up and dropping off people for services, Bible studies and kids programs. We LOVE to have a clean car but don’t always have time to keep up with it. Unfortunately many people have had to sit in Goldfish and Cheerio crumbs!

6. Do a church service day, if you own your facility. Everyone show up to help organize/clean/spring clean. Sometimes pastors have a lot of pressure on them to care for the facility but little time to follow through. (Please do this in conjunction with something more personal – even a heartfelt note.)

7. Check with your local Christian bookstore or radio station to see if they are doing a giveaway for pastors during October: nominate them!

8. Sit in the front row during services!

9. There are many food gift ideas you can do. Invite your pastor’s family over for supper, drop a meal off at their house. Make a pan of cinnamon rolls or a giant cookie cake for their family.

Or make a batch of Chex Mix with this Pastor Appreciation printable!bags of Chex Mix and an adorable note - great gift for pastors!

a church steeple and the best gift ideas for pastors

Pastor appreciation gift ideas that require finances

1. Gift cards are always a good idea. (Clothing stores, restaurants, movie theater, coffee shop, grocery store)

2. Personalized T-shirt, coffee mug, bumper sticker, etc. “Best Pastor” or “We Love Our Pastor” from the congregation or your family.

3. Ask his wife for a list of his favorite things. (Chocolate, soda, candy, fishing gear, coffee, baseball caps, etc.) Put together a gift basket from the congregation!

3. Hobby-related gifts (i.e. golf clubs for the golfer)

4. Photography session (if you’re not a photographer, consider gifting him and his family with a certificate for a free session with a photographer)

5. Take him out (or give him tickets) to a sporting event, dinner theater or orchestra.

6. Consider giving him a paid sabbatical or an all-expense paid vacation. (Have everyone in your church put money in for this and see what you can afford to send them on.)

7. Cash. Sometimes it’s best just to give him cash. He may have needs that you are not aware of!

What are your favorite gifts for pastors? If you are in ministry, what are the favorite gifts you’ve been given?

There are gift ideas for your Pastor’s wife and children in this post.

Don’t forget about the free Chex Mix Pastor Appreciation printable!

Check out the post on ways to encourage your pastor for this printable:

12 Ways to Prayer for Your Pastor! Great resource to print off and put in your Bible. Could even give a copy to your pastor to let him know you are prayer for him.

church steeple against a blue sky and words that say free pastor appreciation ideas

Originally published October 14, 2014. Updated September 10, 2020.

Bible Verses About Trusting God

Open Bible with pen and text saying bible verses about trusting God

Today I want to share with you 31 Bible verses about trusting God.

Some seasons of life are harder than others. There are big events and little occurrences that come up where we have to stop and consciously choose to keep trusting God.

Affiliate links are used in my posts. See the disclosure page for more info.

Some recommendations for when you are struggling.

♦ Get in the Bible. It will remind you of who God is and what He has done since the beginning of time. Seeing God worthy of trust in the life of Abraham, David, Esther, and Paul will encourage you to keep on trusting him. Reading truths about God will help you remember just who God is and what He is capable of.

♦ Read biographies of heroes of the faith. Read about Gladys Alward, Corrie Ten Boom, Darlene Rose, Richard Wurmbrand, Brother AndrewHudson Taylor and so many others! It will encourage your heart to see how God worked in their stories.

♦ Remember how God has already provided for you in the past. Think on and praise God for those “small” and “large” ways He’s shown Himself to you already. God was faithful and He still is faithful.

♦ Journal your trial and how God shows Himself to you so you have it to look back on.

♦ Hang scripture around your house to encourage your heart to make a choice to continue trusting, even when it’s hard. I have James 1:2-4, Isaiah 26:3, and Psalm 118:8 written on Post-It notes stuck to my computer monitor at work. Bible verses about trusting God or Bible verses about attributes of God or who we are in Christ are great places to start.

♦ Read over these Bible verses about trusting God. They show words of trust and hope spoken in the Bible, commands to trust, why we trust, and the results of trusting God.

Read the Bible verses about trusting God listed in this post, but also take time to open your Bible and read the passages surrounding the verses. Dig a little deeper. Use the scripture as a prayer to God.

bible with pens and pencils for Bible verses about trusting God

Bible Verses About Trusting God

Old Testament Bible Verses About Trusting God:

2 Samuel 22:2a-3: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.

Job 13:15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him;

Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Psalm 18:2The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 32:10b: but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.

Psalm 33:20-22: Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 37:3-5: Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your hear. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 40:4a Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalms 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 112:7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Psalm 115:11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

Psalm 147:10-11 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 30:5Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Isaiah 26:3-4: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is an everlasting rock.

Jeremiah 17:7-8: Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.

Lamentations 3:21-25: But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion”, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.

Nahum 1:7: The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Habakkuk 3:17-19: Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no heard in the stalls, yet, I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me treat on high places.

Trust written in the sand

New Testament Bible Verses About Trusting God:

Matthew 6:25a Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.

Mark 5:36 “Do not fear, only believe.”

John 14:1 Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith is is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meed trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

What other favorite Bible verses about trusting God do you have?

open Bible and mug of coffee with works 31 Bible verses about trusting God