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raising kids




I had to read for 30 minutes every night. This was torture! I wanted to read MORE! Books have always been an escape for me. I relate so hardcore with the plot that I daydream about the next plot twist and even once caught myself praying for a main character to please please be delivered from her trouble! Like, what?!

Ideally, my kids would become natural readers! Completely forgoing the whole it takes two (DNA’s) to tango and each kid is different, I set up my first son for success. I didn’t have a lot of money or time and zero experience as an 18 year old girl with a growing human inside.

But a sweet wise woman told me that my son could hear me read to him! So, I did! I read children’s books and the entire Harry Potter series out loud to my growing boy in the womb.


Memory lane, y’all. It takes you to places where you see how your own kids could really benefit from elementary school you. Dr Seuss gave me confidence before kindergarten when I normally had a baby voice, but reading I took on the strong or silly or emotion filled voice of the characters.

When the rose colored glasses of home life became clear, a book escape was my resting place. As an adult, I crave all the self-help, Bible journals, historical romance, biographies, and memoirs to give me an “Oomph!” ahead in life.

Even still… they are an escape!

Girls reading

CREATE an environment where kids love to read. Making this reading nook for our girls, this is the picture I had in mind. Sunlight pouring in. A quiet corner at the top of the house in their room. Lillie-Mae reading out loud to Mindy. Even if you don’t have the “perfect” nook, imagine and create anywhere in the home.

SEASONS change, and so can books! These shelves celebrate the first day of fall with books about Trick or Treating, picking apples, being thankful, or illustrations of leaves changing.

Mindy Picking a Book

SPACE to grow is a new season of parenting as we now have a sixth grade boy (who brings a book every. single. place. he goes! and yes, Harry Potter is his favorite!). Learning the importance of a kid, having influences and encounters outside the home is so important. Our girls can’t go to Bear Country and have some honey with Little Sister, but they can dive into the pages of a book!

Mr. Guess is an artist, so “pretty books” are something he really enjoys. Most of the kids’ books come from McKay’s Used Bookstore or are gifted from family members (they too see that our kids love to read!).

Bookshelves and Decor-  Target

Bookshelves and Decor- Target

I wrote a lot more about fostering a love for reading on our local Mom’s Blog. Do you kids like to read? What are your favorite books now or as a child?

FALL BOOK LINKS (reminder, most of these were bought used and/or local all have been collected over time):
From Seed to Pumpkin , Bella’s Fall Coat , I am a Warrior Goddess , I’ll Always Love You , The Biggest Pumpkin , Where’s My Mummy , The Berenstain Bears go on a Ghost Walk , Secrets of the Apple Tree .

Hard to find/collector title: A Farm by Lenmart Rudstrom

I don’t think we did anything special except be intentional with our kids reading. They see us read, listen to audiobooks in the car together, and we take the time to read to them. Each child has read on their own pace.

Dallas was 4 and in preschool when he started to sound out letters then figure out how they made words. A whole new world opened! Lillie-Mae was conservative about giving reading a go. It took her mid year of kindergarten, but she was the youngest in her class also. Mindy is reading her little books 6 weeks into kindergarten and will soon be six.

Relating text to self and text to world is a HUGE life lesson.

I thought for sure that I would ALWAYS know the books my kids read, but I literally couldn’t keep up with our oldest after third grade. Our homeschool days were spent reading together on the couch… but separate. Still get butterflies thinking of those sweet moments seeing his mind soar!

Y’all, I just want you to be inspired to think outside this ticking time (box) of life. Be intentional with your kids. Reading slows down their minds but stretches it too. Reading is a friend. Reading teaches you things about a world you have yet to explore. Reading is innocent. Reading is free! Reading opens doors a front door to discovery and imagination.


Easter Baskets


Easter Baskets

Easter season to me means a focus on new life and celebration. Spring is a season of new growth. Where the seeds planted literally spring forth!

It’s a great celebration for a Christian. Walking day by day, Jesus’ last week and last hours on Earth puts the magnitude of sacrifice into perspective.

So where do Easter baskets play a roll in this? I’m not googling the Wikipedia article that shows that we shouldn’t celebrate bunnies or flowers. A heavy focus is on Jesus during Easter. And what did His life teach us? To love others well, unashamedly, consistently. To follow Him, trust His Word, and show up daily in this Love even when it seems like death has won.

Easter baskets are a way we show our kids love this season. The Guess Tribe isn’t big on giving gifts or buying toys apart from celebrations. We are keeping the focus heavily on Jesus but also celebrating new life.

Easter Basket Ideas:

• Items they already need
• Gift cards for older kids
• New Bible or Devotional
• Art Supplies
• Outdoor spring toys
• Handwritten card
• Candy

Is there something your kid needs that you could tuck back and give in their basket? Maybe spring tops, fun socks and even underwear! School supplies might need to be slightly replenished. Girls always love new bows! A bathing suit was in my Easter basket one year, and I loved that! Go for the glitter pencils that only last a month anyways. Target Dollar spot had lots of highlighters, pens, and notebooks.

Thinking of older kids, gift cards would be a great idea! These could be to their favorite restaurant (Holla, Chick-fil-A!) or an experience they’ve been wanting to do. Maybe there is an arcade, indoor rock climbing place, or movie that could fall into this category.

Probably the most Jesus thing you could pass onto your kid is a new Bible or Devotional. A good family devotional for kids of all ages (and especially good for non readers) is Louie Giglio’s Indescribable. A boy devotional Dallas has liked was The One Year Book of Devotions.

Target Dollar Spot will have all the needs for toys and art supplies! We got the cutest sand terrarium there, some 3-D wooden puzzles, coloring books, silly putty, and spring garden items for kiddos. For Dallas we got him some kinetic sand (didn’t think of getting this for an 11 year old, but it was a hit for him at cousin Henry’s birthday party). Sticker books are a huge

Your spring and summer outdoor toys are probably either lost, broken, or old news. Refresh those for their Easter basket! Nerf balls, water toys, sidewalk chalk, special markers or crayons, paints and art books. This idea has endless opportunity to pass on some intentional, kid specific items.

An Easter basket shouldn’t be stressful and size is irrelevant. The thought is what counts! That’s why I love sticking in a handwritten card to your child. Words of affirmation and love, sharing what you see in them that’s new and exciting! Especially if they have recently had a heart transformation to let Jesus into their sin filled lives, celebrate that!

Candy… oh how I loathe and love it. I’ve already went through a pack of Reese’s Easter eggs, personally. I preach that food dyes and high fructose corn syrup are horrible (daily staples) for a kid’s diet. However, is that the message I want to get across to my kids. Just the same as I don’t want them to hear loudly the “Don’t do’s” of Christianity, I don’t want them to be focused on the “can’t haves” so much that they miss out on a fun celebration. The kids got a couple of Easter treats in their baskets, and I’m so thankful for the organic and dye free options! These can be inexpensive! Don’t read organic and think “break the bank”! Once again, thoughtfulness and being intentional matters most. Lillie-Mae will freak out and feel so special that I got those yellow Peep Bunnies for her. Easter eggs are filled with Black Forest gummy bears.

How do you handle when to give Easter baskets? Growing up, my Dad hid them somewhere in the house on Sunday morning. My sister and I would run through with sponge foam rollers in our hair, looking for them. Then stuff candy into our mouths until our parents made us quit and start brushing out our curls for church. I tried that approach once…. It was already stressful to get everyone ready for church with feeling the pressure to look a little extra, adding an Easter basket reveal was not joyful AT ALL! So now we hand them over the day before. This doesn’t make us more holy, it’s just what works for the best, fun outcome.

I planned to have Easter baskets done to show you fancy pics. However, 1. I don’t want the pressure of comparison passed on from my platform 2. There is no plan for extra cuteness this season for the Guess kids. (They won’t even notice.)

Friend, hear me on this. Easter is the most important holiday for a Christian. Without Jesus’ death and following resurrection, we wouldn’t be able to live in the spiritual freedom in relationship with Him that we do today. If you’re struggling with having peace in your life, have a foundation of anxiety that you can’t get to the root of, I want to urge you to call out His name and just have a conversation. This might be weird to talk out a conversation with someone you can’t see. But just starting with “Jesus, I believe in you. I know there is something missing from my life and that something is you. I know that God created me with a purpose to worship You, and I commit to that by admitting that I am a very lost, sin filled human that needs You in my life. I love you! Thank you for loving me!”

If that’s a conversation you have for the first time, please let me know! Whether you’ve been in church or never have in your life, this might be a prayer conversation you need to have today.

Wondering where you can go to church this weekend to join in the celebration? My church, Calvary Chapel Chattanooga, has services Saturday at 4 and 6 pm, and Sunday morning at 9 and 11. We will be there Sunday morning, come sit with us!

Where do you stand with Jesus and Easter baskets?