As promised, here is the post about how to make an activity binder for teens. This one has more advanced puzzles and no coloring pages or hidden pictures or things like that which younger kids enjoy (though there’s no problem with teens doing those things – you can find them in this post!).
There isn’t as much variety in this binder because I printed many pages of the same type of activities. But the sites that I link to have tons of fun things to do!
I also included a couple things in this binder that my youngest sister would enjoy doing as well. Since we all enjoy doing them, I left them in this binder.
As mentioned in my last post, you can find some fun mad libs here, but we enjoy making our own mad libs. All you need is a notebook and a pencil or pen and your imagination! It’s most fun when you just write down a random story and leave key words blank. I wish I had an example of some of ours, but I don’t. Instructables Living has a great idea to use short stories from old books, or The Inquisitive Mom has a great article about creating your own!
These advanced word searches from Puzzles.ca usually have 40 words to find in each puzzle. And when you’re done with the puzzle, there’s a hidden message in the remaining letters! There are tons of fun categories. You can also find other hard word searches at The Spruce Crafts. I printed the 50 states and the state capitals puzzles from them. And I printed three each of several of the word searches from both of these places, because my two teenage sisters and I love to race with our word search puzzles and see who can finish first. 🙂
These Start to Finish brain teasers from Puzzles to Print are HARD. You’ll probably have to look them up – but they do have the solutions in case you want to go the easy route. 😉
These logic puzzles are SO FUN. They are hard, but it’s just a process of elimination, and you can really feel your brain working. You can print them in color, but I chose to print them in black and white.
I say this activity binder is for tweens, but whether you’re 11 or 41 or have a 5-year-old kid, these activities are perfect for long trips–or for if you just want a coloring page or word search to do at home. (Find some more advanced ones here.) Maybe you’re looking for something to keep your kids occupied during the last weeks of summer break. This is by no means an exhaustive list… but there is a lot of fun stuff!
I put all of these activities together in two binders, one for my 9-year-old sister and one for us older girls. With 64 hours on the road ahead of us for vacation this year, I wanted us to at least have something to do during some of the hours – so I researched and found ideas for an activity binder. Warning: lots of pictures and links ahead. 😉
These are the finished product. Altogether, they weighed about 5 pounds. (Yes, I weighed them… our van only holds so many pounds and we filled it almost to the max!) It’s a lot of paper. You don’t have to print all of these, of course – just pick and choose to your liking. That’s the wonderful thing about making your own activity binder; you can customize the activities to what you like.
First, I’ll walk you through my youngest sister’s binder. Ashlyn is 9, and I think that most of these puzzles and activities are age appropriate.
You can use this cute map for several purposes, such as mapping out your route or coloring in states you’ve been through. I found it at Mr. Printables. What we used it for, though, was the license plate game. How you play it is simple: just color in (or mark with a sticker or something) each new state as you find it on a license plate. When we traveled to Maine about ten or twelve years ago, I think we found all the states except Alaska and maybe a couple others. We even found Hawaii! We did drive through New York City, so we got a ton from there.
I used to love doing hidden pictures activities when I was younger, and I still do sometimes. 🙂 All Kids Network has some adorable ones!
Disney Family has some great coloring pages that look like they came straight from the movies!
And honestly, I was soooo excited to find these coloring pages from Leap, plus some other ones. I got some from Bambi, more from Cinderella, a couple from Tangled, and even one from How to Train Your Dragon! Super Coloring is where I found these, and it has some other great coloring sheets too.
I don’t know if the girls have done these yet, but they look like a lot of fun. You can find them at Puzzles to Print. They even have the solutions if you can’t figure them out! 😉
I’m not sure how hard these Sudoku puzzles are for Ashlyn. They’re the easiest ones that Krazy Dad has. He has a page of hints for the order in which to solve the puzzle, and also the solutions.
Annd… my favorite! Word searches. These ones from Puzzles.ca are perfect for younger ones because they’re all about children’s fairy tales and fun stuff that they can relate to, like breakfast and birds. (There isn’t a print button when you download these, but just click CTRL+P and they print right out!)
I wasn’t planning to post anything for the 4th… but sitting on the love seat tonight (it’s 10:16 PM at the moment, to give you an idea of the crazy schedule our family lives), I suddenly got an urge to write about freedom. My brother is playing electric bass to a Southern Gospel song. Mom is frying fish in the kitchen for supper. And my little sister is sitting on the floor playing with Playmobil. I know that that isn’t exactly a picture of our independence (though it’s a picture of the South), but I don’t know. It just made me want to write.
And while thinking about the 4th of July and what it means to our country as our Independence Day, I began pondering what freedom means for us individually–and not just as a country.
According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, one of the definitions for freedom is: “A state of exemption from the power or control of another; liberty; exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement. Freedom is personal, civil, political, and religious.”
Most people focus on the civil and political aspects of freedom this week. I want to focus on the personal and religious side. I’m not just talking about freedom from sin by salvation. Today, I just want to simply muse about a few of the things that I have found freedom from spiritually.
Probably my biggest one is freedom from fear. I am still a fearful person, but I’m not in bondage to it anymore, praise the Lord! It still comes back, but by God’s grace I can conquer it.
Self-deprecation is another struggle I have been overcoming. I do still struggle with this a lot, because I have never been one to build up others and especially not myself. I’m trying to work on the building up others part. But I am my own worst critic, and this is a journey that I’m still very much in the middle of.
I want to encourage you this Independence Day to find one or two things that God has given you freedom from. Then spend a minute or two and thank Him for those things. I’m thankful for freedom from fear and for being able to embrace who God has created me to be (read my post about it here). What are you thankful to be free from today?
What do you do if you struggle with self-confidence or find yourself stuck in the journey of “finding your identity”? When you just feel like anything you do isn’t enough, that no matter what you do, someone else will do it better, that you just plain aren’t important?
I have always struggled with self-confidence. A few years
ago, I started looking for answers to who I was. Sure, I knew who I was by
birth, and that I was a child of God since I was saved, but… I guess I wanted
more. Some more depth or something. The popular opinion out there today sounds
pretty good: “you’re strong,” “you can do this,” “you’re beautiful,” “don’t let
anyone stand in your way,” “chase your dreams,” and all that sort of stuff. Oh
yeah, and “just believe in yourself and have faith in yourself and you can do
First of all, being raised in a Christian home, I knew that without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Secondly, I am one of the world’s worst (or is it best??) about being hard on myself and being my own worst critic. Telling me to believe in myself is pretty much like telling me to… I don’t know, what’s one of the most impossible things you can think of? Even though I have wonderful friends who tell me that I am such an encouragement, that I am sweet and helpful and all that, I’m still thinking deep inside, Well, you don’t know who I really am!
That is true. But what is also true is that I have always
struggled with choosing trust in God’s Word over what I feel like in that
moment. And even though I knew what
God’s Word said about who I am, I still struggled with accepting it. Something
just didn’t feel right about it.
But then, a few months ago, my pastor taught about embracing our identity in Christ in our young adult Sunday School class, and God used that series to help open my eyes about who I am in Christ.
1. Learn about your identity in Christ
Honestly, it’s difficult for me to trust God’s Word when “I
don’t feel like it’s true.” Terrible as that sounds, it’s the honest truth.
Sometimes I have a really hard time believing and trusting God because my
feelings are getting in the way. But God’s been teaching me to press past that,
to see that the truth about who I am and how God sees me is founded in His
Word, not in my feelings.
It’s not about me. It’s not about how I feel. It’s not
something that I obtained, gained, or changed. And even when I’m doubting the
truth of God’s Word, it never changes.
God’s Word is TRUTH. Nothing that I feel changes that.
And God’s been teaching me something through His Word. This
whole thing with my quest for my identity? My struggle to discover who I really
am? Guess what?
It’s not about me.
It is ALL about Christ. When I trusted Jesus as my Savior and was saved, I
obtained a new identity in Christ—a completely new,
I have to beat that truth into my thick skull time and time
again. Because guess what? I’m human—just like you. I fail. I mess up a LOT.
But that doesn’t change who we are in Christ or how God sees us.
You know why? Because when God looks at those of us who are
in Christ, He only sees Christ. That is why we have to understand what Christ’s
identity is—because that is our new
identity too. And when we read the Bible and see Who Christ is… wow. We realize
that our new identity is not tied to our old identity, because they are
completely different. Our old identity is dead. Gone completely. We are a
completely new creature in Christ. Our old identity died with Jesus on the
Yes, we still struggle. I struggle every single day. But it’s
a battle of my flesh and spirit—it’s not who I am. And in order to daily defeat
our flesh when it rises up within us, we have to be able to stand strong.
In order to grow well without toppling over, we need to have a strong root system, and we get that in Christ, not in our feelings or anything else. You will always be tossed to and fro if you can’t take God at His Word and be rooted and grounded in what God has done for us.
(Quote from my church notes on one of the Sunday School lessons my pastor taught about our identity in Christ)
You see, the whole foundation of it is in God’s Word. If we don’t have a strong knowledge of what’s inside of it, we’ll be weak. We have to be rooted and grounded in its promises. When our flesh or Satan tries to tell us that we’re not enough, that we’re no good, that it’s hopeless to keep on trying… that’s when God’s promises come to our aid. If you have a strong root system in God’s Word, then you’ll be able to stand strong in the battles.
Sure, you may fall sometimes. But we have to make the choice
every time to grasp God’s hand and get back up, to trust that what He says
about and to us are true.
Believe me, I get it. It’s HARD. Sometimes we really don’t want
to, sometimes we’re just plain scared to,, and sometimes we just don’t know how
to trust God. But it really boils down to this: trust is a choice. And today,
right now in this moment, am I going to choose to trust God or am I going to
choose to be battered about by my feelings? Am I going to battle my old
identity, or am I going to embrace my new identity in Christ?
2. Love your identity
Most times, embracing and accepting who I am in Christ is
harder for me than learning about it. When they say “you are your own worst
critic,” I can completely relate. I AM. It is so hard for me to believe what
people tell me about myself.
I’m not talking about building up my own ego. I deal with
pride enough as it is. But when people are trying to encourage me, I am so
often guilty of brushing it off. They don’t
really mean that, I think sometimes. Or, They might think that, but they don’t know what I’m really like inside
I think that an attitude like that is unhealthy. Yes, we’re
supposed to be humble… but there is a difference between humility and being
negative about ourselves.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall
lift you up.” (James 4:10)
That doesn’t sound like God wants us to beat ourselves up,
does it? Because honestly, sometimes that’s a form of pride. If I keep abusing myself,
especially to other people, then sometimes (for me, at least) I am really asking
them to assure me that I’m not that bad, that I’m great and amazing. And that
is just puffing me up in pride. But when we’re truly and honestly humble, God
lifts us up.
Adrian Rogers, a well-known and respected preacher in our
circles, said this about the difference between true humility and just thinking
negatively of ourselves.
“Have you ever wondered what humility is all about? True
humility is not thinking negatively about yourself. It is agreeing with what
God says about you. The grace of God will exalt a person without inflating him
and humble a person without debasing him. I am what I am because of Christ. In
this life, you are not going to be sinless, but as you deal with sin in your
life, you can come closer to being free from sin. Sinless? No. Blameless? Yes.
As you confess and stay prayed up, you can be blameless.”
That’s an interesting viewpoint. Not sinless, but blameless.
That really sums up our identity in Christ, doesn’t it? We’ll never be sinless
in this world, but we can be blameless before God, because of Christ in us.
The focus of loving/embracing our identity in Christ isn’t
about loving ourselves. We are to embrace who God has made us to be, yes. But
ultimately, we are to love Christ in
us. I, left to myself, am not a very loveable person. But because of God’s
grace, and the new identity He has given me, I can embrace who He has created
me to be.
I can, but I don’t
always do. Sometimes I allow my
emotions to dictate what I believe instead of the facts of God’s Word. When I
don’t feel loved by God, when I don’t
feel like I’m anything special, when
I don’t feel that God is working in
me… that’s when I tend to fall apart and get in trouble, because I’m depending
on my emotions instead of embracing the facts of God’s Word.
I know the truth. I know that God loves me, that He has
saved me and covered me in His righteousness, that He views me as someone
really special to Him. But I allow my emotions to take over: fear, guilt,
shame, and doubt.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out
fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
(1 John 4:18)
I have experienced the torment of fear countless times. I am
a very fearful person. And most of the time, it’s the fear that leads to the
other emotions. I’m scared that I’m not doing enough or being enough. Then I
feel guilty that I don’t do more and be more.
The truth is, Satan doesn’t want us to live in the joy of
our salvation. He doesn’t want us to love who we are in Christ. He wants to
keep us doubting and fearful and ridden with guilt so that we are robbed of a
close relationship with Christ and a heart of gratitude. It is a battle to overcome these feelings.
The good news? God doesn’t want us there. He wants us in the
exact opposite place. He wants us to live in His joy, His love, His mercy, His
grace, and His victory.
And He has given us the victory, even though sometimes we
still feel bogged down by our past sin and mistakes.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed
our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
If you’ve ever really thought about it, “as far as the east
is from the west” is an impossible distance. It just keeps going and going and
going, because there’s no end point. God
forgets the sins that we have repented of to Him. He has forgiven and
forgotten—why should we keep bringing our old identity, our old sins that we’ve
been forgiven of, to our own minds?
It’s hard. I know. But we have to remember: our victory is
not found in what we have done. It’s found in who Christ is and what He calls
us to do. And He is calling to us to lay aside our burden and embrace His
victory, resting in Him.
“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and
lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy,
and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
It’s not very restful, always finding fault with myself or
getting upset with myself over and over again. I have to remember that, if I
have confessed my sins to Jesus and asked Him to forgive them, He has. I have
to embrace that fact and trust Him. I have to change my mindset from who I was
to what Jesus has done in me.
Because I’m not who I was. Christ has made me into a new
creature, and every single thing that I learn about my new identity is
something to love. It’s a growing thing, a step-by-step journey. And we do have
to learn to live in our new identity. It’s a pursuit of Christ, a reaching
forth to the things He promises us.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this
one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth
unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
3. Live in your
identity in Christ
Okay, so it’s simple, right? Learn about our identity in
Christ, embrace it, and then start living in it. 1, 2, 3, easy-peasy.
It is so hard for
me to get things through my thick head sometimes! Believe me, I haven’t
perfectly learned how to love and live in my identity in Christ. It is an
ongoing learning process with many, many ups and downs. It’s a daily,
moment-by-moment choice and journey.
In order to live a fulfilled life in who we are in Christ,
we have to learn to receive and embrace His amazing gift, and we have to have
the proper perspective. Like I said earlier, it’s all about Christ. I am who I
am through Christ… in all areas of my life.
It’s not just a Sunday thing. It’s not even just a morning
quiet time or nightly devotional thing. It’s something that we have to embrace
every moment of every day. Living a life of surrender to God’s will is a choice
we make every second, whether we realize it or not.
“We can’t compartmentalize our spiritual and physical lives. We’ll never experience victorious Christian living that way. Yes, we’re a new creature, but it came at a cost. Now we are completely the Lord’s—His bondservants, His slaves. What people don’t understand is that we’re slaves, but our Master is so good. When we freely surrender everything in our life to Him, we’ll find joy, fulfillment, affirmation, etc.”
(quote from my notes on one of the Sunday School lessons my pastor taught about our identity in Christ)
Abiding in Christ (John 15) is part of living in who we are in Him. Abiding in Christ is a daily dying to self. It’s a continual consciousness of Him. It’s a daily choice to stop and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit. It’s a continual maintenance job—keeping a short list with God, so to speak. God doesn’t fill a dirty cup, and it’s our job to keep our cup—ourselves—clean for Him to fill with His Spirit.
God doesn’t just want to be a priority in your life, as one
of the preachers around here said. He wants to be preeminent. He wants to be
Lord of every area of your life.
And the truth is, we can’t accomplish anything for God’s
glory without abiding in Him and relying on Him. It sounds like such a sign of
weakness sometimes, being dependant on God. It’s like we’re incapable creatures…
and that’s because God knows that we can’t do it on our own. We’ll trip over
our own feet and fall flat on our faces.
And we have to realize that and accept it. God is always
reaching out His hand to us, inviting us to walk alongside of Him. But we have
to recognize that we need Him, His grace, His strength, etc. And when we realize
just how much we need it, we’ll start living more consciously, more
I feel so needy
sometimes, so helpless. And all I can do is to pray (a LOT) for God to show me
my heart, to show me what I need to do or stop doing, to reveal to me His
mighty grace and love. I have to humble myself before Him and beg for His help.
I have to take each step as He shows me.
Sometimes I feel stuck. I get really discouraged. I feel so
far from my goal. And sometimes, I honestly just set my expectations of myself
too high. I feel like I need to have this down, to know perfectly what I need
to be doing next.
“The goal is not perfection. It’s simply to be in an intimate relationship with Christ each day, fully embrace who He created us to be, and seek to fulfill the purpose He has for us. He is our greatest strength—and the One who enables us to live out all the other strengths He’s placed within us.”
(Holley Gerth; You’re Already Amazing– this is an amazing book that I highly recommend! It really helped me understand more about who I am and how my personality is special, and how God can use me just as He created me to be. It does have more of a “modern Christianity” vibe, but she does a great job at balancing that viewpoint of “you can do anything” with the Scriptural “you’re nothing without Christ.”)
It’s a continual journey, as I keep saying. Little by little,
inch by inch. But God is so merciful and showers us with so much grace. Hold
His hand, keep in a close relationship with Him, and He will show you each step
Learn more of Him. Read and study His Word. Pray and ask Him
for help. Because the more that we taste the goodness of God, the more we
desire it. The more that we desire it and learn from His Word, the more we grow
in His knowledge. And the more we learn of Him, the more we love Him.
And when you feel stuck, like nothing is working, and that
you’re missing something important… just remember that God loves you and wants
nothing more than to be in an intimate relationship with you. He wants you to
grow. This rollercoaster journey brings you through both mountaintops and
valleys throughout your whole life… but by God’s grace, you will come out of
each valley stronger than you went in.
So hang in there—keep pressing on, step by step, in the
incredible journey of embracing your identity in Christ. It is so worth it to be able to look back on
what He has grown you through!
(This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. If you buy something from the link, I get a very small commission—but that doesn’t affect your price at all. Just letting you know. ;P)
So many girls I know are dissatisfied with where God has them in life. They want to do more, be more, and go more. Have you ever considered that God has you exactly where you are in this certain point in time for a very specific reason? Sure, we may not understand. But we can trust His plan. He has something special in mind for you.
For you single girls at home – I get it. I’m single and still at home too. Sometimes it feels like we are the most useless creatures ever. We’re stuck at home (especially if we can’t drive yet). We don’t have the opportunities to get out and witness like we feel we should. A life of washing dishes and folding laundry isn’t exactly the mission field we envisioned for ourselves, right?
Single girls in the work force or at college: do you feel like life is too busy? Like you don’t have the time to fulfill the calling God has placed on your heart? When you applied for that job, you didn’t realize how much it would drain you. Studying until all hours of the night (or the wee hours of morning) makes you so brain-dead that you’re not sure how you function every day.
Stay-at-home mommies? You’re not exactly living the happily-ever-after you envisioned when you got married, are you? Chasing toddlers, changing countless diapers, and spending your nights soothing a colicky baby instead of sleeping is making you mentally and physically exhausted.
And you mothers who juggle a job, housework, and kids all at once. I don’t see how you do it – just being the oldest at home with a tween and two teens being my responsibility (and they’re really great sisters), plus trying to get some work done (at home!), and keeping the house up had my head spinning… and that was just for a week.
Okay, I’m sounding all doom and gloom now. Not exactly where I was meaning to go with this… but do you get the picture? Real life doesn’t always meet up to our expectations. Life is busy. It’s crazy or boring, depending on your situation. And often we get so focused on our circumstances that we just want to be anywhere but where we are. It isn’t exactly a fulfilling life.
I’ll be honest…
I know that I often feel like such a failure. I look at other girls my age, and they seem to have it all. They’re getting married, having babies, and making their homes into a haven. Or they’re going to college, getting jobs, and being successful.
I have to remember that God has placed me right where I am, right now, for a specific purpose. I may not see it, but I can trust His plan for my life.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Those verses are some of my favorites. His ways and thoughts are SO much higher than mine. I can trust that He has planted me here at home, looking for a job, living a messy, unorganized (but trying to get organized), and confusing life. I don’t understand it. But I can trust Him.
I went through a period a year or two ago where I was very dissatisfied with my life. I didn’t feel fulfilled at the end of the day or that my life had much purpose, honestly. I remember one day in particular when I was really struggling and just feeling kind of pointless. Cleaning and organizing helps me to straighten out my thoughts, so I went out to our workshop and alternated writing out a prayer and organizing. It really cleared my head.
And I realized something. God doesn’t have to give me a job, send me to college, or call me to a foreign mission field for me to have purpose in my life. My mission field is right here at home. And once I realized that, it changed my whole outlook on life. Sure, I still have struggles. But I also found peace and joy that I hadn’t experienced when I was looking for something outside of where God had me.
So can you…
Two words: JUST TRUST. It’s hard, I know, even while it’s simple. I don’t have it down by any means… because it’s a process. It’s growing. Seeds aren’t planted and bloom into flowers the next day. It’s a long and hard process, with lots of growing pains, some setbacks, some scars… but the end result is beautiful.
Have you ever tried planting a seed in a garden bed and then moving it every day? It takes a lot longer to grow that way… and sometimes it doesn’t grow at all. It dies.
Allow God to grow you where He has planted you. If you’re not sure that where you are is where He wants you, get in His Word. Pray. Get counsel from trusted, godly, older friends. And wait.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18a)
You can transplant a partially grown plant with little to no damage to it. Sometimes you have to, to ensure that it has room to grow into a large, healthy plant that produces to the max. And sometimes God does that with us. The thing is, we have to wait for His perfect timing.
I’m completely preaching to myself right here. I have been struggling with dissatisfaction in a few areas of my life. But I’m learning and I’m growing. So can you. Just be patient, trust God, and hang on during the growing pains. It’ll be worth it in the end.