Summer is in full swing around here! Living for the glory of God

swimming at our favorite swimming spot and jumping off the big rock? check!

Go hiking and swimming on top mount Nebo? check! (well E and daddy swam- it was too cold for me and T.J!)

participate in a VBS? We did two!

We even got to do something I’ve always wanted to do- go on a sailboat!

I’ve been meditating on this verse lately-

1 Tim 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”

There have been times in my life when I genuinely felt guilty for having fun. I mean, shouldn’t life be spent just working and serving and soul winning? Is there legitimately a place for fun in the life of a believer?

Did you catch the last part of that verse? God gives richly to us all things to enjoy. Just look at the extravagant way that He created the world we live in. So much of what surrounds us was simply created by God for the sake of beauty and enjoyment. Think of all the varieties of luscious fruits and vegetables for us to taste and the beauty of nature for our eyes to enjoy. Sin would be to enjoy these things above God or choosing to be unthankful towards God for these things. Sin would also be to neglect the commandments in the next verse to do good and be generous.

Enjoying these things rightly can focus our hearts towards God and can bring Him glory. When I hike with my children I breathe in the fresh air, and marvel at all He has done by His wisdom and power. I thank Him for the time with my family. I’m learning to see these things as gifts from Him to enjoy, not as things to feel guilty about.

Enjoy your Creator today, marvel at His wisdom and kindness and enjoy all He has given you with thanksgiving! Whatever you do, do it for the Lord! (Col. 3:23)

 

Bible time with little children

At some point during the day when things are calm and I’m not in the middle of doing anything- usually late morning but sometimes in the afternoon, I say to the kids, “Bible time!”

I have a toddler and a very active four year old. Sitting down for a Bible lesson just isn’t going to happen right now. Each day we go to the same spot- the nursery. It’s baby proof, there are toys and a rocking chair. I close the door so the baby doesn’t escape and I pull a bucket of toys out of the closet. They can play, the only rule is no talking during Bible time.

I start off by singing the same song every day. “This is the day that the Lord has made.” I clap my hands, act animated and they ignore me and play with their toys. I don’t ask them to participate. I read them a chapter out of the book of Proverbs. Today since it’s the 8th I read them Proverbs chapter 8. After I ask E, “Is there anything you want to pray about?” She always responds no. (one time she responded horses so I thanked God for horses.) I then ask T.J, “is there anything you want to pray about?” He can’t talk so he doesn’t say much lol.

That’s it. I then tell them we are done. It lasts about 10 or less minutes.

Why do I do this?

Because even if they are just ignoring me and playing with their toys I think it’s important that they see their mother reading the Bible each day. Even if they don’t participate I think it’s important that they hear me pray over them, I believe that eventually they will learn to pray by hearing my prayers. I don’t think they comprehend any of the Proverbs but I believe that the discipline of faithfully reading them the scriptures will eventually grow fruit as they grow in understanding. I don’t know when that will happen but I will keep offering it through reading it to them until one day they do understand.

A couple other benefits are they have to practice a certain measure of self control since there is the no talking during Bible time rule. Also, they are hearing a portion of good literature and proper english each day that from an academic stand point is important for language development.

One day maybe they will join in with me for the singing. Even if they don’t I know E knows the song after hearing me sing it every day and I know T.J recognizes it.

I don’t try and get them to participate in any way other than  making them be in the same room as me and not talk. Our Bible time gives them an opportunity each day to observe my relationship with God and I pray for them that they will come to know God themselves.

I’m not 100% consistent but most days we get it done. Sometimes if my husband is driving I use that time as an opportunity to read to my trapped audience. 🙂

Do you have a Bible time with your toddlers and preschoolers? If so, what do you do?

 

I’m understanding the book of Psalms! (and how you can too!)

I’ve often heard how comforting the book of Psalms is. I’ve often been comforted by David’s words. A lot of the time though, I didn’t really understand his Psalms.  I understood the words of worship and of finding refuge in God, but triumphing over enemies? bones being broken? fingers being taught to war?

I just finished reading through 1 Samuel while also reading the Psalms written by David as he wrote them. I have pulled up on my phone a read the Bible chronologically guide and I look at it each day to see what’s next. I read about a battle David fought or a scary situation he was in and then read the corresponding Psalm. And you know what? Having it in context, it makes sense! I finally can know who these different enemies are and why they are being fought against. As I know what he is going through I can feel more intensely David’s crushing anguish or I can better rejoice in his Psalm’s of rejoicing.

Have you ever read through the book of Psalms this way? Today I read 1 Samuel 28-31 an then Psalm 18. Tomorrow it’s Psalm 121, 123-125,128-130 and then the day after that 2 Samuel 1-4.

Here’s the reading plan I’ve been using:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/chronological.html

And here’s some really neat videos from a youtube series called Read Scripture:

Passionate Prayer

I’ve been struggling with prayer lately. I’ve been doing it but lately my time talking with the Creator for some reason I’ve felt emotionally dry as toast. I know that faith and emotions are not the same thing. I do believe God hears and answers my prayers even when I am emotionally uninvolved but at the same time I want to feel and experience God with my emotions. My emotions are a part of my being, a part of who I am.

I’m reading through the Bible chronologically right now and it has been really encouraging to me as I am reading through 1 Samuel to read the Psalms as they were written. To read what situation David was in and then to immediately read what he wrote and spoke to God in response.

I want so much want to desire God like Moses did and to love Him with the passion and zeal of David. I want to obey and trust Him like Joshua. I want to live humbly and virtuously like Ruth.

I want to know God and I know He desires for me to know Him but often my flesh gets in the way. My mind is mentally lazy, my flesh desires entertainment, escapism and comfort.

How can I have more passionate prayer? I don’t entirely know the answer. I know the place to start is by asking God for passion for Him. I can do nothing without Him, not even love Him without His help.

Another thing is spending time in prayer. Purposefully cut out distractions and entertainment so that my mind is uncluttered enough to think about God. It’s important for me to not listen to secular music (very often) or my mind dwells on that instead of on worship. What we invest our time in becomes important to us.

Faith comes by hearing God’s Word so it’s important to fellowship with other believers who can speak the Word to me. Also it’s important when I am with other believers to use that time wisely and talk about the things of God and not just goof off.

Time in the Word will teach me about God and His will. Memorizing scripture is huge.

Obedience to God, His Word and His Spirit is essential. I know there has been a situation in my life that I needed to do something about and until I took care of it every time I tried to pray all I could feel was conviction until I made the situation right.

Something I haven’t been doing lately but I’ve been thinking about is a need for me to switch things up. What I mean is, if I pray the same prayer list sitting in the same spot at the same time every day maybe that’s contributing to me feeling like my prayer life is artificial. If I felt like my relationship with my husband was getting in a rut I’d do something different! I’d plan for us to do some new activity for us to experience together and our relationship would grow stronger because of it. Maybe I should view my relationship with my heavenly Beloved the same and learn to talk to Him and worship Him spontaneously. To think of Him always.

Think about calvary. I hope to spend some time this morning amongst the business of caring for children during church to truly appreciate and reflect upon Christ’s death and sacrifice on my behalf as I break bread with other believers in remembrance of God’s gift of salvation and what it took to purchase it. Reflecting on the shame of my sin and the holiness of God and the truth that God bore that shame upon His own self should never loose it’s ability to humble me and to make me rejoice.

Just some thoughts I’ve been thinking. Jesus is knocking, I will open up to Him and He promises to sup with me.

Do these thoughts resonate to you? Do you feel like your prayers are full of passion or are you in a spiritual or emotionally dry place? What are your thoughts on emotion and it’s place in the Christian walk?

I can’t be her big brother

“Mommy..” she asks everyday, “will you play with me?” I don’t know how much guilt parents usually have associated with that question from their child but for me it is huge. I think, “If her older brother were alive she would have someone to play with.”

She’s playing in the sand, her little brother is not up for the imaginative game she wants to play. “Mommy, I wish someone would play with me.” I immediately feel like I have to step in and be who her older brother would have been to her. I play the game, I build the blocks I do whatever it is she wants trying desperately to fill the hole the loss of her older sibling that she never knew left in her life. Except I don’t have the energy of a 6 year old boy and I’m not half as fun. I feel guilty for that. I wish I could change the world and history and give back to her the big brother that she never knew but that should be here.

“I wish I had a big brother to play with,” she told me the other day. I feel guilty for not being enough for her and for not being able to be her big brother or bring her big brother back and the guilt feels suffocating. “Yeah me too honey,” my throat tight, trying to sound light hearted as I push back tears.

I wonder how I will feel as T.J grows up. Right now his sister can’t stand his rough housing and constant need to wrestle and I miss the presence of a big brother who could knock him around some like boys do.

Last night we sat down as a family to watch a show. I looked at the beautiful children on either side of me and at my husband. My eyes meet his and I could see the sadness I felt reflected in his eyes. “We have a beautiful family,” I said. “Yeah we do,” he answered. The rest we didn’t have to say aloud, “but there’s one missing.” We squeezed each others hand as if to say, “I know, I feel it to.” It’s random moments like these where the sense of loss is overwhelming. The emotion is an odd one, where profound joy and grief is happening at the same time existing together in this thing we call life.

I think often about how Jesus was “the man of sorrows” and anointed with the oil of gladness above all his fellows. (Heb 1:9) In Jesus sorrow and joy coexisted perfectly and I have to look to him each day to know how to do it.

Parenting after a loss is complicated and it each year brings new levels of grief and complications. The other day I showed E some pictures of Titus and did my best to explain in 4 year old language who he was and what happened. We haven’t kept it a secret from her, we’ve always talked openly about him but I think it was the first time she ever really processed it in her mind because I think seeing the photos made Titus into a person instead of just a name to her. She asked a few questions and once she was satisfied she ran off to play.

She’s been thinking about him and our conversation though. A couple days ago we went to the park and when another child came up to play E immediately said, “Titus died. He was a baby. He’s in heaven. I don’t know how but one day God will make him alive again.”

How simple. “I don’t know how but one day God will make him alive again.”

Oh to have faith like a child.

So what’s my conclusion to this post? There is none. The pain is still searing, the guilt is still paralyzing.

One day though I will be healed. It’s not today and it won’t be in this life. One day though…. I will stand with my feet on the new earth and ask, is this the spot Lord? Is this where he was buried? And then I will truly feel it as my faith is made sight. I will truly ask, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” I will see with my own eyes everything made better by our gracious God and the sting of death will really be gone. It won’t hurt any more.

May is Titus’ birth month. The 17th is his birthday. He would have been 6 years old this year. I’ll probably be writing about him more than I usually do. Pray for me.

 

 

 

 

Making the most of spending resurrection sunday at home

I was really really hoping we would all be over our sickness by Easter Sunday. E was better but now T.J was sick and I had a sore throat so we had to stay home. I was disappointed but decided to work hard to make the most of the day.

I decided to get dressed up and even put on a little makeup. Having on a spring dress helped me to remember I’m celebrating my risen King today! When E got up I told her why I was dressed up. I told her today we are going to celebrate all day that Jesus rose from the dead and that He gives us new life! (Four year old girls are ready for any excuse to dress up!)

We headed into the kitchen and after putting on a youtube playlist of Easter morning worship songs I tied on her apron and we made a big batch of low carb waffles. Since it was a special occasion I wiped up some cream to get fancy! This is an awesome recipe by the way. alldayidreamaboutfood.com. E said our table looked, “oh la la” which is I think the best complement I’ve ever heard in my life! (and you can see in the pic how not oh la la it was!)

 

We have a copy of the Jesus story book Bible which for the most part I really like. Earlier in the week I had started going through the last week of Jesus’ life with her but sickness kind of got us derailed. For the woman and the alabaster anointment I sprayed perfume on E’s feet and dramatically wiped my pretend tears off her feet with my hair. She then painted in with water color a perfume bottle I drew with a permanent marker.

After breakfast I finished reading her through the story of the resurrection in The Jesus Storybook Bible and then we did a little empty tomb craft. Nothing much but I think it helped reinforce the lesson.

Since the reason we stayed home was because we are under the weather the kids laid around and watched 2 movies. An old nest family entertainment video that I borrowed from E’s cousins for this week. My husband grew up watching these videos. They also watched Beginners Bible The Story of Easter that I grew up watching as a kid. (It’s on youtube)

 

I did a mini egg hunt with the kids. I didn’t want to overload them on sugar while they were getting over colds so I just hid 3 pink one’s for E and 3 blue one’s for T.J. 

In the afternoon I took them outside with a mason jar and a pair of scissors and we went hunting for signs of spring. Irises, ferns, the first rose on the rose bush, buttercups and more adorn our table now. 

I listened to this interview with Randy Alcorn I saw on his blog to edify me some since I had to miss church.  https://vimeo.com/212999779

When I did Bible time with the kids instead of reading Proverbs like I have been I read them the story of the resurrection from the book of John while they played with toys on the floor.

I saw on pinterest this idea where you dye your hardboiled egg whites before making deviled eggs. I had some natural food dye and we attempted it. E thought it was fun to eat pink eggs but they didn’t look anything like the one’s on pinterest!

Anyways! That was our day. Life with little one’s is anything but predictable but I’m learning as a mom to try and make the most of each day and opportunity as it comes.

 

New Life In Jesus

Since this is resurrection Sunday I was thinking about this phrase that gets used this time of year, “new life in Jesus.” What does this mean though? How can I define new life in Jesus?

Here are several scriptures to meditate on today.

2 Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hearth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Romans 6:4 “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Ephesians 4: 22-24 “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Colossians 2:12 “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

Jesus standing between the dead and the living

In my Bible reading plan I am reading in the book of Numbers. Yesterday morning I read about the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their followers and the subsequent murmuring of Israel against Moses. The wrath of God put a plague upon the people. Here’s what happened,

“And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censor, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.” Num. 16:46-48

There are so many parallels in this story with the gospel and Jesus’ atonement I don’t even know where to begin listing them all.

Here is a doodle of mine in my journal.

Aaron “made atonement for the people” he “stood between the dead and the living” and “the plague was stayed”.

In my drawing on the left is humanity. “…dead in trespasses and sin” Eph. 2:1

In the middle is the cross of Jesus the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). Jesus made atonement for the sins of the people. Hebrews 10:12 “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” Heb. 10:12. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2

On the right is the Living God Who through the atonement provided by the sacrifice of Jesus we are reconciled and made alive unto. Romans 6:13. Colossians 2:13 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”

Eph. 5:2 ..”hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.”

We all have a plague- sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 6:23

The symptom of this sickness is death but Jesus our Great High Priest has overcome both sin and death and offers life everlasting. “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” 2 Tim. 1:10

Trust Jesus today!

“let your conversation be..”

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ..” Phil. 1:27a

Wednesday my friend from church and I recited the Bible verses we are working on memorizing over the phone to each other. She is memorizing Philippians. When she said the above verse it struck me as, “Wow. That’s such a tall order.” It really was sobering to think of what a far reaching command that it.

The NAS that she was quoting from translated conversation as conduct and becometh as worthy. It’s sobering to look over every aspect of my life an think, does this honor the gospel? Does this bring glory to God and what He has done for me? Is this worthy to be in the life of someone who follows Christ?

What about my interactions with my children and husband this past week? Has those interactions ‘become’ the gospel? What about my thought life? Have the things my mind has been dwelling on been worthy of the gospel?

Have my time investments become the gospel? Have my words to others become the gospel?

I looked up become in the Merriam Webster dictionary and I think the second definition using the word as a verb best convey’s the meaning of the word in this verse.

:to be suitable to

  • seriousness becoming the occasion; especially : to be becoming to- her clothes became her

Like a piece of clothing fits a person well or becomes them I need to filter what I allow in my life and in my head and what comes out of my mouth with the question, does this fit into the life of a follower of Christ? Not merely does this look good for the sake of looking good but does this fit what I say I believe about God?

Does this become the gospel? Does this point to the reality of the good news that Christ came to save and redeem sinners?

Some questions worth mulling over.

Grit and Motherhood

I just finished last night this really interesting book called Grit by Angela Duckworth. Angela Duckworth is a psychologist who has devoted herself to the study of what she has defined as ‘grit’. The subtitle of the book is The Power of Passion and Perseverance. I was familiar with the work of Angela Duckworth because I am a part of a Facebook group of diabetics who follow Dr. Bernstein. The group is called TYPEONEGRIT named in reference to Angela Duckworth’s studies.

As a stay at home mom my mind is spinning apply all the principles in this book to my calling of motherhood.

Grit is essentially consistently doing the work today to accomplish a very long term goal. Today as mothers we are changing diapers, kissing boo-boo’s and teaching right from wrong because 20 years down the road we want our children to be confident, well adjusted, God serving adults who are in a position to give back to the people around them.

She explains that successful gritty people believe that their job is important. I believe that doing a good job raising my children is the most important thing I can be doing with my life right now. More than an important job, I believe it is a calling from God. Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:7, Titus 2:4. I believe my every day work, even when it feels mundane, benefits not only my family but society and future generations.

Successful people know where they want to be. They have well defined specific goals leading them to an ultimate goal they want to achieve. Successful people also have either one or just a few very specific goals that they are working towards. They say yes to what will get them there and they know they have to say no to the things that won’t. They are not people running around in circles trying to do it all. When making decisions about how I am going to spend my time and energy I need to ask myself the question, “Is this going to enrich or take away from my job as a mom?”

The author includes a section on how we can build grit into our kids. How can we help our children be passionate people who persevere? I know I want to instill in my children an attitude of getting back up when they fall down. She tells parents and educators to teach kids about their ability to learn. Literally showing kids photos of brain growth and giving them an understanding of the brains ability to grow and change has been proven to move people from a ‘fixed mindset’ to a ‘growth mindset.’  A person with a fixed mindset believes that some people are born smart and others are not while a person with a growth mindset views people and themselves as having the ability to learn, grow and change. The first mind set leads to giving up when the going gets tough while the second mindset leads to overcoming obstacles and getting back up after falling. Essentially, learning about learning can change a childs attitude from “I can’t” to “I can.”

She also tells parents and teachers to emphasize with children that failure is okay and to create an environment where it is okay to fail. The child should be able to see their parents learning from their mistakes and moving on with lessons learned. She also emphasizes praising effort over accomplishment.

The author interviews many of what she refers to as, “high achievers” which makes the book a fun and interesting read. I like getting to “listen in” as she picks the brain of hard working successful people and to read their stories of where they came from and where they are going.

Here she is presenting and summarizing her work and ideas in a TEDtalk. It really is worth watching, it’ll get you thinking!