Choosing Joy

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Choose Joy

In light of all the hate around us, we can choose joy.  Choosing joy is within us, because the Holy Spirit lives within us.

In the hate-filled world we live in, in which we are raising children, in which we encounter all sorts of situations that are just waiting to dump rain on our parade, we can choose joy.

Joy is not the same as happiness.  Happiness is based upon our circumstances.  Joy is based on something deeper, more abiding, and longer lasting – it is based on the character of God and the joy that He gives because we know that He is supremely in charge.

How can we cultivate choosing joy when so much around us is joy-less?:

  1.  Surround ourselves with pretty things.  Yes I know this is superficial, but if I include fresh flowers, yummy treats that are pretty to look at,my happy smiling boys, together time with my mister, sunsets, and good books – if I include them in my day – those things help fuel a joyful attitude.
  2. Memorize Scripture.  There are so many Scriptures that will help us fuel the joy that is within us.  Romans 15:13 and Isaiah 12:6 are great ones and easy to memorize.  Write them down and keep them in visible places.  (If you want a joy verse handlettered, just hit me up for a custom handlettering job).
  3. Be grateful.  Keeping a gratitude journal or reading books on gratitude will help you as well.  I’ve just started 1000 Gifts and I love Choosing Gratitude.  Such a great help in keeping our minds on the little blessings God has given us.  And these would make great activities any time of the year.
  4. Write snail mail.  Sitting down to write mail to others, and even send little gifts, help me remember why I love people.  I love seeing the best in them, encouraging them, and adding some beauty to their days. If you need some new stationery these are perfect for any occasion (or no occasion at all).

What are some ways that you choose joy in your life?  How you do encourage your friends and family to cultivate and choose joy?

Sounds of Motherhood

I Will Follow Jesus Bible

There are many sounds to motherhood.  If you have been a mom for any length of time, you are quite familiar with them, and you know that they quickly change depending on your child’s age. Here are a few of mine:

  1.  Apple chewing.  Yes, I love to hear my two boys ask for a “big apple”, ask for mommy to “tut it”, and then chomp down on it.  That means that are craving healthy foods and I give them enough sweets to balance it out 🙂
  2. Crying.  We just took our younger son to the eye doctor for the first time.  Come to find out he is extremely near sighted and will need glasses (just like his older brother).  He is really clumsy even though he is a daredevil.  (His eyesight probably has something to do with his clumsiness.)  So, I know that when he falls and cries, than he is actually hurt.  He has busted his gums and caused his two front teeth to be completely gray now (because they are dead with damaged nerves), yesterday he was playing instead of napping and tipped over a wooden chair in his room and almost punctured his eye.  Thankful it was just the corner of his eye, and black eyes heal.  He has scraped the top of his head from spinning circles on the back porch, getting dizzy, and falling over.  He just loves to be crazy, but he knows when he cries mommy or daddy will come running – and usually his older brother will show great compassion on him.
  3. Mommy.  Honestly, some times this gets old because they’ve said it 20 times in a row, whining for something they really don’t need.  Any other mom our there know what I’m talking about?  But today, as I was reading to my boys in the car while we ate lunch (waiting for a showing on our house to be finished), my younger said Mommy.  Yes, he has said it plenty of times, but something just caught my attention this time when he said it.  I’m there Mommy.  I’m the one who loves them most in this world (with their daddy), and will be there for them, and play with them, and tuck them into bed at night.  I pray that through my imperfect love they will come to see the perfect love for their Abba.
  4. Singing.  Both of my boys have grown fond of singing.  The two songs we know perfectly are the ABCs (finally, it was delayed in our home), and Jesus Loves Me.  I’m glad the boys are learning that one in their SS class at our church.  We sing it all the time.  As my younger was awake at 6am this morning he was singing this.  As I was getting ready to head out the door, I saw his little fingers sticking out at the bottom of the door, and heard his little voice singing.

My favorite line of Jesus Loves Me is “for the Bible tells me so.”  Especially as I parent, and make mistakes, and don’t know what to do half the time, or how to balance everything that I need to balance, it is good to know that I have the perfect Word of God.

And Judah and Chelsea Smith just put out a great story book Bible for your kids (think grade school).  It is more storybook (like Jesus Story Book Bible), but it tends to be more concrete and practical, making it somewhat easier for younger kids to grasp and know how to implement.  This is an easy to use Bible, especially helpful to parents in leading Family Worship time in their home.  Remember, as a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your kids about God, and the church’s job is to come along side you and partner together.

If you would like to win this Bible (and believe me, you do), just leave me a comment on one of the verses you are teaching to your children or one of the songs that your children are learning right now.  Thanks Tommy Nelson Mommies for the Bible and the opportunity to pass it along to someone else!

Worship and Crayons

posted in: Books, creatives | 0

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This post is not about the early Sunday School years.  This post is about the craze of adult coloring books (really, made for women because I don’t know any males that would sit around and color in a coloring book – though if you are out there and you enjoy it – then by all means, continue).

Something I’ve been thinking about recently is how our minds can be so deceived.  When you are binge watching a show – that may affect your ability to think rationally.  The last month I’ve been watching a show called Chasing Life.  I would not recommend it but that is a post for another day – but what it did to my mind was awful.  The days before I left for a recent trip to visit friends I was so fearful that I was never going to see my husband or children again.  And I had to convince myself that if death for me was going to happen that wknd than that was God’s better plan.  (The show was all about cancer and dying and what life is all about).  My mister was quick to respond to my fears with challenging me to dwell on faith and the Word of God.

So, what are you to do when all you want to do is something that doesn’t require much energy.  Sit and color.  The best part about coloring books is finding one filled with Scripture.  What a better way to fulfill Colossians 3 and Philippians 4 then coloring hope-filled verses from the Word?

Waterbrook Press just published one called Whatever is Lovely.  For me it is not only a chance to be creative but keep the creative juices flowing in my own lettering.  Thanks Blogging for Books for the chance to review this one and all thoughts are my own.

 

Sundays in the South

posted in: Sundays in the South | 0
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Here we are the week before Christmas.  Less than 7 days and I have to admit, as my kids get older, it is more fun – to think of the surprise that will fill their eyes on Christmas morning.

Here are some things that I’m liking this week – and some fun things I’m baking:

Grinch popcorn as I have some little friends over this week.

I know two littles (and their momma) who would enjoy these.  If you need a hostess gift for a family with kids these would be perfect.

Spot On post by Kristin

I will be adding these to our Happy Jesus Day cake this week

I’m dreaming of two days here with my mister over New Years – if no one gets sick.

Can’t wait to read this book to my boys this week.  It is by far my fave Christmas book.

How the Word Breathes Life into My Mothering

God Breathes into our Mothering

Oh, sweet mommas – this post is especially for the mommas out there – and you don’t have to have toddlers to understand this post.  Maybe all of your kids are teenagers, or are married and raising babies of their own – or maybe you have a few younger than mine and are still living in sleepless nights because of newborns or sleep regression.

Just as the very word of God spoke all of creation into being, and the word of God is written down for us so we may be changed into His image, the word of God also breathes life into the every day of my mothering – right now which is a highly emotional 3 year old we are seeking to potty train and a speedy 2 year old who loves to jump off everything he can climb.

Two examples for you from the last 24 hours.  It was a long afternoon as I fought for my 2 year old to take a nap. I knew he was tired and just didn’t want to miss out on anything.  Finally 90 minutes after scheduled nap time, he finally went down for 90 minutes.  Then, by the time my husband walked in the door at 635 from his job, I was so done.  He immediately took over, gave them a bath, put them to bed (which was a 2.5 hour struggle with one of them), and told me to go do something, anything, other than being with the kids.  I went in and took a long hot shower which is one of my favorite things to do in the winter (I know I’m not helping the water conservation society).  As I was standing there praying, confessing my anger and entitlement, I was reminded of a verse in James that my husband spent a whole year on our first year of marriage: James 4:1-4 which basically says the reason you are arguing and upset is because you are fighting to get what you want because you are idolizing something and not keeping God God in your life and heart.  Yup.  I was struggling all day because I didn’t get what I wanted from my sons.  I wanted quiet – I didn’t get much of that all day. I wanted obedience – but my sons are sinners and not prone to obey so I shouldn’t expect them to do it.  I was crying in the shower, even as the hot water ran down my cheeks and increased my need for an aging-skin moisturizer – God was restoring my soul with the work of the Word.

The second example is from this morning: it was a long morning.  I sat in the sanctuary during the sunday school hour, listening to my husband prep for CEve service, scanning through social media, getting encouraged from friends, and the tears were there all morning.  Before the service, my husband sat down beside me, and just whispered in my ear the gospel: the God has a plan, Jesus is enough even when its hard, that His grace is sufficient.  My tears were dripping on his new gray pants.  I didn’t care.  I hope they didn’t stain.  The gospel is found in the Word.  We must know the Word.  We must have the Word spoken to us – to our souls – to our hurt and weary souls.

I got a book set in the mail this week from Tommy Nelson that helps adults and kids know key Scriptures in the Bible.  How to know them, memorize them, live them out – so that the Word may be life-changing in whatever situation we find ourselves in.  The Joshua Code and I Can Learn the Bible would be a great set for you to work through with your children in the new year.  If you would like please just leave a post about anything – anything at all.

Happy Mothering.

Always Grace (Book Giveaway)

posted in: Books, Shepherding Children | 5

Always Grace

One of the sentences I most say in life is “I’m sorry.” Well, maybe sometimes I insert,”I’m such a failure.”  This is so true in my marriage and parenting.  This parenting this is so difficult most of the time!

But, then I come to the title of a book (you can win one, stay tuned) – Grace for the Moment.  How crucial is this to remember.  I grew up on Max Lucado (in my spiritual walk I mean.)  I started reading his books in late middle school and read them all the way through seminary.  Still one of my favorite books on the incarnation is God Came Near.  And that incarnation is what makes God’s grace so real to us because that was God the Father’s best gift.

One of the areas I need most encouragement in is my communication with my boys.  As God speaks his grace to us, to my soul, I can therefore speak it to my boys, who are sinners and desperately need to hear God’s grace and truth in their souls.  This set from Max, including Grace for the Moment for Kids is a great way to fill your soul with a quick daily devotional (because all moms will tell you that one of the hardest things is to get prolonged quality time in the Word) and then read something similar on the same day to your kids.  That way you are filling your soul with similar truths!  How perfect for family devotionals.  This is a great devo for older children and has some practical applications for them to live out the truth they just learned.

Here is how you can win this set of books – perfect for starting out the new year with truth from God’s Word: tell me one thing you are looking forward to doing with your kids in the new year.  Me: cooking more for them instead of always grabbing fast food in the car.  Thanks Tommy Nelson Mommies for hosting this giveaway and for my free books!

Praying for my Husband as my Children’s Father

posted in: Books | 0

 

ThLike Father Like Sonis is a season of Advent – of hope, of awaiting, or mystery.  Of incarnation.

One of the beautiful things about the incarnation is that God the FATHER sent His only perfect beautiful son into the world.  I can’t even imagine giving up one of my boys.

Back to the story…the men in our lives play several roles.  Man, husband, father, employee, friend, son, brother if applicable (my husband is an only child), worshiper, etc.  The list is pretty inexhaustive just like our list is.

But, for me, I think two the most important at least in my husband’s life is husband and father.  There is such a burden on him to provide, protect, lead well, shepherd all of us to know Jesus.  He just isn’t living for himself anymore.  On no given day can he wake up and say, “I think I’ll do what I want to do today,” but instead he wakes up to snuggles, cries, diapers, commuter traffic, my texts complaining about the disobedience of our boys, etc.  There is always so much crowding his heart and his mind.

I long for him not only to have an intimate close relationship with his heavenly Father – but use that relationship to guide his relationship with his boys.  Our boys are incredibly blessed with a father who is gentle and patient and one who loves Jesus more than he loves them.  He plays cars and basketball with them.  He takes them to the park.  He provides for them.  His desire is for them.

Isn’t that so the heart of the Father for us?  That His desire is for us – to know him and be found in Him?

Pete Alwinson’s new book, Like Father Like Sonis a good read that goes through different aspects of a relationship between the Father and his children, men.  I think some of the concepts can definitely be applied to men and women.  I think, honestly, that the book might be more with a female tone in mind, I don’t know.  I don’t know if I can see my mister reading this book or really any of the men that I know.

But, I do see it as useful for wives to pray for their misters.  That’s why I got this book.  I want to be more knowledgeable about how to pray for my mister and his relationship with his Father as he seeks to know his boys and lead them to the Father.

Thanks to Litfuse for the book in exchange for my honest review.

Why You Should Read To Your Kids

posted in: Books, Shepherding Children | 6

Reading to your Kids

One of my favorite times of the day is when I get the chance to read to my boys.  I usually read to them by themselves – so I get that one on one interaction with them and can read stories that might appeal to them more than the other.

Like I know my younger one loves the Sandra Boynton books.  We’ve been reading those every night and each night he just giggles away.  He also has been loving a book about his hands and what he can do with them to help.  Most of all – I think he loves to just being close to the person reading to him, because he is a snuggle-monster.

Our older boy loves animal books, especially his daddy’s book from when he was young.  He can flip through and always point out new fascinating things about the animals he sees.  Even if he has seen them 50 times before.

I may not have stayed with my education major in college, but I can still think of a few good reasons you should read to your children:

  1.  Build a love for reading.  If you start reading to kids when they are younger, most likely they will be readers when they are older.  Then they will hopefully read to their children and grandchildren.
  2. Increase their vocabulary.  My children seem to learn new words every day.  I know they definitely pick up some of these words because their are seeing them in the books we are reading, and hearing them when they are read aloud.
  3. Reading to your son or daughter builds intimacy.  Any time you can spend one on one time with your children, or even with them altogether, you are telling them that you care about them. You are telling them that no matter what else you could be doing right now (and that is usually a lot), that you would rather spend it with them.  And do you ever regret spending time with your children in a meaningful way?
  4. Reading is a great way for you to teach your children about the gospel.  There are so many great books.  And a good way to teach your children about biblical concepts (that may be difficult for their little minds to grasp) is by using parables (I mean, Jesus did it, right).  Liz Higgs has a new book out for early school age kids, or late preschool that is really neat.  It teaches biblical concepts in parables that are centered around kids.  And it goes through the seasons which is a neat idea to even teach kids about that.

Tommy Nelson is giving away one of these new books and it would make a lovely Christmas present for your child!  Or a gift to a child you know. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment telling me your favorite book to read with your children.

Praying for Your Kids (and giveaway)

posted in: Books, Shepherding Children | 6

I Prayed for You

Let’s be honest for a second, sometimes (in the midst of temper tamptrums and bouts of continued disobedience) it is hard to be really thankful for our children.

But, God has given them to us as a blessing and should be one of the greatest gifts we’ve ever been given – and they need to be told over and over again how thankful we are for them.

One of the times i usually love the most, is when I get to lay down with my older one and pray over him as he goes to sleep at night.  He has some sensory delays in his development, so he absolutely loves to sleep in the floor.  We’ve made him a soft palette and pile on his stuffed animals and his night night (the blanket he has slept with since he was a few months old).  He always wants either me or his Daddy to lay beside him until he falls asleep.  And as soon as I lay down with him, I pray aloud over him with my hand on his back or his face.  Such a sweet time.  I pray for his little heart to be turned to God because God would be calling him, giving him a new heart.  I pray that he would be obedient and that he would love God.  I also finish each prayer saying how thankful we are for him, bubba, mommy, daddy, and most of all Jesus.

It is so important for our children to hear us praying for them – not just telling them about it.  I learned from my mentor the importance of writing down prayers and journaling for future generations.  I admit that the discipline has been a struggle for me in these early years, but I do it some.  And it is such a treasure for me when I do journal and write out my prayers for them to my great Heavenly Father who listens to our prayers.

Tommy Nelson sent me Jean Fischer’s new book I Prayed For You – and I love it.  A cute board book complete with cute illustrated bears.  Tells of prayers a mama can pray for her cub as he grows up.  And yes, like any good mom I cried as I got to several of the prayers.

This will be a book you can treasure reading to your little one – even until he or she is 5 or 6.  Treasure the time.  Treasure the prayers.  If you want to have a chance to win this book – leave a comment with something you pray for your children.  That’s it!  I will pick the winner on Wednesday.

Teaching Kids Theology Through Books (Book Giveaway)

posted in: Books, Shepherding Children | 2

Win or Lose I Love You

I love reading to my boys.  It is definitely one of the highlights of being a mommy.  I love the fun pictures and the cute rhymes.  I also love it when the books I’m reading with our boys teaches them good theology. It is never too early to start teaching them good theology.

Two things I definitely want to teach the boys early on (we are already doing so) is Jesus is everything and they need him because they are sinners.

I get to review books and usually I love them – but even if I don’t love everything about them – I want to introduce them to you, give you some wisdom hopefully in how you can read the books to your kids (whether you agree wholeheartedly or not), and tell you what I do like about them.  Tommy Nelson is great about sending me books each month in exchange for a review (and all thoughts are my own) and also giving a copy to one reader!

Lysa Terkeust, of Proverbs 31 and the Best Yes fame, put out her children’s book (ideal of young school age) Win or Lose, I love YouIt is a book about woodland farm animals and some best friends.  I love her use of imagination – I definitely want to instill imagination and creativity in my boys.  It teaches some good encouragement to how to deal with competitiveness and greed and self-centeredness among friends – which I see in my boys already. I love the verses that Lysa encourages parents to read over and instill in their kids.

Here is my problem with this book – and there really is only one, but its a big one: Coyote doesn’t get his way and smashes all the pies.  His response to Lulu (one of the main characters) is “I’m the worst animal in the forest.”  Lulu said “Coyote, you behaved badly, but you aren’t bad.”  ALERT!  FALSE THEOLOGY!!  This is when, if you choose to get this book with all its great other qualities, you can teach your children about what the Bible says.

Human beings aren’t born good.

Romans 5:12-14

Romans 5:19

Psalm 51:5

Romans 3:9-23

Here’s the good thing: if we know the problem – and there is an answer – then the Gospel can become clear to our children.  If we always tell our children that they aren’t bad (inherently, they aren’t born good), then why would they ever need a Savior?

Question: how do you teach your kids theology?

 

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