10 Recommended Resources for Family Devotions

{www.foryourtomorrow.net}

{www.foryourtomorrow.net}

 

As Christian parents, we are instructed to raise our children in the fear and understanding of God.  This admonition seems simple enough, until our little ones arrive, wriggling and squirming.  And we are surpassed in energy level, and tapped out nearly every moment.

Standing in the aisles of the bookstore looking through Bibles and devotionals, might seem like just one more impossible thing to do.  In honor of your limited time and energy, here is a list of 10 family-worship resources that we have found helpful over the past years.  Many of these sources were recommended to us by older parents when we were starting out, and have proven extremely helpful.

1.  The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes

Kenneth Taylor’s “Baby Bible”, as we termed it, is a wonderful beginner Bible.  Taylor masterfully combines both simple teaching and beautiful, engaging illustrations.  This Bible is an excellent place for 2- 3 year old’s to begin learning.

 

bible 1 resize

2.  My First Bible

My First Bible combines longer stories than Baby Bibles, and uses bright and fun illustrations.  Yet, its content remains true and un-compromised.  This is a great place for 3- 4 year-old’s to learn.

 

bible 2 resize

 

3.  Big Truths for Little Kids

Big Truths For Little Kids, written by Susan Hunt, teaches concepts from the Westminster Catechism, using stories from the lives of 3 young friends- Cassie, Caleb and Daniel.  Throughout the book are application questions which can be asked of readers, which I found very helpful.  This book is a great place for 4 and 5 year-old children to learn.

 

 

bible 3

 

4.  Leading Little Ones to God

Leading Little Ones to God, by Miriam Schooland, is a combination of Bible stories told in a captivating style.  Schooland weaves together great truths, but retains a very casual style so that readers remain engaged.  Leading is a great place for 6 and 7 year-olds to learn.

 

bible 4 resize

5.  Jesus Storybook Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, burst onto the devotional scene several years ago, to excellent reviews.  My children agreed.  This Bible masterfully weaves stories with beautiful illustrations, and points the reader to the necessity of Christ’s death with every chapter.  This Bible is a valuable place for 5- 8 year-old children to learn.

 

bible 5 resize

 

6.  Missionary Stories with the Millers

Missionary Stories With the Millers is one we have read through several times now.  A combination of stories of those who have served on the mission field, each chapter is both fascinating and inspiring.  Children need heroes, and this book supplies them.  Missionary Stories is a place where children of all ages will grow.  My youngest to my oldest still enjoy these beautiful accounts.

 

bible 6 resize

 

7.  Hero Tales

Hero Tales, by Dave and Neta Jackson, is another collection of missionary stories our family has enjoyed.  Told in a simple, but engaging style, this book walks readers through the lives of several Christians who lived boldly and courageously.  Hero Tales is a family book, for all ages.  My children of varying stages all enjoyed hearing this book read aloud.

bible 7 resize

 

8.  The Seeds CD Collection 

I do not know how many hours we have spent, driving around hearing “The Word of the Lord Stands Forever!”, but it has been more than an handful.  The Seeds CD Collection is selected Scripture verses set to music.  Catchy and fun, this collection is divided up into character traits- courage, faith, praise.  Each CD has 10-15 songs that will set your children to learning Scripture.  We have loved these.  {As an added bonus, each CD comes with a second copy, meant to be given away, so that others can learn too}.

 

bible 8 resize

9.  The Jesus Storybook Bible DVD Collection

While on the subject of media, the Jesus Storybook Bible recently released an accompanying DVD collection.  I cannot speak well enough of these.  Beautifully presented.  Engaging.  Lovely to listen to.  My 4 year-old has enjoyed and benefited from this collection.  These DVD’s are a great place for younger children to learn – however, if played in the car with a captive audience, I am certain all of the kids would gain from them.

 

bible 9 resize

10.  The Story Bible for Older Children

It is difficult to find content that is complex enough for older children, and yet easy to listen to.  The Story Bible for Older Children is an excellent resource for fleshing out biblical accounts, without watering down content.  The Story Bible has 2 volumes- Old Testament and New Testament.  We are working our way through the Old right now.  I cannot recommend this Bible enough.  It has sparked many conversations, and it has taught thoroughly.  This Bible is meant for older children – so would be best suited for ages 7 and up.  I cannot recommend this Bible enough!

 

bible 10 resize

For more resources we have enjoyed for teaching our children, please visit my Family Worship page on Pinterest.

What about you?  What resources would you recommend for use in family devotions?  

I would love to hear!  Email me at: foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com

Happy Friday, all!

Looking forward to being here again, on Monday.


Friday Home: Easy Striped Canvas Paintings

Well, we made it to Friday.  Is anyone else grateful for the weekend?

for your tomorrow buttons4

First, if you have not done so already, feel free to “Like” the Facebook button to your right.  This will allow you to follow the site, outside of clicking over to the blog.

Also, for any readers interested, I have recently installed a “Pin” button for the quote-images I create, as well as for any photos for the blog.  If you are Pinner, feel free to Pin any images you enjoy.

This edition of Friday Home is a simple project.  As stated previously, Friday’s on the blog are a day I take “off” from issues-related writing and focus instead on various areas related to home-making.  This tutorial is a repeat for my Facebook friends, but one I am eager to share, because it was everything Moms of little ones appreciate: simple materials, easy directions, inexpensive application.  Win-win!

Easy Canvas Art

Canvas art is a perfect solution for Moms with children still active in the home.  Canvases are inexpensive and and they cannot be broken.   Our staircase presented the perfect opportunity to find a practical art solution, as the kids run up and down all day, knocking against the wall.  There have been many picture-frame casualties of the staircase.  It was time to figure out a solution for this high-traffic area.

For this project, you will need: paint, narrow paint-brush, paint, ruler painter’s tape, pencil.

I purchased a set of 6 square, plain white canvas squares from a craft store.

Normally, I tint the canvases before I paint them, but I liked the bright whiteness of these, so left them plain.

I mixed up a paint color I liked, using some leftover paints we had in the house.

edit paint

Next, I sectioned off stripes.  I simply penciled in lines every 2-3 inches.

I painted every other stripe.

canvas paintings format

Using quilting pins, I tacked black and white photos on the canvases.

I love how this project turned out.

canvas painting colors sharpened

And I especially appreciate that the total cost was easily under $5.

If you are interested in making art from canvases and want another example of its simplicity, Kierste explains her approach to this project using beautiful, fun photos.

That is all for the blog for this week.  Light and easy for a day when none of us want to think anyway:).

Happy Friday to all of you!

Next week is Hospitality Week on the blog, so be sure and join back up here on Monday.  We will discuss varying types of hospitality, hear from a guest writer who used her home to demonstrate extreme hospitality, and consider how to incorporate Scripture’s call to hospitality.

See you Monday.  Enjoy the weekends with your families!

 

 

 

 


Friday Home: Lamplights Scripture Print Giveaway

This week, Friday Home is a fun one!

Several months ago, I began to choose Scripture verses for our kitchen chalk-board.  At the time, life was particularly difficult.  One of my closest friends moved out of state.  And then another announced her husband’s job transfer.  And then yet another was moved to a new home in a new state.  And then my husband lost his job {the miracle and grace of his re-hiring is a story for another time}.  The proverbial ball was rolling, though not in the direction of my choosing.

My Bible-reading for those months was primarily the Psalms, and I held on to all those familiar words of hope and beauty from broken.  For weeks, I would pound the pavement as I ran, reciting: I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.  I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.   And He was, and He is.  But in addition to hiding God’s Word in my heart, I needed to see it.  I needed to look around my home and find it impossible to avoid truth- because it was staring down my many-times faltering heart.  Where there was space to proclaim the hope that is in us, I found it.  And from those months of pain and doubt, a desire to surround myself with perfect truth.

It was in the midst of all the life-disrupted, that I found out about my friend Liz’s business, Lamplights.

Lamplights exists to proclaim God’s Word through art, and to make the walls of our homes truth-conveying.  I have followed Liz as she has developed both her blog and her small business, and have watched joyfully as she has developed her passion for creating Scripture graphics for the home.  I appreciate the balance Liz strikes as she designs- a simple, yet classy elegance.  Liz has graciously agreed to give away a $25 gift card to her Etsy store, for one reader of the site.  If you would like a sampling of Liz’s art work, please click here.  And consider purchasing- not only is her work beautiful, with every selection, a portion of the proceeds goes to Wellspring Living, a ministry to rehabilitate girls who have escaped from sex trafficking.

Here is an example of one of Lamplight’s beautiful prints.

This is one of my favorites.

I am reading Ecclesiastes through again right now, so this print resounds strongly!

I love this design.

This would be a great, cheerful reminder for a child’s room.

And the print I chose for my own home, is this one:

If you would like a chance at winning a $25 gift card to Lamplights, so that you can see God’s Word in your home, please leave a comment stating what your favorite Scripture verse is.  Or, if you would prefer not to publicly comment, please email me at: foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com with your favorite Scripture verse, and I will enter your name.  I will leave the giveaway open until midnight Sunday, so weekend -only readers have a fair chance, and will announce the winner on Monday.

Consider placing Scripture throughout your home.  Your faith will be strengthened as your mind is reminded of what is good and true.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Happy Friday, all!

 


Friday Home: Home {A Shelter}


This week for Friday Home, I wanted to draw attention to a characteristic of home- making that was most clearly illustrated through the telling of Jo’s story: that of a family’s deep security in one another.  Their confidence in knowing home as a safe place. Their need to feel dependent on what Edith Schaeffer refers to as a shelter.  In her book What is a Family? Schaeffer asks:

What is a family? 

A family is a blending of people for whom a career of making a shelter in the time of storm is worth a lifetime.

As I recently heard Matt Chandler state: At some point, we are all going to bleed.  And it is then, that the foundation of home becomes less about the routines strictly maintained, and more about the love that cannot be found anywhere else.  There is stability in a family home: the deepest kind of vulnerability that is met with acceptance.  The unspoken knowledge that if all else fails, at least family will pull through.

I am reminded of the familiar security of home each day, through a ritual my children adhere to:

Around 2 each afternoon, Will begins to ask when “the guys” are coming home.   And then we start to listen.  We listen for the beeping of the bus as it backs up.  We listen for the footsteps which follow within 5-7 minutes.  And then we listen to the side door bang open, and: “Mom?”  If I am spotted in the kitchen, chatter commences immediately.  But if I am upstairs, I hear “Mom?  Mom?  MOM???”  And then quick footsteps on the stairs, followed by unpacking of the day in loud and competing voices .  Great, not-so-great, I hear it all from every voice in those few moments following the arrival home.

Home for children is so many things, but above all it is a safe place. And the reason it feels safe is because of presence-all of you being together in an imperfect, though complete unit.  When one person is missing, the emptiness is noted. There is a kind of safety in numbers, and nowhere is this more powerfully displayed than in the beauty of family.

Your home will be many things – noisy, messy, upside-down some days.  But it is also security, safety, and the foundational shelter in which we carefully grow small people and protect their childhoods.

For your tomorrow, and for theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Good Mess vs. Bad Mess

I veered from Friday Home last week to write about married love.  But back on track today:).

My Mom has long divided it up into two categories in her mind: the reversible and the irreversible.  Mess, that is.

As mother to 5, it was necessary early on to learn which battles are worth fighting for, and which are a deflating waste of time and energy.  Mess was one of the battles she quickly laid to rest.  While our home was always neat, it was full of life and the scattered activities of a half-dozen other members of a family.  Mom was at peace with this- after all, the choice to raise a large family was the related choice to live with more mess.

As young kids, we were encouraged to work at any manner of creative activity, whether it was banging out chords on the piano or doodling amid paper and markers in our rooms.  We did not have a television ever, and so our time was spent “doing”, and not watching.  I look at my mother now, through eyes of admiration.  How did she manage-to keep her cool amid the busyness of family-raising and its daily, resulting mess?

It all boils down to her theory of home-making and its reflected choices:

Reversible mess: Reversible mess can go back in time.  It is bits of paper cut up into snowflakes, or crayons dumped out on the table for coloring.  It is blankets unfolded for forts and play-dough rolled out for pretend animals.  It is baking, cooking, making and inventing.  Reversible mess is messy, but it is harmless.  As children, we were given free reign to engage in endless reversible messes.

Irreversible mess: Irreversible mess cannot be undone.  It is by nature, destructive.  It is the carving into the kitchen table which my daughter enjoyed.  It is the monogram etched into the leather sofa, which my {same} daughter created.  It is the juice toted upstairs which stains the carpet.  Typically, irreversible mess requires discipline to prevent further destruction – assuming the cause was intent and not accident.  My boys are responsible for most of the shattered remains in my home.  It is a constant process to teach them respect for belongings which are not theirs.

Though irreversible messes are a frustration and unfortunately par-for-the-motherhood-course, reversible mess can be the greatest open door to imaginative thought.  In an article for Scientific American, psychologist Stuart Brown indicates the significance of imaginative play in the development of children becoming emotionally healthy adults.

But in the 42 years since (he began his career), he has interviewed some 6,000 people about their childhoods, and his data suggest that a lack of opportunities for unstructured, imaginative play can keep children from growing into happy, well-adjusted adults. “Free play,” as scientists call it, is critical for becoming socially adept, coping with stress and building cognitive skills such as problem solving.

In a similar vein, CNN reporter Carolina Miranda, references the benefit of developing the 2-step thought process, called divergent thinking.  Divergent thinking is key to problem solving and is the backbone of creativity — understanding what is, and then imagining the possibilities of what could be.

Miranda goes on to observe that divergent thinking is in decline since the 1990’s, as traditional schooling emphasizes class-time more than “free-play” time.  And as screen-time replaces creative time.

I am first to admit that I have an uneasy relationship with certain forms of reversible mess.  For instance, blanket forts are my nemesis: they begin with a sweet minky blanket and end in a fight, every time.  But crayons, glitter, glue and paint are friendlier to me.  They are colorful and pretty and non-physical.

Setting up a pattern of creative play in a home is entirely personal.  You might be a blanket-fort Mom, appreciating the fun of creating imaginary spaces.  You might be the nature-walk Mom, enjoying sharing your knowledge of the outdoors.  Or the painting Mom, who is comfortable with splatters all over the floor.

Sometimes we will grit our teeth at the dragging out of another mess which will require cleaning up.  But reminding ourselves of the link between crayons and paper and creativity and critical thinking, is a helpful tool to make the embrace of reversible mess just a little bit easier.

Happy Friday, all!

 


Friday Home: Easy Weekend Pizza

A couple of things before kicking off this edition of Friday Home.

First, for those of you who stopped by via Challies yesterday, thank you!  {Tim did not tell me he had linked to the site, so a fun surprise}.  This blog is new and developing, so thank you for appreciating what is here so far.  I have already “met” a couple of you via email and Facebook, and was reminded of why I love blogging in the first place- it is such a neat community.

Second, I have added a new feature to my comments section: CommentLuv.  CommentLuv pops up an automatically-generated link to your site, if you are a blogger.  This will allow you to be found by others on this site, and will allow me to know who you are and where you blog.  I would love to read your writing too!

Third, I am excited to be retreating this weekend with our church, to the mountains of North Carolina.  I am looking so forward to rest and fun with friends.  I am always amazed how a few hours away from tending to the needs of my family, can refresh my spirit and re-orient me in my goals.  I will be writing some while I am there, however.  Two days of quiet will not go wasted:).

***************

For those of you new here, each Friday I focus on some aspect of home-making – thus, Friday Home.  This week’s edition of Friday Home is brought to you out of a desire to share a good thing: our family’s favorite weekend meal.  Several years back, I spent some time researching and experimenting with various pizza doughs, having finished the course with store-bought pizza.  I churned out varying wheat, white and in- the- middle doughs, and eventually settled on this recipe I found through Tammy’s site.  {As an aside, I would encourage you to look around Tammy’s web-space. It is inspiring and so very helpful}.

Easy Pizza Dough

3 cups flour {I use 1/2 wheat, 1/2 white}

1 cup hot water

2 tsp yeast

2 tbsp honey or brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp milk

2 tbsp olive oil – for wiping down crust

 

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until combined, except for olive oil – it will be used later.  Dough will be somewhat sticky to start with.  Turn dough out onto counter-top and knead for 5 minutes or so.  When kneading is complete, dough should be smooth and elastic.  {If dough still sticky, add a little more flour}.

 

Allow dough to rest in an oiled bowl for 5 minutes.

Place dough in a warm place to rise.  I set mine under a lamp on our kitchen counter-top.  I allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Use rise-time for a good purpose: chop those veggies!  And while at it, a salad tastes good with pizza.

Sprinkle 2 tbsp of cornmeal on your counter-top. Cornmeal is the magical ingredient to a crispy crust.

Lay risen dough on top of cornmeal, and begin to roll out in a circular pattern.  Keep rolling until you have reached your desired crust size.  Place crust on pizza pan.  I prefer to use a circular aluminum pizza round, with perforations on the bottom – allowing for the crust to bake and crisp evenly.  I save the leftover dough scraps, and roll them out into a cheese-only pizza for my younger kids.

Turn oven to 450-500 degrees.  Pizza loves a hot oven { restaurants often heat their wood-ovens to 700 degrees plus}.  Wipe entire crust surface down with olive oil.  Place crust in oven and bake for 8 minutes.

Build your toppings from the sauce up.  Sprinkle with cheese, and pop back in the oven for another 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

The best is saved for last: Slice and enjoy.

Happy Friday all!  Enjoy the weekend with your families!


A House is Not a Home

As a child, one of my favorite storybooks was entitled A House is a House For Me.  In it, dozens of animals and insects show off the “houses” they live in –  a burrow, a cave, a tunnel.  And after describing their particular dwelling, each creature proudly  declares: “A house is a house for me!”

Every so often on the blog, I hope to cover some area of house.  I know that as women we enjoy those little glimpses into the spaces of others, and so I will post at times about the goings-on in our house.  I will also feature the houses of women who have graciously agreed to offer glimpses into where they are living.   But first, I wanted to share some of the thoughts I have about the differing definitions of “house” and “home”, and why I think they are important.

We all live in “houses”.  Upon marrying, we begin the nesting process and part of the fun of that change is the search for and securing of a first house.  I can still remember the excited voices of my friends those early years: “We bought a house!”  I can recall sitting on the front steps of my own first house,with a stack of magazines, wanting to learn how to make this brand new space welcoming and attractive.  The houses we live in are of varying shapes and sizes, square footages and costs.  They are the structures and forms that shelter us physically, and store us and our belongings.  They are necessary to our survival, and the most valuable commodity we will likely ever own.  But at some level, they are not more than that.  They are things, existing to serve us.  We can move from one to another with some disruption, but with our families still intact.

But a home is a somewhat different definition.  A home is more than a physical dwelling that shelters and stores all the components of us.  It is in essence where we belong.  It is where we know place simply by virtue of being part of a family unit.

A home is where memories exist and traditions are celebrated.  It is a soft place to land, in order to feel a strong sense of security and identity, child-hood on into adult-hood.

A child growing up in a homely house that was a loving home might have a lesser aesthetic sense to show for it.  But a child growing up in a house that was not a home at all, will bear the scars of that for a lifetime.

A house can be created by anyone and maintained by anyone.

But a home is created very specifically by the weaving together of family, and can only be maintained by the careful work and devotion of the people living within in.

I love my house.   I love making it, taking care of it and enhancing it.  I love working on projects to better our space, making it more welcoming, more efficient.

But, I also know that home is what my family arrives back to every afternoon.  And what I hope them to arrive back to for years to come.  It is where love lives, where patience lives, where kindness lives, where grace lives.

It is a house God has given us, but a home that we are seeking to make.