1 Simple Method for Accomplishing Devotions in the Summer

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Oh, Summer!

I love its loosened pace.  I love its wide open days with space to choose what we do, where we go.  I love its switch-up in routine which allows for rest and healthy change.

But, I do not love what Summer does to my relationship with my Bible.

The moment school is out it is as though all of my self-will is tossed in the trash, alongside the kids’ end-of-year paperwork. My discipline goes on vacation as of the last weekend in May, and I struggle to corral it for 8 solid weeks.

Do you share in this tension between rest and laziness?

Sally Clarkson asserts that a “wise woman surrounds herself with other wise women”.  And it was a wise friend who once shared with me a method for accomplishing simple, daily Bible reading which has helped me since, when life gets chaotic and frazzled.

A Study in the Psalms

A few years back, I went through a period of struggling with crippling depression.  And for over a year, I was nearly emotionally immobilized.  It was awful.  In fact, so pervasive was this depression that I clearly recall journalling, “Today I laughed”.

Thankfully, God taught me more through this period of darkness than I could ever learn in the sunshine, so I am indebted to His mercy.  But, it was difficult.  And I was mentally worn by the struggle to daily “rise and shine” and put on my Mom-armor in order to face the tasks of a busy family.

It was in this period, that my wise friend recommended a study in the Psalm as a means of refreshing myself in God’s character.

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Each day, she suggested, take a Psalm and read it until you have written down 3-5 characteristics of God’s nature.  And then pray to know and believe these characteristics.

And so, I did.  My journals from that year are some of my most prized possessions, because they tell a story of faithfulness.  And I can literally read back and watch my faith and confidence in God growing, with each page.  For the sake of example, I drew up a quick graphic to illustrate how I worked my way through the Psalms.

Below is an example of 5 characteristics of God I jotted down from Psalm 1.

 

 

This Psalm-study method of recording God’s character became valuable to me for 2 main reasons:

1.  Time – A few minutes of concentrated study is often more helpful than an expanse of time with lofty goals.  There are times and seasons, and a Psalms study is a great exercise in a busy or interrupted season.

2. Focus – A few minutes anchored in God’s character instantly reduces self-focus for the day.  Being reminded of who He is transforms my thoughts.  My thoughts become more like His, less like mine.  And then my actions more easily follow suit.

If you find yourself struggling with a plan for quiet time this Summer, I would recommend a Psalms-study.  It is everything devotional time needs to be in an interrupted season – simple, quick, attainable.

But it is also powerful.  Because in solidifying our minds in Christ’s character, we become strong and better equipped for life as it unfolds.  And even in the unpredictable, “lazy” days of Summer, I still desperately need His grace.

 


The Dad Factor: The Best Gift Ever

dad kind

My children are excited to give their Dad a gift we found him for Father’s Day this year.  And they are counting down the days til we present him “the best gift ever”, as my oldest called it.

The gift we found him is fun.  I would not call it the best, but it is fun.  Yet without fully realizing it, my daughter’s best gift ever may just be the man she presents our fun find to.  And here is why.

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Nancy Pearcey recently noted an article from the Washington Post, in which the author sets the record straight as to statistics regarding women and abuse.  Though the subject of abuse is a painfully common one, there are distinctives that bear emphasis.

As the Post article states, the simple statistical truth is that:

Women and girl from homes with married Dads, are safer.

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The article begins by acknowledging a very real problem:

Across the United States, millions of girls and women have been abused, assaulted, or raped by men.  

But then it goes on to clarify the contexts for the presence of much of this abuse:

This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers {emphasis mine}.

The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father.

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Father’s Day is coming.  And on this day, we will take a moment or two to pause and acknowledge our Dads – why we love them, and why we are thankful for them.  Our families might grill hamburgers and have the kids deliver hand-made cards.  And we will spend a little extra time doting on the men who make our worlds go ’round.

But this Father’s Day, my heart is thankful for a fundamental truth which is often obscured in the shuffle of raising a family:

That simply by coming home each night to us, my husband is doing his job best.

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When he steps in the door each night, he immediately begins “doing” all sorts of things: helping with homework, cleaning up dinner, disciplining when I cannot “get through”.  But none of these functions are helping us so much as his being there, is.

I confess that far too easily my voice is raised impatiently as we juggle family needs and tensions.  And truthfully, I am good at missing the forest for the trees.  Making mountains out of miniscule household-task molehills, I ignore the bigger picture: He is protecting us best by his dedicated presence.  Not by loading the dishwasher.

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This Father’s Day, simple statistics are enabling a deeper love for my husband.  His is an ordinary life.  A quiet life.  A mundane life.  But he knows a great truth: It is not about him anymore.  It is about them.

And he wants to give them “the best gift ever”, which is a healthy, safe and protected child-hood.

And he is.


The Blessing of Family Dinner & {Family Conversation Jar}

photo family dinner

Do you remember family dinners?

I do.  From toddler-hood, my siblings and I {all 5 of us} were expected to sit through family meals.  But in particular, evening dinners were non-negotiable in participation.  Dinner-time was sit-down.  But mostly, dinner-time was focused time to bond as a family.

Our meals were never extravagant.  My Mom still jokes about stretching a pound of ground beef between all 7 of us, to keep finances in order.  But the conversation during meal times, was rich beyond words.  And to this day, I credit talking though dinner one of the key formative experiences of my childhood.

Each night the pace varied.  Sometimes we would read a book together.  Often, we would share stories from our days.  One time, we were tasked with taking turns writing reports to present to the family, as my parents felt like the family was in a negative-chatter rut.

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But always, my Dad opened the Bible and we read.  Sometimes just a few verses, but time in the Bible was stone-set.  And we followed reading with family prayer.

Every night without fail, my parents maintained this small but critical thread in our routine.  In fact, I can still recall my Mom sadly wondering about how to continue our tradition when we were teenagers with cars and jobs – it had become such a part of us.

When Pat and I married, we set out to fight for the value of family dinner.  Not for any heightened moral sense, but due to the healthy impact we knew it to be.  Though our routine is a tad different, nonetheless family dinner and worship is our daily groove now, too.  The kids are old enough to participate, and so sometimes, we let them lead.  Other times we rotate turns praying.  But always, we read a portion of the Bible aloud to them.

These evening times together are often the spaces where vulnerability and need is revealed.  These collections of time are where we get to know our kids better and deeper.  And we all go to bed a little stronger, because of the mutual bond of sharing and knowing we are supported.

My friend Christina, has designed a wonderful printable I want to share with you today, in the hope that it might assist any of you who are desiring to create a more intimate setting for family dinners.  Christina has designed a PDF called The Family Conversation Jar.  The Family Conversation Jar is a collection of questions that can be used at meal times, to encourage conversation in a family.

 

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This list is a prompt, meant to initiate healthy talking, and perhaps create a new way of experiencing dinner together.  I have printed this list off, and hope to utilize it this Summer.   I find that many nights we talk about and pray about the same items – which is certainly not a bad thing- but I do want the kids to think beyond the “same old”, too.

If you find that your dinner-time or family-time is lagging, consider printing off Christina’s PDF.  You can do so by clicking here.

30 crockpot meals

And as a little extra boost, above you click here to find a link to 30 easy crock-pot meals.  So often, lack of time is what eats away at our family growth.  But time is gained in such simple ways.  And the crock-pot has got to be one of the best means of simplification that God has given us :).

Consider developing a plan for family dinners as a powerful piece of your defense plan for your children.  A study performed recently compared 2 groups of teenagers: those who ate family dinners two or less times per week, and those who ate family dinners five or more times per week.  And here is what it found:

Teenagers who ate family dinner two or less times per week were:

  • Three times more likely to try marijuana.
  • Two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke cigarettes.
  • One-and-a-half times more likely to drink alcohol.

In addition, the study revealed that more frequent family dinners produced children who experienced:

  • Lower levels of family tension.
  • Teenagers who more often said that their parents are proud of them.
  • Teenagers who more often said that they can confide in their parents about a serious problem.

I am so grateful for the effort my parents poured into defending our dinner table.  Because in essence, they were defending us.  Our characters.  Our futures.  And though at the time, we wriggled and balked sometimes against what felt like a strict boundary, I can see now that family dinners saved us from a great deal.

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One last link above, meant to simplify dinner plans.

Now go turn the crock-pot on!


Parenting Older Kids {A Series of Untidy Packages}

little gifts

I was recently intrigued by a conversation some friends had about the social-media hush from Moms with older kids.  We tossed some thoughts around – but the consensus we came to about our more mature Mom-friends went something like this:

Raising older kids is not a series of pretty little packages.

The baby years are tough in their own rite.  No new mother would claim that her existence is anything but taxing.  Very quickly it is learned that your life is lassoed by these tiny people, and you are ruled and reigned by them.  Yet, in most of these moments there are sweet and innocent themes.  After all, a toddler is a toddler and at the end of the day, you are still kissed with sticky hands pressing against your face.

But Moms of older kids are drowning in a different pond altogether.

One of my children recently remarked: Mom, sometimes I feel like you enjoy nagging me.   And though there was prompt addressing and forgiveness asked, nonetheless these are the types of statements kids with maturing understanding level.

It is sobering to sit beneath the razor-sharp mirrors of their growing discernment.

 

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The Cute Factor

So where are the Moms of tweens and teens?  In a quick scan of Facebook statuses and blogs, it is easy to note that most updates of any sort come from the little-years camp.

We are just beginning to dip our toes into life with bigger kids.  But already, there is more at stake.  Our fear is greater.  Our concern for their future is greater.  The future always felt so far away, but suddenly it is looming on the horizon.  And sadly, there are already a handful of regrets trailing behind.  So, there is simply no time to waste.

But it is also not as cute in the bigger-kid years.

It is not cute having to install open DNS on a computer, so that pornography cannot destroy your children.

It is not cute to find a man old enough to be her grand-father, following your daughter on Pinterest.

It is not cute to note character concerns which will affect them down the road, and realizing your reign of influence is limited in its power to harness them.

 

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And yet, I wouldn’t trade these years for anything.  For as I have grown to see, as I raise them, they are raising me.

My sin used to be better buried beneath piles of paper drawings of “me with Mom”.   The affirmation was constant, and the trust unchallenged.

But, since they are developing consciences of their own, they are bringing to light what I would prefer not to see.

But isn’t that always the way with sin?  We only acknowledge it if we have to.  And bigger kids force our hand in the arena of sin and repentance.

Moms of Older Kids need a Different Kind of Faith

As I arrived at the airport a few days ago, I stood next to several couples who appeared to be jetting off on honeymoons. It was fun watching them- all body contact and whispers and smiles.  Newlyweds have made promises which they fully intend to keep, but the faith in the marriage they have begun is vastly different than the faith that will keep them married.

They just do not realize it yet.

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Likewise, the faith that Moms with tiny kids possess, is exactly what is needed.  But that faith is much different still than the faith it takes to not give up as big kids begin to flex the muscles in their minds and wills.

As my own children become older, I can anticipate the temptation to disappear.  Especially on days where every drop of emotional energy has been wrung out. But I come back to Satan in the desert.  Standing with Jesus, he knew the opportunity was great.  You can have all this, he motioned.  Because he is conniving, he knew the wide-open vulnerability of solitude.

Likewise, a solitary Mom is a desert.  She is lonely, discouraged, and maybe even hiding her fears and inadequacies by staying where no one can see her.

But part of continuing to help our kids get to the next step, is leaning on one another.

We might go a few inches under-ground when it comes to social media- and perhaps this is even wise- but we need to stay above ground in our willingness to reach out and ask: Can you pray for me?

There is a marked powerlessness in walking solo.

But there is great power in humbly relying on a village of other parents to help you raise your child.

 

 

 


Guest Post by Grace: Why I am not “Lucky”, but Thankful to be Home with my Children

 

Today my sister, Grace, writes about the word “lucky”, in regard to raising small children at home.  I think you will enjoy her thoughts on this topic, as she addresses thoughts I have heard others wrestle with.  Enjoy hearing from Grace today!

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Since becoming a mom, I have been told that I am “lucky” to stay at home.

Our desire and our decision that I stay at home with our girls is not a luck-based decision, but rather a well thought-out and purposeful choice.  Here is a little history as to why I am thankful, but not “lucky” to stay home.

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 In 2006 I met Justin.  It was love at first sight. It was also very intense from the beginning.  He was 5 years older than me, and knew he wanted to get married.  Fast.  We had many very intentional discussions covering everything from faith, to theology, to our future marriage and family.  We both agreed we wanted a traditional family.  He would work and I would stay at home.  After past relationships where this had been an area of dispute, he was thrilled to find that we were on the same page.

Justin once told me he had given up thinking there was a woman in the world who wanted to stay at home.

 

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We were married in 2007.  I still had not finished school.  I moved from Tennessee to Justin’s home in Georgia.  I started the admission process at a local school.  Through a lot of really hard and emotional conversations we decided I would not continue to pursue my Social Work major.  A 21st century woman, without a degree.

The reality was that I wanted to be a mom.

In 2008 I got pregnant with Cora, and gave birth to her in 2009.  So began my long-awaited vocation as a stay-at-home mom. And let me tell you: I was really silly enough to think it was going to be the dreamy, romantic, fictional job it’s made up to be.  I thought I would have wonderful days of pink dresses and bonnets, long walks in the sunshine, my perfect baby on my somewhat larger hips.

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Instead I spent day-after-day, night-after-night, hour-after-hour with a screaming baby, one that never slept. I cried a lot. I was so lonely and I became very depressed.  Suddenly, the life I had chosen seemed to be the very worst choice I could have made.  The constant,loud, relentless, never-can-have-enough-patience career called being a full-time mom.

My only means of survival was the ever-present help of our good and gracious God.

It was during this first year of being a mom that He began to break and refine me in ways I did not think possible.  If I was going to be a good mom, I was going to have to change.  I was going to need to learn to live day-by-day and hour-by-hour with never ending neediness and no one to lift or relieve me of that need. I was going to need to learn to meet needs with kindness, with love, with patience.  I was going to need to choose joy when all I felt was failure.

 

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So as I began mothering two girls I faced the next big hurdle.  Humility.

The reality that staying-at-home does not guarantee a good or perfect child.  Actually, it also does not guarantee that I am a good mom.

Just like any other job it takes hours of intentional time and planning.  It takes constant hard work-both mental and physical.

I recently had a talk with a dear friend.  She was facing the reality of going back to work…having to leave her two boys.  She is an amazing mom and I reminded her of how blessed her boys are to have her as their mommy.  She is so intentional and loving. They know that they are her priority. I can be at home all day long but if I don’t pour into my children, then what use is my being with them?  I don’t have someone looking over my shoulder asking me, “Is it done yet?  Have you finished it? Is it done right?”  I have to be my own accountability.  That is not easy.

As Justin left for work yesterday, Cora was crying.   Elinor was going three places at once, and the house was already in total disorder.  He cracked the door and he said, “You have the harder job.”  

 

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Do I really have the harder job?  No, not every day, but maybe yesterday my day was harder and maybe today his job will be harder.  It really doesn’t matter.  We don’t live life to prove we have it harder, that we do more than the other person…we live to glorify Him.

Would I say I am blessed to stay at home?

Absolutely.

Am I thankful to stay-at-home?

Yes.

Would I say I am lucky to stay at home?   No, because the definition of luck is: success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

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I give thanks to God for his sovereign will to put me in our home, in our town, as wife to Justin and full-time mom to Cora and Elinor.

A job I pray I carry out in grace, in gentleness, in patience, in humility, and intentionality, that I might glorify Him.

 


Inconvenient Worship, or Being MOM at Church

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 Do you find Sunday mornings difficult?

Admittedly, some weeks, I do.  Waking on time, feeding, packing snacks, dressing and re-feeding so that stomachs are not empty mid-morning.  And all with the hope of arriving on time for the next part of the race – the service.

For many Moms, Sunday mornings are the hope held out that is not delivered.  No sooner is everyone seated than the first bathroom break commences.  This followed by a sibling-squabble, requiring discipline.  And so on.  Sunday’s are supposed to be the best mornings, but sometimes they are the toughest mornings.

So, what do Moms of young children do?  Do we give up and quit attending church until the kids are older?

Or is there hope and a better perspective to be had?

 

 

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This morning, my sister shares her thoughts on what Sunday worship looks like, as a Mom with 4 small children.  This article originally appeared at True Woman, but the topic was pertinent enough, I knew it might encourage some of you.  Here is Susanna, on worshiping in the midst of inconvenience.

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“I don’t want to go to church this morning! There’s no point,” I told my husband despondently. Our eleven-month-old son hates being left in the church nursery, so I end up spending the service time in the nursing room or pacing the halls.

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for the nursing room because it’s a sisterhood of nurturers. Yet looking at the rest of the congregation through the one-way window, we see and hear what’s going on, but it’s still not the same.

Why does it seem like so much of motherhood has to be lived away from community?

Most of life as a mother is worshiping when circumstances are inconvenient.

Fortunately, God challenged my wayward thoughts and transformed my mind to think beyond me. He directed my focus toward the witness I have before my other three children in this season, nevermind my own spiritual well-being. What does it say to my children if I stay home from church, not because I have to, but simply because I’m frustrated that I need to spend the service tending to Josiah rather than being where I’d like to be—right in the service? Yes, being in the service is a good desire. But right now I’m called to worship right where I am—in the midst of inconvenience.

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Most of life as a mother is worshiping when circumstances are inconvenient. I read the Bible while my baby is tugging at my feet and my three-year-old is wanting my lap. I pray broken sentences in the car while there is arguing in the back seat, and I want to yell for quiet.

I do get it “right” sometimes and wake up in the calm morning hours before the kids are up. Those mornings offer the ideal quiet times with God where I have the opportunity to really reflect on Scripture. There’s a mug of coffee beside me and the promise of a bright day that began well.

Then there’s reality.

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With small children or nursing babies waking in the night, those mornings are not going to happen on a regular basis. My time with God may have to be broken up throughout the day or delayed until evening. But God desires us as we are, not a flawless performance. Christ has already done that on our behalf. Through His strength, He enables us to pursue holiness. However feeble these earthly bodies may feel, we can find sustenance at His feet for another day . . . and another week.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is Mathew 11:28–30.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

These words are balm for a mother’s heart.

Because of Christ, God accepts our worship to Him, messy or neat.

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In surrender of my frustration to God, I experienced a newfound joy and sense of community with my brothers and sisters in Christ. My seven-year-old son convinced us to stay for our church’s fellowship lunch that morning, instead of sprinting to the car, and I’m thankful he did.

On the van ride home, spirits high, appetites satisfied, and new acquaintances made, my five-year-old daughter stated exuberantly, “Mom, I love Sundays! I love being together as a family!” Our hearts were full. I’m so grateful that God is giving me the grace to embrace worship in every stage of life—even the most inconvenient.

How are you worshiping God through some of the inconveniences that come with motherhood?


How a Treehouse Reminded Me to Put Down my Phone

A bright yellow sunbeam pattern on vintage paper.

Recently, I was driving home from my son’s robotics class.  As usual, we were enjoying the sunshine on an open country road.  Just ahead of us, traffic slowed down for a moment as a school bus ground to a stop.  Its doors opened, and a girl -12 or 13- stepped out.  She reminded me of my daughter – back-pack, pony-tail, tennis shoes.  But what intrigued me most as I looked her direction was not her, so much as what lay just past the house she was walking toward.

Just to the right of her gravel driveway was a tree-house.  A well-designed tree-house, yet one beginning to show its age.  Boards warping.  Wood dulling.  Paint peeling.  Beneath the trees were a handful of stray pieces of ply-wood that had fallen  and were lying, forgotten.  And as traffic picked up again, I was left to contemplate:

Once upon a time, that tree-house was new and the girl was small and excited.  And now she is grown, and the tree-house is worn.  And the years are over.  Fast.  So fast.

treehouse steps

 

Put the Phone Down

NPR recently posted an article on plugged-in parents.  Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician specializing in child development, has become concerned about the digital generation’s parenting, and set aside a Summer to observe families.  She and two other researchers studied 55 sets of parents in restaurant settings, finding that 44 sets of parents pulled out their phones immediately upon being seated.

“They looked at it, scrolled on it and typed for most of the meal, only putting it down intermittently.”  Not surprisingly, Radesky also noted that of those 44 sets of plugged-in parents, behavior in their children was more disruptive and chaotic than in the families whose parents were not plugged in.

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Plug into Your Kids

What will be the long-term effects on a generation raised by constantly distracted parents?

There is no way to know, but here are 2 primary concerns I have:

1.  Children will not feel validated and listened to, while little.  This will create ambivalence in their minds as to parental authority in the older years.  After all, if Mom has always texted her friends before responding to your need, and if Dad has always said: Hang on a sec, while he scrolled his Twitter feed, why would a response of parental validation suddenly develop in a child?

Children require enormous amounts of encouragement and affirmation.  And there is room for little beyond a response of irritability in a parent who is endlessly plugged in.

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2.  Children will find answers independently.  There is no room for conversation in a room with a Mom and her phone.  Uh-huh, is the response.  Just a minute, the constant reply.  But kids will not wait til your thumbs stop texting, to grow and develop.  Their minds are always on and ready to engage.  They are naturally inquisitive and insatiably curious, eager always to piece together information about the world they live in.

Parents are needed to read, to think, to respond, to ask questions back.  Children will demand answers, and if their parents come up empty, they will find answers somewhere.  Among friends, Internet, their own phones.

But this begs the question: Do we really want them looking? 

Back to the Treehouse

What does any of this have to do with a treehouse?  Well, once upon a time, the middle-school girl stepping off the bus, was little.  But now she is not.

As Sally Clarkson reminds, the second law of thermo-dynamics states that all things are plodding along, yet wearing out as they go.  Your kids’ child-hoods are not forever.  And they are wearing out, as they get closer to adult-hood.

There are some things we should live to regret: our sin, our harsh anger, our poor choices and our arrogant words.  But there are other things we should fight to protect from regret.

And our kids’ childhoods, full of life, love and listening, are one of them.

 

 

 

 

 


Recommended Reading: {Desperate}, by Sally Clarkson

pray image Congratulations to Sarah Jordan, winner of The Ministry of Motherhood and $5 Starbucks card!  Sarah wrote that she is a homeschooling mom of 9 children, so I am thrilled that a very busy Mom is receiving these little gifts of encouragement.  Sarah, please message me at foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com with your mailing address.

Though I had a post planned for today, I am going to stick with the theme of Sally Clarkson for one more day.

Why?  Because Sally is writing what I believe to be some of the most encouraging mothering books in the Christian market today.  And I want every Mom I know to spend some time absorbing her encouragement and wisdom.

Having dropped by Barnes and Noble to pick up the Giveaway prize last week, I casually dropped Sally’s book Desperate into my cart as well.  It has been some time since I have read a book specifically addressed to mothers, but the past few weeks have made me feel the need.  I have felt weary and dull lately, certainly not encompassing the passion for parenting that I desire my children to see in me.

 

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I brought Desperate home and flipped through it for a few moments, while the kids were asleep.  And instantly knew it was what my desperate heart was needing.

In the honest fashion I have come to appreciate about Sally Clarkson, the book begins with this phrase:

“I just can’t be a mother today”.

And so begins a raw, but inspiring conversation about the struggles we face as mothers.  As we battle our ideals, comparing them to our sinful reality.  As we struggle with perspective – feeling sunk beneath hopelessness.  As we fight for JOY in our day-to-day, exhausting ministry to our families.  Desperate addresses fatigue and the depression that results.  It speaks of the role that friendship and support plays in our mothering.  It relates the need to draw close to other women, so that Satan does not find us easy targets, due to our loneliness.

desperate book tea

It is truly God’s gift to me that Desperate found its way into my shopping bag last week.  It has begun already, to unveil some of the reasons I have been wrestling with discouragement.  I am tired.  I am lonely.  I am facing the darkness, without honestly confiding in anyone.  And I am just one woman experiencing these emotions.  I have a feeling that many of you are struggling, too.

But, isn’t this what we do?  We put on our Facebook personas, and ride through the days as though they are endlessly sunny, with only charming quotes from our children.

And then we lie in our beds at night, washed over with a loneliness and anxiety.  We are sad.  We are fearful of our inadequacies.  We are needy for support.

We are desperate.

If you need encouragement, or if you could use a Mother’s Day treat for yourself, please order Desperate today.

It will refresh you.  It will motivate you.  And it will encourage you that far from being alone, you are one of many women who simply needs to hear a message of HOPE.


Mother’s Day Giveaway: { The Ministry of Motherhood and a $5 Starbucks Giftcard}

messy hands

 Nancy Leigh De Moss asked the question best:

Have you ever considered that in becoming a mother, you have been called to a ministry?

Have you though about motherhood like that- as a ministry?  Or is ministry something you are waiting to do when the kids are a little older and you can leave the house?

These were questions entrenched in my mind as my youngest was little and I was contemplating a new life of serving, and yes, a life of ministry.  And so it was no accident when I happened upon Sally Clarkson’s The Ministry of Motherhood, while at Barnes and Noble one day.

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I could sense that in reading The Ministry of Motherhood, I was going to be led.  But what I did not expect was to be mentored and inspired, through the gentle grace of the woman behind the pages.  Sally Clarkson has a tremendous gift.  Not only is she an engaging writer, but she is wise and she is kind.  Do I know her personally?  I do not.  But there are writers who convey their sensitivity with every word, and Sally Clarkson is one of them.

In reading The Ministry of Motherhood, it was as if layers of discouragement were lifted from me.  Rather than feeling stuck in the monotony of so many same days, I was inspired, renewed and compelled to embrace this sameness- to recognize it as ministry life. 

Last week, I emailed Sally in the hope that she might respond to 2 questions I wished to ask her.  I was eager to give her book away, but I wanted her two cents’ worth on the passion behind her writing.   So, imagine my delight when she not only responded quickly, but was open to sharing her thoughts on the mission behind The Ministry of Motherhood.

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I asked Sally:

What inspired you to write The Ministry of Motherhood?

I felt that the vision for motherhood had been lost and diminished in our culture and even in our churches. I wanted to write a book that would inspire and equip mothers to have confidence and empowerment to truly love, inspire and build the souls of their children with godliness and faith. I wanted them to have a book that would give them handles on how to approach this great task each day.

What do you hope women will gain through reading your book?

When women have a vision for how powerful an influence they can have on their children, and even on generations to come, by training, loving and discipling them, they will have energy to make each day meaningful in light of eternity.

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Are you in need of encouragement?  Do you feel the need to be mentored?

If so, this book is for you.  Sally Clarkson will motivate you.   She will draw you to a deeper walk with God.  She will leave you feeling more directed in your mothering, more purposeful and refreshed.

And she will remind you continually, that ministry to your family is the highest calling.  As she states so honestly:

“I always wanted to be a hero–to sacrifice my life in a big way one time–and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.”

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If you are thick in the middle of the ministry years to your family, or if you are a few stages beyond and would like to give this book to a younger friend who needs encouragement, please enter the Giveaway for The Ministry of Motherhood.

Oh, and because books are lonely without drinks, I am also including a $5 Starbucks gift-card with this book.

You may enter the giveaway in one of 2 ways:  1.  Click over to the Facebook page.  “Like” the page and share the link on your FB page.  2.  Comment at the end of this blog post, stating why you would enjoy this book.  3.  Email me at foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com, and state why you would enjoy winning this book.

Sadly, due to high international postage rates, the hard copy of this Giveaway and the enclosed Starbucks gift-card is open to US residents only.  However, if you are Canadian, please enter and if you win, I will send you the Kindle or Nook copy of the book, instead.

I will announce the winner on Monday morning.

Happy Friday, all!


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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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}.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.