Whistle While You Work

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I really wanted to title this blog LISTEN While You Work, but it just didn’t have the same twirly Disney princess feel that I was going for. Today I want to share with you my favorite thing to do that makes cleaning my house bearable. I shared with you yesterday about my Children’s Bible Study on James and I just have to say you guys are my favorite, especially my friend Jill who was THE FIRST to order from my Etsy store. I had major swelly heart going on today, AND I sold my first copy of Gospel in the Garden VBS curriculum. Milestones. God is good to me.

In case you missed it yesterday here it is: James Bible Study — for children and families

Well tonight after such a fantastic day I wanted to share with you all some of the goodness I discovered while preparing and studying James over the last month or so.

So the title gives off a Disney princess type vibe, or at least was supposed to, but THIS princess’ days are not spent pining over Prince Charming, turns out she’s already married him and she’s living in their castle raising the children. Four of them. Girls. With TONS of clothes, which equals TONS of laundry. While I have in no way mastered the keeping of my house (it seems to be in a constant state of mess, just varying degrees), I have found that spending my cleaning time with preachers of the Word passes the time quite nicely. John Piper, Paul Washer, Voddie Baucham and Jeff Durbin have been my frequent guests lately as I spend time cooking, cleaning , or folding laundry.

Seriously though friends, I have found listening to sermons as I work to be a very beneficial practice in my spiritual life. Recently, as I was looking for sermons over specific parts of Scripture I discovered that Desiring God’s website catalogs sermons BY Scripture reference!! Needless to say, for several weeks I was listening to all they had on the book of James. There were two sermons in particular that hit me hard. I listened to them each 2-3 times in order to fully absorb their content.

I’m going to share some links with you. I encourage you to check out the sermons on James that really stood out to me, or try out the other link by entering the Scripture you are currently reading during your personal Bible time and listen to some sermons pertaining to it. I listen best while I work at home, but I know others that like to listen when they drive or while they work out. I do believe it is a beneficial practice to grow in your faith and knowledge of the Word.

Click HERE to search Desiring God’s sermons by Scripture reference.

Click HERE to listen to a convicting sermon on bridling the tongue and race relations in the church.

Click HERE to listen to a sermon regarding biblical prayer over sin and sickness.

A major theme in the book of James is that what is on the inside will show on the outside.  I have a five year old daughter that LOVES all things princess. We talk often about a princess heart, and how from it should flow: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Rude talk, disobedience, anger, or jealousy, those things (on the outside), stem from problems on the inside. How can we remedy problems on the inside? Jesus is the only One who has the power to deal with our sin problem. He’s paid for it, and has given us His Word to teach, correct, and train us in righteousness.

2 Timothy 3:15-17and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

I challenge you ladies to be the kind of princesses, not that twirl around in cutesy dresses whistling while they work, but to be the kind that LISTEN while they work, to glorify God by seeking to love Him with all their hearts and MINDS. My prayer is that from taking in much Scripture and wisdom, our outside would reflect a true inner princess heart from which flows the fruits of the Spirit of God.

 

 

Passions and Projects

When I first moved to Cedar Rapids, it was a HUGE change for me, especially the church aspect. My hometown church that I had attended forever was relatively small. It had a community feel to it in that everyone was involved in everything, because we were a smaller congregation, events and ministries were all hands on deck. I wore many hats as an active member of that church, and I LOVED it. However, because I was going through such a change in my life (new town, new house, new marriage, new family, new church) I decided that in transitioning to a new church I would take a break and not volunteer at all in the beginning.

Being almost three years in, and looking back, that was the most foolish mistake I made when I moved.

It was in volunteering that I not only connected with my new church family, but also discovered a new passion that had actually been brewing through a new found love of homeschooling.

Specifically this past year I was able to help with children’s ministry at church and piece together a curriculum lesson plan for our Wednesday nights, and then in late winter there was a need for a Backyard Bible Club or VBS program. I was able create a curriculum called, “Gospel in the Garden,” for our church to utilize this past summer. Those experiences have revealed to me something I truly love to do, teach God’s Word to kids in creative ways.

I completed a project recently that was started with my own children in mind. I wanted to teach them through a book of the Bible. I decided I would do it through activity sheets. I wanted it to be short and simple. Short enough to where they wouldn’t lose focus (and I wouldn’t give up), and simple enough for a variety of ages, but something theologically rich that taught the TRUE context of the passages. Now being on the other side of this project (DONE!) I am even more excited than when I started!

It has turned into a 40 page complete study on the book of James, with commentary that honors the true context of the passages and provides some sort of coloring or activity on each page. I spent countless hours studying the Word through commentaries as well as listening to sermons on the passages, and had my super smart pastor husband proofread everything. Several years ago Tim Challies put out a book called, Visual Theology, and this study has turned into almost a visual theology for kids on the book of James.

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This would work great as a family Bible study, a parent and child study, an study facilitated by an older sibling with a younger sibling, or even as a discipleship tool in a mentor relationship. My plan is to print copies for my girls (and me!), put them in cute three ring binders, and break out the fun gel pens! This will give us a thorough study on the book of James over the span of two months when we do one page a day, five days a week. The goal is not speed, but retention and heart change. If you would like to jump on board with this it is available in my Etsy shop. There are no lesson plans, you simply follow the instructions on the pages.

Children’s Bible Study — James

Thanks to my church for giving me the opportunity to volunteer as God created me and uncover my passions while serving Jesus. Thanks to anyone reading this and considering purchasing this study, it’s an honor.

 

 

 

God’s Work

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As I have shared in the past, my chief prayer in raising my kids is that they would grow to love and serve Jesus. This is not something I can do for them. I can be obedient to God’s commands and train up my children in the way they should go (Prov.22:6), but in the end it’s God who does the calling:

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Knowing this (1. That I cannot save them, God has to. 2. That I’m called to train up my children in the way they should go.) my course of action in obedience to this knowledge is to:

  1. PRAY for my kids. – If God is responsible for calling sinners to the Gospel, we should be going to Him and pleading for their salvation.
  2. Preach the Gospel to my kids over and over. – The Gospel saves, and so in training my kids, I make sure they hear it over and over.

 

I have swelly mom heart today as my oldest girl is being baptized tonight. I remember clearly the night she got saved, and it is one of the most precious times I can remember in being a mom. One thing I am convinced of, when we stop striving to control everything (we can’t anyway) and simply obey, the blessing is getting to see GOD do the work. I saw intercessory prayer, a call, obedience, and salvation orchestrated beautifully as I did nothing but watch and support.

Incredible things happen when we do what we are called to do, and then wait for God.

So tonight I get to watch my girl take the next step of obedience, by being baptized. There are a tribe of people that are coming around to support her in this: my sister is here from Tacoma, WA, my parents, two of my dear friends from Iowa Falls are swinging through, and best yet, her dad, Keith, gets to baptize her. I am so excited to see her walk in submission to Jesus as her friends and family rally around her.

Please join with me in praising God for His good work in calling sinners to repentance and salvation.

If you would like more information on baptism John Piper does a good job of explaining it here: Thoughts on Baptism by John Piper

Family Fellowship

As a mom with five children, my family is constantly on my mind. Whether it’s the practical needs of feeding them and making sure they get enough sleep or the spiritual aspect of striving to train them up in the way they should go and praying over them like crazy.

I think often of the verse:

Psalm 127:4-5 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
My upmost goal is to raise a quiver of straight arrows, and to launch well.
Launching well to me means that when it’s time to send my kids out, they will be committed to the Lord, and strong in their faith. In these early years, the training years, (birth-18) they are like delicate flowers, just springing up. A small, young flower cannot handle the trampling of feet or heavy, heavy rains, or drought. It has to be protected in order to grow strong and stand on it’s own. In the same way, our kids need these years to be protected and trained in righteousness so when the time comes they can stand alone.
Part of this training in righteousness comes from the local body of believers. Over the past year Keith and I have been convicted that we needed to be attending a service with all of our children, together as a family. To those in small churches this probably seems like a no-brainer,  but in bigger congregations where children’s programming is abundant, it becomes pretty easy to become scattered as a family on Sundays.
There are two main reasons we find family fellowship to be beneficial, one is that it welcomes children into the congregation. When our kids sit with us, they feel part of what is going on at the church. They hear the announcements, the praises, the prayer requests, what’s going on in missions, etc. When we sing together, pray together, and sit under the teaching of the Word together, it gives a sense of unity. That we are in this together, as a team.
The Bible says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
Another reason is that while we understand it is beneficial to have friends and relate to peers, we also understand that should not be the primary source of interaction or influence on our kids. We find it a good balance to have them attend Sunday school with other kids, and then church with us. This way they get the blessing of peer friendships in the church, but also the interaction with adults necessary for growth and discipleship.
When Keith and I were first married, I wouldn’t have even considered taking all our kids into church. Our youngest was only three, and I was adjusting to being a mom of five kids instead of two. But we are in a season of life now where things have settled and God has moved us toward this. I think often how wonderful it is that grace is both a covering and a strength. It covers when there are season of struggle, and it strengthens in seasons of growth and steps toward holiness.
So, if you are in a season of struggling or getting settled, you are covered. There is only grace.
If you are in a season where God is calling you higher, He will grant you the strength. There is only grace.
As with anything, don’t take someone else’s opinion as your call. Pray, and search the Scripture to find out what God says.
If you currently do church together as a family, or want to try, I have included some free sermon note printables for children.
Here:
❤ Thanks for reading, friends.

Theology is for everyone. Start here.

Over the years I have heard people claim that theology isn’t really their thing. Theology can be viewed as something that is for “smart” people or those interested in reading and research. I have secretly held the same opinion and just considered it a unique passion of mine, but not a necessity for everyone. As I have become more involved in Children’s Ministry at our church and curriculum writing I have been made aware of the impact theology has, particularly in how we present the Gospel. Poor, watered down, inaccurate Gospel presentations stem from inaccurate theology.

The truth is, theology is simply the study of God, and that makes it everyone’s business.

As I stated in my very first blog post, one of my hopes in blogging is sharing quality resources with families. As Keith and I seek to raise a godly heritage unto the Lord we are constantly on the look out for resources that can help us. It is my joy to share those with you.

*Please note, being Amazon is my favorite to order from I will link to their site for product listings. These are affiliate links, which means, Amazon is thankful that I’m sending people their way, so they compensate me a small (very small) amount for any purchases made from the link. I’m required to tell you this.*

I have come across a book that the more I use it, the more I love it. I am convinced that whether you are young or old, a part of a huge family, or single, you will benefit greatly from it. It is a children’s book that is intended to teach theology, subsequently it is called, The Ology. It was written by Marty Machowski, who also has written the Gospel Story Bible, Long Story Short, and Old Story New. All great resources as well.

The Ology is a thorough, yet simple approach to systematic theology. My favorite thing about the book is first-off, the theologically rich and accurate content, but I also love how short and simple the readings are. The book is broken down into eleven sections containing a total of 71 brief readings. In my opinion, the readings are just long enough to convey the truth they intend to communicate, but they end before children lose focus. This makes it ideal for preschool, all the way up through adulthood.

Are you a parent that desires to give your kids a solid theological foundation? Or an adult that desires to be knowledgable in theology, but doesn’t know where to start? This book would be ideal for both.

Here is a link to The Ology on Amazon (affiliate link):

There is also a CD of songs that go along with the book. I have not listened to it, but here is the link if you are interested (affiliate link):


I hope these resources can be a blessing to your family.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day always gets me thinking. There is so much to be considered as we celebrate fathers, and the role God has given them.

God was the first parent, and also the first adoptive parent.

Ephesians 1:4-5 “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”

Ephesians 2:3 “among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Contrary to many popular cliches we are not all children of God. Mankind are by default children of wrath, sinners, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

It isn’t until God reveals Himself and draws us to the Gospel that we can be saved and adopted into the family of God.

Adoption runs rampant in my family, and for that I am thankful. It has given me a clear, and personal look at the Gospel. My dad with my sister and brother, and now my husband, Keith, with my girls. A picture of a father, seeing those who did not belong to him and making them his own. In this way, especially on Father’s Day, I am awed and grateful toward the two fathers in my life: Jeff and Keith who mirror their Creator and the Gospel in their lives.

You both excel at the role of father that God has given you.

Love you! Happy Father’s Day!

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Home

God did a marvelous thing when He designed family. He did so with such care, carefully constructing each aspect so when functioning as designed, it is a sight to behold. Even in this sinful, fallen world I see first hand His glorious design being carried out beautifully, but also (as a blended family mom of 5) His miraculous restoring and building up of the once broken.

I have to confess; I am a homebody. My family is my favorite, and home is my favorite place to be together. The phrase “let’s stay home” hangs loud and proud on our living room wall, and it is one of the key considerations in planning our family’s schedule. As a blended family mom of five, with kids who are constantly going every which way, I have learned we desperately need time together at home to connect, create traditions and memories together, and to just rest and enjoy each other.

I think of all the things we have going on in our lives, and in the lives of our kids: meetings, church events, school, after school activities, extracurriculars, sports, music practice, etc. Raise your hand if your family is involved in more than three of these. Guilty here. These can all play a part in robbing families of time to connect.

Especially in families with multiple children and multiple individual commitments, the scheduling becomes insane. I have always had a strong conviction to be home and to have home time together as a family, but finding a way to juggle and navigate the issue of busyness biblically and with balance can really be a challenge.

The answer should always begin and end with the Bible. I think it’s helpful to frequently step back and view our lives through the lens of scripture to make sure we are living to please God and not man, and with eternity in mind, instead of focusing on the passing things of this world.

The Bible says:

1 John 2: 15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[c]—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

This passage has been helpful to us in navigating the waters of commitments. We absolutely do not have it all figured out, but here are some things we have found helpful to consider regarding scheduling and home life:

  1. What are our priorities? We do consider family to be a pretty high priority, not just because we really love our people, but because God made family. He carefully designed it: male and female, in marriage, a command to produce children, and careful instructions in how to do raise them. Our upmost priority is that each individual member of our family would grow to love and honor God. Things that foster a love of God in our families would be training in God’s Word, working through life application of God’s Word, worshipping together, and much, much prayer. All these things require a decent amount of time together. Family is where discipleship happens.

 

  1. When choosing between things, consider which are of eternal value, and which are passing away with the world. – As of late we have missed several soccer practices and games either because we needed a home night together, or because we had a family event. Sports are passing, family and relationships have eternal significance. Also, it never hurt a child to have to sacrifice on the behalf of others. Kids often don’t want to miss their events, they also would love to eat large amounts of candy every day, but it’s not good for them. Parents need to set boundaries for their kids, not for their happiness, but for their welfare (both spiritual and physical).

 

  1. What are some realistic guidelines for having home nights together? Our family tries for at least about 2-3 nights a week that we are home together. ALL of us: Mom, Dad, and kids. As the mom, I try to be in tune with what the family needs. I can usually sense when we need a home night, or when the schedule needs thinned out. I have even had to back-off on some church commitments or volunteering because my family needed me home.

 

  1. How long does this last? Rethink or push through? We have one week in April when one girl has soccer and one girl has a play. That week is nuts. My husband and I will do our best to make the running around as smooth as possible. Home nights might be scarce that week, but it’s only a week. If it were longer, we would rethink the commitments.

I find that when I clear out spaces in our schedule for our family to rest and be together, beautiful things happen. Relationships thrive when the stress of running from one thing to the next is absent and bedtime is on time. As a mom, I love watching my girls have the freedom and time to get lost in their favorite things together.

Family is God’s good design. Discipleship happens through families in the home, whether it’s through sorting out disagreements together, “playing animals” for hours, watching episodes of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman together, or through more intentional means like family devotions or a catechism.

The Bible says it best:

Matthew 6:19  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our family has yet to get it right, and never will completely, but we can continue to bring our lives and schedules under the authority of God and seek to treasure what is lasting.