• FAITH

    Some Thoughts on Christians and Halloween

    I’ve finally decided to write a post about Halloween this year, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years, better late than never I guess!

    Halloween is an event or day that has a lot of controversy in the Christian culture, in part because of it’s history, in part because people have grown up hearing entirely different things, and also in part from poor information.

     

    THE HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN

    Halloween’s history went from a Christian celebration of the sacrifice martyrs made in the early church and eventually evolved into a more pagan celebration.

    I could write a full, not-so-great summary of the history of Halloween here or you could read this one from John MacArthur’s site if you are interested in more history, it’s written better than I could do anyway.

     

    Christians and Halloween - what should our role be?

     

    MY HISTORY WITH HALLOWEEN

    I grew up going trick-or-treating as a child. We lived in a small down where everyone knew everyone’s business and it was always a fun day (except if it was an especially cold day, then not as much fun).

    My biggest Halloween memory from childhood was going to  my Grandma’s neighbor’s house, he was a man in his 90’s and he gave us each a handful of rock hard mini marshmallows. I remember being slightly horrified but thanking him anyway (he was old, I gave him grace). Then when packing my school lunch for the next week my Dad put a couple of these rock hard marshmallows in my lunch kit for a joke. (My teacher’s probably thought he was the one that was crazy.)

    When I started grade five we had moved out of town onto a farm making trick-or-treating something you actually had to put an effort into so it didn’t continue. That and the new school I started going to had “Fun Night”, an alternative to Halloween, that’s where I hung out every Halloween thereafter.

    My thoughts on Halloween from childhood were neutral to positive. The only negative was it probably reinforced my addiction to candy and chocolate but one does not need to go trick-or-treating to buy a box of Halloween candy (just ask me how I know), so I can’t really blame Halloween for that. It was always a fun evening, whether I was trick-or-treating or at Fun Night.

    Fast forward to when Jared and I were married. For the first few years we hung out in our dark house hoping kids wouldn’t come knocking on the door. This was mostly due to the fact that 1) we were no longer kids, and didn’t have kids, and the day totally snuck up on us without us having bought any candy (giving out rock hard mini marshmallows was not a viable option in my books) and 2) on the years that we actually remembered what day it was neither of us wanted to hang around the door giving out candy all evening (#introverts).

     

    Christians and Halloween - what should our role be?

     

    Then all of a sudden we had a child and she got super excited about giving out Halloween candy. I think she was probably three or four the first year. She dressed up in a princess-y costume and had a blast saying hi to the kids that came to our door and giving them candy. The next year she was talking about Halloween long before it came, to her the day was all about giving of candy (that and because it is the same month as her birthday she somehow had it in her head that the two were somehow related, like people went trick-or-treating because of her birthday).

    The year the kids were six and three and we took them trick-or-treating for the first time. A cute little clown and fireman. I took the kids down our block and something very quickly hit me like a ton of bricks:

    The neighbors were more open and friendlier than normal.

    This is when I started to really think about Halloween and my role in it as a Christian.

     

    Christians and Halloween - what should our role be?

     

    HOW I APPROACH HALLOWEEN AS A CHRISTIAN

    As much as I would kind of like to, I’m not going to tell you how to approach Halloween, I’m just going to tell you a bit about my aha moment and how that has changed how I approach Halloween.

    It was that Halloween, three years ago where I realized that many neighbors, who would not normally open their door (or come to mine for that matter), would open their door wide and be the friendliest I had ever seen on Halloween.

    I knew that if I wanted to be a light in the community I live in, this was my one chance a year to show some of them that we love our neighbors and be an example of Jesus.

    Honestly, if Jesus were around now, what do you think He would do on Halloween? Would He sit in his house with the light off, hoping no one knew He was home? If you’ve read the Bible at all I hope you realize that would never be an option for Him. I’m sure He would do way braver stuff than I ever would but I do know that He would be out there loving His neighbor and that’s what I intend to do.

    Heidi St. John addressed this topic in a recent podcast episode, I highly recommend listening to it, but this part really stuck out to me:

    I guess the bottom line for our family has always been this. We don’t turn our lights off and close our doors and, “Stay away, you sinners.” Actually, we like to hand out the best things that we can possibly afford and talk to as many people as we can that come to our door, “Hi. How are you? Oh, my goodness, I love your outfit,” unless we don’t love it, then we just go, “Hi. How are you? Wow, that’s actually terrifying,” but I want them to see a smile on my face and hope in my eyes. For some of us, this is going to be the only time our neighbors are ever going to come to our house. They may never come back, and so use it to be an example of Jesus.

    Don’t be that person that just shuts their doors and, “I’m not going to welcome in the sinner.” No. I just don’t think that’s what Jesus would have done, and so open your doors. Let your kids greet people that come to the door and be kind. Be kind. The Bible says it’s his kindness that leads us to repentance.

     

    I definitely couldn’t have summarized it better!

    Like I said, I’m not here to try change your mind but I do hope it is something you will think about.

    A few years ago the kids were trick-or-treating in the neighborhood and we went up to a house of people I kind of knew, Christians, who had all their lights on, and when the kids said “trick-or-treat” they came to the door and told the kids they didn’t “do Halloween”. Uhh . . . that’s awkward. As Christians I don’t think that’s the feeling we want to give to the world, but all too often I think it is.

    We are called to be separate from the world but also to be a light in it and that’s hard to do when you are hiding out in your basement.

    All in all, no matter how you approach Halloween I hope you find ways to love your neighbors well.

  • FAITH,  FOSTER CARE

    This Isn’t Where We Were Supposed to Be Right Now (Literally)

    Last year I started saving for a big trip. Italy has been on my bucket list forever and I really wanted to make it happen.

    Jared and the kids were leaning towards France so I crunched some numbers and figured out approximately how much we would need to visit both countries for a couple of weeks and I started saving.

    At the beginning of this year I was close to the savings goal and in our budget I had it labeled Europe 2019. I was blocking off the end of September and beginning of October to be on the trip of a lifetime.

    And then God decided to shake my world up.

    It started out so innocent, Jared and I watched a show on Amazon Prime and the next thing I knew Europe 2019 had been re-labeled to Something Big.

    God had something different in store but I didn’t know what it was. I just knew that money had another (one could say, less selfish) use.

    It was during this time that everything just felt so restless. I knew God had something in store but He obviously wasn’t ready to show us what it was yet.

     

    When God Writes a Different Story - This Isn't Where We Were Supposed to Be Right Now

     

    This week I joined a local Bible study and our first session was about Abram and how God asked him to leave Haran, but God didn’t tell him where he was going.

    Now the Lord said to Abraham, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
    Genesis 12:1

     

    Not only that, but Abram obeyed!

    So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.
    Genesis 12:4

     

    I have such a hard time with the unknown when all I am asked to do is continue living life the way I have, I can’t imagine packing up all my belongings and putting the van in drive without knowing where I am going.

    So, a few months ago we watched this show (God works in mysterious ways) and suddenly conversations about expanding our family started.

    One thing led to another and suddenly we were in the process of being approved to be foster parents.

     

    When God Writes a Different Story - This Isn't Where We Were Supposed to Be Right Now

     

    Ten months ago I thought we would be in Europe right now, instead we are at home, flipping our house upside down to prepare to open our home up to one or two more kids.

    The last month has been crazy. In order to make room upstairs we had to move Raeca downstairs. We wanted to finish the room down there though so she didn’t feel like she was living in a dungeon so we bought ceiling for her room only to realize it was on sale so we bought some for the whole basement. Oh, and baseboards for the whole basement too (cause, why not?). Then I did some paint touch ups in the room only to realize it wasn’t the right white paint. So, off to the store to buy some more paint and repaint the entire room . . .

    It’s been a lot of work and it’s not all done but Rae is moved down and her old room is slowly turning into a nursery (with two cribs).

     

    When God Writes a Different Story - This Isn't Where We Were Supposed to Be Right Now

     

    I guess God had me saving all that money for something even bigger than I could have imagined.

    Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
    Ephesians 3:20-21

     

    We aren’t where we thought we would be.

    Or maybe we are.

    I thought we would be on the trip of a lifetime and I think that we are.

    I can’t wait to see the mementos we collect along the way.

     

    When God Writes a Different Story - This Isn't Where We Were Supposed to Be Right Now

  • FAITH

    Monthly Scripture Writing Challenge: Thankfulness

    October is right around the corner and I’m a little ahead of the game this month with the Scripture writing challenge.

    Like I mentioned last month the theme for October is Thankfulness.

    I’ll speak for myself here: I am a selfish, greedy person. If I’m not careful I can easily forget that everything I have is thanks to God.

    It can be all too easy to get into the entitlement trap and think that I deserve what I have (the good stuff of course).

    But that isn’t how things work.

    I need to remember that and come to God with a humble heart and with thanksgiving.

    And since Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated this month is seemed like the perfect time for a thankful themed Scripture Writing Challenge.

    You are more than welcome to join in on the challenge with me this month or any month you want. For that reason I am making sure the challenges always have 31 verses/passages that way no matter when people choose to join in there will be enough days for the entire month.

     

    Thankful Scripture Writing Challenge - Bible verses about Thankfulness

     

    To get the printable Scripture writing challenge just sign up here and you’ll get an email with info on how to access all the freebies on this site:

     




    check to verify you want to receive the newsletter & freebies

     

     

    If you are going to do the Scripture writing challenge, either this month or any other, I would love it if you would leave me a comment and let me know so I can be praying for you and your family during the month.

  • BOOKS,  FAITH,  PARENTING

    The Best Parenting Books Every Christian Parent Should Read

    The unofficial theme here this month is “parenting”, which I kicked off with a parenting themed Scripture writing challenge a few weeks ago.

    Of course I couldn’t have a themed month without a book list!

    I wanted to share some of the best biblical-based parenting books I have read over the years.

    But first I wanted to share a disclaimer and say that these books in no way take priority over reading the Bible and discovering for ourselves what God has called us to as parents.

    That being said, I find good biblical-based parenting books can be very encouraging, if you are looking for some, here are eleven of my favorites.

     

    The Best Parenting Books - Biblical, Grace-Based, Christ-Centered Books About Parenting

     

    THE BEST PARENTING BOOKS FOR CHRISTIAN PARENTS

    This one was recommended to me for so long before I actually read it and I can see why it has been so popular!

    Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

    What is your calling as a parent?

    In the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost. Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.

    In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God—grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.

    Freed from the burden of trying to manufacture life-change in our children’s hearts, we can embrace a grand perspective of parenting overflowing with vision, purpose, and joy.

     

    To be honest, the first time I read this book I didn’t get it. The second time I loved it. If you are in the thick of parenting a bunch of littles this book can feel so far fetched but if you have kids in the 5+ stage I would recommend reading this one.

    Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

    All of us want to raise good kids. And we want to be good parents. But what exactly do we mean by “good?” And is “being good” really the point?

    Mother-daughter team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson contend that every way we try to make our kids “good” is simply an extension of Old Testament Law–a set of standards that is not only unable to save our children, but also powerless to change them.

    No, rules are not the answer. What they need is GRACE.

    We must tell our kids of the grace-giving God who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. If this is not the message your children hear, if you are just telling them to “be good,” then the gospel needs to transform your parenting too.

    Give Them Grace is a revolutionary perspective on parenting that shows us how to receive the gospel afresh and give grace in abundance, helping our children know the dazzling love of Jesus and respond with heartfelt obedience.

     

    Okay, so this one isn’t actually a parenting book exactly. But it is all about how to teach your children skills and habits with a worldview, which is extremely important!

    The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents: Help Your Kids Learn Practical Life Skills, Develop Essential Faith Habits, and Embrace a Biblical Worldview

    As a Christian parent, you want your children to develop good character and godly wisdom. But how do you go beyond hoping and praying to teaching them ethical knowledge, practical skills, and virtuous habits?

    This innovative guide provides practical, effective ideas you can use to help your children build their faith and character in 50 ways, including…

    • engaging with the Bible and culture
    • interacting with God and others
    • making good decisions
    • becoming better learners
    • managing conflict

    Once you grasp these concepts and discover how to teach them, you will be able to successfully shape the character and worldview of your child or teenager.

     

    The Ministry of Motherhood

    Because Motherhood Isn’t Just a Job. It’s a Calling.

    A mother’s day is packed with a multitude of tasks that require energy and time: preparing meals, washing clothes, straightening and cleaning the house, and caring for children. These jobs all are necessary and crucially important. But in the dailyness of providing for a child’ s physical, emotional, and social needs, vital opportunities for spiritual nurture and training can be overlooked.

    This doesn’t have to be the case. You can focus your energy on what matters most. Learn how you can:

    • Make Life’s Mundane and Nitty-Gritty Moments Work for You and Not Against You
    • Discover Ways to Make Character-Building a Natural Part of Live
    • Teach Your Child in the Same Way Jesus Taught the Disciples
    • Pass on Crucial Gifts that Will Serve Your Family for a Lifetime

    Using biblical wisdom and practical teachings, Sally Clarkson shows how you can make a lasting difference in your child’s life by following the pattern Christ set with his own disciples–a model that will inspire and equip you to intentionally embrace the rewarding, desperately needed, and immeasurably valuable Ministry of Motherhood.

     

    The Lifegiving Parent: Giving Your Child a Life Worth Living for Christ

    In today’s world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and even paralyzed by the constant flow of parenting advice. We’re flooded with so much practical information that we wonder if we’re choosing the right way. And we may be missing the one thing God really wants us to give to our children: His life. God doesn’t include a divine methodology for parenting in the Bible, but He does provide principles that can enable any faithful parent to bring His life into the life of their home.

    In The Lifegiving Parent, respected authors and parents Clay and Sally Clarkson explore eight key principles – heartbeats of lifegiving parenting – to shed light on what it means to create a home where your children will experience the living God in your family. Now parents of four grown children – each with their own unique personality and gifts – Sally and Clay have learned (sometimes the hard way!) that the key to shaping a heart begins at home as you foster a deep and thoughtful God-infused relationship with each child. Filled with biblical insight and classic Clarkson stories, The Lifegiving Parent will equip you with the tools and wisdom you need to give your children much more than just a good Christian life. You’ll give them the life of Christ.

     

    Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God

    There’s no such thing as “just” a mom.

    Despite the routine tasks and mundane to-do lists, motherhood is anything but insignificant. God has designed motherhood as part of his greater plan to draw people to himself–instilling all women, whether called to traditional mothering or not, with an eternal purpose in nurturing others.

    In this book, Gloria Furman searches the Scriptures for the mission of God in motherhood. She opens our eyes to God’s life-giving promises–promises intended to empower each and every woman as she makes disciples in her home, in her neighborhood, and around the world.

     

    Shepherding a Child’s Heart

    Shepherding a Child’s Heart is about how to speak to the heart of your child. The things your child does and says flow from the heart. Luke 6:45 puts it this way: “…out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Written for parents with children of any age, this insightful book provides perspectives and procedures for shepherding your child’s heart into the paths of life.

     

    Parenting the Wholehearted Child

    Are you exhausted from the pressure to be a perfect parent raising perfect children in this imperfect world? Do you ever wonder, ‘How did these precious children get stuck with a parent like me?’ If so, let these grace-drenched pages saturate your heart with God’s unfailing love while also equipping you to be a vessel of God’s unconditional love to your children. With authenticity, conviction, and a lively sense of humor, Jeannie guides parents on a transformative journey into raising wholehearted—not perfect—children, who live from the freedom found in being wholeheartedly loved (and liked!) by God. Parenting the Wholehearted Child equips parents with Biblical wisdom and practical ideas to teach children they are fully accepted by God, not because of anything they do or don’t do but because of everything Jesus has already done for them. Woven throughout the book is the good news that it is God’s extravagant grace, not a parent’s perfect performance, that transforms the hearts of children.

     

    This small booklet may be old but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated!

    The Duties of Parents: 17 Practical Ways to Successful Parenting

    For any parent who is concerned with properly raising children, this classic text from Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle is a must-read. This nineteenth-century booklet offers helpful advice for parents that is just as relevant today as when it was first published.

     

    Grace Based Parenting

    Parents in our post-modern world tend to be committed to but anxious about their child-rearing responsibilities. They’ve tried the countless parenting books on the market, but many of these are strident, fear-based books that loving parents instinctively reject, while still searching for direction.

    Now Dr. Tim Kimmel, founder of Family Matters ministries, offers a refreshing new look at parenting. Rejecting rigid rules and checklists that don’t work, Dr. Kimmel recommends a parenting style that mirrors God’s love, reflects His forgiveness, and displaces fear as a motivator for behavior. As we embrace the grace God offers, we begin to give it-creating a solid foundation for growing morally strong and spiritually motivated children.

     

    Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

    Do you believe your struggle with anger stems from the wrong behavior you see displayed in your children? The knee-jerk reactions and blow-ups you’re facing are often a result of a bigger set of “triggers.” Some of these are external, like a child’s disobedience, backtalk, or selective hearing, while others are internal, like an overflowing schedule, sleep-deprivation, or perhaps your own painful experiences from childhood.

    Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses examines common parenting issues that cause us to explode inappropriately at our children. Moving beyond simple parenting tips on how to change your child’s behavior, authors Amber Lia and Wendy Speake offer biblical insight and practical tools to equip and encourage you on the journey away from anger-filled reactions toward gentle, biblical responses.

     

    The Best Parenting Books - Biblical, Grace-Based, Christ-Centered Books About Parenting

     

    Do you have a favorite gospel-centered parenting book that I missed? Let me know!

  • FAITH

    The Benefits of Writing Out the Scriptures

    I recently shared that I have been taking each day to participate in a Scripture writing plan.

    It’s not the first time I have done so but this is the first time I have continued with such dedication and over the last few months I have seen some great benefits of writing out the Bible and because I think it could be a benefit to every believer to do so I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of the benefits of writing out the Scriptures.

     

    TWO WAYS I WRITE OUT THE SCRIPTURES

    But first I wanted to share two different ways I tend to write out the Scriptures:

     

    Monthly Scripture Writing Challenge - Parenting: Bible verses and passages on parenting

     

    #1 A SCRIPTURE WRITING PLAN

    A Scripture writing plan is a simple way to get started as you can find tons of different options online, often with different topics, I’ve even started creating my own monthly Scripture writing challenges.

    This usually involves writing just one verse or a passage each day and is a super simple way to make sure you are opening the Bible each day (especially if you thrive on the pressure of a “challenge”).

     

    The Benefits of Writing out the Bible and a Scripture Writing Plan

     

    #2 STUDY A BOOK OF THE BIBLE

    This year I have been slowly going through different books of the Bible and have found it very helpful to write the books out. Though, I’ve only been doing this for the New Testament, for some reason at this point, I feel like copying out an entire book of the Old Testament is a little beyond me (at least most of the books), but I may build up to that at one point.

    I learned how to really study the Bible thanks to Jen Wilkin’s book Women of the Word and also the way my church studies through books of the Bible so I’ve combined what I learned from both of those and incorporated it into my daily Bible study. I start at the beginning of a book and write a few verses each day and then spend some time studying the verses and making notes about them (I may share this more in-depth at another time).

    I like this way of writing out the Bible because it ensures you have the context instead of just writing out select passages here and there but I do think there are merits to a themed Scripture writing plan as well so I do both.

     

    For the most part I just copy the verses out on a composition notebook and use a plain black pen but every now and then when I’m feeling particularly craft I will get more creative, but that’s usually above and beyond, I want most of my focus to be on just writing out the Word.

     

    The Benefits of Writing out the Bible and a Scripture Writing Plan

     

    THE BENEFITS OF WRITING OUT THE BIBLE

    Now that you have a little background how how I do my Scripture writing, here are some of the benefits I have come across in the last year:

     

    IT SLOWS YOU DOWN

    I’ve always been a big reader, it’s generally a good thing but it has made me a very good skimmer – not what I want when I’m reading the Bible, but I find it very easy to slip into the habit of skimming.

     

    IT ENCOURAGES READING FOR DEEPER MEANING

    Writing out verses, passages and books helps me to slow down and puts my skimming to an end.

    As a result I have the ability to focus on each word and have been able to glean more from each passage. I pause and look up particular words and phrases that jump out at me or leave me a little confused.

     

    Is there a point to a restless season?

     

    IT ENCOURAGES REFLECTION

    Because I have been able to better understand a passage I think about it more throughout the day that I would had I just skimmed it.

     

    IT HELPS YOU MEMORIZE

    Did you know that one of the best ways to memorize something is to write it out by hand?

    If you are trying to memorize a particular verse or passage try writing it out every day for a week and see how much you have memorized by the end, you may just be surprised!

     

    IT BRINGS US CLOSER TO GOD

    And the most important benefit, writing out the Word, just like reading and studying it, brings us closer to God.

     

    And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

    Deuteronomy 17:18-20

     

    I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

    Psalm 119:11

     

    But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

    2 Timothy 3:14-15

     

    If you write out the Scriptures on a regular basis I would love to hear how you go about it and benefits you’ve seen in your own life!

  • FAITH,  PARENTING

    Monthly Scripture Writing Challenge: Parenting

    I mentioned in my last post that I have really been enjoying Scripture writing over the last number of months (and on and off over the last number of years).

    I have been printing off a monthly Scripture writing challenge for the last few months which has been good but that particular site basis their verses off of the Bible study they are currently going through and because I don’t pay for the Bible study the monthly Scripture writing can feel a little all over the place.

    So, I decided to do what I always decide to do in this kind of situation: make my own.

    If I were really on the ball I would have had this all ready to go at the beginning of the month but I only had the idea a couple of days ago so here we are, almost a week into the month. I could let my Type A side beat myself up over that fact or I could just get over it since it’s the Bible and people can copy it whenever they want.

    I decided to ignore the Type A side.

     

    Monthly Scripture Writing Challenge - Parenting: Bible verses and passages on parenting

     

    Because we are in the “start” of our homeschool year (“start” because we homeschool light all year round and a little more intensely in the colder months) I thought I would go with a parenting theme for this month.

    If I were to be honest, and I am, parenting has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life.

    It has been challenging, humbling and has made me grow more than any other thing in my life.

    I thought I had my life pretty much together, and then I had kids.

    It turns out I am incredibly selfish and didn’t even realize it until my time was no longer my own.

    But man, parenting is so incredibly rewarding. It is worth every sleepless night.

    (Which is a good thing because we are getting ready to start all over again.)

     

    Monthly Scripture Writing Challenge - Parenting: Bible verses and passages on parenting

     

    So, for the next month I am going to be copying out verses and passages all related to parenting (and because I’m starting a few days late I will double up on some days).

    I have created a printable if you would like to join me. You can jump in this month or any time you want because it’s the Bible and you can copy it any time you want.

    To get the free Scripture writing challenge just sign up here and you’ll get an email with info on how to access all the freebies on this site:




    check to verify you want to receive the newsletter & freebies

     

     

    Because my brain likes to work over time I already have plans to have a Thanksgiving one for October (because: Canadian!), an adoption one for November (because: adoption month) and an Advent one for December (because: Christmas!). Since I actually have those ideas already they should be up a few days before that month happens. I will be emailing when the new ones are up so make sure you are signed up for my newsletter to be in the know.

    If you are going to do the Scripture writing challenge, either this month or any other, I would love it if you would leave me a comment and let me know so I can be praying for you and your family during the month.

  • FAITH,  HOMESCHOOL

    How We Approach Bible Time and Bible Journaling in our Homeschool

    Welcome to a new series where I am going more in-depth on all the different subjects we will be tackling this school year! If you want an overview of our homeschool day/week/month you can take a look at our three-part homeschool rhythm.

    One area I knew I really wanted to do better this year in our homeschool was the Bible. I have tried a few different things (plans, methods, children’s Bible’s, etc) in the past and have not really been very good with sticking with them.

    One of the ways I plan on making sure I follow through this year is by having our family Bible reading at the beginning of the day, since it is the very first thing we will be doing it will definitely get done.

     

    How we Bible Journal with Kids

     

    My own personal Bible reading routine has changed a lot this year and I’ve gone from just reading the Bible to actually studying it, I don’t know why it took me so long to make the realization that I should do more than just read it.

    I spent some time reading The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents this summer and it really made me want to step up how I approach the Bible with my kids. No one ever taught me how to study the Bible which is probably why it took me until I was in my 30’s to even learn how to study it, out of all the subjects I teach my children, the Bible should be my top priority.

     

    How we Bible Journal with Kids

     

    OUR READING PLAN

    The first thing I needed to figure out was a reading plan. I would love to one day go all the way through the Bible reading every chapter with my kids but we definitely needed something more manageable to start. (And, let’s be honest, there are some chapters I’m just not willing to tackle with my elementary aged children.)

    Via some Google searches I came across a 90-day Bible reading plan that I mostly liked. I printed it out and have adjusted the lengths of some of the passages so far. Once I have the readings separated to my liking I’ll share it as a free printable. (Make sure you are signed up for my newsletter and you’ll be the first to get it.)

    The Bible reading plan was originally a 90-day plan but it will take us longer than that since some days have quite a few chapters and I would rather take our time than just try to cruise through to check the boxes. I’m guessing it will take us all year to go through it.

     

    How we Bible Journal with Kids

     

    BIBLE JOURNALING

    Because our Bible reading takes place during our tea time and I’m usually sipping on my homemade, dairy-free hot cocoa at this point I usually use the Bible app and we listen to the audio version.

    One thing I have been doing since the winter is taking notes when I study the Bible. For the new testament I’ve gone a bit more in-depth and the old testament has been more like chapter summaries. It has helped my comprehension and retention a lot so I knew I wanted the kids to do something similar this year.

    Enter Bible Journaling.

    All we did was get them basic composition notebooks and each day they write the title (the book and chapters we read) and then write and/or draw something from that chapter(s).

     

    How we Bible Journal with Kids

     

    My daughter will often write questions that she thought of while listening to the chapter being read. As you can see above in the photo on the left, she wrote: How was the ark strong (enough) to hold all that (stuff)?

    Also, I am not picky about spelling when it comes to their Bible journals, if they ask how something is spelled I will tell them but there are times when my fourth grader will write a page and a half long summary, I care way more that she is writing and processing the chapter than whether or not she is spelling things correctly.

     

    How we Bible Journal with Kids

     

    Not only does Bible journaling have them thinking about the Bible for longer than if we just read the chapters and moved on but it can create some discussion as they ask for clarification as they write or draw. Plus they are getting writing and drawing in, honestly, if we just did our Bible stuff each day I would be okay with that, in my opinion it covers all the most important subjects.

     

    And there you have it, our super simple and yet incredibly beneficial Bible reading and journaling time!

    I am so excited at the treasure these journals are already becoming, I know they will be even more so by the end of the year.

    I would love to hear how you study the Bible with your children, leave me a comment below and let me know what you do!

  • FAITH

    A Life Poured Out

    You know those times where it just feels like certain themes keep popping up all over the place?

    That’s been happening to me for the last few months. This time the theme is the idea of living a life poured out.

    Though, I didn’t realize the theme until last week when we were finishing studying 2 Timothy in church and verse six in chapter four jumped out at me, Paul says:

    “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering” . . .

     

    A Life Poured Out

     

    Let me back up about four months, to when I was reading A Body in the Library by Agatha Christie – I promise this is related, just trust me. At one point in the book the doctor was talking and he said a line that jumped out at me:

    “a man may as well wear out as rust out.”

    See, totally related.

    It was right around that time that I started listening to Lara Casey’s Cultivate Your Life podcast and she kept repeating Psalm 90:12; “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”.

    It’s like the Francis Chan rope illustration that I have heard so many times over and yet it doesn’t get old:

     

     

    So yeah, the theme is everywhere and it’s once again making me stop and consider what I am really living for here.

    Am I living for myself and my time on earth? (that small red bit of rope?) or am I living with eternity in mind?

    I can tell you the kind of life I want to be living.

    I want to live a life poured out.

    I actually told Jared the other day that I finally figured out what I wanted the tattoo-I’ll-never-get to say: poured out. Though, now that I actually have an idea of what I want it to say I kind of want to get it. What a great daily reminder that would be.

     

    A Life Poured Out

     

    But, if I am being honest, I haven’t been living a life poured out. Unless we are talking about a life poured into myself and the things I like, then I’m rocking this poured out thing. But, we’re not talking about that kind of life, so nevermind . . .

    Thankfully God is faithful and His mercies are new each morning.

    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
    they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
    Lamentations 3:22-23

    So, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what a life poured out looks like and how it could look for me. Because it’s not going to look the same for everyone; someone who is single and living in a country where they could be killed for their faith is going to have a different kind of “poured out” than me – married and raising my kids in a country where Christians may be made fun of but are far from persecuted.

    Poured out will even look different for me than it will for some of my friends whose lives may look similar on paper.

     

    A Life Poured Out

     

    Honestly, like the doctor said in A Body in the Library, I would rather have my body wear out because I lived a life poured out than to end up rusting out because I didn’t do anything, or worse, be old with a healthy body because I only invested time into myself.

    After a prolonged season of restlessness I can finally feel the transition into a new season and while I know it’s not going to be an easy one, I have to admit, I’m excited for it.

    Here’s to a life poured out.

  • FAITH,  INTENTION

    Lessons in Friendship from Mark 2

    I love it when I come across a passage in the Bible that I have heard or read numerous times but suddenly something jumps out at me that I hadn’t noticed before.

    That’s exactly what happened the other week when I was reading through Mark. I am going through the book very, very slowly, after about a month of starting the book I am only on chapter 3, but it was last week while going through chapter 2 that something jumped out at me.

    The story at the beginning of Mark 2 is of Jesus healing the paralytic man. In this case Jesus doesn’t just happen to pass the guy and then heal him, this guy actually has to go to some work to get healed.

    Actually, he has some friends that go through some work for him to get healed.

    While Jesus was busy speaking to people in a packed house these four guys couldn’t get passed the crowds to see Jesus, so do they go home feeling defeated or decide to try again the next day?

    Not a chance.

    Do you know what they do? They actually carry their friend, on his mat, up to the roof of this home and start removing tiles and then they lower their friend down so he arrives at Jesus’ feet.

    Can we say grad entrance?

    It’s really a crazy moment and this event never ceases to amaze me but it’s not that part that jumped out at me this time, it’s what came next.

    If you’ve read the story you know that Jesus heals the guy (sorry if that’s a spoiler for you) but it’s the reason why that is really cool. I’ll back it up a bit and share verses 3-5:

    And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

     

    Did you catch that? Let me repeat it and add some emphasis:

    And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

     

    Jesus forgave this man and as a result healed him not only because of his faith but Jesus healed him as a result of the faith of his friends.

    Not only were these friends dedicated; when they hit obstacles when getting their friend to Jesus they found a way around them (or technically, in this case, through them) but it was a result of their faith that their paralyzed friend was healed.

    This was not a mission of duty, they were not trying to check a box or make themselves feel good about putting an effort in. They weren’t trying to impress people by being friends with someone who needed their help and they weren’t doing it out of a favor for their mom’s friend’s second cousin twice removed.

    These were real, true, dedicated friends.

    They didn’t laugh at their friend when he told them that Jesus would heal him. They didn’t drag him there silently muttering that it wasn’t going to work. No, they didn’t doubt that Jesus would heal their friend, they knew he would be healed.

    These were friends with faith.

    I can’t believe I missed the bigger part these guys played in helping their friend get healed. They weren’t just the delivery men or the brawn, they were so much more.

    It was because of their faith their friend was healed.

     

    This story has me thinking a lot about friendship. I’ve admitted before that I’m not exactly great at friendship, unfortunately on top of that I’m also a bit of a skeptic – had I been one of the people carrying this guy to Jesus, He probably would have called me out as one with little faith and I have my doubts whether or not the friend would have been healed.

    This story has been a hard reminder on friendship and faith.

    It’s left me with some questions . . .

    How would things change if I took my friendship queues from these four guys?

    What if I was as dedicated to my friendships as they were?

    What if I was a friend without expecting anything in return?

    How would God use me if I had more faith?

     

    What if I was a friend and expected nothing in return? - Lessons from Mark 2

     

    Are there passages in the Bible that you have read over and over and then finally something jumps out at you? If so, would like to hear about them!

  • FAITH

    Is There A Point to a Season of Restlessness?

    You can say these last few months have been a restless season.

    Restless as in the feeling that God is preparing me for something but I don’t know what that something is.

    Life feels unsettled.

    It’s like I’m trying to reach something that is just out my grasp.

    I’m pretty sure this isn’t just a discontentment type of restlessness. It feels like more than that.

    It feels like I just woke up from a dream but I can’t quite remember what it was about.

    Like if I just think a little harder I’ll be able to remember it.

    That kind of restlessness.

    As a result I’ve been thinking a lot about the purpose of restlessness. Surely there has to be some silver lining in this.

    Similarly to God not wasting pain, I don’t think He wastes restlessness (to be honest, I would say that restlessness is a type of -mental- pain!).

     

    Is there a point to a restless season?

     

    So, what exactly is the point of a season of restlessness?!

    I think there are a few reasons . . .

     

    Is there a point to a restless season?

     

    TO BRING US CLOSER TO HIM

    These seasons always find me spending more time in the Word and praying.

    This time around I’ve found myself digging even deeper into Scripture. For the first time in my life I feel like I have come across a Bible study method that really works for me.

    I’m currently going through the OT -slowly- as well as Psalms and one NT book at a time, though this last week I spent a good portion of my time studying all things money and stewardship.

    When I find myself in a restless season I often feel as though it is a period of God preparing me for something He has planned and of course studying His word and spending time talking to Him are great ways to get closer to finding out what He has in store.

    This last week I also created a prayer binder for myself. I’ve kept track of my prayers in a notebook for years but decided to create a bit of a different “system” (term used loosely) for myself because I feel like my prayer time can so easily end up looking like a string of requests and I want to make sure I spend time praising and thanking God as well.

    In the future I may share a peek into how I’ve set my prayer binder up.

     

    Is there a point to a restless season?

     

    TO INCREASE OUR PATIENCE

    In addition to bringing us closer to Him, I think God can use this time to increase our patience.

    A wise friend who has had a lot of practice with patience once said to me:

    I wish God would just realize I’m never going to be a patient person and stop testing me already!

    Ha, I get it!

    This is a lesson that God has been teaching me over and over and over and over again in the last few years. It’s not pleasant but it’s not without its purpose.

    For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

    Romans 8:24-25

     

    Is there a point to a restless season?

     

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the limited time on each of us have on earth and this finish line above that Ephraim drew in chalk has me thinking a lot about finishing the race of life well.

    While I don’t know the purpose of this season of restlessness right now, I am praying I will use it well.

    For now I will try to faithfully tell the story God has given me and hopefully His purpose for this season will be revealed soon.

    If you are in a season of restlessness or have been in the past I would love to hear your story!

     

    Curious about where this restless season led? Check out this post and this one.

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