Building Spiritual Disciplines in your Toddler (part 2)

Just for Me Bible

How many of you have more than 10 Bibles in your home?  That would definitely define our home – we have so many, and many in boxes.  The ones in boxes are probably from our childhood.  They are tucked away to help us remember what the Lord has done in our lives by the help of His word.  That is actually why I encourage note taking, prayer highlighting, etc in your Bible.

One of the ways to teach children, especially starting in the toddler years, even before they can read, to love their Bibles (the very Word of God) is by getting a little Bible made just for them.  The new Tommy Nelson Bible,the Just for Me Bible,  complete with round board book edges and a bridge red handle, is a perfect example.

You can teach your toddler to look in the Bible.  You can teach them to take their Bibles to church.  You can teach them to turn in their Bibles when the pastor instructs the adults to turn in their Bibles.  They may not even be able to read yet and yet they will be learning a valuable discipline of loving the Word of God.

If you would like to win one of these for your toddler: tell me what was your favorite Bible story when you were little.

Thanks Tommy Nelson for the book: all thoughts are my own.

Building Spiritual Disciplines in your Toddler (part 1)

posted in: Bible, Books, Shepherding Children | 3

Teaching Toddlers Spiritual Disciplines

Toddlers: they are the funnest and hardest part of my day.  This afternoon when I was eating Chickfila with my boys on the back porch – watching my older one get so excited about dipping his fries in the sauce or hearing my younger say “coke coke” begging for a sip of my diet coke – I looked at both of them with a huge smile – telling them I love you.  And then there are moments when I just want to put them to bed and have a moment of silence to myself.  And I’ve learned that is ok.  Grace comes with bedtime.

But, grace also is imparted to our children by them learning about spiritual disciplines.  One of the disciplines that we are teaching our boys is prayer.  They clap and say yay when we are done praying at dinner.

A great new resource to help your child learn how to pray is the Say and Pray Bible.  It is by Tommy Nelson resources and is a board book with great illustrations for your toddler. One of the aspects of this Bible that I love is that it helps them identify objects in the story (learning new vocabulary, helping them learn how to spell).  This is purely educational.  But, when tied in with a Bible story and prayer guide – this is a great resource for your toddler – probably my new favorite.

One of the ways I intend to use this as my boys get older is create worksheets that they can do as we read along with the story.  I want to pull of the words and give them space to learn how to write, draw pictures of the words that they can match, There is a variety of creative games or word searches that you can do to help your children learn how to read, spell, match, and learn the Bible.

If you would like to win this resource for your children – just leave a note here or on Social media and tell me one verse that you are teaching your kids to pray.

That’s all.

Kids Need Love (and Book Giveaway)

posted in: Books | 3

I Love You Even When

One of the best things that my husband ever said to me before we had children was that they would know how to be affectionate because I was their momma.  I cling to that these days when the discipline is so hard.  I still love getting their hugs, wrestling with them, tickling them, and having them give me kisses and hold my hand.  I will take it all.  It is one of my favorite things about being a mom!

There are so many children out there who don’t get the love they need from loving adults (whether it is their parents, other family members, or loving adults in their lives).  One of the reasons we wanted to settle on a church quickly when we moved to the metro area is so that the boys would get familiarity from other adults besides us.  They would get to know their SS teachers, pastors, friends’ parents. They would be shown love.

Some say it is hard to love when you have to discipline a child.  It is hard.  Disciplining is hard.  But disciplining them (when done with a correct action and spirit) is loving.  God loves us, his children, when he disciplines us and he is always love.

Tommy Nelson just released I Love You Even When, a book for toddlers.  It is a foam board book but has enough letters that it would be a great book for those learning to read.  Animals are a usual high attraction for most children and these illustrations are cute.

Good points about this book: God’s love is unconditional.  Helpful illustrations that will be perfect for most toddlers and the messes they get into.

Questionable – not bad, but just some points to talk about with your children as you read through it together – our kids should not feel they are more accepted and loved by us (their parents) when they obey.  That only teaches them legalism.  If you need a good book to talk more about this go here.

If you want a copy of this book, just leave a comment either here or on social media and answer the question: what is one thing your toddler does that as you are disciplining them you are trying not to laugh (yes, kids do the darndest things).


Categorical Reading

posted in: Books | 0

Books by Category


It is no secret that I love to read.  But, I need more time in my schedule to read.  And with two toddlers, a husband, a photography business, White Collar, West Wing, and lots of books – I have to do something to find more time!

One thing I am doing is getting more organized in my reading.  I am one of those readers that reads multiple books at once and always has a stack of books by my nightstand.  I have several books a month I’m reviewing for one publisher or another and that always keeps my mailbox full (and that is a happy mail day!)

So, since I have different interests and ways I need to read to fit my life – here is the deal.  I’m going to try each week to organize what I’m reading and let you know about it.  That way you can be introduced to new authors and books and you can also give me suggestions on what you are reading in those categories.

Christian Life: Newton on the Christian Life and Packer on the Christian Life (these two are both on my Kindle and they are both books I’m reviewing for Crossway).  I think I would highlight the whole book!  So good!

Creativity/Business/Photography: A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman

Marriage: The Fruitful Wife by DiMarco

Food: A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones (a book review I’m doing for Blogging for Books) and My Life in France by Julia Child

Children: Just for Me Bible, Say and Pray Bible, and I Love You Even When (all book reviews for Tommy Nelson)

Parenting: My husband and I are reading through Shepherding a Child’s Heart together and even though I’ve read it is very important for me to re-read it now that I have children.

God’s Design for Beauty out of Brokenness

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Beauty out of Brokenness

Do you realize that we are ALL broken people?  This isn’t a blog post just for the people who have major problems in life and their lives are falling apart.  This post is for every single person in the world.

And do you know that we serve an amazingly beautiful Creator who takes everything that is broken and turns it into a beautiful thing for his glory?  That is one of the aspects of God that I love the most.  That He takes the broken and makes beautiful wholeness out of it.

We see the God of beauty shining through all of Scripture.  Just a few:

1.  Nehemiah and his getting the wall rebuilt.  Nehemiah knew of the broken down wall in Jerusalem and he wasn’t even there.  So he went and saw the rubble.  And he prayed.  And he got normal every day joe people to work on the wall.  And you know what – God restored that wall.  He showed that His beauty could shine again around the walls of the city for His own people.

2.  King David.  A lot of people mentioned that he was a man after God’s own heart.  Which he was.  But he was also a murderer and an unfaithful husband.  But God used him to write amazing worship songs and lead God’s people – and he is an integral part in the history of redemption.

3.  The Apostle Paul who wrote a good portion of the New Testament and his letters are still an encouragement to us today.  He was in charge of the people who stoned one of the early deacons of the local church – and hated Christians – even though he knew the law of God and was really smart.

4.  And the most broken story of all.  The perfect Jesus being broken on a cross to pay for the sins of those who believed.  God chose Him to bear our burden.  To pay for our sins.


1.  I’ve seen women who have longed for babies have their arms full of precious ones even when doctors said it was impossible.

2.  I’ve seen marriages restored when unfaithfulness has been relationship-dominating.

3.  I’ve seen teenagers come to know Christ and then go on the mission field and lead churches for the glory of God.

4.  I’ve seen the bonds of addiction broken because of the glory of the gospel.

5.  I’ve seen orphans taken into families and loved on because of the gospel.

In Cynthia Ruchti’s new book, Tattered and Mended, she brings so many Scriptural highlights and life-giving words to help bring life to brokenness.  I really love her thematic way she set up her chapters in different forms of art and restoration.  Such a good thing for a creative to do.  I love her use of Scripture.  And that she brings out a very personal side of God – His healing power!

If you are in a season of brokenness – don’t despair (think of your favorite Anne of Green Gables quote).  Believe in him.  Wait on him.  You will see beauty because God is faithful and never changes.

This post is sponsored by Litfuse who sent me Ruchti’s book to review.  All opinions are my own.

Bourbon Glaze for Meat or Fish (and Book Review)

posted in: food | 0

Bourbon Glaze

You know those little samples of chicken with a toothpick stuck in them that you get from the fast food place in every mall across America…I gobble those up.  Well, I decided I wanted to make my own.

For Fathers Day, instead of going out and overpaying at every quality restaurant you go to – we usually decide to dine in and pick up good seafood from the counter at our local Whole Foods.  I decided I wanted to make my own bourbon glaze and boy did it ever satisfy.  I think I could drink the glaze – but instead chose to put it on fish – then put the leftovers on chicken for the next couple of weeks.

And, soon after that, I got the chance through Blogging for Books to review the book The Art of American Whiskey.  I found it interested because I know nothing about whiskey or bourbon except that the good stuff is made in KY or TN (usually).  This book told me the history of it through the art of it.  I loved learning how people made their craft and how they learned to live when prohibition hit our country and what brands are surviving and thriving today.

Bourbon Glaze
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1½ cups
This perfect glaze is a hint of spicy and sweet
  • ¾ cup bourbon of your choice
  • ⅔ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp brown mustard
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. Combine everything in a small saucepan.
  2. Whisk together and bring it to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes until the glaze reduces.
  4. Pour over your fave meat or salmon
  5. This glaze is great on salmon, chicken, pork chops, ribs, etc.

How John Newton Changed my View on Grace

posted in: Books | 2

My Christ is sufficient

There are a lot of dead people who live on through their writings and teachings.  I’m so thankful for other people who study their lives and put together books that summarize their lives and their teachings on important truths of the Christian Life.  Crossway has been tackling a series that does this very thing, and Tony Reinke just released the book showcasing John Newton, former slave holder turned grace-filled Christian preacher.  (Thank you Crossway for this book in exchange for the review. Always a pleasure.)

The book is not primarily a biography, though I did learn a lot about Newton’s life that I didn’t know.  What more that Tony Reinke does is take a broad look at all of his writings, mostly found in letters to other people, and summarize to his readers what Newton believed and how he lived in light of that belief.

This was such an intriguing read to me because it was so applicable to my life as a mom and wife.  Some theology I find hard to incorporate into my daily life – but the grace of God – I need so much of it that I want it just to pour into my spirit.  As I read yesterday on an instagram photo – I want to empty my life of more stuff so that there is more room for Christ to overflow!

Anyway, I digress.  So, how did John Newton change my look at grace?  He (in a nutshell) said that Christ and grace were so intertwined that the two were pretty much inseparable.  And one day, a hot Sunday afternoon after a hard morning before church – one that my husband was working so he wouldn’t be home in the afternoon to help me play with them – I was so frazzled.  I wasn’t able to be in the service that morning either because I was serving in the preschool praise area.  When I got to my car there was a note scribbled on the back of our church’s bulletin.  Just a quick note from my husband (after we had recently talked about this Newton theme of grace).  It was so impactful that I still say it to myself now weeks later.

Here’s something to try.  In every verse or hymn…try replacing the word grace with Christ.

Amazing Christ, how sweet the sound.

Christ my fears relieved.

Christ will lead me home (all taken from Newton’s famous Amazing Grace hymn).

My Christ is sufficient for you

Christ, Christ, God’s Christ.

As Reinke pointed out sometimes grace is overused these days.  We refer to it as any show of kindness.  As “grace”filled Christians we should more tie our displays and life of grace to Christ rather than to just being nice.  When you show grace to a neighbor – let it be because Christ is compelling you – and share Christ with them.

For me, I need Christ to overflow into my parenting.  It isn’t a want – it is a necessity.

And that’s why I love saturating my mind with good, gospel-centered books.

A Few of My Favorite Things

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Barn Again Design

Are you humming a certain song right now?

Here are some of my favorite things right now.

1.  Scripture.  Last week I had some good me time to sit in some cool places in Chattanooga and eat good food, take pretty pictures and read the Word.  God so shows up in His Word.  And having Scripture around my house always helps too because it helps me focus on it even if I can’t sit down and have a 2 hours quiet time every day.

2.  My Husband.  We’ve been married almost 4 years.  Good times, trying times.  I love sitting down on the couch with him.  Sometimes we just watch the West Wing or Chef’s Table.  Sometimes we eat an antipasti platter or have a bowl of ice cream.  Sometime we just talk about life and marriage and boys and foot rubs.  Sometimes we read a Tripp parenting book or watch a Tripp marriage video (I totally suggest his material for either parenting or marriage).

3.  Pretty things.  A friend brought me this blooming plant when she came for lunch a few weeks back.  Still pretty.  This print from Kristin Schmucker never leaves my side board in my dining room.  And I just received this tray from Barn Again Design after entering a contest from my friend Lara’s 40th birthday giveaway.  It came today in the mail and even though the post man rang the doorbell during nap time, he delivered a beautiful hand-crafted tray with reused barn wood.  It hasn’t been sanded down to perfection.  There are knots in the wood.  It is definitely self-distressed.  But, isn’t life sorta not-perfect.  And that’s how I like to live life in front of people.  Just for clarity: my hutch is never this cleaned off unless I’m taking pictures.  My husband would probably prefer I take pictures every day then.

4.  Books.  One of the things I love doing right now for blogging is book reviews.  We can’t afford books right now – they just aren’t in our tight budget, so I love getting them from publishers and reading them then putting them on here to introduce you to the goodness that is in books.

5.  Cookbooks.  My favorite is The Forest Feast book.  I could make everything in there.  Two salads are coming up this week as I try to restart my healthy eating after a trip to Chattanooga.

What are your favorite things and how do they help you get through a Monday?

Teaching Children about the Ark

posted in: Books | 3

I love animals.  My boys love animals.  We got to the zoo several times per month.  We had pets growing up.  I’m all for the humane treatment of animals.

Noah’s ark is not primarily about animals.  Basically every children’s book or nursery theme I’ve ever seen about Noah is about the animals.  Even songs that we sang at church camp are about the animals.

The main point of the Biblical account of the story of Noah is how God punished sin and showed mercy to sinners by sheltering them in the ark from his wrath.  Yes, God commanded Noah and his family to bring in the animals.  That was another part of God’s mercy to His creation.

The story is about God’s kindness to sinners (Noah’s family) and his judgment on the world because of their sin.  It has about his promise to sinners by revealing to us a rainbow – to remind himself that he promised never to flood the earth again.  Its not primarily about the animals.

That being said, Tommy Nelson sent me a book, Noah’s Noisy Zoo, and the way the board book fits together is adorable.  You can make all sorts of animal noises with your toddlers as you read it to them.  But, parents – no matter old your children are, please do not end the story of Noah and the ark with the animals.


Jesus Calling for Little Ones

posted in: Books, Shepherding Children | 2

Jesus Calling for Little Ones

Last night I had the privilege of hearing a seasoned missionary, husband, father, son, and leader speak about some of the most life-changing times in his life.  He mentioned that there was a period of time when he really questioned his ability to hear God – siting the Scripture “your sheep will know your voice” out of the book of John.  He went on to explain several times over a period of years that he took silent prayer retreats.  Each time never feeling like there was enough time – even two weeks worth.  At the end of that dark time, he came away with this thought – God is always speaking – but never more clearly through His Word (the Bible) – Psalm 19.

Over the past five years there has been one staple book always at the top of Christian books for women: Jesus Calling.  It has gotten rave reviews and some alarming reviews.  I do not agree with everything that Sarah Young says about her book – the presence of Jesus talking to her and then she passes that on to her readers.  But, I had the opportunity to review Jesus Calling for Little Ones thanks to Tommy Nelson Mommies.  I was hesitant, but wanted to check it out.  When we got it I love the board style book perfectly unrippable by little hands.  I loved the illustrations and the size of the book.  I took it to our Waffle House breakfast on Sunday morning before we head in to church.

She simply had a verse and then paraphrased it in her own way on the opposite page.  I would equate this book to a Message Bible for little kids.  Some of the posts on this book says that it is as if “Jesus is speaking right to little children.”  I don’t put this book anywhere near the authority level as that.  Except for the Scripture in it.  That is the infallible true word of God.  The paraphase, explanation, etc is just that – someone else’s thoughts on the verse.  It is prone to human error.  I wrote curriculum in my last ministry job before getting married.  The only part of the curriculum that was free from error was the Scripture.  I am not perfect – nor are my thought perfect.

So, if you want to hear the direct infallible perfect instructive voice of God – read the Bible.  If you want a board book for little ones that has Scripture, pretty pictures, and some nice thoughts for kids that they will understand, leave a comment on the blog or on social media.  Don’t confuse the two.  Only Scripture, not anything the book author says) is authoritative in your life, for your soul, and for your children’s soul.

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