Book Review and Giveaway: Mommy Loves You

Mommy Loves You So Much

I love each night when it comes to bedtime and I get to read to my boys.  Ever since I had children I dreamed of reading to them – and one day hearing them read.  It is a snuggly time (and a wiggle time some nights).  I also love to see them flip pages in a board book – on trips, in their beds, or in the big comfy sofa chair we have in our living room.  It is a sweet time.

Tommy Nelson just put out a book called Mommy Loves You So Much (don’t worry, Dads – your book is coming soon).  It is a sweet and endearing board book full of animal mommies and their babies.  Jo Parry did a great job illustrating the book.  You can read through the book and use it as a tool to learn life basics, fruit of the Spirit, animal sounds, nature, etc.

This would be a perfect book for a friend who is about to become a Mommy (Mother’s Day, hint hint).

I really loved the book the first time I read it – my boys were looking on – until I got to the last page.

“How much does Mommy love you?

More than you can measure!

My heart grows bigger every day –

You’re my greatest treasure!”

That last line.  So, I don’t want to chunk the whole book – so here are two ways I can handle that line (since I don’t agree with it)

1.  If I am reading it to them I can change the line.  My boys can’t read yet so they don’t know if I do change it.

2.  If your children can read, you can help them understand why that line isn’t true.

Some reasons that last line bothers me:

1.  The Gospel is our greatest treasure – JESUS.

2.  If I have more than one child – do I only have one treasure – which one do I choose/

 

How do you interact with books for children that might not be exactly what you would say?  How do you teach your children through the books you read?

One way to enter in for this book from Tommy Nelson is to answer the question what zoo animals do your children like best?  This book has so many animals in it!

I will choose winner on Wednesday, 22nd.

Tommy Nelson provided this book to me as part of Tommy Nelson Mommies.  All opinions are my own.

Our Kids and Easter Candy

posted in: parenting | 1

Alphabetiles

Another holiday has come and gone.  And my kids, along with 99% of the children in America who received Easter baskets, are probably downing candy and sneaking it in their rooms to munch on under the covers once the lights have gone out.

How can we as responsible parents help our children with their love of candy?

1.  Ration it.  Don’t give it to them all at once.  My older son calls candy “olly” and I don’t know why.  But, I give him a few jelly beans or m&ms and then he’s off to play some more.

2.  Treat not a right.  Help children to see that candy isn’t their natural-born right.  It is a luxury and they don’t need it every meal or every time they do something good.

3.  Exercise.  Movement is a great way to encourage children to be active, learn new skills, and work off all that candy!  I was heavy from about first grade on.  I still struggle with my weight.  One of the things I want for my kids is the ability to have fun snack foods (sweets) but not to be overweight – so encouraging lots of healthy stuff and exercise.  My chiropractor always says “If you stop moving, your dead.”  We want our kids to live a long life.

4.  Brush their teeth.  I am not a dentist, and I don’t play one on television – and truth be told, my husband brushes our boys’ teeth at night after bath time.  We’ve used toothbrushes that are easy for them to grip, fit perfectly in their little mouths, and that are fun.  Alphabetiles provide toothbrushes that are just that.  Our boys are both under three and both love to brush their own teeth.  The new Alphabetiles toothbrushes that we received are blue (perfect for boys) and have their name spelled out in little tiles.  The tiles are easy to slide in the toothbrush and you can change the name out whenever you want (to a special nickname, or sports team, or holiday!).  I assembled their special toothbrushes while my husband was out in the backyard playing with the boys.  Jennifer, one of the creators of Alphabetiles, out of a desire to help her own children be healthy, designed these personalized toothbrushes.  “There was nothing on the market for moms like myself except a magic marker or stickers. So I decided to take the path and make it myself. I knew I was not the only mother with this issue and seen how it could help lots of families. Our design encourages kids to want to brush and parents know who their toothbrushes belong to.”

IMG_3323

My boys immediately liked their new toothbrushes and run to the bathroom saying “water, water” in order to brush their teeth.  We, as their parents, grab the right toothbrush (not sharing any more germs than they already do), and put a little toothpaste on it, and they go to town.  Another great benefit to having young children and personalized toothbrushes: you can have the sitter help them brush their teeth because she won’t have to know which one is which – she can read their names on it.  Brushing teeth is a fun and healthy bonding time.

Alphabetiles Toothbrushes

I would love to see Alphabetiles get more tiles and logos for their toothbrushes, which hopefully will come in the next few years (Go Gators, Go Tarheels, Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse, etc).  Think of how your children would flock to the bathroom to grab their toothbrush, with their name, with their favorite basketball team logo on it.

So, whatever you do, be sure to instill happy, healthy, habits in your children, as soon as you can.  Their teeth, your dentist, and your children will thank you!

Alphabetiles sent me two toothbrushes in exchange for a blog review.  All opinions are my own!

 

 

Teaching Children to be Readers

Teaching Children to Read

Being a parent is amazing and hard and always full of new moments.  But, this moment we are in right now is something I’ve waited for. “Mommy” then I get a little pat on my leg and I see my older toddler standing there in front of me with a book in his tiny hands.  Begging for me to read to him.  So, I do. Over and over again.

There is a certain train book from Usborne books (gift from Oma) that he has carried everywhere – coffee shops, hikes, car trips, gym kid’s club – and Daddy has even had to tape it up.  It came with a little train – sometimes we can find it sometimes we can’t.  But, no matter – he has other cars that will work on its tracks – or at least work for him.

Elijah and the Train book

One of the things I want to instill most in my kids (besides a love for God) is a love of reading.  I love to read and I know how books take you to other places, teach you so much more than you could ever learn, and also put a desire in you to see the world around you.  C S Lewis and L. M. Montgomery are two of those authors for me.  I have a feeling the boys will love L. A. Wilder, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Andrew Peterson.  We shall see.  Can’t wait to actually read chapter books with them at night.  But, that is a moment in time later to come.

How can you instill a love of reading in children?

1.  Use the library.  We go to the library some for story time.  My boys are harder to sit still than some others but we still attempt it and its good song and play time too.  The public libraries, especially in bigger cities, are great resources (and free)!

2.  Buy them books.  Buy them at thrift stores, online book clubs, ask for them for presents.

3.  Read to them.  Use some time before bed, or after breakfast to read to them.  It teaches them to pay attention and sit still but also helps stir up an amazing appetite to read.

4.  Be patient with them as they learn to read.  My boys aren’t to that stage yet, but I have to be willing as their Mommy to be patient, let them stumble over words, help them when I need to, and listen to them.

5.  Encourage them to write their own stories.  This time will come too.  I still have the first book I wrote in 4th grade – all about animals.  I can’t wait to show it to our boys.  I hope they will love it and not laugh!

6.  Read different genres.  As a gospel Christian, I do like to read boys about Jesus to them.  But…I love to read them other books about the world God created and things that happen in it and teach them about a Christian worldview – seeing everything through the lens of the Gospel.  That is so important to teach to our children early in their learning adventure.

My friend Leah is an Usborne consultant.  They have delightful and interactive books for children of all reading levels.  Here is a link to an online party I am hosting for her.  I have been pleased with the Train book so far – and so has our toddler.  I’m sure you will find some your children like as well.

What are your favorite books to read to your children?

 

Glory and Grace: Deuteronomy 6

Deuteronomy 6

Today my little boy turns one.  One.  Seriously?

And I think to myself I’ve had one year to teach him – to love him – to pour into him.  What is he going to remember?

I hope he will remember the love, the kisses, the midnight feedings, the giggles and tickles.

What I hope he will always remember is that fact that his mommy and daddy love Jesus.  We want him to know the truth of the Gospel.  How will we do this?

We will pray that with endurance we will talk about the Gospel and live the gospel out in front of him and his brother every day they are with us.  How can we do that?

Teaching him (as little as he is): the authority of God and His Word – and the love of the Father.

1.  Use a chalkboard in your dining room to learn a Bible verse a week.

2.  Sing songs in the car that speak of God’s love.

3.  Watch shows that teach good things – and then talk to them about how the Gospel intersects with that.

4.  Pray with them every chance you get.

5.  Read Gospel-centered books to them – and teach them about God while reading any book you can.

Let There Be Kisses

Let There Be Kisses

I will be the first to admit of multitasking while my boys are awake.  If they are playing, I am on my phone, cooking dinner, cleaning, reading a book, etc.  And I’m not hear to lay blame on anyone else who does that.  Rest in grace, friend.  Walk in grace.  Live in grace. That’s what my husband tells me.

Here’s what I am learning: let there be kisses.  and tickling.  and book reading.

My older son who just turned two is just now loving to bring me a book (usually the Wheels on the Bus) and pat my legs which is asking me to put him on my lap so I can read to him.  I first told him no, then immediately was so convicted by the Spirit that I’ve not told him no since.  It devastated my heart that I would tell my sons no to something as fun as reading a book to them just because I wanted to do something else.  So, even today, as he finished lunch, he ran and got a book, and we read and sang and played with cars at the table while his little brother tried to hold his sippy cup and ended up getting more milk on him than in his tummy. That’s life.

Much of this denial that I give my sons is based on two things:

1.  I think what I have my schedule is more important.  Blogging.  Writing.  Cleaning.  Being entertained with social media.  It all comes down to pride.  I don’t want our family’s schedule to be dominated by the boys – but I do want there to be much more book reading, hand holding, tickle fests than instagram feed reading.  What do I want to communicate: verbally and non-verbally to my boys?  That they are important and time with them is something I cherish – or that things and strangers are more important?  What you communicate in your actions also gives you the door to speak the Gospel into their lives every day.

2.  I try to fill our days with too many things.  We love to be out and about during the days that Daddy is working.  We’ll either go to the park, the mall, the zoo, Bible study at church, the gym, the river, etc.  Atlanta is full of fun activities for families – so we take advantage of many of them.  But, then when we are home I have so much to get done.  I’m not thinking about stopping going so much – I just will have to limit what I think has to be done.  I’m reading Challies’ series on getting things done and it helps me to realize that I’m not God and won’t accomplish everything.  And everything doesn’t have to be accomplished.  Energy is a commodity too.

My boys won’t be little long.  The days are sometimes long and I look forward to having breaks with friends or solo times for being in the word or just running errands.  But, I love their laughs and hand-holding.  My Mister said last night that we better relish the times that they are excited to see us when we pick them up – because that always won’t be the case.  I know it won’t be forever and my boys will stop wanting to sit on my lap for reading sessions, or stop laughing when I tickle them, or they won’t want me to kiss them goodnight.

Until then, let there be kisses.  Everything else will wait!

Teaching Children Theology: Jesus Loves Me

posted in: Shepherding Children | 0

Jesus Loves Me

Music.  You know that song that gets stuck in your head and you sing it for the next 4 days…as you bide your time waiting for another song to take its place?!

Its a small world…

This is the song that never ends…

Any Christmas carol…

One of the very first songs that most church kids learn is Jesus Loves Me.  Simple.  Catchy.  Memorizable.

As I’ve been singing this with my children as we sit at the table or drive around town (Atlanta traffic usually offers much time for sitting in the car…still…on the interstate or at traffic lights)…I always get stuck on one line.

“For the Bible tell me so…”

Such a powerful truth of this song that is oft overlooked – and one that we as Christian parents need to teach our children from the beginning.

The Authority and Truthfulness of the Word of God.

If you don’t believe the Word is accurate and truthful and without error in what it says – then why believe it?  That is precisely why I hate political ads in our country.  You can never believe what is being said.  There is no use even trying to figure it out.  The good thing with the Bible is you don’t have to figure it out.

God said that the Word is true, living, active, useful for instruction.

The best thing the Bible teaches us is the Gospel.  No other way will we know that we need a Savior but by the Word of God.  And if we don’t believe what it says than how are we to believe what it says about us, or about Jesus, or about his love for us, His Children?

So, while you have the chance (Deuteronomy 6), please teach your children that God gave us His Word and it can be wholly believed and rested upon as they grow up, walk with Christ, and serve him in anyway He has for them.

 

The Word of God in the Soul of a Child

posted in: mothering, parenting, Uncategorized | 1

parenting

This is where I am. Starting to train up our older son, who is almost 17months and already has the “no” word down pat! Definitely his favorite word. Trying to change it to godlfish, chicken nugget, yes, or something better than no.  Our conversations with our older right now are consisting of “God says to honor our father and mother. And we don’t talk to our mommy and daddy that way” – those conversations don’t seem to be getting anywhere with him – but hopefully one day they will.

One story from my childhood…I grew up attending a Christian school. And I loved Sweet Valley High books in the 6th grade. It was the thing to read in the fiction area. I think I had most of them – and never know what happened to all of them. I had loaned one of the books to a friend, who took it home and was reading it at night by flashlight as to hide it from her parents. Her mom found it, called the school, and I got in trouble. My punishment…to write out Scripture. I would tell you what Scriptures, but I don’t remember what they were. I think I mainly saw it as punishment then.

As I’ve come into being a parent, and shepherding our boys’ hearts with my husband, we definitely want our boys to have hearts that are soft to the Spirit. We want the Word to break the stony grounds of their hearts and give them hearts that desire to please The Lord, love Him, and make Him known.

How we discipline and parent has an eternal impact. Here is how.
If we think that just because we quote Scripture in our home, make them memorize the Word, even for punishment, or memorize Scripture at the table or in family worship – that our children are going to automatically love the Word and have hearts that obey it…we are wrong.
The Pharisees in the NT knew the law and obeyed it – but their hearts were far from them. There are many who know the right words to say but inside they have cold hearts toward the gospel.
Here may be a better way to parent with the soul of your child in mind:
As you have the need to discipline:
1. Pray for yourself as you need to discipline your child. Pray that your heart would be one of correction for the purpose of training in the fear of The Lord and not out of anger, inconvenience, etc. Your heart matters.
2. Identify the heart of the problem. That may mean you first have to stop the outward disobedience, but there is always a heart problem.
3. Know verses that correspond to these heart problems. Whatever heart problem there is – Scripture has an answer! The Gospel is the answer!
4. Tell them those verses with a humble heart. Be humble before your kids. We are all sinners. That will go a long way with your children.
5. Encourage them to learn these Scriptures – and you learn them along with them. That will encourage them that they are not alone in their sin journey – and journey in sanctification.
6. If your children have received Christ – talk to them about how as believers our desire should be to grow in godliness and have hearts that please The Lord. Not out of have-to but out of want-to.
7. Pray for your children. Pray, aloud, in front of them, that the Spirit would soften their hearts towards the Gospel. Pray they would come to serve God as The Lord of their life and that they would obey His Word.
8. Pray for behavior change – but more importantly heart change. And know and rest in the fact that you can’t do anything about the heart change. That is all the fabulous work of the Perfect Holy Spirit.

And in that, as parents and as sinners, we can rest!

#31Days: Quote Day 15 – Psalm 127

posted in: 31days | 0
Sebastian Robshaw - 10.13.13
Sebastian Robshaw – 10.13.13
We’ve had a busy 50+ hours in our home as we brought home our second son, Sebastian Robshaw, yesterday. What a whirlwind!
Our pastor came to visit us on Sunday afternoon. This verse is what this blog post is all about:
Psalm 127:3: Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Book Review: Rob Rienow’s Limited Church Unlimited Kingdom

posted in: Books | 0

I’ve learned over the years that there are many people out there who think they have a handle on Family Ministry, but really just know what not to do or think they have ideas.  I don’t know much about this relatively new (to the modern church world) arena, but I have found one author I like and respect in this area: Rob Rienow.  He is the founder for Visionary Family and Visionary Marriage.  I’ve read several of his other books or writings.  This one is no different: true to what it says.

Let me explain.  In the first few chapters, Rob compels his readers to make sure they know what to do with Scripture.  To let Scripture speak for itself, know it, apply it, and know that the Word of God is true and sufficient – even for determining how to run ministries in your church.  And Rob doesn’t stop with just the first few chapters.  He then proceeds to complete the rest of the book using this method.  He lets Scripture be the driving force behind the remainder of his new book, Limited Church Unlimited Kingdom.

He goes through the Old Testament through the New Testament, Early Church, Reformation to present day in how the family has acted (and in specifics what the Word commands for families).  Rienow gives some great advice on the children in worship services discussion, shouldn’t parents have the main discipleship in their children’s lives, and what role does youth ministry have.  These are all important topics in this family ministry discussion these days.

What I appreciated most about Rienow’s book is that he stated at the beginning of the book that the Word demands that it have full authority (it is sufficient and perfect) and should also tell us how to do our local church ministries.  Then, he actually does it.  He doesn’t then go on to make up his own thoughts – he sticks with what Scripture says and bases his book on that.

Good man.  Good book.

Book Review: Loving the Little Years

posted in: Books, mothering | 2

Raves: that is all I have ever heard about this book.  And in some ways, I think those are correct.

And in some ways, I think those raves fail.

Where this book is strong is in its every day ideas for parenting of multiple small children.  Jankovic’s experiences she shares with her readers bring them many practical steps for raising children that are great with their siblings.  I would love to pick this book up when I’m facing difficult challenges when parenting goes awry.  She offers great biblical advice for mothers who are in need of direction of how to set their children on the right path.  As some of my friends have said, you will want to read this at least once a year. 

Another aspect of this book that I love is short chapters. She definitely knows and identifies with her main audience here: mothers who don’t have a lot of time to themselves.  As most mothers will testify to – quiet time is scarce: sometimes stuck between nap times or when you are taking a shower, or drying your hair (especially on those days when you actually get a shower).  These chapters are short and practical and funny and down-to-earth. You will want to read it time and time again. 

Here is where this book fails for me:

1.  Although she is most definitely a Christian and writes from a biblical perspective, a gospel perspective, there are maybe a handful of Scripture references in the book.  With all of her references to the gospel, to obedience, to the Law – there are many opportunities for her to direct her readers to Scripture, and the sufficiency of it for our parenting.  Instead, we mostly just have her experience, which is great – but I want to base my parenting on the Word and see what of the Bible I can bring to Baby’s life and mind – and point him to the source.  Also, if I want to share this book with other parents, or a neighborhood small group of moms (made up of Christians and non-Christians) they see good kids are the outcome, but not necessasrily gospel-centered children who see Christ in their parent’s parenting.

2.  There are very few mentions of how the Dad plays a role in the parenting.  If you take this book and Gospel-Powered Parenting and combine them – then you would have one that reaches both parents because it would speak to the joint effort of parenting with the spiritual leading of the Dad as the head of the home.   One may be too Dad-based and one (this one) may not have enough Dad in it.  I know she is writing to moms who are “stuck” in the house all day with children (and by stuck I’m not being sarcastic or rude, God allows our role to be in the home and we have the ministry of running our home and raising our children).  But, I do believe Dads need to have more of a hand in the parenting that happens in the house.  Even though he may be gone all day, I want my husband to be an integral part on our baby’s life and heart. 

All that being said, here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Christian childrearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge.” – pg 50

“It is not about ignoring the sin, it is about renewing the fellowship.” – pg 76

“When you have disciplined, there should be a restoration of fellowship.” – pg 86

I know, who am I to talk, I’m not a “real” parent yet – I’m not having to make disciplining decisions on the spot and dealing with 3 children tugging at my skirt and flinging flour all over the kitchen or one who has a diaper blowout.  But, I hope to apply some of these great tips that she has offered and hopefully employ my husband’s help and his kindness and grace tied with the hope of the Word of God.

1 2