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.

Daddy Loves You So Much

posted in: Books | 6

Daddy Loves You So Much

You know when you are supposed to do a book review for a giveaway in May and you can’t find the book because your children love it so much that they’ve hidden it somewhere?  Yup, that’s me.  Thanks Tommy Nelson for the book.

I did find the book stuffed under a car seat in the car.  The Daddy Loves You So Much book.

This is a companion book to one that came out a couple of months ago – Mommy Loves You So Much.  So glad they didn’t leave the daddies out!

Daddy-life gets a bad rap.  I am so glad that they didn’t leave us hanging wondering if the daddies loved their little boys and girls.  My husband definitely does.

I’m so glad that Fathers Day is coming up because it is a great day that my husband gets to celebrate being a daddy to those little boys of his.  HE loves to give them their baths at night (when he’s home), he usually gets up the boys in the morning so he can have some time with them before he goes to work.  He works selling pianos right now and loves to have them come play some pianos at the store and then help him sweep up the store at the end of the day.

This book is full of wonderful illustrations and lovely created father-son/daughter animal characters.  It is a durable board book perfect for those lap-reading sessions at the end of the day.  My boys definitely love to read this one in the car looking at all the beautiful animals.  (Since they can’t read yet).

This book definitely is a great celebration of fathers.  If you would like a copy of this book – perfect for Father’s Day coming up – just leave a note either here or on Facebook about one way you love watching your baby’s daddy interact with your children – or if you are a daddy – how you love to interact with your kids!

Fear and our Children’s Boo-Boos (Book Giveaway)

God Bless My Boo Boo

When our older son was born, he was rushed to the NICU at our hospital then eventually transferred to Duke NICU.  I was in a lot of pain from a hard delivery, but my husband knew enough to be really concerned.  For some unknown reason, our son was born without enough platelets in his body.

So that meant if he ever got cut or started bleeding he wouldn’t be able to stop.  Duke NICU doctors were puzzled and didn’t know the cause of this.  He was in NICU for 4 days before we could bring him home.  When you leave the hospital after delivering a baby and you don’t have your baby, there is a sense of loneliness in that moment.

We prayed for days and every time we went to the hospital we were grateful for the doctors and most importantly grateful for our God who heals.  After many blood transfusions, our son was on his way home in our car.  And at his next check up (1 week, he was seemingly perfect in the platelet count area).  We are thankful.

But, even after that scare when he was born, we aren’t out of the woods when it comes to more scrapes and bruises.  Even yesterday I was paged at the gym to go check him out after he had hit his head on the wall.  Nice bruise and tears and a mommy hug later – he was running around the gym like nothing had happened.

This new book about Boo Boos and our children teaches them many things about God’s character – that they need to know all the time, but especially when they are in pain and need a bandaid or a trip to the hospital.

1.  It teaches them the nearness of God throughout all of life – even when life hurts.

2.  It teaches them that God hears their prayers.  God is always listening – even when we fall down and hurt.

3.  It teaches them that God will indeed help them to persevere in the pain.

What is your biggest fear with your children?  Or share a story about when they got hurt and how you handled it.

Thanks to Tommy Nelson Mommies for this book and for a book to giveaway.  All opinions are my own.

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!

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