The Biggest Story is Coming

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The Biggest Story

When I was in college I served with Young Life, a great inter-denominational ministry that worked with middle school and high school students to build relationships with them and show them the glorious gospel.  One of the main truths of Young Life that I still completely believe and affirm and try to practice today is “It is a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.”  Jesus is not boring.  Why should we bore a kid, a teenager, or an adult with the wonderful news of Jesus?

I’ve been hearing about a new book that Crossway was putting out by one of my favorite authors, Kevin DeYoung entitled The Biggest Story.  I opened up my mailbox today and there was a brown package from Crossway and I definitely knew it was going to be a great mail day.  I read three chapters of it sitting in the parking lot of Wendy’s while the boys were eating their junior frostys and I read the rest of it in the gym locker room before working out.  Yes, it was that good.

It was witty.

It was full of adventure – cliffhangers mind you.

It was truth.

It was concise.

It was displaying the gloriousness of the gospel.

The pictures are so well done and fit in well with what is in the secular market right now (journals, etc).

It is not a Bible – but tells the beautiful story of the Bible to school-aged kids in a way that won’t bore them.

This is not a Bible. Its not even a The Message type Bible.  It is a story.  A true story.  It shapes the readers mind around one single figure: Jesus.  Just like in the Jesus Storybook Bible where Jesus is the hero of every story – and the whole Bible points to Him.  Same way here.  Kevin, in his masterful, comical, somewhat sarcastic, pastoral, daddy way – he skillfully weaves the truth of Jesus, the reality of sin, the fallenness of the human race, and the relationship that God will remedy one day – all into a lovely books that you need to get when it comes out the end of this month.

Here is just one example of how you can use this (if you are a parent):

One of my greatest hopes for you (if you have a family) is that you will figure out what family devotions looks like for you.  Right now, for us, we read part of a Bible book for toddlers and pray with our older son before going to bed.  It literally takes 2 minutes.  But, that will change as both of boys get older.  If you have grade-school kids I think this would be a perfect book to read with them and talk about the implications and truth that it shares.  I would also pair it with a Bible story, from the actual Bible.  Crossway has a great children’s Bible that I just did a review on.  I would take the time to read the chapter that you are covering that day in The Biggest Story and pick just one of the stories that it talks about and read that story out of the Bible. Then just ask your kids questions about that.  Pray with them. Turn their hearts to their need of Jesus and the great gospel.

Two disclaimers about this book as I was reading it.

1.  DeYoung says that Adam ate from the only tree.  Well, of course he did.  It caught me off guard that he didn’t say Eve ate it (which she did).  I know he knows that.  My only thought it that either he is stressing male leadership and that Adam sinned or the Adam being the head of the human race side of things.  Either way, no biggie, just wanted to share.

2.  Also, most books you’ll read, especially around Christmas time is that Jesus is the greatest gift.  In The Biggest Story, DeYoung says that the Holy Spirit is best present of all time.  He so strongly talks about the Trinity (yay!) and having read J D Greear’s book Jesus Continued I can see why he would say this.

All together, I would give this book to absolutely anyone.  I can’t wait to read it with my children more and have them understand it.  I want to get another copy of the book just to cut out the pictures and frame them.  I want my home to be filled with more books like this – the books that point to the magnificent gospel!

 

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)

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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.

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.

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