Lavish Hospitality 26

posted in: 31days, lavish hospitality | 0

One of the hindrances to genuine lavish hospitality is busyness.  Our schedules play a huge role in deterring community with others.

It might be busyness that affects relationships with our families: we aren’t intimate with our husbands or schedule dates because we are too busy with work, too tired from parenting, or we desire to rather hang out with friends or watch television.  We may not have good relationships with our children because we don’t think they are important enough we are always on our devices or scheduling them things to do so we don’t have to engage with them.

It might be busyness that affects relationships within our community.  I’ve learned this is most true in the past 4 years or so.  We’ve moved four times in four years (but most of those within the same city).  It has been amazingly difficult find community.  We are all busy.  Our families.  Our jobs.  Our schooling choices for our kids.  Our ministry involvement.  Where we choose to live.  How we spend our weekends.

I was talking to the mister the other day and we have always been on the same page about having an open home, people can come by anytime. We love having people over.  We want to get to know people.  Its terribly hard in groups to get to know people and build community.  Have you ever asked someone to hang out and it takes over a month to make the schedules work.  Or you hang out one time and it takes 6 months to do it again?

Our busyness is a community breaker.  And I think one way we can tackle the busyness domination is with the Spirit’s help.  Self-control.  We will continue this discussion later.

Quote taken from Lydia Brownback’s A Woman’s Wisdom

Praying the Bible (a review)

posted in: Books | 0

Recently, we’ve been inviting our children to pray at meal times, when they go to bed, or really whenever they want.  It is sweet (ok, maybe not after the 1000th time) to hear them pray for going to the dinosaur park.  Or the fire trucks.

But, really, to hear them speak to God, in little faith, not really understanding fully what that means, is engaging.

Last night we read in our family devotion the chapter on the Lord’s Prayer in the Jesus Storybook Bible.  How Jesus has a complete understanding how His Father works and hears prayers.  And how he didn’t have to write down his prayers, use big words, or have his eyes closed.  He just prayed. He spoke His heart.

Donald Whitney, in his typical pastoral, effective teaching style, in his book Praying the Bible, encourages his readers in a method of praying the Scriptures back to God.  It unites our hearts with the heart of the One who hears our prayers.  His chapter on praying the Psalms was interesting to me.  A pastor friend of mine shared this with me when I was going through an extremely hard time a few years ago, and it was definitely one of the best pieces of advice I received.

Whitney acknowledges the problem of our weak prayer lives, but doesn’t leave us there. He guides us in a how-to of sorts of praying the very words of God.  If we believe that the Bible is sufficient and perfect, then we can use it to pray for every area of our lives.

I don’t know anyone who would say they pray as good as they ever want to, so this would be a good book to engage your prayer life more.

Thanks Crossway for this book.  All opinions are my own.

Praying and Journaling For Future Generations

posted in: Bible, Books, Shepherding Children | 0

Crossway ESV Writer's Edition

Thank you to Crossway for sending me this Bible to review.  All opinions are my own.

I am in the thick of parenting.  I have a preschooler and a toddler.  I always have thoughts, prayers, questions, emotions – all about being a mommy. Being a mommy is by far the toughest job I’ve ever had.  So, I’m always curious about what the Bible – my source for ALL TRUTH when it comes to any thing I need to know about parenting.

If I have a question about my heart when it comes to parenting, or disciplining, or raising two young boys to be men of God – I go to the Bible.  When I have a question about my kids and what their heart should be, how they should pursue God, what I should be praying for their future – I go to the Bible.

Journaling and Praying for Future Generations

And, the new Writer’s Edition Journaling Bible is perfect for writers.  I can keep all my parenting thoughts in one place.  I write devotions for other mommas and want to keep my thought altogether.  So, how I’m using it is by color-coordinating my thoughts.  If I am writing something about being a mom – I will use a certain color ink.  Then I will use a color ink for each of my boys.  That way, over the years, I can fill it with thoughts and prayers for myself, but also for each of them.

Crossway puts out quality Bibles, and this one is no different.  There are two inches of lined space at the bottom of each page making it perfect to write in paragraph form to journal one’s thoughts.  There is a ribbon especially helpful if you are praying through a book of the Bible.  The pages are cream and thicker which is great to help lessen bleed through with certain pens.  I personally use Micron pens 01 for writing in my Bible mostly.

If you need other ideas about journaling, you can check out Donald Whitney who has written a great book on praying the Bible – which would be a great asset to you as you pray for yourself as a momma and for your children.

You, Your Kids, and the Bible


ESV Kids Bible

We have so many kids’ books in our home.  We have them in our cars, in our living room, in the toy box, upstairs in both of their rooms, in our master bedroom on our nightstands, and in the hallway outside their rooms just in case they need to find one on their way to the stairs. And we get more every month.  Yes, I give some away, some to other moms, some to our church nursery rooms, and some to goodwill.  If the books are very well worn, then they just go in the recycle bin.

However, out of all the books we have, the only one that has authority, power to change their little hearts, and shape their souls and hearts and actions is the Bible.  It is the belief of “sola scriptura”.  One of the five solas of the Reformation.  Basically, (taken from wikipedia) it is :  the Christian doctrine that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. Sola scriptura does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and devotion, but sees them all as subordinate to and corrected by the written word of God.

And that is one of the reasons I love Crossway and the ESV Bible.  They publish books that are so full of Scripture and are such a good help to their readers.  They also design great Bibles, for adults, and children.  I personally have used their Journaling Bibles for almost 10 years now and LOVE them.  And one of their new ones is a hardcover ESV Children’s Bible.  Think back to the 70s and those picture Bibles:  Now, erase that memory from your mind’s eye and picture realistic pictures, larger print, maps to help your children get a heart for the world that God so loves, and a concordance to help studying the word easier for little minds.

Here’s a simple way you can ease in to family worship if you don’t already do anything.  Using this Bible:

  1.  Start in the Gospel of Mark, one of Paul’s letters to the churches, the Psalms, or even Proverbs (especially if you have older children).
  2. Read a short passage.  Have them read it if they can read.
  3. Talk to them about who God is, who Jesus is, what the passage says about man, and what it says about the gospel.
  4. Pick one verse the passage to help your children memorize.  You may stick to that one verse all week, or depending on how old your children are, you may do a few a week.  Kids can memorize the Word of God!
  5. Pray with them.  Pray the Scriptures you just read.  It will help them understand them.  Pray the Spirit would give them a new heart that loves the Word of God and loves the Jesus who died for them.

Family Worship doesn’t have to be long and hard and have a lesson plan written out.  It can, or you can just read the Bible with your kids, talk about it, and pray.  And believe me, the Spirit will be molding your heart as well.  His Word is good like that.

Thank you Crossway for this Bible.  All opinions are my own.

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!


the psalms and our emotions

posted in: Bible, Books, illustrated faith | 0

The psalms and our emotions

As a wife and a mom (and basically as a human being), I experience many different emotions every single day.









Things are out of control.


And the list could go on, but you get the picture.

God created us as whole beings, therefore emotions themselves aren’t evil.  But, they have been affected by the fall – when sin entered the picture long ago we have a different bent on emotions.  But, the good news is we have been given something to help with our emotions.

Psalter by Crossway

We have been given the Bible, especially the book of Psalms.  The Psalms to me is probably the most helpful book in the entire world when knowing how to deal with my emotions.  One of my friends told me early this year that one of the best disciplines I could would be to journal through the psalms, praying through them, crying out to God using his very word to direct my thoughts.  This practice has been so helpful in turning my thoughts and emotions back to God. This practice doesn’t necessarily have to go with hard times when our hearts are torn.  But, it can help us specifically praise the One who deserves all the credit when things are going well in our lives.

Crossway recently came out with a Psalter that is amazing.  My sweet husband just gifted it to me.  He placed an order with random other household goods from amazon that he knew I would open.  I found the psalter.  I called him hoping I hadn’t ruined a surprise – he said no, just thought it would be a happy.  It so was!  I’d been wanting it forever!  It is the perfect compact size to carry with me everywhere.  It has thick pages perfect for people like me who like to write in their Bibles.  And it is only the Psalms – which is perfect for reading and re-reading.

Another book has recently come out that has been helpful as I’ve started reading it.  And this post has also been encouraging.  IF you want a prayer journal that a wife can pray for her husband through certain books of the Bible, you can find one here on the blog for free that I wrote for the book of Nehemiah or the one I wrote for Ephesians.

One of the best parts about the psalms and the most instructive is how the writers deal with their emotions.  They aren’t afraid to tell us what they are really feeling: doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, questioning, joy, praise, adoration, etc.  But, even when they are struggling in their faith – they always come back to the understanding that God is in control.  He is most glorious.  He is in charge of all things.  And that is why they praise.  They know that every situation will be handled by the Great BIG GOD who is gently leading and guiding them through all things.

I never want to shy away from my emotions.  I do want to run to my God who knows me and knows how all of it is going to turn out.  And you don’t have to not share your emotions with others.  Christians should not be a stoic people.  (I mean, clearly, the Psalms is anything but stoic.)  But, with our sharing, let us always return to the hope of Christ. May we always take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Why Should You Read?

posted in: Books | 0

There is a new type of book on the market now: an adult coloring book.  I’m not talking about a rated R coloring book – I’m talking about a coloring book that will appeal to adults.  Hobbies are so good and with the influx of binge watching tv shows on Netflix it makes us feel better if we are doing something as we watch them.  Like we aren’t really being lazy.  A friend of mine is putting together a coloring book that I can’t wait to get my hands on.  Any time I can be creative – it is a good day.

That’s not the type of book I’m talking about.  I’m talking about books with lots of words in them – books that will change your life? Your job? Your hobby?  Your mind?  Books that will enlighten you and make you laugh.  Books that will challenge you and cause you to cry.  These are the books that you need to be reading.

One such book is Packer on the Christian Life by Sam Storms – the latest in the series put out by Crossway Books.  Not intended to be biographical mainly, these books only share a snippet on the persons actual life – but it is still informative, especially if you like biographies.  But, more importantly this book, and this series, allows us to know where we’ve come from.  Packer is one of the top 5 most influential evangelical theologians in the last 100 years.  His books like Knowing God and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God would probably be his two most famous books.  These two books have influenced thousands of readers and have influenced pastors that lead thousands every Sunday.

I love how Storms doesn’t shy away from any controversial theology that may have come across the mind of Packer or how he had to deal with heresy.  Packer has always (yes, even now, as he is still alive) come back to the Word. I love how he stands firmly on Scripture.  Yes, we will always differ with people on some theology, none of us are perfect.  As a friend said yesterday, when we get to heaven all of it will be right according to God.

So why should we read books?

1.  To engage our hearts, minds, and souls.  If the books you are reading don’t do this in some way – pick a new book.

2. To learn from the past.  This is why I love biographies so much, or series like this one by Crossway.  I want to learn from people who have lived before me.  I want to see the God they knew.  I want to experience their world.

3.  To impact the future. I think one of the greatest disciplines any leader can have is to read.  One of the things I love about my pastor is that each Sunday night he gives away books.  Maybe only one or two, but he wants to put good books in the hands of the people of his congregation, so they can do all three of these things I’ve just listed.

What are you reading?

Crossway’s Children’s Bible (Review)

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Crossway ESV Children's Bible

My son is nearing three years old.  A few times we have kept him in our church’s evening prayer service just during the time for the singing.  He does remarkably well, especially since Daddy is usually playing the piano and he doesn’t yell out “Daddy” during the last stanza of Be Thou My Vision.  We will start keeping him in more because we want him to learn to be in the “big church.”

It is hard to think about this.  As a parent, I do like the “break” for my active toddler boys for a little bit on Sunday mornings, knowing they are getting solid teaching and fun in the kids’ area.  But, I also want them to learn to worship with adults in “big church”.  I don’t want to have to break them from the motions and screaming singing and then for them to hate big church because its boring.

Having children in the services at your church is so crucial.  They hear the gospel.  They worship with mutliple generations.  They learn to listen.  And parents can be a model for them of how to listen, interact with other believers, and engage with the Word of God.

What is one way that a church can make it clear that children are welcome in the main church service?

Have children’s Bibles in the pew.  I great younger children (preschool) Bible would be the Jesus Story Book Bible.  I love the pictures and some children who are able to read can pick out the smaller words or even have worksheets that go along with different stories or just a blank notebook.

A great new older children’s Bible is the Crossway ESV Children’s Bible.  It is actually a Bible.  It has pictures that are colorful and would appeal to children (say ages 8-10).  The resources are great for curious minds who want to learn more about the Bible: a dictionary, maps (I miss maps in my Bibles), a topical index, a timelines for Christ’s ministry, a very abbreviated systematic theology page, other detail information and more timelines.  It is hardcover so that makes it durable.  It feels just like a Bible and would sit well in a pew rack.  And children can learn to follow along with the pastor, especially if your church uses the ESV during sermons like ours.

This would be a great Bible to give your child if he/she accepts Christ during this age range (again, 8-10ish).  I still have my first Bible (that I can remember).  It is always special.

Thank you Crossway for this Bible for our children!  (This review is my own opinion and the Bible was given to me by Crossway).


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.

Reading the Accidental Feminist

posted in: Books, Women | 0

The Accidental Feminist

Reading a book by someone you know is very different than reading a book by an author whom you have no personal connection with.  You read the book with an insight into the author, eyes from seeing the author in action, and know a little bit of her heart and stories that she displays in her book.

Thanks to Crossway for sending me Courtney Reissig’s new book, The Accidental Feminist and I have loved it and been so praying that the Lord would search my heart while reading this book.  I’ve known Courtney since moving to Louisville in 2007 when we both worked at SBTS, then our husbands were on staff at local churches in Little Rock for about 2 years.  I’ve seen her handle marriage and motherhood with more grace than most people I know. Grace is not saying she does it perfectly, but she understands her need for the Gospel and dishes out the Gospel with such poise.  That is also what comes through in this book.

I’ve taken to doing something my husband does when he reads books: he starts with the last chapter.  So, for this book, I read the first, then the last chapter, then went back to chapter 2.  I think doing that in some books gives the reader such a proper perspective.  She starts with what she aims to do – then in the last chapter declares our need for the Gospel to do any of what she just wrote – and the in the middle pointed us to what godly womanhood in today’s world looks like (in light of our culture and our need for a Savior).

What I think Courtney does better than most authors who are seeking to write a womanhood book – is she taps into whatever stage of life you are in.  I think its because she realizes two things: she has struggled with biblical womanhood and God’s ideal plan for it in singleness, marriage, and motherhood (and infertility and miscarriages), and also she knows that she is writing to a wide audience and many women in different stages need the truth of God’s word for their lives right now.

In every chapter she gives practical and theological and cultural implications for what biblical womanhood looks like.  She focuses in on relationships, church life, home life, work life, our relationship with our physical bodies,

I loved how she did end it.  Talking about restoration.  As Eve, the first woman, was called by her husband the mother of all living (before her kids were born), there is something restorative and life giving about being a woman.  This world needs so much restoration.  And ultimately we are not the ones that give restoration – but we, uniquely designed by God as women who bear his image, can bring life and restoration and healing to this world.

Court – thank you for your personal insights and your living out such a beautiful picture of grace to your boys, husband, church family, and readers.