Encouragement for a Mother’s Heart: A New Creation

EncouragmentMothersNewCreation

17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:a The old has gone, the new is here! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

One night a while back I was at my church for something or other.  I was running errands I think, dropping something off.  I wasn’t supposed to be there long but a friend spotted me and asked me if she could pick my brain.  She wanted to talk to me about parenting.  Okay!  I’ve just got to stop right there, another mom, strong in her own right wants to pick MY brain about parenting?  Can we just say I didn’t (and don’t) see myself as someone that others would seek me out to ask parenting questions.  I mean, my oldest isn’t even 10 yet!  Maybe some day once my children are launched into the world and, God willing, are leading lives that bring Him glory I might have something worth while to say.  Until them I’m stumbling around just like any other Momma trying to figure this all out.

She asked me if I ever yell.  Do I ever yell?  I was raised by a yelling mom… and, well.. it worked!  I love my mother and we are very close to this day.  While yelling is something I really don’t want to do with my children…at all, yes I certainly do fall to it more often than I’d like.  It seemed to me this fellow mom carried guilt for her yelling.  Some things are ingrained.  I’ll probably forever be working on that one. Let me tell you as a parent, a wife, a daughter, and a child of Christ there are many things that I will FOREVER be working on.

I know that when I decide I’m not going to yell any more, or I’m not going commit this sin or that sin,  or I’m going to be better at this or that I often fail.  I’m human!  I am a fallen human.  Though Christ, when I fell to my knees and decided to follow Him, he washed away my sins and created a new work in me He did not make me any less human.  The trouble comes when I think of my failures and I let the internal dialog of my thoughts tell me that I’m less of person because of my faults.  That’s what I do.  I still do it.  Or perhaps someone makes a remark that I perceive as a criticism and I hang on it, thinking about it for far too long.  I stop seeing myself as God sees me, His new and righteous creation that He loves and adores.  Instead I see something unlovable, unkind, even incapable.  That’s not what God wants, that’s not how I want to live!

The fact is I will never be perfect and if I hang on my own imperfections I’m dishonoring what God is trying to do in my life.

The very stones would cry out!

Just looking around the world these days I have just one thought as a Christian.  Where are my brother’s and sisters and why are we not crying out as our world turns away from our creator?

I too have probably been too silent.  Christian views are unpopular right now.  You can be called nasty names for speaking your beliefs.  Thankfully I live in a nation where that is still LIKELY the most serious of consequences one will face.  So why do we, myself included, keep quiet.  Why do we fear being known for our beliefs? With our closed mouths we deny our own savior.

He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”31090_Heart_

Encouragement for Today: Capture Your Thoughts

EncouragmentMothersCaptureThoughts I think mother’s today have become particularly vulnerable to attacks to the heart.  Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a stay-at-home mom trying to cobble a part-time income, a mom who works full-time or some crazy variation of of any of these things it doesn’t matter.  Today we live in a culture that constantly bombards us with message that we aren’t good enough in whatever we do.  If you aren’t living a Pinterest perfect life… and really who does…. you aren’t enough!

Oh and even if you DO live that sort of life then that isn’t good enough either!  You have to have a life full perfect balance. You should create a home and a life of beauty, creativity, and excitement.  Your children should be perfectly well behaved, super intelligent, and fantastically athletic.  Yet if your life is TOO good or your children are TOO perfect… well then you must be fake.

Women turn these things into an internal dialog.  They start to tell themselves that whatever it is that they do it isn’t right.  It isn’t enough.  They’re too much like this or too little like that.

  • You work too much!/You should contribute to the household income.
  • You homeschool and your 5 year old hasn’t graduated college yet?/Wait… don’t push those kids too hard.. start school later it’s better for them.
  • You’re home is too clean! Don’t you spend any time with your kids?/Your house is a mess! Why can’t you keep it clean?
  • You must pay attention to your husband!/Don’t you know you need time for yourself!

I could go on!  But I won’t.  I know I’m not the only one who can get down on myself when I can’t make myself live up to my own (or the world’s imaginary) expectations.  I hear women talk of these things all of the time.  I will tell you this… if you are walking close with God then you are living the life that He has laid out for you.  You are loved and you are perfect in His eyes.  He does not want you dwelling on these crazy thoughts that you are doing things right.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5

If you are walking in obedience to God you can stop worrying.  Take these false ideas, these negative thoughts, wrap them up in a bundle and give them to God.  He’ll take care of them for you.  Then revel in the freedom of living life without the weight of the negativity.

 

 

15 Years! A look back…

1008467_10201369338339277_874488194_o

15 years ago on this day my then fiance Todd and I become graduates of Eastern Connecticut State University.  I was the first in my family to graduate from college.  At the time I thought I was destined to a long career as a public school teacher.  I landed my first job a couple of months later.

A year after this we got married.  I did teach in public schools for 6 years!  I gained a master’s degree and so did my husband.  We shared our first apartment, our first home, and our second home.  We came to believe in Christ with all of our hearts.  We birthed four beautiful children.  We said goodbye to grandparents and relatives, and yes even one parent. We’ve had heart ache and grief.  Friends have come and gone.  Our marriage has faced its own significant challenges yet we are still here.

When I look at this photo I hardly recognize that person.  A Christian  stay-at-home homeschooling mom to four was not what I saw in my future on that day.  Yes I wanted kids… two… but they’d never stop me from working! That’s crazy talk!  Homeschoolers were crazy!  Not that I ever thought much of them.  Serving others through my church? Tithing…. hahahahahah crazy crazy crazy!  Why should I?

God changed my heart and changed my life and changed my plans.  THIS life is way better than the one I was dreaming of on that day!  Thank you God!

Where will I be in 15 years?  I’m almost afraid to think about it because…. God only knows and likely it isn’t exactly what I have in mind.

Review: Torchlighters: The John Wesley Story from FishFlix.com

logo_zpswsrc2mmk

I’m rather picky about the media my family consumes.  In our home television and movie time is actually pretty rare.  We save TV time for educational shows that align with our studies or for the occasional reward.  Sometimes I like to share classic movies with my children just for some fun family time. Sometimes we really enjoy something that helps us build our Christian faith.  Well done faith-based selections can be a bit tricky to find so I was excited to hear about a company called FishFlix.com.  They sent us  Torchlighters: The John Wesley Story for review.

FishFlix.com is all about quality Christian movies for families.  Not only do they have a selection of children’s movies but they also carry comedies, dramas, historical selections, biographies and more. Perfect for family time or study time. 

john wesley_zpsuzhewumnOur family has a great joy for studying missionaries so Torchlighters: The John Wesley Story was the perfect fit for us.  This DVD is part of a series from the Christian History Institute and is intended for children ages 8-12.  Three of kids ages 4-9 all very much enjoyed watching this film.  They were already familiar with the Torchlighter’s series and were thrilled to have the opportunity to watch another one.  John Wesley is a missionary we hadn’t studied before so they were especially eager to learn about someone new.

The 30 minute video portion starts right out with great drama.  Little John Wesley is saved from his burning home! His family rightly praises God for such kindness as to save their son.  They tell little John that God must have some big plan for his life.  This sets the stage for a life where John Wesley grows up feeling as if he has to prove himself to God and be worthy of his great rescue.

John Wesley spends his life trying to live by rules and be what I think of as the perfect Christian.  He does everything he thinks he is supposed to do and often is met with frustration when his plans don’t turn out right.  He lives with the guilt of his rescue as if he wasn’t good enough to deserve it and his life isn’t turning out to be worth it.  Eventually John Wesley comes to a greater knowledge of what his faith actually means.  He allows God’s grace to fill him and transform his life.  Finally he is following God’s will and truly great things do start to happen.

John begins to share how we are all sinners and in desperate need of God’s grace.  Traditional churches aren’t a big fan of this message and they begin to literally kick him out of their assemblies.  It is then that John Wesley begins preaching in fields and bringing this life changing message to people who have no doubt of their own sins.  Many people begin to receive God’s love and so begins John Wesley’s life long ministry.

This DVD doesn’t stop here.  Once the story is done there is much more to take in.  There is a nearly hour long documentary about John Wesley and the beginning of what was eventually called The Methodist Movement that came out of his ministry.  There are study guides that you can access by inserting the DVD into your computer or by downloading them from the Torchlighter’s website.

A Powerful Resource

This story was just the absolute perfect resource to start a conversation with my children about how it is not through our good works that we are saved.  That we don’t really deserve to be saved because everyone is a sinner but how God loves us so much that covers us in His grace.  We talked about how even if we think we are doing God’s work if we aren’t following His will for our lives not much fruit is likely to come from it.  I love using powerful real life people, Godly people, who like everyone else struggled in some way with their faith and yet God used their lives for His purpose.  I think these lessons are incredibly valuable… and they strengthen my own faith too.

The Study Guide

The Study Guide included on the DVD are a great bonus. It is 25 pages long and includes coloring pages, a design your own coat of arms page, scripture word searches, puzzles, and discussion questions.  I printed some of the page for my children to try out and over all they enjoyed the activities.  They are a nice jumping off point for your own family studies.

The Documentary

The longer documentary of John Wesley’s live and the Methodist movement is certainly geared more toward adults than children. However my older children (ages 7 and 9) still enjoyed it and learned much from it.  They focused a little more on John’s mother Suzanna Wesley.  She has a pretty inspiring story of her own as the mother of 19 children (10 of which survived).  Her spiritual example to her children is something I can aspire to.

Overall

FishFlix.com is an excellent source of Christian media for entertainment and study.  I know I’ll be using them as a resource in the future.  Torchlighters: The John Wesley Story is a high quality DVD that is sure to enhance any study of missionaries.  My children adore the Tourchlighters series and after we watched John Wesley we went and purchased 3 more videos in the series.  They are all fantastic.  

Connect with FishFlix.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fishflix
Twitter: https://twitter.com/christiandvd
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/fishflix/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Fishflix/ 
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/familychristianmovie 

FishFlix.com Review
Crew Disclaimer

National Day of Prayer and Pastor Saeed’s Birthday

My family continues to pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini… Thursday marks his 35th birthday… here is more on what is happening with him.

This week, Thursday in fact, not only marks American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s 35th birthday but the National Day of Prayer as well.

Pastor Saeed – a U.S. citizen – will spend his third birthday wrongfully imprisoned for his Christian faith.  Yet as that day approaches, he wanted to express his encouragement for the Christian Church in America: “Remember my chains in your freedom and chain together in unity for our beloved America.”

10371927_878696512181374_5229184283058565176_n

As a family member visited him last week, he was able to deliver an open letter (available in Farsi here) that he would like to see read by Christians all across America as we approach the National Day of Prayer.

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

I have been made aware that the National Day of Prayer (May 7th) falls on my birthday this year! As an American and as a prisoner for Christ I have spent many hours praying and crying out to God for revival for this great nation. We all hope for the success of our nation and for America to be blessed, but without revival there can be no true success or blessing.  As Ezra’s cried out to God in repentance and the Israelites joined him in weeping bitterly and turning from their sin, I would like to ask you to join me in repenting and praying for revival. Me from inside of these prison walls and you on the outside.

To read the rest of his letter please visit the website for the ACLJ.

Review: Firmly Planted, Books of Moses, Part 2


Great Bible studies are a treasure.  They feed your soul, bring you closer to God Himself, and equip you to face the challenges of this fallen world.  Bible study time is our favorite time of day in our family.  I was excited and privileged to be chosen to review a Bible study called Firmly Planted, Books of Moses, Part 2 (Family Study Guide and Student Book) by Real Life Press and written by Heidi St. John.  

 real-life-press-logo_zps1dhdihp5

Firmly Planted, Books of Moses, Part 2 and all of the Firmly planted books are 10 week family studies that conveniently target both younger children and older teens and adults.  This study begins at Genesis 37 and covers through Numbers 14.

  • Week 1: Joseph Sold Into Slavery
  • Week 2: Joseph Saves His Family
  • Week 3: Moses and the Burning Bush
  • Week 4: The plagues
  • Week 5: Crossing the Red Sea
  • Week 6: The Ten Commandments
  • Week 7: The Tabernacle
  • Week 8: The Golden Calf
  • Week 9: Choosing the Levites
  • Week 10: Exploring the Promise Land

We recieved this review as ebooks that I easily downloaded into my iPad under my Kindle app.  I enjoy the ebook format.  I tend to take my iPad or my Kindle just about everywhere I go.  This makes importu read alouds or Bible study quite doable.  15 minutes while waiting at the bank to see a manager can turn into productive time.  Plus, ebooks don’t take up any space on my shelves and they are never lost.  However if ebooks aren’t your think you can also purchase this study as a traditional paper book.

Firmly Planted Moses_zpsv2iyjloj

Each week you cover just one lesson and that lesson is stretched out over 4 days.  You begin with a Bible passage found in the study guide. Every lesson features a Seed which is a summarization of the main point of the lesson.  The next section is Planting the Seed which is where you will find the memory verse. This is broken up into two parts with a simpler memorization for children ages 4-11 and a more difficult challenge for anyone over 12 years of age.  You’ll find something called Watering the Seedling which is a short story lesson.  This was always my children’s favorite part.  You’ll find a daily study with discussion questions which are great for the younger children.  However if you have older children or kids who are ready to go further you’ll find help in the Digging Deeper section.  The final section, Taste the Fruit gives your family opportunity to apply God’s word to your own lives.

Obviously this is a pretty detailed study.  I won’t hesitate to say it is very well written and easy to follow.  It can be challenging, especially if you strive to apply the teachings to your family life.  It is engaging and appropriate for just about every member of your family no matter the age.

Student Book is an awesome full color book.  Printing pages was easily done from my computer.  This is one place where personally I prefer to just buy the workbook instead of printing.  Something about it coming already bound and ready to go just makes life easier for me.  Printing however works just fine too.  This book is full of fun stuff for younger children as well as challenging sections for older children in what is called the Upper Class pages.

FirmlyPlanted3 Firmly Planted2

Every week as you move through the Student Book you’ll have your children writing definitions for vocabulary words.  There is a recommended nature study.  An opportunity for oral responses to questions. There is copywork, coloring pages, mazes and such more.Firmly Planted.1JPG

How We Used This

I used this with my 3 oldest children ages 4-9.  We sat together each morning as I read through the lesson and readings for the day.  We practiced our memory verse.  Then we moved on to whatever activity or workbook page we needed to complete.  When we were out and about I often pulled up the study on my iPad so we could rehearse our memory verse or review a concept.

Final Thoughts!

If you are looking for a great study that the entire family can take part in then you’ve found it.  This resource does a fantastic job of parsing things out so young and old can discover God’s word together.  I can’t think of anything a family could do that isn’t more rewarding.  I’m looking forward to working through the entire series with my family.  I think we are going to make one big change though.  We are going to move this particular study into the evening so Daddy can join us too.  In fact, I may even see if he is interested in leading us in this one.

A fun and engaging whole family Bible study, thank the Lord for this one!

Real Life Press Review
 

Crew Disclaimer

Motivate Your Child Action Plan Giveaway — win an iPod Touch, $50 iTunes GC and #HeartParenting Books!

If you follow my blog then you know that I am a tremendous fan of the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) and their Heart Parenting Concept.  You can read my reviews of The Christian Parenting Handbook and Motivate Your Child.  Both of these books changed my parenting tremendously.

NCBP is releasing a companion book to the Motivate Your Child called Motivate Your Child Action Plan.

Motivate Your Child Action Plan Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child Action Plan, we are joining other members of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with an iPod Touch, $50 iTunes Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of nearly $350!

Here’s what you could win:

Apple iPod touch 16GB Black/Silver  ($195 value)

  • In the Box – iPod Touch, Apple EarPods, Lightning to USB cable, QuickStart guide
  • Brilliant 4 Retina display with Multi-Touch IPS technology
  • Front-Facing FaceTime camera with 1.2MP photos & 720p HD video recording.
  • iOS 6 features – Siri, Apple Designed Maps, Integrated Facebook, Shared Photo Streams, Passbook & more

iTunes Gift Card ($50 value)

Because you’ll need apps and music for that iPod Touch!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($56.95 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.

The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

Family Time Activities Book Bundle ($45 value)

Your kids will have fun learning about God’s Word and how it applies to their lives. Science experiments, art activities, and games are all designed to reinforce spiritual truth. Each lesson is clear and simple, yet profound even for parents! You’ll teach kids how exciting it is to learn about God and his ways. Your kids will love these books, but more importantly you’ll build spiritual memories of Family Time in your home. Titles in this giveaway include:

Seeing Is Believing 

Playing for Keeps 

Running the Race

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter below! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY to those 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join us for the Action Plan Facebook Party on Wednesday, May 20 at 9:00PM ET. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the authors of Action Plan will be present to answer your questions! The winner of this giveaway will be announced at the Facebook party!

RSVP here for the Party!

Action Plan Facebook Party

Review: Egglo Entertainment

Egglo Entertainment Review

Last year my family had the opportunity to review a fun Easter product that does a great job of helping families remember what Easter is truly about.  This year when the opportunity to review Egglo Entertainment came up again we were excited to use the products again.  

We received several products this year including:

Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs

The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book

Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls

Egglo Bible Verse Stickers

The Egglo Glow in the Dark Easter Hunt Curriculum (this was a downloadable pdf)

Egglo Entertainment was created by Darcie Cobos who felt lead to use Easter Egg hunts as an educational tool for teaching people about God’s love and children that Jesus is the light of the world.  The result is the products you see here.

There are two key ingredients to this activity.  First is the Glow in the Dark Egglo EggsThey come 12 to a box.  They are a great quality plastic easter egg that come in 3 colors.  Some have a nice cross embossed on them.  They fit together like traditional Easter Eggs so you are able to put little treasures inside.  After leaving them in the sunlight for a time they glow quite brightly and are very pretty.  My kids enjoyed finding dark places to take them to just to enjoy the glow and make up some fun dramatic play ideas of their own.  Keep a hold of the box!  It is a great place to store the eggs when you aren’t using them.  I stashed last year’s eggs with our Easter stuff so we could pull them out this year as well.

Egglo Entertainment Review
The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book is the next key ingredient to this activity.  It is a beautiful paperback book with plenty of wonderful illustrations and a great story.  The story is about Hardy, Anastasia, and a cousin named Pascal oh and their dog named Zeke.  This lively band of characters finds a glowing egg in the attic. As they touch it scrolls with scripture and a clue pop out.  As the children solve the clue they are transported by to ancient Egypt where more adventure and more eggs, clues, and scripture await.  The whole thing culminates that the foot of the cross before they return home for more Easter Egg fun.

All of my children adore this book and it was read over and over again all year long.  Though it is a picture book I would say that younger children might need a little extra help sitting through it such as the opportunity to color or play with quiet toys as they listen.  It is quite long.  This is great for the school child perhaps 6-10 years old or so.

CSH_6865 CSH_6866

What I love about this book is how the characters each present with some sort of not so positive character trait that is addressed through scripture on the scrolls.  In our family we constantly talk about character and what scripture has to say about things.  This book ties into what I’m already doing with my children fabulously!

Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls These tiny scrolls are adorable.  Children love to unroll them.  They contain scripture or Biblical reminders about Jesus. They fit perfectly inside the eggs and add a great treasure to the hunt.

CSH_6870

Egglo Bible Verse Stickers – These are just like the Scripture Scrolls only in individually cut stickers.  Also perfectly sized for the eggs.

CSH_6867

The Egglo Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt Event Curriculum This is a 60 page downloadable pdf curriculum. It would be perfect for a church looking to put on their own glow-in-dark Easter event.  There are all kinds of activity ideas including snacks, ideas for Bible reinforcement, tips for managing it all.  Plus there are posters and decorations, discussion ideas, coloring pages and so much more!

Egglo Entertainment Review

So What Did We Do With These This Year?

Last year we carried out a traditional Easter Egg hunt, in the dark!  That was a tremendous amount of fun for my kiddos.  But this year I wanted to try something different.  This year I went to a fun page on the Egglo website that gives you other ideas for using the eggs ALL YEAR ROUND.  My children adore Treasure Hunts so we did the Light of Jesus Treasure Hunt that you can download on that page.

It was a treasure hunt in the dark!  Oh did they adore that! Before we began we did read the book again.  They love that book.  I cut the given clues into strips, tucked them inside the glowing eggs, and gave them flashlights to help them find their way and read in the dark.  The treasure they found at the end was a basket of goodies I gathered at the dollar store and from discount places on the web.  Some things glowed.  Also included were some of the scripture scrolls and stickers.  We used them during the week for discussion and copy work.  We also took some of the decorations and coloring pages and decorated our school space with them.

Overall!

This is a fantastic opportunity to really bring home the message that Jesus is the light of the world.  The products are high quality and a lot of thought and care has gone into them.  All of these things can be used again and again in new and creative ways.  My kiddos are already asking what we’ll do with them next year.

Egglo Entertainment Review
 

Crew Disclaimer

Review: Before Amen by Max Lucado

421I received for for review Max Lucado’s new book Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer!  Prayer.  It’s that amazing and power thing that can keep you in close communication with God and help you align yourself with His will.  It’s also that elusive thing that can be oh so difficult to do consistently and passionately.  Am I doing it right? Is God hearing me?  Am I selfish because of what I’m praying about? Am I being appropriate because I don’t want God to think I think He is a wish granter.

Our intentions to pray are also good and no matter what we all pray some even if perhaps we don’t realize it.  Long tired days, distractions of the world, time moving at the speed of life.  These things can all derail us easily.  The sure do derail me!

Then there is the past.  Our history with prayer.  Those times we’ve prayed earnestly, with abandoned, down on our knees begging God and yet that prayer was not answered… at least not the way we had hoped.

I think everyone has experienced struggle with prayer.  Even Jesus’s own disciples struggled and they outright asked Him for guidance.  Jesus answered by telling them just what to do.  He didn’t get into theory or idea.  He simply gave them a prayer they they could use.

Max Lucado’s new book Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer
can help you and me with these dilemmas by giving us a prayer as well.

In the book, Lucado shares something he likes to call a pocket prayer:

“Father, You are good. I need help. Heal me. Forgive me. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Each and every chapter will walk you through a portion of this prayer.  Lucado gives hope to the prayer wimps like me. A simple place to begin.  A way to connect.  The words in this book are convicting but as the reader I am not left feeling beat or the head or as if I am just not cut out.  Instead I’m left recharged and ready to put new things into practice.  Lucado reminds us that prayer is a heart felt connection with our God.  Nothing is more worth while.

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: