Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World


I heard Kristen Welch on a podcast once. She and her family run a nonprofit called Mercy House that helps pregnant girls in Africa and provides jobs for these women through their Fair Trade Friday program. She has also written a few books. I recently read Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. Kristen wrote this book with her thoughts about how she is trying to do this with her three teenageers and has some great thoughts.

The most convicting thing I read was probably this:

“As uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by living more grateful lives.”

My kids aren’t going to learn to be thankful from watching tv or hanging out with their friends. They are going to learn it (or not learn it) from me. I need to get back to my blessings jar or thankfulness journal and help Clarissa do something similar.

She quotes Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane, “The only thing a child is really entitled to is his parents’ love. Not to keep up with the Joneses. Not a brand new bike or iPad. Just love. Every child deserves to be loved by his or her parents. If a child has your unconditional love, he has the greatest asset in the world. If we as parents can realize that it’s love that our children need most, and not things, we will stop trying to buy our children’s happiness with possessions.”

We all want to give our kids good things. The struggle for me as a mom is figuring out how much is too much. I want to bless my children, but I don’t want them to be spoiled brats either. I want them to be thankful for what they have and want to help others.

Some of my other favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “All children need to be bored… Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. They don’t need a plan for entertainment. They can create their own.”
  • “I believe one of the ways children learn submission to God and doing what He says is by being taught to submit to the authority of their parents. So yes, require it, but do so with love and grace because deep down, I think our kids want rules and guidance and the structure obedience brings.”
  • “The bottom line is this : All the right from wrong teaching, character building, faith instilling, intentional parenting that you’ve made a priority in your home is producing children who do not fit into the mold our society has deemed normal. And it leaves us with children who sometimes feel left out, different, alienated, and even alone. But this doesn’t mean we have failed them. It’s through this kind of struggle that their own faith is forged and deepens and their relationship with us – – bumpy days included– grows. But mostly, it makes them aware of the costs of following Jesus.”

Our favorite Easter books for preschool and young elementary


The two biggest holidays on the Christian calendar are Christmas and Easter (Resurrection Day). I feel like Christmas probably gets more press time than Easter. But we still have a list of books that we read every year in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Day.


  • Peek-a-Bible The Easter Story is a great lift the flap book that tells the story of Resurrection Day. It starts with Jesus riding into town on a donkey, includes The Last Supper, the garden, Jesus on the cross, and His resurrection.
    The Easter Story is a cute little board book that tells the story with nice pictures and easy sentences.
  • God Gave Us Love is a long conversation between Little Cub and Grandpa about loving someone but not always liking what they do. At the end they talk about how God loves us so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins.
  • God Gave Us Easter is another story about little cub. This time, Papa explains that Easter is even better than Christmas because Jesus died on the cross for us. He also talks a lot about how spring can point us to Jesus. I also really like that Papa explains what it means to listen to God and when Little Cub wakes up in the morning she is excited to report that she heard from God too.
  • Lily’s Easter Party has been one of Clarissa’s favorite books since we bought it when she was two. In this story, Lily invites some of her friends over for a special Easter egg hunt. At the egg hunt, the children are instructed to put the eggs in a basket on the table. Then once all the eggs are found, mom and dad sit down with the kids and open the eggs in order. Each egg has a small object inside that tells the story of Jesus and his Resurrection. This is a great book if you have resurrection eggs, but you can also read it on it’s own.
  • The Parable of the Lily is a story about Maggie who receives a present in the mail in the middle of winter. There were instructions to put the box in a cool dark place and plant it in spring. One day, Maggie accidentally made a mess in the cellar and threw her box into the yard and forgot about it. On Easter morning, she woke up to beautiful lilies in her yard. She was excited about new life. She realized that the gift was from her father and she learned a lesson in forgiveness.
  • Holy Week is a new one for us this year. It is a board book that talks about the names of different emotions and places them with a Bible verse and a picture to tell a different part of the Holy Week story.
  • In The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story, Brother and Sister Bear start the story really excited about all of the candy that will be in their Easter baskets but learn the real story of Easter in Sunday school.
  • We love Little Critter in this house, so Happy Easter Little Critter gets read too, even though they have an Easter bunny and do an egg hunt at the church picnic.

You can read our favorite books about Christmas here.

Our favorite books for babies and toddlers


I have been reading to Clarissa since before she could talk. At first, she chomped on the books as I read them. But eventually she learned to sit and look at the books. We had several favorites when she was really small. These are our favorite books for babies and toddlers.

  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
    I loved the repetition in this book. “It’s time for bed little sheep, little sheep. The whole wide world is going to sleep…” Clarissa loved the animals in the book. I would say goodnight and call her a different animal every night.
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    Clarissa really liked this one, I think because of the bunny. It rhymes and has decent pictures. As a bigger kid, she was confused about why they said goodnight to so many objects because “you don’t need to say goodnight to air.” But as a baby, she loved it.
  • God Made Me
    Clarissa loved this one because of all the animals. She liked to tell me the names of the animals in the pictures. I liked that she was learning that God made everything.
  • Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
    This is another rhyming book with wonderful pictures. I loved that this book taught Clarissa that no matter what, Mommy would always love her. And that even as a grown up she would know that she was loved.
  • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
    Clarissa preferred this one because of all the adventures the animals had on the “wonderful, marvelous night she was born.”
  • God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    This is one in a series of books about Little Cub and her family. This one explains how Mommy and Daddy were excited that God was giving them a baby and some of the anticipation they had for baby’s birth and then what life was like when they brought baby home. She liked the bears.
  • Time for a Hug by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green
    This was Clarissa’s favorite book for about a year. She loved that the bunny and her mom had a hug like every hour of the day. I think she also liked that Daddy would hug her every time it happened in the book. This would also be a great book to teach little kids about a schedule.

The Read-Aloud Family


I was determined to only read the books that I already own this year (or at least the ones I can get from the library). But when The Read-Aloud Family was on sale for $2.99 on Kindle, I couldn’t resist.

In my elementary school teacher days, my favorite part of the day was read aloud time (and guided reading). Before lunch and at the end of the day, whenever we had time really, I would read aloud to my class. We always started the year with Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Even my more reluctant readers would beg for “another Wayside.” One year my class wrote the next chapter in the Wayside series, wrote a letter to the author, and only read books by the author, Louis Sachar. I have actually been looking forward to introducing Clarissa to the Wayside series since before she was born.

Reading has been a part of our routine from the beginning. Clarissa has always loved books, even if she was mostly eating them at first. We read multiple times per day and she even “reads” to herself. She has recently been adamant about starting kindergarten so that she can “learn to read for real.”

I have heard about Sarah Mackenzie on one of my podcasts, Cultivating the Lovely. I knew that if she was writing a book about reading to your kids, it needed to be on my wishlist.

  • She talks about reading books being the same thing as eating comfort food. “When we’re in a new city we’ve done nothing but meet new people, eat new food, have new experiences. And yet at the end of the day, whether in a hotel room or a tent or even on a plane, we can open up If You Give A Moose a Muffin or Blueberries for Sal or some other book we’ve read a hundred times, and it’s comfort food. It reminds us this is who we are. “
  • She talks about how reading with our kids gives them the opportunity to live vicariously through the storybook characters, giving them a more well-rounded childhood than we could ever accomplish in real life.”
  • “By the time our children leave our homes, we don’t want them to wonder whether their lives matter. We want them to know they do. If we tell them enough stories, they will have encountered hard questions and practiced living through so many trials, hardships, and unexpected situations that, God willing, they will have what they need to become the heroes of their own stories. “
  • “It is said that a person who reads lives a thousand lives, but a person who never reads leads only one. What better opportunity can we give our children than to live a thousand lives before they leave home?”
  • It is impossible to teach your kids everything they will need for life before they leave your house. You can help them to learn to think and process information by reading to them, even when they can read themselves.
  • ” A good education, then, is not one that results in high test scores, elite college acceptances, or the ability to read Virgil in Latin or War and Peace without Cliffs Notes. A good education teaches us – – and our children – – to love fully and to love well.”
  • If you read aloud to your children, just ten minutes every other day, it will add up to over 30 hours per year!
  • You don’t have to discuss every book you read. “Trust that a book can speak directly to your child, even if you never intervene with a conversation or discussion.” You still want reading to be enjoyable.

Sarah shares ideas for reading journals, conversations, and even reading lists for each age group in this book. Sarah Mackenzie also has a podcast where she regularly talks to authors about kids and books.

Princess Cut Movie Review


Watchman Pictures

I love a good romance movie, especially one that doesn’t have any inappropriate scenes or themes in it. Princess Cut by Watchman Pictures, is one of those movies. The movie would be appropriate for elementary school students to see, but I think they would be bored with a love story. They use the word “intimate” instead of “sex” in this movie. There aren’t any kisses either. Someone tried to kiss Grace and she stopped him and said, “Not until you put a ring on it.” This is a movie that I definitely plan to watch with Clarissa when she is in middle school because it provides so many discussion points about relationships but also family dynamics.

Princess Cut The Movie

The movie is about Grace and her hard working, Christian family who lives on a soybean farm in North Carolina. At the beginning of the movie, Grace is kind of your typical college girl who just happens to be a Christian. She is so focused on her relationships with boys that she isn’t really paying attention to the people around her. She has two relationships before she realizes that something needs to change.

By this time, her dad has been encouraged by his pastor to study about the father’s role in his daughter’s relationships. He learns that the giving the daughter away during the wedding ceremony actually comes from Jeremiah 29:6. Grace and her dad have a conversation about how things need to shift so that they can do this God’s way. Her dad encourages her that “it’s not as much about finding the perfect person as becoming who God made you to be.”

During the second half of the movie you really watch Grace grow into this beautiful woman of God. She really wants to honor God and her family in the things that she does, including any romantic relationships. She goes to the library for some books about the subject and actually picks up some that I really enjoyed during that season of life, When God Writes Your Love Story and Boundaries in Dating.

A young doctor named Clint does get to know their family and asks for Grace’s parents permission to get to know her better before he even talks to Grace about it. When he talks to her he says, “Your heart is too precious a treasure to play games with.” That is the kind of young man that I would like to pursue Clarissa. I don’t want to give away the whole story. I will say that I really enjoyed it, which means it did have a happy ending.

There are so many good things that I will discuss with Clarissa when we watch this movie.

  • It’s not about waiting for the perfect guy. It’s about trusting God.
  • I want you to be able to talk to your dad and I about anything. God. Boys. Life. No matter how bad you think it is.
  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
  • Know what your boundaries will be physically before you start dating.
  • Not everyone believes that same things that we do, so you need to be careful about who you are receiving counsel from.
  • What kind of a friend do you want to be? What kind of friends do you want to have?
  • How should you treat your parents? siblings? How should they treat you?
  • What blessings has God given us that we can share with others?
  • How can we serve other people as a family?

I have seen a few “Christian” movies. Often you can tell they are lower budget than something that comes out in the movie theater. The actors were pretty good in this one. There was one scene that Grace was supposed to be crying and it wasn’t super believable. There were a few times when the camera angles were odd. For the most part, the acting and the sets were great.

Princess Cut {Watchman Pictures Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Parenting Made Practical Review


parenting made practical
This review is a little different. Most of the products that I have received to review so far have been for Clarissa to use. This time, Parenting Made Practical sent parenting resources for me. They sent me a DVD called Navigating the Rapids of Parenting and a book titled Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think. Both are great resources.

 Navigating the Rapids of Parenting is a DVD by Joey and Carla Link with two 45 minute sessions. The first session covers birth to middle school. The second session continues with middle school and goes through college age. They were easy to watch together in the same sitting.Navigating the Rapids of Parenting DVD

I appreciated this DVD series because it talked about how to parent children from a developmental standpoint but also used scripture to explain the Biblical perspective. I also liked how it progressed across different ages so that I can see what I should be working on now and what the goal is by the time Clarissa is 18. It provided several discussion points for Tim and I so that we can really talk about what we want Clarissa to learn before she “graduates” from our home as a young adult. I also appreciated how they encouraged parents to anticipate your child’s behavior, rather than just react to it. It takes some planning, but it will make life better for your family.

The main goal of the first phase of development (birth to 5 years old) is discipline. I want Clarissa to obey me and recognize my authority because then she will be able to obey God and recognize His authority. They talked about first time obedience. I want to work on Clarissa stopping what she is doing and coming to us when we call her. Then, we can give her an instruction. We tend to just start talking and get frustrated when she doesn’t do what we ask her to. Sometimes the problem is that she is busy playing and doesn’t hear the instruction. But if she has to stop what she is doing to come to us, she will definitely hear the instruction and be more likely to follow it. After we master this, we can move on to the attitude that she follows the directions. The Links said that at this age, the attitude isn’t as important as the obedience.

The goal of the second phase of development (the elementary school years) is training. This is the time to teach Clarissa our values and character. We should focus on things like the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and stewardship. They talked about how you teach these things in elementary school while they are still young and impressionable. If I wait until Clarissa is a teenager to teach her about modesty, she will have other influences fighting for her attention. But at this age, she is more likely to listen to me. I also need to explain why we believe these things so that she can understand them as well.

Once a child reaches middle school he starts to form his own belief system and question the authority of his parents. Carla and Joey recommend having your child read Growing Up Christian during this time to make them think through their beliefs. They also stressed that when a child enters middle and high school, youth group does not become a substitute for parenting. We should still be very involved with our children.

The goal of the third phase of development (high school/college) is coaching. This is a time for asking Clarissa questions instead of just teaching. We can have great discussions about what she is learning in church or her own quiet time. It may also be beneficial to be serving somewhere as a family or doing a mission trip together instead of just sending her on the youth group mission trip. This is a time to find ways for Clarissa to serve in ways that she is naturally gifted in. Some kids will exit this stage after high school. Some will be in it longer.

The Links said that once you become friends with your child, you have lost your authority. Don’t move them to friendship level with you until they can support themselves financially.

Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think Book

I started Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think by Joey and Carla Link on the flight home from Hong Kong. I realized on the plane that I do lecture Clarissa a lot and she does tune me out. So I was eager to read this book. I actually really enjoyed it and finished it the evening after we returned.

One main point of the book was to ask kids questions about his thoughts and behavior instead of just giving a lecture because it gets to the heart of why a child is doing a particular behavior. Another point was that giving an actual consequence (like taking away a privilege) instead of a lecture was more effective at changing behavior. The book also stressed modeling so that a child would know exactly what was expected of him.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • “Pointing out what your kids did wrong makes them feel like failures, and they lose their confidence in their ability to do anything right” (19).
  • “Teaching your kids to do what is right is one thing. To hold them accountable is quite another… Giving your kids consequences is holding them accountable for their actions” (28-29).
  • “Trying to talk kids into the right thing doesn’t work because your words aren’t going to motivate them to change. Lectures aren’t consequences” (88).
  • “Ask God to remove our blinders where our kids’ weaknesses are concerned and help us see the areas we need to work on… Plan to proactively teach your children how to turn a weakness into a strength” (91).
  • “Reminding your kids to get their stuff done is the flip side of lecturing” (137).

Some of the specific ideas in the book are geared toward older kids (age 8 and above), so I won’t be able to use all of these ideas yet. But I plan to try a few. The book also referenced another of their books Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave? so I may need to read that one next as it is geared toward younger kids like Clarissa.

In previous reviews, everyone on the review crew has reviewed the same item. This time, are many products available for review from Parenting Made Practical so I would recommend checking out some of the other posts so that you can see all of the resources that they offer.

Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Made to Crave


It seems like accountability groups have become popular over the past couple of years. Especially in the online world. I was in an out of a few for a while about diet and exercise. But I would eventually get to the point where I was only worried about numbers and not health. So I would stop for a while and then decide I needed a change and get back into it. I needed something different.

This fall, a friend started an online book club for Lysa Terkeurst’s book Made to Crave. I am really glad that I decided to join. I feel like I have a lot more freedom in the area of health and wellness, even though I haven’t really lost any weight. This book has really helped to shift the way that I think about food being fuel and the way I see my body.

In the book, Lysa talks about her struggles with food in a way that most women probably understand. If I crave something not good for me, I can use it as a prompt to pray. The idea is that you can see your food cravings as something that can bring you closer to the Lord instead of a curse.

There were a few Bible verses and phrases that she kept coming back to that really spoke to me:

  • “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial…” 1 Cor. 6:10
  • “This feels good now, but how will I feel about it in the morning?”
  • “The ultimate goal of this journey isn’t about making me a smaller size, but rather making me crave Jesus and His truth as the ultimate filler of my heart. I am a Jesus girl who can step on the scale and see the numbers as an indication of how much my body weighs and not as an indication of my worth.”

Reading this book in a small group was helpful in trying to keep to a certain schedule in the reading. But I think that you can learn a lot by doing the book on your own as well. There are personal reflections for each of the 19 chapters. Everyone will get something different out of the book because we each have different experiences.

Crash The Chatterbox


This summer, I attended the evening session of PWOC at Camp Humphreys. I enjoyed my time with this great group of ladies. We read Crash The Chatterbox by Steven Furtick.

I really enjoyed the book. It talks about replacing the negative and distracting thoughts  and voices in your head with the truth of what God says about you and your life. He says, “God has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to” (p. 4). There is a DVD that goes with the book, but you will learn plenty just by reading the book.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “Most of the decisions that send our lives in the wrong direction are the result of wrongly answering the question ‘Did God really say…?'” p. 50
  • All complaining does is give a second life to bad experiences.
  • Comparison is the death of contentment.
  • Another thing that really changed my thinking was the idea of thinking about your fear. Just ignoring a fear doesn’t usually make it go away. Instead, try thinking through it. What is the worst thing that will happen if that fear is true?
  • The reminder that I can do NOTHING to make God love me any more or any less than He already does. It doesn’t matter how I perform.
  • “God’s assessment of you isn’t limited by where you’ve been before or even where you are now. His words reflect the places He plans to take you and the purposes He intends to fulfill through you” (p.135).

Parenting the Wholehearted Child 


blogger that I follow recommended Parenting the Wholehearted Child. It sat on my bookshelf for about a year before I started it. It has taken several vacation travel days to finish, but I did enjoy it.  

The author, Jeannie Cunnion basically talks about a parenting shift. My goal is not to create an obedient child to make my life easier. Instead, my goal should be to parent Clarissa in a way that points her to Jesus. That the grace I give to her will help her to understand how much God loves her.

Some of my favorite thoughts and ideas from the book:

  • The “where did you experience God’s presence today?” game P.73
  • Life verses for each child p.89
  • “Jesus loved me so much that He was more interested in the work He wanted to do in me and with me than He was concerned with giving me exactly what I thought I wanted at the very moment I thought I wanted it. ” p. 92
  • Thankfulness is learned P. 161
  • I really liked how she asks her kids “are you being a peacemaker or are you trying to get your brother in trouble?” p. 171
  • Focus on what you want your child to start doing instead of what you want them to stop P. 222

She does a lot of correction by asking questions. What was your motivation for that behavior? What could you do instead? I think that also helps to get to know your child better. Sometimes when I ask Clarissa why she did something, her logic seems reasonable and I am able to guide her in making a better choice next time.

Power of Half 


I need to do a better job of taking time to read when I am not traveling.  I heard about The Power of Half some time when we were still living in the United States. I didn’t start reading it until our trip to Hawaii.

The book is the story of a family of four who decided that they wanted to sell their big house in the suburbs and move into something smaller so they could use the money to help others. The book is written by the father and daughter of the family.  The father,  Kevin,  narrates the story.  At the end of each chapter,  Hannah,  gives some practical advice for families who would like to do something like this.

The Salwen family found a great house in their current neighborhood worth half the value of the house they were living in.  They had to sell or donate many household items to downsize into their new home. They thought it was a great fit for them and moved in before their house was sold.

The family spent a lot of time researching and discussing what they really wanted to do as a family.  The Salwens met with different organizations before they decided as a family how they really thought they could make a difference.

Their project of choice was to fund two epicenters in Ghana with the Hunger Project.  They had a five year commitment with a cost of $400,000. They took a family trip to Ghana to meet the people they would partner with.  The whole heart of the project is to empower the two villages to rise out of poverty through microloans and education.

They actually lived in the new home for two years before the old house sold. So when they needed to send the first $80,000 check,  they had some choices to make.  In the end,  the two teens,  Hannah and Joseph were willing to give up their college funds to pay that first installment.

I really enjoyed reading this book and learning their process.  It reminds me of Toxic Charity because they wanted to empower the people instead of just giving gifts and “turning them into beggars.”

They emphasize that selling your house isn’t for everyone,  but that every family can do something to serve others. It makes me think about how the Bible says that it isn’t really a sacrifice or an offering if it costs you nothing. They didn’t give away half of everything they owned.  They still went on vacations.  They just chose one thing to give away half.

I also liked when they wrote “sustained giving is more unifying than a one time event.” They could have chosen to give half of their clothes away and move on.  Instead,  they went on a family adventure that lasted several years and really helped this family to become closer than ever.

It’s good parenting to teach Clarissa that the world does not revolve around her.  That there are other people who are not as blessed as we are.  There are ways that our family can help,  even while she is very young.

God Gave us Thankful Hearts 


After we bought our Christmas tree,  I saw this cute book at the px and I couldn’t resist.

It is by the same author as the bear books we like (God Gave us You,  God Gave us Christmas,  God Gave us Love).  We read it in the store and I was not disappointed so we bought it.

God Gave us Thankful Hearts follows Little Pup and his mama as they look for things to be thankful for in their normal lives.  They talk about being thankful,  even when life does not go the way you want.  Like if you don’t catch any fish.  Or being thankful that God helped you find your way,  even though being lost was scary.

Then we had a pretty crafty week.  I went to an event on Camp George and made this really cute sign.

The back side says “Merry Christmas”  so I actually have holiday decorations now. Then,  I was working on a craft for story time at the library and Clarissa had to make a turkey too.  Though she didn’t want to write what she was thankful for on the feathers.

Tim had a Thanksgiving potluck for work that the three of us attended.  Tim and I had a traditional meal with turkey,  mashed potatoes,  stuffing,  and pumpkin pie.  Clarissa had pizza and cookies.  But they were pumpkin cookies so I guess she was somewhat traditional as well.

We had chicken pot pie and pumpkin drop cookies for our Thanksgiving dinner.  Tim and Clarissa went for a walk and to the playground.  I took a nap.  We asked Clarissa what she was thankful for at dinner and she said “food.”  Smart girl.

Windows to Our World 


I started reading Windows to Our World Sarah’s Journal : Growing up,  crossing oceans,  finding love,  and giving life to 10 children by Sarah Janisse Brown on our trip to Suwon.  I haven’t made the time to read over the summer.  But I am glad I decided to load this book to my Kindle for this trip.

I enjoyed Sarah’s writing style.  I feel like if we had grown up together in youth group,  we would be great friends.

The book is written chronologically as her autobiography.  But the chapters are short,  more like journal entries.  I loved reading about growing up and finding her calling,  meeting her husband,  missionary adventures,  and mom life.

As I read her story,  God really spoke to me about mine and gave me some great things to think about.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book :

God will call me to do things that I don’t think I can do.  I need to do them anyway.

I need to ask Clarissa what jobs SHE thinks she can do around the house.  The answer will probably surprise me and she will do chores more willingly if she chooses them herself.

If I feel tired and stressed out all the time,  I need to reevaluate my priorities.

I need to be content with what we have,  but also where we live.

One of my favorite things was this prayer in chapter 57

“I dedicate myself to teaching my children to follow after you.  I want to give them the tools they need to grow in many skills. Help me not to waste time on things that have no value.  Please give me your wisdom to know how to spend their time; childhood is precious and fleeting.  As I teach them help me to give each child a unique education that prepares them for Your calling on each of their lives. ”

This book also reminded me that I am on facebook way too much so I need to delete it from my phone.

It also reaffirmed my desire to homeschool Clarissa and also see the world.

Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts


If you’ve known me in person for any length of time you have heard me say, “There is no such thing as a junior Holy Spirit.” I’ve been saying this for at least thirteen years. It goes back to my children’s ministry days. But I truly believe with all of my heart that the same Holy Spirit that was in the apostle Paul, that is in me, is in children.

A month or two before the anatomy scan to confirm that we were in fact having a girl, God told me that our child would be “a little girl with great faith.” Thus we named her Clarissa Faith, which means brilliant faith.

I have a friend whose nephew was born last month with some serious heart conditions. He has been in NICU his whole life thus far and they are crying out to God for a miracle. Yesterday as we got the latest report, I really felt like it was time for the children to pray. So I posted his picture on facebook and asked for my friends to have their children to pray for baby Donovan. I showed Clarissa baby Donovan’s picture on my phone and tried to explain to her toddler self how sick he was and asked her to pray for him. I really don’t know what she was saying, but she kept touching the picture of Donovan and saying something for a couple of minutes and we just prayed together. I really do believe that we will hear of a breakthrough because of the prayers of children for this little boy.

When I was the children’s ministry coordinator at my church, I spent a summer teaching kids about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. In my quest to help equip parents I stumbled upon the book Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts by Adam Stadtmiller. The book contains a spiritual gifts test for parents to take for their children. The book talks about each gift, how to notice and test which gifts your child has, and how to nurture your child in his or her spiritual giftings in practical ways. I thought the book was great and decided to reread it recently now that I am a parent myself.

The author asks you to take the spiritual gifts test twice, before and after reading the book. I got similar results each time. I will probably want to do this every couple of years. Some of the questions in the test are hard to answer at this point. For example, it is hard to know if Clarissa is able to communicate the Bible clearly since she is only twenty-three months old and does not communicate many things clearly (in English) yet. The test did confirm what we thought about discernment and administration gifts and also some things to look for to see if she does have a missions, giving, or mercy gift.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

“Children can rip God’s kingdom from the sky and release it with a vibrant infusion into this dull and sullen world. That is, if we as adults do not hinder them with our unbelief.”

“If we disregard our children’s sensitivity to what God is saying to them in the quiet of their hearts, they will begin to doubt if they can hear from God.”

“Believing kids are called not only to understand the faith but also, like us, to find their unique ministry and purpose, and live it out the fullest. Navigating this journey with them is part of our divine commission as parents.”

“If we listen to and seek God for our children’s life purpose and direction, especially in the area of their spiritual gifts, God will make them known to us.”

In the book Adam Stadtmiller tells a story about a little girl and then says not to get lost in thinking it is just a cute story. It reminded me of Lenny LaGuardia. I went to a signs and wonders camp the summer I was teaching this (I plan to bring Clarissa to one of those once she is old enough) and he emphasized that “Kids aren’t cute. They are dangerous!” Kids can do big things for the kingdom of God.

I was also convicted from reading this book that as she grows I need to be as worried about Clarissa’s spiritual education as I am her academic education. I need to find practical ways to incorporate scripture memorization into her life.



Say Goodbye to Survival Mode


Crystal Paine is one of my favorite bloggers. Her blog helps thousands of families save money on everything from groceries to toylettries to going out to eat. That part of her blog isn’t as helpful to me now that I live in South Korea. But I still read her blog every day because she is just a really encouraging Christian mom.

She has written a few books. Last week I read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. It was really encouraging and practical. I don’t generally feel overwhelmed by housework and things like that, but this book gave me some ideas to streamline and make life easier. I think this book is helpful if you need ideas for goal setting, self care, budgeting, or finding a routine or schedule that works for you and your family. I was actually convicted about how I spend my time and have tried a few new things this week that have helped me to be more productive during naptime. She has also created a Say Goodbye to Survival Mode course that looks great.

I read another of her books in December, 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life. That book is set up for about five minutes of reading per day. It helps you to start a new habit or routine and also tackle a big project.

This post contains affiliate links. If you order one of her courses, I will make a small commission to cover the costs of running this blog at no additional cost to you.

What is it like to be married to me?


I read Christin Slade’s blog. She is a homeschooling mom of seven. Two of her children were recently  adopted from Africa and it has been neat to watch that story unfold.

In December, Christin started a Facebook book club that I am very happy about. I like that I can read a book at my own pace but discuss it with other women.

What’s It Like to Be Married to Me?: And Other Dangerous Questions is our second book. I have to say that I really enjoyed it. The whole point of the book is to examine the way I respond to Tim. To look at my actions and motivations and seek Jesus in how I can be a better wife/lover.

I have to say that this book has helped my marriage. I started reading it right after we moved to South Korea. It has been eye opening to see how critical I can be. This book has really helped me to focus on encouraging and helping Tim. Our marriage is much stronger now.

I think Tim would agree that I have changed the way that I respond to him. Last week I wrote out Ephesians 4:29 on a sticky note and stuck it in a place that I would see multiple times per day to remind me to only say things that were helpful.


Tim asked if I was doing it for Clarissa because he thought I was doing a better job responding to him that way.

Some of my favorite takeaways from the book :

I can make a list of Tim’s faults. But then I need to go through the list and make a list of my own wrong responses to his “faults.” ouch.

I can’t see into Tim’s heart if I am trying to change him.

Let the Holy Spirit be Tim’s teacher. I need to be his cheerleader.

I read the book straight through on my phone. After I finished reading the last chapter, there was a section to go through and do either a ten or twelve week bible study with the book. I think that I may try reading it again that way over the summer.

Surprised by Motherhood


Some books get popular overnight.  It seems like everyone is reading said book and loving every word.  Sometimes I start these books and can’t finish them.  I am sure that the message is good.  But often,  I can’t stand the writing style.

So when I want to try a book, I don’t buy it. I borrow from the library. Lately, my library doesn’t own the books that I want. But there is a process called Interlibrary Loan where you can request a book and if any other library in the country owns it, your library can get it for you. It has been interesting to read books from all over the country. It has saved me lots of money since I don’t have to buy the book. It also saves on frustration because if I am a chapter in and hate it, I just return the book. No money wasted 🙂

Honestly, when Amanda and Money Saving Mom raved about Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom, I was skeptical. So I requested it from the library. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a really encouraging read. I liked Lisa-Jo Baker’s style. I like her honesty. I like her story. I think we could be friends in real life.

Her mother died when she was eighteen. She decided early on that she didn’t want to have children because where she grew up in South Africa, it seemed that you didn’t have worth as a woman unless you were a mother. She went to law school in America and dated her now husband. At a church service on day, a man told her that God loved her for who she was and He wouldn’t love her any more or less whether she had children or not. She and her husband have lived in Ukraine, South Africa, and the United States. They now have three children.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“But I believe that God loves us too much to leave us flailing in our self-centered universes, so He delivers these tiny reflections of ourselves into our homes with earthquake effectiveness. The walls and ground shift as we are forced to rearrange our sleep, our interests, our books, our date nights, our bathroom habits, our love of hot food, our blankets, our vacation plans, our entertainment choices, our interests, our bodies, our patience, and the grip on our sanity into unrecognizable new patterns.”


Advent is for Mommy…this year


I don’t remember when I started following Amanda’s blog. I think I was working at the church, but it was before I was pregnant with Clarissa. I think that if we met in person, we would be fast friends. She used to be a children’s pastor. Now she is a homeschooling mom who wants to help other moms teach their kids about Jesus.

A few years ago, she wrote Truth in the Tinsel . For 24 days in December, she gives you a scripture passage to read, discussion questions, and an ornament craft to tell the Christmas Story.

I have been looking forward to doing this with Clarissa. I figured that at 15 months, she is a little young for crafts. So I downloaded the printable ornaments to make it easier. I bought twistable crayons so that they would be harder to eat.

So on Monday, we started our adventure. I really enjoyed the scripture and the thoughts about Jesus being light of the world. I tried to get Clarissa to color her ornament. But, mostly, she tried to eat the crayons. Tuesday was a little better.

By Wednesday, Clarissa was more excited about playing with the crayons than coloring with them.


By Friday, she had forgotten about the crayons (actually that is not true, she threw them on the floor). She decided it would be more fun to eat her ornament.

I was ready to give up on ornaments this year but this morning was our best yet. I didn’t take a picture, but she actually colored her ornament with a pen happily this morning. There is hope for us after all!

We will continue with our Truth in the Tinsel. I really look forward to the scripture readings and the different pieces of the Christmas Story. Amanda makes me think about things in a new and fresh way. If nothing else, I am planting seeds. They might mostly be in my heart. But that is okay!

I also got a few books from the library to make the Christmas Story more real to Clarissa.

God Gave Us Christmas is about a little bear who asks his mom if Santa invented Christmas. Little Bear wants to find Santa, but instead Mama Bear takes her to find God. They see God in things like the stars in the sky.

A Christmas Prayer is about a little girl saying her bedtime prayers. She looks at her nativity set and takes the time to thank God for each part of the Christmas Story (the angel, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus).

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you order Truth in the Tinsel through this post, I will make a small commission. However, it does not add to your cost.