Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Review

Standard

I heard author MJ Thomas on a podcast this spring and I was really excited about what he had to say. When one of his sons was in about second grade, he had to write a book report but couldn’t find a book that he was excited about. He asked his dad to write one for him. So MJ Thomas set out to write a book that would not only entertain his son, but teach him about his faith through making Bible stories come to life in a historical context. Thus, his series, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls was born. I was disappointed that my local library did not carry these books, but I put it on my list of books to read with Clarissa.

wp-15712552285935635809403053179470.jpg

I was so excited to see Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Shepherd’s Stone (Book 5) and Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Lion’s Roar (Book 6) of the series published by WorthyKid Books as an option to review this fall. The timing wasn’t great because it was during the time that Tiffany was born. But I read the description to Clarissa and she was really excited about the books. I knew that we would still be reading at bedtime, so I asked for them. I am so glad that I did!

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Shepherd’s Stone (Book 5) follows siblings Peter, Mary, and their dog Hank as they spend a month with their Great Uncle Solomon who is an archeologist. They travel through time to explore the story of David and Goliath. On their journey, they have to follow clues to solve a message given to them by the angel Michael. They only have four days to solve the puzzle!

I love that Clarissa was able to see some of the historical context from the Bible story and that the actual story seemed true to what the Bible says. It also brought up some great discussions for us. For example, David originally told Mary that she could not go with him and Peter to deliver food to his older brothers. The reason was because Mary is a girl and girls are not allowed on the battlefield, which was surprising to Clarissa because we just spent four years on an army base where there were definitely female soldiers. Also, in the book David had sisters living at home, which I had not really thought about before since the Bible focuses on the brothers. David also talks about a poem he wrote (Psalm 23), which I thought was great because that is on our list of things to memorize for November. So now Clarissa has a context for that as well.

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Lion’s Roar (Book 6) was also wonderfully written. This time, Peter, Mary, and Hank go to ancient Babylon. They land in a temple of the Babylonian God Marduk. There is a statue (idol) in the temple and the high priest tells Peter and Mary that they need to bow down and worship the idol. Peter and Mary refuse because they will only worship the One True God. This makes the high priest (and his pet raven) very angry. They have to escape being captured with the help of the angel Michael.

The book teaches about architecture (ziggurat) and history (7 wonders of the ancient world) along the way. Peter and Mary escape to the hanging gardens where they meet Hannah who also refuses to worship idols. Hannah also happens to be the granddaughter of Shadrach. While visiting her grandfather’s spice shop, Peter and Mary heard the story of the fiery furnace in person. They also met Daniel. I always forget that Daniel being thrown into the lion’s den is several decades after the fiery furnace. In this book, Peter and Mary eventually get thrown into the lion’s den too and they, along with Daniel, are protected by their angel friend Michael.

I like that at the end of both books there is a list of chapters in the Bible that correspond to the story so that you can compare the book to the actual Bible story.

We have only read books five and six in the series so far. The stories stand alone, so you can read them out of order. Clarissa really wants us to get the first four in the series because she enjoyed them so much. While reading these books, book 7 was also published. I am excited to announce that the publisher is running a giveaway. You can enter to win signed copies of all seven books in the series by clicking here. There will be three winners.

We did these books as a read aloud, but I think they would be great reading for a younger elementary student who is a confident reader. The books are marketed for ages 6-9 and claim they are written on a first through third grade reading level. I think a first grader would have a hard time reading this independantly though. There are a few black and white pictures in each chapter to help engage your younger readers.

Depending on your curriculum goals, these books could be used for Bible, Reading, or History. These also provide some great discussion starters about Bible stories and imagining what it would be like if we went into the Bible story or which stories we would like to become a part of. I am excited to read the rest of the books. I look forward to being able to read book 7 near Christmas time since it is about the birth of Jesus. You can read about what other families thought of the books here.

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Shepherd's Stone (Book 5) & The Lion's Roar (Book 6) {WorthyKids Books Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Bible Letter of the Week Review

Standard

Clarissa really enjoys Bible stories. She also gets really excited when we do crafts or activities about these stories. I was debating what I wanted to do with her as far as a  Bible curriculum for first grade. I was excited to see Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook on the list of choices from Crafty Classroom.

cover

Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook is marketed as a preschool curriculum. There are 26 weeks of lessons, one for each letter of the alphabet. Each week has four days of lessons with several activities to complete each day. There is a Bible story theme for each week as well as a Bible verse to memorize, practice writing each letter, activities to practice each letter sound, as well as some math activities for each week.

Clarissa has really enjoyed reading and discussing the Bible stories, the coloring pages and crafts, games, and math pages. She is also practicing her handwriting. I started off by supplementing this to our reading program and using this twice per week so that she would not be overwhelmed by the amount of work that was expected of her. Halfway through the letter A, she told me that she wanted to do this program every day instead of twice per week so we changed what we were doing.

Clarissa was most excited about the Alphabet Quilt. Each week, there is a square that shows the letter of the week, a picture of the Bible story, and even the Bible verse. She is excited to build this quilt as the year progresses. I like this aspect of the program because it will be a good review of what Bible stories and verses we have studied throughout the year. At one point she said to me, “Can we keep this quilt forever?”

07081915322223946725367258030.jpg

I like that the activities are similar each week so that Clarissa knows what is expected of her. She builds confidence with the repetition and also feels like she can do it herself without as much prompting from me. I like that the numbers get bigger for the math as the year progresses. So it makes sense to complete the weeks in order so that your math builds. I also was able to plot out the school year so that “J for Jesus” will fall in December for Christmas and “R for Resurrection” can be in April for Easter so it would make sense to do this curriculum over the course of an entire school year.

I think this would be a great curriculum for families with multiple children because you can pick and choose which activities to do with each child. You can do the main things the same with the Bible stories, crafts, and letters. But you can pick and choose the other activities (there are about 20 activities for each week to choose from). So the older kids can be included in the weekly Bible stories and memory verses. Your younger elementary kids won’t be completely bored with the math or the handwriting and letter activities. Your preschoolers and kindergartners would probably love the whole thing but you can pick and choose based on their developmental level.

The Crafty Classroom offers several different curriculum including reading, math, and even US geography. This may have been Clarissa’s favorite program that we reviewed all year so I am interested to see what other families thought of the various curriculum that they reviewed. I think we will be using Crafty Classroom in the future.

Hands-on, Low-prep and Ready to Go Learning - Tots to 3rd Grade {Crafty Classroom Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Nothing Book Review

Standard

Clarissa and I are always looking for good books to read. I get especially excited if the book points Clarissa to Jesus. This is one reason we were very excited to review Nothing by Natalee Creech published by Worthy Kids, an imprint of Hatchette Book Group.

img_20190424_1056051351728770565698481.jpg

Nothing: Nothing Can Separate You from God’s Love! is a wonderful book based on the scripture Romans 8:38-39, “Nothing can separate us from God’s Love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” The publisher recommends it for ages 4-7, but I think the age range could go wider than that. It’s a great book with a lovely message.

img_20190424_1056227849886068805873478.jpg

I love that the simple words in this book remind my daughter that there is nothing that she can do or anything that can happen to her that will make God stop loving her. The pictures are fabulous. There are pictures of space ships and the deep seas, crazy weather, and normal kids.

At the end of the book, I was ready to talk to Clarissa about the message. That it doesn’t matter what she does wrong or what kinds of crazy things happened in her life, God would always love her. And she got this silly look on her face and she said, “Mom! I know that God will always love me!” We didn’t need a long discussion to convince her and that was good for this mama’s heart. If that’s the only thing she learns before she leaves my house, I’ve done my job. I look forward to sharing this book with friends and her Sunday School class at church.

Nothing (Nothing Can Separate You From God's Love) by Natalee Creech {WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Our favorite Easter books for preschool and young elementary

Standard

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.

img_20190323_1854204339840030356360255.jpg

  • 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.

Poor Zacchaeus

Standard

When I was younger I learned a song about Zaccheaeus.

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. And as the Savior passed him by, He looked up in the tree. And He said, ‘Zacchaeus you come down. For I’m going to your house today. For I am going to your house today.’ ”

So what did I learn about Zacchaeus? He was short. I don’t know about you, but if someone is going to talk about me in 2,000 years, I don’t want the only thing that people remember about me is that I was short.

If you actually read the story in the Bible, there is more to the story than the fact that Zaccheaus was short. Luke 19:1-10:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of all my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

So we see a change in Zacchaeus during the course of this story. In the beginning, Zacchaeus was a tax collector who was probably not very honest because the people in this town didn’t like him. But Jesus didn’t care about that. Jesus wanted to go to his home because Jesus knew what Zacchaeus was capable of. And because of this, Zacchaeus changed. He wanted to give to the poor and pay back the people that he had stolen from. So when Jesus remembers Zacchaeus, he remembers his salvation and not all the bad things that he had done.

People may not be talking about my life in 2,000 years. But people will talk about me when I am gone. What will my children and grandchildren remember about me? Will they remember a mom who yelled too much or ate too much candy? Or a woman who loved hard and tried to show grace?

The day Clarissa decided she wanted to be baptized

Standard

Clarissa and I talked about baby Jesus a lot in December. We talked about his parents, his birth, the shepherds, the wise men; all of it, when we did Truth in the Tinsel.

This month, Clarissa and I are going to memorize the Lord’s Prayer and learn how to pray. Before we do that, I wanted to review some of the things we learned about Jesus. So one day we looked at the pictures in her Bible about Jesus’s dedication at the temple (at 8 days old) and about when His parents couldn’t find Him because He stayed at the temple (at 12 years old).

 

I wanted to move on to Jesus being baptized and our conversation took a very interesting turn. When we looked at the picture of Jesus being baptized, Clarissa said, “So when Jesus was being dedicated at the temple, it was like he was being baptized. That’s how babies are baptized. And then they get baptized as an adult too.” So we stopped to talk about it.

I explained that when babies are dedicated to the Lord, it is really about the parents. The parents are making a decision to raise their child to know who God is. The parents want their child to love Jesus so they pray that their child will love God. When an adult is baptized, it means something very different. When an adult is baptized it means that they want to show other people that they love Jesus.

 

Clarissa immediately said, “Oh. I love Jesus. I want to be baptized.” I explained that usually our pastor baptizes people in a river so we need to wait until it is warmer outside. But she was very adamant that she wanted to be baptized. Immediately. Right now. I told her she needed to wait at least another half hour until Daddy came home.

She agreed to that and got to work making a sign. “Mommy how to do you spell Baptized?” Then she put on her bathing suit and asked me to fill up the bath tub. She got impatient waiting for Tim so she decided to baptize herself. “Mommy, I did it!” What?

 

 

Then Tim got home and we talked about what happened when John baptized Jesus. And Clarissa was like, “I already got baptized, you don’t need to do it again…” She didn’t want us to dunk her.

I’m not sure this counts as her official baptism. I’m sure she’ll want to do it again when she’s older and understands it a bit better. But I so appreciated her heart and how she wanted to do it right now.

Bringing Your Kids Alongside you to Serve Others

Standard

As Clarissa grows, one of my goals is for her to have a heart that wants to serve others and not just herself. At first it seemed hard to find ways for her to serve others since she is only five. But I have found that one of the best ways to do this, is to just bring her alongside when we serve.

Some ways that we do this in everyday life:

  • Meals
    If someone we has a baby or needs surgery or something like that, there is usually some kind of meal train. We sign up and take a meal to that family. Clarissa might help me make the meal. But she always wants to make dessert. So she helps me bake something for the family and also usually comes with me to deliver the meal.
  • Babysitting
    Living in an army community overseas, there are not usually family members around to help. Friends become that family for you while you are here. If a friend has a doctor appointment or a job interview, we can watch their children. Clarissa isn’t old enough to be in charge, but she can play and share her toys with the children at our house.
  • Sunday School
    If I am teaching Sunday School, Clarissa can help me prepare. She helps me choose materials for her class. On Sunday morning, she goes with me to set up the supplies before class starts.
  • Sponsor a Child
    Once a child is three years old, they are eligible to be a sponsored child for Compassion International. On Clarissa’s third birthday, we went on their website and found a list of a three kids who were born on her birthday. I thought for sure she would choose the little girl, but she was adamant that she wanted to choose a boy. She helps me write letters and draw pictures for our sponsored child. We pray for him and his family. We talk about what the money we send does for his family. I think she is still disappointed that we have yet to meet him in person but hopefully we’ll get to do that someday.
  • Responding to Needs
    Facebook can be a helpful tool. A few times we have seen posts on our community pages that describe a specific need. For example, one time there was a woman whose brother’s house burned down and his family lost anything. She was asking for donations of clothes for the children and one was a little girl Clarissa’s size. We have more than enough so Clarissa and I went through her things and found clothes, shoes, books, and toys that we could send for the little girl.

It is getting closer to Christmas so families are often looking for ways to serve. There are plenty of holiday specific things you can do.

  • Operation Christmas Child
    In America, this is one of my favorite things to do. I collect things all year like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and small toys to put in our shoeboxes. There aren’t any drop off points in Korea, so I was sad that we would not be able to participate here. But there is an online option. For $25 per box, we can assemble a shoebox online. Clarissa and I can choose gender, age, and specific items in each category for our shoebox. We can also enclose a family picture and write a note. Then we pray for the child who will receive our shoebox. It is one of Clarissa’s favorite things to do.img_20181025_1140496001063227302204537.jpg

 

  • Angel Tree
    Angel Tree is a program that gives children with incarcerated parents gifts for Christmas. Many churches or community centers participate in this program. You can find a child’s ornament on the tree and buy gifts for that child to bring back to be distributed. Some churches do their own version of this. In Korea, the chapel did something similar with children at a nearby orphanage. Clarissa enjoyed going with me to the px to buy some clothes and toys for the child.
  • Christmas gift for Jesus
    On Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some families do a birthday party for Jesus complete with cake. We also choose some gifts for Jesus. Several ministries send out a gift catalog in the fall. This year, Clarissa looked through the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog and spent several days deciding what we wanted to do. She wanted to give more than our budget so it was hard to choose specific items. She kept wanting to do the feeding people and medical gifts. We ended up choosing a goat since that would feed a family for a long time. She also chose sending winter coats to kids. When she is older and has an allowance, it will be interesting to see if she is willing to pay for these things herself. But for now, she is learning about the needs of others.
  • Soup kitchens
    This is really something that you can do all year, but many people only think about it during the holidays. There are several people in your community who don’t have a place to stay or enough food to eat. You can go as a family to serve them a meal.

Our Favorite Christmas Books for preschool and young elementary

Standard

Clarissa has so many books that they don’t fit all fit on her bookshelf (side effect of your mother being a former reading teacher I suppose). There are certain books we like for each season so I rotate them out. I pull out the Christmas books about Thanksgiving time. But she knows where they are, so sometimes she will go and get them at random times during the year.

We have so many Christmas books that we really enjoy. This is our list of our favorite Christmas books for preschool and young elementary children.

  • Peek A Bible The Christmas Story by Tracy Harrast
    This is a lift the flap book that tells the Christmas story from Gabriel coming to see Mary until the wise men arrive to worship Jesus. Clarissa has always enjoyed lifting the flaps and I like that it is the true Biblical story.
  • Crystal Bowman’s Christmas board books are some of my favorites. I love the rhyme to the stories and the pictures are great. Clarissa really enjoys these as well.
    Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree talks about how every part of your Christmas tree (lights, the star, angels, presents, etc) points you back to Jesus, the real reason for Christmas.
    J is for Jesus talks about how a candy cane tells you Jesus’s story and gives details about the shepherds and angels at Christmas. It also talks about Jesus on the cross. Think Legend of the Candy Cane but for little ones.
    A Star for Jesus talks about how the star appeared in the sky and led the wise men to Jesus.
    My Christmas Stocking talks about St Nicholas and why we put presents in stockings today.
  • A Christmas Prayer by Amy Parker
    This rhyming book talks about being thankful for each part of the nativity set from the angel, to Mary and Joseph, the donkey, shepherds, star, and of course baby Jesus who was the best present of all.
  • God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    We like Little Cub in this house. In this installment, Mama takes Little Cub to go find God and see how He gave us Christmas. Little Cub is very excited that she can go and see God in things like the light, a glacier, and a star. They talk about how Jesus is the real reason for Christmas and the best gift ever.
  • The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
    I think I need to write a blog post specifically for her books. The Pine Tree Parable is about a family who comes to a poor family who comes to a pine tree farm and the little girl wants the biggest tree there. The family who owns the pine tree farm ends up gifting the family the tree, even though she was planning to keep it for their family. A wonderful story about giving.
  • Of course the Berenstain Bears have some fun Christmas books as well
    Trim the Tree is a flap book that watches the Bear family put up their Christmas Tree.
    In The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, the cubs learn that it is better to give than to receive. They also are the camel in the Christmas Play where you can see the Nativity story.
    In The Very First Christmas, Papa Bear reads the cubs the Christmas story from the Bible. It has fun illustrations. Clarissa always thinks its funny that they are bears instead of people though.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas in Virginia by Sue Corbett
    In this story, a brother and sister are supposed to visit their aunt in Virginia but the sister gets hurt so she can’t go. The brother writes his sister every day to tell about his adventures. We’re originally from Virginia so I like that Clarissa can learn a little bit about the state she’s from.
  • Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
    I like this story better than the original Gingerbread Boy because this one isn’t obnoxious. He just wants some friends and goes on an adventure to find them.
  • The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop
    This is a new favorite for me this year. In the beginning of the story, the princess is quite spoiled. So the king and queen come up with a plan. By the end of the story, the princess has given away all of her gifts and become truly gracious and kind. Clarissa is a little unsure because she thinks I am going to make her give away all of her presents though.
  • The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson
    Clarissa was more excited about this new book about giving. Emma and her dog are invited to the king’s palace for his birthday party. Along the way Emma gives away all of her presents for the king. The king explains to her the verse that talks about “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” The end of the book gives some suggestions on how your family can give a birthday present to Jesus. Clarissa immediately was like, “Let’s do that!”
  • Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer
    This book isn’t about Jesus at all. But. It has all of the usual Little Critter antics that we enjoy. He tries to get the ornaments out for mom, but the box was upside down. He wants to give her Christmas cookies but he got hungry. You get the idea…

 

As a side note, I noticed as I was linking these to Amazon, most of these books are on sale right now. They are also not new books, so some are available at your local library.

But the Fruit of the Spirit is… peace

Standard

At church, Clarissa has been learning about the Fruit of the Spirit. I did the lesson on peace and thought I would share since it was already typed anyway…

—–

What do you expect to see when you pass an apple tree? Apples right. And what about a ginko tree? Ginko. So when you are following Jesus, there are certain things or “fruit” that other people should expect to see in your life. These things are called the Fruit of the Spirit. Things like love, joy, and peace. The Bible says,

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

After Jesus went back to Heaven, He told the disciples to hang out until He sent them the Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit living inside of us, and is like our helper. No matter where we go, the Holy Spirit is always with us. Without the Holy Spirit inside of us, following Jesus would be impossible. God wants us to be filled with His power so that we can live for Him.

Choose a volunteer. Give volunteer balloon. Ask them to toss it into the air to see how long it stays up. Then have them inflate the balloon and hold the end tightly (but don’t tie it closed). Toss the balloon in the air and watch as it screams across the room.

Ask: Which balloon stayed up longer? Even when thrown as high as our volunteer could throw it, the balloon didn’t stay up very long without air in it. Without the Holy Spirit, we’re like the empty balloon–we don’t have God’s power inside of us. But when we receive the Holy Spirit, we’re able to do great things for God. The Holy Spirit helps us follow Jesus.

The Bible says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (Pyeongtaek), and in Judea and Samaria (Korea), and to the ends of the earth (all over the world).” Acts 1:8

So once we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, our life should be different. Has everyone asked God for the Holy Spirit in your own life?

As we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, we can live for God everywhere– when we’re at work, with friends, or at home. When we’re living for God, we can learn some characteristics that the Bible calls the Fruit of the Spirit. The kids have been learning about the individual Fruits of the Spirit and I wanted to talk about peace today.

What is peace?

  • Feeling at peace. We don’t have to be afraid of ANYTHING. Jesus is bigger and more powerful. Demons have to leave in Jesus name. You can be healed in Jesus name.
  • We can live in peace with people.

What are some things that you need more peace about in your life? Either in your heart or with other people? What are you afraid of? What are you mad about? You don’t have to tell me about any of it. Write it down.

We’re going to listen to some music and give it all to God. I am providing a link on youtube as well as the lyrics. You can play the music and give it all to God or just sing the words as worship. I have also included some Bible verses about peace if you want to look at those

—–

Tremble by Mosaic

Peace, bringing it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at Your name

Still, call the sea to still
The rage in me to still
Every wave at Your name
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Breathe, then call these bones to live
Call these lungs to sing
Once again, I will praise
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus

Oceans by Hillsong

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David Helser

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone

[2x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again to my family
Your blood flows through my veins

[4x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

I am surrounded
By the arms of the Father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance

We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears are drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
You drowned my fears in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.

Yes, I am
I am a child of God
I am a child of God
Yes, I am
I am a child of God
Full of faith
Yes, I am a child of God
I am a child of God

[3x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

—–

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice: Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:4-7

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock Eternal.”
Isaiah 26:3-4

“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
Isaiah 54:10

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:25-27

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…’If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good”
Romans 12:17-21

What the Book of Daniel can teach kids about character

Standard

I enjoyed so many things about my time in children’s ministry. I spent 2012 writing curriculum for the kids I was teaching. We started with the life of Jesus. Then we moved on to the Holy Spirit. We also learned about Daniel and the Armor of God.

The kids really seemed to enjoy Sunday school. The teachers did too. A few friends who worked with me encouraged me to publish my writing. I wasn’t sure at first. I wanted to bless others and not just make a name for myself. But if I didn’t publish, no one would be able to find the curriculum.

I published 14 Things Kids Should Know about Jesus and Armor isn’t Just for Grown Ups! before Clarissa was born. Then I focused on my blog for a bit. Earlier this year, I finally got around to posting Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the Book of Acts to teach kids about Spiritual Gifts.

Last week, I published What the Book of Daniel can teach kids about character. This is 6 lessons of stories from the Book of Daniel. The children will discuss the famous stories of Daniel in the Lions Den and the Fiery Furnace, among others. Each story presents the character of Daniel and his friends and how their character sets an example for us today.

Download Daniel curriculum

What Clarissa has been teaching me about seeds

Standard

I think it’s easy to get frustrated with the people around me. Especially when I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time pouring myself into something for someone else and I don’t see much progress. Whether it’s helping a friend or trying to convince my five year old to eat an actual fruit or vegetable instead of a fruit squeeze and seaweed.

A few weeks ago, Tim and I were discussing Clarissa’s behavior. I said that I thought she would obey better when she was saved and actively following Jesus. Tim said, “I thought you said she was saved.” “Well, she says she believes in Jesus but I’m not really sure she understands sin and her need for a Savior.” Cue some interesting conversations with Clarissa that included, “So at gymnastics today one of my friends asked me what I was going to be for Halloween and I told her nothing. We love God.” I stand corrected.

Sometimes getting to church is such a battle on a Sunday morning and Clarissa says she doesn’t want to go. So then we finally get there, late as usual, and I get her all set up with her notebook to draw during worship time. Sometimes during the music time, she will tap me so I can look at her drawings. Sometimes they are polar bears hunting in Antarctica. But this week was different.

img_20180925_1320377562082115889199566.jpg

The first time she tapped me wanted me to see the Earth with all of the islands and that Jesus was in the clouds. The second time, she had added hearts and said that all of the islands love Jesus. At the end, she said, “This is me. I love Jesus. Can you please write at the top of the page: I am happy that Jesus exists.” What?! Little Miss “I don’t want to go to church” is having a real moment with God.

So I just wanted to encourage my reader. You never know what God is going to do with the seeds that you plant. It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like what you are saying or doing isn’t going anywhere. But I was reminded this week that it’s not my job to make fruit happen.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

It’s my job to plant the seeds. It’s just my job to be obedient to do the things He tells me. God is going to do what God is going to do with those seeds. So keep plugging along with your kids, neighbors, and co-workers. We may not see the fruit of what we’re doing now. But God does have a plan for it.

Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the book of Acts to talk about Spiritual Gifts

Standard

Back when I was the children’s ministry coordinator at my church, I wasn’t thrilled with the curriculum choices for Sunday school. There were some interesting things out there but they were either really expensive or didn’t fit the kids at my church. I’m kind of an all or nothing person so I couldn’t commit to spending the church’s money on something I wasn’t in love with. So I decided to write my own curriculum. As I was teaching each week, people were telling me that I should publish my curriculum. I finally got around to publishing Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the book of Acts to talk about Spiritual Gifts in the spring and apparently forgot to write about it on my blog…

Before we studied the book of Acts, we spent 14 weeks learning about Jesus. Naturally, after Easter we talked about Pentecost and then moved into the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This curriculum is just a collection of the lessons that we did that summer. The really cool part about this series was that I found a spiritual gifts test for kids in the book Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts. So at the beginning of the summer, the kids took the test. Then we learned about the different spiritual gifts. By the end of the summer, the elementary school kids in my church were using their gifts by teaching and serving in so many cool ways.

Usually, I publish a curriculum version and a family devotion version of each unit. But this one is different because many of the lessons were spent acting out the Bible stories. I felt like it would be harder to do that around a dinner table.

Download Holy Spirit curriculum

God’s Girl Says Yes

Standard

Wynter Pitts wrote a book with her husband last year about praying for your daughter called She is Yours. I loved it. She also has a new podcast that I have been listening to. So when the opportunity presented itself to be on her book launch team for her latest book, God’s Girl Says Yes, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her last book was for parents, but this one is for girls. There are not any pictures so it will probably be a few years before Clarissa is ready to read it, but I look forward to reading this book with her one day. Wynter also has a magazine for girls that looks great!

Each of the 16 chapters in God’s Girl Says Yes has a specific message for your girl with scriptures, a prayer, and personal stories about either Wynter or a girl in elementary school. I think these stories will really help to build Clarissa’s faith and to show her that you do not have to wait until you are a grown up to do big things for God. She goes through the fruit of the spirit as a whole passage of scripture and then breaks up each individual fruit into its own chapter.

The book is very relatable. It sounds like a conversation between friends. There are several places to answer questions that will really make your girl think. Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “The Israelites’ story shows us how difficult it is to make good choices all the time. Sometimes saying yes day after day can be really hard…God loves His people and wants His people to choose Him. He entered into a relationship with Israel on purpose. He knew what was best for them, and He knows what is best for you.”
  • “As you say yes to the things God asks you to say yes to, you will have to say no to other things – to things that are unhelpful and that He doesn’t want for you. When you say yes to God and walk with Him on the path He has chosen for you, amazing things can happen. “
  • She does a good job of explaining why we have rules and learning self control.
  • “God gave us more than rules-He also gave us a relationship with him… Our life is not about rules. It’s actually about being free to live an amazing adventure with God.”
  • Chapter 15 was probably my favorite. She talks about trusting God to have a plan for your life and using your gifts and talents for him.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading it again with Clarissa soon.

Jesus has friends

Standard

This lesson was faster because we used less Bible stories. We started by reviewing our lesson from last week. If I say, “I have hidden your word in my heart…” Clarissa will say, “That I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:1” She doesn’t say the whole thing on her own, but I will take it.

We talked about how Jesus was God but when he was on Earth, He was also a man. He was born, had parents, was dedicated, went to church, and was baptised just like we do today. The main difference was that although Jesus was tempted, He never sinned like we do. So He is a good example for us to follow.

For this week, we talked about friends. I asked Clarissa who her friends were and what she liked about them. Then we talked about what it would be like if she didn’t have any friends. She thought she would be very lonely. We talked about what we can do to be a good friend.

Then, we talked about Jesus. We read in her Bible about how He chose his disciples and they left everything they had to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). We talked about how these guys weren’t famous or rich. They didn’t seem like they would be important. But Jesus still chose them to be his best friends. We don’t have to be famous or really talented for God to use us. We just need to be obedient.

Then we talked about how Jesus gave his friends the power to do a lot of the things that Jesus did (Matthew 10). They could pray for people to be healed. They could tell people about Jesus. We talked about how God can use us to help people too. We also talked about how if we have friends to help us, a big job can get done faster.

Jesus, Fully God and Fully Man

Standard

We have taken a break from our regular preschool curriculum twice this year. During the month of December, we took a break and did Truth in the Tinsel to celebrate Christmas. We spent most of March doing A Sense of the Resurrection.

When we started back into God’s Little Explorers in April, Clarissa was frustrated that we were back to doing the same story several days in a row. She still enjoyed the activities, but wanted a new Bible story every day. Though she still isn’t thrilled with writing her letters.

We are in the process of using other programs for Homeschool Review Crew so I decided to stop doing our normal preschool curriculum. For a few days I struggled with not having a set plan for our Bible reading. But then I felt like God was like, “Ahem. You wrote Sunday school curriculum. Why don’t you use that?!”

Clarissa is four, so she wants to read the story in a book with pictures instead of me just telling her a story most of the time. But it has been fun to look at what I did with the kids at church and break it down over a few days with Clarissa. Our first lesson is about how Jesus was fully God but when He was on earth He was also fully man.

We talked about how Jesus was born, like everyone else. He had parents. We have read the Christmas story several times so we flipped through the pictures of Jesus’s birth in her Planet 316 Bible and I had her tell me the story.

Next, we talked about how Jesus’s parents brought him to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord when he was 8 days old. That was a very normal thing to do back then. We found the story in her Beginner’s Bible. Then we talked about how we dedicated her to the Lord at her first birthday party. We looked at pictures and talked about what that meant (and of course we had to look at the pictures from when she was born as well).

A different day, we talked about how Jesus was a kid. We read When Jesus was a Little Boy (not necessarily accurate but talks about what kinds of things Jesus probably did as a kid). Then we read about Jesus in the temple when he was 12 years old. Jesus went to church and celebrated holiday festivals just like we do.

The following week we talked about baptism. That John the Baptist was going around preaching repentance and baptising people. Jesus didn’t need to be baptised because He never sinned, but it was part of God’s plan. So we talked about why people get baptised today as an outward expression that we believe we are a sinner and believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Clarissa asked about being baptised when she is an adult. We talked about how kids can be baptised too but she isn’t interested right now, which is totally fine.

Then we read about how Jesus was tempted in the desert. Just like us, Jesus was tempted. But unlike us, Jesus never sinned. One reason for that is because He knew the Word of God and could use it against everything Satan said. So we practiced our Bible verse a few more times so that we would learn some scripture.

Each day before our reading, I read her our Bible memory verse and had her repeat it a few times so she could learn it. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:1

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

Planet 316 Story Bible Review

Standard

Planet 316

We have several different children’s Bibles that we use regularly. Or rather, we did. Since we received the Planet 316 Story Bible and the companion Planet 316 Story Bible app by Planet 316 and Worthy Kids/Ideals in the mail, Clarissa has decided that she doesn’t like the others. She only wants this one for Bible for story time. The Planet 316 Story Bible and the companion Planet 316 Story Bible app really do help to make the Bible stories come to life.
Planet 316 Story Bible and Bible App

The Planet 316 Story Bible has all of the stories you would expect to see in a Children’s Bible. Old Testament and New Testament stories are included. You can read them straight through like a normal book or there is a Table of Contents if you want to find a specific story.

The Story Bible itself is very nice. Each page is illustrated. The illustrations are very vibrant and colorful. Clarissa really enjoys them. She will sit on the couch and “read” the stories to herself.

The companion app is wonderful! I have never seen an app that makes the illustrations in a book move before. You can download the app for both apple and android for free. The app works with any device that has a camera. We downloaded it both on my phone and on a tablet (so we could have a bigger picture).

During our Bible time, we will find our story in the Bible. I read the page to Clarissa. Then, we turn on the app on either the phone or tablet. Clarissa can hold the device over the page of the book we just read. It scans the page and then the illustrations on the book pop up on the screen. If you touch the screen illustrations with your finger, they come to life. So when Jesus feeds 5000 with the little boy’s lunch, you touch the little boy and he says, “Here Jesus. You can have my lunch,” as he lifts his bread and fish to Jesus.

The app is easy to use so Clarissa can use the Bible without me. She can sit on the couch and look at the pictures. She knows how to scan them and wait for the picture to load on the phone or tablet. She can touch the screen to make the picture move or talk. She seems to really enjoy the sound effects and illustrations.

img_20180317_1232502006391531.jpgimg_20180317_12342240133219.jpg

I am thankful for a book that makes my daughter excited about reading the Bible and learning more about God. The Planet 316 Story Bible and companion Planet 316 Story Bible app would be a wonderful addition to a family’s home library or family devotion time. It would also be a great addition for a church or classroom. I used the Bible and app during a Sunday School lesson about Jesus’s burial. The kids were so excited to see the story come to life. I think it made them understand what was happening more than just telling them. The children in the class range in age from two to eight, so I think that children through elementary school would really enjoy this Bible.
Planet 316 Story Bible and Bible App {Planet 316 Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Trying to make Easter Real

Standard

I guess I need to work on how Clarissa discusses Christmas and Easter with other children. We celebrate both of these holidays with a curriculum. At Christmastime, we do Truth in the Tinsel and at Easter, we do Sense of the Resurrection. Both of them are written by Amanda White. I like them because they are hands-on ways for Clarissa to learn scripture and experience things with her senses.

Clarissa tells her friends all about what we are learning, which I think is great because she is trying to teach her friends what she believes about Jesus. The problem is Santa and the Easter Bunny. Especially Santa. When she sees a book with Santa or someone taking a picture with Santa she makes it a point to say something like, “Why is that man wearing a costume? Santa isn’t real.” Which is only a problem when one of her friends insists that Santa is real and Clarissa wants to argue instead of just letting it go.

Usually, Clarissa really enjoys doing activities with her lessons. I was surprised that this time, she mostly wanted to read the story and talk about it each day. We had some great discussions at Christmastime this way, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. She was excited to read her Bible stories each day. She would look at the picture for each activity and decide if she wanted to do it or not. We only colored one flag, so I guess we won’t need to print them next year.

We started by talking about how Mary anointed Jesus’s feet with her hair. Clarissa had a great time smelling my essential oils and choosing her favorites so that we could smell nice too.

The first time we did Sense of the Resurrection, we had a great time studying the Triumphal Entry, waving palm branches and dancing to worship music. This year was very different. She didn’t want to listen to music at all. She was excited about the donkey that Jesus rode on. So we talked about the time I got to ride a donkey on a mission trip in Mexico. We looked at my scrapbook and had a wonderful discussion about why we would want to help people or tell them about Jesus. I wonder what kind of mission trips our family will take together as Clarissa grows…

img_20180314_104119565980903.jpg

She always asks when it will be “foot washing day.” I think she really likes to play in the water. But I like that she is learning that Jesus was such a servant. He was God, but He still washed his friends’ feet. She actually washed my feet this year as well.

img_20180315_1208437315320.jpg

We talked about how there was an earthquake when Jesus was on the cross and made some noise makers to remember.

img_20180326_1227511945783608.jpgimg_20180326_1224561417979247.jpg

I think her favorite activity was putting Jesus in the tomb. We were supposed to make a place in our house that we could walk by for a few days that was shut in because when Jesus went into the tomb no one could get in and no one could get out. They even posted soldiers there to be sure. Clarissa decided that a dance party inside was the best idea. But we did talk about how Jesus was actually dead in the tomb and not dancing.

As usual, we had some books that we read on a regular basis. Our favorites are: God Gave Us Easter, The Peek a Bible Easter Story, The Parable of the Lily, Lily’s Easter Party, and The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story. New this year to our collection is The Miracle of Easter.

We usually do an Easter basket with a book and a small toy or two. This year, the things I bought didn’t really fit in the basket. Clarissa was most excited about The Come Celebrate Easter sticker book and her two magazines. We also gave her a God’s Little Princess Bedtime Devotional, construction paper, and stickers.

We went to church on Resurrection Day. It was fun to hear the pastor say that one of his favorite things about Korea is that “they don’t celebrate Easter. The Christians do, however, celebrate Resurrection Day.” So when you’re walking about Korea you don’t see bunnies or candy everywhere. The only place that Easter is commercialized is at the PX on base.

Since Clarissa and I have spent the past few weeks doing Sense of the Resurrection, we talked about the Last Supper as the pastor was explaining communion. She seemed to understand what was happening and how Jesus said his body was his bread and his blood was the wine. She said that she believed that Jesus died on the cross for her sins so I let her take communion. She definitely didn’t appreciate the wine…

Clarissa has been asking about s’mores since we studied tents and camping with Abraham. We can’t find gluten free graham crackers here, so my mom sent some in her Easter box. After church we decided to introduce Clarissa to s’mores. We roasted marshmallows on the gas burner of the stove and then put a piece of chocolate on the graham cracker. She really enjoyed it but couldn’t be bothered to roast marshmallows a second time so her second s’more she used a normal marshmallow.

On Monday, our friends invited us over to dye Easter eggs. Clarissa has never done this before. We tried a method that where we put dye in whipped cream. Clarissa really enjoyed rolling the eggs (and licking the whipped cream off her fingers).

On Tuesday, we finished our Sense of the Resurrection study with a picnic at the sand playground to talk about Jesus’s picnic on the beach with his friends.

img_20180403_124712177776603.jpg

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

Truth in the Tinsel Take 4

Standard

Clarissa and I do a lot of holiday type things in December.

My mom usually sends us a gingerbread house kit for our anniversary. This year, it was a village. And we couldn’t get it to stay together. So we just had fun decorating the pieces. We ate some icing and candy, and then Tim ate some of the gingerbread.

We also make and decorate cookies. Though I will say, this year, Clarissa was way more conservative with the sprinkles than in years past.

When we made cookies for the second time, she decided to skip the sprinkles and try some icing. We had fun figuring that part out together.

But my favorite activity that we do in December is Truth in the Tinsel. Every year the experience is a little different.

The first year was really all for me. I enjoyed reading the Christmas story everyday. I feel like I learned a lot about Mary and Joseph as parents. The second year Clarissa was so excited to use scissors and cut out the ornaments. Last year, we were consistent at reading Bible stories and attempting crafts.

This year was all about the conversations. We took December off from her normal preschool curriculum in order to focus on Truth in the Tinsel. Clarissa was used to reading Bible stories several times per week so that wasn’t a big change for her. She even looked forward to crafts several days.

Some days we didn’t do crafts and had wonderful conversations about the stories.

The day we learned about Jesus’s name, I told her about how when she was still in my tummy, God told me she would be a little girl with great faith. So we named her Clarissa Faith which means “brilliant faith.” Now when she plays house, she says that God told her that her doll baby would have faith so she named her Clarissa.

Another day we talked about when Jesus went to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. So we got out our photo albums and looked at the pictures from her dedication. We talked about how the pastor and our families prayed for Mommy and Daddy to be good parents and for Clarissa to love God.

The last lesson is about the cross. We celebrate Christmas because Jesus could not have died on the cross for our sins if He was never born. So we had this great conversation about how she used to just like God and not Jesus but now she is friends with Jesus too. (The reason she didn’t like Jesus is because she thought He didn’t listen to her because He wasn’t answering her prayers…)

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

Lifegiving Home: April

Standard

The move definitely put me behind on my reading. The chapters on March touched on rest. As we are settling in to our new routine in Pyeongtaek, I am making an effort to plan for rest. Clarissa is going back to some rest time in the afternoons and I have not committed us to many things in our schedule. It has been nice to spend more time at home, just playing and enjoying my time with my family.

April is titled “a heritage of faith.” In this chapter, Sarah talks about how she saw her parents’ faith while growing up. It reminded me that I enjoy listening to music while I wash dishes and clean the house. Playing music would promote a certain atmosphere in my home.

She also talks about how when she would wake up in the morning, she would always find her mother with her Bible and often she would just join her. She continues the tradition of morning devotions as an adult. So often, I have tried to wake up early to be finished with my devotions before Clarissa wakes up. Now that she is waking up earlier, maybe I should just let her join me or have special books in my room for her.

Sarah discussed many of her family’s Easter traditions. I realized that I never got around to blogging about Easter.

Clarissa and I did Sense of the Resurrection again this year. We didn’t get through all 12 lessons, just the first 10. Clarissa’s favorite lessons were probably washing each other’s feet and when we put a red dot on our hand to show where the nail pierced Jesus’s hand. She often would color the picture on the flag and then cut it out so the flags looked a little different this year.

This year, we added Resurrection Eggs to our tradition. I hid the eggs inside the house while she was playing with Daddy in the kitchen. After she found the eggs, we sat on the couch as we read the story Lily’s Easter Party. In the book, Lily invites her friends to a special egg hunt and as they open each egg, they learn about the toys inside. As they learn about the donkey, crown of thorns, and a rooster, they learn the true resurrection story.

I love that now any time she sees an empty egg, she says it’s empty like the tomb Jesus was in. She enjoys playing with the toys inside as well. I’m not sure that all of the eggs and toys are currently accounted for… Clarissa has requested egg hunts since then. She doesn’t quite understand. When it is her turn to hide the eggs, she will tell me to stay in the kitchen while she hides the eggs. Then, she brings me to each egg and tells me to pick it up and put it in the basket. No finding for me.

 

 

 

 

Is December really over?

Standard

I had lofty goals for the month of December. I was going to do “the real” version of Truth in the Tinsel this year (as opposed to the printable ornament version that we have done the past two years). I even started a facebook group so I could do it with friends.

Clarissa and I started strong the first few days. We read our Bible verses and made our ornaments for the tree.

But then we got sick. Over the course of one week, all three of us had the flu. So we got behind. The stories repeat over a few days and you just focus on a different element, so it was easy to get caught up on our reading. But Clarissa was only randomly interested in the crafts.

I am glad to say that Clarissa and I enjoyed our Truth in the Tinsel time together. Every day she wanted to read the stories. And then she would ask me to read other stories in her Bible, so that was good for this mama’s heart. But she wasn’t terribly interested in the crafts this year. I think next year we’ll go back to the printable version.

This December, my parents sent Clarissa an advent tree. She really enjoyed putting the ornaments on the tree and practicing her numbers.

2016-12-01-16-37-38

My aunt sent us a miniature tree with some snowflake ornaments last year. This year, we decided that it could be Clarissa’s tree. She kept it in her room. Over the course of the month, she would randomly pull ornaments off of the big tree in the living room and confiscate them for her little tree.

We made Christmas cookies five different times this holiday season for various events. Clarissa really enjoys doing the cookie cutters and sprinkles. She also enjoys eating the raw cookie dough…

My mom sent Tim and I a gingerbread house for our anniversary. We had fun decorating it together. And eating it.

Tim and I went on a fun date downtown for our anniversary to a place called Sushi Neco.  The sushi was delicious and reasonably priced.  I ordered a princess platter and Tim ordered the 12 piece assortment. Both came with miso soup and a ginger salad.

We had originally planned to visit Seoul for Christmas.  But Tim has TDY in Hawaii in January so we decided to skip Seoul and make it a family trip to Hawaii instead.

We mostly had a lazy weekend at home.  We introduced Clarissa to the Santa Clause and Miracle on 34th Street.  (Are there any family Christmas movies that aren’t about Santa?) We also were able to Skype both sets of grandparents.

We wanted to do something fun in Daegu so we headed to the new Shinsagae mall.  I will definitely blog about that experience later.

 

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.

My first Army VBS

Standard

One of the activities for Sense of Resurrection was a praise party.  We were learning about the triumphal entry.  The goal was to make paper palm branches and then wave them as you listened to “Hosanna.” Clarissa enjoyed it so much that I started searching for kid’s praise songs on YouTube and we spent a good twenty minutes jumping up and down and worshipping Jesus with our paper palm branches.

One of the songs we found was “Jesus you’re my superhero.” The whole process reminded me of my children’s ministry days and especially vacation bible school.  So,  even though it was the beginning of March,  I knew that I wanted to volunteer with vacation bible school this year.

A few days later,  I was at PWOC and Sherrey mentioned that the Chapel was still looking for a director for vacation bible school.  I thought it might be fun,  but kind of shrugged it off when we started our worship service that morning.

By the end of the worship set,  I knew.  God had been preparing my heart for this.  So after worship was over I told Sherrey that I was interested but needed to discuss it with Tim first.  Tim and I talked it over and decided that I should go for it.

When I led vacation bible school at KPC, it was way different. God had given me a vision for it. We called it Family Fun Night and held it every Monday for the month of July. The whole family came and ate dinner and attended the event together. It was a great time for everyone. It was the first time our church had done a VBS in 10 years. So I could do whatever I wanted and everyone was excited.

I was also on staff at the church at the time. I was in charge of the budget and the spending. It was my job to run the background checks for volunteers. I knew the families so I knew what they needed and what they liked. And they loved me. So even though there was a lot of work involved, I really enjoyed it.

Fast forward four years. Leading vacation bible school for an army chapel as a volunteer with a two year old was very different. When I volunteered to lead VBS, Clarissa was napping (or at least resting) and mostly sleeping through the night. By the time summer rolled around, she wasn’t doing either. That alone made VBS more difficult to plan. Add to it that I had to submit things and wait around for them to be approved weeks later before I could purchase things or wait weeks for background checks to be completed.  Plus I had never met half of the volunteers. It made life way more stressful.

Statistically, they have about 150 kids at VBS. I walked in and found out that our population of kids was 600 and wanted to increase our capacity. But they said no. And I just prayed that God would bring the number of volunteers we needed and the kids He wanted to be there. We ended up with 116 kids and the exact number of approved volunteers we needed to make that work.

Clarissa missed the age cut off for VBS by three weeks, but I wanted her to attend. There are perks to your mom running the program…On Monday, she was so overwhelmed. She was the youngest kid in the cafeteria and there were so many big kids. She ate snack with her group, but ran around with me the rest of the day. On Tuesday, she went to two stations. Wednesday she almost lasted the whole day, but then she saw me during the fourth station so she was done. Thursday and Friday she went to a different group with one of her friends and stayed with them the entire day.

Going in to Vacation Bible School, I was really curious about what Clarissa would do. Both Tim and I got saved at about 3, so I was hoping it would be an important week for Clarissa too. On Monday we had a conversation about how God was good and Jesus was bad so I knew she wasn’t ready. But she did learn that “God gives us hope” and she can sing “for I know the plans I have for you says the Lord…”

It was a good week for me too. Part of me was disappointed that I didn’t get to have my own small group. I did enjoy walking around all day and getting to watch the children and teachers at the various stations. It was funny to be like the principal and talk to all of the kids who needed reminders about the rules. My teacher voice even made a few kids cry, which was hilarious to me. I am glad that I made myself the emcee for the music time. I really enjoyed interacting with the kids and getting to teach a little bit.

We had an altar call on Thursday afternoon. I had been running around like crazy that day and didn’t really get a chance to think about what I was going to say beforehand. But God planted all the seeds already so I just got up there and started talking. And then I asked if anyone wanted to stand up and start a relationship with God and they just started standing up. We only bought 25 Bibles and looking around the room, I knew that I didn’t have enough! What a good problem to have. So I had the kids come up who didn’t have a Bible at home and gave away all my Bibles and took names to bring more the next day.

Friday was so good. The kids all behaved really well so I got to really enjoy watching them rotate through each station. They played games, had a snack, learned a Bible story, and made a craft each day. As we were singing a song, God gave me a new lesson for them.

I think next year I would prefer to be a small group leader. The chapel is getting a Director of Religious Education, so they should be the director next year anyway.  But doing VBS reminded me of how much I enjoy children’s ministry. So I’ll have to find ways to bring that back into my life. It looks different now as a mom, but Clarissa rolled with it. Sometimes I held her while I was talking into the microphone. And the other kids thought she was the cutest thing ever.

Easter Season

Standard

One thing that I like about Christmas is that it isn’t just a one day event. It’s a whole season. Stores have decorations and lights up for the entire month of December. There are devotionals to get you from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

But Easter doesn’t seem to get the same treatment. I don’t know if it’s because the date of Easter hops around from year to year. Or if it’s because it’s easier to get excited about Jesus the baby than Jesus on the cross.

Either way, I wanted Easter to seem longer. I really enjoyed doing Truth in the Tinsel with Clarissa this year. Amanda has also published an Easter series called Sense of the Resurrection. There were twelve lessons about the Easter story that each dealt with one of the five senses. So we spent March doing some fun activities. Each day also had a flag to remind us of that piece of the story.

2016-04-03 14.44.50

Clarissa had a great time when I washed her feet. We talked about how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.

We made banana muffins and talked about the last supper.

2016-03-04 09.11.38

She really enjoyed our Jesus dance party to learn about Palm Sunday. She randomly shouts “Hosanna!” any time she sees a donkey (or horse).

She became obsessed with roosters for a few days too (read about her meeting with a rooster here). Clarissa also requests the “Good Morning” song on a regular basis now.

2016-03-11 13.04.47

It was a great way to introduce Clarissa to all of the pieces of the resurrection story. And a good way for me to remember Jesus the whole month.

We used the Jesus Storybook Bible as well as the Beginner’s Bible to learn all of the Bible stories. Clarissa also enjoyed God Gave Us Easter, God Gave Us Love, Lily’s Easter Party, the Peek a Bible Easter Story, the Easter Story, The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story, and the Parable of the Lily. All great stories that point kids to Jesus instead of the Easter bunny.

We did do some other typical Easter activities too. We decorated cookies with Haven. It is funny to watch. Haven is more excited about making and decorating the cookies. Clarissa will usually help for a minute or two. But she is most excited about eating the cookies (and dough).

We also went to the Easter egg hunt on post. She got to see several of her friends. She found one egg very quickly and wanted to play with it and open it. It took some convincing to get to her to find more before the hunt was over. She ended up with four eggs. And a bag of candy. I like that they gave every child the same bag of candy, regardless of how many eggs they found.

On Resurrection Day, we made waffles as a family. After breakfast, we presented Clarissa with her Easter basket. She loves her new book where the bears learn that there is more to Easter than candy. She was most excited about her little chick that peeps. We made cookies after nap time.

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

The rest of Advent

Standard

I meant to write a blog post each week during Advent…Oops.

Clarissa consistently asked for “Mary” almost every day before our trip to Japan. She stopped asking for scissors and really only used them again on the last day, when she cut her ornament into about 50 pieces. At least she colored it first…

2016-01-04 14.46.51

During one day of the devotion, it really made me think. I don’t remember exactly which day it was. God chose Mary to be Jesus’s mom. I wonder what it was about her that made her perfect to be Jesus’s mom? God could have chosen anyone else. But He chose her. What is it about me that makes me the mom that Clarissa needs? Why did God choose me to be her mom?

My parents sent coloring books with the Nativity story in them. Clarissa wanted to read and/or color them every day of our trip. When we returned home from Japan, Clarissa went right to the table and asked for “Mary.” She was very disappointed when I told her that the ornaments were over. I guess we will have to do crafts more often.

There were several books that helped me explain the Christmas story to Clarissa. Eventually, I did use the Jesus Storybook Bible for Jesus’s birth, the shepherds, and wise men. A Star for Jesus arrived on the day we learned about how the wise men followed the star to find Jesus, which was perfect because that is exactly what this book is about. We also read The First Christmas several times.

She really loves The Christmas Story. The last day of Truth in the Tinsel, you talk about why Jesus came and so she also enjoyed The Easter Story. I think she enjoys them so much because of the flaps. A Christmas Prayer is great as a review because it goes through every character in the story, even the donkey and the star.

Another book I bought this year is  Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree which talks about how the lights, gifts, and angel point us to Jesus. My Christmas Stocking talks about St Nicholas and how the stocking tradition began.

We did other “Christmasy” things during December as well. Clarissa and her best friend Haven were able to decorate Christmas cookies together. Clarissa ate a lot of cookie dough. They both used way too many sprinkles. But they had a great time. The cookies tasted good too so that was a bonus.

We didn’t bring a Christmas tree to Korea with us. We were in Japan for Christmas so we didn’t buy one either. My aunt sent a little one as a gift, so Clarissa was able to decorate a Christmas tree.

Clarissa was able to open presents over Skype with the grandparents. One before Christmas and one after to break it up a bit. We gave her her Christmas stocking the night we returned from Japan.

I think next year I would like to be home for Christmas. I’d like to have a Christmas tree at the apartment and open presents on Christmas instead of just when they show up. We did continue our tradition of watching a movie on Christmas Day. Clarissa really enjoyed Home Alone.

We celebrated New Year’s Day with friends. There was a gingerbread nativity set at the Commissary half off so I bought that for the girls. It was another sprinkle fest.

2016-01-01 14.06.28

But they had fun. They both kind of licked the frosting but didn’t really eat their cookies.

Another thing that I like to do on New Year’s Day is to open my blessings jar. It is fun to look back on all of the things I was thankful for in the past year. I really need to be more diligent in writing down blessings in 2016. Maybe I will choose one day per week to record them?

2016-01-04 15.14.18

Some of my favorites:

  • Hulu so I can watch “So You Think You Can Dance”
  • air conditioning
  • Clarissa is hilarious
  • dreams fulfilled: moving to South Korea
  • God answered my prayer: my car lasted until Tim got the job in South Korea
  • free housing
  • I get to be a stay at home mom
  • skype
  • new friends

It was interesting to see that several things were listed more than once on the slips of paper.

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.

First week of Advent

Standard

Normally Advent starts on December 1.  But we are going to Japan in December,  so we started the day after Thanksgiving in order to get the full number of days in before we leave.

Clarissa and I did Truth in the Tinsel together last year.  She was really just learning how to hold a pen at the time and mostly ate her crayons.  But I read the Scripture to her anyway.  It’s never too early to plant seeds right?

I decided to do printable ornaments again this year.  She really enjoys coloring.  I wasn’t sure that her little two year old self would have the attention span for a story and full craft each day for 24 days.  Plus,  let’s be real,  I don’t want her to play with scissors and glue everyday at this point either.

The first day,  she saw me cut her ornament off the paper so she asked for scissors. Honestly,  the first couple of days she did a few obligatory marker strokes on her paper before she asked for her scissors.  She wanted to do our daily activities because it was the only time she was allowed to play with scissors.

2015-11-29 17.32.39

But as the week has progressed she has started asking for “Mary” and forgetting to ask for scissors. We have studied a few different things this week and Mary has been in most of the stories.

The thing I like about Truth in the Tinsel is that over the course of 24 days, Clarissa will learn all of the pieces of the real story of Christmas. She will learn them in chunks that are small enough for her to understand each lesson. But it all adds up to one big story. I love that.

2015-12-04 16.06.38

There is scripture reading for each day, but honestly I haven’t been reading it straight from the Bible like I did last year. Our favorite Bible is The Jesus Storybook Bible but it doesn’t do scripture like a traditional Bible. It has the main passages as stories. So this week, the individual lessons haven’t fit into stories in the book. I used a page from God Gave Us Christmas to talk about Jesus being the Light of the World. We read pages from The Christmas Story to talk about Mary, Gabriel, and Joseph. I did finally get the Beginner’s Bible from the library this week. That helped with Elizabeth and Zechariah.

2015-11-29 17.38.29

Another piece of our daily routine is the Lifesong for Orphans Advent Calendar. This is probably more for me, but she has started asking for “boy” each day as well. She can recognize her numbers 1-10 at this point, so she gets to find the number for each day. Each day has a specific donation idea. For example, pay 15 cents for each hot drink consumed that day or pay four dollars if you have a roof over your head. The most interesting was to pay 2 cents for each pair of shoes in your house. We went on a shoe hunt. I was so humbled. We have 62 pairs of shoes in our house! Over 50 of them belong to Clarissa. We have been so blessed with hand-me-downs that we have never bought a pair of shoes for her. Of course, she had to try several of them on. Multiple times. A few days in a row. But it definitely reminded me of God’s provision. I wonder what our total will be at the end of the month?

 

The other part I like about this calendar is the prayer focus. Each day has a specific need to pray for in a specific country. Today we prayed for the Lifesong workers in Ukraine to have wisdom, strength, and provision as they mentor the children in their care. That really hit home for me since I actually went on a mission trip to orphanages in Ukraine over Christmas break in 2005. So I got out the photo album and tried to explain orphans to Clarissa. I’m not really sure she got it, but that’s okay.

Today we also decorated a gingerbread house. I decided to give myself some grace this year and buy a gingerbread house kit from the PX. I tried making one from scratch last year and it didn’t turn out very well. I mean, it was delicious, but the frosting wasn’t right and the whole thing literally fell apart. My Korean oven is tiny and cooks different than my oven back home. I decided that it would be way better to just buy a kit. And for $15, it probably is about the same price as buying all of the ingredients and candy.

Tim picked our kit up from the PX on his way home from work last night. Clarissa kept asking for “Santa” because there is a small Santa on the box. But we told her no last night because we didn’t think she would last for the assembling and decorating of the gingerbread house before bedtime.

This morning, I decided that four hours before naptime would be plenty of time. I was surprised when I opened the box  and realized that the house came preassembled. All we had to do was decorate it. Which was genius! I don’t think that Clarissa’s two year old attention span would have lasted for me to assemble the house and then decorate it.

First, she wanted to play with Santa. She said she wanted to eat him, which I gave her permission to do. She said he was “yummy” but then put him down next to “his house.” We talked about what she wanted the house to look like. I put frosting on the roof. Clarissa wanted Santa’s name on his house. And her name too. We had a door on the front and three windows on the back. Then, we opened the candy. She got frustrated at first because the candy was rolling off the top. She spoke in a very stern voice and said, “you able go time out!” I added more frosting to the roof. Problem solved.

She wanted to eat the house when we finished. I told her we had to wait until Daddy got home from work. She was very surprised when I put the completed house on top of the refrigerator. I think she thought that she would be able to play with it all day.

Tim thought the house looked great. So we decided to have some for dessert. We demolished it. Or inhaled it. Whatever you prefer. Needless to say, it was delicious. And it’s gone.

2015-12-04 18.45.54

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.

Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts

Standard

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.

 

 

A reflection on Mary

Standard

I love that this time of year all of the radio stations play Christmas music.

I have been doing Truth in the Tinsel with Clarissa the past two weeks for Advent.  The past couple of days the reading has been Luke 2:1-7 about how Mary and Joseph had gone to Bethlehem to be counted.

So as I was listening to the radio in the car today,  this hit me.  Like a hurricane.

Mary had baby Jesus in a barn.  A barn.  On hay.  With animals.  With cow poop nearby.

Child birth is a wonderful thing.  But it’s hard.  And it HURTS.  I had a hard enough time in a hospital.  With an epidural.  But Mary had ridden a donkey for who knows how many days.  She finally gets to her destination and probably just wanted a bed to lie down.  And what she gets is a barn.  A smelly barn with animals.  I bet it was loud.  And it probably stunk.  I wonder if the innkeeper had given other people permission to sleep in his barn?

And then she birthed Jesus.  I wonder who was there to help her.  Did Joseph deliver that baby? How awkward would that have been? Yes they were engaged,  but they had not slept together yet.

I wonder if Mary knew it would happen this way,  if she would have been willing.  Would she have wanted to be the Lord’s servant in this way?  God sure picked a strong woman to birth the savior of the world.

Being a mom is hard work.  Did she feel added pressure because of who Jesus was? Did Jesus look like them?  Did God give Jesus Joseph’s eyes and Mary’s nose?

I am so thankful for Jesus.  That God sent Him to save us.  That Jesus chose to leave Heaven and come to Earth,  knowing that the people He came to save would hang Him on a cross to die.

Now that I am a mom,  I am also thankful for Mary (and Joseph).  They chose to do some really hard things to do their part to save the world.

I wonder what kinds of things God will ask me to do as I raise Clarissa?  Will I be as obedient and willing as Mary was?

Thank you God for Christmas.  Thank you for baby Jesus.  And grown up Jesus.  Thank you for choosing Mary and Joseph to be Jesus’s parents.  Thank you for their willingness and obedience even in hard things.  Thank you for Clarissa.  Help me to be willing and obedient to raise her to be who You created her to be.

Advent is for Mommy…this year

Standard

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.

image

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.

Clarissa’s dedication and first birthday party

Standard

I was already in love with my church. Clarissa’s dedication made me appreciate the leadership even more.

We had been waiting to dedicate Clarissa until both sets of grandparents were in town. My parents live here so that wasn’t a problem. Tim’s parents live in Pennsylvania and were planning to come for Clarissa’s first birthday. That was when I found out that Forefront usually does one baby dedication service per year in October. But, because they are awesome, the lead pastor and family pastor were willing to come to the house to do a private ceremony as part of Clarissa’s birthday party!

The week before, the family pastor emailed me three mp3s of parent talks. The talks were about thirty minutes total. Each one was well worth listening to. Each talk was different, but important. One talked about who you wanted your child to become. Not about what what profession you thought they should choose, but about character traits and who you think God created them to be. Another was about family life and the third was about our marriage. I am thankful that our church does a really good job of equipping parents to disciple their children.

We dedicated Clarissa outside on the deck. There was a nice breeze. It was beautiful. The family pastor talked about the significance of dedicating your child to the Lord and how a baby dedication is really more about the parents than the child. Then, I got to speak about Clarissa. What Tim and I see in her. Our goal for her is really just to be who God created her to be. Even if that looks different from what all of the other families are doing. We know that Clarissa was created for a purpose and that God has a huge calling on her life. After that, everyone laid hands on Tim and I and the lead pastor prayed over us. That we would seek God and raise Clarissa well. I really enjoyed it.

SONY DSCAfter the dedication, we had a cookout. Clarissa opened her presents. Or rather, I opened Clarissa’s presents and she played with the wrapping paper. We are so blessed with family who love us well and want to give Clarissa things she needs as well as fun things to play with.

DSCN3638

Then, Clarissa ate her first cupcake. The cupcake fell apart really easily. She had a great time playing with it and making a mess. She didn’t realize at first that she was supposed to eat it! Once I put a small piece in her mouth, she got the biggest smile on her face and started shoving pieces into her mouth. She loved it!

DSCN3662

ohAmanda

Standard

I am so encouraged by this mom that I have never met! Amanda and her husband were children’s pastors. Now she is a homeschool mom.

I love the way she writes about her relationship with her two kids. She does a great job of leading them to Jesus. She posts scripture activities and crafts that you can do with your kids. During the school year she does a monthly missions focus where her kids are trying to earn money for a different ministry. I have learned about several really cool organizations this way. She is also crazy about birthday parties. She has great ideas for theme parties that she has done with her kids.

She also has a few e-books. If you subscribe to her blog, you get a copy of her e-book Praying God’s Word for your Kids. She also has a Christmas devotional and an Easter devotional full of crafts and activities that lead up to those special days so that your children understand the true meanings of the holidays.

You can also find her on Facebook.

You’re doing a good job!

Standard

I’ve heard a lot of chatter lately about messing up our kids. Let me just encourage you. If you are worried about how you are messing your kids up, you’re probably not.

Newsflash. You’re not perfect. Never going to be. You are, after all, human.

But, God created you to parent your children. There is a reason that each of your children is growing up in your house. As much as every kid thinks that his siblings are the favorite and everything has to be fair, reality is that it doesn’t. Every child in your house is different and so you will have to parent each one differently. Each one of those children has a calling and a purpose. And if you ask Him to, God can show you what that is. He will tell you what they need. They don’t have to wait until they grow up to live it out either. The same Holy Spirit that was in the Disciples and is in you, is in them. God can use your kids to change the world now.

It’s not your job to make sure your kids follow Jesus. It’s your job to live for Jesus in front of your kids. Let them see you ready your Bible. Let them watch you love people well. Let them see you mess up! And ask for forgiveness. They need to see that you aren’t perfect. Pray with your kids. Read the Bible with them. Take them to church. They need to see what faith looks like, even when life is hard.

You plant the seeds. But at the end of the day, Jesus is the one who is going to woo your kids.

All you have to do is live your life. And pray. Ask God to give you wisdom in how you parent your kids. Pray that God would make Himself real to each of your children. That they would know Jesus from a young age. That He would use them mightily for His kingdom. And Trust. Trust that God is faithful. And He loves your kids even more than you do. He took joy in creating each one the way he or she is. His personality. Her smile. The way she won’t stop dancing when music comes on. The way that he wants to kill all the bad guys and save the day. God knows each of your children intimately. He has a plan for each one. Just trust Him. He wants good things for your kids.

You’re doing a good job with your kids. You love them. Well. And you want good things for them. God is going to use that.

Father God, I thank you for each parent who reads this. And for those who aren’t parents themselves, but mentor and love well. Jesus, teach us how to love our kids. Teach us how to train them. Show us what they need. Show us how to point them towards you. I thank you that you have a plan for each one of these kids. And their parents. That you have set these children in their family for a reason. Woo their hearts God. Make your love real to them. Even when they are very small. Grow their faith way down deep in their hearts so that they will never walk away from you. Give them a sense of purpose. Reveal their calling at a young age. May they never shrink back or run away. Teach them to be obedient. Teach them to step out in faith, even when it’s not popular. Even when it’s hard. And give us grace God, for the times when we fall short. That we would ask for forgiveness and move on. That we wouldn’t dwell on our shortcomings, but focus on what You are doing God. Teach us to trust You with our children. Even when we don’t want to. Amen.

Armor Isn’t Just for Grown Ups!

Standard

This was another curriculum that I wrote for our Children’s Ministry. We were learning about the Full Armor of God. We used this playset the church had from a long time ago. I think it would be helpful to have either armor or a picture of armor as a visual for your lessons.

Download Armor curriculum

Each lesson also includes a memory verse, follow up activity, discussion questions, and prayer.

The family devotional version has the same lesson and also includes a memory verse, questions, and prayer.

Download Armor devotional

14 Things Kids Should Know About Jesus

Standard

This was the first curriculum that I wrote for our Children’s Ministry. We started it the week after Christmas and finished it on Easter Sunday. I wanted the children to really learn about Jesus. Not just the stories about Him, but about His character. This curriculum studies Jesus as someone who was fully God and fully man, has friends, is humble, loves people, is obedient, humble, prays, heals, provides, cares about people, teaches, does the right thing, never gives up, brings glory to God, and saves.

Download Jesus curriculum

Each lesson has a lesson, memory verse, follow up questions, additional follow up activity, and prayer.

I also used this curriculum to make a family devotional. Each lesson is the same and includes a memory verse, follow up questions, and prayer.

Download Jesus devotional