Monday, June 5, 2017

Better Together

Our last meeting for my moms group ended up being a Tea & Testimony.

The tables were set with care. Each place held a different thrifted plate. And above each place setting was a card which read...

Those dishes were from all different places. Different homes. Different families. If only they could tell us their stories -- what dinners they have held. What celebrations they were used for. Were they pulled out nightly for regular family dinners? Some maybe only ever sat on display. Some may have been used for special holidays. Some forgotten. Some hidden in attics. Others passed down to granddaughters. But I told the moms, where these plates went from here was up to them. 

I challenged them to think about their stories. What brought them to this place in motherhood. Think of who they are. How did they get to this point in their relationship with the Lord? Where had they been?

In 2 Timothy 1:3-7, Paul reminded Timothy of the spiritual heritage they both had. 

Beth Moore, in her Entrusted study said, "Let's take personal ownership of our spiritual lineage -- both in what we receive and what we pass down...You're a creative blend of all your main influencers mixed in with your own God-given uniqueness."

We can usually trace back a generation or two of our family tree without a thought. This is my grandmother... this is my dad...

But what about your spiritual lineage? Who has been your "main influencers"? I challenged the moms to write out five names. My list included my parents, Sunday school teachers who challenged me to memorize large portions of Scripture, college mentors who showed me the importance of ministering to women, friends who suggest books and podcasts, and even authors I have never met face-to-face have impacted my spiritual walk. 

We have to keep that spiritual lineage going. It's time to get excited about influencing the next generation. 

Psalm 78:6-7 says, "So the next generation might know them (the commands of the Lord) -- even the children not yet born -- and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands."  

" They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God's works, but keep His commandments." - Beth Moore

As I think about this group of moms, I love that one of our main goals is to encourage each other to be Jesus to our kids. Next year, we are calling our group MOMs - focusing on the Ministry of Motherhood. 

Since I became a mom, I understand my relationship with my Heavenly Father so much better. I understand more about how God relates to His Son too. It's relational, The love is unconditional. 

I love that the parenting relationship was part of God's plan all along. Through it, we understand Him better. 

At times, the "Ministry of Motherhood" sees daunting. I start to think about all the ways I could mess things up. I doubt my influence. I worry my kids are too small. Or I just feel too tired.

But when my son asks questions and responds on his own to Bible verses we are learning, I reminded that the Holy Spirit is at work and the Word of God will always accomplish what the Lord wants it to accomplish.

What a privilege it is to be the FIRST person to tell our kids about Jesus. We get to help start their spiritual lineage. God gave that to parents! And I can't tell you how excited and privileged I feel about that. 

When those doubts surface, I need to remember 2 Timothy 1:8.  It's His strength - not mine! 

It all starts with just letting these kids see that you love Jesus. Let them see you read the Bible. Let them hear you pray. (Even letting my children hear me confess my sins allows them to understand this life-long struggle of walking in the Spirit.)

And remember the plates... you're not alone. We are better together. 

I had these moms each take home their plates as a reminder of these truths of God's Word and the support of this group. And here's a few ideas of what they could do with these plates.

Or you can always bake another mom some cookies and tell her to keep the plate! Because she might need the reminder that we are repurposed for the Lord's use.

We are better together.

"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near."  Hebrews 10:24-25

Monday, May 29, 2017

Read with Me

The Hurry-Up Exit from Egypt has become a new family favorite. Written in the rhyming style of "The House that Jack Built," this book helps readers to follow the story of the Isrealites leaving Egypt. Filled with beautiful illustrations and rhyming phrases, this book will quickly become a favorite for your family as well!

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Devotions from the Kitchen Table is filled with the prettiest photographs and best object lessons for the homemaker of today. Each devotional seems to resonate with my heart in a way that only another Christian homemaker would understand. I leave the book in my kitchen so that I am able to step away from the chaos of my home and enjoy a few minutes of turning my attention back to the Lord. This is a devotional I will treasure and re-read for years to come. What a great gift to give to another woman in my life too.

I received this book from Book Look Blogger in exchange for an honest review.

I grew up loving the "Where's Waldo" books that could be found in my dentist's waiting room. The Bible Sleuth New Testament is an adorably illustrated book to look for hidden pictures on the pages. Each page briefly describes a Bible Story - the reference for the story is also listed. The New Testament edition included the following stories: The Birth of Jesus, Jesus at the Temple, the Wedding at Cana, Jesus Clears the Temple, Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man, The Beatitudes, A Sick Woman, Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand, Zacchaeus the Tax Collector, The Triumphal Entry, The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost, The Apostles Heal Many, Stephen, A Crowd of People Praising God. I also appreciated the glossy pages. This is such a fun addition to our Bible reading time with our kids.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Created for More is a 30 day challenge designed for those who love to be creative. Its an interactive book that allows you to reflect on the fact that our creative God made us to be just like Himself. Each day's challenge includes a Scripture passage, devotional, prayer starter, a call to change your way of thinking and a closing challenge.

I received this book from Moody in exchange for an honest review.

Although I am not a single mother, I found such encouragement within the pages of the Unseen Companion, God with the Single Mother. Filled with Scripture and Biblical Truths, this book is a treasure for any mom struggling to do it alone. What a great book to pass on to some friends in my life.

I received this book from Moody in exchange for an honest review.

The Good of Giving Up helps the reader to discover the origin, true meaning and practices of lent. Often viewed as an old tradition, many "give up" things for Lent without realizing the purpose - cleaning out to make room for new growth. I found myself encouraged and challenged to observe Lent in a new way this next year.

I received this book from Moody in exchange for an honest review.

I struggled to read Home on the Range. After reading the back of the book, I had high hopes for the novel. But I found myself having a hard time picturing what the author was describing. Her writing style may resonate with others in a clearer way.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Road Food - an Eater's Guide to more than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America seems to be the type of book that some may keep in their glove box. Filled with mom and pop type restaurants for the traveler seeking authentically local cuisine. I was surprise to have never heard of most of the restaurants listed for my city - meaning its definitely high-lighting places to eat off the beaten path. I wish that pictures would have been included in this book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Having followed the story and life of Rory and Joey Feek the past few years, I was eager to read his story in This Life I Live. What a well-written, easy to read telling of Rory's life. An encouraging story of redemption and a changed life. And what an inspiring testimony of his love for his wife.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

a little thank you...

As the end of the year drew closer for my mom's group, it was time to start thinking about a little gift that we could leave with the nursery workers. If they didn't volunteer to watch our little ones during the meetings, many of these moms could not attend.

My church has had a profound impact on my children and their understanding about Jesus and the Bible. I am so thankful for all those who willingly work with my children, teaching them that Jesus loves them. Because when those truths are instilled an early age, they have a lifetime to grow.

Little seeds grow great testimonies.

We had these fruit baskets leftover from this craft. You can find the link to purchase them inexpensively in this post.

The flowers were just the $1.50 flats of 6 from Walmart - cut down into two flowers per gift.

A couple of book pages finished off the look, acting as tissue paper for our little gifts.

The tags were printed on card stock and taped to popsicle sticks . I am happy to send the PDF of this printable I created if you comment with your email address below.

A friend used this idea for some teacher gifts - she put her flower flats inside a lunch bag and rolled down the sides. A bamboo skewer made a great replacement for the popsicle stick.

Thank those who impact your children for eternity. After all, little seeds grow great testimonies

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Leather Earrings

This week's craft might be my favorite for the year. It was simple, cheap, and so far, I have worn them everyday since making them!

This craft was a super easy one for the moms to finish at our meeting. I prepped the leather, cutting it into 2 inch by 1/2 inch strips ahead of time (using a rotary cutter like this). I also pre-punched the hole at the top using this leather tool.

These cost us less than 75 cents per pair.


Using pliers, the moms separated the wire ring just enough to slip it onto the leather strip. 

The smaller the opening, the easier I found it to close up the ring. 

We had a pile of the rubber stoppers for them to complete the earrings. 

And, for an added bit of fun, we had tape and paint available. We used regular acrylic craft paint. 

The options are limitless. The earrings are lightweight and adorable. They would also make a super fabulous gift! 

I told my group that I had woken up in the middle of the night in a state of panic. It seems like worries multiply and situations are worse in the middle of the night. My mind wanders. I forget the truths that I know. I forget my God who is in control.

I woke up early, preparing for my meeting with my mom's group. I sent a panicked text to a friend, listing all my worries. She simply replied, "Don't panic."

The Holy Spirit brought to mind the verse that we have used as our theme verse for the year.

My God, who created the stars and controls them, can also take care of me. His great power and incomparable strength can solve any problem and take care of any situation. 

These leather earrings smell amazing. As my head moves, I smell the leather, and I am choosing to use that smell as a reminder of the goodness of our God. I am using these earrings as my reminder that God made me, chose me, and is in control of everything I encounter! 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Read with Me

Hands down, the best book I've ever read on the Biblical view of Hospitality. As I read The Simplest Way to Change the World, I found myself making a mental checklist of the things I wanted to change about the way I view my home. It's so easy to want it to be a retreat from the world and those outside your immediate family - but God's plan all along has involved hospitality. It started with His making Adam and Eve the perfect home in the Garden of Eden, and it will one day end with His perfect home for His children in Heaven.

"We loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but OUR LIVES AS WELL." 1 Thess. 2:8

This book is easy to read and full of practical, doable tips for embracing the ministry of hospitality. It's not just a beautifully set table or a perfect home - it's inviting others into our lives so that they might see the Gospel lived out.

This book also contains study questions for small group discussion.

I received this book from Moody in exchange for an honest review.

I received the most adorable prayer and reflection coloring journal today: Tranquility. The colorful cover really resonated with my creative soul. Filled with fun coloring opportunities, Scripture, bits of encouragement and journal spots, this book is one that I play to work my way through on days when I need a little more "cheer" in my life.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

I have always loved the testimony and mission of Billy Graham. I was equally excited to receive Hope for Each Day, 365 Devotions for Kids filled with his writings. There is a Scripture for each day and a short devotional that corresponds with the the theme and Scripture of the adult version of this book. What a perfect pairing for family devotions!

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

I love the writings of Jill Savage, and I am happy to add No More Perfect Marriages to my book collection. Written with her husband Mark, this book helps couples "experience the freedom of being real together." There are  "Think about it" and "Talk about it" questions at the end of each chapter, promoting more communication between spouses. It's a great marriage resource.

I received this book from Moody in exchange for an honest review.

Balancing theological topics with interesting stories and examples, Lighthouse Faith was an interesting read. Living her life as a news correspondent has given her a different way of weaving her stories into a text that points you back to the Word. When understand who God is, and are able to follow that first commandment correctly, the rest of the commandments will fall into place. Everything hinges on that!

I received this book from Cross Focus Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Nothing to Prove by Jenny Allen was such an encouraging read - It challenged me do quite a bit of self-examination on why I do what I do. What do I feel insecure about? What do I feel I am failing at? And why do I feel that way? It was easy to read and filled with words that reminded me what God can do with someone who is completely in love with Him.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

How to Overcome Worry is a small sized, non-intimidating book that would be the perfect item to tuck in an encouraging gift basket. Scripture and encouraging truths are sprinkled throughout the text, turning the worrier back to the One that in truly in control. I love that the back cover even states that scripture is the cure for this worry epidemic.

I received this advanced reader copy from Moody in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the Berenstain Bears books as a child. I love passing the stories of these characters on to my children. I also love that the Mike Berenstain Bear books seem to have more of a Christian viewpoint on stories. This Friendship Blessings Collections is 5 stories one one adorable hardback book.

Perfect Fishing Spot, Reap the Harvest, Faithful Friends, Kindness Counts and God Made You Special.

My kids love the books and I do too!
I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Although I am not an artist, I do love creative projects. Looking through Portrait Revolution educated me on many different styles of art and portraits. I especially loved the portraits made out of random objects. It's fascinating how some artists can put so much emotion into a painting or drawing.

I received this book from Blogging for Books  in exchange for an honest review.