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I get very excited planning for my daughter’s home school year. It’s the craziest thing, since I never expected myself to be in this place…planning, organizing, looking ahead, looking forward, hopeful, anticipating…doing school with her (!).

I’ve just begun to plan out her “Bible reading stuff.” Several have asked me to let them in on what we’ll be doing as we go forward so I thought I’d start sharing it. Today arrived a couple of new books that I’m pretty excited about, so of course I had to start taking photos! Is there any other option in this technological world now?

We already have a few items, are still looking for some missing items (if it’s not under her bed, where could that book be at?!), have others that I’m not sure we’ll use or not, and are pretty set on the others.

IMG_20160701_113552233 I’m not exactly sure how it will all look quite yet, what she’ll do independently and what we’ll do together, but so far what I am fairly certain about is having several layers for her “Bible study.”

Please note that my daughter is going into third grade; some of these ideas will be too much for your little! And one other thing: I have great vision and ideals and goals…that sometimes play out beautifully and sometimes they just don’t. I overwhelm my husband sometimes with all my plans and ideas. Please don’t feel intimidated if this sounds like too much. I would be so sad if you were.

First, she’ll have a daily Bible reading plan. Last year we used this one and it was very sufficient for this. I wanted her to get in the Word independently, I had a new baby (’nuff said), and it introduced her to an Bible reading plan that didn’t overwhelm or intimidate her.

This year, I’ll probably come up with a plan for her myself. So far, I’m leaning specifically towards incorporating Psalm 119 because it speaks of having such great delight for God’s Word. After it gets organized, I’ll share it!

Second, she’ll have a new “topic” for school: theology. In the past she has been pretty entranced by my own studying, so I thought, well why not just be specific about it and add this in?? These are the books that came today, and how exciting to think she can claim to have her own “theology books!” So cute. I’ll be looking through them more closely to see how quickly I want to take her through each one and in what order. This is a part that we may do during the day, or sometimes do later with dad. These books could very easily be done during family time, if that’s your style.

First, we’ll be reading the children’s version of Paul Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, entitled Dangerous Journey. There is a study guide for this book, which I’ve ordered, and I’ll look at that to see how it can be utilized for discussion.

Second, we’ll be reading through a systematic theology book for kids by Machowski, The Ology. It has extra Scriptures and a question or two for each topic. The ages he lists in this are primarily for 6-12. If you have younger kiddos, we just received this book when we dedicated our son at church and it would be a great “theology.”

Third, we’ll be reading through some of her children’s Bibles to keep in mind that “bigger story” in Scripture. We own The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Biggest Story, and God’s Big Picture Bible.

I think those will be sufficient for the year. But if not, we’ll likely dive in to Sally Michael’s God’s Promises. We did her God’s Names in the past and really, really liked it (I think she was about 5 or 6 at the time).

We have done Catechism in the past, and may or may not do some of that again. It’s nice to have a change of pace. If you have older kids and want a supplement to Catechism memorization, we worked through these workbooks last year. They were a little difficult for her in second grade, but they did help us have some good discussion.

Third, she’ll be doing actual Bible study. I’ve had a difficult time deciding which book of the Bible to go through with her, but in the end, I landed on Luke. I really wanted to go through a gospel/narrative with her, and since I found out our church is preaching through Luke this fall, I thought this was practically a no brainer. We’ll be studying passages a little ahead of the preaching schedule, and my hope is that by the time they tackle it on Sundays, she’ll get a little more out of it than she otherwise would (and so will I!).

I am going to type up some pages for her/both of us to fill out. They’ll be simple, there will likely be work for her to do independently, and opportunity for us to discuss together. The work load won’t be huge. Reading through the passage once or twice during the week, doing a day or two of a few questions, and then our discussion of it together. We’ll see how it all plays out. (sigh) I love thinking about this part and can’t wait to see how it turns out!

This step has only just begun, but I’ll post it, too, when I’m done. I plan for us to start studying Luke at the very beginning of August so that we’ll be sure to “be ready” for our church’s sermons! (Egads!)

Fourth, she’ll have some Scripture memory. This is where the curriculum that our church uses on Sundays comes in to play. The amazing Children’s Ministry staff at our church does a beautiful job teaching Biblical truths to the kids in their care. We’ll take a day to do any worksheet she brings home from Sunday School and do our best to memorize the Scripture they are working on. There have been times when we’ve done this well, and times when we haven’t. We definitely need to grow in our self-discipline in this area!

I hope this is helpful for some. If I have the opportunity and mind for it, perhaps I’ll post my motivation and desire for all of this. The purpose behind the doing – to see God and his glory – is really the beautiful motivation of it all. I hope it will be yours, too.

Much love to you!

jane

 

 

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Sometimes I look back on the memories of my first pregnancy and wish I could forget them. Marriage was in one of those “rough patches,” my relationship with God felt lonely and confusing, and life in general felt uncertain. After coming out of that season, I was ashamed of my faithlessness and my lack of holding to truth, and committed to myself that if I was ever pregnant again, I would glorify God through it, somehow.

The years have passed since then. My love for God has been refined, clarified, and made firmer. And through many tears, many prayers, and many stories that very few know or understand, seven years later here I am today, expecting our second child.

Expecting my second child, in the very throw of pregnancy, having that same question in my mind nearly all the time, “How is God glorified through this?” I read and hear much about that after birth, when the baby is crying all night, when the children are begging for your attention. But what about during pregnancy? Does anybody talk about that? Maybe I missed it.

How is God glorified when I can’t keep food down, when I gag at every turn, when headaches linger all day long, when I feel faint and weak and start blacking out? When I can barely exercise anymore because I’ll be out of breath in a minute, and am practically passing out when I stand for long anyways? When my doctor prescribes an inhaler to use during the night when I wake up gasping for breath?

When my brain thinks and feels and acts like a million, soft, delightful, easy going, clear, blissful, shiny bubbles filling and floating the clear blue sky?

At first, I thought I was failing. My normal tendency is to be in God’s Word, to be reading, studying, asking questions, helping, serving. But this pregnancy thing, it has thrown me off. Already. Before baby has come. I feel miserable a lot. There is a good sized lump on my belly now, hindering my movement. At 17 weeks I started getting some pretty strong kicks that, although thrilling and exciting and evidence of life, I confess were already starting to annoy me with their constant prodding and poking.

I thought I was failing because I had no energy to do hardly anything wholeheartedly like I normally do. I was falling asleep during my studies. Reading my Bible and the books that I normally did were giving me headaches and making me sick. I could tell my poor daughter was feeling deprived and missing my usual attentions. My sweet husband never complained when he came home from work and had to clean everything, do everything, go everywhere for me.

I thought I was failing until I remembered that this pregnancy isn’t about me. Perhaps that is what made it so hard to endure the first time around; I was focused on how this pregnancy affected me, what lovely thing was coming to me, what suffering was coming to me, what joy was coming to me.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about God, and how he is bringing about new life. It’s about God forming something new in my womb, breathing life into it, and molding its very being. My daughter was asking about why she had so many freckles the other day, and we talked about God planning and making those freckles even when she was growing inside me. Just like he’s doing with this new baby on the way.

When the focus is off of me for a moment and on to Christ, I stop always asking the generic question “how do these miseries even glorify God?” And I start asking things like, “How can I die to self in this season? How can I sacrifice my life, for the sake of this life inside of me? How can I give my all to this season? How can I let go of my wants and desires the way Christ did for me? How can I endure for the sake of Christ?” If all I do is ponder over and over the beauty of Christ’s humility on the cross, remember his suffering in light of my suffering, and remind myself that there are other believing, suffering, pregnant ladies out there, enduring the same “trial” to varying degrees, and we do it together, and we do it for his sake and not our own, is that not how he might be glorified?

Oh blessed thought! That those floating bubbles of my mind would be full of the glory of the cross as I lie awake in the watches of the night, and remember that it is for his sake I carry this little lump around. What a glorious thought! That as I sit hovering over my toilet spilling my guts out into it, with my knees already bowed on the bathroom floor, my mind would be confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!

Serving and reading and studying and praying and teaching and meeting with friends all look a little different for me right now. And after 7 years of being in a routine and expanding that routine in lovely ways, this longed-for and waited-for and prayed-for pregnancy is a slight interruption in the way I do my life. But oh, what a unique interruption in order to learn about sacrifice and humility! What a blessed time to learn about laying down my life, my pride, my desires, my ambitions, for the sake of another.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11

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I was driving on the highway, in the rain, in the dark, on the way to small group. My daughter was in the back seat singing and making up her own lyrics to her own melodies about the rain falling steadily against our windows. In the middle of her song, I heard these lines:

The Lord protects us;

The Lord gives us rain coats

to protect us from the rain!

Obviously he loves us!

My daughter seemed to be living out a portion of Ephesians 5 in that moment, in my presence: “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And I think, that in that moment, something was clicking for her that I forget so, so often.

For my daughter, it started with her rain coat. Her gratitude for it caused her to reflect on how God delights to provide for her. His provision for her in the storm caused her to ponder anew how he protects her. His protection of her reminded her of his great, vast, unimaginable love towards her. And this love that she was reflecting on – which all started with her small, little need – inspired her to make melodies in her heart, singing, making music, addressing me with a spiritual song. In the midst of the awareness of this glorious, comforting, awe-inspiring truth, praise erupted from her heart, was poured out like honey upon her lips, and was heard by the one near her.

How vast and beyond our imagination our God is! For the magnificence of his grace and plan of salvation for the fullness of time is all the more amazing to us when we see how very small we are in the midst of it, and yet he cares for us, very specifically, very individually, all the while.

You could say I was edified by my little sister in Christ that day. Oh, my dear sweet one! My heart echoes your song, and I sing with you that obviously, obviously God loves us!

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When I turned 29, I was terribly traumatized. The thought that it was my last year in my “20s” and that I had only one year left until I was 30 sent me into freak-out mode. Thank goodness I have a few years to go until 40 hits.

Yes, turning 30 was a little, teensy, weensy bit difficult. My eyes already bug out, and when I thought of being 30, I am certain they truly then popped out.

Now, I’m about to turn 31. And, it’s not quite so dramatic, but it’s still a little traumatic. You know what, though? So far, my “30s” have been the best years of my life. So I thought I’d share some notables with a list, for your reading pleasure; a little “year in review”.

At 30 I…

– participated in my first triathlon (never in a million years thought I could or would actually do that! Wow! Craziness.).

– read a book that convicted and challenged my prayer life and since then, have seen God answer all kinds of prayers and petitions and requests that I have asked according to his Word, nearly every week, sometimes every day, for the entire last year, on behalf of my family and the body of Christ around me.

– have experienced the incredible power of God’s Word to comfort my soul, heal afflictions in my heart, show grace when I sin, and guard my mind against all kinds of things.

– watched the unity of our little family of 3 blossom; abounding in love for one another, learning to be patient with one another, considering one another’s needs above our own, and learning to be established in God’s Word.

– experienced how awesome marriage can be when we both live selflessly towards one another, cheer one another on, remind each other of the power of Christ’s work on the cross, and seek to obey God’s desire for us to be holy as he is holy and filled with the humility of Christ.

– have been brought to many, many tears before the Lord, as I have knelt in amazement that he would delight to so faithfully lead me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake and keep me grounded in his Word, firm and steadfast and unyielding.

– have seen God provide for our food, our clothing, our utilities, our rent, our activities. The littlest of food on our table is an astounding blessing to our family; I hope we never forget it.

– watched my husband grow and grow and grow in great strength of character and mind, taking pleasure in leading his little family along very faithfully in truth, protecting us, watching over us, caring for us, providing for us, cherishing us, giving us literally all of his strength, and pouring all of his joy over unto us two, his girlies.

Praying that your “30s” will be such a great delight and testimony of great grace to you, as well…(or 40s? 60s? 80s???).

Much love to you,

jane

 

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Maddie’s been saying she wants to take a cooking class this summer. I guess she’s serious.

Yesterday she rummaged through my cabinets and found “ingredients” to bake a cake. We were in a hurry and I told her to remind me another day.

Today, yesterday’s tomorrow, was the day. She reminded me, and since I really had to reason to not let her do it, I let her pick out ingredients and bake a cake. She did not want to follow a recipe, and she did not want to be guided. She ran out of ingredients towards the end and asked for suggestions, and took my ideas to add flour and baking soda. Otherwise, she did it all on her own.

She tried it and ate her whole piece and she said it was good. I asked her if she was going to eat the whole thing but she said no, she made it for her “baby sister” (aka her doll), and she really doesn’t really like peanuts. :\

She had me try it, and it actually wasn’t too bad. A few bites of it with all that Stevia made it pretty pungent, though. I had to try to keep it in my mouth to be a good mommy, since she did and everything…She said it’s great that I put it on the internet, so she can remember the ingredients (for next time, I guess? Egads.).

Can’t blaim her efforts though. Especially when I made strawberry banana muffins from somebody’s self-proclaimed amazing recipe right before her baking attempts, and mine really didn’t turn out that great either.

Here’s Maddie’s recipe for “Peanut Cake”:

1 Tb shortening

a few tsps (you decide how many) brown sugar

1/2 tsp sucanat (this is unrefined sugar)

1/2 a small bottle of Stevia

about 1 tsp cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

flour (just eyeball it and throw it in)

1/2 apple juice juice box

1-2 tsp sherry

a few small handfuls of peanuts, pecans, walnuts

sprinkling of white chocolate chips

sprinkling of semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix brown sugar and shortening thoroughly. Add sucanat, stevia and cocoa. Mix. Pour in apple juice and sherry; mix well. Throw in baking soda, flour, and all nuts. Mix really, really, really, super well. Pour batter into mini bread loaf pan. Sprinkle the white and semi sweet chocolate chips on top. Bake at 375 degrees for awhile…until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Cool.

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