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Devotionals

Welcoming 2021

We have all heard the phrase, “Because of Covid…” many times and each of us could finish this sentence with our own stories. For me, 2020 has canceled a lot of plans, rearranged my schedules and challenged me to, as Paul wrote, “learn the secret of being content in any and every situation (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me).” 

Who would have guessed 12 months ago all the things that would transpire and where we would be on this New Years Eve. Wow – what a year! And yet, here we are.

I make a family photo album every year and as I’ve looked back at this year’s memories, it is marked with so many joys amidst the challenges. And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the “ups” but I’m also grateful for the growth I’ve made in the “downs.” 

During days of question and tears, Jesus has drawn me closer to Himself as He’s taken me to places in my heart that needed to be surrendered. 

In his article, Last Days Ministries: Free As A Slave, Winkie Pratney talks about yielded versus unyielded rights. We have ideas of how life should look and how we want our plans to unfold but if we hold too tightly to these ideas, we will find ourselves in a place wrestling between God’s peace and life’s anxieties. God wants us to surrender everything to His loving care – our plans, dreams, fears, hopes, failures, expectations and so on – and trust Him. 

I’ll never forget what Pastor Shull said at a conference last summer, “Peace is the reward of surrender.”

As we close out this crazy year and enter into the unknowns of 2021, I pray that we will walk with confidence knowing that if we are journeying with Jesus, we are not alone no matter what lies ahead. He is already there. 

So…2021…welcome.

Wishing all of my readers a very Happy New Year. 

Parenting

Parenting with Jesus

Parenting is one of my favorite (and one of the hardest) jobs I’ve ever had. It’s amazing to think that God would entrust us with the responsibility of raising and training little humans. This is not something to be taken lightly. This takes sacrificial love, tough love (aka discipline) and flat out hard work.

Several years back when we had two little ones I reached out to a friend, who had eight kids, and asked her for any parenting tips she would be willing to share.  She offered a variety of great advice but the thing I will never forget was this quote, “I offer God my best and ask Him to fill in the gaps.”

This is so beautiful. When we allow the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, He parents along side of us. Sometimes He changes our character to make us better parents. At other times, He protects our children in moments when we didn’t even know they needed protection. He shows us what each child needs in their own unique, God-given personalities. 

Everyone says that these years pass quickly, and I believe it. If you are a parent with kids still in the house, I challenge you to make the most of this precious time you have with your children. If your kids are already grown, never underestimate the result that prayer and love produces. 

There are many people way ahead of us on this journey (we are only 6 years in) but I pray that something God has shown us can be an encouragement to you. Whatever stage you are at in this process, it is not too late to allow the Holy Spirit to direct you in this responsibility.

The influence that we have within the home is extremely powerful. Our words are being processed. Our lives are being watched. Things we do consciously and unconsciously are being observed and repeated. 

I know at some point our kids are going to face the temptations of this sinful world, but I never want that door to be opened inside of our home. I want our home to be a safe place to talk and discuss, learn and grow. 

For those of you who are like me and enjoy reflection, here are four questions to ask yourself today:

  1. What have I done today to encourage my children in their gifts and talents
  2. What have we talked about today that would direct their thoughts to Jesus
  3. How have I responded to them (under pressure and in calm moments)
  4. Have I prayed for (and with) my children today

It’s never too late to start. It is my prayer that as we walk close to Jesus and introduce our children to Him, they will have a passion to know Him for themselves and they will be world changers. 

Go love your kids today. 

*Side Note

Shout out to my parents. I’m forever grateful for their example. They pointed us to Jesus and showed us by their lives what servanthood and unselfishness looks like. 

Oh the places we go...tips and tricks for traveling with kids

In the car…for hours and hours

Here is a list of things we have done on road trips with our kids (ages 1, almost 4 and 6). I’d love to hear what your family does. New ideas are always fun and helpful. 

  1. Reading time 
  2. Screen time (mix in educational shows/apps/games)
  3. Eye Spy (color game)
  4. Snack time (We sacrifice crumbs for peace and quiet and killing a little more time – We just try to vacuum our car after every long trip and it’s SO worth it)
  5. Coloring with magic crayons (the ones that only color on specific coloring books) are perfect for any age
  6. Stop and get wiggles out
  7. The humming game (hum a tune and everyone else guesses the song)
  8. Look outside and try to find interesting things
  9. Bring a bag of toys / books / coloring books
  10. Find it first game (I have no creative title for this game. Split family into two teams and have a list of outside objects to find. The first team to find them and say them aloud wins and gets candy)
Devotionals

What would we change?

I’m still a year and a couple months shy of 40 but when my husband hit the big 4-0, it threw me into a couple days of introspection. I’m already quite obsessed with reflecting on life but somehow this moment took me for a deeper dive. 

I found myself asking, “If I could go back and change anything in my life up to this point, what would it be?” I added some things to my mental list and then began to ruminate on what could still be changed and what would stay in the category of “I wish I had…” 

I know that none of us know our futures and we are not even promised tomorrow but in the event that I die of old age, my life could possibly be half over, which led me to my second question. If in forty years I’m on my death bed, what will I regret if I don’t change now?    

So I wanted to pose the same question to you. I’m talking anything – a major life decision, a hobby you’ve wanted to tackle, a character issue you’ve wanted to overcome.

This has been good for me. It’s helped keep me focused when the mundane has tried to distract. As long as we have life and breath, there is possibility and opportunity. 

When I look back on my life, I want to know that I’ve spoken kindly, loved deeply, followed Jesus faithfully and pursued every dream God has placed in my heart with 100% of my efforts.

I encourage you, don’t live under the burden of regret but rather the peace of surrender. Then trust God enough to show you how to live so your future doesn’t contain regrets. 

We cannot change our past. We can, however, still change our future’s past.   

Food and Fun

Cartoon Time

I’ll start with a disclaimer that we haven’t seen all of the episodes from the shows below so if anyone has seen anything with subtle, negative messages please leave me a comment because I’d love to know about it. With that said, here are 5 shows that we’ve found that are kid friendly and parent approved. All of these are either educational or inspirational. 

  1. Octonauts
  2. Daniel Tiger
  3. Wild Kratts
  4. Veggie Tales
  5. Blaze and the Monster Machines
Devotionals

A few of my favorite things…

“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, silver white winters that melt into springs, these are a few of my favorite things….” 

Although it’s been years since I’ve seen The Sound of Music, I think of this song and it makes me want to add this musical to my holiday movie list.

My sister and I started a tradition years ago that Christmas music was officially allowed on November 1st. In fact, it was practically mandated. 

Now before some of you start hating on me for jumping to Christmas before Thanksgiving Day, let me explain. Thanksgiving is still a huge deal in our family. For us, Christmas music is an ushering in of the holiday season. It’s like opening the door to sweaters, boots and peppermint hot chocolate. And that in itself is something to be thankful for. 

I love holidays (do you see the italics here?)! I guess I’m still a kid at heart. I love family time. I love holiday shopping. I love traditional turkey dinners and my mom’s homemade caramel squares. I love walking into the house and smelling festive candles. I love Christmas parties and trees and lights. I love getting together with friends and reflecting on what Christ has done. I love baking cookies, cold weather and traditions. I love this season. 

And that’s it. There are no confessions or deep thoughts in this post, just a little glimpse into a few of my favorite things. 

So with that said, I’m off to introduce our boys to our tradition that must be carried on.

What are you enjoying this season?  

Food and Fun

Outside Play

Cleaning these clothes – and kids – was no joke but it was SO worth it. The fun and laughter (ok, and a few tears while learning sand doesn’t belong in the eyes) lasted for hours. So next time you need some grown up talk time, have a picnic and give your kids dirt, a bucket and no rules on staying clean. It worked for us.

Devotionals

Wonder

This morning I watched huge smiles emerge between giggles as one by one our three kids woke up, peeked through the blinds and saw the first snowfall of the year. Little fingers pressed against the windows and dancing eyes begged to go out and play. 

I poured cereal and divided out pumpkin bread (It’s still October and suppose to be fall, y’all – who’s with me?) but of course excitement trumped hunger and it wasn’t long before they were back on the couch peering outside. So I sat down with a fuzzy blanket and a cup of tea and simply watched them, savoring the moment. 

Oh to see the world with childlike wonder. 

I’m determined to pause the mundane more often to marvel at God’s intricate handiwork. Nature. Personalities. Relationships. Love. The changing seasons. The mysteries of God. Beauty. 

I know being attentive will take discipline and practice but it’s something worth striving for. Each new day lies before us like an adventure ready to be explored. So much can be learned, enjoyed and experienced if we will embrace the day as such and step away from becoming emotionally stagnant in the daily routine. 

Regardless of how age has labeled us, let’s be children of wonder! 

PS…In case you were curious, the day turned out to be a “school is canceled” snow day which included snowball fights, multiple cups of hot chocolate, cartoons and family dinner. I’m going to bed one exhausted but happy momma.

Devotionals

Faithfulness, Perspective & Changing Seasons

Our relationship with God cannot be based on emotions because emotions come and go like the tide. A real relationship requires commitment and faithfulness regardless of feelings. But there are seasons when God gifts us with the nearness of His presence. These times are like oases giving us strength to keep moving through our deserts. 

Lately I’ve found myself in such a place. And on the contrast of times when I simply trust His silence, I am hearing His voice like a shout. I’m keenly aware of the absolute passion of our Savior, Jesus, and lover of our souls. His friendship, His love, His peace, His words are life. I think of David when he wrote, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for you.” The more I’m in His presence, the more I want to be there. I’m desperate for Him. 

In the midst of this awesome place, I’m getting a fresh view of God’s heart for His people. I see sadness in eyes and hear hopelessness in voices. And I can’t keep silent. I know the answer. 

My challenge to you and me is to be faithful in every season, trust the season that He is taking us through and share Him with everyone we can along the way. We have a voice and a testimony – let’s use it.