Children, Family, Issues!, Social media

So Strong and So Mighty

So Strong and so mightyRemember the song, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do”?

The mountains are His, the valleys are His. The stars are His handiwork too.

Recently I got to see something that reminded me of my childhood church. I saw a Bible Study where the folks (mostly older adults…there’s something there, too) came to each other, hugged each other, checked in on each other, exchanged smiles, enjoyed a laugh, called out to each other. I couldn’t help but think that these lovely people are an example of what we have lost in our society.

These people surely had opinions on what was going on in the world, immigration issues, whether they want more gun control or not, their thoughts on the President…the list goes on. But more so, they kept it to themselves. They didn’t plaster their polarizing opinions on social media in an attempt to be the single-handed catalyst that our United States needs right now.

Looking at these people made me long for my own childhood days of church where folks just wanted to see how “your Momma and them” are doing. Where they gathered together in earnest prayer and thanksgiving.

I think of my kids.

I give them an instruction to clean the family room. Simple enough… “Just pick up your own things. Worry about yourself.”

And then, it starts. The arguing. Sometimes they argue with each other over literally the stupidest things. Oh, they seem so important to them but as the adult peering over them, I can assure you that this thing they’re arguing about is so very unimportant. Not only that, their arguments are weak and frankly riddled with logic holes. They are just too immature and busy arguing to even realize it.

I call the offending children to me and there standing before me are two kids still going at it with each other. Each thinking of how important it is that they win this argument.

strong and so mightyThis makes me think of how we look in front of our Lord. And when I say “we”, I mean the body of Christ. We bicker and argue over the nastiness of our President, gun control, violence, world issues, free enterprise, capitalism, abortion, immigration…right in front of Him. He has given us the instruction to love our neighbor as ourselves, to follow Him and to lead others to a saving knowledge of Christ. Simple enough.

Then why are we bickering with each other? Why are we debating each other? Because of all the squabbling I’ve seen and heard, I’ve not seen or heard of one person actually doing something about it other than working out the finger muscles as a keyboard jockey, spewing back-handed insults at brothers and sisters in the name of calling out injustice.

In love, of course. As if that makes it ok.

I think God is powerful enough and the Holy Spirit moves fine without our opinions. God wins in the end. God is in control. And God is enough. What if, instead of wasting time convincing the other person why he’s wrong, we got on our knees in prayer? What if we humble ourselves to the Lord and pray?

Do you think God is big enough and strong enough?

Children, Family, Uncategorized

Spiritual Conversation Prompts with Your Kids

Heaven's GatesIt’s an interesting thing to have a conversation with kids about spirituality. Sometimes we put our over-thinking onto our kids when they don’t have that issue. Younger kids take things at face value. They aren’t puzzled by unexplainable things to the extent that older kids and grown ups are. I have conversations with my kids as they show interest in a topic and only take it as far as their curiosity does. That is, give them information until they are satisfied and then leave the topic until another questions arises. So, I’ve put together some of our spiritual conversation prompts that really get the kids’ thinking juices bubbling:

1. What do you think Heaven looks like?

This is a great conversation and we’ve had many creative ideas of what Heaven looks like. I usually pause to allow my kids to envision the best, prettiest, most perfect place they can imagine. We talk about how there’s no tears in Heaven, how it’ll always be happy and beautiful. That we’ll see God and that we’ll get to talk to Jesus. The possibilities are endless. Outside of keeping the ideas aligned with perfection, I just let them imagine and describe what they imagine. I can’t say for sure if they’re right or wrong and I tell them I don’t know. And that’s OK to not know. The kids don’t seem to mind at all.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2.

2. How are God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit Three and also One?

This is such an interesting question as an adult, let alone as a child. All through this conversation with the kids, at the end of the day, we don’t know for absolutely sure how this is possible. What I like to put out there for the kids to think about is that somethings of God are so outside of our ability to think through. And that’s ok. We’ll find out for sure when we get to Heaven. In the meantime, how I explain the trinity to my young kids is that the three operate as one- God. God the Father…always been, always is and always will be. God the Son- Jesus, who died for us and is our defender. He’s our filter. God looks at us through Jesus. And God the Holy Spirit- the Holy Spirit is the “mover”. He’s the action of God. So- distinctly three and yet one. And it’s ok if you can’t get your mind around it.

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 1 Corinthians 8:6

3. How does God hear all of our prayers?

This is a good question that really causes us to realize how powerful God really is. When you start to dissect the impossibility of it (in the realm of humans), that’s when the awe sets in. God never sleeps, He hears every prayer. How is this possible?! How many people are there on Earth? And how many prayers are being prayed at any given time? The Bible tells us that God hears every prayer:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers of the people offered in this place. (II Chronicles 7:14-15)

Hearing a prayer is not the same as answering a prayer. And sometimes the answer is not the one that we want.  Now, this is a good segue into the next question.

4. Why does God sometimes not answer our prayer the way we want?

This is kind of tough question and it’s a great opportunity to teach the kids that God is not a genie waiting to grant them their every wish. God won’t give you a million dollars because you ask for it. The Bible says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.- James 4:3”.

So the motive to just have money is the wrong motive. Asking God to help you find resources to further His Kingdom would be a more appropriate prayer. And even then, the answer God gives is one that is perfect in His plan, though it might not be the answer we want or expect. And that’s OK!!

5. Why do bad things happen to good people?

This question is a really difficult one and it’s one that grown-ups have trouble understanding. When I talk to my kids about this, I want them to understand that God isn’t behind the bad things happening to good people, Satan is. We live in a fractured creation (I love this description!) and because of the sin of the world, perfection isn’t here. Thinking of how big God is and how small we actually are, I remind my children that in the end God wins. God wins! Time in God’s realm is so much bigger than our time here on Earth. A day to Him is a thousand years to us. So, His plan isn’t finished yet. The bad things that happen aren’t the end. God’s plan isn’t finished yet. Until the day that God rights things, we have to live with sin and choose every single day to look toward God and to choose Him! His plan for us is secure far beyond the things of Earth.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

6. How did God make everything in six days?

Easy!! He’s God! This is a fun topic that doesn’t require too much technicality because kids’ imaginations allow them to see the “impossibility” as almost magical. And that’s ok. God made man out of the dust of the Earth. So he can literally do anything. And yes, in six days. Six mornings and six evenings. As we talk about the fantastical aspects of this, we move easily into how detailed God was in every single thing he created. How each thing is necessary to the other thing. Everything on Earth is connected and God created it that way.

You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.- Nehemiah 9:6

7. What will it look like when Jesus comes back?

Sometimes I’ll ask my kids this question when we see a remarkably beautiful sunset. You know what I’m talking about. The sunset with the humongous fluffy white clouds and the sun majestically outlining the clouds with fiery yellow. Sun rays beaming across the sky. This must be what it’ll look like when Jesus comes back! It’s a good starter for talking about what the kids imagine Jesus return will look like. And it usually leads to other conversation about how no one knows when he’ll return, about how we should always be ready for Him, and about how beautiful he will look when he comes to get us. My kids always think of this return as joyous and exciting. It’ll be unmistakable…it’ll be loud and everyone will see it!

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him. Revelation 1:7

8. How come I can’t hear God?

God wants us to get to know Him and we can do that through the Bible. His spoken word is in the Bible and though we can’t hear Him audibly right now, we can hear Him through His word. The scripture- parables, instructions, lessons and testimonies- all have the voice of God. We can “hear” God, but we have to listen differently than with our ears. As we study God’s Word, we will get to know Him. Keep studying and keep learning.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son . . . Hebrews 1:1-2

Children, Children's Bible Study, Family

Being a Good Friend- Children’s Bible Study

Being a Good FriendWe are so excited to announce our newest children’s Bible study, hot off the press! This Bible study is called ‘Being a Good Friend’ and it’s geared toward younger children so it’s a simple but effective walk through scripture passages each week night over the course of a month. Each day highlights a Bible verse that talks specifically about friendship. Of course the greatest display of friendship was when Jesus laid His own life down for His friends so moving through these scriptures with your children will give them a clear understanding of what a good friend looks like, both being a friend to others and also what a friend should look like to your child.

This is a great time to talk about being a good friend with school starting back up. It’s so easy for children to gravitate toward unhealthy relationships in school and in the neighborhood. But when you plant seeds of scripture in their hearts when they’re young, they will better be able to discern between good and not so good choices. And when they find friends that bring out their very best, your children will grow in healthy and strong relationships that they will come to depend on when things get tough.

As far as Bible study goes, you can never start too early with your children. This simple, quick study gives you the time with your child to study the scriptures together. For you to model what Bible study looks like, and for your child to begin her journey with Christ.

Encourage your child to journal during the process- for him to write down his thoughts. And for her to put into her own words what the scriptures mean to her. Not only will you have a precious keepsake, but your child will be developing Bible study skills along the way.

We sure do hope you like this simplistic children’s Bible study. And we pray that this precious time with your child is a blessing to you. Here’s the link for you to sign up to receive the free Bible study: Bible study

Children, Family, Printables!

Prayer Request Cards for Kids!

Here’s an adorable, FREE Prayer Request Card printable for you to use with your little kids. You can print these out as many times as you want…no limit. You can find this by clicking here: My Prayer Requests!)

Have you child fill out a card- maybe at dinner or after brushing teeth and putting on pajamas. Prompt him or her to think about specific things to pray about to encourage this kind of thinking on his or her own. Doing this will help establish good prayer habits while children are young. It spurs them to think of others, to think of ways they can lean into God and to trust in Him.

Bonus…parents, you get the sweetest responses written in your child’s handwriting and you’ll most likely melt into a puddle of goo.

You’re welcome!

Let me know what you think of these and please feel free to share!

Children, Christmas, Family

Watch. Wait. Hope. A Season of Advent

Watch Wait HopeIt’s a difficult thing…keeping children’s focus of Christmas on Jesus instead of Santa. That’s some tough competition in the eyes of a child. Especially when everything around them reaffirms the wonder of the old man in the red suit with all the magic to make children’s toy dreams come true.

We decided that Santa would be a welcome part of our Christmas holiday. And though he is a welcome part, we have been sure to always intertwine him into the Christmas story so that Santa, while a wonderful part of the Christmas season, is not the highlight.

We talk about Santa as a special man who honors Jesus and Jesus’ selfless gift of Salvation by giving gifts to others. The act of giving to someone else, of caring so much for someone else, of wanting to see joy and happiness in someone else…that’s Santa’s role here.

Santa is not the reason for Christmas. Jesus is.

So over the course of the Christmas season, we watch for Jesus.

Something visual we do is advent candles at our dinner table. Before kids and since having kids, we light the advent candles. One candle each week. And we watch the light increase as it signals the impending birth of Jesus- the light of the world.

img_1906-jpgSince having kids, we also have special readings and prayers as we light those candles. This year we found an adorable children’s book that’s actually for bedtime but the passages work wonderfully for the days and weeks leading up to Christmas.

We read about how God knows us. He chose our families, he knows how many hairs are on our heads, what our names would be, who our mothers and fathers would be.

How Mary was visited by an angel and how through her fear, she became the mother of baby Jesus.

How shepherds were doing the ordinary. Tending their sheep…their own helpless beings. How frightened they must have been when an angel suddenly appeared to give the glad news of Great Joy! How the shepherds left their own sheep to see the Lamb of God.

Over the course of the Christmas season, we wait for Jesus.

It’s so hard to wait. There’s so much expectation about Christmas morning. As we wait, we talk about how the people who knew that someday Jesus would come had to wait. They didn’t know the day or the year. They only knew He was coming. They had to endure so much while they waited and they didn’t even know when He was coming…only that He was coming. What a wait that must’ve been.

Over the course of the Christmas season, we hope for Jesus.

We hope for His return. We talk about Heaven and how, though all we know is what we’ve experienced, Heaven is better than the best things and the best days we’ve ever known. How we all may be called Home before our children get to be grown, before they have children of their own. Even though there may be disappointment in that, Heaven is better than the best Earth has to offer.

And Heaven is better than the best Earth has to offer because Jesus was born that quiet night under that beautiful star.

 

Family

Ten seconds or less?

Ten Second Message

Can you share the love of Jesus in ten seconds or less? Interesting challenge! Check out the designs on our new store and tell me what you think. It’s just the beginning and more designs will be added shortly. Kind of a shameless plug but I’d love to hear from you on what you think (please go easy on me, though!). If you’ve got a moment, check out our new store by clicking on the link below.

Ten Second Message

Children, Christmas, Uncategorized

The Gift

Guys, here’s a very special artwork I did last year and it has so much meaning to me. (The link is at the bottom of this post- just click to watch.) I think it best encapsulates Christmas story (Luke 2: 8-14) the way I pray my children envision it and how I had seen it in my mind when I was a child.

This is the Christmas story told through the movement of sand and set to beautifully contemplative music by Mannheim Steamroller called Stille Nacht.

I would love two things…

1. I do hope you enjoy this and

2. I hope you will share it with others. Not for my glory, but to spread this wonderful message with others. To remind them of this Gift.

God’s Son is the best Gift we could ever receive.

The Gift