God’s Promise of Family

God’s Promise of Family

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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Did you know hidden in God’s word like a diamond waiting to be discovered is a beautiful promise of family? It’s a promise that he would put the lonely in families. If God says it, then you can trust it to happen. That is the truth that I’ve been holding onto for years. As I look at how God has fulfilled his Promise of Family in my life, I know that this promise rings true for all of us.

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Promise of Family

The first time I read this promise in Psalm 68:6, I held onto it like it was my lifeline. At that time, my husband and I were in the midst of discerning which congregation God wanted us to work with. You see God called us away from the church family we grew up with and asked us to go somewhere where else. We couldn’t understand it at the time, but now see that God was paving the way for other things He would call us to later.

After eight long months, we found a family of believers that took us in as their own. We came to them as visitors and they treated us like family long before we ever placed membership.

I saw God’s promise of putting us in a family unfold. 

I remember being asked if they could throw us a baby shower when they found out we were pregnant with baby #4. This was only after visiting for a handful of months. After responding “thanks but we aren’t members,” we were met with a question that makes me cry thinking about it even now.

“Can we love on you anyway?”

How could I refuse allowing them to love on our family?  They truly showered us with love then and even after our move.

The Promise Answered Again!

About four years later, once again we were being called to leave. My husband had finally been offered not one but two jobs after spending a year taking care of his grandparents. Praying for discernment over which job my husband should take, was hard because I had to put my emotions aside. I did not want to move far away. On our way home from the potential job that was the farthest away from our “home,” my husband asked my thoughts on where God was leading us. I couldn’t help but burst out into tears as I answered him. I knew God was calling us to the farthest location away from all our family.

And then that same promise came floating back to my heart:

“God sets the lonely in families,”

A year ago I was in tears thinking about moving, and now I’m praising God for how He has kept his promise once again. We may not have any family by blood in this town but we have a spiritual family. And they are a blessing to my heart.

Here’s the cool part though…many of our spiritual family from back “home” did what they could to connect us to people they knew in our new town. One friend connected us with her family and they have been a big blessing literally from day one of our move. Others encouraged us to visit certain congregations or connected us through Facebook with their friends here. God has blessed us with amazing neighbors and blossoming friendships near and far. The more I spend time in different places, the more I realize what God means by family. It’s a family where there is always room for more! I am so thankful for those who have come into my life up to this point and look forward to those I have yet to meet.

Christ’s church is a Family No Matter Where You Are

Christ’s church was designed to be a family of believers no matter where you are on this planet. We are all one big family! I love this so much. Thanks to the congregation we attended before leaving Oklahoma, we had a wonderful opportunity to bring this understanding home to our children’s heart.

A couple months after delivering our 5th child in Texas, we received a package from the Oklahoma congregation. The kids were sooooo excited to open it and guessing what it was. Then one kid piped up and said, “Why are they sending us a gift?” They spent several minutes coming up with answers. Some were hilarious, but some hit the nail on the head:

They still love us. 
They still consider us family!

Yes, they do consider us family and we still consider them family, just like we still consider the congregation we grew up in family. No matter where you live on this earth, if you are a follower of Christ, we are family!

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The congregation in Oklahoma had a baby blessing and delighted in blessing us too with a handmade blanket! And yes, I totally cried!

I share this because I’m sure I am not the only one who has felt lonely in my circumstance. God is always with us and praise God for Him and his faithfulness! He is my closest friend and always will be. But I praise Him for recognizing our need for physical families too. I hope this encourages your heart today if you are feeling lonely to reach out to those around you. And even if you are not feeling lonely, pray about who you can reach out to that might be praying for family right now.

Bless you and create a great day, my sisters!

Tis the Season…

Tis the Season…

Toni D

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Tis the Season…

..to be lonely.  Everyone is shopping and spending time with family and friends.  It is such a busy time.  But, the holidays can be a very difficult time for so many people.

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I lost my grandfather eight years ago right after Christmas.  I was extremely close to him and was his caregiver during his last two years.  When he passed on, I was devastated.  I did not deal well with it so I went to a grief support group to help me better deal with it.  I still attend on occasion, mostly around the holidays because that is when it is most difficult for me.  I also continue to attend these meetings because it has become a time of fellowship with a wonderful group of mostly older ladies.

The most important lesson I take from these ladies is that with our loss things change.  We do not always like it, but it does.  When we lose someone, it changes our routines and our traditions.

For some people, this can even mean the loss of their remaining family, a wife that loses her husband and they have no surviving children or an child that loses his last remaining parent.  These are the people that can feel particularly lonely.

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The Bible even tells us several times to care for the widows and the orphans.  During the holidays, this can be as simple as visiting someone Take some cookies or fudge.  Have your children make a homemade ornament and take it to them.  Take a group of friends and go caroling.  Invite them to go look at Christmas lights.  There are so many little things that we can do that would mean a lot to someone else, something that would help them to feel not so lonely.

 What are some things your family has done?

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The Tradition of the Silver Box

The Tradition of the Silver Box

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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One of the most sentimental memories from my childhood is Christmastime. The glow of the Christmas tree on the night of Christmas Eve. Candles lit throughout the house, special trinkets on display, festive music filling the air. The glowing fireplace filling the room with warm air, stockings hung on the mantel. Such beautiful traditions took place in this setting. Under the tree were beautifully wrapped packages–our family gifts, of course, as Santa had not yet visited. The sweetest gift we had to offer each other, however, could not be wrapped, but was symbolized by a small silver box that hung on our tree.

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Proverbs 16:24 tells us that kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Words of affirmation and life are something we all need from others and something we should be able to sincerely express to those around us.
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Family so often gets our worst. They are the ones on the front lines when life is stressful or frustrating. How beautiful it is to take a moment to say something lovely and life-giving to each other.
Our family had a special tradition of passing a silver box around on Christmas Eve, and with it, saying something kind to each other. We each took a turn to speak about every person. While it’s important to speak encouragement all through the year, there was something extra special about doing it at Christmastime. Our remarks to each other required time and forethought. Our kind words truly were a gift to each other. A sweet and precious gift.
Our silver box tradition was based upon the book Silver Boxes by Florence Littauer. In this book is a special poem that we read each year before we exchanged our kind words.

“Silver Boxes,” by Michael Bright

My words were harsh and hasty and they came without a thought.
Then I saw the pain and anguish that my bitter words had brought.
Bitter words that I had spoken made me think back through the past;
Of how many times I’d uttered biting words whose pain would last.
Then I wondered of the people I had hurt by things I’d said;
all the ones I had discouraged when I didn’t use my head.
Then I thought about my own life. Of painful words I’ve heard;
and of the times I’d been discouraged by a sharp and cruel word.
And now clearly I remember all the things I might have done;
but, by a word I was discouraged and they never were begun.
Lord, help my words be silver boxes.
Neatly wrapped up with a bow; that I give to all so freely, as through each day I gladly go.
Silver boxes full of treasure, precious gifts from God above;
that all the people I encounter might have a box of God’s own love.

On a night where God’s love is at the forefront of our minds as we are thinking about the babe Jesus, it is a beautiful thing to share God’s love in the words we say to each other. Oh, that our words might be silver boxes!

As we are mindfully preparing for our Christmas this year, let’s look for ways to speak life to each other, and to encourage each other with words as sweet as honey. The best part about this tradition is that is costs nothing, yet it is truly meaningful!

Merry Christmas, friends!

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Tips for a Stress-Free Advent Season

Tips for a Stress-Free Advent Season

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

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He is coming! It is that time of year again when we get to be in awe of Christ’s coming. We’ve only been enjoying advent with our family for the past five years or so. But I’ve noticed, that when we devote our full attention to Christ, Satan will try to divert it, discourage us, and just make us give it up. (This is true during any season of life.) That’s why I want to encourage you as this season begins not to stress over advent, but enjoy it as much as you can. Here are some tips for a stress-free advent.

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Tips for a Stress-Free Advent

#1 – Have a game plan that fits with your schedule.

We all have completely different schedules. It might be so awesome to hear what one person does, but if it doesn’t fit your schedule and you are trying to do what they do, stress will follow. So take a look at your calendar. Pray about it and set aside your family advent time.

Consider these questions:

  • How often you will set aside to enjoy the advent season? Weekly? Daily? A few times a week? Fan the spirit the whole time?
  • What will those set aside times include? Singing, Scripture reading, devos, ornaments, activities, etc?

After answering the questions above, maybe instead of doing a daily advent you do a weekly devotional activity that you can use as a talking point throughout the entire week. (Look below for advent devotional & activity ideas.)

#2 – Simplify Other Parts of Your Calendar

Easier said than done. December has become the BUSIEST time of the year. If we are running from thing to thing, our stress levels will already be high, and then adding advent to that, makes it feel like just another item to check off the list. When praying about your schedule, consider what you can cut back on during December to really allow peace to filter in.  I love what Tracy stated in her post about what she wants for Christmas:

Sometimes we get the idea that just because an activity is a “good” activity, we should do it… Doing fewer things and doing them well not only helps me to be less hectic… it also helps me to actually be present and enjoy the activities we choose to do. Less truly is more: more patience, more attention, more grace.

How about we make more room to be able to focus on Jesus, who is the peace-giver, this month, instead of overloading ourselves with fun things that just leave us drained?

Now, I’m preaching more to my heart than to yours maybe. I tend to overload my schedule but have been working really hard to give our family breathing room, to experience Christ and his grace in our lives, instead of just reading about Him and moving on. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing Christ’s light shine brightly in the hearts that are before us. Let’s not rush their little flames so fast that we almost extinguish them.

 

#3 – Decide how you will focus your thoughts.

Many of you already have your Advent devotional book picked out for this year and you’ve got everything ready to go.  Fantastic!  But if you don’t, don’t stress.  You can always pick one up, catch up, or just start at the day we are on.

Need some FREE ideas?

The Bible. Yes, you can just keep it simple. God’s word is beautiful and will fill you in on everything that you need. Read a few verses a day out of Luke, Matthew, John or all three. If you don’t have access to a Bible at home, use the Bible App on your phone or Biblegateway.com.

Family Time Training’s Advent Guide. This FREE guide will help your advent be memorable but not overwhelming. It brings the family together for Scripture and an activity once a week.

The Jesus Story Book Bible Advent Guide. This FREE guide comes with  a daily reading guide, printable ornaments, and activities.

Great Joy. 25 Advents Meditations by John Piper. These short mediation thoughts are FREE daily and can be read (via blog or email) or listened to on iTunes.

If you prefer to have a beautiful book to read from, these are great options:

The Family Book of Advent by Carol Garborg. This includes 25 stories and activities to celebrate the meaning of Christmas.

Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional. These daily devotions will help center you mind on Christ and be in awe of Him.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp. These are beautifully illustrated devotional thoughts.

The Wonder of the Greatest Gifts by Ann Voskamp is a daily advent pop-up book

#4 – Set proper expectations?

This is what I envision:

Our family gathered together in our living room with only the soft glow of candles and the sparkling trees lights illuminating our time of singing and Bible reading. All 5 children are attentitvely listening and hungering for more. They are hanging on every word and can’t wait to hang the advent ornament on the tree. We will pray joyously and the kids will beg to do the craft.

But I have to expect that not every night will look like I’ve planned in my head. Right!?! And that is ok.

If we stress about having the perfect advent time, then we will be frustrated. But if we are flexible, have grace, and realize some nights we maybe doing our advent while driving in the car, or around the dinner table instead of in that perfect serene scene in our heads, then peace with follow it.

#5 – Keep it Simple!

If you enjoy doing all the extras then enjoy it. But the moment you start stressing about it, I encourage you to take a deep breath, take a step back and just enjoy Christ. The activities can get overwhelming for some of the advent devotionals out there. Keep it simple. Just because it has an activity doesn’t mean you have to do every. single. activity. Give yourself permission to be ok with skipping some of them. What I’ve done in the past is pick the activities I think we would enjoy the most or be the most thought provoking and do a couple a week.

Did you know there are no rules around advent?

It’s all about preparing our heart for Christ’s coming. We can use this beautiful season to start training our children and ourselves how to set our thoughts on things above all day and not just when we have a quiet moment. Then we will start to learn that any time is a great time to seek Christ, his love and wisdom. And we will start longing for him not only during the advent season but all throughout the year too. Because, he is coming!  And he is coming soon!

May your hearts be filled with Christ’s peace and joy this season!

Prayer Over Our Hearts

Lord, we come in absolute awe of you!  All you have done for us…all you left behind, just to set us free!  Your love overwhelms us.

We pray that we will learn to be in awe of you of you not just during this season but throughout our lives. Let us not let the devil keep us “busy” doing good works so that we forget to focus on who is truly good. Let us be expectantly waiting and rejoicing in your returning, just as so many were anxiously waiting your coming!

It is with open hearts that we embrace this season to focus on you and encourage others to be in awe of you as well.

In the One who is the light of the world and is coming soon – Amen!

All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

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Christmas and Thanksgiving mark the beginning of a holiday season supposedly centered on selflessness, contentment, and service.

However, this season often does not “feel” particularly happy or religious. In fact, with Black Friday hordes, Christmas to do lists, and advertisements of perfectly primped and styled families, it all feels very pressured, backwards, and stressful. I know that’s not how I want to feel. Nor is it how I want to act. So this year, as I look forward to holidays, I am making my own wishlist with a personal agenda.

What do I want for Christmas?

Time over Gifts

When I look back over the years, I don’t think, “Wow! What a great Christmas–that was when my grandma got me these shoes that were the very latest fad!” I think back on times when my family spent time with me. Basketball games played with cousins, hymns sung as we all crowded into the living room, sharing and passing and laughing at an overcrowded table.

These are those precious moments, those things that you store up in your heart.

It is a blessing to receive and to give gifts. But one gift doesn’t cost anything and means so much–the gift of your time. This year, I want to give that gift to my family.

Less Activity

Sometimes we get the idea that just because an activity is a “good” activity, we should do it. Well, I am only one person. And I’m pregnant and a mom and a wife…the list goes on. I can only do so much. Doing fewer things and doing them well not only helps me to be less hectic (my family will thank me later for not being so snippy and grumpy!). It also helps me to actually be present and enjoy the activities we choose to do. Less truly is more: more patience, more attention, more grace.

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The Strength of Will to Focus on the Godly

There are many wonderful things about Christmas. For instance, there is no other time in the year when even the lost and the worldly are thinking about Jesus! What a great opportunity, not just to share goodwill and gifts, but to share the best gift ever given: the story of the Christ, His cross, and the salvation it brought.

Yet somehow, it is easy to “fudge” our focus. To be distracted by the hubbub, the travel, the rush of the holiday season.

It’s easy to say to myself that I’m still doing good things. That what I am doing still “counts.” Dashing around to six different stores to buy presents, filling gift sacks and stuffing fruit baskets for the elderly, signing and addressing envelopes to loved ones and friends–they can all be good things.

But they may not be the necessary things. In the craziness that is our lives, I think it is especially important that we be a Mary and not a Martha. We need to realize that the “better part” is to pause and take our gaze upward: to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus. It may mean saying “no” to some things or  losing sleep some mornings. It may mean giving up on having the “perfect” house or the “perfect” schedule. But, as we gaze upwards at the cross, at the face of our Father, we will find not only peace for our hearts but wisdom for our actions.

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And we will find that everything is better after looking at Him.

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Black Friday…the Tradition Continues

Black Friday…the Tradition Continues

Toni D

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Our annual Black Friday shopping has added a new chapter.  I will say that Black Friday 2016 was the most unforgettable yet!  In the past, we have talked to Siri, listened to and sang “Dumb Ways to Die,” told stupid jokes, and have done some crazy things.  Black Friday 2016 definitely tops it all!

The rule is that once you turn fifteen, you can go Black Friday shopping.  This time, my sixteen-year-old middle son decided he wanted to go.  Apparently, this is not good when you put him with his thirty-two-year-old cousin’s husband, Jimmy, who is a former college football player (a big, big guy).  All I can say is, “Heaven help us!”

Our outing started out pretty normal.  Jimmy had already told us he had a YouTube song/video for us.  After we had made several stops, he decided it was time for the video.  It was “PPAP – Pen, Pineapple, Apple, Pen.”  Let me say, this is the stupidest thing we have seen yet.  It is so stupid that I cannot even laugh.

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Our next stop was the mall to look at women’s boots for my niece.  While she was looking, the “boys” are discussing what size women’s shoe they would need.  Jimmy wears a men’s size 13 (Did I mention that he is a “big boy?”) so we knew he would not be able to find something to try on…in the women’s department.  So they set off to find a boot for my son.  They started with a lovely high-heeled sandal in a size 11.  He modeled it for us and then said it was pinching his little toe.  (He also almost fell twice and could not keep his balance in those four-inch heels.)

Then, Jimmy found the ultimate boot–a size 11 wide!  This made them both happy.  My son tried it on and stumbled around as other shoppers walked by giving them strange looks.  We were all laughing so hard.  Did I mention that it was around 2:00 a.m.?2017-11-15-22-09-33-1

These two continued getting in touch with their feminine side.  They looked at makeup in Sephora.  My son tried on sweaters that he had bought for his girlfriend.  He even did the model poses. Yes, I took plenty of pictures!  These two had quite the time and ended up getting lots of odd looks and lots of laughs.2017-11-15-22-12-42-1

The highlight of the night (yes, it got better) was when we later made a stop at Quik Trip.  Remember the song that I mentioned earlier? It has a dance.  Before they got back in the car, Jimmy taught my son the dance in the Quik Trip parking lot at 5:00 a.m.  This was so funny!  And, yes we did get it on video.

Before anyone says that I should not have shared some of these embarrassing highlights, I did preface the night with the comment, “Remember, what happens on Black Friday goes on the blog.”  They were forewarned!

I do not know how we will top this next year,
but I am sure that they will try.

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