Communion, Children, and Concentration

Communion, Children, and Concentration

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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Generally, when one has a kid, there is an understanding that worship will be different. You may not be able to listen to the sermon as well (at all?). You may miss some of the songs (discipline issues? Poopsplosion?). You may only get to hear the first half (or third?) of a prayer.

But, following the wise advice of an older mom, I have found that one area has improved for me. I have been better able to focus during communion.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I have stood and bounced, rocked, nursed, cuddled, and cajoled a fussy baby. We have our days. We have our weeks sometimes. Sickness, stubbornness, and silliness can all be a challenge on occasion.

But stay with me.

Communion might even get better after you have kids. Here is what my friend shared with me.

You might think of the Lord’s Supper as another high pressure point–after all, it should be at least somewhat quiet, just like in the sermon, which of course means that your kid is much more likely to cry, talk, giggle, etc. Toss goldfish, puzzles, and books in their direction until they find something to occupy them, right?

Maybe not.

What my friend did was something a little different. And of course, not every Sunday worked out like this. But the ones that did were amazing.

First, she would hold her two little girls in her lap. In an intimate whisper, she would tell them the best story ever told. She would tell them of Jesus. Of his life, of his great love, of his sacrifice, of his undeserved pain, and of the wonder of his resurrection. She would tell of the Last Supper. Of what the bread and grape juice symbolized.

And she told them how very special this was–and that some day, they too would participate in these special moments focused on the Savior. They too would get to take part in Communion. That they too would be a part of the greatest, blood-bought family there is: the church.

And in telling them that precious story, she herself absolutely focused on the most important subject there ever could be: Christ and his sacrifice. She was focused, not just in bringing herself closer to Christ but teaching her children to do so as well.

Today, her kids are grown. These beautiful, Christ-like women each have talents they use for God. And now, they each participate in the best supper there is–the Lord’s Supper. They give me hope and renewed energy. Their very lives and examples encourage me to keep on doing this tough but rewarding job of motherhood.

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May you be encouraged to do likewise.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2

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Sin Is Not a Game, But This Is

Sin Is Not a Game, But This Is

Meredith P

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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Sin Is Not a GameHave you ever played the “hand slap” game?

In this game, one person’s hands are held palms up. The other person holds their hands hovering above with palms down. The person with their hands below tries to slap the top of the hands of the other person by either being fast enough or by being tricky. My kids love this game!

Once, when we were playing it, I had a thought from which an impromptu lesson flowed.

It was my turn to be “the slapper.” My hands were on the bottom and I was trying to slap the tops of my son’s hands. His two brothers watched in excitement to see who would be the victor. I was bringing my hands up every few seconds, not letting much time lapse in between strikes. My son sat on the edge of his seat in full alert mode, laser-focused, soberly watching for my next move.

I was missing his hands quite a bit!

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Then I changed my strategy.

I just let my hands be still. I didn’t strike. Instead, I let time pass while I calmly lay in wait. I waited until my son started to relax. He began to nervously giggle and even exclaim, “Mommy! What are you doing?”

I just smiled at him, kicking back my feet. Then I started to jerk my hands a bit, but no movements that alarmed him enough to be overly concerned. It didn’t take long for him to become used to even those jerks and so comfortable with it all that he let down his alert and relaxed his guard almost completely. When I saw that happen, with a maniacal laugh, I swooped up and SLAP!

I caught him off guard!

Laughter all around!

Sin Is Not a Game-2

The Trickery of Sin

Once we settled down–and I did my victory dance–I told them the game was like the trickery of sin.

I pointed out how I frequently missed his hands when he was on high alert, watching me like a hawk and pulling his hands back often. This is like a person who practices this verse:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

 

1 Peter 5:8

This person is watchful, looking out for the deception of sin. He pulls back from it when he sees it coming. This person also reads the Word of God so that he can discern what sin is, right from wrong, according to the Word and flee from it.

But when I changed my strategy to staying still, I pointed out that he became relaxed and let down his guard. Even when I jerked a little every so often, he got used to that movement also and let his guard continue to fall until SLAP!

This is like a person who becomes numb to the sin in their life. They let down their guard enough to let in “little sins.” Sins that they might consider unharmful. At first, the “little jerks” of the Holy Spirit stir their conscience, but eventually they become used to that stirring. They relax even further, letting in more and more sin until SLAP!

Bad things start happening and they wonder how they got to where they are. The bad things can be obvious, like going to jail or falling into different life-controlling addictions. Or perhaps the bad things are more subtle, like a dead prayer life, a lost desire to know God and read His Word, or an inability to even recognize sin anymore through justification of actions.

How Little Sins Lead to Bigger Sins

I now open up, saying that at different times in my life, I have been both of these types of people. Already fully knowing their mother is a seasoned sinner, they look unsurprised (Ha!). A good discussion followed on how little sins might cause numbing in our hearts. We talk about how little sins can lead to bigger sins, followed by a hard SLAP–either in this life or in eternity.

On a personal note, I know I need to read God’s Word more diligently. By doing so, I will be able to discern right from wrong and know Him more. I know I should memorize more scripture so that I can use it against the enemy’s lies about sin.

Since the beginning of this school year, I have started praying this verse over my children, myself, and my husband. Now I pray it over you who are reading this right now.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

 

Philippians 1:9-11

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To what sins have you become numb?

Do you consistently do anything contrary to God’s Word?

Do you know His Word well enough to know if you are acting contrary to His Word?

Feel free to share in the comments and we will pray with you.

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A Letter to My Toddler

A Letter to My Toddler

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

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

I love…

  • the way your hair looks when you first wake up. Poking out, bed head, carelessly askew.
  • how you yawn, bleary-eyed and sweet. It’s contagious, did you know? Even to me.
  • the way you eat. Somehow you’re always hungry. Your excitement, your expressions, and  your great love (still!) for milk.
  • the way you sing, lustily and clear, or when you drowsily hum right before you sleep.
  • the way you never walk–you’re too energetic for that! You tiptoe, run and hop and jump. And that is only the start!
  • the way you fold your hands right before we pray. They’re so small and innocent and I love them just that way.

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And I love…

  • how much you love to read. You never tire of it, even when it’s been an hour and I am ready to quit!
  • how much you love little dogs, bunnies, cats, and armadillos. Anything that’s your size is such a fascination.
  • the way you hug me with chubby arms around my neck, or when you throw your whole body at my knees, or when you just give a side peck.
  • your wet sloppy kisses, how you don’t know how to kiss. I love that sweet milky breath and I don’t care that I get wet.
  • to watch you puzzle out how things work. I love to watch you every day with something new to learn.
  • your awe and surprise because the whole world is new. I see God’s creation in a different way, all because of you.
  • how much you grow each day, or sometimes, it seems, each hour. I’m not exactly sure where time’s gone; I just know that it’s expired.

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Sweet child, I love you oh so much–more than you know. But not more than your Heavenly Father, who I pray you learn to know.

You see, it’s God who gave you to your daddy and to me. Every good thing comes from Him–and you are one of those things!

I pray your faith begins to sprout and blossom, bloom and grow. I pray that hope will ever spring even when you’re feeling low.

I pray so many things for you, my dear, but most importantly, I pray for you to love our God–to know him eternally.

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The Prayers of A Mother

The Prayers of A Mother

Jennifer E

Jennifer E

I am "Mom" to Chloe, Allie, & Emilia. I am wife to Misael Escobar. I am a child of God. I love to learn about other cultures and learn about others life experiences.I am always a "work in progress". Through many struggles I have become "me" and I am finally happy with the person God has led me to be.I am excited to see where God will lead me in this life.
Jennifer E

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It feels like the longer I am a mom, the more I learn that I have very few answers. I have a high schooler, a middle schooler, a toddler, and one coming in February.

Being someone who struggles with control and a mom has not always been the best combination. My prayers for my children have been very much about telling God what he should do, how he should do it, and when he should do it. The last seven years I have really worked on my control issues through the twelve steps in the Christ-centered recovery program called Celebrate Recovery. One of my dear friends summed up the first three steps for me as:

  1. I can’t.
  2. God can.
  3. I will let him.

As a person who lived a life in the illusion I had control, these were hard for me. After working on these steps, it became apparent that peace in this life requires a total surrender to God. And that includes me surrendering my children.

One day, a seasoned parent told me that when her daughter was going through a time of rebellion, she threw out all her prayers. Instead, she just began praying this scripture over her daughter while inserting her name. At first, I prayed this over my daughter as she struggled with processing a lot of hurt in her life. Then, I started praying it over all my girls daily:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower CHLOE, ALLIE, & EMILIA with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in CHLOE, ALLIE, & EMILIA’S hearts as CHLOE, ALLIE, & EMILIA trust in him.

May CHLOE, ALLIE, & EMILIA’S roots grow down into God’s love and keep CHLOE, ALLIE, EMILIA strong. And may CHLOE, ALLIE, & EMILIA have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May CHLOE, ALLIE, & EMILIA experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then CHLOE, ALLIE, & EMILIA will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within CHLOE, ALLIE, & EMILIA, to accomplish infinitely more than CHLOE, ALLIE, EMILIA might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT)

This verse just seems to have everything I could ever dream for them. The only other prayer I pray daily is:

Lord,
If Chloe, Allie, or Emilia are doing anything that would keep them from you, then please reveal it to me or someone who loves you and them.
In His name,
Amen

praying-ephesians-3-14-21-over-your-children

 

I don’t know if these will only be my prayers for them, but they have been for the last two years. It is so freeing to know that God knows better than me. Any hurt in their lives is His to heal. One thing is for sure, God is a much better God than I could ever be!

How do you pray for your children?

Do you pray any scriptures over your children?

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The Wise Woman Builds Her Worth Upon the Rock

The Wise Woman Builds Her Worth Upon the Rock

Meredith P

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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If you grew up in the church at all, or even if you didn’t, you have probably heard the song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock.” The song is based on Jesus’ words right after he gives his famous Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7:24-27, he says this about what two people do with what he has just taught:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Untitled design
That paragraph boils down to this: Life is hard. Bad things happen in this imperfect world. Choose to build your life on things you can never lose. If your life centers on things you can lose like money, or your job, or praise and affection from people, when the going gets tough it’s gonna be a rough ride.

Building Our Daughters’ Self-Worth

I’ve seen a trend rising that says we shouldn’t tell our daughters they are beautiful. If we do, we are damaging their self-worth. For example, see this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/10083124/Dont-tell-your-daughter-she-is-beautiful-parents-told.html

On the surface, I think this is a good thing. Women and girls absolutely should be praised for more than their looks. They are worth way more than what the eye reveals. However, the author suggests that we replace our praise about beauty with praise for skill. As I thought about it and compared this idea to what Jesus says, I realized that both of these forms of praise are sandy ground.

All other ground is shifting sand-2

 Consider this scenario:

Let’s pretend I have praised my daughter for how quickly she completes puzzles, or how beautifully she paints, or how accurate she is in her math work. Let’s imagine that her self-worth, in part, is built on this praise.

The rains are about to come down.

Another day she is putting together a puzzle and is having great difficulty, or she can’t get her painting to look the way she wants, or she is learning a new, challenging math concept and receives a poor grade on a test. Where does this leave her self-worth if it was built on this praise?

The floods are coming up.

The winds of her heart are blowing and that part of her self-worth on which this skill was built is torn down.

So, should we praise our daughters (and sons) for how kind they are rather than appearance or ability? For praising them for things of the heart, so to speak? Wouldn’t that be better?

Let’s say I have praised my daughter for having a kind heart. I see her being tender with a friend in need, or I see her showing compassion and empathy toward a sibling.  I praise her for it, and in part, she builds her self-worth and identity on being a kind and compassionate person.

Another day there is someone for whom she feels no empathy or love. Her feelings are mostly annoyance and she acts rudely. Or perhaps she snaps at her siblings and despite her efforts, she cannot regain her composure and yells at them. Again, the floods are coming up and the winds are starting to blow.

If you stop reading here, you might think I am saying that we should not praise our children for these things laid out above.

I am not.

We need to and ought to praise our daughters (and sons) for their accomplishments and for their kind, compassionate, and beautiful hearts. I praise my children every day for these things. I even praise them for their physical beauty and handsomeness, because my goodness, they are so cute!

What I am saying is that all of this is not enough.
This praise is not worthy to build self-worth on.
All of these are sandy ground.
There must be something else in addition to all of this.

We need to build on the rock.

So what is the rock?

 

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress,
I will not be shaken.
 God is the Rock.

 

He is the only one worthy of supporting and carrying our self-worth. Why is He worthy? Unlike beauty trends, human ideas, affection from people, and our emotions, He does not change like the shifting shadows (James 1:17) or move around like the sandy ground on the beach. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Our appearance, our skills, and our emotions change too frequently and are too unstable to support something as valuable as our self-worth.

 

What He says doesn’t change either. Here is what God, our Rock, says in His Word about your daughter’s worth and yours too.

 

You are created in the image of the almighty, all-powerful, and all-loving God of the universe.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

 

So I will teach our daughter this truth: God is unfathomably amazing. To be created in His image is astounding.

You are perfectly and wonderfully made by His own hand.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

 

So I will tell our daughter how beautiful she is. And in the very next sentence, with God’s help, I’ll set her worth on the Rock by reminding her that God knitted every single part of her body together. He likes her just the way she is because He made her that way and all His works are wonderful. I pray she knows that full well.

 

He has a plan just for you with jobs He created for only you to do and that only you can do.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

 

 

I will praise our girl for her hard work and her talents and her kind, loving heart. Then, with God’s help, I’ll set her worth on the Rock as I also tell her God knows her inside and out. He has planned certain tasks just for her, and He created characteristics in her to accomplish those tasks. The Creator knows she is the right one for these jobs.

 

He loves you with a beautifully fierce and unconditional affection that movies, books, songs, and other people can never replicate.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:37

With God’s help, I’ll place her worth on the Rock by reminding her of His unfailing love for her. I’ll do this by reading to her His words. I’ll point out His acts and displays of love in the little and big things that happen in her life. I’ll remind her that God’s love for her doesn’t change whether she fails or whether she succeeds. And when her heart is broken, while she may be sad, her worth will not be shaken because it was never wrapped up in human affection.

 

You are worth dying for.

 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I’ll be sure to tell her the Creator of the universe deems her worth dying for. That Jesus paid the price for all of the wrong she has done and will do. He paid it because He thinks she is that worthy and that valuable. He longs to spend eternity with her and have her make His home in heaven her home too. So when she messes up, like we all do, her worth won’t slide because it was not built upon being a “good person.”

 

It was built upon the rock.
And the wise woman builds her worth upon the Rock.
What other ways can we teach our daughters to build their self-worth on the Rock?
Be Still: Self-Control in God’s Presence

Be Still: Self-Control in God’s Presence

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

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

My son has just recently made the transition to his big boy bed. You know, the one without any constraints, the one where he must use self-control, where there are no crib railings to enforce his staying in one spot.

And it is hard–so very, very hard–to have self-control. He has fallen asleep on the floor, behind his door, under the bed. He has over-enthusiastically piled so many books on his bed that there was no longer any room for him. (After all, I had said he could take a book to look at quietly. Surely, thirty books are better than one?) He has wandered out into the kitchen in the middle of the night (looking for a midnight snack?). And he has quietly come out to his living room bucket of toys to begin playing in the morning.

But I remember the first time he successfully fell asleep in his bed and actually slept. All it took was being still for a few moments. A little modicum of self-control and then something bigger and more powerful (his sleepiness) took over, and he was fast asleep.

Of course, you and I both know that one success does not a habit build. But it is a start! And over the course of days and weeks, he has begun to make that habit and I no longer search for his little sleeping form draped uncomfortably over toys in his room.

In this one area at least, he has learned self-control.

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I think of a passage in Psalm 46:10:

“Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

Our own need for God is a little like my little boy. We need just that start of self-control. Just an ounce. Enough to come before the great God of the universe. To be still before Him and to let something–Someone–bigger and more powerful than I take over.

And it’s at that point we can see ourselves as we truly are. We can see the beautiful, magnificent, and glorious God for who He truly is.

All we have to do is be still.

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