Embracing His Love

Embracing His Love

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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Last Thanksgiving my husband’s parents generously hosted Thanksgiving at a condo in Branson so that we could enjoy the holiday festivities at Silver Dollar City. It was truly a wonderful idea! We were very excited about taking our then two-year-old daughter to experience such a fun place!

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It just so happened that Silver Dollar City’s holiday hours were a tad bit inconvenient for our daughter’s nap schedule and so we went in the evening, a time that is usually not her happiest. In addition the crowds were heavy, which meant we couldn’t let her toddle around very much, and it was so, so cold. As you can imagine, she wasn’t very happy. She cried and cried. My husband’s sweet parents soon took her back to the condo where she could play in a more comfortable setting.

Of course, we were not angry with her for causing stress on our delightful plans. We could see her tiredness and frustration. Understanding her limits as a toddler, we had compassion for her. (As a side note, we really had a great trip and thankfully everyone was able to have a fun time. We just had to work around the limitations of our young daughter!)

The Lord’s Compassion

Psalm 103:8-14 says:

“The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens of the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”

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Do you ever feel distraught over your mistakes? Perhaps you were given a wonderful opportunity to do something marvelous but ended up making a mess of everything. In these times it can be easy to let fear and embarrassment keep us from approaching our Heavenly Father. We might even back away from our church family. It is so easy to be overcome by our pride and insecurity. How easy it is to forget that God loves us as a father does his children, that he understands our limits and frailties.

I’m reminded of the prodigal son. He begged for his inheritance money and foolishly blew it all on worthless things while living a lazy lifestyle. When he humbly returned home with the plan to work as a servant, his father RAN to him and threw him a large party. His son’s return filled him with joy! Christ explained that God’s enthusiasm is the same when one of his precious children returns to him.

Embracing God’s Love and Presence

Our Father God is rich in love for us. We must be kind to ourselves when we mess up. We should humbly seek him at even our most shameful times. He understands. He will welcome us! When we rest in His love for us, we will be able to move past our mistakes and shortcomings. We can dare to do great things for Him without worry and doubt in our way!

So be encouraged, sweet friend! How freeing it feels to know the pressure to be perfect can dissipate when we truly embrace that we are His child, whom he dearly loves.

I love the music video for Andrew Peterson’s song “Be Kind To Yourself.”.” Two of his children are featured in the video with him, and the affirming words of his unconditional love for them are a gentle reflection of God’s love for us. I hope it will encourage you today if you are struggling with insecurity or past mistakes. God loves you so deeply! Embrace his presence today!

Click HERE to watch “Be Kind to Yourself”.

*A discussion topic found in The Lifegiving Table Experience by Sally Clarkson inspired this post.

 

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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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October: A Time for your Family to Shine Christ’s Love

October: A Time for your Family to Shine Christ’s Love

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

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

this-post-may-contain-affiliate-links-for-your-convenience-and-at-no-extra-cost-to-you-1

I love the tradition of lighting the jack-o-lantern. It’s one we don’t do much anymore for safety concerns, but thankfully there are some really great battery-operated lights to use in their place. The glow from the pumpkins in the dark night is just really cool! There are many negative connotations with Halloween so it’s a holiday I tread lightly upon, but one idea I can get behind is being a light. It’s a topic we can talk about year-round, but I especially love to use this time of year to think about ways to shine God’s love.

let-light-shine

Here are some fun ideas to help your family focus on shining God’s light this October:

Learn a lesson from a pumpkin. 

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we read: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 

If you think about the message in this verse, it’s quite like the light that we shine in our jack-o-lanterns. Liz Curtis Higgs has a wonderful children’s book titled “The Pumpkin Patch Parable.” This story compares a carefully selected pumpkin, cleaned up and transformed by its farmer, to what happens when we let Jesus take over our lives. It is a great story to read with your children in anticipation of a trip to the pumpkin patch!

Take a family glow walk. 

With the cooler weather and the sun setting earlier, now is a great time to take a walk in the dark with your kids. Grab a flashlight and maybe some fun glow sticks. On your walk, talk about how the light allows you to see where you are going. Use this a bridge to discuss God’s word being a light for us.

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Say a special pumpkin prayer together. 

Here is a simple prayer you can say together as you carve your family pumpkin this year. There is a different line to say for each step of the process. Click Here:  Pumpkin Prayer

Along those lines, here is another great version of the pumpkin prayer in the form of a printable book (from Christian Preschool Printables) that you can use to say the prayer over and over again! Click Here: Pumpkin Carving Prayer 

Participate in a family glow worship night. 

Give everyone a fun light stick to use while you sing songs that praise Jesus. Don’t forget to sing “This Little Light of Mine!” One of my favorite parts of the pumpkin prayer is said as the eyes are carved: “Lord, open my eyes to see all of the beautiful things you have made.” Take some time to pass around a special light (or candle, if your kids are mature enough) and let each person share something beautiful in their lives that they are thankful for.

Shine your light through family service projects. 

Matthew 5:16 says,

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

A great way to put this verse into practice is by doing a special service project together. It could be something simple such as baking pumpkin muffins for a new mom or an elderly neighbor. If your children are older, try volunteering at your local food bank or help someone with their yard work. Brainstorm together one night around the dinner table ways to shine the light of Christ and put a plan into action!

Place reminders in your home! 

At this stage in my life, I’m not a huge craft person. However, I do enjoy coloring sheets because they are EASY and my daughter loves them! These coloring sheets from Christian Preschool Printables focus on Christ and shining your light. After your kids have colored them, display them around your house. Each time you see one, your family will be reminded to shine the light of Jesus this season! Click Here: Free Coloring Pages 

I hope you’ve found some ideas to keep Christ at the center of your home through the month of October! Have a wonderful season shining for Christ!

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God Creating a Perfect Mess in Our Lives

God Creating a Perfect Mess in Our Lives

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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God Creating a Perfect Mess in Our Lives

God’s a God of order, He doesn’t create messes…or does He? When we allow God to take up full residence in our hearts He just might make a perfect mess in our lives!

“A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” This cliche is true for many things except for God.

A better motto in regards to God’s place in our lives should be more along the lines of:

God’s has a place and his place is in everything we do.  

Wait a sec…doesn’t the Bible have a similar motto?

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’…
Luke 10:27

But how often do we find ourselves living a 24/7 Worshipful life?

Do we hold up our hearts to God on Sunday and then bench Him in our lives the rest of the week, living a life that won’t honor him? (Think Judas) Or do we truly want to walk with Him all week but just mess up and deny him entrance into part of our lives sometimes? (Think Peter before the rooster crowed.)

The 24/7 Christian Question to Ask Your Kids

“The 24/7 Christian” activity of the month by Family Time Training  poses an interesting question.  It’s one we might not want to hear the answer to but one that we must ask.

“Is our family a Sunday Only Family?”

Do you see what I mean when I say the answer to this question may be painful?  But then again it may make your heart sing!  Either way the answers will give us insight into how we can better worship Christ throughout our daily lives and help our children learn to do the same.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Family Time Training’s 24/7 Christian Activity

With this “24/7 Christian” activity, your kids will start to see how God can create a perfect mess of their lives.  It all starts by helping them figure out how to prioritize our lives.  What’s most important?  Who should we put first?

First I wrote out God, Family, Others and You on note cards and had each child put them in order of most importance.

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Then we grabbed some watercolors and a canvas and head outside for the activity.  You can use plain paper for this activity but I had an extra canvas in my art closet and decided this would be great to keep hanging in our school room.

Each child had an opportunity to paint one of the areas of our lives.

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It’s a wonderful visual of how we can choose to keep God separate from other areas of our lives OR we let Him into each section. The “you” section starts to fade away and God becomes prominent in every part of our lives. When we become a “24/7 Christian” we are giving Him the opportunity of creating a perfect mess in our lives!

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Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1

Dig into this month’s “24/7 Christian” Bible study and activity by printing it off now.  It contains all the Bible verses and a script of how to guide your children through the short devotional thought and activity.

 

Raising Kids in the Church

Raising Kids in the Church

Candace B

Candace B

I am a proud wife and Mother! My hubby, Tyler, and I both attended Oklahoma Christian where our love grew! We got married, had two beautiful kiddos, our son Gunner and daughter Brooklyn, and we are living a truly blessed life! I am currently a stay-at-home-mom and I help my husband in every way in his position as a youth minister (It's a true labor of love and we wouldn't be anywhere else!). I am also working on my teacher certification so when both my kids get into school I will have a job that I am passionate about, get to see my kids all the time, and will be out when they are out. I am most importantly a Christian and strive daily to keep God #1 because he is the reason I have all the amazing blessings, I give him all the praise!
Candace B

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I never thought it would be this difficult, did you? When you became a parent did you realize just how hard it was going to be? Most (if not all) would say a resounding, “No!” I know I would.  Most importantly, did you know how hard it would be, not just to raise your children in God but also get them to Bible class and worship without losing your mind?

 “It is just too hard.”

“My kid doesn’t even understand.”

“We will get them into Bible class when they get into the youth group.”

If we wait until they get into the youth group, we have waited too long.

God gave us these blessings to show them love, support, and how to put God as the highest priority!  School is great and sports are fun too.  However, when we as parents start putting those things first, we need to look inside ourselves and see if our priorities reflect the Bible’s guidance on the matter.

“Train up a child in the way he should go,

Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

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This scripture is powerful! Training up a child means making God the ultimate priority.  If we place him in every part of our life, our kids will follow our lead!  As parents, our kids want to be just like us, so we need to make sure we are showing Christ through ourselves first.

The world is already an imperfect, sinful place and it craves for us to be the light.  Some in the older generation might say, “This world is going to pot,” or “These kids don’t have a chance.” These types of comments truly break my heart because my kids are growing up in this world.  I refuse to believe that they have no chance but to live in a corrupt world!

If we let our kids grow up thinking there is no hope, not only will they feel discouraged but they will lose sight of what God needs them to be and that is THE LIGHT!  I pray that we encourage them as much as possible to believe that they CAN make a difference!  Bible class and worship reinforce hope in their lives.  I witnessed my daughter sharing this hope with another child at my son’s t-ball game. It was the sweetest thing ever and I welled up in tears.

“Did you know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins?

She gets it! And it’s because she is part of the church.

Let’s encourage our entire family to be part of the church. Don’t wait to introduce them to God’s family until their formative years have passed.

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A few ways to make life easier and enjoy going to Bible class and worship:

1. Take the kids to Bible class. This gives parents and children the opportunity to connect with the body of believers, and most importantly, they get to learn more about Jesus!

2. Rotate different toys and books. Each week in a small bag or backpack, bring something to worship that they haven’t had the chance to play with in a while.

3. Talk to your kids.  Set expectations of how to act during worship before it begins.

  • “We need to whisper.”
  • “Stay seated on the pew.”
  • “We need to pray, sing and listen.”
  • “Worship is not about us, it is all about God. If we stay nice and quiet, more people will hear more about God”.

4. Bible class and worship are important.  Make it a priority to worship and fellowship with the body of believers.  It will become a routine, and worship will become second nature to our children.

This has been on my heart. I hope it is a great source of encouragement to you and plants the seed that Bible class and worship are a blessing. Most importantly, know that your church family doesn’t mind that your little one wiggles and giggles. They are glad you are there. May God bless you and your sweet families!

What are some ways you have found helpful in making Bible class & worship a priority?

I Was Caught Clamming Up

I Was Caught Clamming Up

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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Have you ever tried to teach your child a lesson, only to realize God is trying to teach you the exact same lesson?

“You seem upset. Is there anything wrong?” I asked my eleven year old son. He shook his head and continued frantically looking around.

I Was CaughtClamming Up

Let me flash back with you for
a moment.
 About four hours before that short exchange took place, this son decided to take some of his favorite Lego mini-figures with him to church. Then this series of events took place:

  1. He left them on a table.
  2. Someone found them while cleaning up and brought them to me.
  3. I put them in my pocket to give to him.
  4. I forgot they were in my pocket.
  5. We came home.

Now, back to that short exchange above. Right after I asked him if something was wrong, it dawned on me. He was searching for his Legos. I reached into my pocket to give them to him, but I stopped. This son tends to clam up and not communicate, so I decided to wait and see if he would come to me or his father with his problem.

We had been trying to teach him the value of communication, and I thought this could be a good lesson. All he had to do was communicate his issue and it would be resolved. Boom! Done. But not so fast…lego-674615_1280

During the next hour, I watched him continue his frenzied search. I asked several times if I could help him or if he was upset about anything. Each time I received the same response, a polite, but curt, “No.”

My mama’s heart was breaking. If only he would say, “Mom, I can’t find my Lego guys. Can you help?” That would be my cue. Like a superhero, I’d dip into my pocket and retrieve the supposedly lost treasured items. He’d hug me and the music would swell; my proverbial hero’s cape would flutter and all would be well. Didn’t he know how much I loved him and that he could tell me anything? I told him every day in different ways.

With my heart raw and softened by witnessing the unnecessary plight of my child, I was struck, almost blown over with this powerful, yet gentle whispering in my soul,

“You do this to Me.”

“What? I do what?”

“You clam up with Me.”

“No, no I don’t. What my son is doing is ridiculous. All he has to do is…”

My heavenly Father was right.

I was caught clamming up.

With my heart even more tender toward my son, I squatted down as he searched desperately under the washer and dryer. Putting my hands gently on his shoulders, I said, “I can tell you are upset. Please share with me what is wrong.”

He looked up at me and said the words I was waiting to hear, “Mom, I can’t find my Lego guys. Can you help?”

Ah, there it was.

Not so much like the superhero I imagined earlier with the music swelling and cape fluttering, but more like an empathetic child myself, I reached into my pocket and gave him his mini-figures. Tenderly, I asked him why he didn’t come to me earlier for help. His answer hit my heart.

“I didn’t think you could do anything to help so I didn’t talk to you about it.”

Boom. Thoughts flooded my mind.

I sat down on the laundry room floor with him while he clutched his newly found Legos, trying to quickly capture those thoughts into a few sentences I can express to him.

He was right in some ways. While this time I was able to immediately fix what was bothering him, that would not always be the case. Sometimes, I wouldn’t be able to fix his problem or heartache, though I would if I could. Other times, even if I could resolve his problem, because I know it would be best for him to work out a particular issue on his own, I would not “fix it.” And then there would be times like this, that I could and should fix the problem for him. Those times will always be my favorite.

However, despite which circumstance it may be, I want to walk with him through his struggles. So I wrangled those thoughts into four sentences and said to him,

“I understand what you are saying. You are right. Sometimes, I won’t be able to fix your problem, but that doesn’t mean I can’t come alongside you and walk with you through your problem. I can carry some of the burden for you when you share with me what’s wrong.”

As mentioned before, he is eleven. I don’t know how much of those sentences he truly understood that day. I’m sure they will be repeated again in the future, but they resonated in my soul as I then heard,

“I also want to walk alongside you through your problems. Let me carry some of your burdens.”

“What? You want to do what?”

It wasn’t until later, when all was quiet, I remembered the verse from 1 Peter:

Cast your cares on him because he cares for you.

In that quiet moment, the simple beauty of this verse became very real to me. Through my own parenting, I caught a tiny glimpse into the beautiful and vast heart of our heavenly Father. He cares for you and me, and He so very much desires to walk alongside you and me through problems and carry them for us.

I imagined God saying my own parental thoughts back to me, “Don’t you know how much I love you and that you can tell me anything? Every day, I tell you that I love you through my Word and in my creation.”

I began to wonder if God’s heart breaks when we don’t come to Him with our problems. My heart certainly was breaking with my child. I strongly desire a relationship with my children where communication flows freely and often. I began to think how God the Father sent His Son to die so that He could have that free and open communication about all things, big and small, with us. Talk about wanting a relationship with someone!

Then I remembered what my son said earlier, “I didn’t think you could do anything to help so I didn’t talk to you about it.” Do I have this attitude toward God, my heavenly Father? Do I speak to Him about all things whether He “fixes” them for me or not?

He is the all-powerful, only true God and actually could fix all my problems if He wanted (I wonder if those times are His favorite). But I also know that He is all-knowing. He knows when He should not miraculously fix my problems because it is best for me to figure it out on my own. Then again, if I’m talking to Him about it, I am never really on my own. He will be right there, walking through the problem with me. Carrying some of it for me as I trust Him. He will be bending down with me as I look under the washer and dryer for the solution, so to speak. And I think His Father’s heart will swell with the communication and togetherness as mine would with my children.

So here’s to parenting and remembering these things:

1) Let’s remember to talk to Him about all things, big and small.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Ephesians 6:18

2)Let’s not forget He walks with us through all things.

When you walk through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Isaiah 43:2-3a

3) God miraculously fixed our huge problem already.

 He fixed our sin problem, but that is another story…

What lessons has God taught you though your children?

Do you come to Him in all situations?

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