Posts filed under Building Your Faith

Finding Purpose in Morning Sickness: How I Was Challenged to View Pregnancy in a New Way

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Can I be honest? Pregnancy is an absolute miracle every time… but it can lose some of its “magic” appeal when you’ve been on the rodeo a few times… Especially when you are experiencing severe sickness. This fourth time around has forced me on the same digestive roller coaster the others have, yet is has only grown worse. Some of you know this ride all too well, and some of you are saying, Hmm… I’ve heard some women get sick in pregnancy, it just never happened to me.

Um. I try very hard to not be jealous of you in the latter group. Very hard. And yet I know there is another group of women that would give anything to be sick for nine months if it promised they would hold a child at the end. I have seen the pain of infertility up close, and my heart breaks for every woman—single or married—that has waited for the desire for motherhood to be fulfilled. It is a tremendous blessing, and I do not take it lightly that I have been allowed to carry another child. My heart in this post is just to encourage and strengthen the women who are ill in pregnancy, not to belittle the miracle bestowed upon us.

As I was spending yet another challenging morning on the couch, trying to homeschool my kindergartener and care for my toddlers, and prep for my teaching jobs, I received a voicemail from a dear friend. She felt led to pray for me because she knew I had been sick for weeks and was struggling to make it through each day. At one point in the message, she said, “Lord, help her to see that she is mothering this child already.”

Her words broke through my discouraged heart, and gave me purpose. Really, Lord? Am I really ‘mothering’ this little one? As I pondered this question before the Lord, I realized it was true. I am watching my nutrition (as much as my vomiting reflexes will allow me to!), taking special vitamins, making sure I drink enough water, lying in the best positions for the baby, protecting my womb from the onslaught of three energetic boys, and actually taking some attention away from those three boys to provide for this new baby… Clearly, the answer is yes! I am already mothering this child.

To be honest, the first half of the pregnancy has always been harder for me than the newborn phase. I adore babies, and I have been able to take the sleep deprivation in stride because of the joy each of my newborns has brought me. Embracing God’s masterful handiwork in all of the intricate details of a baby seems natural…. Delighting in the nauseating, exhausting months of pregnancy are harder for me to rejoice in, however. (Please allow me to sneak in some pictures of me delighting in my babies here, because I need to remember how amazing that season is—and that is approaching again for me!)

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With this revelation, a flood of Scriptures came to my mind.

“...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:16-17)

“...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 12:2)

Perhaps pregnancy is a powerful opportunity to love as Christ does.

Unconditionally.

When we are offered nothing (immediate) in return.

Hoping for the future blessing.

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Let me be clear that I am not for a moment saying that my hours spent bending over a porcelain stool compare with the blood that was shed by my precious Savior; rather, that I may follow in His sacrificial example of love in a small way in this season. There is something holy about loving without expectation, immediate reward, and with pain. Loving this child when it is offering me nothing is an act of faith, hope, and love. The promise at the end doesn’t negate the sacrifice. It validates it.

And I haven’t even touched on the spiritual implications of the delivery! I think I’ll save that for another post!

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If you are experiencing some of the side effects of pregnancy right now, I pray this encourages and strengthens you to love well, dear sister.

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Posted on May 10, 2017 and filed under Building Your Faith.

Making Grace Tangible: Our new Easter Tradition

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As I’ve proclaimed many times on this blog, Easter is my favorite holiday. I love all of the ways to celebrate, several of which I wrote about last year. And who could forget the beautiful, simple tablescapes Laura has inspired us with or her simple approach to beautifully colored Easter eggs, the sweet treats Easter gives us an excuse to indulge in… and even the many ways to use the leftover eggs

The idea I want to share with you today is one I’d never heard of until recently, and it came at the perfect time for my family. Recently, I felt the Lord stirring in my heart, asking if I was focusing enough on “grace.” Those who are near to me know I sometimes still struggle to accept my own weaknesses and failures. With all of the correction, consequences, and instructions I provide to my young children, I’ve wondered if they are truly understanding the grace and forgiveness our Savior offers. I don’t want to teach my sons behavior modification; I want them to know that the kindness of the Lord leads us to repentance and that God’s rules are always for our good! I’m so thankful the Lord prompts me when my parenting pendulum is tilting to one side.

 

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When a good friend shared the following Easter activity with me, I knew it was a great way to make grace tangible to my young boys. Jill Hardie has written a beautiful story entitled The Sparkle Egg about a boy learning how Jesus’ sacrifice impacts him. Here is the book’s summary (as shown on Amazon):

“Easter is coming, and Sam loves Easter! But this year, he is upset about a lie he told his parents. Even though he apologized and they forgave him, Sam can't shake the feeling that he is a bad kid for what he did. Meanwhile, his parents help him make a special Easter craft called a Sparkle Egg. His mom tells him to write anything he feels sorry about or ashamed of on a piece of paper and put it inside his Sparkle Egg.

On Easter morning, when he opens his Sparkle Egg expecting a surprise, Sam finds that it is empty! His parents explain that because Jesus died and rose again, we are forgiven. Like the tomb that first Easter Day, Sam's egg is empty — and Sam's wrongdoing is completely forgiven. Once he accepts this forgiveness fully, Sam realizes a truth: we can sparkle and shine with God's light when we let God's gift of grace into our hearts.

This touching story will strike a deep chord with readers of all ages, and the Sparkle Egg tradition will help readers and their families grasp the totality of God's perfect grace.

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The basic concept is that you read the book with your children, and then each person decorates a sparkle egg. Depending on their level, they may write a sentence or draw a picture of something that they feel guilty about. They then place they paper inside, knowing that it will be replaced with something that honors Christ. On Easter morning, they will wake up to the empty egg (because you removed the paper), and you explain what the cross and the empty tomb mean for each one of us who receives Jesus as our Savior! I think it is a beautiful illustration to explain the power of God’s grace and forgiveness. I plan on making my own egg, so my children know I still need Jesus’ forgiveness each and every day. I want them to know the Christian life is a walk, and sanctification is a journey. (You can still do this activity without the book, but I like the clear way the book communicates the concept to young ones.)

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I hope this idea blesses your family or inspires you to focus on His grace in a new way this Easter!

Posted on April 12, 2017 and filed under Building Your Faith.

The Eternal Destiny of Believers: Part Two, The Eternal Destiny of Children

(This is Part Two of a two-part series. Part One posted yesterday.)

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The Bible teaches us that all people are sinners from birth; we have inherited the sin nature of Adam. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 6:12). We know this is true because even infants die.

 

 

When Jonah proclaimed the need for repentance to the Ninevites, 120,000 of them are described as “not knowing their right hand from their left” (Jonah 4:11). This is a description of young children unable to understand their standing before God. The Lord views them as “innocents” and claims them as His (Jeremiah 2:34; 19:4). He takes special notice of their mistreatment, abuse or death. Young children are not held culpable in the same way as those who understand their sinful state and willingly rebel against God. This includes children even of unbelieving parents or in heathen cultures. Children are not held accountable for the sins of their parents or vice versa. Each person will give their own account to God for how they lived (Romans 14:12).

Ezekiel 18:20 provides the principle, “The soul that sins shall die.” So if the Lord does not hold infants and young children culpable for their sins, when does He? No specific age is given in Scripture. However, the Hebrew culture understood young people to be morally mature by age thirteen and able to understand their accountability to God.

What is the eternal destiny of a child whose earthly life has ended? What about the millions of babies who do not reach term due to miscarriage or abortion, who are stillborn, succumb to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), or who live for several years and die due to accident or illness?

The Bible provides comfort for us in the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:16-23). David lay on the ground fasting and praying for his sick infant son. The elders of the household attempted to raise him from the ground but he refused. Neither would he eat. On the seventh day when the child died, the servants were afraid to tell David since he had been so despondent. They feared he might take his own life. But David perceived what had transpired when he noticed the behavior of the servants and they confirmed his suspicion. However, his response was not at all what they had expected. David rose, cleaned up, changed his clothes, went into the house of the Lord, worshipped and ate. The servants questioned him regarding the turnabout in his behavior. He no longer wept and fasted but arose and ate food. David responded by saying that when the child was alive he prayed that the Lord would show mercy, but now that he was gone he could not bring him back. He was comforted in knowing that the child would be in the Lord’s presence and that he would be reunited with him in eternity. Verse 23, “But now he has died, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

David and Bathsheba mourned the death of their son but not as those around him expected. David’s grief dissipated with the assurance that the child had left the earth to be with God in Paradise. David was greatly comforted by this. He knew that he would be reunited for eternity with this son.

However, years later David would lose another son – Absalom, who tried to wrest the kingdom from his father. David was greatly distraught upon this son’s death crying, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33b). It might have seemed that David would have been relieved to have his kingdom restored and the threat against it removed, but his greatest concern was for his son. He knew that Absalom lived in rebellion against man and God. His deep grief and anguish were over the eternal destiny of his son away from the presence of God. David’s chief concern was that he would one day be reunited with his loved ones in God’s Kingdom. The stark realization that Absalom would not be there was the greatest grief his heart could bear.

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Do you know someone who is grieving the loss of a child? Care for them. Only they can determine the length of their grieving over such a profound loss. However, comfort them with truth and pray for their hearts that they can be encouraged in knowing that children who die go immediately into the presence of God as do all believers. They fall asleep until the Lord resurrects them and reunites all believers for all eternity. Help them understand their own eternal destiny before God. Have they personally believed on the saving grace of Christ for their own salvation?

Jesus Christ will once and for all be victorious over sin and death. Pain and sorrow will be no more. And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

 Let us be encouraged and strengthen one another in this marvelous hope!

Posted on January 27, 2017 and filed under Building Your Faith.

The Eternal Destiny of Believers: Part One, The Sanctity of Life

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Life is precious. It is also fragile. It is to be regarded as sacred and God-given. Indeed, life is a gift, a reward, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). Since life is such a precious and sacred gift, it should be celebrated as such. A pregnancy is the news of a new life and that life is a person from conception. The Lord has intricately and masterfully knit our parts and systems together into miraculous living creatures.

Psalm 139:13-16 states, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” But human beings are much more than mere living creatures. We are created in the image of the living God and with an eternal soul; every one has an eternal destiny. And because God is the giver and sustainer of life, all lives belong to Him.

Our Heavenly Creator imbues us with His breath of life at birth and we die when He removes it (Genesis 2:7; Daniel 5:23). He sustains us with the gift of every heartbeat. We cannot live one day beyond the number He has chosen for us. Job 14:5 says, “Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You; and his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.” In other words, as I have heard former Moody Church Pastor, Erwin Lutzer say, “We are all born with an expiration date which has been pre-determined by God.” It is not the prerogative of people to intervene and take life at any point.

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If we were to continue to read Psalm 139 we would see that God’s view of us is that we are precious from conception. He knows absolutely everything about us even before we are born!

God’s ways are beyond our comprehension and some are kept secret from us for our own sakes. Deuteronomy 29:29 declares, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” What God has revealed in His Word is enough for us because He has revealed all we truly need to know for this life. The New Testament states it this way, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). In Christ and through His Word, we have all that we need to live obediently in this world. Therefore, as we study these topics we look to the Word of God for the answers. The fact that a culture or an historical time period might espouse a different or even opposite view does not change the absolute authority and immutability of God’s Word.

Our Heavenly Father knows what knowledge is too great for us or too difficult to bear. Certainly knowing the length of our lives in advance would be one such burden. How much greater a burden if we knew that our children would precede us in death. When my husband and I learned that our 18-year-old had cancer our first thoughts were that we wished it were us instead. Our second was, “This is the Lord’s will for us and we will walk through it by His grace.” The fragility of life became so real to us. We had received the news just two weeks after Lee’s High School graduation. As I walked by the posters of his life in photos prepared for his graduation celebration, I could not help but imagine as a young mother thinking, “This sweet little three-year-old will have cancer in 15 years or this teeming-with-life twelve-year-old will have cancer in six years. Had I had this knowledge in advance it would have been even more difficult. After rigorous treatments, we praise God that He has healed Lee from cancer and fourteen years later he is still clear.

How much more difficult to endure the treatments and then lose the one you love? Even if elderly, the process is difficult to bear. Or to suddenly lose your loved one with no preparation or advanced warning? No chance to express love, say goodbye, ask forgiveness for hurts and wrongs—and no chance to encourage one another with our ultimate hope in Christ of being reunited for all eternity in heaven.

The reality is that death will claim us all. However, we can know that in Christ, death will not ultimately be victorious. That is why Solomon could say in Ecclesiastes 7:1a, “Better is the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth.” At birth, we have all of life ahead of us and with that all the struggles of living in an unrighteous world. However, upon death the believer is immediately ushered into the presence of God where there is no more pain, suffering, or anguish. God comforts the surviving believers with His unfathomable grace.

Losing a loved one leaves a gaping hole. And since pain exists upon the earth those who remain grieve their loss. However, believers in Christ do not grieve as those who have no hope. I Thessalonians 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” I find comfort in knowing that the Bible describes the death of believers as “falling asleep” (I Thessalonians 4:14) and that God takes special notice of their deaths. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones” (Psalm 116:15).

All life is precious to God and He ordains the full destiny and purpose for each life from conception. The Lord revealed his special plans for Jeremiah’s life in Jeremiah 1:4-5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

 God has a purpose for each life even if that life appears (to us) to have ended prematurely. Tomorrow we will continue this discussion with an emphasis on the eternal destiny of children.

Posted on January 26, 2017 and filed under Building Your Faith.

Practical Forgiveness: Starting the New Year With a Clean Slate

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The change of years on the calendar is a unique time. It is a time of reflection on many things. We look back at the year behind us, our failures and hurts, triumphs and highs. We think about what we did right and what we need to do differently. It is also a time of looking forward.

 

We make resolutions, think ahead, consider our hopes, and how to work toward our dreams. It’s especially a time of gratefulness, that we have been blessed to see another year to completion and have breath and life in a new one. There is a sense of rebirth, of starting over. This year I’m especially thoughtful about the “blank slate” of a New Year, and how that translates to forgiveness.

2016 held some hurts among its many joys. The offenses were small, but I find myself stung from the pain nonetheless. As a follower of Christ, I know that I am called to total and immediate forgiveness, without hesitation and without fail. On top of that, I don’t want to bring the wounds of the past year with me into the new one. My heart is to forgive. I want to be ever growing in gentleness and humility, and overflowing with the grace of God, which he has so lavished upon me.

The problem isn’t in my desire to forgive. It isn’t a question of whether I should or shouldn’t. The only obstacle is in the practical application. How does one actually forgive? In the most realistic of terms, how do you go through the steps of forgiveness and have your heart and emotions come in line with your mind and your faith?

I’m sure there are many ways a heart can reach true forgiveness. But there are four practical realities that I have been led to in recent weeks, as I searched the Scriptures, and I wanted to share them for anyone, like me, seeking a clean slate in the New Year.

 Reality No. 1 / You Have Been Forgiven Much

As He so often does, the Lord pointed me to Jesus as the answer to my questioning prayers. Jesus was God’s provision for our sin and the path to receiving His forgiveness. The words of Christ, so famously spoken on the cross, came to mind in an instant.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

I spent some time letting that sink in. “Father, forgive them.” He wasn’t just speaking about the people who were guilty of His murder. He wasn’t thinking only of his closest friends, who had just betrayed him. He wasn’t thinking only of the crowds—the same who had once gathered for healing, now gathered to jeer and mock. He was speaking of us—of you, and of me—even as He drank the cup of God’s wrath to pay for what He didn’t do.

When you consider the cost of your own sin, it puts what you have suffered in a different relief.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his graceEphesians 1:7

(Click on the image above for a free pdf download.)

Your sins—however minor or justified you’re convinced they are—sent a perfect sinless man to the cross. He endured the shame, and the torture, and ultimately death, to forgive you for them. That is the reality of what it took. How much less have I been asked to sacrifice, to show forgiveness to the one who sins against me? Forgiving someone else starts with understanding what it took for God to forgive you.

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Reality No. 2 / They Know Not What They Do

Jesus continued with the words, “for they know not what they do.”

This statement is theologically and socially sticky, and I want to be very careful not to seem like I am excusing or enabling what has been perpetrated against you.

When Jesus said this, He wasn’t issuing a blanket “pass” for all the bad deeds humanity wants to heap up. This is not Christianity writing off sin with the lame excuse “he didn’t know any better.”

Of course, people know right from wrong, and they can and do choose evil. I want to speak carefully, because I know the unfathomable depths to which human depravity has sunk, and I cannot know or even begin to understand what it is to be a victim of it. I’m not in any way excusing the victimizer. What they did to you wasn’t ok. God proved that it wasn’t ok with Him by the punishment that Jesus received for it. If you are a victim, I urge you to seek godly counsel, and if you are still in any danger, get out of the situation immediately. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you keep letting someone hurt you. Forgiveness is not enabling. Get safe first. Call the authorities. After that, a pastor or Christian counselor can help you walk the complicated path of healing and forgiveness that God desires for you. 

Because we acknowledge that humans have free will to choose evil, and Jesus is not excusing them from responsibility, it is almost strange that he says, “they know not what they do.” But this understanding may be the very key to softening your heart for another.

If you pay attention closely to the Gospels, you will see time and again the deity of Christ on display as he reads the minds of those around him.1 So I trust him when he says they don’t truly know what they’re doing. Humans are rarely, if ever, able to really stand in someone else’s shoes. Everything we do and say is born of our own experience, and colored by our own perspective, even despite our best intentions.

When Jesus said “they know not what they do,” He was acknowledging that unbelievers are blinded by the god of this age. 2 Corinthians 4:4 They are trapped in a state where they can’t know or see God’s plan or will, or be led by His Spirit. They are dead in their trespasses. Not hopeless, thanks to God’s grace, but for now, they are spiritually blind. As my pastor often says, “You wouldn’t slap a blind man.” We need to allow God to cultivate our compassion for people who are navigating this world apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They can’t see, and they know not what they do.

Believers also, though children of God, are still part of a fallen world. We are human and fallible. And though we are hopefully growing in sensitivity to our own shortcomings, we are no less able to fall prey to them. And when we fall, all the worse, as our bad choices tarnish the Name of Christ and His church in the eyes of the watching world.

Reality No.3 / Your Words Have Power

All throughout Scripture, the words of our mouths are intimately connected to the attitudes of our hearts. What you say about a person will have a direct impact on your ability to forgive them. If I complain about someone, it’s not helping me, them, or the situation. Of course there is a time to ask the right counselors for wisdom. But grabbing a girlfriend for a coffee and a bashing session isn’t a good plan. Our words have power, and one of my convictions is that they need to be righteous. If I can speak with the attitude of forgiveness I wish I had, I believe that my heart will soon follow my words.

A friend of mine embodied this in the midst of a painfully cruel divorce and custody battle. Though she was a victim of her husband’s lies on the witness stand, she determined never to speak an ill word to her son of his father. I’m sure that keeping silent to protect her son’s opinion of his dad was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do, but also one of the most important. It may temporarily make us feel better to build our case to a sympathetic ear, but ultimately it blackens the process of forgiveness and hardens our hearts. Let us speak the grace that we want to feel, while trusting God to fight for us in our silence. He IS a God of justice, He will surely bring it, and nothing escapes his attention.

Reality No. 4 / Apart from Him, I Can Do Nothing

So we’re on the path to practical forgiveness. We have accepted that our own sins were forgiven, and we have no platform to demand that others pay a debt to us. We have acknowledged that people who hurt us are blind to it in one way or another. We have resolved to guard our hearts by choosing careful words. These are important things, but they bring us to the end of our own strength.

The rest of it must be left with God through prayer.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

(Click on the image above for a free pdf download.)

We have to ask God to grant us a heart of forgiveness. Pray and ask Him to fight your battles. Ask Him for his matchless peace. His Word is a trove of promises—about His justice, His presence, His peace, His joy, His power—all of it unfailing, for the one who turns to Him in faith. Ask and you will receive a heart that overflows with forgiveness. There is no question that this is His will for you, and that He will grant it.

God wants what is best for you. If it were best to hold a grudge, or nurse wounds, or let roots of bitterness live in your heart, He would let you do it. But unforgiveness is cancerous to your soul, and He loves you too much to let you live with it.

This New Year, let us strive together for the blank slate of a resting heart, full of forgiveness. What healing it would bring to us, and to our world.

1 For further study- Jesus knows our thoughts; John 2:24, Luke 5:20-24, John 1:47-48, Matthew 12:25, Luke 6:8

2 For further study- Our words and our hearts are intimately connected; Luke 6:45, Psalm 19:14, Proverbs 16:24

Posted on January 4, 2017 and filed under Building Your Faith.

Setting the table: share a meal, share a story, share his goodness

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Holidays bring about settings of beautiful tables, with families welcomed into our homes to share a carefully prepared meal. A table is arranged and an extra trip to the store adds just the right touches. Napkins, greenery and tablecloths are purchased, the menu is planned, and we eagerly anticipate the celebration. All for a moment to share a meal, laughter and good conversation with those special people in our lives.

But then the holidays pass. Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is celebrated, the New Year is brought in with parties and good cheer, and often our tables sit strangely empty and quiet... and life gets back to "normal." We wait for the holidays to return again before we make those special, heartfelt preparations in our homes and at our tables.

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What if we changed that this year? What if the setting of our tables and the preparation to welcome friends and family into our home became a monthly practice in the everyday reality of life? What if, instead of waiting for the holidays, we set our table to simply sit and tell the stories of God’s goodness in our lives? (There is something very powerful about speaking of His goodness—out loud.) How do we go about sharing from a personal place the very glory of the handiwork of God? Where can we tell our stories?

I think for day in, day out life, it might be at the table. Over a meal. Sharing these real-life stories of God with the people around us—including our children—is a tremendous opportunity to build into the next generation that they may KNOW God, in order that they might pour into the generation after them, so that many may come to KNOW God.

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At the table is where we could share a testimony of God’s faithfulness through a difficult time. At the table is where we could flesh out what faith and trust and a relationship with Jesus looks like for each of us. I want to create that at the table. I want to set that as my expectation for this New Year.  To invite families over and make it happen in the crazy, busy mess of everyday life. Dinners where we hear of the goodness of the Lord in others’ lives. Where amazing testimonies are shared. Or a "this too shall pass" moment in time is told, and the glory of the goodness of the Lord is declared. For our children to hear ... and for them to pass down from generation to generation. For our own hearts to perceive—from one believer to another.

Let us not neglect the practice of gathering together—holidays or no holidays. Let us come to the table and share. Share a meal. Share a story. Share His goodness.

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“I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD,
according to all that the LORD has granted us…”  (Isaiah 63:7a)

Posted on December 30, 2016 and filed under Building Your Faith.

Photo Nativity: A Keepsake Nativity Using Photos of Your Kids

Looking for a fun activity to do with your children over Christmas break? A great gift for the grandparents? Here's an idea you can do with your family that will inspire your kids to think more deeply about the very first Christmas and the reason we celebrate. I'm not exactly creative when it comes to doing crafts so when my 8 year old daughter came home from 3rd grade last month with an assignment to make a "Homemade Nativity," I was stumped.


After procrastinating a couple of weeks, I began to get serious about coming up with ideas with her. Shoebox stable? Clay animals? Popsicle stick wise men? Hhm… And then I had it…. Inspiration! With a few props and a digital camera, my two children could be the animals, and the wise men, and even Mary and Joseph!  Yours can too!

Here's how we did it.

First, we decided on which characters we wanted to portray. We chose Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, angels, and animals. Next we looked around our house for ordinary items to use as props for creating our characters. (Click HERE to read more about the items we used).

As the girls changed from one costume to the next, I took pictures. They posed for each picture in a way they felt demonstrated what that person must have been doing and feeling as they met Jesus for the first time.

We photographed one character at a time against a blank wall. This made it easier to keep the size  of the characters consistent -- although you may want to play around a little with taking some pictures closer or further away depending on the size you'd like for them to appear in the display.

Next I uploaded the images to a one-hour processing center. Then after we picked up the pictures, my daughter used stick glue to paste them onto poster board and cut them out. The poster board backing made the images sturdier for her to glue magnets on the backs.

After completing the people, we arranged them on a magnetic memo board we have (you could use your refrigerator) along with a few embellishments -- like wings for the angels, a star, and a sign that read, "Behold the King!"

This turned out as a great school project as well as a fun keepsake we will enjoy year after year. If you decide to try it this year, drop us a note or upload a picture to let us know how it goes. For even more fun, try involving cousins and other extended family while you are all together this year!
 

Posted on December 10, 2016 and filed under Building Your Faith.