Tag Archives: God

Advent Free Printables Week 3

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Hey all and welcome to week three! If you missed week 1 and week 2 of our Luke 2 Advent coloring pages, feel free to check them out!

This week was really my favorite to draw because this is where we get to the meat of the story, the angels telling the Shepherds, the Shepherds becoming the very first to not only see Jesus, but also to tell others about him. Their response isn’t just overwhelming personally, but something they can’t HELP sharing! Also, the response of those who hear the story. It doesn’t say whether they all immediately fall down and worship him, or acknowledge the truth of the story by passing it on, etc. This account simply states: “They wondered at what they had heard.” The hardest part of passing on what we know about God’s plan for mankind, and about a proper response to his Word, is knowing that we might only see wonder. Perhaps joyful wonder, maybe incredulous wonder, or perhaps, sneering wonder. We’ll see the wonder! But as Paul wrote: “I planted, Apollos watered, but GOD gave the increase!”

Remember, as we get into the thick of this season, dear Mama, and as we have chances a plenty to not only tell our little ones about this precious story of incarnation, and the Word becoming flesh, but to tell others too, remember that we can’t always see what happens once that wonder wears off. We can’t guarantee that our declaration of Christ’s gift will end the way we imagine, and that that soul will come to know Christ, but we can know that God will accomplish his plan.

Enjoy!
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Music Content: Hymn study- O Come O Come Emmanuel

Art Content:
This painting is by Cima da Conegliano (1459-1517)
Cima Painting
The Coloring Pages:
Day 15- Dec 15,  Luke 2:13

Day 16- Dec 16, Luke 2:14

Day 17- Dec 17, Luke 2:15

Day 18- Dec 18, Luke 2:16

Day 19- Dec 19, Luke 2:17

Day 20- Dec 20, Luke 2:18

Day 21- Dec 21, Review: Luke 2:13-18

Craft:
As we get closer, and our time is filled with parties, wrapping gifts, last minute shopping, and lots of other fun, I’ll trim down the crafts. I’m including one recipe, and one craft this week.

This week’s craft is fun, but involved. I was able to do it with my 2 yo, 4 yo, and 6 yo, but there was a lot of supervision and obedience required. Everyone had to be careful of hot items, and obey limits, rules, and boundaries.
That being said, it was a wonderful exercise in trust, patience, and obedience. And, it makes a great gift for anyone.


Sand Candles:
Materials:
(Easily found at Hobby Lobby, A.C. Moore, or Michael’s. I bought all these materials using a coupon for less than $15. We made enough candles to give to all on our Christmas List.)

Wicks
Wax Block
Scent Oil
Glitter
Seashells

Instructions:
 Fill a deep box full of sand. Using a cup, press into the sand to make cup shaped indentations. Make them as deep as you wish your candle to be.  Press the wick down into the bottom of the indentations. Into the sand of the indentation, press seashells, or sprinkle glitter etc. Pour hot wax into the indentation. (melt wax using a double boiler, or if you don’t have one, use the redneck version: a metal mixing bowl placed on top of a pot of boiling water.) Allow to cool until wax is hard. Pull candles out of sand, dust sand off, and Voila!

Recipe:

Edible Glitter Berries

I found the original on an Australian website, but the measurements were ahem… Australian, and so I adapted the recipe to my American tastes, and measurements.

1 Clam Shell of Strawberries
1 pack of white chocolate melts
1 container of green sugar sprinkles (the sparkly crystal kind.)

Melt white chocolate in mocrowave. Using short increments, stir in between until chocolate is fully melted. Place sprinkles in bowl for dipping.

Dip berries in chocolate. Dip berries/white chocolate in crystal sprinkles. Place on wax paper in fridge to cool and harden.  (Approx. 15 minutes.)

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Teaching the Gospel to my Children: Part 1

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Teaching the Gospel to my Children: Part 1

My children are not sinless. Would that it were so, but they are not. And if there is anything I’ve learned as a Mom, it is that my job is not to keep my children from sin, but to teach them how to respond to it.

Some days, I feel so frustrated, as if I’m banging my head against a wall. Why can’t they just STOP SINNING?! But then I realize, I am no better child to my Heavenly Father. I often find myself doing things I don’t want to do, and in the midst of sin saying to myself. “Whoops. I shouldn’t have done that…” I struggle with many sins, the worst of my vices being laziness. It is tempting to waste my time in trivial pursuits of pleasure, rather than keeping tabs on the mundane reality of Motherhood and Homeschooling. I’d much rather lay in bed all day, reading a book, than doing canning and related food prep, changing diapers, reading lessons, vacuuming carpets, mopping floors, and decluttering, making supper, baking snacks from scratch, or any of the other sundry chores I may need to finish in one day’s time.  I do my best, but some times I find myself failing miserably, easily distracted by the procrastinator’s best friend, facebook.
Some days, I’m spot on, finishing the things I ought to, on time, well done, and I have a cozy, warm, clean, and good smelling home waiting for my husband when he gets home from work. Other days, not so much. So if I, an adult, still cannot completely avoid sin, despite the fact that I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt I will be happier when I do right, how can I expect this of my children?

I don’t know why you don’t just do as I say. You’d be much happier if you stopped doing this wrong!”

I hear these words, or similar ones coming out of my mouth sometimes, or lingering in my heart, and I cringe. I think of that parable, the one of the man who owed a debt to the King that he could never repay. The King released him of his debt, but when the man went on his way, and another man who owed him a paltry sum was passing by, and the first man demanded this paltry debt be repaid. No mercy for the man who owed him so little, he pressed hard for the money. The King heard of this, and brought him back, angry that although GREAT mercy had just been showed to him, he could not show a small amount of mercy to another man.

I am that man. My children owe me nothing. In comparison to the debt I owe to Christ, they owe me crumbs. And yet, I demand payment, and I demand it now.

I have learned, that I cannot demand that they stop sinning. And to do so only frustrates me, and frustrates them. And as Ephesians 6 points out, we are responsible to God, and not an authority for our own gain, or agenda. Frustrating our children is not in our job description. Teaching them, guiding them, nurturing them IS. Our job is not to eradicate sin, or to keep them away from it, but rather to respond to sin rightly. I do my children no favors when I demand a sinless life from them, and I do them even worse when I shelter them from sin, assuming it is only acquired from bad music, bad company, bad atmosphere, or whatever else troubles me. I can stand beside them, as they meet sin head on, and model for them how to respond to it.

This requires so much more integrity than merely trying to isolate them from sin. In isolating them from sin, I take the blame off of them, and off of myself. In being aware of their sin nature, I admit there is a sin nature in me. This takes an uncomfortable amount of humility.

To begin to teach my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, I MUST admit one thing first:
I am a sinner. I gave birth to sinners, and the only answer to that sin is the gospel.

Why “Oh, Let Them Play, They’re Only Children!” Shortchanges Our Kids: Part 1

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Heavy statement, I know. But when we say “Oh, just let them play, they’re only children!” we do our children a disservice.
Disclaimer: I am FAR from perfect on this issue myself. This is just as much a Series aimed at me, as it is to anyone. This does not mean I’m opposed to play either, just that I’m opposed to play without a purpose, or play without discernment.

So why do I think this? Let’s unpack this statement.

Hairdresser

The girls playing “Hair Salon”

Firstly, as an Early Childhood major, I’ve read a LOT of expert opinions on play. “Play is the child’s work” is the prevailing opinion in the early childhood world. I’ve studied all sorts of things, mostly stating that play is something we ought not to limit, guide, or contain. But that we should feed children’s ability to play by listening, repeating back, and providing materials, encouragement, or opportunity.
This is built upon the idea of a “blank slate.” That every child is born perfect, and only sullied by their environment. This presupposition leads us to let the child direct the play, and follow along, allowing their pure spirit to teach themselves. We are only there to facilitate experimentation. Any kind of negative response is only limiting them, and any wrongdoing on their part is because we are deficient as teachers, parents, adults. I used to believe this wholeheartedly, and constantly found myself puzzled because I was doing everything right, so WHY did the children in my care persist in doing wrong? I felt like such a failure, and I ran out of tools quickly. I just couldn’t keep a perfect enough environment to produce a perfect child. It took a long time for me to say: “This isn’t right.”

Why? I knew scripture says this:
Psalm 51:5 ESV “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Romans 3:23 ESV “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 5:12 ESV “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—”

We are born with a sin nature. Children are born with sin in their hearts. As Proverbs says: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child.” We need to avoid this child led form of play because it is giving free reign to the natural sin in their hearts, without turning them from it.

Adam and Eve aren't the only folks who enjoy a good fruit!

Adam and Eve aren’t the only folks who enjoy a good fruit!

This is why I think that allowing them to play without a purpose, without guidance, and without goals isn’t the best we can give them. We teach them to make their own rules, morals, goals, and outcomes. Under it all, we’re telling them that to trust, obey, submit, and to learn from others mistakes is wrong, that experience is king and the source of true wisdom, and to disregard rules is right and good. The underlying truth we communicate frequently is that nobody really loves you enough to want what is best for you. Selfishness is the only way to survive, and thrive. We teach them to “follow your heart” “Do what is best for YOU” and to “get rid of anything or anyone that doesn’t serve YOU.”
I think that after 2 generations of this approach to child rearing we are seeing a society that is making its own laws, its own morals, and disregarding authority, except the individual authority of man. And I don’t think it is too much of a leap to say that a lot of our gleeful declarations of “Don’t be afraid to break ALL the rules!” in nursery school are now finding purchase in the hearts of young people, who “call evil, good, and good, evil.”
“But studies show…!”
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human traditi
cutefilleron, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8
As Christians, our authority isn’t the philosophy of fallible men, but God’s wisdom. Proverbs says the beginning of wisdom is the Fear of the Lord. Paul says that “ALL scripture is profitable for reproof and instruction in righteousness.” We know where to go if we need to know what to teach our children, and how to raise them.
I always have to bite my tongue when someone says: “Too bad they don’t come with an instruction manual!” Oh but they do! In God’s Word! Who better to look to on how to raise, train, and teach them, then their creator?

(Want to know where I’m going with this? Check out Part 2)

The Great American Discontent

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I have been struggling lately. As a Mom of many children, having to make financial sacrifices daily, and living in a standard very different from the American Norm, I’ve been comfortable. I knew there would be no single bedrooms, everyone would share. I knew we would not eat out often, I knew that we would face snippets of cut corners here and there in large family life. It just is the reality, that in the America that has 2.5 children per household, our life would be far out of the norm. Hand Me Downs galore, shared bedrooms, a “restaurant meal” that I didn’t cook meaning pre made pizza from walmart, or a crock pot meal somebody else delivered. I KNEW this would be the case.

But then things looked even ‘worse’ than I’d imagined. God has given me a hard working husband who puts everything on the line at his job. He works so hard that when he comes home, there is nothing left of him. Does this mean he gets a promotion as reward for his labor? No. He isn’t the extroverted type who can “lead” or be “manager material.” As a result of this, I’ve had to let go of my dreams of “one day” things getting easier. The more real this became to me, the more I mourned the loss of a future I’d expected. A future with a larger home to fit all of our incoming children, with a more comfortable means, where the day to day struggle of meeting the bills is no longer a constant anxiety, and where my friends stop saying “One day, things will get better.” because they already HAD gotten better. I even tell myself sometimes, “One day, things will get better.”

But I don’t think they will. So I sat down last night and cried over that. Cried that my husband works so hard with so little reward for his efforts. Cried that other people seem to have it better than we do, and cried because I felt God owes me a blessing.
Then I realized. God owes me NOTHING. Nothing.
I am a sinner. saved by grace. How can I expect anything? How can I expect things to “get better?” Is my problem my husband’s humble job, and our meagre budget that just squeaks by each year? Or is my problem my attitude?
I read Proverbs 5 today and something hit me squarely between the eyes.

Drink water from your own cistern,

flowing water from your own well.

Should your springs be scattered abroad,

streams of water in the streets?

Let them be for yourself alone,

and not for strangers with you.

Let your fountain be blessed,

and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;

be intoxicated always in her love.

Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman

and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,

and he ponders all his paths.

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,

and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.

He dies for lack of discipline,

and because of his great folly he is led astray.
(Proverbs 5:15-23, ESV)

I always hurried through this chapter, thinking “it doesn’t apply to me. He is obviously talking to a man.”  But I saw something today. A principle, one I have NOT learned. Why am I looking to other places for happiness? For comfort? Why do I think my life would be so much better if my husband only earned a little more money and we could live comfortably like other people. There it is: “like other people.” I need to be drinking from my own well. Not looking around at everyone else’s.  My problem isn’t this lowly situation we’re in, it is my discontent in it. My assumption that things are hard because we don’t have what I want, or what other people have, or think we ought to have.
I looked at it in a different way after reading this chapter. Are we really so poor? No. Not really. Our home is in good repair, we have indoor plumbing, clean water, plenty of food, working electricity, and 2 cars. We are RICH. Monetarily, we are SO blessed! SO SO VERY blessed! No one in this home suffers from a medical condition that cannot be treated, if we only had money. No one in this home is starving, or deprived. Why am I ordering my thinking and my life on the AMERICAN DREAM? The American dream doesn’t matter. The American idea of what we should own, do, pay for, and have, isn’t important. Here I am inwardly despising my husband because he isn’t going after what Everyone else thinks we ought to have. I’m listening to the wrong crowd. So now is my challenge. Time to stop being so discontented, and to enjoy, be thankful and grateful for what we DO have, and to rejoice in it! To be GLAD for where God has placed us. I will replace my “We don’t have…” with “Thank you LORD!”
So much for the Great American Discontent. Time to rejoice evermore.

With God, ALL Things Are Possible

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Isaiahpost4I considered a long time ago whether or not to write this story on the blog, but there were a few impediments. Mostly my pride. I thought if this story was public, folks might think less of our decision to allow God to determine our family size. They might think we were foolish, and that in choosing to leave our future up to God, we’d asked for trouble. But after speaking to a friend today, that last vestige of pride was strongly assaulted. If we are to give glory to God, sometimes that means allowing others to see that despite our own shortcomings, he works, incredibly, and as Paul says in Ephesians 3:20, he works abundantly more than we ask, or think, and the glory is his.

This story begins long before it begins, after Ava was born, my husband and I felt that we should take God’s Word seriously in raising our children. We felt that the practical side of that was quitting my job, and staying home to homeschool them. But we didn’t know that we could financially swing that. My husband doesn’t have a job that is impressive, or earns a lot of money. He is a “laborer” of sorts, doing hard work in a warehouse. He isn’t a manager, or even a supervisor. He just works, and works hard. We were well off with both of us working, and had saved up some money. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor either. We were comfortable. But we knew, that we were living life on our own power, and that despite our convictions about how we felt God was leading our family, we just couldn’t see God providing for us so radically. But, with the encouragement of a friend, and constant reminders of how we were ignoring our convictions, we took the plunge. We had no clue God would provide, but we knew he would. Our mantra was: If we were in obedience to him, he would take care of meeting our needs. Little did we know how very much he would test our faith in that regard.

First day of school

First day of school.

Once I had quit my job, I went to my daughter’s school, where we had enrolled her for her kindergarten year, to pull her from enrollment. There was no way we could afford private school, even a Christian one. But amazingly, God had provided for us to transition to homeschooling as gently as possible. I walked in that office to pull her, and walked out with a ministry position. The Principal of the school needed a teacher, and I needed to be able to pay tuition. That year was wonderful. I ended up in the perfect job for our family, in the kindergarten room, teaching little ones. I could bring all three of my little girls, and earn enough money to keep our finances even. During that year God provided an opportunity for us to use our modest savings to purchase a house to rent, and earn income from, thinking it would help us to maintain our finances once I became a homeschooling Mom.

At the end of our wonderful year at the school, we choose to move forward with homeschooling. We had been further provided for, by a series of little jobs for me, helping out ladies who needed housecleaning.  Then, by the end of that summer, we found out I was pregnant! We were excited about this new chapter of our lives, and the excitement was doubled in finding out our newest family member, Isaiah, was a boy. This pregnancy, however, was a bit harder than the previous three. I was exhausted, and my body couldn’t keep up with all that I needed to accomplish. Going from three children to 4 was daunting, and the home we had bought to rent, ended up being a loss for the first 8 months. Between that, and my eventual inability to keep up with the house and cleaning jobs, it was a tough time financially. We had no clue how we would be able to get all of the things for our new baby, and our first boy. God provided the little stuff, a new car seat, many Moms who passed on boy’s clothing, and a few faithful friends who threw me a “sprinkle” (instead of a full blown baby shower) to help prep us for Isaiah’s needs. The one big purchase  that had us worried was a minivan.

Jetta

Ye Olde Jetta in the background. Ye olde stick and popped tire in the front!

For the past 5 years we had been carting our little family around in my ’87 Volkswagon Jetta. A faithful car that serves its purpose well, we had grown from 1, to 2, then 3 children! All squeezed into that backseat! But 4 really wouldn’t work, and with our rental property being a loss, and our baby due in March, we planned to use any tax refunds to pay for the van. But when we went van shopping we found that everything was out of our price range, and that prices were due to shoot up in January. A grim prospect knowing how tight our budget was, and how much loss we had suffered over the winter with the rental property. We prayed for months. We cried over it, and eventually we found a cheap minivan at a local used car dealership. We prayed for the price to drop within our price range. But it never did. We honestly were at a loss. How could God provide for such a big need, when everything looked impossible?

Allenoverwhelmed

God is Good.

When I was (6 months) pregnant, we went to my a party for my Father In Law (Our rescuer when the tire popped on the Jetta after a particularly wild storm left some nasty branches in the road. The intrepid explorers and subsequent rescue pictured here–>) During this time my husband reconnected with some old friends. He had a wonderful time talking with them, and I spent most of the party taking care of our three children who were having a blast eating, socializing, coloring, and whatever else little girls do! I was present for some of the conversation, but not all of it. During a part of the conversation where Allen was explaining to them some of our recent preparations for Baby Isaiah, the subject of a van came up. Allen spoke about our wish to buy a minivan, and some of our struggles to do so. Somewhere during this conversation it came up that they had a minivan they currently had no use for. Then, later in the conversation, they indicated a leading from the Lord to GIVE the van to us! I was in shock, and assumed I heard them wrong. We parted with them with many typical goodbyes, and on the way home as we discussed what they had said, I was still in denial. I told my husband there was NO way anyone would just GIVE us a van! We dropped the subject, and went about our business. Church the next day, and on  Monday, business as usual.

Sarahdress

Sarah’s Dress

But on Monday, my Mother In Law called. She told me they really, REALLY wanted to GIVE us the van! I couldn’t believe it. I just burst into tears. Here we had been praying and praying, and I just couldn’t believe God would provide so completely, so amazingly. Over the next few weeks we sorted out the details, and before long, the beautiful minivan was ours.

Emmadress

Emma’s Dress

And This family had selflessly given this van to us, and to make things even more amazing, when we went to pick it up, inside of the van were beautiful new shoes and Christmas dresses, one for each of our daughters! We cried for joy at God’s amazing provision, and the girls happily wore those dresses at Christmas. I still can’t believe how God met our needs, and am thankful for this family, and their generous spirit, and willingness to be a part of that.
To make things even more amazing, not 2 weeks after we had been given this new van, Allen totalled his car, our Volkswagen Rabbit. Because we had the van, and we still had the Jetta, he did not even have to miss a day of work, and our tight finances did not have to stretch to buy him a new car. Now the Jetta is his car, and the van is for family outings.

Avadress

Ava’s Dress

This past winter was hard for many many reasons, but the bright spot, the moment that reminded us how much God can provide for ANY need was that Van. When we were in the bleakest moments, finding a new tenant, repairing the rental property, wondering how God would provide for our needs, financial and physical, that van was a HUGE reminder that God does provide.There were times when I wondered if we had done right, and if this season of want would last forever (it didn’t!) or if we had made the wrong choice to take a leap of faith (we know now, we hadn’t) There were times when I felt hopeless, and incapable of doing what we needed. Each of those times of weakness, and failure, God stepped in. There were families bringing meals, folks (in some cases, we don’t even know who) who dropped boxes of food at our door. When things seemed the darkest, and hope seemed impossible, God provided again. From food, to clothing, to a VAN, this past winter, he provided. Isaiah is born now, and I am back to finding ways to supplement our income, and there too, God has provided. Our new tenants are wonderful, and we are finally earning money from the rental property to help our family.

Without getting too heavy handed, I want to encourage other families like us, it may be scary, and at some times you may lie in bed at night, next to your spouse, not only wondering if you’ve done something crazy, and stupid, and even cried together about it, and yet, humilitypostmomandemmasnuggling humilitypostsarahemmaGod doesn’t allow his children to go hungry. He will provide. This testimony, as embarrassing as it seemed at the time. As much as to me, it screamed: I am a FAILURE!  It really doesn’t say that. What it says is, God will provide for his children. He will make a way. Don’t be discouraged if you see that it is impossible to do God’s will. It isn’t. It is never impossible for God, though it may seem impossible to us.

Our new Van!

Our new Van!

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Proverbs 10:3

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

 

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.