Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lent for Littles: Making Room to Listen & Grow

My friend Jenny came up to me at church and pitched the idea to me:  "I really want to make Easter more special to my kids-- at least as special as Christmas, because, you know... to a Christian it's supposedly the most important day in the year.  So, I was thinking-- could you maybe teach a lesson and some songs for the church playgroups I'm hosting during Lent?  I can do a craft if you do!!"  Always up for a teaching challenge-- especially one including music!-- I said "sure!"  But as my mouth was forming the "sure" my brain was whirring, How in the world am I going to teach "Lent" to a bunch of toddlers??  I started praying and brainstorming and finally took my pink journal out during naptime and started brain-dumping everything I had learned or knew or wondered or had heard about Lent, fasting, and Easter.  I re-read parts of John Piper's A Hunger for God, and the children's book Make Room, and prayed more.  I read about Jesus' time in the wilderness, read about the children of Israel in the wilderness.  The Lord brought Hebrews 12:1-2 to mind as great theme verses for the concepts swirling in my head and a skeleton of a lesson emerged.  I think it worked rather well so I'm posting it here in the hopes that it might encourage others!

Making Room to Listen & Grow
Hebrews 12:1, Matthew 4:1-11; Deuteronomy 8:1-10

I recruited my 8 year old daughter to help me with a little skit (which she relished!).

She came quite literally running in, dressed in shorts and sneakers, with a headband and jersey on.  She also carried in her hand boxes of toys, several purses and an armload of books, with a backpack on her back.  She quite theatrically stumbled and everything went flying!

this picture of E dressed as a runner
(from Jan 2016) always makes me laugh
Woah, woah!  Where are you going?
Oh, I'm going on a run!!
Well, why are you carrying all these things?  You can't possibly run very well with all that!
Oh, but I LOVE these things!! This is my favorite doll!  And these are really REALLY good books!! And I might want to play a game... and in my backpack I have all kinds of snacks, and a sweater if I get cold...
Kids, do you think it's a good idea to take all this with her on a run? (NOOOO) Honey, I think you're going to get hurt!  
But these are all GOOD things, Mom!!
They totally might be, but sometimes we have to put some things down in order to do other things well!  You'll be able to run much faster, and you can see where you're going... Actually, we're about to talk about this-- do you want to take a little rest and listen?  
Ok, I guess I can do that!  

So, like Eowyn and I were just learning, sometimes we have to say "no" or "not now" to GOOD things in order to do other things, or do things better.  Did you know there is a Bible verse about this?  We're going to need to stand up to sing this one!  (This is the tune from VBS Reachout Adventures' Olympion) This song is about throwing off things that "hinder" us-- do you know that word?  It means "gets in our way and slows us down."

"Hebrews 12:1, Hebrews 12:1, Let us run run run (run in place) the race marked out for us (motion to self) There...fore.... since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (spin around)
let us throw off (throwing off motion) everything that hinders,
and the sin that so easily entangles (pretend to pull a rope from around feet)
and let us run with perseverance (running motion)
the race (clap clap)
marked out (clap clap)
for us.
Let us run run run (running in slow mo)
Run with perseverance
Let us run run run
The race marked out for us
Let us throw off everything that hinders (throwing off motion)
And let us run run run (running) the race marked out for us."

The Bible uses a "race" to help us understand what we are doing-- we are all trying to follow Jesus and live like He did, in a way that obeys and shows love to God.  That's what is called the "race of faith."  So when we say we are going to "run run run" in that song we are talking about how we live.

Did you know that a long long time ago, God wanted to teach His people about putting some things away for a little while so that they could learn to listen to His Word better?  This is a picture of the Israelites in the desert.   Do you see any flowers or trees? What about nice gardens and farms?  No... there isn't anything like that.  God called His people away from those for a little while.  But look at what amazing things He gave them instead!  This is a picture of Him feeding them with manna-- the bread of angels!! It fell from Heaven!  That is so special, something they never would have enjoyed if they were still eating their own food from their own gardens!  And look at this!  Water from a rock!  And best of all, God's own Law coming down from Heaven at Mount Sinai!!  God called His people into the desert to teach them His Word.  They spent 40 years learning obedience and trust in His Word in the desert.

Did you know Jesus also spent time in the desert?  Not 40 years, but 40 days.  Right after His baptism-- which many of you learned about in Sunday School just last week!-- God the Father called Him into the desert to learn obedience and trust in His Word, too.  Jesus didn't just leave behind gardens and flowers-- He went without ALL food!  How do you think He felt?  Hungry!!  But He had all kinds of time to listen to His Father and think about His word.  He was ready when His Enemy, the devil, that old serpent came to try and trick Him.  Oh... I am not sure if you are ready to see this picture.  It's kind of scary.  Are you ready?  Ok.

Jesssssssus, I know you are hungry... why not just make yourself some bread?  You don't need to wait for God the Father to give you food. And Jesus said "No, Satan!  don't you remember what the Israelites learned in the desert?  Obeying God's Word is more important than worrying about food!" Jesssusssss, I know you want to become king of the world... instead of going to the Cross, why don't you worship me instead?  Then I'll make you king!" "NO!  God's Word says-- worship God only!" Jessussssss, why don't you show everyone and Yourself just how amazing you are-- jump off this high place and let the angels catch you!  God's Word says they can do that!  NO, God's Word also says "do not put God to the test!"

After Satan had tried all these temptations and Jesus had said NO to them all, Satan gave up and left (for then)-- and do you know who came then?  Angels actually did come, and the Bible says they took care of Him-- maybe they brought Him manna just like the Israelites had.  

So in both of those stories, for a time, God called His people to put aside very good things-- like trees, gardens, even food!-- to make room for Him to teach them His Word and to listen better to Him.  Like that verse said, sometimes there are things that are "hindering" us and we need to throw them off so we can run.  Sometimes there also is sin tangling our legs up, and we need to ask God to help us repent and stop that too!

With all these great things there are no room for flowers!
I know this is kind of tricky to understand so I have one more picture for you.  Let's imagine that you are this little boy (hold up a Playmobil boy) and this cardboard box is your garden.  Let's pretend you really want to have lots of flowers in your garden!  But first... you put in a bench like this.  See?  It fits so nicely!  And now you can sit and enjoy your flowers!  Then you get an idea of some rocks to climb on, so you put those in too!  See?  I made a little rock path.  But then you remember that merry-go-rounds are really fun, and
you decide to put one of those in!   And last of all you decide you really really REALLY want this slide and monkey bar set!  Ok... now for the flowers.  OH NO!! Where will they fit??

They won't!! 

Are the bench, monkey bars, slide, and rocks BAD things?  No... but we might need to take some things out of this little garden to make room for flowers.  Wow!  Look how beautiful the flowers are!  That's what Lent is all about:  making room in our lives to listen better to God.  Your moms and dads probably will be talking about what they are putting aside -- a good thing they are going to stop doing or enjoying for the next 40 days, because they think it might be hindering them a little bit.  It might be going to Target... it might be watching a show... it might be a special food...  These are things that are good, but sometimes we need to put them aside to make room for better things.  This is called a "fast."  Often God uses fasts to teach His people things about His Word and Himself.  We make room to listen so we can "grow."  We let go so we can "run" better.
Now there is lots of room for flowers!

Now we are all about to make some crafts with flowers and seeds-- these will help you remember what we have talked about!


Now I know there are lots of other aspects of Lent and fasting and repentance and seasons that I didn't tap into ... but they were little bitty kids and even with my craziest voices and best visuals I can only keep them paying attention for maybe 15 minutes, hah!

Stay tuned for part 2 on Hebrews 12:2-- Fixing our eyes on JESUS-- and the Easter story!

Rest and Refresh

For Christmas my dear friend gave me an uncommon rarity:  a book I'd never heard of.  :) It was the set of books "Refresh" and "Reset" by husband & wife Pastor David Murray & Dr. Shona Murray.  I looked at the back and refrained from rolling my eyes... ANOTHER book about grace?  Well, ok, fine, my friend gave it to me, I'll give it a try...


As some of you may know from my past blog entry on postpartum rest, I have been realizing that our culture desperately needs to remember the meaning of rest.  And **I** need to remember and incorporate rest in my own life.  I've said before that if I ever write one book it will probably be on recapturing the Sabbath in today's rest-less culture... well... that clearly is NOT my life mission because David & Shona Murray have already done it!!

The books are very similar in content & style but are aimed at women & men respectively.  I've found Refresh to be encouraging, practical, insightful, theologically astute, and so so so needed.  If you are a go-getter type person, someone who feels overwhelmed, or you love someone who is either of those... read this book.  Actually probably everyone should just read it. :) . I won't say more because... well... that would defeat the point of telling you to read the book!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

On Gently Leading Those that Are With Young

It's been a while since I blogged-- longer still since I shared on any kind of regular basis. I'm still here, listening, reading, praying, thinking and talking-- thinking a lot. I have a lot of articles outlined, thoughts jotted down, things I'm thinking about and chewing on and wanting to share. But for the past few years I've just felt the Lord saying a lot of "wait. Just listen and learn. You have a lot to watch, a lot to experience, a lot to just wait through." The more kids I have, the more births I attend, the more books I read, the more life I live, the more sermons I hear, the more I realize just how much there is to learn... just how many perspectives there are to consider, just how many connections there are between so. many. things.

 I want to write for hours on so many topics, just to get it all straight in my own head... but there are so many things to DO-- I have three little kids to feed (GAPS kids no less, so food is not quick and easy), not to mention homeschool, a giant dog to walk, a husband to seek to know, a house to occasionally clean, and most recently, two kittens to supervise. There are a hundred good things I don't get done every day. And I'm learning to live with that.

So many excellent, knowledgable people are writing and singing and podcasting and presenting, and I'm happy to just be a glorified card catalogue, holding resources in my mind and passing them on to friends as needed, on most topics. But lately there are a few topics that I have not seen covered too extensively, and one in particular that, if I become a clanging gong that only plays one note, I guess I'd pick this note to clang out over and over again. :) That is on the topic of the Church and Rest-- specifically, on the Church following her Shepherd Who "gently leads those that are with young."

If there is one thing I think our culture has totally forgotten how to do, it is how to balance work and rest. More, I think we have gotten totally out of sync, forgotten all rhythms... we don't know how to operate seasonally, or even weekly. We seem to only have two positions, on and off, and as a culture "off" is usually mindless and selfish. Our work is often also selfish, all about building a reputation and being able to live in comfort and control... none of those are bad things in and of themselves, but like anything, they become idols when we make them the Main/Only thing instead of just A Good Thing. By the same token, when we finally collapse, exhausted, and "rest," we make that all about us too. We need "me" time, we don't want to be bothered, we don't want to think, and we definitely don't want to do anything on purpose. It's easy from the outside to see how that is a skewed perspective, and as Christians we recognize that everything, rest or work, is supposed to be unto the Lord, so we try to fill our "rest" days with serving, with loving, with doing, with fellowshipping...

We forget that true rest is a contentment in what Christ has already done-- that it is a resting in Jesus, a rest that is not at all self-focused, but neither must it be others-focused. It is a sense of joy in loving a Person who has best loved us-- our Savior.

We forget that we need physical rest as a reminder of our human frailty, as a reminder that we are not the Savior. We forget that God is always working, and He is using all the thousands of members of His Body in the world... so that every weak member can rest in turn.

We forget that there is a weekly rhythm of rest: one day in seven (yes, despite it all I'm still convinced the Sabbath is made for man). But also, there are yearly rhythms and seasonal rhythms and life-long rhythms of rest. The seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land (and for its farmers).  The seventh seventh year (the year of Jubilee), all Hebrew slaves were to be set free, and the land was to rest. Women were to rest every month (I'm convinced this is the point of the "cleanliness laws"). And in the life of every Hebrew mother, after every child born, there was to be a very defined time of rest immediately after childbirth.

There is one more principle that plays into this, and that is that of prioritization of the family (nuclear and then immediate including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins). In an agricultural or migrant culture, there will be times of the year where labor for the sake of the family will take precedence and not allow much other work (you've got to harvest all day long in late summer or your family will starve in the winter)-- and other times of the year where there is much more freedom to serve outside the family, and other times where there is more time to rest. For the first year of a new marriage, in the Old Testament, a man was to stay near his new bride no matter what battles beckoned him to defend his brothers. In times where a family's needs are very demanding, it is right to use our limited resources to first serve them, and feel no guilt in resting while needs outside our family remain unmet by us.  (remember, there are other people God can use to meet those needs!)  In the New Testament, over and over we are reminded that our duties to our families take precedence over other responsibilities.  (Matthew 15:4-5; Ephesians 6:1-41 Timothy 5:3-4, 8; 1 Tim 5:16)  This applies in small churches, to pastors & their families, to ministry leaders, and to families in demanding job situations.

Six weeks of rest:  resting with my newborn soon after birth--
I didn't leave this bed much in the next 2 weeks,
hardly left the room for the next 2,
and hardly left the house for the next 2!
All that said, I want to speak to the young mothers in the Church. Please, rest. Physically speaking, your body will not return to "normal" for a full year after it has gone through the miraculous, God-glorifying process of nurturing and birthing and sustaining a new life. Pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding will take a huge physical toll on your body. Nutrients (especially the fat-soluble ones so needed for building brains and nervous systems) will take about two years to restock, sometimes far more-- especially if your body does what it is designed to do and continues to partially feed another small person for another two-ish years after birth. Childbirth itself is a huge physical event, burning as many calories as running a marathon, expending 500 mL-1000 mL of blood, with hormone shifts unlike any in the human life cycle (from the highest point of estrogen to the lowest within 3 days). Tending a newborn, who is designed to need near-constant touch and warmth to regulate his breathing and digestion, who is designed to need to eat almost hourly for several weeks and then every 2-3 hours for months, in order to double his brain size and triple his body weight within a year, is exhausting. This is absolutely something that should be expected to massively "change our stride." And that is God-honoring and good.

In the Old Testament, mothers would have been forced to rest by cleanliness laws that rendered them & everything they touched "unclean" for 5 - 10 weeks after childbirth. If you knew you'd have to burn or scrub by hand everything you touched, you would not touch much!! In that culture, new mothers were cocooned, surrounded by community and help with their only responsibilities being resting and feeding the baby. As a doula, I've seen that it often takes about that long for breast-feeding to become established. By six weeks, many babies have settled into somewhat of a routine, sleeping semi-predictable stretches, able to smile and interact with someone other than mama.

In traditional cultures all over the world similar customs and taboos keep new moms and tiny babies safe, away from unfamiliar germs (family germs are not a threat to an infant because mom's milk guards against those), able to rest and regain strength and get nursing (crucial to infant survival outside of the developed world) well-established. 

In our culture it's expected that moms SHOULD start worrying about "getting their bodies back" as soon as they are home from the hospital. Friends and family members come from all over to "get their baby fix" --ie expose the new baby to germs-- but often don't do much (if anything) to help the parents rest.  Moms are seen as healthy and strong if they can post a pic to Instagram of them doing their Target run at 3 weeks postpartum, baby in tow. Date night without baby is expected as soon as possible, multiple nights a week is even better.  Mom needs to keep right on serving and doing everything she was doing before, taking care of her other children, and if she is exhausted then all the pressure should be put on the BABY to change, to get with the program and sleep longer stretches, instead of accepting that this is a time of life when the whole family needs to shift a bit so Mom (And baby) can rest.

Moms, please hear me: there is so little margin between feeling great and feeling awful when you have just given birth. You have far less reserves than you think you do. Rest.

Even after those first 6 weeks, please structure your home to allow you to rest.  Please institute a "quiet time" where your children are all quiet and safe so you can safely nap, every day if you need it.  Please reach out to family members and church members to regularly care for you and your older children with meals and cleaning and whatever else they offer to do.  Please do not feel guilty for taking it easy and being slow to add a bunch of (even church) activities to your plate.  Please don't feel guilty for going to bed early.

Dads, please protect your wives and their ability to rest.  Don't expect her to do anything other than rest and care for the baby in those early weeks, and understand that it will be months, even a year or two, before she is able to do everything she once did-- and she will be changed forever by motherhood (as you will be by fatherhood).  If you know you won't be able to help very much (beyond working to make money), do what you can, actively recruit family members, coordinate friends, and even hire help.  Most of all, affirm the value of what she is doing (caring for a new soul, a bit of God's Image that will never ever die!!!) and the legitimacy of her need to rest.  She is not being lazy, she is not a slacker.  Do everything in your power to lighten her load, not add to it.  Even a wife who is planning to return to full or part time work needs to fully rest for a minimum of 6 weeks and it is far better for her to be able to rest even longer-- creative approaches can be needed to make the finances and logistics work, but she will need your support more than ever in doing it.

Most concerning to me, lately I've heard wonderful preachers and teachers encourage parents to stay right in the "swing of things" at church immediately after childbirth. One preacher whom I respect recently described his own experience of driving his wife and new son straight from the hospital (days after birth) to a small group meeting, and discussed how they never missed a small group meeting from that point on-- baby just napped in the other room. Now, that may be ok for some women... but for most... that would be an absolutely terrible idea. After childbirth the only place a mom should go from the hospital is TO BED. The only place a baby should be after birth is HOME. I think of the patriarch Jacob's no-nonsense observation to his brother Esau regarding traveling with young animals and children: "My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die." Do not drive yourself hard, do not drive your children hard.

Absolutely please make fellowship your priority-- if you only have energy for one outing a week, make it church or small group, NOT Target... but please please don't see yourself as spiritually inferior if you don't make it to church events for a good long while.  Thankfully, babies are so wonderfully packable from about 3 months to 9 months, which makes fellowship much easier.  Please do prioritize fellowship and spiritually feeding things (listening to sermons, Christian music, the Bible on CD, etc).

What is God's heart towards young mothers and young children?  It's the same as Jacob (a literal shepherd)'s was towards his flocks and walking family:  "He [God the Father] will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."  (Isaiah 40:11) OK, Church, how can we "gently lead those that are with young"?  Are we putting the brunt of responsibility on young mothers (and young fathers), or are we ensuring that they are first able to care for their little ones and themselves?  Are our healthy young adults and those without children free to serve?  Are our "empty nesters" and parents of older kids stepping up and taking on the lion's share of service, or are young parents (honestly, specifically young moms) the ones asked and expected to do the bulk of everything, often without their kids?

Church-- physical rest is a huge thing a new mom needs, so how can we serve them in that?  I don't like making absolute statements but here is one I'm confident is a good rule:  Don't expect a new mom to serve at all in any capacity for 6 months minimum after childbirth (or adoption). Now if a mom comes to you and asks to help, sure, but please don't put that on them. New dads don't need any extra responsibility either; anything you ask them to do away from their families means more pressure on their wives. If a nursing mama wants to serve, by all means let hers be the schedule you work around-- she may not be able to make a meeting at 7:30 am after nursing a baby all night.  She may not be able to skip a meal with her family to help set up an event.  Her baby likely needs her to go to sleep at night, so be respectful of that.

Resting at a family Christmas event with my 2 month old
The other huge need new moms have is community. The pastors urging moms and dads to stay in step with the Church have this right-- they know that even after childbirth we need to guard against sin by regularly meeting together to encourage one another. (Hebrews 13)  So, Church, how can we do that? Again I go back to Jacob, speaking so sensibly to his brother about a group of people literally walking from one place to another: " I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to [you] my lord in Seir."  How can we figuratively match our pace to theirs?  Practically speaking, this looks like coming to their home with food, doing household chores, reaching out and going out of our way to encourage them without asking them to do anything.  It means giving baby gifts like a postpartum doula, housecleaning services, healthy meals, and postpartum massages.  It looks like taking older children out of the house so mom and baby can sleep.  It means pet-sitting after a birth.  After that first 6 weeks or so, when moms and babies are out and about, it looks like welcoming their children in services, in meetings, in any place where moms are welcomed.  It looks like inviting them over so they don't have to cook.  It looks like taking the initiative to keep in touch.  And it might even look like trying to live in physically close proximity to each other so that these things can happen naturally.

Being tired, being malnourished and being alone are the three main risk factors for postpartum depression. Let's help guard our moms against that by encouraging rest, bringing good nourishing food, and reaching out to encourage and help.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Resources for Cultivating a Word- Centered Home

I hosted a workshop at my house this weekend, discussing how we can seek to build our homes more intentionally on God's Word.  This is a video of the talk I gave (well, a version of it-- thanks to technology I was able to broadcast the actual talk live on FB, but recorded a second version, a little longer because I included more, to post for those who are not on facebook).

I compiled a list of helpful resources and here it is!  Eventually I hope to add links but for now it's just book names.  And at some point I will type up my notes from the talk so people who want to just quickly skim can do so without having to hear the whole 45 minutes!

A.     Environment
1.     Décor
a)     Instagram: bb_lettering designs (handwritten Scripture etc)
b)    instagram:  dchdesignco (Scripture painted on wood- local to Greenville)
c) (Scripture & hymn art)
d)    TONS on etsy (search “hand-lettered Scripture”)
e)     Hobby Lobby
g) (wonderful variety of resources)
2.     Music
a)     Seeds CDs (multiple albums)
b)    Judy Rogers – If You Love Me (10 Commandments); Guard your Heart (the Proverbs); Go to the Ant or Teach Me While My Heart is Tender
c)     Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible (3 CDs)
d)    Hide Em In Your Heart, Vol 1 & 2, Praise & Worship, also a DVD version
e)      Hidden in my Heart Lullabies, Vol 1 & 2
f)      Rain for Roots (3 albums)
g)     Gettys’ Kids Hymns album – Keith & Krystin Gettys
h)    My Soul Among Lions, Psalms album
i)      Michael Card albums:  The Ancient Faith (the OT); The Life (the Gospels); Unveiled Hope (Revelation); A Fragile Stone (life of the apostle Peter); Soul Anchor (Hebrews); Close Your Eyes so You can See; Sleep Sound in Jesus (for children)
j)      Christian Hymns personal hymnal (lots of classics in this one)
3.     Sure-win podcasts or sermons- Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC); Grace Church in Greenville SC; Desiring God Ministries; Sojourn Community Church in Louisville KY; Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville KY
4.     Christian Stories
a)     Picture Books
-       Will, God’s Mighty Warrior
-       God Loves Me More than That- Dandi Mackall
-       Most of All, Jesus Loves You- Noel Piper
-       Read-Aloud Bible Stories (4 Volumes)- Ella K Lindvall
-       The Magnificent Amazing Time Machine- Sinclair Ferguson
-       The Illustrated Pilgrim’s Progress- Jean Watson (similar:  Dangerous Journey)
-       The White Pony- Sandra Byrd
-       Fool Moon Rising
-       The Lightlings (and any others by RC Sproul)
-       Kingdom Parables- Christopher Lane
-       Little Arch Books—The Braggy King of Babylon; The Man Who Was Swallowed by a Fish (many other titles)
-       Christopher Churchmouse books (audiobooks exist too)- Barbara Davoll
-       Giant Steps for Little People (others in same series)- Kenneth Taylor
-       Adam Raccoon stories- Glen Keane
-       Spotlight on Charity (Psalty characters) – Ken Gire
-       Look & Find Bible Stories, other similar like “Can You Find Jesus?”
b)    Chapter Books (great for read-alouds too)
-       The Bark of the Bog Owl – Jonathan Rogers (series retelling story of David)
-       The Bronze Bow- Elizabeth George Speare- set in time of Jesus
-       Cabin in the North Woods- Christian family on frontier
-       The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis- also on audiobook
-       Little Pilgrim’s Progress – Helen
-       100 Cupboards – ND Wilson (series)
-       Crown & Jewel
-       The Runaway Princess – Milly Howard
-       In Grandma’s Attic- Arleta Richardson (series set in early 1900s)
-       How to Cook a Crow and other stories – Jim Crowmarty
-       Captive Treasure- Milly Howard (based on a true story)
-       Cooper Kids Adventure Series- Frank Peretti (like Indiana Jones)
-       Biographical Fiction:  The Bible Smuggler; Morning Star of the Reformation; They Shall be Mine
-       Treasures in the Snow – Patricia St John
-       Wingfeather Saga- Andrew Peterson (4 books)
-       The Green Ember – SD Smith (series)
-       the Millers series – Prudence & the Millers, Wisdom & the Millers, more- Mildred Martin
-       for adults (or as a family read-aloud): the Mitford Books- Jan Karon
5.     Misc.
a)     instagram: shereadstruth
b)    instagram: hymnsillustrated
c)     Faithful Women & their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper- specifically first chapter on Sarah Edwards; her home-keeping was a huge ministry
B.     Rituals & Habits
1.     Family Worship Resources
a.      General & Bible Overview
-       7 Arrow Questions that help apply any text- I would add “How does this text point me to Jesus?”-
-       Walk Thru the Bible – many resources
-       Grace & Truth Memory Book, Volume 1 – Tom Aschol – verses, hymns & catechism questions all together
-       The Greenleaf Guide to Old Testament History- very simple; this has you reading large section of straight Scripture with discussion questions
-       Bedtime Bible Story Book- a story book Bible with a short story for every day of the year, covers everything chronologically from Creation to Revelation
-       The Chronological Bible
-       the Holman Bible Atlas
-       Bible Map Book
-       Walk with Y’Shua through the Jewish Year
-       Devotions for Preschoolers – I use this as a first devotional for my early readers rather than as something I read to my preschoolers
-       Some classic adult devotionals:  My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers; Charles Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening; John Piper’s Pierced by the Word (and others)
-       Lift-the-Flap-Bible – Sally Lloyd Jones
-       Family Night Tool Chest (series)- devotional
-       Tip from Brooke:  as kids grow, encourage independent Bible reading through individualized Bibles, just as a Journaling Bible or an Apologetics Bible, or the Adventure Bible
-       Wise Up – Marty Machowski – 10 minute family devotional through Proverbs
b.     Biblical Theology
-       Because He Loves Me- Elyse Fitzpatrick (for adults)
-       A Gospel Primer – Milton Vincent (for adults)
-       God’s Big Picture – Vaughan Roberts (for adults or teens)
-       Celebrate the Feasts – guide to celebrating OT Feasts as a way to see Jesus
-       Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing- Sally Lloyd Jones – devotional for children – with audiobook
-       The Biggest Story – Don Clark- beautiful illustrations
-       The Big Picture Story Bible- David Helm & Gail Schoonmaker- ages 2-6 – also has audiobook
-       The Big Picture Family Devotional
-       The Jesus Storybook Bible – Sally Lloyd Jones – 4-9 years old – also has audiobook
-       Close Your Eyes so You Can See – Michael Card - read-aloud from perspective of children in Jesus’ life
-       Long Story Short (also Old Story New)- Marty Machowski – devotional for families with elementary aged kids
-       The Gospel Story Bible – Marty Machowski – 6-13 years old
-       Grandpa’s Box – Starr Meade – narrative overview of the whole Bible
c.      Systematic Theology
-       Systematic Theology – Wayne Grudem (for adults)
-       Give them Truth – Starr Meade – very helpful guide for parents
-       Visual Theology – Tim Challies – unique book that uses infographics and visuals to teach systematic theology – for adults and families
-       Awesome God – Sovereign Grace Music
-       Why Can’t I See God? – Judy Rogers- songs through Children’s Catechism
-       The Baptist Catechism to music (2 volumes)- Jim Orrick
-       Leading Little Ones to God – Kenneth Taylor
-       Big Truths for Young Hearts – family devotional – Bruce Ware
-       Big Truths for Little Kids – Susan Hunt – stories for young children through the catechism
-       The Ology – Marty Machowski – family devotional for families with elementary aged kids – CD by same name from Sovereign Grace Kids
-       Mighty Acts of God – Starr Meade – Bible story book with explicit theological teaching and terminology.  Also Wondrous Works of God – Starr Meade
-       Big Beliefs – Bruce Ware – short devotionals for families to introduce the main ideas of the Bible
-       The Radical Book for Kinds- Champ Thornton- this book kind of defies a category… it includes church history, systematic theology, Bible history and more
2.     Prayer Aids
a.      Christmas cards hole-punched and put on a binder ring as a prayer aid
b.     The Songs of Jesus- Timothy Keller – devotional/prayer prompts through the Psalms
c.      Psalms for Children - Marie-Helene Delval
d.     Operation World (for adults)/ You Can Change the World through Prayer- prayer guide for unreached and mostly-non-Christian people groups worldwide
e.      the Valley of Vision- collection of Puritan prayers
f.       Laundry Time prayer prompt
g.      Prayer cards from for praying Scripture for each member of your family
h.     Missionary Stories with the Millers- Mildred Martin – other similar missionary stories can help prompt prayer for missionaries sent from your own churches
i.       Voice of the Martyrs – represents the persecuted church world-wide:
j.       Orthodox Prayer Schedule- many Orthodox prayer schedules can be helpful, however they tend to include prayers to saints and the use of icons in worship which I do not believe to be Scriptural
k.     Tip from an Anonymous friend:  use the changing of dirty diapers as a reminder to pray for people going through messy “poopy” times
3.     Scripture Memory
a.      Fighter Verses- Desiring God ministries – app available too
b.     My ABC Bible Verses – Susan Hunt
4.     Biblical Language, especially in Discipling/Discipline of Children
a.      Shepherding a Child’s Heart- Tedd Tripp
b.     Don’t Make me Count to Three – Ginger Plowman Hubbard (Shepherding applied to younger years)
c.      Age of Opportunity- Paul David Tripp (specifically relates to teen years)
d.     Hints on Child Training- H. Clay Trumball
e.      The Mission of Motherhood – Sally Clarkson
f.       Wise Words for Moms – Ginger Plowman (chart)
g.      God’s Wisdom for Little Boys – Jim & Elizabeth George (through Proverbs)
h.     God’s Wisdom for Little Girls- Elizabeth George (through Proverbs)
i.       Child Training Bible; the Virtue Bible
j.       Doorpost Chart:  The Go to the Ant Chart ( has MANY resources for using Scripture in the home)
C.     Celebrations & Seasons
EXCELLENT overview:  Treasuring Christ in our Traditions-  Noel Piper
1.     Advent/Christmas
a.      Jesse Tree tradition – many many options
b.     Advent readings – many good options, including two by John Piper:  The Dawning of Indestructible Joy and Good News of Great Joy
c.      for Sunday only readings, the Revised Common Lectionary is a free and easy way to read just Scripture-
d.     Lectionary for daily readings-
e.      Candle to Cross wreaths (for both Lent and Advent) -
f.       Why Christmas? – Barbara Reaoch
g.      Prepare Him Room – Marty Machowski – family devotional for Advent
2.     Lent/Easter
a.      Bread and Wine- Lent readings from a variety of authors including St Augustine & CS Lewis
b.     the Easter Mystery—and other resources – at
c.      Ann Voskamp’s free downloadable Lent devotionals; she has a few- - for adults and families
d.     Mission Accomplished – Scott James- 2-week devotional for families
e.      Resurrection Eggs & book Benjamin’s Box- available from Family Life and – great for preschool & elementary age- older kids can be challenged by adding verses for them to read and memorize daily.  Start on Palm Sunday (do 2/day until Day 5, then do 1/day)
f.       The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross – Carl Laferton & Catalina Echeverri – gorgeously illustrated very simple retelling of the Easter story in all its redemptive context – for even very young children
g.      The Legend of the Easter Egg
h.     Make Room – child book for Lent (it’s not that great but the best I have found)
i.       Why Easter?- Barbara Reaoch- 4 weeks of daily devotional material geared towards children
j.       Lenten Lights – free devotional for children- 8 readings for Lent by Noel Piper -
k.     Child’s Guide to the Stations of the Cross- skip over mentions of praying a Hail Mary/edit as needed – still very helpful and well-illustrated explanation of the tradition of walking the Stations of the Cross (often done Good Friday)
3.     St Valentine’s Day- book by Voice of the Martyrs
4.     St Patrick – book by Voice of the Martyrs
5.     Halloween/Reformation Day
a.      Church History 101 – Sinclair Ferguson (for adults)
b.     Reformation ABCs – Stephen Nichol – for children
c.      Church History ABCs – Stephen Nichols – for children
d.     books on the Reformers (Huss, Wycliff, Tyndale, Zwingli, Calvin, the Luthers – both Martin and Katie, etc) – some picture books exist, for others read-aloud chapter books
e.      The Pumpkin Patch Parable
6.     Jewish Feasts, especially Passover
a.      Celebrate the Feasts – Martha Zimmerman
b.     Walk with Y’Shua through the Jewish Year
c.      Messianic Jewish Children CD’s- You Gotta Jump! and Yeladim for Y’Shua both teach Hebrew including the Hebrew alphabet and several Psalms in Hebrew, as well as Scripture in English

d.     A Christian Haggadah Passover – free resource by Ann Voskamp -