Tuesday, December 1, 2015

4 Ways to Help Them Know OF Him

1. I LOVE the Jesse Tree Idea. 
I took Anne Voskamps Advent Calendar Printables and some more easily colored Jesse tree Coloring Pages. I had Jack color a few pages and we cut them out and put some ribbon through holes in the top. TWhile walking our dog, Jack and I picked up a few good sticks and then I tied them together with some rope. I put it in a galvanized pail I had, and surrounded the sticks with some leftover Rafia I also had. I found some christmas lights for $2.00 and I helped Jack string his tree with lights.

Then I matched the stories from the Jesse Tree to the Stories in his Storybook Bible. I labeled each story with the corresponding Advent day.

Since we don't have Jack ALL the time, I cut down on some of the stories, and filled the calendar days that we don't have him with bits of chocolate, and craft projects for ornaments he could make. Like a toilet paper crown with scrapbook Sticker Gems for Esthers Crown, and some Rafia and ribbon to make a Bundle of Wheat for Ruth to Hang on the Tree, Some Calendar dates I also put a note in so that he knows what we will be doing the following day, like cutting down a Christmas Tree or Decorating Cookies for the Cookie Social.

I also hid the christ-child that goes in the manger in day 24 of his advent calendar. (He thinks it's a piece of candy and that we lost the Christ Child because he couldn't find it with the other pieces)

He puts an ornament on the tree and then we read the story together. He also enjoys listening to devotionals from Jesus Calling and LOVES to find the scriptures in the Bible and read them out loud. I help him out with the hard words, but for the most part, she picked some 6 year old friendly bible verses.

(Pictures will come when the weather isn't so Dreary and I can get a non-fuzzy pic with my not so awesome camera phone)

I also really like "Truth in The Tinsel." Though it is really hard to do when we only really get good time with The Kid every other week, so it is hard to fit everything in. We did it last year, but are not doing it this year.

2. Wrap 25 Christmas Books Up  
and have your child pick a book every evening to read before they go to bed.

 I tried to mix it up a little bit because The Kid gets a little uneasy when he hears "Too Much" about Jesus. His catch phrase is "Why are we talking about his again?"  Many of the books I dug out of the books my parents read me when I was a kid, the rest of them are books that I borrowed or found at this great Christian Thrift Store $1 for softcover, $2 for Hardcover, BOGO free!!! I scour their Christmas collection every year.

Our Favorite Books Are:
The Littlest Angel 
Santa and the Christ Child
Both books take some secular ideas and point us back to Christ. They are great children's classics. I believe The Littlest Angel is also a cartoon on Netflix.

3. Create an Advent Chain
to decorate the house to help us remember who Jesus is. I love this one from Spell Out Loud.

4. Purchase or create an Advent Wreath.
Here is a great tutorial on the Advent Wreath. Reading the scriptures can be a little tedious before you eat dinner, since everyone is hungry and waiting for Sunday dinner. It might be better to do it as a weekly family devotional time.  I think it is SO important to HEAR scripture being read. It makes it come alive, it makes it understandable to big and little ears alike.

I didn't really know about Advent wreaths until I went to college at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame Indiana. They did Chistmas right there! When I came home for Christmas I WANTED an Advent Wreath. My Dad found a beautiful Advent wreath with children of the world holding up ribbons with the themes of advent. I just found one at the thrift store for $8 recently. We usually stick a bigger, more sparkly candle in the center of the wreath and surround it with greenery. That's our Christmas Candle.

Here is something similar to the Advent wreath idea.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

CHRISTmas Traditions to help out the elf on the shelf...or the Grinch.

On Sunday our Pastor tried to make a joke as he was talking about the Adoration of Christ during the Advent Season. He said the month of the December our culture just expects people to talk about Jesus and that, as Christians we should saturate our traditions in the Gospel so that everything we do points to Christ, and then he said, "make the elf on the shelf point to Jesus." No one laughed. Honestly, I think it was more poingent than it was funny. He said, "Our culture has dropped Christ from Christmas because WE have dropped Christ from Christmas"

I LOVE Christmas and I LOVE the movie elf. I LOVE the movie elf ALMOST as much as I love Christmas.

My husband thinks I'm absolutely nuts because I draw in my bible. Granted, I have a Journaling Bible which allows me to work specifically in the margins but...sometimes I draw right over top of the scriptures. I use colored pencils so I can read the text underneath....but he thinks it's insane. He also thinks it's a little anal for me to try to find godly meaning in our Christmas traditions. I am generally given a tight budget to spend on Christmas Ornaments, so my dream of owning Ann Voskamp's "Greatest Gift" Paper Ornaments are pretty much out of financial reason and so is my fantasy of owning hand blown ornaments representing the symbols of the Jesse Tree attached with their perspective bible verses. The hubs thinks hand blown ornaments are "tacky." I tell him he's a Grinch.
 The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

Seriously, our Christmas personalities are like this:


While the hubs likes to put on a facade that he doesn't quite care, he spends hours cutting out my little Ann Voskamp printables with an exacto knife to finish off our Family Jesse (Christmas)Tree. He sits around the dinning table with me as we ice the sugar cookies and requests Gingerbread Houses to be made just like his mom did.

I really feel like he's secretly like this:

             So Cute!
My Hero!

How do we soften our hearts among the presents and the wrapping paper and the cookies and the parties? How do we spend the month pointed towards a helpless baby: The King of Kings. How do we teach our children that what our culture does should have no bearing on what we do in our homes, and how we share the story of the gospel with those God brings us in contact with.

Wouldn't it be great if on Christmas Day our kids were like: 

JESUS!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW HIM!!!!! I KNOW HIM!!!!!!!!

I want the kid to KNOW HIM! KNOW Him know Him. Like "I see you!" in the movie Avatar. 

God WANTS us to Know him like that. He WANTS us to have the same relationship as Adam and Eve had with Him in the garden before the fall.

If I KNEW Him, shouldn't I be SO excited for Christmas? Shouldn't I spend my weeks before Christmas anticipating the arrival of the Christ Child? Shouldn't I celebrate to remember? 

'Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. Exodus 12:14

They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Psalm145:7 NIV

'Then on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work, and you shall observe a feast to the LORD for seven days. Number 29:12

Go Tell it On the Mountain
Ummmm....exactly Buddy.

So Christmas comes, and it's okay to be excited about it! It's okay to be excited that the a Child is born to us THIS day, even though it's not THE day. It's our day of remembrance, our memorial, our feasting to the Lord, our eating and our drinking, and our giving. Give abundantly and Cheerfully.
and instead of being anti-materialistic anti-secular anti-X-mas help people feel like:

How do we help our Kids KNOW Him during this Christmas Season?

In the midst of baking cookies, and wrapping presents, and decorating, I want my heart to worship the one who all of this is for, I want to KNOW Him. I want to ENGAGE WITH Him. I want to GLORIFY Him, and I want to GROW to be more Like Him.

Check back in tomorrow for "4 Ways to Help them Know Of Him" and then "4 Ways to Help them Engage with Him" and then "4 Ways to Glorify Him" and finally "4 Ways to be Like Him"

I know this is weird.....but this song could definitely serve as a prayer.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Scripture on your Wedding Cake.

When you are thinking about your reception, your food, your cake and your decorations, the Grand Display at your wedding is going to be your wedding cake.

Help your baker design a wedding cake for you that both fits into your overall feel for your wedding, and celebrates the promise you just made before God.

Our cake was supposed to be a 3 layer red velvet cake with vanilla frosting. The bottom tier was supposed to look like a warm knit sweater, the second layer was supposed to have polka dots with a swirl of burgundy fondant wrapped around the cake ending in a heart in the middle of the cake, and the top layer was supposed to read

"Knit together in Love" Col 2:2 with an M in the middle of it. The Kid said that the M should not be in cursive so that he could read it. :)

Well, since the cake fiasco, I didn't think I was going to have my lovely cake, but some extra lovin' from my Dad and Aunt and God's hand through some ladies I have never met made this possible:

It's only missing the yarn heart.  Notice the transforming flying out of the cake? That was for The Kid. He was kind of upset they had to break his legs off to get him in. :P

Here are some examples of beautiful wedding cakes that incorporate God's word.
Click on the pictures to find the original posts.

I love the subtlety of  this one!

This one is similar, but with scripture a little more pronounced.

This one doesn't have scripture on it, but it was an inspiration for the wedding cake I designed for my wedding. I love the quiet simplicity of it!

Think about your theme, and your base scripture you are using for your wedding. Gather inspiration and share it with your cake baker.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When God Showed Up to My Wedding: Part IV My Cake Fell Over

So here's the story:

I wanted my wedding Cake from the Cakery Bakery. They have THE BEST cake in the entire world! The frosting, I'm sure, is the kind of frosting the angels put on cakes in heaven. DELICIOUS!

I ordered a Red Velvet Wedding Cake with Creamy White Vanilla Icing. A fondant burgundy yarn was going to wrap around the cake and end in a little heart. The top layer of the cake was going to have the Bible verse we had picked out piped onto it with a big M in the middle.

The bottom of the cake was going to look like a creamy knit sweater.

I saw my cake for 5 minutes. I was IN LOVE with it and couldn't wait for the next day when I would walk into the reception room and cut a little piece off and feed it to my new husband as the cake was whisked away to be sliced for the rest of the guests at our reception.

This, however was not to be.

My cake fell over.

After I had been snapped at throughout the day by my mom. After my aunt was late to our house and hadn't called me and I was running late to check out the flowers, after packing a van full of unnecessary snacks and things I wasn't expecting, after a looong car ride with my grandma, after finding out that my wedding planner AND her assistant were not available, and my promised time of being able to load in and decorate the night before had fallen through...after finding a closet to be alone and freak out in...for a bit....after being almost an hour late to my rehearsal dinner....

My Dad and my aunt flagged the car down. My aunt got out of the car and started talking.

"You're not going to like this...."


My cake had fallen over. My aunt was driving. My dad was holding the cake carefully....carefully through the resort. As they hit the last unexpected speed bump a little too fast....the cake came crashing into my Dad....he tried to catch it but he just succeeded in squashing it a little more.

My girlfriends ran inside to see if they could do some damage control. Could they fix it?....

I'm guessing it was pretty bad 'cause I wasn't allowed to see it.

I completely lost it! I had had an amazing morning....and everything had pretty much gone downhill since lunch....except my flowers. My flowers were A-MAZING and I LOVED my flowers. I bawled my eyes out....we were now 2 hours late for dinner and I could NOT get ahold of The Hubs.

It's one of those things you know? It's a wedding! Wedding CAKE is mandatory! You dream about it your WHOLE life since you are little. You have cakes at other weddings judging if it's melt in your mouth good enough for your own wedding.

This ENTIRE process I had been praying AND PRAYING that God would show up to my wedding. I did not know what that would look like, but it CERTAINLY did not look like this....

Or did it?

I don't think I will ever be able to comprehend or appreciate how much certain people love me, how much GOD loves me through certain people. I am thoroughly convinced that the night before my wedding was HORRIBLE so that God could take over my entire wedding day into Himself, to have His own quiet time with me, while he loved me and The Hubs through others attentive hands.
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Sunday, May 24, 2015


I teach at an Arts Academy. My sixth graders had been working on a play that included a little dancing....more accurately...a little "Tango."

I am not much of a dancer. Besides the fact that I tend to be highly uncoordinated, and have had some unfortunate run-ins with dance instructors and choreographers, I was brought up in a strict legalistic church where dancing was considered a sin. It kind of stunts your growth in the skillz department when your church teaches you are going to hell for it. I always felt I was born to be a tap-dancer.....but anyway...

I asked one of the choreographers where I work to come in for a couple days to work with my kids to teach them how to Tango. The kids loved it! But as I observed the choreographer teaching the kids how to dance together, I found myself wishing that my 6th graders would take what they are learning from their mini tango lesson, and apply it to their future marriage relationships.

My favorite date John has ever taken me on was to go swing dancing. He knew I loved swing dancing, and it was 100% out of his comfort zone.....but he did the research, and took me. It was so much fun! And even then, as I was helping to teach my future husband how to swing dance, I was being taught the lessons of our collaborative relationship.

We've been married for 8 mos. now, we are moving into a new apartment and we irritate each other to no end. Sometimes I wonder how I can respect someone who doesn't treat me with love, and I'm sure that John sometimes wonders how he can love someone who doesn't treat him with respect.

I wonder what it looks like to respect someone, to help someone be a good leader in a relationship, without becoming the lead myself.

And then I look back to the swing dancing lessons, and the tango lesson taught to my sixth graders by my colleague.

A good dance partner makes dancing easy.

The man leads. He does not pull or, jerk, or yank. He gently guides with a pressing of the hand on the small of the back, a gentle motion from the palm of the hand. Both dance in step. The woman, submits to the motions of the man, because if she goes the wrong way, and tries to do her own thing, they end up stepping on each others toes, or getting tangled up in arms and limbs.

But we have to spend hours upon hours of training to get this right in dancing, and I'm sure near a lifetime to get this right in marriage.

It is so difficult to submit when someone is pulling and yanking. It hurts. And it is hard to lead when the other is doing their own thing and going their own way. But when both are working together in tandem, leading and submitting, collaborating, it is a beautiful, fun, breathtaking experience.

The Hubs and I are not very good at this yet. Like our dance lessons, we are clumsy, trying to learn new steps, where hands and feet go, when the next turn is. Sometimes I have to remind him how to lead. At our lessons I was much more patient than I am at home. I would tease, or gently guide his hand back to the small of my back, and readjust our hand positions. At home I get impatient, it is easier to decide to do things myself because I have gotten by on my own for so long.

But if I do things myself, we both get hurt. When he tries to abruptly yank me in the direction he wants to go, I get hurt. It isn't fun anymore.

I look forward to a time when our relationship resembles a more mature one.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: you have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 
Psalm 30:11

I look forward to a day, when our marriage is a full expression of joy, and a reflection of God's love. 

This is The Hubs Aunt and Uncle. They participated in a Tedx and their talk and illustration are way more eloquent, and experienced than anything I could say on the matter:

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Monday, March 2, 2015

When God Showed Up to My Wedding Part III: 4 Ways to Keep God in the Center of Your Engagement

So the Hubbs and I met on Christian Mingle.

I don't necessarily recommend dating websites. 
      A) In my experience, most people are on dating websites for a reason.
      B) It's a little weird when you run into friends of friends, and co-workers, and church family members that you've been "matched" with....
      C) It kind of bothers me that people can't be "normal" in "real life" and just ask someone out on a            date without a "long term" commitment in fear of ruining a relationship
      D) Refer to A

I'm not going to belabor the process that I had worked on while online dating, but basically this is what happened. 

I moved back to St. Louis and was a host mother to 6 girls in a home that I lived. I basically saw 6 teenaged girls, and the other woman I lived with 24/7. I didn't really have any friends left in St. Louis, and I REALLY needed to get out of my house. So I got on Christian Mingle to go out on non-committal dates.....
                             ......and then I met the Hubs.

He was actually the first "long term"  longer than a 5 month relationship I had ever had. AND I wasn't begging God to help me get out of the relationship by the first month.

When we met online, we talked about God's grace and forgiveness.

I prayed constantly about our dating relationship. I prayed about my fears. The things that bothered me, the things that I fell in love with. Every "red flag" that popped up, I prayed about, and without me even asking, the hubs (then boyfriend) brought it up on his own, and the answer was ALWAYS better than I could accept. I prayed that God would not let me fall in love with someone who was not intended for me. I prayed that the Hubbs would not take the place of God in my life. 

When he started talking about getting married, I asked him to go to a Christian pre-marital counselor with me. He humored me.

It just so happened that our church offered pre-engagement counseling. I didn't trust my own feelings. I wanted someone to hear our story, and witness our relationship, and be honest enough to say, "This does not look godly." To pray over us. 

The Hubs attended church with me and got to know my friends and family. 

We rarely prayed together except for over meals and at church. (I think praying is a deeply personal matter, and should be kept within the confines of family and girlfriend-ships until you are engaged.)

I hesitate to make the comment of "unless led by the Holy Spirit" because we can so often kid ourselves into believing that we are "Led" when really, we are led by ourselves because we want something that God hasn't intended for us. 

There were maybe two or three occasions before the Hubbs and I were engaged where I felt led to pray for him with my hands wrapped around him. They were times when I sensed repressed pain, and it was actually LESS vulnerable for me to pray OVER him than to try to talk with him about secrets that were not, at the time, meant for me to hear. 

Once we got engaged, we continued pre-marital counseling and started pre-marital class with our church. We attended mini-devotionals with the pastor who was going to officiate our wedding.

I think it's important to have someone ask you questions that do not come up in "normal conversation."

People should be discussing things like Finances, Conflict, Sex, Personality Differences, and Communication styles with you.

You should be discussing your hopes and dreams for the future.

You should be discussing your relationship with the Lord. Look for devotionals or Bible studies your can do together.

A book The Hubs and I found extreamly helpful was "101 Questions to Ask Before you Get Engaged" We started going through the book as a kind of devotional about a month into our dating relationship. I have recommended it to everyone I know who is in a semi-serious relationship. Basically, by the 20th question, you will know if you should part ways or not.

Engagement is the time to begin praying with your significant other, and to be very careful about the parts of your heart that you expose to other non-family males in your life.

Once I was committed to The Hubs, certain conversations did not seem appropriate to have with other males anymore. Not that they were inappropriate in and of themselves, but my relationships with males in my life started to change. I became acutely aware of how close certain conversations brought me to other people. This is a time to grow closer to the man you are going to spend the rest of your life with.

The Engagement and Wedding planning period is the beginning of the time that you start to become one, emotionally and spiritually and on your wedding night, physically.

In a nutshell:

1. Keep Praying, Pray for each other and together, Pray for your future marriage.

2. Have others (who are not afraid of alienating you) observe and subjectively examine your relationship.

3. Attend Christian Pre-marital classes and/or counseling

4. Begin to save your personal conversations for your future husband.

The night The Hubs proposed. 

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Dedicated to Ferguson

Our church's version of Nothing But the Blood. 

God, heal our city. 
Let us know peace, through grace and forgiveness.
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