Archive for the 'Christianity' Category



05
Sep
12

fighter verses!

In order for us to be intentional about our kids memorizing Scripture this year, James and I have sat down and made a plan through December.  During carpool to school each morning, (approx. 8 minutes), we use this time to have our girls memorize Scripture.  For 3 years now, they have memorized over 50 verses.  After we made the plan, I thought, why not post it on my blog so others can follow along too, or ask me about it to make sure we are keeping up!
For starters, we downloaded the fighter verse app here:  http://fighterverses.com/store/
We will be memorizing 7 passages through December.  All of these verses have songs with them.   (“Every Fighter Verse™ Songs CD includes word-for-word Bible passages (English Standard Version) set to music.”)  See here to listen to all the songs.  Some are pretty catchy!  I’m going to listen to them in my car often so I can memorize the Scriptures right along with them!  Most of the verses that I remember from childhood are because I learned them in a song!  I know from experience how powerful songs can be to help memorize!
Weeks 1 and 2:  Deut. 10:12-13
Weeks 3 and 4:  Psalm 86:5-7
Week 5 and 6:  James 1:2-5
Weeks 7 :  Romans 1:16
Weeks 8 and 9:  2 Corinthians 12:9
Weeks 11 and 12:  Isaiah 40:28-31
Weeks 13 and 14:  Psalm 141:3-4
Weeks 15:  review
Incentives:
Main Event in December!

Parents keep track of their child’s knowledge of the verses.  There are 3 types of quizzes on the Fighter Verse app:

  1. Quick Blanks Quiz—recite the verse in your head and tap to reveal one word at a time
  2. Word Bank Quiz—select the missing word from a word bank
  3. Typing Quiz—type in the missing words

These quizzes will help them practice the verses throughout the week!  I am thinking of adding a “quiz” to their homework each night.)

Each child earns 6 tokens (approx. $1.50) at Main Event for every verse they know.  The child can earn up to 42 game tokens by the end of week 14.  The kicker is that on the day before or day of “Main Event day” in December, for every verse they can say from the semester, they can earn another 6 tokens (hence the importance of week 15!)  So each child can earn maximum 84 tokens!
Kids at any age can memorize Scripture!  It’s all about the parents being intentional!  The video below is Rilyn 2 years ago at age 6.
24
Jul
12

that prayer stuff wasted our time!

As we prepare to go to the Dominican Republic in 3 days, we have been praying together each night this week, as a family, for the many requests that surround our trip.  I learned a few summers back, when reading A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World, how powerful prayer is.  I don’t take it lightly, and when I’m thinking of someone, it’s a call for me to pray for them right then.  I love my friend, Angela’s blog, about prayer here.  If you wonder where our prayers “go”, please read it!

Anyway, last night, we prayed in the early evening.  James prayed for team unity, Ella prayed for travel safety, Rilyn prayed that she would make friends there, and I prayed for the rice and beans we are bringing would be multiplied like the miracle Jesus did from the boy’s lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves to feed 5,000.

During these summer nights, James has been watching a cartoon called Avatar with the kids each night before bed.  It’s not every night, but it’s most, and they love watching it together.  After we prayed, I told them it was time for them to get ready for bed.

Ella promptly said, “Ugh!  That prayer stuff wasted our time!”

Now before you think what an ugly thing to say, we adults think the same thing all the time, we just have the social graces to know NOT to say it out loud.

Ella wanted to watch Avatar, and because we had prayed, she thought that took up all her TV time with daddy.  (Which by the way, we were going to let them watch Avatar after they got ready for bed, but because of that comment, they didn’t.)

We immediately talked to Ella about her heart.  Luke 6:45  “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  What did that comment reveal about her heart?  She loves Avatar more than praying for our mission trip?  She believes that prayer isn’t that important or powerful?  She feels she deserves the “comfort” of watching TV?  Now I know she is only 6 1/2, but these “adult” conversations lay the groundwork for future conversations when the stakes are a lot higher (teenage years!).

I can’t wait to talk to our girls about this trip in 2 weeks to show how powerful our prayer was!

15
May
12

“Mommy, sometimes Satan tells me you’re stupid”

Ella, my 6 year old, looked at me with sheep dog eyes as she stumbled over those words, “Mommy, sometimes Satan tells me you’re stupid.  And I can’t get him to stop telling me.”

It’s confession time before bed, and it’s just me and Ella in her room.  And when she tells me this, by the grace of God, I don’t take offense-at all.  Because we all think evil thoughts, and honestly that is where I sin the most-in my thoughts.  I looked at her and said, “Satan says ugly things to me too, and wants me to believe them as truth.  And yep, mommy sins against you, and so sometimes it might feel as if I’m being stupid to you.  But sometimes, you won’t understand the things that I am telling you to do because you are the child and not the parent.”  (Things like:  I tell her it’s shower night, and Ella complains because she took a shower 2 days ago.)  🙂

In this moment, I was praising Jesus because Ella was being so honest with me, and she was recognizing sin that I am just now learning to recognize in my own life, and she wanted to confess it.  Not only to Jesus, but to the person she had wronged.  Wow.

One of the most tempting lies for every human being in this fallen world—is to believe that our greatest problems exist outside us rather than inside us.  Despite this, the Bible calls us to humbly confess that the greatest, deepest, most abiding problem each of us faces is inside of us, not outside. The Bible names that problem “sin.”  You know that you have been gifted with grace when you are able to say, “My greatest relationship problems are because of what’s inside of me not outside of me.”-The Grace of Confession.

Confession time- something we started a few months back with our children before bed.  A nightly ritual that we do one on one with our kids.  We each confess to each other a sin or sins that we did that day. The practice of a parent confessing to a child is humbling to say the least.  We confess sins that are age appropriate of course, but I’ve been stuck a night or two trying to think frantically of what I can say…and then reminded by my child of my anger earlier that day.  I’m a big sinner to be sure, but it’s in my mind where I struggle the most, and when you don’t have a “receipt” for your sin, (I was angry, so I hit my brother), it’s hard to think about.  So I realized along the way of life that I hardly ever have confessed sin to my Lord because I don’t necessarily think about it.  And then you get caught in the trap of thinking, “I’m not really sinning, it’s just who I am.”  But God calls us to confess our sins.

1 John 1:8-9  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Example:  I am not a loving person.  It doesn’t come natural to me to love on someone and think of their emotional and physical needs before mine.  So I might see/hear of someone who needs a  hug or a shoulder to cry on (super hard for me) and that would mean me giving up a night on my couch watching The Bachelorette so I can pray with them.  But I shove that thought out of my mind.  I deserve a night on the couch because I’ve had such a busy week.  Am I sinning because it’s not in my nature to love others well, so I choose to “forget” to ask my friend if they would like to go out for a walk?  Yes.  That is my sin.

I am just now learning to become more aware of these sins though because I am thinking throughout the day, “What will I confess to my daughter and to the Lord tonight?”  What a blessing.

And there’s more:  Repentence.  Restoration.  Redemption.  Hope.  Forgiveness.  Honesty.

After we confess our sins to each other we pray and ask God for forgiveness.  And the parent always brings it back to the Gospel message in their prayer.  We are forgiven and clean because of Jesus dying on the cross for your sin and mine.  There are consequences for sin, but shame and guilt?  No.  Jesus died for that.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

From the Grace of Confession by Paul Tripp:

Confession shouldn’t be this scary thing we do our best to avoid. Sin, weakness, and failure shouldn’t be the constant elephant in the room that we all know is there but can’t (or won’t) talk about. Instead, confession is a wonderful gift that every relationship needs. It should be liberating, not understood as a moment of personal and relational loss. Our confession should be propelled by deep appreciation and gratitude toward God, who has made it possible for us to no longer fear being exposed.

Because of what Jesus has done for us, we do not have to hide or excuse our wrongs. We’re freed from posing as if we’re perfect. In our heart of hearts we know we’re not. We can stare our problems in the face with hope and courage because Christ has made possible real, lasting, personal, change in our relationships. 

12
May
12

how to tell my 7 year old why we didn’t vote for Obama

Let me start off by saying that because my children go to public school, we have chosen to be very intentional about our response to issues they come to us about.  We do not take lightly anything they bring up to us, and we always want to respond with the Gospel.

Last month I had to address the issue of same sex marriage with Rilyn.  She brought it up because she knows some friends at school that have two mommies.  I took her out for a drink at Sonic, brought her Bible, and we had a great discussion together.  One of our old pastors in Houston wrote an excellent blog post about addressing same sex marriage with a gospel centered approach here.

This week I had to talk with Rilyn about why we didn’t vote for Obama and will not in November.  Isn’t parenting fun?!?  🙂

A couple weeks ago Rilyn was learning Texas history in class and they learned about Rick Perry being the governor.  Her teacher stated that we all have our personal opinions about who to vote for and why and we should respect everyone’s decisions, but that he doesn’t like Rick Perry.  That caught Rilyn’s attention because she learned Rick Perry was an Aggie- Ha!  That lead to more discussion, and she learned her teacher likes Obama.  So Rilyn came up to me after school that day and asked if we voted for Obama.  I told her no we did not and will not in November and I would love to share the reason why, but I want to wait for daddy to talk with her too.  You could tell she wasn’t too happy with waiting.  Weeks passed unfortunately, and this Thursday as I was eating lunch with Rilyn in the cafeteria, she looked at me square in the eyes and said, “Now can we talk about why you didn’t vote for Obama?”  Wow, she had been stewing on this issue for weeks!  I was immediately convicted to address issues with her more quickly.

“Well Rilyn, your dad and I are one issue voters, meaning there is only one issue that we think is so important that this one issue will tell us who to vote for.”  Rilyn said, “I know what it is, if they are Christian or not!”  “I can see why you would say that, but nope.  Many people say they are Christians, but aren’t reflecting Christ in the way they live, and what if both candidates aren’t Christians?  Then who would I vote for?  The one issue that we give our vote to is called the sanctity of life.   You will hear terms like pro-choice and pro-life…”

I then explained to her abortion…at 7 years old.  I’m sure I didn’t even know what that was until college.  But I trust that God had Rilyn ask me this question, (and then ask me again,) because it’s for His Glory for her to know NOW.

I told her that God created life, so why do humans have the right to tamper with human life?  Doesn’t this right belong to our Creator?  God created everything and therefore owns, or has authority over, everything.  Deuteronomy 10:14 “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.”

*If you have any doubt at all that abortion (even in the first trimester) is not killing a living human being, please see this website, abort73.com and watch this video especially.)

Last summer, I did a study called Abortion is About God and have volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center for the past few years.  God has placed me with a community of believers that all have the same heart for this issue, and together we have prayed in front of abortion clinics in Austin.  All this to say, the sanctity of life is something I think about on a daily basis and I pray my children will fight for this cause one day too.

As pastor John Piper puts it from his sermon, One Issue Politics, One Issue Marriage, and the Humane Society:

“So it is with politics. You have to decide what those issues are for you. What do you think disqualifies a person from holding public office? I believe that the endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office. It’s simply the same as saying that the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery would disqualify him—except that child-killing is more serious than those.

When we bought our dog at the Humane Society, I picked up a brochure on the laws of Minnesota concerning animals. Statute 343.2, subdivision 1 says, “No person shall . . . unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate or kill any animal.” Subdivision 7 says, “No person shall willfully instigate or in any way further any act of cruelty to any animal.” The penalty: “A person who fails to comply with any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Now this set me to pondering the rights of the unborn. An eight-week-old human fetus has a beating heart, an EKG, brain waves, thumb-sucking, pain sensitivity, finger-grasping, and genetic humanity, but under our present laws is not a human person with rights under the 14th Amendment, which says that “no state shall deprive any person of life . . . without due process of law.” Well, I wondered, if the unborn do not qualify as persons, it seems that they could at least qualify as animals, say a dog, or at least a cat. Could we not at least charge abortion clinics with cruelty to animals under Statute 343.2, subdivision 7? Why is it legal to “maim, mutilate and kill” a pain-sensitive unborn human being but not an animal?

These reflections have confirmed my conviction never to vote for a person who endorses such an evil—even if he could balance the budget tomorrow and end all taxation.”

And finally, in light of Mother’s Day tomorrow: I leave you with this excerpt from Piper’s sermon Motherhood is a Calling (And Where Children Rank) that has something to do with the sanctity of life:

“Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.

Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.

But a Christian should have a different paradigm. We should run to to the cross. To death. So lay down your hopes. Lay down your future. Lay down your petty annoyances. Lay down your desire to be recognized. Lay down your fussiness at your children. Lay down your perfectly clean house. Lay down your grievances about the life you are living. Lay down the imaginary life you could have had by yourself. Let it go.

Death to yourself is not the end of the story. We, of all people, ought to know what follows death. The Christian life is resurrection life, life that cannot be contained by death, the kind of life that is only possible when you have been to the cross and back.”

09
May
12

a legos lesson

Asher got Legos for his birthday, and although he likes building with them, Rilyn, my almost 8 year old, LOVES playing with them! One of the weeks James was gone in April I had a real “parenting night”-(those times when a teachable lesson presents itself)- and I had Legos to thank for it.
Rilyn had used Asher’s new Legos and spent several days building a city. She carefully followed the direction booklet and it was all set up…on the living room floor. You can see where this is going I’m sure…
We are skyping with James, and Asher wanders away. After we get off the call, I see Asher, who has successfully destroyed every last piece of Rilyn’s Lego city. He’s not doing it maliciously, he’s a boy, and destroying is fun, and they are HIS Legos after all.

Rilyn sees the damage.

And what happens next was crazy out of character for Rilyn, but she threw the biggest temper tantrum I have ever seen!  She was thrashing about on the floor, screaming at the top of her lungs, crying hysterically…Ella starts crying quietly because she was scared at what her big sister was doing!  Asher looked dumbfounded and kept staring at her. I took Ella and Asher to their rooms and told them “let’s pray for Rilyn.”

We leave her alone in the living room for a good 5 minutes. Ella looks at me in her room and says, “I think Rilyn loves Legos more than Jesus.”  (Thank you to my 6 year old for declaring to me what I needed to go address with Rilyn.)
When I hear Rilyn calming down, I leave Ella to watch Asher, and I walk to Rilyn. We talk about what happened and her behavior. “I worked SO HARD!!!” “He ruined everything!” “I’ll never be able to build it again, it will take too long!!”

I calmly respond with “Did you know God always knew that Asher would destroy your city today? Did you know He has a perfect plan for why this happened? Do you think He is trying to get your attention to something, maybe something that is going on inside your heart? When you act so outrageously because of Legos, that tells me your heart’s affections are not for Jesus. Based on your actions earlier, your heart’s affections seem to be for self worth in what you can do (build a cool Lego city), in how hard you work, and in what you deserve or don’t deserve (her city being destroyed). Jesus wants you to find your self worth in Him alone, not how good you are at building Legos. Jesus wants you to know that He gives you the strength to work hard, it’s not in your own strength. He gave you the talent to build like that.  And as for what you deserve… Jesus didn’t deserve to die on the cross-He was without sin!  So anything given to us is His grace, because we are full of sin, and deserve death, but Jesus died for us!  You don’t deserve to have your Lego city standing for all to see for all time.  It was grace that you even got to build something so cool, and show it to us for a little while.

We prayed together, and Rilyn repented, and asked Jesus for forgiveness.  It really was a beautiful moment of redemption.

Rilyn age 21/2, building cities even then…
22
Feb
12

Easter countdown

Happy Ash Wednesday!  Although we don’t celebrate Ash Wednesday, it does mark the beginning of celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection for many!

And this year I want to make an Easter countdown for my kids.  I know Easter changes each year, but I still want to anticipate the big day by reading the true Easter story from the Bible in the weeks leading up to Easter.  After some thought and research, I decided that we are going to teach our kids about the prophecy of the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in the Old Testament and the prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament. There are 18 main prophecies, so therefore I am making an Easter countdown for the 18 days before Easter.  This year, the countdown will start on March 22nd.

1 Jesus would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9
Zechariah 11:12-13
Luke 22:47-48
Matthew 26:14-16
2 Jesus’ price money would be used to buy a potter’s field. Zechariah 11:12-13 Matthew 27:9-10
3 Jesus would be falsely accused. Psalm 35:11 Mark 14:57-58
4 Jesus would be silent before his accusers. Isaiah 53:7 Mark 15:4-5
5 Jesus would be spat upon and struck. Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
6 Jesus would be hated without cause. Psalm 35:19
Psalm 69:4
John 15:24-25
7 Jesus would be crucified with criminals. Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38
Mark 15:27-28
8 Jesus would be given vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34
John 19:28-30
9 Jesus’ hands and feet would be pierced. Psalm 22:16
Zechariah 12:10
John 20:25-27
10 Jesus would be mocked and ridiculed. Psalm 22:7-8 Luke 23:35
11 Soldiers would gamble for Jesus’ garments. Psalm 22:18 Luke 23:34
Matthew 27:35-36
12 Jesus’ bones would not be broken. Exodus 12:46
Psalm 34:20
John 19:33-36
13 Jesus would be forsaken by God. Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
14 Jesus would pray for his enemies. Psalm 109:4 Luke 23:34
15 Soldiers would pierce Jesus’ side. Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34
16 Jesus would be buried with the rich. Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
17 Jesus would resurrect from the dead. Psalm 16:10
Psalm 49:15
Matthew 28:2-7
Acts 2:22-32
18 Jesus would be a sacrifice for sin. Isaiah 53:5-12 Romans 5:6-8

Here is how I used the Scriptures above in a countdown.  I wrote the 18 OT prophecies on a cross that I cut out of poster board.  Then I wrote the 18 fulfilled prophecies on scraps of colored cardstock.  Each day, starting with #1 Scripture above, we will first read the OT prophecy and then we will read the NT fulfilled prophecy.

(I used black velcro to adhere the colored cardstock to the cross)

Then I will let the kids adhere the colored cardstock on the cross after we read the Scriptures. (I lightly wrote the same number on each yellow shape and the matching colored shape so I wouldn’t get confused.)  By Easter morning, our cross will look like this:

Happy Easter!
05
Feb
12

in moments of despair-a love story

There are two reasons why I’m writing this post today:

#1 February is about celebrating love!

#2 I heard a sermon today that reminded me about my “love story” with James in college.

I have been very blessed to not have had any earth shattering traumatic events happen in my life thus far.  When someone asks me to think about your last moment of true and utter despair, I think back to April of 1999-when James and I broke up.  We had been dating for a year and a month up until that point, (every month counts when you’re dating!)  Christmas of 1998, James gave me a watch (that I still wear everyday!) that was inscribed on the back “Till the End of Time” (yes, my English loving friends, he used the wrong spelling of “till” and I tease him to this day.)  Every naive college girl knows that when you give a girl a gift like that, you are FOR SURE getting married, right?  I mean, he wants me to till with him til the end of time!  😉  So, imagine my despair, when in April of 1999, James was convicted by the Holy Spirit to end our relationship.  He said to me that we were putting each other up as idols in our lives and our relationship became more important than our relationship with God.  (He was super holy like that.)  I was pretty devastated because he did give me that watch, so now what?

This is where the sermon comes in that I heard today.  It was about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and that He modeled for us how to act in moments of despair.

1.  Matthew 26:37 “He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he began to be filled with anguish and deep distress.”  We are to invite people into the depths of our struggles.  When James broke up with me, I was very fortunate to have the best roommate who knew the situation and how deeply I was hurt.  (And that roommate still lives by me today, around the corner in fact, and we live life together almost everyday.  It is not uncommon to find us going grocery shopping together in the same car!)  Love her!

2.  Matthew 26:38a  “He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”  We are to share our weaknesses with them.  Jen, my roommate, got an earful almost every night.  She probably couldn’t understand most of it because I was sniffling back tears.

3.  Matthew 26:38b  (Jesus said to them) “Stay here and watch with me.”  We are to ask them to fight with us.  Jen helped me for sure during the 7 months James and I were broken up.  One of the best things she ever did during that time was when I opened our apartment door one day in May and she and another one of my friends had written encouraging Bible verses on index cards and taped them all over our apartment!  It felt like there were hundreds of verses and it meant so much to me!

4.  Matthew 26:39  “He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, “My Father!  If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.”  We are to pour our heart out to the Father.  Some nights this felt impossible, because all I could do was cry.  But during the 7 months of despair, I found great comfort in journaling and the Psalms.  I also find creating things is therapeutic for me.  So in the summer of ’99, I created this 30 in. x 40 in. board:

I used all the Psalms that spoke to my heart during that difficult period and typed them up on different colors of paper with different fonts, and glued them together in a stain glass look of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.  I felt like this image of Jesus praying spoke to me most because he was in a moment of despair like me, (of course His despair was infinitely greater than mine!)

Psalm 22:3-5

5.  Matthew 26:39  “Yet I want your will, not mine.”  We are to rest in the sovereign will of the Father.  The top sentence on the above board is this verse.  In my heart I truly wanted God’s will.  And if that meant James and I weren’t supposed to be together, then I knew God had a better plan for me.  In my journal I wrote, “Father, thank you for loving James and I so much that you chose to separate us so that we may be closer to you.  Thank you that according to our strengths and weaknesses you have us each in perfect places this summer.  I pray Father, if it is your will, that you protect James’ love for me.  Lord, I want you to consume me, not my situation, not anyone else, but You.”

And that is just what He did.  I was alone all summer, no friends in town, James was out of state and then out of the country with no way to correspond…I was consumed by Him, and it felt so good.  I fell in love with my Savior again and then my Savior brought back my earthly love in due time.  It was a true love story.




My photography business!

June 2020
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