that dangerous place

“You will never know the peace he will give until you put yourself where you most fear.”

Hearing that we were following God into a new place, a new ministry, a friend of mine who is a missionary in a closed SE Asian country shared a story with me about a big step their family took a few years ago. They were moving from one more populated, somewhat Westernized larger city, into a more remote area in their country where there was no health care (she has 3 young children) and some real political tensions. She had some anxieties about the potential dangers, but they saw God was leading them to reach the unreached in that place. Their leader encouraged her, “you will never know the peace he will give until you put yourself where you most fear.”

The story was encouraging to me as we moved across the country, leaving friends and family and familiarity…I did have peace. And joy. God was taking us.

But the words continued to rattle and clang in my mind – the way they do when God has something else for me to glean from them.

Today I was responding to some over-due e-mails and re-read her encouraging words (and can I just say, it’s pretty humbling to be encouraged by someone I so admire and consider the truest salt of the earth I know!). I couldn’t help but ask myself - “What do I fear that is holding me back? What do I need to give over to the Lord, in exchange for His peace?” 

I had tasted fear before, but wasn’t intimately acquainted with it until I had children. Suddenly a new world of dangers has burst into vibrant life. Mostly they are fears for my children and their physical and spiritual safety, but then there are also fears that I will never sleep again, have a rational thought in the next decade, or be able to leave the house without forgetting somebody’s something till the day I die. I fear messing my kids’ lives up. I fear I’ve already messed up mine. I fear that if I am in certain situations, I will be depressed and in despair.

But I love these words from the Savior:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid…” {Jesus, recorded in John 14

The peace Jesus gives us is “not as the world gives”…worldly peace might be a fat bank account, and safe suburb, a promise of health and security. But Jesus’ peace is different. It is over-and-above circumstances, filled with the Holy Spirit, unafraid – even in the face of “the ruler of this world” (our enemy).

What do you fear?

Maybe, like me, it’s discouragement and depression, or some unspeakable harm befalling your children. Maybe it’s a financial or health concern. Maybe it’s vulnerability with a loved one. Can we throw off these fears, begging God to clear our minds of the fog they bring – and ask Him for peace instead? Let us enter bravely into those places that Satan would make us fear. The Lord has ordained peace for us (Isaiah 26:12)! Is there a dangerous place that God is calling you? Can I urge you, friend – step out. There is peace. Sweet peace and freedom.

My sweet friend is experiencing the peace that passes understanding, in a dark and hostile place. Let us throw off our fears! – and every sin that hinders us, so we can “run with endurance the race that is zset before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12)

Peace to you, friend.

<3 jc

A Morning Prayer {Psalm 5}

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”  Psalm 5:3, NASB

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3, KJV

morning kissies

Mothers of young children expect, almost invariably, to be awakened by their little ones early in the morning. Asking – “Can I get up now?”, slipping in for cuddles, crying out for a clean diaper, “staaaaaarving” for breakfast. It is routine; predictable as the sunrise and the cock’s crow. If a morning came when I didn’t hear a little voice calling for me, for help – the silence would be terribly alarming. But, by God’s grace, I do hear sweet voices every morning. They wait expectantly for me to provide them with all they need for their day – food, clothes, the days’ ‘agenda’ and love. That is the only way for them to start the day. Oh, how I love to hear their voices! The groggiest, most painfully tired morning is somehow made beautiful with the sound of their voices.

And how else could we, the children of the LORD, start our day? Do we not need all from Him, and have every reason to expect that He will generously give it? Are our voices routine and predictable, a sweet morning fragrance and aroma to our King who never sleeps? He is a king! The King of kings, but He is our Father too, and we have reason to believe he delights to satisfy our needs and desires. We tumble out of bed and tip-toe into His presence with messy heads and hearts and ravenous appetite, and believe, childlike – He will smile; anticipate – He will provide.

Are we too proud? Starting our day on our own? Making fools of ourselves and frustrations of our lives, when God delights in our morning requests?

Instead,  let us “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Our time of need is first thing in the morning.

<3 jc

“When first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave to do the like; our bodies but forerun the spirit’s duty: true hearts spread and heave unto their God, as flowers do to the sun; Give him thy first thoughts, then, so shalt thou keep Him company all day…” – Henry Vaughn

 

 

“When I awake, I am still with you.” – Psalm 139:18

on parenting failures and God’s abundant faithfulness

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True…” 

 

One evening last week I lay in bed late, eyes wide open, mind still busy.

It’d been a long and full and hard couple of weeks. I was exhausted and stressed and irritable. Unfortunately, my dear first born had been the one who suffered most.

I was convicted that I needed to apologize to her for hurrying her so much. For being frustrated with normal little kid antics, for sighing deeply and dramatically over innocent (or not!) messes, for responding in anger and for not spending as much time just talking and playing with her. My heart was so heavy. I wanted to tell her that, with Jesus’ help, I would try to be a better Mommy tomorrow.

photo

But. It was after 11. She was sound asleep. I sighed, and prayed, and opened up a book, deciding that I would try to talk with her first thing in the morning.

It was maybe 2 minutes later that I heard her call out from her room “Mommy, mommy, mommy!!!” And I smiled, knowing the Lord’s presence and gift of a special moment – the chance to make things right, even in the middle of the night. He heard me! A dream had woken my girl up, and I knew that moment was God’s “second chance” for me. My sleepy little 4 year old was practically purring like a kitten, loving every second of cuddling in mommy’s bed. She was quick with forgiveness and hugs and kisses and “It’s okay, I love you Mommy.”

In an amazingly redemptive moment, my own sin, followed by my apology and the forgiveness of God and my child gave me a fresh and powerful encounter with the Gospel, and allowed me an opportunity to share it with my first-born disciple.

I was so happy to have my conscience relieved, to share a special moment with my daughter, and to see the Lord being faithful to help me as a parent. I confessed my sin, He forgave me, and then provided me an immediate opportunity to make things right. It is such an overwhelmingly strenuous and monumental thing to be a parent! I’m so grateful that God doesn’t leave me to go it alone. He is FAITHFUL and He is TRUE.

With His help, I’ll be a better mommy tomorrow…;-)

<3 jc

the half-baked & over-due moving update

This morning I have escaped to the “Upper Room” (our upstairs guest bedroom/office) for my mommy time away. I try to sneak away from time to time to a coffee shop for more focused Bible study, reading, journaling, blogging (and just a break!). With the hecticness of our cross-country move, it has not happened for some time, which means I am savoring it all the more today!

I am feeling rather fancy dipping biscotti (a sweet gift from a church member!) in my steaming coffee…never mind that I am waist-deep in unpacked boxes up here except for one chair in the corner. Unpacking and settling into a new home is taking me quite a lot longer than I anticipated. I don’t know exactly what I expected, but I honestly thought I would be “done” by now and able to spend a couple days thrifting for a few rugs, curtains, end tables, etc. to pull it all together. But that is a joke. We’ve had an obnoxious, rough round of colds (well, only Nels and I so far, and hoping it stays that way) that has slowed us down, and we’ve also been wanting to spend some time at church and with new friends, and also setting up all the new internet, insurance, utilities, etc…and it just takes a lot of time. While it frustrates my impatient and sometimes perfectionistic nature, I do see that the Lord has been speaking to me about slowing down, savoring life, not hurrying through every task but living each day to His honor and glory. (A convicting read? “Why Slowing Down is Paramount…”) Efficiency has often been my (somewhat accidental) highest value.

ANYWAY – the move. I have not updated my blog much about it, since we have had so much going on, but I’m sure most of you kind readers have already heard. In February Nels was called by the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church of Morgantown, West Virginia to come and be the Pastor of Youth. Long and crazy story short, we had visited a few weeks prior and initially declined. The week following that decision we both felt like we were grieving and were really happy when one of the elders contacted us and asked a few questions, and wondered if we would reconsider. We literally had a host of faithful saints praying for us, and as God helped us work through some of our concerns, we were happy and at peace in answering ‘yes’ to the call. There was a sweet and quiet but profound joy in seeing the Lord open the right door. I could tell quite a few amazing stories about the whole candidating process, and it was really difficult, but because of all that we have a strong inner certainty about being where the Lord intended for us to be.

So, we packed up our lives in Kansas City and moved 869 miles (give or take!) to our new home in Morgantown. God provided a quaint rental farm house just outside of town for us at an affordable price, which we were so thankful for (one of my major concerns was lack of great housing in the area, so to see this answered was a kind provision!). The weeks leading up to the move were so bittersweet. We had many goodbyes to say, and felt near to bursting with love and appreciation for our life and many relationships in Kansas City. We met, were engaged and married at Midwestern. I had my 3 babies at the same hospital 12 minutes from our apartment. And while Nels grew up in the Army, relocating often, I spent 20 years in and around the Kansas City metro and my parents live there. Our favorite haunts will be missed, my Bible study ladies will be missed, Nels’ hunting and fishing buddies and coworkers will be missed, and on and on. The time was ripe for us to move on, and we know God is continuing to work in and grow our family, friends in KC. He was gracious to allow us very special goodbye parties and we got to see most of our closest friends one last time before heading out. Our church sent us off so sweetly as well.

We loaded the bright yellow Penske truck and our big gray Suburban and headed east on I-70. Nels’s mom and dad travelled with us, doing the heftier (and more nerve-wracking!) chore of driving the big truck. On their advice, we decided to make the journey in 3 days, which allowed for a slower pace for the huge truck and my carsick Hudson, Ezra’s couple of blowout diapers, terrible rash discomfort, etc. While we did not enjoy 3 hotel stays with 3 little ones (ahhh!!), we did enjoy seeing Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and finally Pennsylvania and then West Virginia. Having Mormor and Papa Tim along helped the kids emotionally as they were quite concerned about missing their friends and Hudson kept asking to go “homey”…Nels and I were also encouraged to have them making the trip with us and praying together as we went.

On our final travel day, we travelled east through Ohio, into Pennsylvania and then south to West Virginia. The flat farm lands gave way to rolling hills and then very steep grades, massive evergreen trees and mountains. It was a very epic-feeling final hour’s drive…we kept calling Mormor and Papa Tim back and forth, excited with tidbits of conversation about the new scenery, praises that we were almost out of the car, songs of thanksgiving, etc. We had been listening to “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” on CD in the car, and were at the exciting part when the children first arrived in Narnia, when they were told that “Aslan is on the move.” And, though I was exhausted and overwhelmed, I knew God was gently leading us. I know that He has called us to Morgantown, and I know He has plans for us, for serving Him – here.

That evening we walked through our house (which I had only seen a few pictures of!) but stayed in a hotel in Morgantown. It was one of the worst nights of sleep I can imagine, with baby up and fevering and the 5 of us in one bedroom. Nels and I were terribly disheartened because we were hoping to be at our best for our huge move in day, the day that we would meet a lot of new people and need to make lots of decisions about the house.

But, somehow the Lord gave me a boost of energy to get up early and read my Bible in the hotel lobby. I read Psalm 139. I was amazed by the love of God. I felt so loved, and His love pushed out my fear. It was also comforting to know that even though “home” was 800+ miles behind, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” I was so humbled that infinite, sovereign God cared to encourage and speak lovingly to me on that difficult morning. It also brought to mind a portion I’d heard the day before in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”…“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

So, here we are in Morgantown! We have been blown away by the warmest welcome imaginable by the CMA church family. They helped unload the truck, have brought meals, came to pray for sick Ezra, invited us to their homes, etc. The kids already talk about their friends here (though they don’t know anyone’s names!), and I about bawled when Hudson exclaimed “homey!” when we pulled into our little white farmhouse the other day. It is starting to feel like that, and I am enjoying exploring our new surroundings and meeting many new friends. We are so excited to be serving our “unsafe” but very good King here. It is certainly an exciting adventure to follow Christ.

I’d appreciate your prayers for our church, the elders and pastors, our youth leaders, and the youth group – as well as our family! <3

jordan

P.S. I hope to share a house-tour photo blog sometime (if we ever get settled in!! ha!) and maybe a few photos of Morgantown. Stay tuned! ;-)

Homesick at Home

[Hello, happy Tuesday all! Hope you're having a great week and looking forward to loving on the special people in your life this Valentine's Day. Today I am sharing with you something that has been on my mind and heart lately that I took time to try to sort out and write about for a ladies' group…hope you will be encouraged. Blessings to you & yours!]

Homesick at Home

Maybe you have heard this oft-quoted line from C.S. Lewis: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (Mere Christianity)

I, like many of you, have chosen to be a homemaker. Most of the time I love it and find it immensely fulfilling. Yet while there is joy and satisfaction in living out this calling, doing work “heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men,” there are days when I feel inexplicably sad. Out-of-place. Maybe even a little lost.

Was I really made for this?

“This world is beautiful but badly broken.” N.D. Wilson says. It’s true, isn’t it? I’m sure you feel that every day. It can been seen even in the simple beauty of breast feeding, and then the brokenness and pain of mastitis when things go awry. I feel the beauty and the brokenness of our world in my marriage – it can be so sweet, such a tender blessing, then at times it is disappointing because it doesn’t live up to my expectations or make me feel as brim-full of happiness as I want to. And it’s not just the world that’s broken – it’s you and I, too. Do you feel it? We’re not satisfied here – with who we are, what our work is, or the way our husbands/children make us feel.

But be encouraged! Recognizing this brokenness is truly a freeing thing. We are not meant to be satisfied with earthly things, for: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:20) Lewis said it this way: “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others do the same.” Hebrews 11 says we are strangers and exiles on the earth! Mama, sometimes I feel exiled to an island of laundry and screaming natives! ;-)

Press on today, in your work at home. Don’t be discouraged if your work does not satisfy you. Have faith in the unseen. Christ is our joy and satisfaction. Your feeling of dissatisfaction is not because you “belong” somewhere else, like in a career or office setting. You “belong” where God’s word instructs you to be – in your home. And there is joy and satisfaction to be found here. But you are a citizen of heaven! Christ is in you, the hope of glory! (Col. 1:27) If you are aching, longing, unsatisfied – recognize that it is Christ and the better country you ultimately desire. Press on toward the goal and prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).

“Stop weeping; behold the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah…” (Revelation 5:5)

The Christian pleasure was poetic, for it dwelt on the unnaturalness of everything in light of the supernatural…I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy, like a bird in spring…I knew now…why I could feel homesick at home.” – G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

 

 

 

awkward things your kids might say {if you read them Bible stories!}

best buddies…also known as 'Joseph & Mary'

best buddies…also known as ‘Joseph & Mary’

“Let’s play Rahab!!!” my daughter shrieks as she runs to meet her friends at the playground.

I inwardly groan, loving that she knows (and lives) the story of Israel’s victory over Jericho, but slightly embarrassed that one of her favorite Bible characters is (unbeknownst to her) a prostitute….:-/

Routinely, Kaya and Hudson offer: “Mom, do you want us to paint lamb’s blood on your door?”

A favorite scene to act out is the slaying of Goliath. I am often called in to choose who will play David (and we usually end up with two of him!).

I’m not sure what that lady at the grocery store thought when Hudson looked at me, very serious, “Mom, don’t fro me in da yions (lions) den.” Okay, son.

Hudson’s oft-repeated line is “I don’t yike (like) dat mean Pharaoh.”

But, perhaps my favorite, that has also caused me to blush a bit, was when my daughter held out her blue sippy cup, with a rather loud request: “Mom, we need more of this better wine in our sippy cups!” Imagine my mortification, while living on an alcohol-free seminary campus. Ha! My kids had just watched a “The Miracles of Jesus” DVD…:)

I mean I don’t even want to read stories about Jael and the tent peg or Eglon, etc!!!

Sometimes it’s a little awkward, but I love the imagination and energy of my little ones and I’m so privileged to get to teach them about the Lord!…even if we get some weird looks from time to time! ;-)

<3 jc


Asaph’s Inheritance…& Ours!

{This is a short devotional thought that I wrote recently for a ladies’ group (slight edited since)…some musings on one of my favorite Psalms – Psalm 73!}

The Psalmist Asaph is irritable and even angry about all that he sees going on around him in the first half of Psalm 73. He was growing envious of the prosperity of the wicked (they are healthy, without worry or pain, at ease, increasing in wealth). It just doesn’t seem right! If God is good to the pure in heart (as Asaph understood in verse 1), why does it seem as if the wicked have the blessing of God, while Asaph has “in vain” kept his heart pure and washed his hands in innocence (v. 13)?

The angst rises from verse 1 through 16, as Asaph is troubled while trying to understand. I’ve been there – have you? Struggling with envy or feeling as if God isn’t really looking out for you the way He maybe ought? The way he could? How come the disobedient and the arrogant seem to have no lack?

But all of Psalm 73 hinges on verse 17, when Asaph “came into the sanctuary of God…”

When we come to worship God, our eyes are opened. Circumstances look different. All the things of life are made clearer when we recognize God for who He is. In the sanctuary, in worship, Asaph’s eyes are opened and he begins to understand.

Asaph says “When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.” He realizes that he’s been a fool! The prosperity of the wicked is very temporary, and horrors await (v. 19). In the Lord’s sanctuary Asaph realizes that though his portions of health and wealth may be lesser than those he was troubled by, his portion was on an entirely different plane than theirs. The wicked were heading for destruction, but Asaph was heading to glory. God had reserved something good for Asaph! The very best. Himself. Asaph delighted in his relationship with the Lord.

“Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” 

The word “strength” in verse 26 (“God is the strength of my heart…”) means “rock”…as in, “God is the rock of my heart.” We ought not set our hearts on riches, ease, temporal and earthly happiness or any other slippery thing, but the solid rock of God Himself. His nearness is our good – how incomparably higher and better than the false prosperity the wicked enjoy for now, that we so easily find ourselves envious of.

Celebrate the nearness of the Lord today! Whatever your earthly portion may be, know that God Himself is our inheritance.

“God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory.” – Jonathan Edwards

<3 jc

Let’s Make Something Beautiful

Lately my oldest, my sweet and energetic girl, has somewhat outgrown the afternoon nap that mommy has depended upon (very heavily!!!! agh!! ha!). She only needs a nap maybe every third day. We’re sort of working out the kinks and trying a new schedule where she either naps or reads for an hour or so, and then gets to come out of her room and have some quiet play or help mommy work.

She.has.loved.it. 

Okay, I have too…though I’m still somewhat reluctant about sharing my afternoons! Our time together – just the two of us! – has been really good for us both. She feels like such a big girl, being awake while her brothers sleep, and she is delighted to have mommy to herself for a while.

One day this week I let her get up early and she came bounding out of her bedroom, glowing with joy, and asked “What beautiful thing are we going to make today, Mama?!”

It was so sweet and funny, and I loved her perception of what mommies do while babies nap. We make beautiful things. (Duh! :) ) That day we didn’t have any terribly exciting crafts or projects to work on, but as she and I swept the kitchen and put the dishes away, we were bringing order to the kitchen and making it beautiful. As we were getting supper started, we were making a (simple) beautiful meal to care for our family. We sorted too-big and too-small clothes out of the kids’ closet together, working toward a more useful, beautiful wardrobe. And, when our tasks were completed and the boys were still snoozing, we read some clever and pretty A.A. Milne poetry, enjoying the beautiful rhyme and rhythm of her words.

All of these things, done together with my sweet girl, made our day so beautiful. 

It really is a privilege to fully occupy myself with making things beautiful…making my home a beautiful place, bringing beautiful moments to our family time, and working together with the Lord to allow Him to beautify our hearts.

mtb

I was inspired by my daughter’s perception – that mommies make beautiful things. I felt like Snow White or some other magical princess – singing happily while everything I touch becomes vibrant and lovely (though our reality does not quite look like *that*! ha!)! Sometimes the work seems drudgery, but I want to keep an artist’s perspective: there is something beautiful happening here. I need to believe that every day. I need to see, with spiritual eyes, from a creator’s (the Creator’s?) nurturing, life-giving vantage. For my family, I am the Lord’s instrument, caring for them and making beautiful things for them to enjoy. And, even when things aren’t pristine and pretty – I know I can love on my family and make their day absolutely beautiful.

Even our simplest efforts are beautiful in the Lord’s sight. Make something beautiful today! ;-)

<3 jc

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. {from Ecclesiastes 3}

Spiritual Disciplines for Young Families

Does your family have a time of devotions together? How do you “train your children up in the way they should go,” and teach them, as Deuteronomy 6 instructs?

We’re not super pious. We’re not super spiritual. But we do want to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind (and to love our neighbor as ourselves). The fact that Jesus even has to tell us to do this shows that it doesn’t just happen, but requires some measure of intentionality.

To that end, I have found it is invaluable to build certain habits or spiritual disciplines into our family schedule. They have to be fairly simple (easy to grasp by a toddler), not too time-consuming (feasible on busy days and with short attention spans), and of course – faith-building. I expect these things to grow and change as our family does, but the important thing to me is that we are doing some things consistently to teach our children some spiritual disciplines. 

[Please don't in any way feel overwhelmed when thinking about doing devotions or making spiritual disciplines a part of your family routine. Just try one thing. Be consistent with it, and when that's a habit, add in something else.]

Here are some of the things that are working for us right now (our kids are 4, 2, and 5 months old)…

our "prayer jar"

our “prayer jar”

1) prayer - there are several times throughout the day that we pray together with our kids. sometimes spontaneously, but always at mealtimes and bedtime. we keep a cookie jar filled with slips of paper and names of friends, family, and missionaries we want to pray for. the kids take turns drawing a name at breakfast each morning, and that’s who we pray for. it’s a really simple “system” but i love having one particular person or family in mind to pray for throughout the day. it prevents me from telling people “yeah, i’ll pray for you!” without ever following up. and the kids are learning to pray for others, and we’ve seen God answer some of our prayers! it’s really exciting.

2) scripture memorization - kids’ minds are so readily and naturally picking up information all the time! i am amazed at how easily memorization comes to little ones. the hardest part of memorization i think is just taking the time to consistently review it. we have a big chalkboard that we write portions of scripture on, and we try to read through it several mornings a week. a while back kaya and i memorized psalm 23 and it was helpful to us to use the ASL motions (see youtube clip above). the motions really helped keep us both focused, and i was amazed at how easily a 3 year old can memorize an entire chapter! the key for us has been to just spend 5 minutes or less on it, but to do that regularly. keep it fun, keep it light! it is easy to get discouraged if you’re not making serious headway on memory verses, but just jump right back in and keep going – a little bit at a time! it’s making an eternal impact on your heart and on your children’s hearts and we can expect opposition to that in the spiritual realm. also, check out the “scripture typer” app for more memorizing helps!

9788772474700_p0_v3_s260x420

3) devotional & story readings - i read to the kids every morning, and daddy reads to them right before bed. we use a variety of bible story books, including the Jesus Storybook Bible, and most recently a set of Bible story books that quote directly from the Bible (Contemporary English Version) – which i especially love. i’ve been surprised at how the kids can hang with the sometimes lengthy stories and just keep wanting more. don’t be discouraged if attention spans are very short at first – keep reading! their attention span will grow. i also love Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. the pictures are beautiful, paired with sweet thoughts & a verse, and are perfect length for a meal-time devotional. here is another fun idea for bible study with kids! some of our most wonderful, heart-probing conversations with our little ones have been during or after these sweet times of reading to them from God’s word.

4) worship - this is one area that i really desire to grow in. while i believe all of life and obedience can be worship, we see a lot of worship through music in the scriptures and i believe it should be a huge part of our lives! we enjoy having our kids join us for at least a portion of our corporate church worship service, but want to make it more of a daily habit. nels and i have decided to choose one hymn a month to focus on and help the kids to learn since they are so rich in spiritual truths and can be such an encouragement in hard times. sometimes we have crazy worship times where they dance and jump around and beat on their tambourines and daddy’s djembe. worship is a discipline, but it’s also a joy, and i think we should let them really enjoy praising God, especially in the appropriate context of our home.

I think it will be really fun to see how our family grows in these disciplines and add in fasting, giving, etc. in creative ways appropriate for different stages. I’m eager to see my children grow in the Lord, and want to help them to use their own spiritual gifts to bless others.

bedtime story with dad

Perhaps the biggest challenge in having times of family devotion and worship??… Guarding our schedule so that we are not constantly bombarded with busyness. Consistency in the pursuit of these spiritual disciplines depends in part on our consistency with mealtimes.

What about you? What are the biggest obstacles to nurturing spiritual development in your family? How do you overcome them? Have you established some disciplines that are working well for your family? Share your ideas with me!

<3

jordan

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

on graduating

Commencement was this past Friday, Dec. 13…what a day! We had a great little crew of family and friends, in spite of snowy, icy roads and it felt like a fitting celebration. I felt so awkward, having a day that was kind of “about me” – but the more I thought about it, the more it felt so right to celebrate with all the people who have been a part of making it happen. I think every graduate feels indebted to certain people for their guidance, help, encouragement, etc…but I have more to thank than most, I’m certain! It has been a long and hard road! (some of that described here!) Yet God has been faithful.

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We have had incredible support from family and friends through prayer, encouragement, babysitting, financial support and more. Nels has encouraged me many times when I felt like giving up, and he often watched the babies or helped with household things after putting in his own big day of work and school. Many times I thought finishing my degree was a dream to kiss goodbye – so it was amazing and satisfying to have it finally completed. And, more importantly, I was thankful that God gave us wisdom in how to do it in a way that would not leave us with the burden of regrets from giving our children too little hands-on time and attention with mommy (people speak of “quality time” – but I’ve heard it said, and agree, that there is no quality time apart from the investment of quantity time!).

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Anyway, I love being a student, and though I’m relieved to say farewell to the pressure of deadlines and finals and tests, I will miss taking classes and interacting with the professors and other students. I feel a sense of joy and accomplishment, and I’m happy that God enabled me to finish what I started way back in 2007, before marriage and 3 babies was even in the picture! I’m grateful to have learned so much about God and His Word, and to have met hundreds of incredible people – my husband! – plus a small handful of dear and intimate friends, many of whom have graduated before me and have gone out to serve the Lord in various places (even Sudan, India, etc!). I’m happy and proud to be among the MBTS alumni. ;-)

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Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” I’m thankful for the opportunity to gain a solid foundation and to grow in wisdom through this college education and experience. With God’s help, the rest of my life will be a continuation of that search for wisdom.

Thank you so much, to all of our friends and family who have been invaluable in cheering us on in this pursuit and every other that God has set before us! Our hearts are overflowing with thankfulness.

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<3 jc