Wednesday, January 29, 2014

things we are loving around here: devotions & worship

We have tried, failed, and succeeded at many family devotion plans, family nights, Scripture memory, prayer time, and so forth with our crew around here.  Here are some things we are loving in our home right now.

Jesus Storybook Bible
Product Details
We have used this Bible for years and loved it.  Our kids have basically memorized the stories and we love how every story points to Jesus.  We attempt family devotions about 4 nights a week.  We sit together, read a story, sometimes have an activity, sing a few songs, and pray.  This has looked very different over the years but we are so thankful we've taught them and ourselves the discipline of devotions together.  

Seeds of Worship
These cd's are Scripture put to song.  We've learned a lot of Bible verses through these cd's and even Ren, Andrew, & I enjoy them.  

Slugs & Bugs
Product Details
There are several of these cd's out and we love every single one!  They are a great mixture of silly, funny, worshipful songs and the latest cd they have is all Scripture put to song.  

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing
Product Details
We just got this great devotional and so far are enjoying it.  It is written by the same folks that did Jesus Storybook Bible and has a short devo a day with a verse.  We keep it at our breakfast table and try to do one a morning.  

NIRV Adeventure Bible
We have had the sweetest conversations with Madeline lately about how to be a follower of Jesus and we wanted to get her a Bible to celebrate and remind her of her desire to know Him.  We picked this one and so far like it.  It is her first full-version Bible and even though she can't read this well yet, there are lots of little sidebars and sections and stand alone verses that she is working through.  We are attempting to both sit with her once a week to read and talk.  

Rain for Roots
Product Details
Another cd we love.  Very mellow and all songs tell stories and Scripture.  Our kids currently listen to it as they fall asleep.  

Window to the World
Product Details
This book is so good!  It is a kid-friendly version of Operation World and has 2 pages focused on a specific people group, who they are, what they believe, how to pray for them, and more.  The kids really like to see the pictures and learn.  

My First Hands on Bible
Product Details
Anna just got this Bible for Christmas and it has been a nice change up for our devotions.  It has little and easy activities that go along with each story and good questions to ask.  The kids definitely understand it, can answer the questions, and the stories don't loose their attention.  

Big Picture Bible
Product Details
This was the first Bible we used to do devotions with the kids.  It is simple, short, and accurate!  We still pull it out every once in a while but it is great for kids under 4 to get them used to a devo time.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

radiant with joy

Well, I've updated a bit around here.  New pictures, new colors, new Scripture.  For almost a year now I've been working through this verse above and several others from Psalm 34.  If you haven't lately, you should read it.  My goodness I have learned a lot.  In the midst of a lot of transition these last months I've seen so clearly that God had been prepping me for them.  After Anna and before Paulina God was working in the deep parts of my character.  Places I didn't realize I needed refining, especially for now.  He has shown me my selfishness, my desire for approval of others, my need for acceptance or status outside of Him, my weaknesses and idols.  And He has broken me.  Mostly gently, although He is tough where my sin is the most stubborn and blind.  I read this verse and say it over and over in my head and outloud.

"Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy, no shadow of shame will darken their faces." Psalm 34:8

look to Him
radiant with joy
no shadow of shame

Have you found such free-ness as this?  No shadow of shame.

Anna has this cut in the crevice of the underside of her pinky toe.  Seriously.  It will not heal.  It keeps getting ripped back open, bleeding, and bothering her.  We put medicine on it, multiple bandaids, and cover it with her sock.  Yet still, it is taking forever.  If she even slightly hits it on the right spot we have to start over again.

Her toe is like my shame.  Shame is brutal and secretive.  It attacks all parts of heart, soul, and mind.  It shapes thoughts, character, emotions, responses, everything.  It cuts deep and takes work to find restoration from.

I long for this restoration.  And have to fight for it.  Putting into light the lies that keep me in the darkness.  Looking to Him who has overcome the darkness.  And ultimately, radiating Him, not me.

When I turn my eyes away from Him, the destructions are instant.  Self. World. Fear. Shame. Comparison. Jealousy.  But when I look to Him?  Radiant with joy.  Radiant because I know the source of joy.  Radiant because I am consumed in heart, mind, and soul with the One who has set me free.

The destructive things are still out there, nearby in fact.  But I will say it again, those who look to Him for help...

And another,

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty."  Psalm 91:1

No shadow of shame.  Instead, I get to dwell with Him.  He must become greater, I must become less.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

grasping for love

My little Paulina has been laying in a hospital bed for the last 24 hours and will be for a bit longer.  We know some, but a lot is still very unknown.  Often, when describing my day with Paulina to Andrew, I give him the basics but end by saying, "She is such a little mystery!"  And now, as we try to figure out what is going on in her little body, we say it again, she is such a little mystery!  I am so thankful for an incredibly caring community of doctors and friends who are walking through this with us.  It is a confusing, mysterious, overwhelming mess.  But we are figuring it out!  And she is totally worth every second of our time on this and every second we have to spend in a hospital.  

"Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God." 
1 Corinthians 1:26-29

I love her so unbelievably much and am often overwhelmed at how blessed I am to have her as a daughter.  She teaches me so much about God's goodness and grace.  Today, as I was sitting in her hospital bed with her, she again brought me to my knees before Jesus for the way He loves His children and abundantly meets our needs.  She was sleeping soundly after being poked and prodded and I was resting next to her.  I rolled over to reach for my phone, and she cried out and took hold of me, grasping with all her little might.  She knows me, she trusts me, and she clings to me when fear and pain come.  I have no words to describe the joy and gratitude and humility this brings in me.  We've asked Him on her behalf that she would know us and trust us and know we are here, we are constant, we love and will take care.  And oh beautiful glory, she does.  She does.  I can't help but praise Him.  

This brings me to my question and conviction.  Do I grasp for Jesus when fear and pain surround me?  When we are overwhelmed by the medical unknowns of our daughter?  Tired and confused about what to do?  Frustrated that we can't be in two places at once, the hospital with Paulina, and home with Madeline, Simeon, & Anna?  And on and on...fear and pain.  Where do I turn?  Do I know Jesus, trust Him, cling to Him?  Oh, I long to!  I am trying to.  I am thankful for His tender grace to remind me and draw me more and more to Him.  

I'm holding her, she's grasping me; I will grasp hold of Jesus, and He will hold me.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

a good start

All dressed up to play in the freezing cold temperatures.  Whatever works!

Aunt Lauren & I got to take Madeline & Anna to the Sound of Music sing-a-long at the Walton Arts Center and we all had a blast!  The girls got to go on the stage and show off their outfits-Madeline dressed as Leisel and Anna as Louisa-and sing and have such a good time!  So glad we got to go.  


 And now, just some random, good old cuteness!  
building trains

 going for a walk

getting to see Frozen with Ms. Becca 

first haircut!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

hello 2014

I meant very much to get all caught up with my 2013 pictures and stories before the year ended but that didn't happen.  And I am okay with that.  The time needed to be spent on other things.  We had such a sweet and joyful advent season in our home.  We hunkered down in our house for a few weeks, played and ate and sang and laughed.  We opened gifts and rejoiced.  It was really sweet and fun and crazy and good.  

But now, to move forward.  

2014.  I am a bit overwhelmed with all this year holds for us...and already has in these 14 days.  We will be having lots of doctor appointments and surgeries for Paulina.  We will begin looking into education for her.  Andrew will be travelling overseas for the first time since bringing Paulina home...which means me and 4 littles at home for two weeks.  Madeline will finish kindergarten and then in the fall she and Simeon will start public school.  And we are planning a two week camping trip this spring.  Phew.  

As I write all that and spend half my time making phone calls and appointments and repeating Paulina's date of birth over and over and the other half crafting and playing games and reading books I am overwhelmingly thankful and humbled that God has blessed me with my life and the people in it.  I am weak most days and have no idea where exactly I fit in this world of being a Jesus follower, mama, wife, and friend.  I don't know much but I know two things for sure about, I really need Jesus; and two, He is near me and good.   I am longing this year to know Him more dearly and live more fluidly with the Holy Spirit as my guide.   

So, here we go...2014.