Why play is so powerful: Easter edition

Reading and playtime.  They are two powerful forces that shape our minds and tug at our hearts. Read great books to your kids and you ignite the imagination. Encourage play and you take that imagination to a whole new level that cements learning into long-term memory.
When it comes to the Easter season, I love encouraging both.  It is a season when we pause and reflect.  It is a season when we pull out those magical picture books that will invoke powerful emotions and memories for the rest of their lives.  It is a season when we slow life down and carve out time and opportunity to play.
This year, we’ve added new inspiration.  I discovered this lego-like set depicting the Last Supper about this time last year. But we were in the throes of packing up a home and moving across the country.  So I dropped it into my Amazon wishlist and waited patiently until this year.  We surprised the kids a few weeks ago and it’s been a huge hit.
After lunch dishes were washed, we gathered at the couch to read one of my childhood favorites on the Last Supper, The Bread and the Wine, and then embarked on the building…  It gave us a chance to talk about some of the details of this account.  It prompted the boys to try and figure out which minifig represented each disciple.  I’ve caught them quizzing each other as they play.  Learning to name each of the 12 disciples of Jesus was not on my radar for things they would learn from this toy…  Once again, I’m amazed by the power of play and the bunny trails it leads us down.
Play and learning about Easter week...
In the quiet moments when boys are playing outside, I’ve caught Greta studying the scene too and shared it over on Instagram.  Her pace is a little slower as this is new information for her.  And this is why this little scene will grace our side table for the next couple of weeks.
Seeing… imagining… embracing…
The power of play on full display.
And yes, we give this new toy, two thumbs up!  It will be cherished each year when we pull it out, play, and remember…
More Easter related posts:
easterbanner400x148
FruitofSpirit30
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Learning to Cast our Cares…

Here's a hands-on way to teach our kids to cast all their cares on the Lord!

Lessons for Him, Lessons for Me…

“I just can’t do it,” he shrieked completely losing control of his emotions.

What should have been a quick, easy task has ended in a fit of tears.  I battle frustration.

As I sat talking to this then 6 year old son of mine (so old and yet so very young), he spilled out his heart to me – his doubts, fears and frustration.

While mostly incoherant, it was evident that these burdens were dragging him down.  And while they seem somewhat trivial to me with my adult mindset of what ‘real‘ problems look like, it is obvious that they are enormous to him.

In a desperate attempt to try and help him, I grab a pile of bean bags and pull him aside.  I explained to him that Jesus wants to bear our burdens and that when we ‘cast our cares upon Him, He takes care of us.’ (I Peter 5:7)

I could feel the tension leave his body as he gave each bean bag a spoken or even unspoken care and made the physical movement to represent his internal decision to cast it on Jesus.  Before I knew it, I too found myself joining in.  Most of mine were unspoken so as not to weigh him down with cares that were beyond his years.  There was such a release in that physical act that was merely a representation of giving our cares to Jesus.

My heart fills with gratitude.  These children of mine help me to slow down.  As I attempt to raise them, I find myself more often than not convicted and inspired to heed the words from Scripture that I am passing on to them.  How can I expect them to respond and internalize these truths, if I’m not doing the same?

Walking away from this object lesson, we both found ourselves travelling with a lighter step.  It is so freeing to not have to carry around burdens that we were never supposed to be dragging along and simply TRUST God.

So this has become our family ‘go to’ verse for now.  When nightmares come, a task that seems to difficult, there is conflict with a brother, an economy continues to flounder or I worry about future provision we turn to this verse and apply.  It is delightful to see his face light up in understanding when encouraged to give it to Jesus.  I can see him mentally tossing that weighted bean bag off and enjoying the release.  And I marvel that I too am experiencing the same.

Intentional Parenting Means Raising Daniels

Intentional parenting means raising Daniels - children who love Jesus and will stand firm in the face of the storm!

The Grand Canyon – beautiful, majestic. It’s one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  A must see if you can, wouldn’t you say?  And my kids have never seen it.  Until 4 months ago, they had spent their entire lives in Arizona and we had never taken the time to drive up there.

You see, we had always planned to go; but we thought we had all the rest of their childhood to do it.  Little did we know that God had plans to suddenly transplant our family to a new state.

Life has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?  We have a lot of good things that we plan to do… eventually.

But the reality is that we don’t know what lies in store for us tomorrow, next week or next year.  What we have is today. That’s why it’s so essential to parent with the big picture in mind and make the most of each day.

Our culture is changing at breakneck speed. The carnality of our culture, the rapid changes in religious freedoms, the number of young adults rejecting the faith of their families, and the scary violations of parental rights are enough to wake us up to the reality that we really don’t know what tomorrow holds. It’s a fresh reminder to be intentional with TODAY.

It’s in moments like these when I simply have to shut down the noise, quiet my soul.  I love how God is always there, just waiting for me to quiet my mind and listen. Despite my natural inclination to P.A.N.I.C., He reminds me that HE is the God of history. While I’m bound by time and space, He sees the big picture.

Panic melts away and a growing sense of resolve takes its place. God has called me to this place in history. He’s called you, too. He knew what He was doing when blessing us with our beautiful children. He knows their future.

My mind kept going to Daniel {of lion’s den fame}. As a girl, I loved reading about his early years in Babylon, about how he stood firm in his faith, about how he had a huge impact and influence on the pagan culture that had taken him captive.

As a parent, I can’t help but think of his parents. I’m keenly reminded that we need to sow into our children as Daniel’s parents did. Daniel was taken from his home during his teen years and thrust into a hostile culture that sought to re-educate him so that he could serve and believe as a Babylonian. They went so far as to even give him a new name. Instead of Daniel – meaning “God is my judge,” they gave him the name Belteshazzar – {prince of Bel -a Babylonian god}. If you think this was purely coincidence, check out the name changes they gave to his friends: Hananiah {God Who Is Gracious} became Shadrach {Command of the Moon god}, Mishael {Who is Like God} became Meshach {Who is what Aku is} and Azariah {God has helped} became Abednego {Servant of the god Negal}.


Talk about a mind job. The goal of the conquering culture was to reeducate them into currently acceptable belief and have them reject the faith of their roots. And you know what? The Bible alludes to the fact that Daniel and his three friends were the only ones that stood firm. Daniel 1:8 says that “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” He was resolved to stand firm. Despite everything that the Babylonian empire had to offer, he graciously stood firm. God granted him favor and used him mightily. Not only did he maintain an intimate relationship with God, not only did he live in obedience to God – at the risk of losing his own life, but he had a huge impact on those around him and rose to be a leader within the culture.

I couldn’t stop thinking about him this week and the love and care his parents must have devoted to establishing him in God’s truth. It brought me to my knees in fervent prayer and excited anticipation.

My mandate today and every day:

P.R.A.Y.

  • Earnestly pray that God will touch their hearts and that they will fall head over heels in love with Jesus!!!
  • Pray that He will establish them deep in Him.
  • Pray that my children will look to Him for provision and protection.
  • Pray that God will grant them supernatural discernment.
  • Pray that God will reveal to them (and me, too) how He wants to use them to impact the culture.
  • Pray that I will remain steadfast and intentional with these precious years of training and discipling!

P.R.E.P.A.R.E

  • Read the Bible, Study the Bible, Memorize the Bible. They need to be grounded in the TRUTH. When the truth is rooted deep in their hearts it will make it so much easier to weather any wave of false doctrine or worldly influence that might seek to derail them.
  • Apply the Truth. Help my children see how the Word of God applies in day-to-day life as we model how to really live the Christian life. In a culture that bifurcates life into secular vs. sacred, I ‘purpose’ to show my children how to live an integrated life where we live what we believe.
  • Train them to think deeply, listen to the Holy Spirit as they learn to use discernment.
  • Diligently pursue our academic studies. The world needs leaders – full of wisdom and possessing knowledge. {That was the earthly reason why the Babylonians took Daniel and his friends in the first place.}

The battle is never with flesh and blood.  It is spiritual and souls lie in the balance. We need Christians who are grounded in truth and full of compassion.  That is my prayer for our family.

If our children are arrested by the love of Jesus and established in His Word, then nothing can shake them. Nothing that our culture throws at them will sway them.

If our children are equipped with knowledge and discernment and able to engage the culture then they can be used by God to influence and impact people in our community in practical ways, too!

Do I feel equipped to do this? Nope. Is HE able to accomplish this? Absolutely.

I’m up for the challenge. Is anyone with me?

Related Posts:

Mission-Minded Motherhood
Intentional Parenting: Planning with the End in Mind {printable}
Intentional Parenting Means Setting {bite-sized} Goals {printable too!}

Hands-on Discipleship Moments: Ideas for Celebrating the Ascension

Here is a beautiful hands-on way to disciple your children and point their eyes towards Jesus. Celebrate and Learn about the Ascension! {crafts, food, and discussion ideas!}
Celebrating Christmas gives us faith; it affirms that our beliefs have roots in the historical fact of the incarnation.
Celebrating Easter gives us assurance; it affirms that Christ wiped away our sin by his great sacrifice and triumphed over death.
Celebrating the Ascension gives us hope and points us toward transformation; it affirms that we can become more and more like Jesus is right now….Without the ascension, we might look around and forget that Christ is the ruling Lord of this fallen, broken world….not just that he will reign when he comes again or that he did reign over death, but that he is reigning right now.”

Gary Thomas penned this in his amazing book, The Beautiful Fight: Surrendering to the Transforming Presence of God Every Day of Your Life.  I was reading it several years ago in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday and knew right then that I wanted to take time to introduce my children to the wonder of the Ascension.  We love to spend a few weeks building up to Easter and it just seemed to be a natural progression to continue on and celebrate the Ascension (that occurred 40 days after the Resurrection) and then Pentecost (10 days after Jesus ascended)…

Jesus conquered sin and death at the cross and resurrection and He will come again and reign.  But He also reigns here and now.  As Gary Thomas continues, we can participate in the spread of his reign now by “surrendering to his dynamic, life-transforming presence within us, by letting him change the way we see, think, feel, hear, speak, and serve.  It’s the life of Christ in us, continuing his work, exercising his reign, manifesting his presence.”

Focusing on the ascension of Jesus can help us to recapture the dynamic reality of Christ manifesting himself through us!

With that in mind, here is some hands-on inspiration that we’ve utilized to to communicate the glorious nature of the ascension and cultivate in my children an appreciation for and understanding of the ascension.

With young children you want to start by focusing on understanding. Don’t try to tackle ALL of these ideas…  With older children or over a period of a couple of days you can venture into some of the application of Christ’s reign here and now! I found this information on the history of the church celebrating Ascension Day interesting.

Read, discuss, create, savor…

Explaining and Celebrating the Ascension to Children

Key themes you can emphasize:

LOOK UP (anticipate His return) and LOOK OUT (how can we share the Good News)

 

  • Read Acts 1:1-11.  Review how Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples instructing them and opening up the scriptures to them in light of his death and Resurrection.
  • Jesus Returns to Heaven {an ARCH book}Read the ARCH book,  Jesus Returns to Heaven – a book with beautiful illustrations and rhyming text that tells this account or you can check out  correlating accounts in The Big Picture Story Bible and The Jesus Storybook Bible.  (We love ARCH books. They were favorites in my childhood home and my kids now love them too!)
  • Count out 40 days on our calendar to the ascension, starting on Easter Sunday. The Ascension is historically celebrated on the Thursday 40 days after the resurrection.
  • Talk about the Great Commission.  We have a job to do!  If you have the book, I’ve Got a Job to Do, read it.  It is a wonderful picture book that helps kids connect and build excitement for carrying out the Great Commission! Discuss with the kids about what this can look like for your family!  How can each of you carry out the Great Commission in your local community?  What can you do as a family to support the work of the Great Commission being carried out world-wide? We plan to possibly take another #EndBiblePoverty Challenge this summer.
  • Read Revelation 1:7 in addition to reviewing Acts 1:10-11.  Discuss how Jesus will return again the same way he ascended.
  • Go look at and admire the clouds.  Talk about heaven.  Talk about the return of the KING!

skyjello

  • Make Sky Jello – If your kids are anything like mine, eating a rare sweet treat like this is sure to loosen them up and provide opportunities to review what you’ve discussed! My Sky Jello tutorial is here.
  • Jesus Ascending Craft – Do the below presented craft.  One year, we made it from supplies I had around here and creative energy I had available.  Another year, {hello pregnancy} I was running low on energy and simply ordered a set from Oriental Trading Company that first gave me the inspiration for this craft.  Isn’t it nice to have options!?!?!
  • Dramatize the story.  Gather your legos or little people and have your kids recreate the scene.  They can use the craft they just made!  This will help them make meaningful connections that will really last!  It also gives you a glimpse into what they understand or maybe don’t.

Ascension Craft Tutorial

To mark the ascension which occurred 40 days after Easter (that would be Thursday, May 14th this year), we made this craft so they can re-enact that wonderful event.  We had so many beautiful conversations about Jesus, the ascension, His return and Heaven in the weeks following this craft last year!

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Blue cups or cups covered with blue construction paper (or possibly painted).  We went the construction paper route.
  • Cotton balls and glue.
  • Ribbon, yarn or thin strip of white tulle or whatever you have on hand.
  • Jesus paper figurine.

Jesus-Ascending

>> Start by letting your kids play with the cotton balls and gently pull them apart to make fluffy clouds.

>> Next let them spread glue on their cups.

(This is the favorite part of the craft in our home…  Glue is almost as cool as fire.)

>> Poke a hole through the top of your cup.  Depending on your children’s ages/temperaments and your mood this might be a mommy job.

>> Thread the tulle/ribbon/yarn through the hole-punch and then poke it through the hole in the cup. 

>> The idea is that you can pull the string and ‘lift’ the Jesus figuring up into the clouds.  Let them play and dramatize the story for you over and over and over again!

Gifts That Inspire Our Children’s Faith

Following Jesus is a grand adventure.  Here are some books that will inspire your children in their growing relationship with Him.

This post may contain affiliate links.

We get to introduce our children to Jesus, friends.  Have you paused to think about that lately?  On my drive home tonight from speaking to a mom’s group I was struck with the enormity and yet simplicity of this charge.  Nothing can have a greater impact in the lives of our children.  It is both humbling, exciting, and sometimes nerve-racking.  It shouldn’t be nerve-racking, but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it is as I look around and see friends falling away from the faith and young adults headed down the path of destruction.  It’s at times like this when the Holy Spirit whispers deep into my soul and reminds me that GOD is the one who saves.  I need to trust Him with the lives of my precious family. My job is merely to love the Lord, love my kids and introduce them to the grand adventure of walking out a life radically transformed by his grace.

The part about God loving flawed people?  Check.  That is on full display for my children.  There is no hiding my flaws. You all might not see them, but my kids do. And this gives me ample opportunity to humbly point them to the only one that can change us.

So yes, one of my favorite parts about parenting is walking out my faith, my oft-times messy faith, in front of my kids and continually pointing them to Jesus.  My prayer is that He will continue to capture their hearts as they follow Him.

While you can’t give them a gift that will grant them faith {that gift comes straight from Jesus}, we can, however, seek to inspire their faith and help them grow.  And what better way to do that than through the power of narrative and story.  So here are a few of my favorite children’s books that inspire us in our relationship and walk with the Lord.

Picture Books
That’s When I Talk to Godbook2  – This is one of my newest favorite books!  It winsomely draws my kids into the story where they learn that prayer is not something that simply happens at bedtime or the dinner-table.  We can talk to God all the time.

That’s Where God Isbook1 – We also love this book by the same author.  Both of these books delightfully draw you into the wonder and glory of a relationship with God and seeing his hand in creation and life circumstances.  I loved these so much that I promptly ordered some extra copies to give as gifts!

scripturelullaby

This isn’t a picture book, but I couldn’t help but share about these Scripture CD’s.  When the tension starts to rise in our home, one of us will usually to pop this in.  The music is soothing and the truth of scripture penetrates deeply.

 

Devotionals/Bibles
biblePicture Bible – I loved this comic book style Bible as a girl and read it over and over again.  Each of our boys own a copy and they eagerly pull it out for their personal devotional time each morning.  I’ve found that sometimes they’ll even grab it for our quiet hour (our extension of naptime because we all need an hour of quiet).  It’s exciting to hear my boys talk about the biblical account that they are currently reading in this Bible.  It is a fun way to encouraging Biblical literacy.

book4His Mighty Warrier: A Treasure Map from Your King  and His Little Princess: Treasured Letters from your King are two book4bbeautiful devotional books that you can read with your children.  I guess they could read them on their own, but there is something so special about reading these beautiful letters that inspire our children to pursue Jesus and enjoy the treasure of knowing Him alongside them.

Biographies
Christian Heroes: Then & Now << Using biographies to explore what it means to follow Jesus.Biographies are powerful.  There is nothing quite like reading about how faith looks lived out in ordinary lives as God enables them to do extraordinary things for Him.

I love the YWAM series Christian Heroes: Then and Now.  The stories are not only engaging, but they build our faith as we catch a glimpse of others walking out their faith.  I’ve borrowed these, but don’t own any yet.  It’s a series that is on my radar to own as I want my children reaching for these kinds of stories when they are looking for something to read!  You can get them in sets to save about $2/book or buy them individually.

Christian Heroes: Then and Now, books 1-5: biographies about Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime, Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer, Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China, Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems, Corrie ten Boom: Keep of the Angels’ Den.
Christian Heroes: Then and Now, books 6-10: Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold, William Carey: Obliged to Go, George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans, Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose, Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar
Christian Heroes: Then and Now, books 11-15: David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer, Betty Greene: Wings to Serve, Adoniram Judson: Bound for Burma, Cameron Townsend: Good News in Every Language, Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China
Christian Heroes: Then and Now, books 16-20: Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China, John Williams: Messenger of Peace, William Booth: Soup, Soap, and Salvation, Rowland Bingham: Into Africa’s Interior, Ida Scudder: Healing Bodies, Touching Hearts
Christian Heroes: Then and Now, books 21-25: Lillian Trasher: The Greatest Wonder in Egypt, Wilfred Grenfell: Fisher of Men, Florence Young: Mission Accomplished, Loren Cunningham: Into All the World, Sundar Singh: Footprints Over the Mountains
Christian Heroes: Then and Now, books 26-30: C.T. Studd: No Retreat, Rachel Saint: A Star in the Jungle, Clarence Jones: Mr. Radio, Count Zinzendorf: Firstfruit, Brother Andrew: God’s Secret Agent

FICTION
It doesn’t have to be a real-life story to have an effect on our heart.  I love reading fiction that draws us closer to the Lord.  Here are our family’s favorites!

bookDangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrims Progress – We adore this version of the world-famous, much-loved classic Pilgrim’s Progress. It is an abridged version, obviously, but I love how it uses the original words to weave a gripping narrative. The illustrations are vivid and riveting. They are intense, so you will want to wait on this book if your child is easily frightened.  This beautiful book makes an ideal gift that you’ll find your children reading over and over and over again!

Ivan and the Hidden Bible < a glimpse of a boy standing up for his faith in communist Russia.Ivan and the Hidden Bible – This was a favorite of mine as a girl and I introduced my oldest to it last year.  It follows a Ivan, a boy living in the USSR, as he experiences persecution for their Christian faith and the exciting discovery of their family Bible that was hidden away when communism first fell.  It provided a wonderful opportunity to discuss communism and how to stand up for your faith – even as a kid!  There is a whole series and I’m excited to see them back in print again!

Imagination Station Book!Imagination Station Series – These books go into various points in history and engagingly draw the reader into the lives of those living out there faith!  The boys received this series from their grandparents last year for Christmas after we fell in love with the first book.  Each book has been read at least twice in the last year.

Do you have any favorite books?  I’ve shared more of my faith-building favorites in these two posts:

10 Adventure Books to Build a Boy's Faith                 11+ Delightful Books to Inspire a Girl's Faith

ChristmasGiftLists - iHomeschoolNetwork


31 days of gift ideas that will spark and foster your children's love of learning and feed the imagination!

On the Road to #EndBiblePoverty

A great way to memorize Bible verses is to take take it on the road with you! #EndBiblePoverty

We spend a lot of time in our car driving here and there.  Being in a large metro area means you get used to driving, I guess.  Sometimes it makes the whole idea of “home” schooling seem like a bit of a stretch since so much of our explorations take place out in the great big world.

My sister lives in a small town and I admit that I’m a bit envious when she tells me that at most, she drives 12 minutes to reach her furthest friend.  For a while I couldn’t even say that I had a close friend within 12 minutes (so thankful for wonderful neighbors who have become friends!).

All that to say –  we drive.  A lot. So what’s an intentional mama to do, but find good use for our time in the car.  One of our favorite things to do is work on Scripture memory.

A great way to memorize Bible verses is to take take it on the road with you! #EndBiblePoverty

Remember when I wrote about monthly mission to help #EndBiblePoverty? This last month, we took our memory challenge on the road.  I’m super-high tech as you can tell…  Having Bible verses taped to the steering wheel or dashboard makes it easy to work in practice here and there when we are in the car.

We memorized Psalm 119:9-16 together and then the kids recited it for us and then each set of grandparents who had all agreed to sponsor them in this challenge.  My 6 year old, found it the most difficult to keep all of these verses straight. It helped to hear his brothers working on it at the same time.  And all I can say, is that I’m so thankful for Skype!  The boys loved having an almost in-person audience!

Taking the challenge to #EndBiblePoverty through Scripture memory!

While the memory work was great, the conversations were simply precious.  We discussed what it means to guard our way (which my warrior boys loved), what it means to meditate on the Word and such…

Watching them catch the vision for helping people groups who have no access to God’s Word and coming up with their own creative ideas to help made this mama cry out to God in gratitude.  I definitely think we’ll be following up on this some more this year.

It’s so easy to take access to the Bible for granted.  Throughout this process, we’ve been reminded afresh to dig deep with thankfulness and do what we can to help others gain access to the life-giving Word of God.  We are excited to plant seeds that will reap an eternal harvest.

Did you miss my first post? We’d love to still have you and your family join us to hide God’s Word in our heart and help #EndBiblePoverty in the process.  It’s as simple as challenging them to memorize some Bible verses and sponsor them in this endeavor by pledging a certain amount per verse that you can then donate to The Seed Company (an affiliate of Wycliffe Bible Translators).  I’ll keep up our donation page if you want to support efforts in southeast Asia with us!

Cultivating a Sense of the Resurrection

A wonderful resource for families to experience and talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus. #Easter

COUPON CODECultivate” can be used to get the book 20% off.  Good through April 4th!

Celebration of the Resurrection has been one of my favorite times of year since I was a child.  I’ve talked about it before in sharing how to make it a big deal for young children…  There is simply no way to completely unpack all of the amazing facets that played into God’s redemption plan.  Each year, I look to both incorporate some fun, long-held traditions as we ponder this central event in human history as well as add something new.

This year, we’ll be delving into OhAmanda’s freshly released ebook, A Sense of the Resurrection.  I mentioned it yesterday on Facebook, but wanted to read through it before I officially shared it here.  I have to say that I am delighted at this unique approach to drawing our children into thinking about the death of Christ and celebrating in the glory of his resurrection!

What age is A Sense of the Resurrection geared towards?

I think it would work best for kids between 4-10.  Younger or older siblings will still love it however.

Here are a few reasons why I’m so excited about this new resource!

  • Sensory Rich: Children learn through engaging their senses.  This book masterfully engages each of the 5 senses as it draws our family into a growing understanding of and relationship with Jesus!
  • Bible-centered.  The ebook is your resource.  The family text: the Bible!  She provides Scripture references to read for each of the 12 activities.
  • Provides context and talking points.  So often, parents don’t know where to start with having a conversation about what we read with the Bible and how to unpack these truths with our children.  This book provides that!
  • Only 12 Lessons.  Yes, this is a positive.  The truth surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection are deep and worthy of pondering.  This is not the time to jam pack schedules with lots of art projects.  I plan on starting next week and doing 2 a week so we have time to ponder and savor how God is speaking to us and what we are learning about His great sacrifice.
  • A Mix of Craft and Activity – Amanda refers to these as building memorials and making memories.  It is a wonderful blend of both which mixes things up.  Surprisingly, I’m not a big arts and craft kind of person.  I’ve blogged about many of our projects in the past, but that is not a daily norm around here.  We do love simple activities that draw us into meaningful conversation.  This beautiful ebook does just that!

She provides a sneak peek at one of the lessons here.  Each lesson consists of the following sections:

Read it together

Do it together/Make it together (depending on if it is an activity or a craft)

Talk about it together

Do more together (there is an option to make a printable flag banner with a symbol for each lesson)

If you are looking for something new to do with your kids this year, you can’t go wrong with A Sense of the Resurrection.

I pray you have a wonderful season of contemplating the death and resurrection of Jesus and draw your children into the wonder of it all too!

Easter Ideas for Young ChildrenTop 10 Easter Books

Write it, Recite it, Send it: Our Mission.

Join the challenge: Memorize and Recite Verses to raise money for BIBLE Translation.  #EndBiblePoverty #MonthlyMission

Join the challenge: Memorize and Recite Verses to raise money for BIBLE Translation.  #EndBiblePoverty

 What is poverty?

It’s the question I posed to my kids today.  A few vague responses tentatively whispered from boys lips.  No one really understood.  So I sent the youngest on an errand to bring the dictionary over and my 7.5 year old begged to be the one to look up the word.  Dictionary skills are high on the “want to develop” list for this young guy of mine.

Our children’s dictionary defined it as, “the condition of being poor.”  We took some time to discuss the ramifications of being poor.  We talked of the importance of food and shelter.  We discussed what money could buy…  …and what it couldn’t.

In a hushed voice, I called them close and explained our mission for the month.

This month I have a challenge for you; an opportunity to hide God’s Word in your heart and in the process help end Bible poverty.  Are you in?

Boys and “missions” just go together.  They are stoked.  This month, I’m teaming up with Amanda on her Monthly Mission series with a new challenge!  The idea for this challenge was birthed this last fall when I finally got to meet Amanda in person!  We share a love for God’s Word and are just a tad bit obsessed with bringing our kids into the grand adventure of walking out this relationship with Jesus in fun ways.

 

So this month, we’re inviting our kids to step up and help #EndBiblePoverty!  The Word of God is food for our souls.  It strengthens and sustains us.  And there are millions out there who don’t have access to it.  There are entire groups of people who don’t even have the option to read these life-giving words because there isn’t a Bible in their language.

#EndBiblePoverty challenge!  Memorize God's Word, make an Eternal Impact!

This month, we want to make a difference.  And we invite your family to join us.  Together we can help our children invest in eternity in a beautiful way as they feast on God’s Word and in turn raise money for the important work that The Seed Company (an affiliate of Wycliffe Bible Translators) is doing to help speed up the rate of Bible translation.

Want to join in?  Here are 8 easy steps to get you started!

Step 1: Pick a Passage.

Amanda and I are having our kids memorize Psalm 119:9-16.  These 8 verses powerfully communicate the benefit is staying in the Word and our prayer for our children.  You can memorize along with us or pick your own passage.

Step 2: Set the Parameters.

The idea is that we sponsor them x many dollars per verse memorized.  For our family, we’ve settled on $2/verse.  They will work hard this month to memorize this passage and then recite it in it’s entirety for us.

If you want to take this challenge a step further, your children can approach grandparents or other important adults in their life and see if anyone else would like to sponsor them.  The boys are hopeful to amplify their fundraising efforts this way!  If they all meet their goal and the grandparents are on board, we have the potential to raise $144!   Amanda and I have set up a dedicated page with The Seed Company for this Mission.  Our goal is to raise $1,000 towards the Bible translation efforts in the Tagasa Region {southeast Asia}.  That’s where all of you come into play!  We can’t meet this goal alone…

Step 3: Start the Dialogue

This is a great opportunity to have rich dialogue with your kids.  My kids can usually only handle a question or two at a time.  We are pretty flexible and open-ended here.  Questions to discuss could include:

  • What is poverty?
  • Why is the Bible so important?  Why would people refer to not having access to a Bible as a form of poverty? {Great video on why Bible Translation is so important}  What is the effect of this kind of poverty?}
  • How does Bible translation work?  I love these videos that showcase the need for Bible translation.  {Video: how technology is helping to accelerate the rate of translation.}
  • Pull out a couple of translations and talk about the process of translation.  You could even discuss “word-for-word” vs “thought for thought” translation.
  • Our challenge will be funding translation work in the Tagasa Cluster (an area in Southeast Asia).  Here is more information on that project in a PDF format.  We printed it off to keep it handy for discussion!  We also found this area on our globe!
Bible translators at work in Southeast Asia.  Join the challenge to speed up Bible translation.  #EndBiblePoverty

Bible translators hard at work in the Tagasa Region.

  • Encourage your kids to imagine what it would be like to read and hear the Bible read in their own language for the first time.  I cried when I saw this video of Chinese believers receiving Bibles for the first time.  Watch it as a family.

Step 4: Read it.

Once you have your passage chosen.  Read it.  Read for context.  All memory work starts with reading, listening and then repeating.

Step 5: Write it.

As you are discussing how Bible translation works, have them write the passage out.  We made booklets so that we could write out the passage on one side, illustrate it on the other and then use our books to practice.  {We’re kind of fond of “making books” by folding paper and then sewing down the middle.  The same thing could be accomplished with a stapler.}  For my kindergarten son, I wrote out the verse and simply let him illustrate each verse.  This is also a wonderful opportunity to discuss its meaning and how it applies to our lives.  Amanda is sharing some great coloring sheets too that you can use for your pre-writers or those little boys like mine who find lots of writing a bit taxing.

monthlymissionchallenge

Step 6: Say it.

Work on memorizing your verses.  Remind them that the ultimate goal is not getting done the fastest, but getting those Words down deep into our hearts for long-term impact! 

Here are a few ways to help with this.

  • Tape a copy of the passage to the dashboard in your car.  Use your driving time to work with your kids on their verses. {This is how we tackle our AWANA verses.}
  • Tape a copy on the bathroom mirror.  Review before you brush your teeth.
  • Act out the verse.
  • March and recite.  There is incredible power with linking motion to memory!
  • Try this adorable “feather game” challenge from Our Family for His Glory!

When they are ready, make it a big deal.

Step 7: SEND it!

Once they’ve met their goal and recited their passage to you, grandparents, etc go as a family to the special Monthly Mission page we have set up over at EndBiblePoverty.org.  You can make your donation there and together we can see how much we can raise!

Join the Challenge!  Have your kids memorize Scripture and raise money to help #EndBiblePoverty

Step 8: Share!

Use the hashtags #EndBiblePoverty and #MonthlyMission and share your progress with this project on social media!  If you blog about it, share your link!

If your family is going to take this mission on, let us know.  My kids would be so excited to hear about it!

 

Be sure to check out Amanda’s post on the #EndBiblePoverty Monthly Mission!

Related: Read Thru the Bible as a Family {Free Printable}

Read Through The Bible as a Family {Printable}

Embark on the grand adventure of reading through the Bible as a family!

There are a few things that I’ve felt God nudging me towards with greater urgency in recent years.  One of those is the absolute importance of the Word of God in our life.  It has the ability to teach, to encourage, to correct, to build our faith, and draw us near to the Lord.  As I look towards my young family, I want to be intentional to cultivate time where we are all saturated with the Word.

A year or so ago, I was introduced to the book, Together: Growing Appetites for God, by Desire over at When You Rise.  I’ve read through the Bible before in various ways, but had never really considered the idea of reading through the Bible as a family.  While I haven’t actually read that book yet, I was so intrigued by the idea that I went and put together a pamphlet to help us keep track of what we’ve read together as a family.  For a while we were reading a chapter every night at dinner, but then we started baseball and evenings became crazy and well, you guessed it, we sort of stopped.

But this last fall, the Lord started laying this on my heart again.  Through my interaction with The Seed Company, I was introduced to the concept of Bible Poverty.  They have a campaign to #EndBiblePoverty through raising funds to speed up the translation of Scripture into new languages.  My heart leapt.  Bible poverty.  There are whole people groups out there who don’t have access to the Bible.  They don’t even have the option of reading God’s Words in their own language.  Our family has embarked on helping to raise money for this cause.  In fact, I’ve dedicated a part of the proceeds from my ebook towards this vital ministry as well.

EndBiblePoverty

And all of this got me thinking about the Bible poverty we experience right here in America – the land where we have the freedom to worship God as we please and have easy access to the very Word of God.  We can read these life-giving words and yet the American church is more Bible illiterate now than ever.   We need to be seeped in the Word.  It feeds our soul and grows our faith.  And so I picked up our checklist again and began reading aloud.  My middle is still working through some of the used Abeka readers that we found (and I LOVE). For Xander, however, I’ve also started having him read to me straight from the Bible each day.  It is a great way for him to get good reading practice, introduces him to wonderful vocabulary and draws our hearts to the Lord throughout the day.

Free Printable for a Family Bible Reading Plan!

We’ve been talking of late about how reading the Word is like going on a treasure hunt.  The search itself is immensely satisfying and the reward is beyond comprehension.

“I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:162

So we pick it up and begin methodically pouring over the Word together.  Sometimes we pause to talk about something.  Sometimes, we get side-tracked…  In all of this, I’ve reminded myself that this is not some grand race.  While we like to see the growing number of check marks, there is no timeline on our goal to read through the Bible together as a family.  The beauty is in the journey itself.

A Subscriber BONUS!

So today, I decided to share our family checklist with all of my wonderful subscribers.  If you are looking for an easy sheet that you can tuck into your Bible and use as a guide in your family reading, be sure to subscribe to download your own checklist!

 

Read Thru Bible Card

A Beautiful Way to Develop a Christian Worldview {Free Discipleship Tool}

How to use Hidden in My Heart CD's in discipleship + a {FREE} download to help parent's bring spiritual conversations into everyday life.FYI: I received this free product & was compensated for my time in exchange for an honest review.

Hidden in My Heart – Musical Discipleship Opportunities

Oh boy, do I have a treat for you. I get asked periodically to revisit the topic of developing a Christian worldview in the early years and I’m excited to share about it again today. How do we help our young children develop a Christian worldview? What does it mean to have a worldview? In a nutshell, it is having a biblical framework through which to filter every thought and subsequently any outward action. As our children get older, we can be more intentional about doing this in a systematic way. But in the early years especially {and really at any age}, it is best done in a natural integrated way. One of the most powerful ways to equip our children to walk with Christ and view all of life through this lens is to model it for them and to draw them to the Word. We need to be saturated with the Word so that the Spirit can bring those truths to mind when we need them most. We need to be able to live out what we believe.

I’ve found these 3 elements vital in my own upbringing and in the way that we are living out and passing on our faith as a family:

1. Saturate them in the Word.

2. Talk about these truths.

3. Apply them in real life situations.

Saturate them in the Word

I can’t emphasize the importance of being in the Word. In a world where we are assaulted with lies all day about who we are, who God is and the seduction of sin, we need to be saturated in the Word.

One way to do that is through music. I’ve always loved Scripture set to song and have a whole collection of CD’s that I’ve accumulated over the years.  But none are as beautiful and powerful as my most recent find. We’ve been playing the Hidden in My Heart {a lullaby journey through Scripture}CD’s in our home for the last month or so and loving it. There are currently two volumes out, but a third will be released soon.  Most other CD’s that I have are passages from one translation set to song. Sometimes it works well and other times they are musically a little awkward. Hidden in My Heart utilizes several different translations to weave together songs that are both scripturally sound, but also still lyrical. We’ve been listening to them in our home at two distinct times of day:

1. At Bedtime. They are peaceful and calming. The scripture passages that were chosen speak truth to young minds as they wind down and go to sleep. The brain continues the process of internalizing these truths even after they fall asleep. I love how this arms them with truth before falling asleep. One of my boys has had a problem with nightmares and we’ve worked with him on praying and asking God to give him peace and remove fear when that happens. It has made a dramatic difference when he invites the Holy Spirit to wage these battles on his behalf.

2. During the Arsenic Hour. It can get a bit hairy around my home during that period when I’m making dinner. Sometimes, the boys just need to be booted outdoors. But other times, we just need to calm down. This works beautifully to calm everyone during this time and encourages my soul while I prepare dinner. {That’s right, mom needs this too!}

The more we can saturate our minds and our heart with the TRUTH, the more the Holy Spirit can bring that truth to mind to combat those lies we hear day in and day out.

Talk About These Truths

We need to not only be bringing Truth to our children, but we need to talk to them about it. Remember that passage in Deuteronomy that tells us to talk about the Word with our children as we walk along the road as we sit down and as we stand up? Yes, we need to be talking to them about the Lord – who He is, who we are – either apart from Him or tucked in with Him. And we need to be talking about God’s plan for our lives and how Scripture guides us in our day-to-day living for Him.

Apply and LIVE OUT these Truths

As we sing these songs, or read Scripture, we need to be talking with our children about what they mean.

We need to take these abstract truths and help our kids apply them to REAL life situations. There are so many out there that know the truth, but have no idea how to apply it to their life. What are we to do when we feel unsettled, when our minds are full of noise? What do we do when we are stressed, worried or sad? How are we to live this rich life that God has in store for us? What role does God actively play in our daily lives? These are things we need to be thinking about, connecting in our own lives and helping our children navigate through.

Free parenting tool download to help you talk with your children about living out our faith in everyday life that goes along with the Hidden in My Heart scripture lullaby cd's!

I put together a special resource to help you use these beautiful scripture passages as a starting point to having spiritual conversations with your kids.   This printable download has talking points and conversation starters to help your kids apply the Word to everyday life based on the songs from Volume 1 of the Hidden in My Heart series.

Be sure to hop on over and visit the Hidden in My Heart website. You’ll find samples of all the songs and information on how to buy one or all 3 of them.

You can connect with them on facebook, twitter and youtube.

And because it is the season of giving, I have a super sweet giveaway for you. Enter the rafflecopter widget below for a chance to win one of two Scripture lullaby CD of your choice.  Just let me know if you’d pick Volume 1 or Volume 2. The giveaway is open to those over 18 and they will ship outside of the U.S too!  Giveaway ends December 6th.  The winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email to claim their prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

While I received this product for review, I’m incredibly picky and only select items that I want to use within my own family and feel will benefit you in your pursuit of intentional parenting and inspired learning! Read my full disclosure here.