Give them Grace: A Book Review

As a mom of two little boys I am constantly thinking about the right way to handle discipline.  I was really challenged by this book by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson called Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus.  These women challenged my idea of what it s to be a Christian Parent.  So many times we think that if our kids behave or are “good” that we have done our duty as a mom.  Behavior is the goal.  This is no better than just moralistic parenting.  Even a Non-Christian can parent this way.  So what makes our parenting different?  A Christian Parent needs to “tether every aspect of our parenting to the gospel message.”  Fitzpatrick & Thompson challenge us to look at the Foundation of Grace that has been given to us.  Then they proceed to Part two of the book which is about the Evidences of Grace.  In part two I began to see the practical side of what they were saying.    They introduce 5 simple words for us to take with us as we parent:  Manage, Nurture, Train, Correct, and Promise.  Each word represents an obligation we have to raise our children “in the Lord”.  I love this quote from the book, “…just managing our children without giving them gospel truth never fulfills our entire obligation, may times that’s all we’ve got time and energy for.  Yes, there are plenty of times that simply call for managing a situation, but management is only one of our responsibilities.”

This book was an excellent call to what the focus of parenting should be.  The Gospel needs to be the forefront of all our parenting decisions.  The end of the book has some charts that bring up common discipline areas and show you how to see the Gospel in them.  This book is a wealth of information and I might need to read this yearly just to remind myself that it is God who will change my children’s hearts not me.  “Seeking to be faithfully obedient parents is our responsibility; granting faith to our children is his.”  I quickly forget the gospel and slip into methods of parenting that are moralistic or behavior driven.  Grace transforms our parenting because it makes our sin immense in our eyes.

Lord, help me to focus on the Gospel in my parenting and dazzle my kids with your grace.

Dr. Seuss 1st Birthday

Hard to believe my little Owen is one!  This year has been crazy and I’m glad it is over.  What better way to celebrate that with a party and a little creativity.  I decided on the Dr. Seuss theme because my Mother-in-law gave it as a suggestion.  Once I saw everything I could do, I was hooked!  Here are some of the Decorations:

It was so much fun!  He loved the cupcakes!

We couldn’t have had a better time.  I am so very thankful for my Baby O!

BFIAR: Runaway Bunny

This week Conner and I did not get to do a lot of “school”.   We had our cousin in town from MI and spend many fun days at the beach and hanging out/playing with my sister and her family!  It was a great week.  We did however get to spend a few days on Runaway Bunny.  I was able to teach the preschool class at my church.

At the class we began by making bunny ears for each child to wear during the class.

We read the story and then learned about God’s everlasting love for us. (Jeremiah 31:3).

We sang the song “Did you ever see a Bunny?”  and acted it out with our finger puppets I made out of pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and pompoms.  The kids loved them!  We also practiced some sequencing with strips of bunny patterns to match.

We then reviewed the story and talked about the words “If” and “Then”.  The students matched the correct “If” to the “Then” in the story. (Conner and I reviewed this activity at home.)

We then moved into our craft time where we made “Boo Boo Bunnies” for the kids to take home.  They were so cute!

Finished it off with “Bunny Salad”!  What a yummy good looking snack.


At Home Conner and I matched Bunny’s silhouettes.  Conner was very Fast!  We then added more animals to our Animal Classification Chart.

 

 

We also talked about different type of circles and made our Lapbook!  It was a great time!

Next Time: The Carrot Seed

BFIAR: Goodnight Moon

I just finished our first week of “Rowing”.  Conner and I did Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.  It was a really fun week!  We started by reading the book.  We talked about the different colors in the book and pointed them out.  We then colored a page of balloons all the colors we found in the story.

I am also leading a preschool group in the BFIAR activities at our church every-other Thursday.  We had our first “class” where we hung red felt mittens (that I had cut out before hand) with clothes pins on a drying rack just like the picture in the book.  The kids had a blast taking turns hanging their mittens.  We then talked about the phases of the moon.  I had made moon wheels and I handed them out to the kids and we talked about how the moon looks different sometimes, but it still is the moon.

We then moved into the craft room and made moon & star mobiles to hang in the kids bedrooms.  Conner’s turned out great!

We then had snack time!  I had cut out circles in swiss cheese and then placed them on Ritz crackers.  I then made “mush” using cornmeal a little bit of salt and some water.  (I found a microwave recipe that was perfect!)  The kids had fun trying the mush.  A lot of them liked it!


We ended the day playing on the playground.  Each child was able to leave with a red balloon!

At home we talked about what a circle was.  We Identified 8 different items that were circles and pasted them into a circle.  It was fun!

           

We then talked about Rhyming words and the poem “Hey Diddle Diddle”.  We created a book and read it through a bunch of times.

Another Activity we did was remembering what we said “Goodnight” to in the book.  We created two pockets one for things we said “Goodnight” to and the other for the rest of the pictures.  I had Conner tell me if we said “Goodnight” to the item in the picture and place them in the correct pocket.  He did ok. (3 wrong)

Overall we had a great time with Goodnight Moon!  I’m excited to see him rembering things from the book and singing our Bible Verse all week long:  Psalm 136:3, 7-9

“O give thanks to the Lord…that made great lights…sun…by day…moon and stars….by night.”

(Tune of: If your happy and you know it.)

Next week: The Runaway Bunny!

Before Five in A Row

I am excited about a “curriculum” I am going to be doing this fall with my 2 1/2 year old Conner.  It is called Before Five in a Row.  The concept of Five in a Row (FIAR) is to read a story once a day, for five days, and each day look at the story through a different topic or concept.  The teacher’s guide is full of activities to do wit your 2-4 year old child!  I have been getting together all the materials I need and will be starting the first week of September.  I hope to share photos and ideas each week on this blog for anyone who wants to follow along.

Rest

My family and I are currently on vacation visiting my husbands family in Florida.  Before I left, many people encouraged me to rest.  It has been a tough few months for our family both physically (sickness & medical bills) and spiritually (overwhelmed & questioning).  We definitely needed some time to connect again as a family and a period of rest.  My initial thought to the encouragement I received to rest was, How do I get rest with a toddler and a 5 month old little boy?  There is nothing restful about being a mom because you can’t take vacation from that job. I failed to realize that this type of rest is not really what I needed.  I needed to recognize the rest found in Christ.

Hebrews 3 and 4 speak of a Sabbath Rest that is available to God’s people.  In chapter 3 vs. 19-4 vs. 1 it says, “So we see that they (generation of Israel that died in the Wilderness Wondering) were unable to enter because of unbelief.  Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”  The writer of Hebrews continues by drawing a parallel to God finishing his work of creation and then resting on the 7th day to our Sabbath rest.  Vs. 6 of chapter 4 restates the conclusion of vs. 2-5 that the good news advances this point by suggesting that today, a Christian has the possibility of entering even now in a partial way into the end-time “rest” and blessing that the Exodus generation missed.  God’s rest centered upon recognizing that this work in creation was now completed; Christians enter into his rest through recognizing that Christ’s work of redeeming them from sin has also been completed.  The promise of entering now into this rest means ceasing from the spiritual strivings that reflect uncertainty about one’s final destiny.  In light of this idea, we should “strive to enter that rest” (4:11).  The writer of Hebrews is not emphasizing good works, but the emphasis is put on on Jesus’ sacrifice and anything believers can do to please God comes from his working in them.  The opposite of perseverance is disobedience, the sin of the faithless Exodus generation.  Oh how I am like that generation that struggles with unbelief!  I continue to doubt that God loves me and feel that he is punishing me instead.  When times get difficult, I question God’s love and sacrifice.  My thoughts are filled with doubt of His plan being the best for me and that he will take care of me and my family.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession…Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (4:14,16)

“Lord, forgive me for constantly doubting your love and sacrifice.  I struggle with seeing and believing that your will is what is best for me.  I repent of thinking my way is the best and my anger when you don’t follow my plan.  Help me to draw near to your throne of grace.  Give me mercy and grace during this time.  Lord, help me release my guilt over failing and my shame.  Help me to rest in the fact that your sacrifice on the cross is sufficient for all my sin.  Help me not to once again try more, but to rest in your work on the cross. Thank you for taking care of me and drawing me to you.  Lord I believe in you, help me with my unbelief.”

Jael: Judges 4 & 5

This summer at my church we are going through the Bad Girls of the Bible.  I was asked to pick one and prepare an hour study on her.  I decided on Jael and began to study and prepare.  This PowerPoint was what came out of it:

Jael: Judges 4 & 5

Here is a little of what was said:

The book of Judges is where we find the story of Jael.  Judges is a book that follows a cycle of events that first gets introduced in Chapter 2.  Here is the Cycle of Judges:
1. Israel does evil
2. Israel is given/sold into the hands of oppressors.
3. Israel cries out to God
4. God raises up a deliverer
5. Oppressor is subdued
6. The Land has “rest”
aka:  Apostacy, Servitude, Supplication, Salvation
It is important to understand this cycle in light of our story.

BACKGROUND TO STORY OF JAEL:
Judges Chapter 4 is a story which women take the lead in Israel’s defeat of God’s Enemies.  It begins with a man named Jabin, the King of Canaan in power and ends with his extinction.
Chapter 4: 1-10
vs. 1 People Did what was Evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud
vs. 2 Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin
vs. 3 The people cried out to the Lord
vs. 4 God raises up Deborah
vs. 5-24 Jabin is subdued/destroyed
Chapter 5- Celebration of Rest for 40 years.

It is important to see where we fall in the cycle in our story.
We are going to focus on Chapter 4:5 – Chapter 5.  Israel is under the reign of Jabin King of Canaan.  Sisera is his commander.  God raises up Deborah as the Judge.  She is called a prophetess and a judge.  Deborah commands a man, Barak, who is the general for Israel’s army.  Barak acts like a coward even though he is a military leader.  Barak received a command by God, but was scared to obey.  Barak asks Deborah to go with him.  Then in vs. 9 Deborah makes a prophecy:  “I will surely go with you.  Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”  This is the first taste of Jael.  Although she is not mentioned by name she is going to be the fulfillment of Deborah’s prophecy.

We are then introduced to another character, Heber.  Heber is Jael’s husband.  Heber and Jabin are peaceful.  We are then drawn back into the fight.  Barak & Deborah lead Israel to fight against Sisera. Barak has the Lord on his side and wins in the battles. (vs. 12-16)  Sisera flees to the tent of Jael b/c he thought it was a safe place. (vs. 17)

Now the story gets good!   Jael comes out and greets Sisera and invites him in. (vs. 18)  Jael treats him like a mother.  She covers him with a rug- probably some sort of skin.  Sisera asks for water, but Jael gives him milk in a very expensive cup. (Chapter 5 shows that)  Sisera tries to gain control by giving her a command to stay at the enterance of the tent and tell anyone who asks that no one is here.  How ironic that he says No one because he turns out to be a nobody.  (vs. 20)  While Sisera sleeps in her tent, Jael takes a tent peg and hammer and pounds it into his temple.  She must have been super strong!  This action took resourcefulness (tent peg and hammer) and courage (a powerful General) to slay Sisera.  Sisera Dies.

Barak comes chasing after Sisera.  Once again Jael goes out and greets a man.  She takes him in to see Sisera.  Barak probably thinks that she has tied him up, but no, he is dead by the hand of a women.  Vs. 23 &24  “So on that day God subdued Jabin the King of Canaan before the people of Israel.”  This act of killing Sisera was the big defeat.

Judges 5: 23-27 also speaks of this event.  I absolutely love this poetry.  In Hebrew poetry we have contrasts.  This is what we see set up in vs.. 23 and 24-28.  Deborah contrats Meroz with Jael.  Meroz represents those Israelites who have taken their stand on the side of the Canaanites; Jael represents those non-Israelites who have taken their stand on the side of Israel.  Meroz is cursed because they did not fight for God and Jael is blessed for her courageous act to bring down mighty Sisera.  What a great picture of the Gospel.  We would think that Israel would get the blessing, but instead we see Jael, a non-Israelite, receiving the blessing.  Just as it is in our lives.  Blessing  should have been given to Christ and we should have been cursed, but instead Christ became cursed for us and we get the blessing of Christ’s righteousness!  This point challenged my heart so much.

Jael Had many reasons not to get involved.  She was unrelated related to the warring parties, she had her tent-dwelling duties, and acts of war were considered a man’s job.  Despite these facts, Jael fought on the side of the Lord! She risked  everything to execute the enemy of God and to aid God’s people.  She is similar to Ehud (Judges 3:12-30)  (FYI: Lack of plot complication in the Ehud story & Jael’s indicate that God is in control over events in the story.)  She is similar to Rahab (Joshua 2).  Jael risked her life contrasted to the Israelite tribes who stayed at home to play safe.  Sisera was an evil man.  Judges 5:28-31 give the picture of Sisera’s Mother.  He was an evil man who treated women crudely, but was killed by a woman.  Jael did not stay uncommitted & simply a good hostess.  She could have.  Instead she chose to fight for the Lord against the mighty.  The Lord expects his people to participate in the advancement of his kingdom.

Deuteronomy 7:9-10 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.  But those who hat him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.”

“Often God uses the weaker things of this world to confound the wise.  Certainly in using Deborah to raise up Barak and in using Jael to bring down mighty Sisera.  God wants to use us, we need to be willing.  We may not feel adequate to the task.  We may feel that because of our past, God cannot use us.  We may feel un-gifted in what he is calling us to do.  When we do not trust God in these contexts, we lose out on the opportunity for God to work through us. ”

Am I step out of my comfortable service and further God’s Kingdom?  What are some areas we can help advance the kingdom of God?  Will we be like Jael and fight for God?  Jael was used by God to accomplish His WILL.
Christianity is not a spectator sport; it requires involvement. 

Praise the Lord he has given us the blessing of Christ Jesus when we deserve curses.  That kind of love should drive us to involvement in what He has called us to do.

New Baby Gear for Owen

So I have gotten some new baby gear that I just love!  I thought I would show it off on my blog for any new mommies that care. Here they are!

               1.  Hugamonkey Sling:

This sling has been an arm-saver.  It is very comfortable and lightweight.  The “stone” color is great because it goes with everything!  The fabric is light and is great for the warm weather we get here in SC.  It is one piece of fabric that requires no folding!  I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use.  The videos on the website are extremely helpful, but cheezy.  My favorite thing is that it is small enough to fit in my purse and pull out if I need it.  That is extremely helpful for when I’m on the go.  Almost all Hugamonkey slings run for around $30.00.  That was the best price around for slings.

 

2. Kidco, Inc. PeaPod 101:

This is a really neat baby product.  My husband and I are planning on a trip to Virginia Beach for the General Assembly of the PCA.  We needed something small to fit in our car (we only drive a Chevy HHR) for baby Owen to sleep in.  I also wanted something I could take to the beach to block the UV rays for the baby.  This was a great 2 in 1 solution.  I actually bought it off of Amazon for around $50.00 and free shipping. (Amazon Prime Membership)  It is really easy to unfold, in fact it opened up so fast it knocked Justin off his feet. 🙂  It also folds up and fits in a small circular bag and weighs less than 5 lbs.  It is really a great item for any mom with a little one who is traveling.  I have a feeling that this is a great investment.  I can’t wait to use it!

And Finally…. this product might be my favorite!

3. Summer Infant Swaddling blanket:

I have always loved to swaddle my boys.  It gives them a signal that tells then it is time to go to sleep.  This works great for nap-time and especially nighttime.  I have always used receiving blankets.  They work fine up until a certain point.  Owen is now “magically” getting out of the blanket swaddle.  I began looking for a solution and came to this product.   Summer Infant has a great product.  It is super easy to use.  The velcro makes it hard for the baby to wiggle out of the blanket.  This is very different to a normal blanket that many babies can magically get out of.  They have many different colors and styles to choose from.   I got both a Small/Medium and a Large because they were buy one get one 50% off at Toys R Us this weekend. I think they are normally priced around $12.00.   So far, Owen has taken a great nap in them!  Maybe this will be the trick to getting him to sleep through the night.  🙂

Cell #1035 aka: Blessings through Raindrops

What a crazy few weeks this has been!  I have felt the feeling of being trapped by my circumstances over the last few weeks.  Recently I was admitted into a hospital and given the room #1035 as my home away from home.  This room became a symbol for the feelings that were inside my heart as I wrestled with God’s plan for my life.

Here is the story:

As some of you know, I was “down for the count” with back pain on Tuesday, March 26th.  I had lifted my 2 1/2 year old son Conner out of the car and pulled a muscle in my back.  I was in such extreme pain that I went into the emergency room where they took one look at me and gave me dilaudid pain medication.  It took the pain away and so they sent me home with a prescription for more pain medicine and told me to rest.  If you know me, I do not “rest” very well.  My back continued to hurt and I began to feel overwhelmed by caring for my toddler son and my 3 week old baby.  My church family rallied around me and came to help, but inside I felt betrayed by my body (and ultimately God).  I wanted to take care of my children.  I wanted to make my house look clean when people came to see the baby.  I wanted to be in control of what was accomplished for the day.  My back would not allow for this.

A few days later, on April 2nd,  I had some more pain in my back but this time it wrapped around to the front.  I took 2 of the pain killers the Dr. had prescribed and waited for the relief.  It never came.  I continued to hurt till finally I turned to my husband and said, “Something is not right.  You need to take me to the emergency room again.”  We quickly found someone to come watch the boys and made our way back to the emergency room.  Inside I was so frustrated.  Why is this happening?  Why can’t I be at home enjoying these first few weeks with my baby?  Why can’t my body behave?  Once again the Dr. saw I was in pain and gave me dilaudid and told me that they thought that the problem was my gallbladder.  I needed to go check into the other hospital emergency room so I could have an ultrasound to check for gallstones.  So, my husband and I headed to the (other) hospital and checked in.  We waited for the ultrasound and sure enough.  The ER Dr. told me that I was “chucked full of gallstones.”  We were then transferred to a different ER room and the surgeon came in and told me that I would probably need to have 2 surgerys.  One to clean out the bile duct of any stones and then they would have to remove my gallbladder.  Needless to say, I was going to be admitted into the hospital.

Saturday night we were told the GI Dr. would be in on Sunday and would talk to us about doing an ERCP to remove the stone from my bile duct and once that was done, we would get my gallbladder out and I could maybe be home by Tuesday afternoon/night.  Justin made a trip home to grab some essentials and then stayed the night with me in my room.  My levels went down over night and I had some relief from the pain.  The GI doctor after looking at my levels thought I passed the stone and wanted to do a less invasive MRI/MCP to check out the bile duct for a stone.  This test could only be done on the weekdays so, it was scheduled for Monday.  We prayed the scan would show no stone and then I could have my gallbladder out on Monday and be on my way.  Monday morning I went for the MRI and no stone could be detected so, I got my gallbladder taken out.  Monday night was horrible.  I was in a lot of pain and the morphine that was prescribed for me was not helping.  I woke up Tuesday having slept very little and had my levels checked.  They had not gone down.  This indicated that in fact there was a stone in my bile duct and so, Wednesday I was going to have the ERCP to remove the stone.  I was mad.  “NO!”  I thought we said it was clear.  This was extremely disappointing to me.  I would have to stay for 2 more days in the hospital.  I never dreamed when I told Justin to take me in on Saturday that I would still be in the hospital that Thursday.

Everything went well with the surgery and I was released Thursday afternoon to be checked in a week.  I went home and saw my boys.  I missed them so much.  I cried and cried.  I was still sore and needed to rest, but I was home.

God’s merciful hand doesn’t always seem merciful when we look at our circumstances.  The singer/songwriter Laura Story has a song called “Blessings.”  Here is a Video &  the Lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It’s not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Laura Story beautifully brings out an idea that I needed to be reminded of:  God’s ways are higher than my ways.  He loves me and is blessing me even through what feels like a storm.  Through my tears (and even pain), sleepless nights (with a newborn & in the hospital),  greatest disappointments (not being home with my boys, house a wreck) are the ways that he is reminding me to be dependent on HIM.  These trials of life are truly His mercies in disguise.  They draw me to him.  They remind me that I cannot do this life on my own, I need his grace and love.

Lord, I am prone to wander.  I feel it everyday.  I am prone to leave you, the God I Love.  Please take my heart.  Take and seal it.  Seal it for Thy courts above.  I cannot do it.  It must be you.  Lord, here’s my heart.

Holding Baby Owen

Owen Augustine Woodall.  Born on March 9, 2011.  6 lbs  14 oz   19 inches long.

Psalm 139: 13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

The birth of my second son, Owen, was an incredibility different experience for me.  My 1st delivery was long, painful, and the recovery felt like forever.  Owen’s delivery was the exact opposite.  It was short, not as painful :), and I am feeling great already.  As Psalm 139 states, every moment of Owen’s life is formed by God.  As I sit and rock Owen I find myself praying for him and the struggles that might be ahead for him.  I pray for his relationship with his older brother Conner, for his elementary school days and the dreaded middle school days.  I pray for his high school friends, his dating relationships, and his wife.  Each time of prayer begins with stress about what might come, but then I end remembering that God is the one who ordained his days and He is the one that holds Owen’s life in His hands; Even if I am holding him in mine right now.  Jesus Loves you baby Owen and so does your mama.

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