Made to create

Something I have noticed about children is that they are instinctively creative. They like to do things like color, draw, paint, sing, dance, make messes, invent new tools or contraptions, and pretend millions of different world and games.

Why is that?

I think it’s because children don’t feel the pressure to impress, they just do what gives them joy.

My son builds machines, monsters, and robots with his Duplos for hours, simply because he likes to build and loves to show me what he makes. He just learned a new skill of drawing faces, and he loves to draw “silly” faces. Future comedian on our hands I’m telling you.

My middle daughter sings, and sings… and sings… and sings. There are very few moments of the day when she is not singing. She simply loves to do it. She also loves to play pretend with whatever is in her hands at any given moment. From pretending her grapes are those infamous monkeys jumping on the bed, to dancing her Moana doll across the coffee table. Her new favorite pretend game is pretending our couch is a ship, which is sinking and they must stop it! (She’s got a flair for the dramatic, for sure.)

Even the baby is in on the scheme. Play any song, and she’s bouncing to the beat in an instant. Sometimes she will even coo along with you if you sing to her.

Children do what they like to do. They do what brings them joy.

I’m not sure when, but somewhere along the way, adults lose this ability to just do creative things we love. Adults feel the need to qualify why we do anything to see whether it’s worth doing. On top of that, adults add an (often) unachievable standard of quality required for this creative endeavor to be worth our time.

When we add these qualifiers on to creativity, we limit what it can be and we belittle the one who made us creative.

First, creativity is expressed whenever something is made and there is enjoyment when making it. So, this would include things like writing, cooking, drawing, decorating, singing, playing an instrument, any visual art, dancing, and much, muuuuuch more.

Second is an element that I call a “shared experience”. What I mean is that thing is made and enjoyed, is also shared with someone else (whether they are a “fellow creative” or are an “audience”). Part of the joy in making is sharing. Experiencing art at a museum, a home cooked meal, a music recital, a “Pinterest-worthy” party, or a theatrical production are intended to connect people and for people to enjoy.

Now, we experience and do creative things imperfectly. When does a great artist know when he’s finished, or does it need one more dab of paint? Is a musician ever satisfied that their performance was excellent, or could this one portion have been played better? Did the audience respond as predicted in the play, or was there a disconnect? You see what I mean, it’s never perfect, but this is what leads me to my third point about creativity because it answers this question: Where does creativity come from?

Third is that creativity comes from God. Take a look a Genesis chapter 1 for a reference here. God created the universe. From whence there was nothing, God spoke, and everything came. This point, that creativity comes from God, also gives support and reason for my first two points. We know that God enjoys his creation, because he doesn’t need it! He was complete, the Trinity was perfect in relationship and love and purpose without us. He chose to make the universe anyway, and he made it intricate and beautiful. You don’t make things detailed and beautiful unless you like it.

More than that, God called it good. Now, this word doesn’t just mean well done, or wholesome, or the opposite of bad, it also means complete. When God spoke the universe into being he did it perfectly, completely, without leaving anything out on the very first attempt.

Of all the creatures and matter in the universe only humanity is created to be like God. This is why we are creative creatures, and why every human is creative, because we are all made in his image.

So, what do you do that is creative? How are you imaging your maker?
It’s doesn’t have to be anything formal, or “crafty”, but think about it. What do you make that you enjoy making?

As always, all for His Glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Advertisements

Beginning Slow – home education

It’s officially August, and my son turns 4 at the end of the month. (Cue heart swelling, and tears!)

Like really?! Oh my goodness, I love this boy, and he is growing so fast!

My son is suddenly getting really interested in books, building with Legos, and he always gets excited about anything to do with numbers, sorting, or patterns (i.e. basic math concepts!).

So, this week, despite me having a cold, we unofficially started homeschooling (unofficially, because he is not even old enough for TK).

It’s super basic, easy to do, no curriculum, and takes maybe 15 minutes to “do school”. With a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old, so this is about as much as I can handle.

I don’t know if homeschooling is what we will be doing for all of our education years. We will take it one year at a time!
Although, I will say, my husband is a huge fan of homeschooling.
At the same time, he’s at work all day and won’t be the one really teaching.
So, we will see!

For now, this is our little routine:

  • Bible story: currently reading the Jesus Storybook Bible.
  • Alphabet flashcards (literally 3×5 cards that I wrote the alphabet on): we just go through and say the letter’s name and the sound it makes (short vowel sounds right now). He’s already got about 80% of the alphabet memorized!
  • Read, read, read!
  • Counting: cars, Legos, fingers, toes, crayons, shopping carts, trash trucks, everything!
  • Bible verses: I have verses written down, and in a frame on our dining room table. They can’t read it, but seeing it and hearing it read over and over basically helps them memorize. I don’t have a schedule of what verses and how long it should take us or whatever. I just pick a verse that fits our lives at the moment and we work on it until it’s memorized, then I pick new ones.

Ta da!
That’s all we are doing. I try to do most of that in the morning, and maybe a little in the afternoon (all the kids nap from about 1-3pm).

Sincerely,
This reluctant homeschool mom!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Library Review: Why Read?

I just got my very own library card! Woot woot!
I had one years ago as a kid, but it’s easily been over a decade since I’ve perused the shelves of my local library for literary treasures, and now I have three kids who all love books (although the youngest mostly likes to chew on them).

We picked some gems on our first outing to the local library, but I have to say, my kids’ tastes in books differ wildly from my own. Maybe they take after Daddy? Maybe they are just little? Who knows!

Here are the favorites from our first trip:

These were the instant favorites. Cute and funny! Both kids loved the Mo Willems book, my daughter loved the Olivia book, and my son loved Goose Needs A Hug.
These were the crowd pleasers. Everyone liked something about these two books, even baby Kristie!
This was by far the kids favorite book! They almost had it memorized by the time it was due! We even looked up videos of the real life sounds these animals make.

I love good books, I love to read, and I love to learn. Good books are a great step to having life long readers, and life long learners. My son is just learning the beginnings of letter sounds and that when you put those letter sounds together, you get words! He thinks it’s fascinating.

I don’t just think reading is important because I’m a mom, nor because I’m a teacher at heart (I did major in education). As a Christian, reading is crucial. Jesus is called The Word in John chapter 1. God has communicated through a book, the Bible. Reading is, quite literally, life and death.

My kids are just figuring out this truth. They see how our family prioritizes reading God’s Word most of all. They see me read my Bible everyday. We take the time to read The Big Picture Story Bible at dinner. We have Bible verses written out that we read and memorize together.

It’s important.

Read for God’s Glory, friends. Even when your reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? for the fiftieth time that day. ūüôā

Soli Deo Gloria

When the rain comes

These few months of “winter” here in southern California have proven to be a struggle for me and my kids. Between cold viruses and rainy days, we have been inside more than I would like.

Looking to Valentine’s day, I see more rain on the way, and I am super tempted to pout and complain.

Again? Really? Lord, do you know how hard it is to have three kids 3 and under in a two bedroom apartment? And now we can’t even go outside? I just know they are going to act out.

I’m tempted to not believe that God is good.
I’m tempted to not believe that God is sovereignly providing for me.
I’m tempted to not believe that God’s grace.
But! God is good. God is sovereignly providing. God is abundantly gracious!

Our Rainy/Valentine’s Day Plan:

1. “Mommy, let’s make a sheep.” My son has been asking this for a week, and I have been putting it off. He knows all the materials we need, I already checked, and we have all of them.

Sheep craft – materials:

  • Sheet of paper
  • Cotton balls
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Markers

2. I received an email from Education.com asking if I would be interested in sharing a Valentine’s day word tracer worksheet on my blog.

Here’s a note from those at Education.com :

Celebrate friendship all month long as you practice your writing skills with this Valentine word tracer. The fun can continue at Education.com with more learning activities.

Education.com has a ton of resources and ideas on Pinterest as well!

God provides! Usually in unexpected ways from unexpected sources.

When it rains or snows, even when we doubt, even when we disobey, God is still good, sovereign, gracious, and steadfastly faithful to love us.
God is the perfect Valentine.
Sounds a little cheesy, but it is in essence true!
God not only loves perfectly, God is love.

Be reminded of this sweet truth, friends, as I remind my own heart.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Anxiety, the gospel, and potty training

Today is Day One of potty training for me and my son. He’s 3 and 1/2. He’s plenty ready, but I’m a nervous wreck.

Why am I so anxious about potty training? I have 3 kids: a 3-and-1/2-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 2-month-old. All are (obviously) in diapers. You’d think I’d be ecstatic about getting one if them out of diapers!
But I’m not.
I’ve been dragging my feet.
I’m forcing myself to do this.

You wouldn’t guess it looking at me! (Unless you’re my mom, or my hubby, or my sister ūüėČ) I grew up performing, so I know how to “fake it ’til you make it”! On the outside: I’m excited, motivated, encouraging, and confident. All for my son’s sake!

On the inside: I’m nervous that I’ll fail. I’m afraid my son will have a bad experience, and be upset with me. I’m sad my baby is growing up! I’m also excited my baby is growing up! (The inner turmoil of a mom, right?!)

He’s my only son (so far ūüėČ). He’s my first born. He’s the spitting image of my husband. I’m in a constant struggle between wanting him to become a grown, godly man, just like his daddy, and wanting to hold him forever. ūüíú

I think he’s barely a year old in this, maybe not even a year yet! Oh, be still my heart!

Potty training is just bringing all my anxieties and fears to the surface, I think. They were there the whole time, but didn’t have a chance to really show themselves. The heat is bearing down now!

I see my heart’s tendency, to be anxious, so today I am clinging (with all my might) to God’s grace, because I need it!

These are the Truths I am holding fast to:

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:13

This should be the theme verse for all of babyhood and toddlerhood. So much of parenting at this stage is preparing ourselves for intense action! Midnight feedings, continual diaper changes, tantrums, potty training… the list goes on. These are all activities that require immediate action and continual readiness to jump right in! I love that this verse points to the future, to what is ultimate: Christ’s return, when all things will be made right. I need this reminder when I’m in the thick of things with my little ones. Especially today with our new adventure in potty training.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

This is my go-to verse in my current stage of life. What a comfort this verse is! The promises here are so rich!

  • God’s love is steadfast.
  • God mercy is renewed for us each dawn.
  • God’s mercy is never ending.
  • God is always faithful.

These promises also highlight the reality that we are broken people and are none of these things.

  • Our love is fickle and short lived.
  • Our patience wears thin, and we are harsh rather than merciful.
  • Our mercy ends, or fails to even show up.
  • Our short term memory, and frail frame make us a faithless people.

BUT GOD!

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved-“
Ephesians 2:4-5

I am holding fast to the gospel!

Mommies need the gospel. We need it in our hearts and minds everyday. It’s incredibly practical! Because it puts every diaper change into perspective.

Let me say it again, not just for you, reader, but mostly for my own heart:

The Good News that we are sinners saved from punishment and death through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, paying an eternal debt to an eternal God that we cannot pay, and saved to life “together with Christ” as Ephesians puts it, now in this earthly life by the ministry of the Spirit, and forever for eternity in heaven through Jesus with God the Father, makes the mundane tasks of each day not just worth it, but I am also able to glorify God in them because his Spirit enables me to serve others and God rather than my sinful self.

Read that again. and again. and again.

Remind yourself (and myself) everyday of this reality, believer. This is your reality. This is your life. This is why you can say “no” to being anxious, and “yes” to trusting in God in all things.

But before you or I begin to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, or wash our face and put on the make-up of self-righteousness, let’s take a look at Scripture verses that tell us how we say “no” to anxiety, and “yes” to trusting God.

1. God is, powerfully, at work in us

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:6

2. God has given us instructions

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17

3. God has given us a family. Don’t go it alone.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-26

Reading to his 2-month-old baby sister. He loves his sisters sooooo much!

Let me conclude with this:
I am anxious about potty training. It is a challenge!
Parenting is hard! Having three kids as young and as close in age as I do, IS HARD!
But! God is in control. God is good. God is faithful. And, God is with me.

Deep breath.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.”
Psalm 28:7

Soli Deo Gloria

When Mommy Says “Yes” But Daddy Says “No” – Teaching Authority in the Family

“Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself it’s Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their own husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that in he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without sport of wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church because we are members of his body.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

Ephesians 5:22-6:1 (emphasis added)

 

If you glazed over that Scripture passage, I urge you to stop and read it again. Really read it, and take in the significance of those sections I italicized.

This topic of authority, and family structure can be difficult, especially for women, and even more so for the culture at large. Here’s why I bring it up: It is massively theological, Christological, and so vital to our practical day-to-day living. Don’t believe me? Here’s a real life story of this biblical truth coming into play in our family, and a beautiful moment God gave me to teach my son about submitting to my husband’s authority.

 

The story:

My son loves to show off his physical abilities. He’s three, so it usually consists of how fast he can run, or how far he can jump, or how high he can climb and then jump, or how well he can throw and catch a ball. This day, it was how well he can jump off of something, anything, in our house. First, it was the arm of the couch. I told him no. Second, he tried jumping off my favorite comfy chair, which is situated up against our front windows. I told him no, again. Third, he got up on the piano bench and looked at me with that question in his eyes, “Is this a no too mom?”. I told him that one was ok. His sister was out of the way, and there was nothing that he could hurt himself on if he landed weird, just clear floor. He was very proud of himself, and insisted I watch every jump off the bench.

Then, my husband came home. I went to finished getting dinner prepped. I hear my son say with delight, “Daddy, watch me!”. Daddy responded with, “Oh, no, buddy not off the bench.” Instantly, my son is crushed and starts bawling. My husband is confused at why he’s so upset. He tries to pick up our son to explain to him that Daddy didn’t think it was safe, because the bench creaks and wiggles a bit too much for that activity. Our son would not even listen, but insisted, “I need Mommy!”

Alright, I had to make a choice. Do I defend my son’s confusion? Do I get defensive over my parenting decision that my husband suddenly comes in a deems unsafe? Honestly, I took two seconds to wash the potatoes off my hands and pray.

This is what, by God’s grace, I decided to do instead: teach my son about God.

I took my son aside, sat him on my knee, and told him this:
“Hey, buddy. I know this is confusing. Mommy said yes, but Daddy said no. You know what? Mommy and Daddy don’t always agree. When we disagree, we go with what Daddy says. Let me tell you why, because God made Daddy the boss. Mommy is the boss while Daddy is at work, but when Daddy is here, God says Daddy is the boss. God is the big boss, so what God says is what we do. God gave Daddy the job of boss because God loves us and wants us to be safe. That’s Daddy’s job: to love us, and help us stay safe. That’s why we do what Daddy says when Mommy and Daddy disagree.”

God softened my little boy’s heart! He listened, he understood, he went and hugged his Daddy, and he didn’t jump off the bench any more.

It was a “wow God” parenting moment. Only by God’s grace did 9-month-pregnant me have the brain power to come up with all those words. Only by God’s grace did my three-year-old boy stop crying and listen to my words. Only by God’s grace did my son then choose to obey.

As parents, and as a couple, my husband and I are NOT perfect. Not even close. I’d like to tell you that the rest of our night went wonderfully, but that wouldn’t be true. With kids as young as ours, every minute is brand new, and often unrelated to the last minute. They are incredibly forgetful, but so am I.

I forget I’m called to live for the Lord, which is why it’s hard to submit to my husband. I forget God is good, which is why I worry about tomorrow’s struggles. I forget that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22-23a), which is why I dread the morning after a hard day of parenting.

Pray with me that we don’t forget who God is, and remember that His ways are best.
Pray with me for opportunities to talk to our children about who God is, and instruct them to walk in His ways with us.
Pray with me words of thanksgiving for the steadfast love, mercy, and grace God gives us as we parent our children, love our spouses, and serve Him in all things.
Pray with me words of praise to our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ for who He is, and His work of redemption that sets us free to obey Him.

Submission in the Family - Blog

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Discipling a 3-year-old

Today was youth Sunday at my church. Youth lead worship during the service, high school and college students shared testimonies about how God is growing them, our youth leader preached, and during the Sunday school hour the whole church met together for coffee, donuts, and a Q&A session with all the pastoral staff (who have all served as youth pastors at our church). It was really special.

The passage our youth leader preached on was Matthew 28:16-20, commonly referred to as “The Great Commission”. The central command in that passage is make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching.

The idea of making disciples was the main thrust of the whole morning, and it got me thinking: As a parent, my first job is to disciple my children. That is my call, it’s the biblical model, and particularly as a stay-at-home mom it is my 24/7 occupation. So, how do you disciple a 3-year-old? God has given parents clear instructions to follow, and examples to imitate from Scripture.

How to Disciple a 3-Year-Old - Pin and Blog.jpg

1) Teach them who God is and what pleases God.

  • “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
  • “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

This is key. Parenting is not about us, it’s all about pointing our children to God. His Word, and obeying Him is what matters. God gave us our children, but we don’t get to keep them. They are not our possession, they are His, and this is what we must teach them.
We are to train our children up in His Way, not ours. We pray diligently that they would conform to His Way, not our way, because only God’s Way can redeem them.
Our children will be provoked to anger when¬†we deviate from God’s Way too! We need to stay on His Way too, “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”. If we are¬†not pursuing the discipline and instruction of the Lord in our own lives, how will we hope to teach our children? We will not be able to do it.
This leads to the next point…

2) Model what it looks like to live for God.
We will not be perfect in this, but the work of the Holy Spirit is to be continually transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. This is sanctification, and our children need to see this! This is the power of God practically on display in everyday, normal situations. We aren’t supposed to show our children how great we are, but how great our God is. How much more is this on display than when we mess up? It’s hard, it can be embarrassing, we may even need to apologize to our children, but what a clear illustration to our children that everyone needs a Savior! When we show our children our daily need for the truth of the gospel, and God’s grace we can agree with Paul when he said:

“I¬†do¬†not¬†write¬†these¬†things¬†to¬†make¬†you¬†ashamed,¬†but¬†to¬†admonish¬†you¬†as¬†my beloved¬†children.¬†For¬†though¬†you¬†have¬†countless¬†guides¬†in¬†Christ,¬†you¬†do¬†not¬†have many¬†fathers.¬†For¬†I¬†became¬†your¬†father¬†in¬†Christ¬†Jesus¬†through¬†the¬†gospel.¬†I¬†urge¬†you, then,¬†be¬†imitators¬†of¬†me.”¬†– 1 Corinthians 4:14-16

Here Paul points to how he has been, and continues to be, an example of the gospel to these believers, through his teaching and through his life. That’s why he can urge them to imitate him! What a challenge! Live in such a way, parent, that you can say to your child, imitate me not because I’m great, but because I am imitating Jesus, and He is the Greatest! (1 Corinthians 11:1)

3) Discipline and correction. This is the not so fun one, because it’s hard!

As parents, we want our kids to be happy. When we discipline our children, they typically don’t express the emotion of happiness. When we do discipline our children we need to do it completely and biblically.
First, let’s remember that the two above points are the “why” behind disciplining our children. We discipline to point our children to God, and to expose how they are not doing what God would want them to do.
Second, let’s take a look at the perfect example of how God disciplines His Children. David’s life gives us a great example of this, especially in conjunction with his writings about God’s character in the Psalms. This is what David says of God in Psalm 103:

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so¬†the¬†LORD¬†shows¬†compassion¬†to¬†those¬†who¬†fear¬†him.” – Psalm 103:8-13 (emphasis added)

In this same passage David speaks of God chiding and being angry, and showing deep, fatherly compassion for His children. Remember the story of David, Uriah, and Bathsheba? Yeah. Bad, sinful, messy. David was definitely NOT doing what pleased God. Selfishness, deceit, adultery, and murder! Not good.
God’s discipline of His beloved child, David, was also drastic. The child conceived through his adulterous act with Bathsheba became sick and died. Yet, David says that God is:

  • gracious
  • merciful
  • slow to anger
  • abounding in steadfast love
  • removes our transgressions far away
  • compassionate

This is the example we need to follow as parents. Discipline, yes. Exhortation, yes. Correction, yes. Follow through in consequences, yes.¬†In conjunction with grace, mercy, compassion, and a love that is steadfast and “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). This is how God disciplines His children, and how we should discipline ours.

 

 

This is discipleship.
This is parenting.
This is what I am called to do. This is what you, parent, are called to do.
Yes, this is how to disciple a 3-year-old, and a 6-year-old, and a 11-year-old, and a 15-year-old.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!