Celebrating Christmas in Books

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I know I’ve written about books recently, but I just love them.  I’m not supposed to be using this arm and typing, but I can’t stay out of the game of life forever.

I’m gearing up for Christmas and that means checking out our Christmas Book Basket.  We like to spend time each day, as often as we can in December, reading from a selection of good books. I think it’s a great way to keep the season focused on the right things and a great way to disciple our children. Have you discovered that yet? Things that can’t be retained through teaching and lectures can be gently formed in minds by reading a book. Don’t overlook this powerful tool in the lives of those around you.

Here are some books I’m looking at for this season, as well as some that we already have and love.  I wish Amazon (or anyone) would cooperate and allow me to show book covers here, but they do not. So, I’ve linked to them on Amazon for your convenience below and also made a page on Goodreads.

Considering this Year:

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas: I’ll be reading through this book in the month of December.

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna: Ann Voskamp recommended this one, we shall see if I buy it.

The Christmas Thingamabob: Looks like an easy read, written by Mark Dever so it should be quality content.

A Better December: This is what caught my eye about this one: “A Better December is an ideal gift book for non-Christian friends and neighbors with a gradual, non-threatening introduction to the gospel.” That could be taken for good or bad.  Great to have a gospel gift to give to unbelievers, although I’m not always concerned about the gospel being non-threatening. What is more threatening than hell fire? This one will take some looking into.

Why Christmas? – We have the Why Easter? book in this series. This one is $1.99 in Kindle format!

Family Books

Christmas Tapestry: My good friend Linda gave us this book last year and we LOVED it. Read it more than once and made sure Dad read it too. Great book!

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent,Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for Advent,Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for Advent: We love all of these, we’ve yet to finish any of them, but they are a family favorite every year. We like to read this right before bed in December. We light candles, read a chapter and the kids take turns each night lighting and blowing out the candles and praying for the family.

Elementary Books

Silent Night: The Song and Its Story

A Christmas Carol (picture book edition): This is a beautiful copy of this story, that we really enjoyed.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger: Bright and cheery, we had fun with this one!

Books for Olders

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas A daily advent reading that my Jr. Highers read through last year. This would be good for any adult too.

C Is for Christmas: The History, Personalities, and Meaning of Christ’s Birth: Great informative book on various topics of Christmas, kind of like a Christmas dictionary.

The Battle for Christmas (Vintage): This one also discusses various Christmas traditions, more history book than dictionary. Go to Goodreads with this one, it’s an interesting read about the puritans, but some didn’t make it to the end. 🙂

A Christmas Carol: A classic!

I’m sure there will be many more when I pull out all of our Christmas stuff, but this is enough to get planning. Josiah had a big chest that said Merry Christmas on it last night at Hobby Lobby, he wanted to buy and I said what for? 🙂 This might be just the thing.

Do tell me, PLEASE, what books your family enjoys at Christmas?

Take Your Parents to Church!

560733_442851672416840_1323453597_nOne of the things I love about our little church is how many of our parents also attend.  The idea of inter-generational worship is foreign in the American church, we live our own lives with our own people. Families are often isolated, far from the support system that extended family can bring. The family interaction at church is minimal. We enter the church building and the family splits as everyone goes to their respective groups based on age, grade or type.  

I believe there are many benefits in generations worshiping together and learning side by side. We have biblical examples in Moses and Jethro, Timothy and his mother and grandmother, King Lemuel and his mother in Proverbs 31, and the list goes on. Home and family are meant to be the first glimpse at who God is, a living example of the gospel, why would we split this natural order in the church?  At our church we DO have classes for the children, but we try to integrate them into the body as much as possible. We include them in worship, at appropriate men’s and women’s events, in community groups.  I love to hear the kids playing in the other room during community group, because they actually exist and have a right to live and make noise!

The fact that grandparents attend our church means that a child in our church has at least 3 or 4 familial influences within the body of Christ that are also reinforced throughout the week as families naturally come together. I have found that grandparents are generous with their love so my kids also benefit from the love, care and guidance of the grandparents of their friends. It brings me great joy to see my daughter sit and chat with the older ladies in our church, she tells me that she prayed for the salvation of their husbands. Imagine her great delight in hearing that man had made a profession of faith. Church, family, faith, they all meld together in a thing called LIFE.  I am so blessed that we can walk through life with our parents worshiping right alongside us, I know that it is a rare thing indeed!

So, my question to you is this: Have you invited your parents to attend church with you? Have you invited them into your community group? Do you let them into your social circles? In America we’ve been taught to have community only with those in our same age group, walk of life, social circle. We’re missing out on a wealth of wisdom and rich fellowship that can be gleaned from our parents and their generation. The other joy is to watch life spring forth in their hearts and lives, we have great influence and opportunity to impact their lives, that they might finish well.

INVITE YOUR PARENTS TO CHURCH!

Seen and Heard – Unconventional Life

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I was thinking this week about all of the ways I have lived my life unconventionally.  Really, if there is a way that old ladies will sit down and tell you this is the way NOT to do it, that’s the way I did it.  I always stay within the lines, but I tend to lean on the odd-ball side of the line.

HOMESCHOOLED
I was taught at home as a child from Kindergarten all the way until graduation. I never know what to say as I’m standing there listening to people say they don’t want to homeschool because they want their children to function in life and not be social misfits. I am always reluctant to wave my hand and say, I was homeschooled!! I mean, I seem to manage to function in life, but I may be called a social misfit… I meet a lot of public educated adults of which the same could be said. 🙂

GRADUATED EARLY
I tested out of highschool early and started at Jr. College at 16. Unconventional? Yes. Did it work for me? Yes.

MARRIED AT 18
🙂 This one makes me laugh. I also find myself in conversation about someone being very foolish and stupid and marrying at the age of 18. I take more confidence here in saying it worked for me, seeing as how I can show proof of a good marriage far easier than I could prove I’m not a social misfit. 🙂

HAD KIDS RIGHT AWAY
We married in June and announced our pregnancy in July. We wanted children right away. I wouldn’t do it any different. If you are going to have 6 kids before the age of 30 you have to get to it! Unconventional to be sure.

HAVE 6 KIDS
If there is a crude comment about how babies are made, why don’t you just get cable, etc. I’ve heard it.  I have leniency with old ladies that say this, but if a man makes these comments, I find them very crude and not to be spoken to a lady. Keep your billiard room talk to yourself.  We wanted 8. 6 seems a good, unconventional compromise. 🙂

HOMESCHOOL
If being homeschooled isn’t enough to make you odd, reproduce the oddity and homeschool your own children. Not just one, reproduce SIX children and homeschool all of them… UNCONVENTIONAL

EAT WEIRD
We eat weird. Certain children have allergies, certain children have intollerances and have been prescribed a certain diet. We eat unconventionally, but I like it because it keeps us from a lot of junk.

CHRISTIAN
I was raised in a Christian home, I’m married to a pastor, I’m raising my children to know God and have a relationship with Jesus. If you’re going to be a Christian, which is very unpopular these days, you might as well go all out and be a ministry family that eats weird, has 6 kids and homeschools.  Maybe I was destined to be a social misfit!

🙂 Just having fun on a Friday again!  God has been ever so faithful to guide, direct and keep me through all my days and I’m confident He will continue to do so until that great day when I see Him face to face.

Happy Friday!

Redeeming Halloween

We all agree that community is important, meeting your neighbors and living on mission are vital to our christian walk. One of the times the rub of society and Christianity hits is during the holidays. Halloween is can be an especially difficult one to navigate as a christian family. Our family has tackled this issue together with much prayer and thought and this post is the story of our conclusion.

We decided to use this holiday as an opportunity to live on mission at home. What better way to engage your neighbors than the day they are ALL walking up to your door and engaging with you? Why not utilize this opportunity to spend some time with them? The trick is to provide a space they and their children will want to stay at for an extended period of time.

My daughter put it best in an essay she wrote on why our family should celebrate Halloween:

Instead of ignoring this holiday for ghosts and demons, a good alternative is to leap at the opportunity and meet people and invite them to church.” Katie Ann Huy

Here is a simple step by step project you can do with your family or a group of friends. The skill level is easy, the impact level is limitless.

SOME ITEMS NEEDED:

  • Boxes
  • Small balls
  • Nerf Guns
  • Plastic cups to shoot down
  • Ping Pong Balls
  • Small bowls
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Styrofoam cups

STEP ONE:
Have a brainstorm meeting. The goal is to have people there for longer than just ringing the doorbell so plan some simple games for them to play in your driveway. The prizes: CANDY!

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STEP TWO:
Make signs and games. We made signs that said “Free Hot Chocolate” and also signs for each game. We also made simple (VERY SIMPLE) games that looked cheesy, but the families LOVED them. We had a Ping Pong Toss, Pumpkin Dart (Nerf guns shooting at large orange cups), and an Angry Birds Throw.

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STEP THREE:
Make coffee and hot chocolate and set it all up! We set up a TV with It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown playing in a loop, an EZ-up with lights on it, our games and also a table with hot chocolate, coffee and invites it our church.

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STEP FOUR:
Have a great time! We received so many compliments for having coffee, I was shocked how far that small gesture went. The families (and some big kids too!) loved the games and many, many people stood around talking and enjoying the evening together. They even called their friends to come over and join in!

YOU CAN DO THIS! This is a great way to reach and meet your community, spend time with your family and redeem the holiday.  You can see our pictures from last year here and here. If you decide to do this, send me pictures and tell me all about it!

“My family has decided to have a harvest festival at our house on Halloween night to engage the community. This is a great opportunity because lots of people are coming right to our door. When people come to our house it will be a great time to meet them and invite them to church. ” An excerpt from an essay by Katie Ann

Seen and Heard – Wrapped Up In Rhymes

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But all this success didn’t go to his head,
He remained very modest and humble instead.
For rabbits you see aren’t affected by fame,
No matter what happens they’re always the same.

Bill Peet, in Huge Harold

When I was growing up, my mother loved books. This is ironic since she doesn’t enjoy reading, but I somehow inherited my love for books and reading, from her. We were frequent visitors to the local library that I now take my own children to.  She even owned a homeschool bookstore, books have certainly been a large part of my life. I do love them so.

One day, I realized my 3 year old wasn’t being read to like the other kids had been and I set out to remedy the situation. As I’ve taken time to sit down and read some old favorites by Bill Peet, I’ve found myself slowly surrounded by all of my 6. I wasn’t expecting this result at all. My mom once told me that there needs to be times when we’re just sitting and being still so our children can find us and interact with us. This theory has certainly proven to be true in this book reading scenario. Today, as I finished the book Kermit the Hermit, I was rewarded with the news that I had put Hosanna to sleep! Reading aloud is going to be practiced regularly!!!

Remember the article from Practical Shepherding last week? Well, they furthered the discussion and got more, you guessed it, PRACTICAL this week. Here is the next article, How Do You Train Stay At Home Moms to Minister to Elderly Widows. Creative with the titles, I know.

 

Happy Friday!

Seen & Heard – Elementary Days

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I’m currently living with my 6th toddler. The fact there’s only one toddler could be considered progress! These days, the older kids are often busy with their own activities and I often find myself with 3-10 year olds.  It’s a blessing to go back and live through elementary days..  We spend a lot of time working, playing and living side by side and I’m blessed to be able to spend this time walking through life with these kids.

I ran across this post and I love the intentionality in it. The idea of utilizing this season and the little ones, that are a comfort and joy to the elderly, is fantastic. I remember one day when Timothy was young and we spent some time visiting a nursing home, how blessed a time that was! The investment is small really, but it can go a long way. Stay at home moms, pray about this, this could work!

In the car today, listened to a song dear to my heart and relevant to my current heart stirrings:

The Still Small Voice is still working it’s way in and out with varying levels of success:

  • I apply my musing on being an agreeable wife by arguing passionately a point I could honestly care less about.
  • In my pursuit of living a life of faith, not getting entangled in the little things, I bristle at a rude comment made and respond coldly to the person who dared offend me.

I must respond to the ugly filth revealed in my heart. I must continue to pursue the conquering of these issues. Praying, seeking, reaching higher, forging deeper into the heart of God. What a glorious blessing!

In other news, my boys are going camping with my husband and dad this weekend.  Something about catching fish, camping and eating fish. In October. As the practical one in the bunch, I’m trying not to think of all of the details. Like, for example, what will they eat?

I plan to spend the weekend with my girls and my mom planning my sisters baby shower and hanging out at Hobby Lobby. That beats camping and fishing any day, but especially on a cold October day!

Happy Friday!

The Still Small Voice


As I sat immersed in the glorious praise offered up by Keith & Kristyn Getty and their amazing band, there was that inkling, that thought.

When God comes ever so gently and speaks in a whisper,

When He whispers just the right portion that your heart can handle,

You have to be still and listen to that still small voice.

Why do you falter and weary at each brush in the path?

I ask myself: where my soul is your faith? Where my heart is your strength?

Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

I’ve not been living a life of faith, but rather a life of fear.

I’ve not been living in light of the redeemer, but in the light of my circumstance.

I can become lost in the glory of the sovereignty of God, but the things I believe in my mind take time to sink into my heart.

My flesh speaks a language of it’s own and it can be hard to translate the message of the glory of God into every day life.

Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker,
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given Your servant;
I will rejoice and be glad

A call to faith.

To be a responder.

A call to respond to God in faith.

To respond to my husband with joy, to respond to my children with the encouragement of a smile, to respond to God with faith for each path He leads me down, each person and situation He places me in front of.

The feelings of frustration rise up in me.

The overwhelming stress. The offense taken.

Let me  be lost in the sovereignty of God, let the reality live out in my daily life.

For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘Til Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown.

The swirling going on in my head as I try to catch this lesson God is teaching me. The whisper in a concert to put on my armor and not be so easily taken down, the lesson in bible study to be an agreeable woman who responds to my husband more often than I disagree with him. ..

These inklings come altogether in a call to faith. To be a responder to the call of God in FAITH and to let that flow out into every aspect of my life.

These lessons are difficult, they cut at the core of my heart and my flesh fights.

I can no more ignore this lesson than I could ignore my own hunger for food.  This may break me; crush my flesh, but may I be found broken at the foot of the cross and then rise up to walk in faith in God, saved by grace, walking in the power of His Spirit.