Showing them Jesus.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A few times through the years, I've been asked to share what resources we use to help point our kids to Jesus. By no means is this an exhaustive list. It's simply a handful of books and music we've found helpful in helping us point our kids to the hope we have in Christ.

As much as these resources are helpful, they are simply resources. They don't replace daily conversations about Jesus that must happen for our kids to really understand our faith. In our house, we confess our sin to each other often and ask one another for forgiveness. We allow the kids to see us reading our Bibles and if they interrupt, we just read it aloud to them. We encourage them to join us in the worship service, if they're able to somewhat participate (mostly just Liam at this point). We sing worship songs in the car. Our faith in Jesus is personal, but not private. It's to be shared, and our greatest audience is our tiniest disciples.

If you have questions about something I've recommended, please leave it in the comments section and I'll be happy to go into more detail about it.

Kids' Bibles:
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
The Rhyme Bible Storybook by L. J. Sattgast
The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung
The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor

Some Favorite Books:
The Garden, The Curtain, and the Cross by Carl Laverton
The Storm That Stopped by Alison Mitchell
Found: Psalm 23 by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Just Because You're Mine by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Kids' Devotionals:
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones
The Ology by Marty Machowski

For those who are unfamiliar with the purpose of a catechism or how you use it, these are simple questions and answers about God that we can teach our children that will form a framework for their theology. The questions and answers contain core doctrine for our faith. So when we read a Bible story, they might remember from the catechism, "Who is God?" "God is the creator of everyone and everything!" It has become an important part in our week - every Friday morning - to rehearse a new catechism question and answer with our kids. The New City Catechism has made this simple with a free app that includes the questions and answers as well as kid-friendly songs to help us all hide these truths in our hearts.

The New City Catechism by the Gospel Coalition
The New City Catechism Devotional by the Gospel Coalition

The Jesus Calling Bible Storybook Audio by Sarah Young
Hide 'Em In Your Heart by Steve Green
Hide the Word by Steve Green
Only Jesus by Austin Stone Worship: Kids

Lent through the eyes of a 5-year-old.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A couple days ago, Liam walked out onto the deck while I was working on a Bible study lesson. When he saw the title, he asked me, "What is Lent?" We talked about Lent being a season of longing in anticipation for Easter, a time where we recognize our deep need for a Savior. I tried to explain why some people give things up during the Lenten season. I gave the example that some give up dessert so that when they crave something sweet after a meal, it reminds them that what they truly crave is Jesus.

I asked Liam if he could think of anything that distracts him from Jesus.

"Oh yes," he said confidently. "Playing with my cars, eating cake, thinking about dinosaurs."

I tried to explain that these were good gifts that God wanted us to enjoy, and we can do them all to His glory. Then I asked Liam if he would like to give anything up during Lent to focus on Jesus.

After a long time of thinking, he said confidently. "Bandaids. I want to give up my Lightning McQueen bandaids."

My initial thought was that this was a small sacrifice - that he was choosing bandaids so he didn't have to give up something he truly cared about.

But then he continued: "When I hurt myself and I want a bandaid, I'll remember that Jesus heals my body, but He also heals my heart."


Monday, February 12, 2018

A few days ago, I was caring for a patient who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. She had begun chemo for it, but the therapy had weakened her heart and landed her on our unit to recover before resuming treatment.

Her family - a husband and three grown sons - rarely left her side. I asked them to step out into the hall for a small procedure, and as soon as they closed the door, the floodgates opened. The woman began to cry like a small child, her face twisting as if she was in agonizing pain. She was, of course.

"I just don't want them to remember me like this," she told me.

So I asked her what she did want them to remember.

She looked toward the window and gazed through the blinds.

"Our sons and their families took us to the mountains this past summer to celebrate our 50th anniversary. They hosted games and dinners and we had the best time." More tears rolled down her nose and onto her hospital gown.

I wished in that moment I could have promised her something. That visions of her pale grey skin and nausea and chest port would fall from their memories like the whispy hair on her head. I wanted to promise her that this treatment would be curative, not just palliative. I wanted to promise her another trip to the mountains.

But of course I couldn't promise any of that. So I simply sat, rested my hand on her knee, and let my eyes water with hers.

The longer I am a nurse - and a human - the more I understand the gift of just sitting with people in their hurt. In the Bible, when Job's life was ripped to shreds in a matter of days, the first and only thing his three friends did right was to sit on the ground with him for 7 days. They didn't say a word. They simply offered their empathetic presence.

And when Mary and Martha's brother Lazarus died, Jesus himself didn't rush in to fix the situation. Instead, he sat with them in their hurt and he himself wept for his friend. He could have bypassed the hurt and brought Lazarus back to life with a single command (which he later did). But I think there's a lesson for all of us that he chose to sit with his friends and weep.

So I am learning to sit. I am learning that is a much weightier gift than any advice or pleasantries I could utter. And as I choose not to speak, I whisper prayers that the hurting one would be filled with the hope and peace that can only come from Christ.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

When we first stepped into our current house, Shawn and I both knew immediately that we wanted to live here. For Shawn, it was the open white kitchen at the front of the house with ample counter space and new appliances. For me, it was the middle bedroom with its enormous double windows. I pictured Liam (almost 2 at the time) playing with his trucks in his sun-warmed room. I pictured nursing our baby girl, due in a few months, in a cozy chair in the corner. I couldn't have pictured our beautiful third baby, light streaming onto his dimpled cheeks and chunky thighs. 
We went through some sad days before meeting this breathtaking boy. But today, his smile that beams brighter than this light-filled room makes it feel like these windows - this house - were made for this moment. 

Books from 2017.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Last January, I made a list of the books I hoped to read and purchased them all with Christmas money, stacked them on my nightstand, and started working my way through them. About half of them still sit unfinished - having a baby does that - but I wanted to share the ones I did finish. Instead of giving them each a star rating as I've done in the past, I will just say that I give each of these my recommendation. Do I endorse everything that's written in each one? Of course not. But they were all worthy reads, and I wanted to share a favorite quote from each to give you a taste. I'll be sharing my 2018 "to read" list soon. 

"If you are not experiencing His rest, if you are weighed down, put out, and resentful, you must ask yourself whether you're actually pulling under His yoke. If you're feeling burdened and heavy laden, you must question whether you're as humbly submitted to Him as you believe yourself to be."

From the author, about her novel: "I wrote about how you can love your child with something that surpasses logic and reason and words, and you can still screw up. Even with the best intentions and loftiest goals, sometimes, as a parent, you fail. I wrote about how so many of these moments stare back at you and say, See, you were told being a parent would be harder than you imagined, the hardest job in the world, and you didn't believe it. Did you?"

"We don't have to try to justify ourselves anymore. We don't have to try to make Him smile. He is already smiling."

"We need to lose the mental image of our pre-Christian state as a drowning person helplessly flailing about in the water, hoping upon hope that someone might throw us a life preserver. Outside of Christ we are, in fact, spiritual corpses rotting on the ocean floor among the silt and sludge." 

"Our home is not our refuge; God is our refuge. We nurture life in the face of death and leverage our homes for gospel work. For those whose hope is in the coming kingdom, our homes are less like retreats and more like a network of foxholes for planning and hosting kingdom advances into this present darkness. Our homes are centers of hospitality to show strangers and neighbors the light of Christ. And they are equipping centers for traveling ambassadors to help them on their way to doing the King's business." 

"There is no shadow in any valley so dark that his Word does not illumine. Sister, you're being followed. 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever' (Psalm 23:6). Held in our Shepherd's unflinching grip, we are safely his at all times and in every circumstance. Your constancy is Christ. And at the end of all things created, in the most beautiful paradox of the ages, the Lamb is shown to be the Shepherd, 'and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes' (Rev. 7:17)."

"The message we offer is not robust enough to address the opportunities, changes, and extremities of life in a fallen world. It is too small for successful women leaders in the secular world and too weak to restore full meaning and purpose who have been trampled. . . Instead of addressing the wide range of questions and situations women are facing today, we focus mainly on marriage and motherhood, and that within a two-parent, single-income family." 

"Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, 
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again."

"We are line-crossers, boundary-breakers, fence-jumpers, carrying inside us a warped belief that our heavenly parent wants to withhold from us something that is needful or pleasurable. Even as we enjoy his good gifts, we feel a hyperawareness of the boundaries he has set, and we question their validity. Though he gives us nineteen gifts and warns us away from one danger, we suspect that what is withheld is not dangerous but desirable." 

"Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world." 
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