Spiritual Growth in our Kids – Where to Start

This question is SO important to ask if we desire to see spiritual growth in our children. Don't miss this post.

I was an elementary school teacher before I had children. I spent my days writing lesson plans, teaching those plans, and evaluating the results of those plans.

I may not be a teacher any longer, but I am certainly still a planner.

I now describe myself as “Mom,” a role not for the faint of heart. “Mom” is really just an alias. After all, many of us are also the CEOs, CFOs, and Project Managers of our homes!

Oh you know how it is — we’re parents! In addition to loving, disciplining, and training our kids, we juggle home management, jobs, education, ministry, and all sorts of other responsibilities and relationships.

To keep things running, we need a plan. We need to be intentional. We need to be organizedThe same can be said when it comes to investing spiritually in our children.

Intentionality is important. If we are not intentional, most opportunities to engage spiritually with our kids will be missed.

But we can also swing too far to the other side, and sometimes in our effort to be intentional and to remain organized — in our focus to “stick to the plan” — we miss out on some profound opportunities.  Sometimes our ‘plan’ distracts us from recognizing where God is at work.  

Keep reading over at For the Family, where I’m sharing the ONE question we have to ask when we want our kids to grow spiritually and offering 4 things we can DO when we know the answer.

Photo Credit: Original Photo from Flickr Creative Commons Stepan Radibog

On My Bookshelf: What I’m Reading {July – September 2014}

Books on the brown bookshelf

Looking back over my book list at the end of September, I surprised myself. More than half of the books I read were fiction, a stark contrast to the non-fiction that dominated my reading list the last many years.

I didn’t avoid fiction because I didn’t like it, though I will admit that I had become a bit disdainful toward much contemporary fiction.

I’ve always loved story, the problem was that I could so easily become lost in story, to the detriment of most of my responsibilities.

I came to a place where fiction felt too indulgent. My insecurities reminded me that I had so much to learn, and the strength of being a “learner,” pushed me to be intentional with my book list, always choosing a book that would teach me something, expand my understanding, or challenge me to grow.

For quite some time, I abandoned fiction altogether, forgetting how fictional plots can, in fact, teach, influence, and challenge, often times far more effectively than nonfiction.

Stories move us.

After tipping my toe into the proverbial water of fiction earlier this year, I couldn’t help but dive right in, and I guess that is reflected in this quarter’s reading list. I put less pressure on myself in what I picked, worried far less about assumptions people might make based on what I chose to read, and picked up books I might not have considered in the past, and I’m so glad I did.

 

Books I’ve Read so far this year {July – September}

I have to admit that is somewhat of a partial list, since I have about 5 books sitting on the shelf that I am halfway through. I didn’t feel like I could list them here, though, until I actually finish them! Here’s the finished list:

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman

This is such a great book for moms! Each chapter points us right back to the gospel and reminds us of grace, grace, and more grace in the everyday moments.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

This book has been recommended to me a number of times, but I have to admit that I have so many mixed feelings on this book! Have you read it? What are your thoughts?

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

A year or two ago, a friend of mine highly recommended this book to me, and I only got around to reading it now. Fascinating research, practical help, and a peek inside how our brains are wired. Their new book, No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, was just released in September, and I’m eager to pick it up to read soon.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I have to admit: I turned my nose up at this one a bit before I started reading it. I tend to do that with most of the books in the ever-popular chick-lit category. I might like the story, but really, I want to read a book that will move me and change me for better, not just sweep me away with an unrealistic romantic, “follow your heart” garbage  message. I am too easily swayed by emotion, so I have to guard myself from immersing my mind in that kind of story. 

I got caught up in the story quickly, wondering what would happen. The plot did become predictable, but I still found myself wondering {hoping} that my predictions would be wrong. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, maybe because they were so different from me, and though I didn’t agree with some of the values and beliefs woven into the story, this book did give me much food for thought. I chewed on the idea of physician assisted suicide for some time after reading this book, a debate that has hit close to home and a discussion that has surfaced a number of times in my family after watching an aunt suffer through ALS and also when my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. My opinion hasn’t changed, but reading this story put more “skin” on the debate and opened my eyes to some struggles I hadn’t before recognized.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Amazon’s description tells so succinctly of this book, I had to include it here:

Called a “magnificently crafted story . . . brimming with wisdom” by Howard Frank Mosher in The Washington Post Book World, Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage.

A slow but engaging story that so beautifully chronicles  a tale of lifelong friendship, marriage, and hopes and dreams. I loved this one.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

I’m a big fan of Brené Brown and her research on shame and vulnerability. Eye-opening, relatable, and very practical, this is another book of Brené’s that I highly recommend.

 

Questions for You:

  • Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?
  • What’s on YOUR book list? Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

Want to see what else I’ve read this year?

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Happy 90th Birthday, Grandpa

Dr. Sweeting eating ice cream

Today my grandpa turns 90.

He is the best man I know – maybe because he reminds me so much of Jesus. 

I don’t usually write things like this, not because it’s not important but because I feel so deeply. How could my words ever encapsulate all that Grandpa has meant to me? They can’t.

No words can do justice. I am woefully inadequate, but I would be remiss to say nothing. So please read this feeble attempt and add to it all the feelings of a little girl, who for the past 34 years has been wrapped in the safety of her grandfather’s love.

I can say so many wonderful things about my grandpa – about his leadership, his integrity, his impact for the Kingdom, his humility, his love for the Lord and others, his generosity, and the list goes on and on and on.

I could share his accolades and accomplishments and all the ways He has been used of God to bless others. But grandpa is so much more than how he is seen in the public eye, and he wouldn’t want the limelight, anyway. 

My grandpa is a man whose life verse (or one of them at least) is Psalm 115:1 —

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy Name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness.”

He means it and he lives it. 

I’m so immensely proud of my grandpa – for all those big things, but for all the little ones too.

My grandpa is a man of character – who he is in public, is who he is at home. He is loving and kind and strong and brave. He loves Jesus and his family and we know it by his actions. He lives a life of love. 

My memories with Grandpa are some of the best I have. Not just the drives to Michigan or the trips to Florida, or even the flights out east or west, though I loved those vacations with my grandparents. It’s not just the moments when I’ve been in awe, sitting in stadiums of thousands, hearing God speak through Grandpa.

It’s all the little moments – holding my hand every day he’d drive me to school, showing up at sports games and band recitals and any event I was in. It’s the game nights and the boat rides and skipping rocks down by the lake — the long conversations, the encouragement and the wisdom he so often shared.

It’s Grandpa showing up on my doorstep with a danish or two, or finding his support tucked in a letter scripted with Truth. It’s seeing him hold my babies and laugh with my kids. It’s the million little ways he loves us well.

Grandpa is dependable and thoughtful and a very safe place.

We’ve shed tears and grieved losses and battled discouragement, but we’ve had so much laughter and so. much. joy.

Other than my grandma, no one else has had as profound an influence on my life as he has.

What a life he has lived! What a heritage he hands down!

Grandpa, you mean the world to me. I love you with my whole heart and thank God every. day. for you. Happiest of birthdays to you, on this your 90th year.

All my love,
erika

Grace Means Security: A Devotional on 1 Peter 1:3-9

Grace Means Security: A #Devotional on 1 Peter  1

Grace Means Security.

The title above the text in my study Bible grabbed my attention. I hadn’t noticed it before. Normally I skip right over the titles in an effort to keep continuity between the verses, and the past few days have been no different.

I noticed who wrote the letter of 1 Peter – it was Peter, of course.

I recognized the recipients – believers who were scattered throughout 5 Roman provinces of what is now Turkey.

I read the blessings of being one of God’s children, of our inheritance and of God’s protection.

I chewed on the words but somehow was missing the bigger picture until I stumbled on the title – written by a scholar to help us better understand this portion of the text: Grace means security. 

And somehow those 1st 9 verses took on new meaning in my heart.

Friends, if we are believers in Jesus Christ, accepting His free gift of salvation, we. are. secure.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

In mercy, God withheld what I deserved.

Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, and in Romans 6:23, we learn that the consequence of our sin is death. Before Jesus, I was dead in my sins.

I deserve death.

But here is the amazing thing: In mercy, God withheld what I deserved and because of grace, He gave me what I could never earn.

God is a life-giver.

We saw it in Creation, when God breathed the breath of life into Adam. We saw it when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and when Jesus died and rose again! We see new life written all over the pages of Scripture.

God takes what is spiritually dead and gives new spiritual life!

New birth = new life.

New birth = new hope!

“… to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…”

This hope, this inheritance, is imperishable – it is beyond the reach of change or decay; it is undefiled and unfading, kept in Heaven for me! This salvation is reserved for me.

I am a new creation, and many days, I’m still learning how to live this new life. Being born again means learning to walk differently, think differently, live differently. Even though I’ve been a Christian most of my life, I’m still stretching my legs and building my muscles.

I’ve learned how to walk but I’m still figuring out how to run and leap and live free in this new life.

In the process, I fall down a lot. I make mistakes.

I sin.

I feel insecure.

I endure suffering, and a lot of times I create my own suffering.

But no matter how we feel, no matter what we walk through, this salvation is reserved for us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-39).

God’s protection surrounds us, as we walk by faith, as we live by faith. We will walk through trials. We will face discouragement and disappointment and dissatisfaction, but it is through our trials that God strengthens our faith. “God uses trials to distinguish between genuine and superficial faith” (Dr. Louis Barbieri).

I want real faith, real relationship, real salvation — and it’s found only in Jesus.

 

We live in a world where we often feel like we have to prove something or try to measure up or work our way to be recognized.

We all struggle with insecurity, don’t we? Am I responsible enough? Kind enough? Fun enough? Disciplined enough? Courageous enough? Thin enough? Smart enough? Talented enough?

Am *I* enough?

And the bottom line is that in Christ Jesus, you. are. enough.

God’s grace gives us that security.

 

 

Pray Truth: Using Scripture to Shape our Prayer

Praying 1 Peter 1:3-9

God, it is by your great mercy that I have been born again. You withheld what I deserved and gave me life instead! Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I now have a living hope! May I live with great expectation and remember this priceless inheritance that is mine in Christ — an inheritance that is pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay, an inheritance that is kept in Heaven for me.

Thank you, Lord, that by faith I can rest in your powerful protection as I wait for that day when my salvation is fully realized. Strengthen me, Lord, to be truly glad, even though I may endure many trials. Through those trials you are refining and purifying and strengthening my faith, and there is wonderful joy ahead.

God I’ve never seen you, but I love you. Even now, I don’t see you, but God, I trust you. Where I doubt or struggle to fully believe, strengthen my faith, that I may rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy! (1 Peter 1:3-9 based on the ESV and NLT) #PrayTruth

 

#Praying 1 Peter 1:6 #prayer #prayTruth #1Peter

 


 

Tomorrow the #SheReadsTruth community begins their study of 1 & 2 Peter. If you’re looking for a great resource to help you as you get into the Word, I highly recommend SheReadsTruth.com.

love the Word of God, so it’s really hard to choose a favorite book of the Bible, but after studying 1 Peter last summer, this book definitely ranks up at the top for me. I’ll be reading this book again this month, blogging some of my thoughts and sharing some of the Scripture prayers from this book over on Facebook and Instagram.

Want to join me?

I’m planning to spend most of October in 1 & 2 Peter, reading about half a chapter a day. My plan is to share on Mondays some reflections and lessons that God is teaching me. If you join in, please, please share what God is teaching you, too!  You can comment on the posts here or on the Peter posts on Insta and FB.

So looking forward to learning together!

 


 

 

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