Spiritual Growth Resources For Kids With The Attention Spans Of A Gnat

I always thought ADD and ADHD were just polite clinical labels for children who’d been cooped up indoors for too long and needed to go run around outside.

Well, well, well, judgemental me was in for a surprise. I had no idea what a valid frustration attention span issues are for those who struggle with them every second of every day. Sadly, because of trauma, anxiety and just good ole’ post-Eden genetics, we have to get REAL creative if we want to be intentional about helping our kids focus.

Of course all kids struggle to pay attention for longer than their interest lasts. But when it comes to nurturing the spiritual growth of my children I feel like the pressure to concentrate intensifies. Between spiritual warfare and unrealistic expectations of my two tiny disciples we’ve had a few trials laced with lots of errors that I thought I might share with you today.

Spiritual Growth Mom Fails (also known as tired, hungry, brow-beaten, kids melting down)

1. Trying to do it perfectly.

Somewhere along the way I began adhering to the first law of perfectionism which goes as follows, “If you can’t do it perfectly, it’s not worth doing at all.” As in, if I can’t read straight through the Ann Voskamp devotional book from start to finish each and every day during Advent, then why bother even trying to be a Christian!? Obviously, this is a sure fire way to never read the Bible, sing, pray, or do anything of substance with your children. I can struggle with being all in or all lethargic. So, instead of pinnable attempts at perfection, it’s been helpful to come up with simple, sustainable steps that can gently and gracefully be implemented into our daily life. (Hope the ideas below are just that!)

It may need to look less like idealized expectations and more like encouraging the kids to choose their favorite devotional book, letting them open it up to a random page (even though you want to go in order!!!!) and reading half a page. Something–especially something done with grace and joy vs. frustration and anger –even when that something is far from perfect–is better than nothing. 

2. Trying to be spiritually intentional when they (or you) are hungry and/or tired.

Can we all just label our kids hypoglycemic and move on with it? Snacks, people. If you’ve been a mom for 5 minutes you know that the key to getting your small humans to sit still and listen while you read, pray, sing or illustrate a concept is SNACKS. Keep the Goldfish and Go-Go Squeeze’s coming.

And may I remind you, as I remind myself, that sometimes the godliest thing you can do is tuck everyone in bed, sing “Amazing Grace” and call it a day. God is never not working and even mom fails, ESPECIALLY MOM FAILS, are covered by the blood of Christ. Praise hands.

3. Not acknowledging the spiritual battle

How easy is it to forget that we are waging war for the children’s souls? In the thick of the homework battle or in the heat of the awkward moment when I hear myself yelling, “STOP SPEAKING HARSHLY!! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT A GENTLE ANSWER TURNS AWAY WRATH!?!!!!?!!!!”  Oh my. Yes, I’m so quick forget that Satan would love to make me an enemy of rather than an advocate for my child. I forget to moment-by-moment breathe prayers to God begging for the power to parent and disciple my children. I forget to ask Him to supernaturally develop the fruits of the Spirit in me and a spiritual hunger in them. I forget that we don’t fight against against flesh or blood, play dates or preschool drama. Let us not forget, ya’ll.

Spiritual Growth Mom Wins (also known as grace upon grace vs. strategy upon strategy, legalistic ritual upon works, and striving upon guilt)

Me having figured this whole ministry of motherhood thing out? This is not that.God using feeble attempts to shepherd little hearts toward Himself? I pray this is that and that it is an encouragement to make graceful growth happen in our homes today.

003

1. Charades-You’ve never seen my children more enraptured by learning a spiritual concept than when we need to make an abstract idea tangible. This typically happens at the breakfast table when we are most alert and energized and when they are a captive scrambled-egg-eating audience. 

What is repentance the precious 5 year-old may ask? Well, at this point she is just asking to get me to run the length of our house yelling and telling the kids that, “I am running toward sin! I am running toward the sin! I really want to do it, but WAIT! The Holy Spirit reminds me of God’s love, and I turn around and run right back to Him! What is repentance? Turning away from sin and running back to God!” I act A FOOL, but it means they TOTALLY get it.

What is mercy? Grace? So I tell the story of a mentor assigning a Bible verse to our small group to memorize and giving one push-up for every word missed. Then, I tell them of our group returning the following week hardly getting a word right and how she took all our push-ups FOR US and even giving us a reward as a demonstration of God’s mercy and grace.

Holiness? Well that one involves talking about making brownies with dog poop, so we might just leave that one off the blog… 

2. Children’s Catechism-Have you ever seen or used “My 1st Book of Questions and Answers” by Carine Mackenzie? A former student recommended it after growing up using this series to learn key components of the Christian faith. My kids ADORE our lively question and answer time. Sometimes I pull a Dave Calvert and put out a pile of pocket change or gummies for each question they answer correctly. Other times we work through a new section to earn a family game night or just to pass time in a fun way. They eat this up and actually seem to assimilate the concepts. 

009

3. Captive Audience-I love reading Scripture, devotional books and having intentional conversation when they are captive. Breakfast typically works best for us. Or after a little play time, the bathtub is a great place to connect. The sensory play of water with a drop or two of lavender oil and my kids are honed in for a story, memory work or whatever. 

143

4. Audio Books- Did anyone else grow up on Adventures In Odyssey? Joel and I were raised  on these fabulous stories and we are starting to see our kids ability to settle into auditory learning grow. These are geared toward kids 8-12, but I remember enjoying them from age 6 on. D loves listening to audio books while we drive. He says it “makes the time vanish.”

Also, I love this narrarated Audio Bible. We have a Bluetooth speaker and can pipe it in wherever we are or from our phones. 215

5. My A, B, C Bible Verses- We love this book. It’s covering the exact things our kids are in the thick of needing to work through. Friendship drama, honoring parents, lying, etc. Each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding verse to memorize. Right now it’s perfect for my 5 and 8 year old. 

6. A Change of Scenery- Sometimes all it takes is handing the kids our picnic blanket and letting them choose a place in the yard to have a picnic snack or lunch and they are reawakened and reconnected to the day. My kids are totally different children outside. Throw in letting them dig around in the sand of our creek while I read or just let them play and talk to me; it opens up a whole new world of connectivity. And on rainy days picnicing somewhere abnormal around the house like mom and dad’s bed or the living room floor is fun to them and shakes things up a bit. (EG loves a good bathtub picnic and hey, just rinse the crumbs on down the drain!) 034My child will love me for this one day. 

7. Jesus Calling Bible Storybook- Our go-to for a quick devotional thought that focuses on God’s big picture of redemption. It’s similar to our beloved Jesus StoryBook Bible, but more manageable for days when we are short on time. 

8. Music Videos-Sunday mornings are our favorite time to ROCK OUT. My kids love The Rizers on YouTube. They are enamored by anything with a screen, so why not make it Scripture put to not-annoying-to-adults kids music? We also love Seeds Family Worship. Such great truth set to rich music. 

9. Let Them Fiddle & Let Them Be Little- I recently posted a question on “The Read Aloud Revival” Facebook forum asking how to get kids to sit quietly while reading aloud. These sage mommas gave me the following amazing ideas: Let the children choose quiet activities like working puzzles, playing with fiddle toys, building Legos, coloring pages–even page that correspond with the book you’re reading, silly puddy, rainbow loom, 15 minutes of running outside before it’s time to listen and learn and letting them act out the story if they are particularly wiggly. Loved all those ideas. 

10. Apps & DVDs- It seems I have a buzzer attached to my tush. One that sounds an alarm every time I sit down to read my Bible. EG literally finds me every time I am trying to get up early to read or help her get occupied so I can steal some alone time. This is when I bring out the big guns. image1

You see hipster Jesus up there? Genuinely obsessed with him. And nothing but love for The Gospel Project which coordinates with our children’s ministry curriculum at church #forthewin! My kids can engage with these apps, grow spiritually and I can be with Jesus. Win to the win.

When it’s all said and done, I don’t want any of this to feel forced for our family. I want our spiritual emphasis to be natural yet intentional. I want their spiritual growth to be as steady and unseen as their physical growth. And I pray that one day we can look back and say “Wow. Look at all God has done to grow these children into warriors for His Kingdom despite us loosing it on a regular basis.”

I pray that and yet rest in knowing that I can parent and point to Jesus to the best of my ability and still not produce the fruit I crave. I am thankful that there is no silver bullet needed to bring about fully surrendered love for Jesus and that He can use short attention spans to result in long-term discipleship.

*****

Can you relate to any of this? What spiritual growth fails have you experienced yourself or with those you are trying to train and disciple? What wins could you share in the comment section? I’d love to learn from you!

*****

 

Pin It

Writers’ Retreat

It all started with a text that said “Hey, I have a wild idea…” followed by a, “That would be a dream come true…” response, and was set into motion by, “Great news! The housing and transportation is all figured out.” #wuuuutttt?!?

God provided the most wonderful little getaway this weekend and I just have to share. Maybe it will inspire you to plan something with some of those life-giving friends you are always inspired by! If so, I want an invite. :)

418

Every retreat needs swag. And this one did not dissapoint. One of our fabulous swag sponsors, who is also my friend, Lauren, focused and stirred our hearts for the weekend with this hand-lettered verse. We couldn’t move past this being our core motivation for writing. It’s this shared vision that originally connected us as friends and now gave us synergy to spend a weekend encouraging, consulting and refining our work.

Practicing our hobby and honing our craft for the glory of God! Now that’ll preach.

420Bri and I found each other in the airport and marveled at the way God has morphed and grown our friendship from our days early back in Charlotte to present day. From me being single and her being a newlywed, to her throwing my engagement party and now raising elementary school children!
3361When we lived in Columbia, Kristi and I were acquaintances and even shared a mutual love for the same hair girl. It’s been crazy to see our lives intersect again in such a meaningful way both on and offline. 339We basically ate our way through Asheville starting with FarmBurger, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Biscuithead (!!!), Rhubarb and a fabulous tapas place I can’t remember the name of…when in Asheville, do chow your way through the town. (I also suggest Early Girl Eatery, but you can only eat so much in 48 hours!)

340

When we weren’t eating, we were soaking in the richness of the most welcoming cottage you’ve eve seen. A Bible teacher in Asheville likes to “gift” her home to women in ministry so they can use it as a getaway spot. Seriously? I want to be her.

419I hope the pictures communicate a bit of what the experience was like. Her home ooozed Jesus and rest and warmth and all things restorative.

392337386342You could walk around for hours always having something new for your eyes to land on. There were beautifully layered vignettes everywhere you turned. Books of the finest titles. Cookware and decorative pieces that gave pops of the prettiest shades of green and blue. Plus, she had little bowls of quality chocolate, fine lotions, luxurious soaps and delicious teas laid out in spots all over the house.

It made me think alot about developing the feel, personality and richness of my own home and the possibility of “gifting” it to others. (I’d love to hear your thoughts about this if you have any!)

344Oh, and the view? Ridiculous. 
369Sunday morning we got to be a part of the ministry of City Church. Kristi and her husband are church-planters and can I just say that I’d attend their church in a heartbeat if I were living anywhere near this community? Not to mention they meet in a stone mansion designed by the Vanderbilts.

372The place was amazing and the preaching was even better. It was incedibly refreshing to be under Duff’s expository preaching. He made Hebrews 12 come alive. I was refined, encouraged and changed.371feetBrunch is my fave, so after church we devoured Biscuithead’s Pulled Pork Biscuit, topped with jalapeno pimento, bacon, a poached egg, with Chevre Cheese Grits, all dripping with maple bacon butter. Heart attack in a hipster tin bowl. Worth every calorie.
377
Butter bar anyone? 375After brunch it was back to “work”. We consulted, critiqued, cheered each other on and conspired all sorts of blogging greatness.
382We picked up Trader Joe’s for supper…also known as what Joel would call “chick food”.  And of course if you’re with a bunch of bloggers, you take pics of the food, right? It was both delicious and aesthetically pleasing.

399I don’t always eat pretty “chick food”. But when I do, I make sure to pair it with a greasy Chicken Nibbler from Zaxby’s. 409

So, yeah. That was the weekend. It was refreshment to my soul and fire for my writing. I am so grateful for God’s sweet provision!!! Are there friends who fire up your soul that maybe you could grab coffee with this week? Or maybe schedule a getaway for sometime this summer? What creative passions do you want to explore or tend to in 2015?

395

 

 

 

Plan To Eat

Yesterday I shared that She Reads Truth has been a helpful tool to help my heart feed on God’s Word (not to mention there’s a 15% off coupon code valid this weekend!) and today, I wanted to share my new favorite tool that helps me feed the hungry bellies around my table!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Y’ALL. Brace yourselves because I am on somewhat of a crusade to persuade all my fellow meal-planning, budget-conscious, friends about this life-changing system.

I had heard several friends rave about PlantoEat.com, but the first time I listened was when Kat Lee, (my friend Kristi and I refer to her as our Mr. Miyagi for all things online), an automating guru mentioned that doesn’t love to cook, but she does want healthy, affordable, quick and easy meals served up daily and she doesn’t want to have to THINK about it.

I DO love to cook but hate that it takes me approximately 2 hours to pour over Pinterest, compile a nice menu in my planner only to buy all the ingredients and forget where their recipes are found, and then just make up different meals as I go along, forgetting what ones were winners and always resorting to burning through my freezer meals or wasting energy reinventing the wheel…SO, I signed up for Plan To Eat’s 30 Day Free Trial membership and was so amazed that I bought a year subscription on Black Friday when it was 50% off. Then I watched her videos tutorials and. FREAKED. out.plantoeat

Guys, it’s an online recipe book, with a meal planner and an automated shopping list. You can install a bookmarklet so that any time you come across one of your favorite meals or a recipe you want to try on Pinterest or wherever, you just click it and it imports into your online recipe book. FROM WHICH you simply sit down once a week or once a month or whenever, to drag and drop your favorite recipes onto your monthly calendar. It then creates a printable or emailable shopping list for you, you add or subtract other items you need to purchase and go to the store…No time to make dinner? Click to the Freezer option and see what’s on hand. Don’t have time to meal plan? Just copy and past an entire week from another time when you did plan!

It took me about an hour and 45 minutes to set up all my recipes (that’s how long it would take me almost every week to meal plan!) and now it takes about 15 to drag, drop, print and go! Can’t say enough good things about the company or the sweet family that runs it. Okay. Shew. Had to get that out.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

I have no idea if you’re looking to automate and simplify your meal-planning, but I am saying this is the best system I’ve seen and I wanted to share it with you. You also can get referral credit when people sign up for the program, but you know me and you know I only share what is working for me and that I love. The referrals is a small side benefit, but the mental health and emotional relief brought to me by this system is priceless. :)

How do you meal plan? What seems to work for you?

She Reads Truth

she reads truth 4

I remember sitting cross-legged on the scratchy carpet of my bedroom in college. I’d blare my praise and worship mix tape and pour over the pages of my Bible. Though I thought I was “so busy” there was the luxury of extended time with the Lord, stretches of uninterrupted praying, long conversations with mentors and easy opportunities to share my faith.

When I got married, I was startled by having to share my sacred space with another human. My attention felt so divided. I couldn’t seem to grasp what it looked like to spend time with God separately and collectively with a person so different than me.

About the time I found a healthy, meaningful rhythm of walking with the Lord alongside Joel, we got the kids. My divided attention was now quartered and I had no clue how to spend time with Jesus, nurture a family and keep a home and ministry afloat. Thankfully, 1 Thessalonians 5 reminded me that, “The one who calls you is faithful, and HE will do it.” (Emphasis mine) He has done it, slowly but surely.

In April, it will be 2 years since we adopted our kids and I can easily say I am only JUST NOW understanding my spiritual temperament as a mom and how I can best connect with God’s Word amidst the chaos. 

The most helpful tool I’ve found is one that is absolutely beautiful, meaningful, communal and graceful. It’s the ministry of She Reads Truth!

she reads truth1

I first learned of it through a former student leader who is working as their community development coordinator and I am so excited for her to put her incredible writing skills to Kingdom use. Then I saw gorgeous Scripture-filled images popping up all over social media and I heard “there was an app for that” so I started following along with their online Bible studies and blog posts.she reads truth 2It wasn’t until I received a Study Pack to review that I saw how the whole ministry could come full circle in my heart.

Each day I can sit down to journal through a chapter of Scripture (right now we are studying John) pray through the passage and then apply it to my life. I can spend 15 minutes doing this or me and Matthew Henry can spend 3 hours studying and doing this! For the first time in a while, I am actually craving the 3 hours!!! Such an answer to prayer. (Probably because I am finally allowing myself the luxury of leaving the dishes in the sink to use preschool time to get my praise and worship mix tapes blaring again!)  I can download a smart phone screen lock that serves as a reminder of what I am learning. I can share images with friends who are also studying the passages and I can hear what others are learning on the app and website. And it all has such great depth, yet is light and easy to sprinkle throughout my entire day. L.o.v.i.n.g.i.t.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this fantastic resource because I am sure I’m not alone in trying to navigate spiritual growth through varying seasons of life. I’m sure I am not the only one who is learning about my spiritual temperament and how to best steward the time given to me.

I hope this review will encourage you to take time today to open God’s Word and enjoy the only Truth that can set you free.

There are a good number of free Bible studies on the app to preview and you can find any study you are interested in on the website, free of charge! As far as Study Packs, Scripture Memory Cards, etc. She Reads Truth is giving all you fabulous readers a coupon code to use this weekend! With the code “HURDLE”, you will receive 15% off you entire order from ShopSheReadsTruth.com from Friday-Sunday (1/8-1/11) at midnight. To use the code, add items to your cart and then redeem the code at checkout.

What tools are helping you enjoy God’s Word right now? What are you studying? I’d love to hear what your spiritual temperament is! Have you ever thought about how the temperaments of others cause you to enjoy God more? Let’s discuss in the comment section! xoxo

she reads truth 3

 

 

Pin It

2015 Goals = Life Goals

emersonIt’s January 8th and just this morning alone, I’ve broken more than half of my New Year’s Resolutions. It was a rough start to the day followed by a Panera pity party because, let’s be honest, money can’t buy you love, but $2.25 sure can buy you a lovely Cinnamon Crunch Bagel sliced and toasted with Reduced Fat Hazelnut Cream Cheese…just saying. And, that’s fine because I have set goals with GRACE and I am PUMPED for 2015. How are you feeling about the year now that we are 8 days in?

I’ve been encouraged to connect my goals to their “WHY” so that on the days when you’ve broken all your resolutions by 11:30, you can life in grace and not shame or deflating condemnation. Here are my vision and dreams for 2015:

1. Relationship with God: I want to thrive in an intimate relationship with God. I will soak up His word, adore Him for who He is and allow Him to flow out into all the areas of my life.

2. Self: I want to practice better self-care as my body ages. I will care for myself in such a way that I am connecting with my soul, nourishing my body, dealing with shame, exercising, resting well, growing, developing and intentionally living my life fully sold out to God and His plan for me. So that I will come to the end of my life and know that I faithfully stewarded all that He entrusted me with and inspired me to do.

3. Family: I want to have a marriage that is thriving, intimate, fun and meaningful. I will make #HurdlePartyof4 a healthy, fun, laughter-filled, love-tank-filled, memory-filled, Jesus-loving, therapeutic, hard-working, others-centered, friendly, grace-giving family to be a part of. So that, prayerfully, my kids will leave a greater impact for Christ than Joel and I ever could, that we may exude the Gospel to those around us. Thus enjoying the soul-satisfying joy that these moments of sheer family delight bring to the heart!

4. Home: I want a home that is healing to those inside and welcoming, nourishing and nurturing to those outside. I will live warmly, whimsically and yet precisely as a home manager, making our home a safe-haven to the people in and outside it—a place they can see Jesus, be broken, find healing, warm, healthy food and order. I will enjoy clutter-free living and eliminate distractions so that life can be lived, not managed and maintained. I will make our home a spiritual point of reference, belonging, love and laughter, a safe place my family and friends will always want to come.

5. Financials: I want to give generously, save aggressively, spend wisely on NEEDS vs. WANTS and cultivate new Ministry Partners.

6. Influence/Legacy/Ministry: I want to missionally multiply in my home, on campus, in the community and online so that my life can expose the maximum number of people to the joy of knowing Jesus so that they can turn around and expose the maximum number of people to the joy of knowing Jesus! Thus, raising up an army of people fighting for Christ when I leave this earth.

7. Curating: I want to use various forms of communication to curate the story, memories and history of our family and friends. I will capture and record the magic of the mundane, the sacred moments of daily life. I will create a logged heritage for my little people and will enjoy a creative outlet of beauty, completion and memories, in order to preserve and trophy all that God has done and allowed us to experience!

8. Summer Project: I want to follow God’s call and take our family and a team of staff and students to minister overseas.

These are nearly identical goals to the ones I set in 2014 because when it comes down to it, these are the things I want my life to be about. Tthere are a million different ways that these overarching, big picture ideals will play themselves out (and I’ve got bullet points out the wazoo to prove it!!), but I wanted to share these here with you for accountability and with the hope of spurring each other on toward love and good deeds.

What are your hopes for the New Year? Life in general? We are only 8 days in…how’s it going? Want to grab a cinnamon crunch bagel together sometime??? :)

Pin It

Looking Back & Looking Ahead

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/2651394/?claim=h3bumkt82ez”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>IMG_3234034

Wedding anniversary #6 was spent living separately because Joel was renovating the inside of our home and #7 we were living together, yet amidst the sawdust of sweat equity as Joel was renovating the outside of our home. 020So this past weekend, we made up for some lost time and had an aaaamazing belated anniversary celebration. 043

My blessed mother-in-love kept our kids for two, count them, two nights. Friday night was spent detoxing and defragmenting. (Does it take you a day or so to actually unwind and relax? It totally does me.) We chilled in Oxford and really enjoyed our charming town. It’s so great to “visit” your own town, isn’t it? Especially Oxford, ya’ll. The foodie scene here is legittttt. (Please, please, pretty please come visit!) We thoroughly enjoyed vegetating in our own home sans Nerf darts and Frozen flash mobs. (Grateful for those cherished children, but “even lovers need a holiday.”)

046

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was the cooking class we attended at the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, MS. We were total nerds and loved learning how not to disturb the starch molecules while making Guanciale Mashed Potatoes and how to make a Bearnaise Sauce that wouldn’t fall apart. We ate it up. Literally and figuratively. But even better than the decadent Peanut Butter Pie was the conversation that was had as we reviewed 2014 and dreamed, prayed, planned and set goals for 2015.

We used a great list of marital check-up questions that Joel’s mentor sent us and then we walked through Michael Hyatt’s Annual Review. These guides helped us think through family highlights, ministry wins, themes God has used to teach us, things we were proud of, disappointments, regrets, lessons learned, etc. It was incredibly refreshing for BOTH the ESFJ and the IS/NTP. That is saying something, people.

In addition to looking back and looking ahead in our marriage and family life, this is my second year to use PowerSheets, as a guide to review and plan for the coming New Year. In the messy middle of EVERY year, I get discouraged and feel like I am distant from God, my own soul and my ideals, but looking back at my PowerSheets from this year, I was encouraged to see, ON PAPER, that God HAS been growing me, I HAVE wrestled with sin, I HAVE heard from Him and my core IS STILL my calling.

So, what did I learn in 2014? 

25 things I learned square

  1. God taught me that I am not great…He is. I am not the focus. I am HIS and I am HIDDEN in Him. I am tethered to this party of four…therefore I AM THEIRS. I am replaceable, yet precious. Someone else can execute every one of my roles, but no one can be his wife or their mom. I can say “My life for yours” because He gave His life for me. 
  2. God taught me that I can wear Day 2 hair
  3. God taught me that the state of my heart is the state of my home. My floors can be dirty, but my heart can not be. 
  4. God taught me that date nights are cheaper than marriage counseling and if our marriage isn’t prioritized (over children) on our calendar and in our hearts, we’ll be paying for both.
  5. God taught me I have anger issues.
  6. God taught me that if my love and service has any strings attached, (the need for a pat on the back) it wasn’t really love at all. Living sacrifices don’t require pats on the back. Because God loves me FOR FREE I can love them for free too. 
  7. God taught me that daily I must choose pain for the benefit of others, lay down my life and my will for them. It was with JOY that He did this first for me. His glory. My sweat. 
  8. God taught me that I am a writer.
  9. God taught me that I must value quality time > a clean and quiet home. Daily I must choose to graciously welcome and invite my family into a home that is meant for them–not me. I GET to welcome the loud with arms wide open. Both a home and a mother are built for vision and wear and tear, not preserved for perfection! My all is to be used up, dried out and banged up for His glory. 
  10. God taught me to choose them now. There will be plenty of time for work (and sleep) later. 
  11. God taught me that the joy of motherhood comes camouflaged in much chaos. 
  12. God taught me to serve Joel for Jesus’ sake. 
  13. God taught me that podcasts rock.
  14. God taught me to let them be little and to make peace with their brokenness because it allows the focus to be on the Healer. 
  15. God taught me that it’s not too late. 
  16. God taught me that adoration is the key.
  17. God taught me we don’t need TV year-round.
  18. God taught me that I am not defined by anything other than the Trinity’s view of me
  19. God taught me to daily silence the inner drill sergeant in order to tune into the indwelling Spirit. 
  20. God taught me that having fun plans on the calendar gets our family excited about life.
  21. God taught me that I am afraid of being tired
  22. God taught me that automating as many areas of life as possible is a total win.
  23. God taught me to create rituals and rhythms for ordinary days and for holiday seasons.
  24. God taught me that not one inch of life is going to be done in my own strength. 
  25. God taught me that He has so much more to teach me.  

Now, tell me about YOU. How was your year, in general and specifically? Have you made space to exhale last year and inhale the hope of a fresh start? What dreams, plans and goals are stirring in your heart? What did God teach you this year? I’d love to hear! And if I don’t hear from you before tomorrow…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Happy new year 2015 written with Sparkling figures

P.S. I am a completely overwhelming goob when it comes to planning…Jan 1 is my most wonderful time of the year!! :) Email me if you want to templates, resources or help with this topic. On the other hand, my friend, Jessi, wrote a less-goob-more-grace post, if you want a gentle format to help you think and plan for the coming year. xoxo

Merry Christmas & Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Merry Christmas! We love and appreciate each of you this Christmas Season! BeFunky_Hurdle Christmas card-6709.jpg

The wait is over, the long-awaited Messiah is born! Happy Birthday, Jesus!

A vulnerable baby born to fearful teenagers on the road trip of a lifetime, headed to pay the bills. There was no room for the King of Kings that night and honestly, two thousands years later, I still struggle to give Him His proper place. But PRAISE BE TO GOD, regardless of the status of our reception, He is CHRIST THE LORD!!!

He is…

  • Amazing, Almighty, All-Powerful, “A raiser from the death” (Rev. 1:8)
  • Beautiful Baby (Luke 2)
  • Creator, Courageous (Gen. 1)
  • Dad (Eph. 1)
  • Everything, Everywhere (Col. 1:16)
  • Father (Gal 4:6)
  • Great, Good, (Ps. 145:3)
  • Here (Duet 31:6)
  • Invisible (1 Tim. 1:17)
  • Jealous (Duet. 6:15)
  • King (Ps. 95:3)
  • Loving (Eph. 2:4-5)
  • Made Everyone, Majestic (John 1;3)
  • Near (Ps. 34:18)
  • Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient (Ps 147:5)
  • Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)
  • Quiet (1 Kings 19:12)
  • Rescuer (2 Tim 4:17)
  • Satan Slayer, Savior (Rom. 16:20)
  • Truth (John 14:6)
  • Unchanging (Heb 13:8)
  • Victorious (1 Chron. 29:11)
  • Wise (James 1:5)
  • eXalted (Job 36:22) Xerophilous (Jn 4:13-14)
  • YHVH, (Ex. 3;14) Yes (2 Chron 1:20)
  • Zealous (2 Pet 3:9)

These are just a few of the facets of our God that our family has remembered this Advent season. How great that we have an immeasurable God? One that a 5-year old can understand and One that we could each spend 500 years studying and never exhaust the depth of His character.

Our prayer for 2015 is that adoration will become more and more a part of our daily moments. It’s when we lift our eyes, hearts and minds to think on HIM that hard times, happy times and everything in between can truly fall into it’s proper place and we can have proper perspective.

May we all be able to say with Spurgeon, “I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages!” adore

Ministry Highlight & An Invitation to Invest

Merry Christmas from the Hurdles! This Advent season we’ve tried to create sacred space every day (or so!) to reflect and adore God for His character traits.

We started with the letter “A” and read verses like Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Then onto “B” for Baby (Luke 2), “C” for Creator (Genesis 1) and “D” for Dad (Ephesians 1). These attributes and corresponding verses have filled our hearts with anticipation and excitement for the celebration of His birth, the remembrance of His death and the power of His resurrection. The kids have LOVED this practice and it’s helped us see His character more in our day-to-day.

As our children are learning more about the excitement of a Savior, so are many college students here at Ole Miss! Joel has been spending time this semester with a new Christian named “Ross”.

Ross recently shared his faith story at our weekly outreach meeting and he was excited to share it with friends and supporters of our ministry:

ross1“I grew up in a home where church and real life were separate. I went to church because it’s what you do, until I started playing high school sports. Sports quickly became #1 for me and I started drinking and not treating women like I should have. Sports became so much of an idol that I chose my college by where I could play baseball. I don’t believe I opened a bible once in high school and that definitely showed when I went to college.    After drinking and not focusing on my schoolwork my first semester in college I wasn’t able to play baseball any more and that caused me to hit rock bottom. Again, I turned to drinking and women for happiness and comfort. I did this so much that I questioned why I was living and one night at the end of my first year of college I tried to commit suicide. When I woke up the next morning I felt the grace of God.  God put it on my heart to transfer schools and get involved at a school with a strong spiritual community. God led me to Ole Miss Cru! Because of God’s grace and the mercy I have found and am strengthened in a relationship with Jesus Christ and for that I am forever thankful!”

Our hope is that we will reach many students like Ross on campus and around the world! We need YOU to help us make this possible. God has greatly blessed our ministry throughout this year, and as we begin to look towards next year we realize there is an opportunity to involve you in this process. Recently we have had several monthly supporters who, for various reasons, have had to end their giving and we find ourselves needing to raise monthly and one-time financial support. Would you pray about supporting our ministry with a tax-deductible gift?

Thank you for being faithful prayer warriors and financial anchors for our ministry. We are praying that through your continued partnership many more students like Ross will put their faith and confidence in Jesusthe One who, from the cradle to the cross, is worthy of all our adoration, and is the One who is coming again!

Until All Have Heard,

The Hurdles

Hurdle Rowan Oak Session-7041-2 (1)

The Nutcracker & Turning 8

Okay, we may not have our Christmas act together, and we may have put up a tree for a whopping 6 days of our children’s Christmas delight, but great googely moogely, we’re still having fun.

EG made her debut in the Nutcracker. Okay, actually she made multiple rogue solo performance debuts during not one–but two Nutcracker performances…

267There was much more waving than nut cracking going on for this girl.
269

But she sure can rock an imaginary doll like a precious angel. 038 027And which mouse does not look like the others, you ask? 
200Well, the one with the tail….In the front!!!!! Slightly hilarious wardrobe malfunction.195204Girl.can.twirl.
212This is what she looks like when she sees her Momma…
220And this is what she looks like when she sees her Brother…

223

And this is what she looks like when she sees her Daddy wags his finger at her antics.
225

The Daddy that she very much has wrapped around her finger.
260

If they actually let her come back to ballet class, I think she may have a future on the stage. Not surprising to anyone.

The next day, we celebrated our sweet D-man turning 8 years old. It’s 100% crazy to me that the 5 year-old baby boy who turned me into a mushy mommy mess is now a budding little man!101

We had a “Hurdle Depot” building party at Home Depot here in Oxford and embraced the color orange. (Hard to do for a bunch of Ole Miss fans, but embrace we did with cheese puffs, oranges, pizza, carrots, and lots of orange candy, cake and Fanta.) .
109It was a blast. Rather loud, but a blast nonetheless. :)  110

God has provided such sweet buddies for D. His classmates, friends from football and church are such a fun provision. They really helped make his big day special. 112113116I’m pretty sure the Grandparents and parents did a great deal of the actual building…
137 138149 150

They were all REALLY good sports. (Thanks, y’all!) 139 151

Someone let this little ragamuffin into the party. She bawled when D told her it was a boys only party, but then was VERY proud to have made the final invite list.153

Oh, and we played a little “Pin the Football on D-man” as well.
168155Here’s to being 8 years old, Sweet Boy! 136

How has December been for you?

Kicking Lethargy to the Curb…When It’s Easier to Preserve Than Serve

OH Y’ALL. I asked my friend Elizabeth to guest post Monday and would you believe that I used the wrong article? Not a big deal, but I did wonder why the title in my calendar had nothing to do with the rich writing I posted, alas, I figured it was me being lethargic and delirious. And yes it was. SO if you’d like to enjoy what I MEANT for you to read, please visit here because she basically writes the post below, but with years of wisdom, experience and poetic prowess. And, If you too are feeling lethargic and delirious, read on and as my mother always says, carry on with courage. 

///

It’s 2:30. You’re sitting in your office, eyes glazed over and hand en route to the snack drawer. You’ve watched the Geico Wednesday/Humpday Remix 7 times but you’re still not able to snap out of it.

It’s 2:30. Your kid is supposed to be joyfully experiencing ”room time”, but Polly can’t seem to keep her pockets to herself. (Why did they make those crazy dolls so hard to dress??!!) The laundry is calling but you can barely hear it over the screaming smell of the dishes. You’ve no energy to do anything about either of those issues.

You take said child to the car, buckle her in to go get in the carpool line where you quickly arrive and crank your seat back to “rest your eyes.” After what feels like seconds, you are startled awake by the honking of horns asking you to please pull forward and pick up your child. You have committed the “forgot to set my cell phone alarm for 1 minute before the bell rings” cardinal carpool sin.

Seriously. What’s one to do when you’ve hit your caffeinated limit before the sun is shining and yet you’ve many hours left to go in the day? How do you kick lethargy to the curb?

I started writing this post a few months ago because lethargy is an ongoing problem in my life. But then I got too tired to finish the post. It’s true. Wish I were kidding.

I mean, how on earth do you move forward with vision and calling to be the hand that rocks the cradle and thus changes the world through the shaping of souls when you feel like you need to prop your eyelids open with toothpicks?

I want to serve vs. preserve. But it’s so much easier to preserve my sanity and design the day around getting my kids to occupy themselves rather than engaging their hearts through Hot Wheels, Barbies, and God’s Word

I want to lay my life down for theirs instead of picking up and cherishing “my rights”. Yet in the still of the night I value quiet rest over connection and closeness. 

My my friend Kristi encouraged me, in her recent post  “Don’t Bolt: Thoughts on Staying Present When Life Gets Loud” when she wrote: 

“We all know about the fight or flight instinct – when faced with a difficult situation, our body releases hormones that prepare us to stay and fight, or run away, depending on what’s in our best interest in terms of self-preservation…

When I say bolt in these cases, I’m talking about the tendency to escape, to check out, to go somewhere else, mentally. To retreat, and get away from what’s going on in front of me. So if you were to put a camera in my living room, I’d be there, but if you were my kid asking me for something, I wouldn’t really be THERE.

If you have a smartphone like me, paying attention to when you’re likely to pick it up might be a good way to identify what makes you bolt. For me, the tendency is strong when I’m tired, feeling a little lonely, when I feel like I didn’t get what I wanted. Sometimes it’s after snapping at my kids, or knowing I need to have a stressful conversation with Duff. My instinct is to get out of there. And it’s so easy, especially when, through my phone, I can retreat from the things that challenge me to something impersonal and controlled. Nevermind that it can’t love me.

So why does this matter? Well, because life gets loud. Little ones or no, I’m betting we all face these little opportunities to stay or go all day long. And I’m saying we should fight, and stay.

Presence matters, and as I’ve thought through this, I’ve found that the best way for me to choose to stay, to fight my instinct to bolt, is to not only stay, but to move in close.

To grab a kid and pull her in my lap. Tell her to get a book and read it together.

To sit on the blanket with the baby and make funny faces.

To get the paint and glue and markers out and help the middle baby work on using scissors.

To invite them into the kitchen and work on cutting up tomatoes for the salad.”

In other words, as my mentor recently said, “It’s so much easier to escape than to enter in, Baby Jesus entered in. Let’s be Jesus to these kids.”

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can.

And, isn’t it worth it?

Because, even though I love myself, I do love my God.  And I can trust that He is changing me. 

Because it brings my heart such joy.  And I can trust that He sees, knows and rewards the hidden acts of sacrificial service. 

And because, I stinking signed up for this!

But aren’t there days when you’re so physically tired that you feel it impossible to pull that kid up into your lap to read Fancy Nancy for the fiftieth time? Aren’t there days when you want to stay present but are so tempted to bolt from your current circumstance? Those are definitely the days when honesty is the best policy. Let’s tell God the truth about our humanity and allowing Him to tell us the TRUTH about His infinite Deity.

273

The ever-wise Elizabeth Elliot has inspired many for years with her simple, yet powerful motto, “Do the next thing.” But practically there are times when the 2:30 lethargy threatens to suffocate my ideals and I can’t even think of what my next thing should be.

Let’s take this morning’s stare-off with the garage door for example, I had dropped off the preschooler and was quite cozy in my warm car. But alas, the “next thing” needed to be me making the choice to open that garage door and enter into the world of a vomiting child.

By the power of the truth, the power of the Holy Spirit and an encouraging self-motivating list, we can. photo (64)

I polled some of my favorite “go get em” friends for their ideas of what to do in the “I’d rather sit in a parked car” moments. This list and a load of prayer helped lift the fog just this morning, so I thought I’d share it with you. Keep this list handy when you need someone to tell you to do the next thing (and also what that next thing needs to be!)

My Kicking Lethargy to the Curb List:

  1. Live in grace. Hit my knees and beg God to “Lord, I know you are here, help me see You! Give me grace, come to my assistance, Lord help me!” 
  2. Turn off all electronic devices.
  3. Drink a huge glass of ice water or hot tea.
  4. Get fresh air.
  5. Go for a walk/run/stretch/yoga during a lunch break or a scooter/bike ride with kids or just pull out a lawn chair and sit in the sun to get some vitamin D. 
  6. Cuddle and read books. If my brain can’t think, at least I can read words and snuggle and feel like I am doing something of value.
  7. Turn on a podcast.
  8. Text a friend to ask for prayer.
  9. Eat only veggies and nuts.
  10. Nap! Sometimes it’s the godliest and healthiest thing I can do!

Those are my top 10…what are yours?

 

Pin It