Category Archives: Bible/Devotionals

The Jesse Tree: Day 15 through Day 21

Dear Mama Friends…are you enjoying this?

Day #15 – David

Scripture: Matthew 22:41-46, John 10:7-19, Acts 13:22-23

Ornament:  The staff & the crown – This represents that David was both a shepherd and a king. It beautifully pointed to the fact that Jesus would be both for us as well. He is the Great Shepherd and the King of kings. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “The Shepherd King” and “Dancing”, pages 50-56 / The Jesus Storybook, “The young hero and the horrible giant” and “The Good Shepherd”, pages 122-135

Song: “King of Kings” (Watch it here) and “Gentle Shepherd” (Watch it here)

The point: Besides the above-mentioned parallel, it is also important to point out that David was a man after God’s own heart. Although he fell at first, it’s important to learn about his character and follow his example of humility and repentance. 

Suggested activity: Recite the 23rd Psalm together and discuss.

 

Day #16 – Solomon

Scripture: I Kings 3:5-28, I Corinthians 1:18-25

Ornament: The Scroll – This represents all the wisdom which Solomon wrote, especially the Proverbs.

Story: The Jesse Tree, “The Wisdom of Solomon”, pages 57-60

Song: “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man” (Watch it here)

The point: Beside Jesus, Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. It’s important to point out to our children that wisdom didn’t come with age, but because he asked for wisdom over riches or fame. We can also point out that we can do the same as James says that we should, (James 1:5-6). In addition to Solomon’s wisdom, this is a good devotional to discuss that preaching of the cross is foolishness to this world. It could indicate why God chose lowly shepherds to be Jesus’ first visitors. 

Suggested activity: Have your children color a picture about this story. There are many to choose from on the internet. Here is a free printable that I found. 

Day #17 – Elijah

Scripture: Matthew 11:13-15, 17:1-13, Luke 9:28-36

Ornament: The flame – The flame represents the fire that fell from Heaven on Mt. Carmel to 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “The Idol and the Still, Small Voice” & “War and Peace”, pages 61-68

Song: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (Watch it here) 

The point: Elijah was a key prophet in the Old Testament who delivered God’s judgement on the Kingdom of Judah. He is key because it was his spirit that fell on John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. He is also one of the two, Moses being the other, that appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus met with a representative of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) and He came to fulfill both. 

Suggested activity: Under construction

 

Day #18 – Major Prophets

Scripture: Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1-10, 35:5-6, 40:3-5, 53:3-5

Ornament: The Lion of Judah – This ornament was originally made to represent Daniel, but the more I studied, the more I feel that Isaiah was just as key, if not more so in relation to Messianic prophecy. One of those prophecies, (in Genesis and Revelation, interestingly enough) refers to Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. 

Story: The Jesus Storybook, “Operation “No More Tears!”, pages 144-151

Song: See “Suggested Activity.” However, this is a nice sing-along-video with lyrics to one of my favorites”the Messiah,” called “For Unto Us a Child is Born” (Watch it here) 

The point:  The major prophets really flesh out what Jesus would look like when He came and what His character would be. They made clear what it was we were to look for in the Messiah. Isaiah especially says that Jesus would be born of a virgin, the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, of the root of Jesse, called a Nazarene, a healer and preceded by a forerunner. Jeremiah had more prophecy relating to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Daniel is important for two reasons. First, he very clearly lays out that the Messiah would come according to a specific timeline, both for his first and second comings. He also was a wise man in Babylon. Tradition says that he started a school and that the wise men that came from the east very likely knew the prophecies foretold about the Messiah and followed the star because of Daniel’s influence on Babylon. Interesting thought, at least.

Suggested activity: Watch/listen to the full “The Messiah” throughout your evening. Many of the beautiful prophecies are skillfully put to music by Handel. (This particular link has some background information about G.F. Handel.)

 

Day #19 – Esther

Scripture: Esther 1-10

Ornament: The scepter – Just as the scepter was extended to Esther so that she could approach the king, Jesus blood is an extended scepter by which we can approach the King. (Hebrews 4:16)

Story: Neither The Jesse Tree or The Jesus Storybook have Esther’s story, but she played an important part in Jesus’ story and it’s good to include her. Read the Scriptures.

Song: “What would I give,” (Watch it here) (I had never heard this, but it’s lovely and worth a listen.)

The point: As mentioned above, Esther is not mentioned in either book. But like Rahab, Esther played an important part in Jesus’ story and it’s good to include her. Although God is not once mentioned in the book of Esther, His fingerprints are all over it. Had Esther not been willing to submit to God’s will and approach the king, the Jewish people would have been destroyed, and with it, the tribe of Judah specifically. 

Suggested activity: If you can, read the whole story of Esther. It’s written so beautifully in the Bible that it’s as readable as a children’s storybook simply as it is written. According to Jewish tradition, every time Haman’s name is mentioned, the kids should boo and hiss. It adds an element of fun to this beautiful story.

 

Day #20 – Ezra/Nehemiah

Scripture: Ezra 7, Nehemiah 8-10

Ornament: The Watchtower

Story:  The Jesus Storybook, “Get ready!”, pages 170-175

Song: “Nehemiah’s Song” (Watch it here) 

The point: Nehemiah and Ezra completed rebuilding the city of Jerusalem, which was also necessary for the Messianic prophecies to be fulfilled. 

Suggested activity: See song – this is almost seven minutes long. It’s less a sing-along and more a story set to music. Kinda neat. 

 

Day #21 – Minor Prophets

Scripture: Hosea 11:1 (Matthew 2:15), Jonah 1:17 (Matthew 12:38-41), Micah 5:2 (Matthew 2:2-6), Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6

Ornament: Bethlehem

Story: The Jesus Storybook, “Get ready!”, pages 170-175 (This is repeated because it covers both yesterday and today. You do not need to read it twice.)

Song: “O Little Town of Bethlehem,”  (Watch it here) and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”  (Watch it here) 

The point: There were many prophecies given in the minor prophets pointing to Jesus. Hosea is the one who said that he would be called out of Egypt, Micah prophesied that he would be born in Bethlehem and Malachi that he would be preceded by a messenger/Elijah. In addition to those, Zechariah and Jonah prophesied of his life, death and resurrection.

Suggested activity: As a family, make a list of things we must do to be ready for when the Messiah returns. Read the story of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).

I’d love to hear from you! What are you enjoying? Any changes you would suggest? Feel free to share this with friends who you think would enjoy it. 

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

The Jesse Tree: Day 8 through Day 14

Hello, Mama readers! How is it going so far?  

Day #8 – Leah 

Scripture: Genesis 29:16-35

Ornament: Tender eyes – Leah’s tender eyes or a veiled face. The Bible makes specific mention of Leah’s eyes. And it is likely that they were the only thing Jacob saw when he married her. 

Story: The Jesus Storybook, “The girl no one wanted”, pages 70-75

Song: “Glad to Be Me” (Watch it here)

The point: It’s intriguing and special that although Jacob’s favorite was Rachel, God favored Leah. He opened her womb and honored Jacob’s first wife. The Bible says that she had “tender eyes” and her name literally means “weary.” God saw how she suffered and blessed her with children. And she gave birth to Levi (Mary’s ancestor, representing the priestly line) and Judah (Joseph’s ancestor, representing the kingly line.) It’s also a beautiful thing that by the time she had Judah, she was no longer pining for Jacob’s love, but gloried in God’s love and named her son, “Praise.”

Suggested activity: Look into a mirror and try to see yourself as God sees you.

Day #9 – Joseph 

Scripture: Genesis 37:3-36, 50:15-21

Ornament: The coat of many colors

Story: The Jesse Tree, “The Dreamer” and “Famine & Plenty”, pages 30-36 / The Jesus Storybook, “The forgiving prince”, pages 76-83

Song: “Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors” (Watch it here)

The point: Although Joseph’s coat caused great jealousy among his brothers and was the catalyst for Joseph being sold into Egypt, God saw the big picture and what they had meant for evil, He meant for good. Jacob’s (Israel’s) people were preserved through the famine because of Joseph’s position in Egypt. God makes provision for His people.

Suggested activity: Rehearse as a family some “bad things” that have happened to you and discuss how the Lord has turned it into something good for you all. 

Day #10 – The Passover 

Scripture: Exodus 12:1-14

Ornament: The blood on the mantel

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Let My People Go!” pages 37-41, The Jesus Storybook, “God to the Rescue” and “God makes a way”, pages 84-99

Song: “How Did Moses Cross the Red Sea” (Watch it here) or “Pharoah, Pharoah” (Watch it here)

The point: Although the Passover doesn’t point to Jesus’ birth, it certainly points to Him, the ultimate Passover Lamb. God saved His people from extinction by delivering them out of Pharaoh’s hand.

Suggested activity: Have an authentic Passover meal and/or Communion as a family (with parental discretion). We actually just looked up the instructions in Exodus 12 and prepared them instead of following a traditional Seder.

Day #11 – The 10 Commandments 

Scripture: Exodus 20:1-21

Ornament: The stone tablets

Story: The Jesus Storybook, “Ten ways to be perfect”, pages 100-107

Song: “The Perfect Ten” (Watch it here)

The point: Discuss that God desired to write His law on the hearts of the people even in the Old Testament times, but the people “stood afar off”, but “Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” The blessing was on Moses because he desired to draw close to God above all else. The people feared the awesomeness of God, but there was clearly a heart problem with the people. But when Jesus was crucified, the veil in the temple was rent in two from top to bottom and allowed us to approach God. Now His law can indeed be written on our hearts.

Suggested activity: Do a memory game and try to arrange the commandments in order. You can also discuss how the first four commandments deal with our relationship with God and the last six are about how we relate to others. 

Day #12 – Rahab 

Scripture: Joshua 2:1-24, 6:20-25

Ornament: Red cord (or red ribbon) It’s hard to tell here, but this is a clear globe with a red ribbon filling it. You could do something like this or simply tie a red cord to a branch.

Story: Neither of the two books that we’re referencing had Rahab represented, so we are just going to read the Scriptures.

Song: “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” (Watch it here)

The point: As mentioned above, Rahab isn’t in either version we’re reading. But Shane and I both felt that her story is essential. She is indeed an ancestor of Jesus and it was entirely due to her obedience and not her blood-line. She shows that no matter how deep and dark the sin of your past, when you choose to make God the Lord of your life and turn from your sin, you are part of His family. 

Suggested activity: Look around your house as a family for as many red things as you can find. You could even split into teams and make it a contest.

Day #13 – Ruth

Scripture: Ruth 1:8-22, 2:4-20, 4:13-14

Ornament: I didn’t have any barley, but I just filled this empty globe with grains of various kinds. I would like to eventually replace it with barley.

Story: The Jesse Tree, “The Foreigner,” pages 42-45

Song:  “The Song of Ruth” (Watch it here) 

The point: As with Rahab, it was Ruth’s obedience that made her a part of Jesus’s ancestry, rather than her blood-line. She chose to make the God of Israel her God rather than the gods of Moab. Because she honored her mother-in-law, she was married to her kinsman redeemer, Boaz, a type of Christ. And as a result, she was the grandmother of King David. 

Suggested activity: Have a “lights out” night except for your Christmas lights. Notice how the the light seems brighter in the darkness and think about how God shines His light in our darkest of times, just as He did for Ruth amid the loss of her husband.

Day #14 – Samuel 

Scripture: I Samuel 3:1-10, 16:4-13

Ornament: Anointing oil – The part of Samuel to focus on is that he anointed David to be King, apart from Saul’s blood-line. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Speak, Lord, For Your Servant is Listening,” pages 46-49 / The Jesus Storybook, “The teeny-weenie…true king”, pages 116-121

Song: “Little David, Play on Your Harp” (Watch it here) and/or “Only a Boy Named David” (Watch it here)

The point: No, Samuel was not in Jesus’s direct bloodline. But he was the one man in those days that heard directly from God and it was he who anointed David to be king. He played an essential role in the plan. It was he who heard God tell him, “…For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

Suggested activity: If you use essential oils at all, you could have your children smell cassia oil, which was a common anointing oil in Bible times. 

Day #15 – David

Scripture: Matthew 22:41-46, John 10:7-19, Acts 13:22-23

Ornament:  The staff & the crown – This represents that David was both a shepherd and a king. It beautifully pointed to the fact that Jesus would be both for us as well. He is the Great Shepherd and the King of kings. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “The Shepherd King” and “Dancing”, pages 50-56 / The Jesus Storybook, “The young hero and the horrible giant” and “The Good Shepherd”, pages 122-135

Song: “King of Kings” (Watch it here) and “Gentle Shepherd” (Watch it here)

The point: Besides the above-mentioned parallel, it is also important to point out that David was a man after God’s own heart. Although he fell at first, it’s important to learn about his character and follow his example of humility and repentance. 

Suggested activity: Recite the 23rd Psalm together and discuss.

I really hope you’re enjoying this so far. Please share this with others and tell me what you think!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

The Jesse Tree: Day 1 through Day 7

Hello, Mama readers! Are you as excited as I am? Enjoy the first seven days!

Day #1 – Introduction – The Jesse Tree

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10

day-1

Ornament: The Jesse Tree – This ornament can either show a stump or a tree, but it’s important to have both the roots and the branches showing. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Introduction”, pages 8-9 / The Jesus Storybook, “The Story and The Song”, pages 12-17

Song: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (Watch it here) and “Come, Thou, Long Expected Jesus” (Watch it here)

The point: Jesus was not only the Root of David, but the Branch. David called him LORD, yet He was descended from David. Such a wonderful mystery!

Suggested activity: Get your tree! It’s kinda hard to start putting ornaments out unless you have a tree. And it’s a great way to have a conversation about trees. Bonus if you go to a tree farm and actually get to see a tree that is still rooted in the ground.

Alternative: Plant a seed and talk about roots and shoots as you do.

Day #2 – Creation 

Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5, 26-27

day-2

Ornament: The World (or the Sun & Moon) – This ornament represents the Creation, so be as artistic or as simple as you wish. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “The Jesse Tree”, pages 10-11 / The Jesus Storybook, “The beginning: a perfect home”, pages 18-27

Song: “The Seven Days of Creation” (to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”)

On the first day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me… His light so we all could see.

On the second day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me… the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the third day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the fourth day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…sun, moon and stars, land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the fifth day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…birdies and fishies, sun, moon and stars, land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the sixth day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…animals and people, birdies and fishies, sun, moon and stars, land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

On the seventh day of Creation the Good Lord gave to me…a day to rest…and…praise Him… (pretend to sleep)…animals and people, birdies and fishies, sun, moon and stars, land, sea and plants, the sky up above and His light so we all could see.

The point: Jesus is part of the godhead and as such, was present at Creation. He has always been.

Suggested Activity:  Decorate your tree and think about how special it feels when you are done with your work. Think about how God felt after creating us.

Day #3 – The Fall 

Scripture: Genesis 3:6-9, 14-15

day-3

Ornament: The Forbidden Fruit and the Serpent – This ornament can be any variation of this theme. One year I just had a red apple. However, last year I thought, “Maybe the forbidden fruit was purple??” Beside that, I wanted the serpent represented as well because the prophecy says that it is his head that Jesus would bruise.  

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Paradise Garden”, pages 12-15 / The Jesus Storybook, “The terrible lie”, pages 28-37

Song: “Satan is My Enemy” (Watch it here)  

The point: God had a plan for our redemption through Jesus from the very moment sin entered the world. In His punishment to the serpent, God prophesied of Jesus coming as our remedy.

Suggested Activity: Write a letter to God thanking Him for His plan of salvation for us.

Day #4 – The Flood 

Scripture: Genesis 6:5-8

day-4

Ornament: The Rainbow or Ark – I chose the rainbow because it is more colorful and represents His promise to us. But I also like the idea of the ark because it represents God’s provision for the righteous.  

Story: The Jesse Tree, “A Boat Full of Animals”, pages 16-19 / The Jesus Storybook, “A new beginning”, pages 38-47

Song: “Arky, Arky” (Watch it here)

As a silly aside, you can listen to goats singing Christmas carols. They are hilarious and make the kiddos laugh. My middle son said that it makes him imagine what it would have been like to be on the ark full of animals. So we can tie this in, right?! 🙂 (Watch it here)

The point: Although God cannot stand sin and had to destroy it, He made a plan of deliverance from His wrath for the righteous.

Suggested Activity: Have a family Lego night! Have your children build elaborate creations. How would they feel if they were destroyed? How do you think God felt when He had to destroy what He had created?

Alternative: Make a list as a family of as many promises of God that you can come up with and hang them somewhere prominent through the Christmas season (and beyond!)

Day #5 – Abraham’s promise 

Scripture: Genesis 12:1-4, 7, 15:5

day-5

Ornament: The Stars in the Sky – Later on there will be a single star, but this ornament shows the many, many that were shown to Abraham. (I just got a glittery ball ornament and dotted it with a gold pen and it turned out really well.)

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Strange Visitors”, pages 20-22 / The Jesus Storybook, “Son of laughter”, pages 56-61

Song: “Father Abraham” (Watch it here)

The point: God promised that the whole earth would be blessed by Abraham’s seed (Jesus) and that his descendants would be innumerable like the stars in the sky.

Suggested Activity:

1) Stargaze as a family and try to count the stars for a minute. Think of the enormity of God’s promise to Abraham.

2) If weather doesn’t permit this, check out this footage from the Hubble space telescope.

Day #6 – The Sacrifice

 Scripture: Genesis 22:1-14

day-7

Ornament: The Ram – You could do a number of variations on this, such as fill a glass ornament with white wool yarn, or attempt as I did to paint a ram. 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “A Test of Love”, pages 23-25 / The Jesus Storybook, “The present”, pages 62-29

Song:  “There is a Redeemer” (Watch it here)

The point: God asked Abraham to offer up his only son Isaac. Instead, God provided a substitute for Isaac, a ram. God offered up His only Son, Jesus, which provided the ultimate substitute for us.

Suggested Activity: As a family, wrap a cross or some other representation of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Place it under your tree to represent His gift to us. Write “FROM: God” and have each family member write their own name on the “TO: __________ ” portion of the tag.

Day #7 – Jacob 

Scripture: Genesis 28:10-22

Ornament: Jacob’s ladder 

Story: The Jesse Tree, “Stairway to Heaven”, pages 26-29

Song: “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” (Watch it here)

The point: God repeated the promise that He had given to Abraham and promised Jacob that his seed would be as the dust of the earth and that through his seed (Jesus) would all the nations of the earth be blessed.

Suggested activity:

1) Be a blessing to someone and write a note to someone to remind that person how much God loves them.

2) Find a big, semi-smooth rock and have your children try to lay their heads on it like a pillow and think of Jacob’s fitful night and eventful encounter with God.

Are you enjoying these? Feel free to let me know what worked and didn’t work for you.

Next week’s devotionals will post on December 6. Check back in!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

Jesse Tree: 2017 Introduction – “A Treasured Family Tradition”

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots…” ~ Isaiah 11:1  

Hello, Mama readers!

As we head into the 2017 Christmas season, I’ll be re-posting my Jesse Tree devotionals.

Have you caught the Jesse Tree bug yet? This is our family’s third year using this tradition as a tool to keep Christ in Christmas and we are all really looking forward to it! I have been able to fine tune it this year and will be sharing some tips with you as we go.

As I mentioned last year, our reason for doing this was simple and the decision, easy. Shane and I had been struggling with just how much we want to focus on this time-honored tradition of the Christmas tree. Did our kids treasure the nativity scene as much as they did the tree? Were we perhaps placing it above the true meaning of Christmas? We didn’t like the thought of that.

One thing that adoptive and foster parents will relate to, is that we typically don’t have full influence over our children from birth. In some cases, Jesus is not taught at all and Christmas is all about Santa and reindeer. And the tree.

As a family, we kicked Santa to the curb, along with all of his reindeer, a long time ago. DISCLAIMER: We DO NOT judge friends and family who celebrate that stuff. No, we do not worry about your spiritual condition and pray for you to “see the light.” Seriously. It’s just that as a family, with SO MUCH worldly influence already poured into our sweet children before we ever met them, we are just dialing that way back. WAY. BACK.

But the tree? I just felt that there was a way we could totally redeem that tradition so that our children could enjoy it while still completely focusing on Jesus and the reason He came for us, by such humble means, no less.

And then I found the Jesse Tree!

If you and your family are ready to share in this beautiful journey with us this Christmas, just follow along on my posts and you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what to do!

I’ll be posting a week’s worth of devotionals at a time, three days ahead, to give you a head start on prepping for activities and making ornaments, if you want to do the whole shebang.

The two books we are using this year are:

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesse Tree, by Geraldine McCaughrean

In addition, I found my list of “things to keep in mind” that I made at the end of last year, so here it is!

1. Split the activity into two parts – Morning and Evening. In the morning, pull the ornament, hang it on the tree and read out of the story book or read the Scripture. In the evening, do the song, activity and read what wasn’t read in the morning.

2. Sing more songs / Christmas carols. I was so intent on finding songs that fit the theme that we missed our usual singing by the light of the tree time.

3. Find meaningful activities to do less often. The activities overwhelmed me a bit. Some seemed too grandiose to do within a day, while others didn’t seem to fit or were less meaningful. And honestly, I would rather do more difficult stuff less frequently if it has meaning. Our Passover meal and Lights Out nights were incredibly special and the kids got a lot out of the parallels. I’d also like to find more crafts to do for next year.

4. Have the kids make their own Jesse Tree ornaments. Our family ornaments that Shane and I made are special, but I will want my kids to have their own for years to come.

5. Replace ornaments instead of adding. The tree got really, really full and the kiddos didn’t know how/where to place the ornaments. Had I told them to simply replace one of the plain colored balls I had already placed, it would have made for a less crazy tree. 

6. When in doubt and time runs out, Scripture is the most important. There were days that we were rushed for time and were trying to cram it all in. In the end, the Bible says it best.

I pray that you and your family are richly blessed by this wonderful tradition. 

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

Sell All

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19:21-22

 “Sell all.”

The immensity of that two-word phrase has been rolling around in my head and weighing heavily on my heart for several weeks now. Maybe that’s why I’ve been silent here for so long.

Lately, I’ve been taking a very serious, in-depth look at my Christianity. I hope to share more of this with you as time and the Holy Spirit allow, but for the last four to six months, I’ve been examining every part of what I believe and assessing why I believe it.  I want to be sure that all of it is in Scripture; that all of it is well pleasing to the Lord.  I must be certain that my life is lining up to His Word, and I deeply feel the urgency of this.

Why? Because at the end of the day (that Great and Final Day), the only thing that will matter is whether I was faithful to the Lord.  Whether I was obedient to His Word. All of it. Even those parts that are hard or uncomfortable; those that may be unpopular, and even cause people to question my rationality. The Lord has been faithfully reminding me that His earliest followers did the things that were hard; sacrificed their comfort (and often their lives) for the sake of the Gospel. They were considered, by most, extreme; by many, crazy, and by others, rebellious.

“Rebellious.” That is the word that I have struggled with the most. I desire deeply that people know that my intentions are pure. I have come to accept, however, that some may not, and I am resolved to be OK with that.  Rebellion is something that is addressed very strongly in the Bible.  It is condemned on the same level as witchcraft. When I consider this, though, I know that following Jesus, taking Him at His word, and putting those words into practice is the exact opposite of rebellion.  The world’s perception is upside down, and let’s face it – the more like Jesus we become, the less the world at large will like us. But it’s not just the world. Even the modern Pharisees, (those who are more worried about the “traditions of their fathers” than obedience to the Word of God,) will hate us! Perhaps, as in Jesus’ experience, even more than the unbelieving world. They may try to discredit us, defame us, question our character and sincerity, or even destroy us.

Shane has been going through a similar journey, and when he brought this Scripture to me, and spoke the words, “sell all,” I  must admit that the words that I desperately wanted to speak were: Please! No!”

I have read the story of the “rich young ruler” many times. I have heard those words of Jesus recounted to me by preachers, Sunday school teachers, and my parents since I was in pigtails. Just about every time that I considered his reaction to the Savior, I would think, How sad! Or He could have followed Jesus! He gave him a personal invitation to come with Him! And He was righteous, but got hung up on his STUFF! What a fool he was!

This time, however (rather than hurl accusations at a Bible page), I was compelled to ask myself a few questions.

”Am I really so different? What would I have done differently, in the same situation?  How might I have responded to Jesus?”

But, these hypothetical questions are just that…hypothetical. They don’t give me a real picture of where I am. So I must ask myself another question: “How have I responded to Jesus?”

Many of us have been taught to expect the blessing of the Lord when we are following Him, and we can! But what exactly does the blessing of the Lord look like? Is it material?  Can I hold it in my hands? Is it a large bank balance? Are riches really even a blessing at all? What if Jesus looked you in the eye and told you that YOU needed to sell YOUR house, car, stuff, to inherit the Kingdom of God? Would you do it?

That is the exact crisis we have been facing.

But…that’s missionary level stuff, right? That’s pretty radical. Do I really need to go that far?  When I am honest with myself and read the Great Commission, that is exactly what Jesus calls His followers to – missionary level.

In Mark 16:15, Jesus says, “Go YE into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.(emphasis mine)

Yes, there is work for me to do here, but am I treating the place that I live as a true mission field? Or is it too easy to think that my children are my only ministry and to be satisfied with that? Do I wake every day thinking about the needs of the people in my neighborhood? Am I asking myself how I can minister the love of Jesus to my community?

What about that homeless person on the corner? Am I guilty of the words and inaction of James 2:16?

“Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

In a word…yes. 

True, I no longer drive past these people that Jesus loves without looking them in the eye, but, am I giving them an empty “God bless you,” or “God loves you,” and neglecting to put shoes on their feet or food in their mouths? Have I taken the time to actually get to know these that God has fearfully and wonderfully made? Will I ask them for their name, and tell them mine?

What about the widow I know? Do I consider her loneliness and call her? Am I making her a meal or cleaning her house when she can’t? Am I helping her with errands?

What about the orphan and the fatherless? Will I give them what they need? Do I invite them, not just to Sunday school, but into our home to play with our kids and to have a meal when they would otherwise be alone? When they come over at an inconvenient or difficult time for me, do I turn them away with my words and expressions, or do I joyfully invite them in anyway?

Friends, the Lord has really nailed me on this one. Because we have literally adopted three of the fatherless, I thought I was OK. But there are so many kiddos that my kids come into contact with that are practically orphaned. Even if they live in the same home with a living parent, many of these need an adult in their lives that are invested in them, who will welcome them, stand by them and show them the love of an eternal Father.

Do I make this life of serving Jesus look appealing or like a real drag? Do I have a smile on my face? Am I kind to the checker in the grocery store? Am I in such a hurry that I get irritated when someone’s debit or EBT, or WIC card won’t work in the line? Am I reacting in a godly way when someone cuts me off in traffic? Do my neighbors see me smiling and waving or do I have a furrowed brow? When people sell door to door, do I listen to them because they’re PEOPLE? Or do I shut them down because I don’t have time?

Every one of these questions are ones I have been asking myself lately. And I feel like I have been “weighed in the balances and am found wanting.” That may sound extreme, as those of you who have read Daniel know that Belshazzar ended up dying in condemnation when that phrase was spoken to him. But if I refuse to do the things that Jesus commands in Matthew 25, here lies the true rebellion that I should fear. If I rebel against these things, I will face the separation of the sheep and the goats based on my apathy toward the “least of these, my brethren”. Am I giving a cup of cool water? Feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Visiting the sick and imprisoned?

What if the biggest reason that salvation looks so empty and void to the world is that they don’t see these things in ME?

God forbid.

So, dear Mama Friends, I now relay the invitation that Jesus gave to the rich young ruler; that He has given to me; that He has given to you.

I am not Nehemiah Mama. We are Nehemiah Mamas, as we do our part where we are.  I ask you to walk this road with me, and as I share with you my challenges, successes and failures, I ask you to do the same.

I am truly excited to see where Jesus leads us as we follow Him closely; as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, together!

 

Blessings and much love,

Mama

The Jesse Tree: Wrap-up

Hello, dear friends. I’m praying that you had a wonderful, blessed, Christ-filled Christmas. 

Our family had a wonderful time doing this project and we achieved the goal we had set out to accomplish: to keep the focus on Jesus. It was truly meaningful. And I am so glad we did it. It was, however, a learning curve!

It seems like a good idea to come up with a conclusion to the Jesse Tree series to remind myself of a few things for next year. Every time I finish a project or event I think, I need to make a list of things that worked and things I need to do differently next time. And then I never do it! Having you all here has kept me accountable. So in case you are doing the Jesse Tree, this list may be helpful to you, too.

1. Split the activity into two parts – Morning and Evening. In the morning, pull the ornament, hang it on the tree and read out of the story book or read the Scripture. In the evening, do the song, activity and read what wasn’t read in the morning.

2. Sing more songs / Christmas carols. I was so intent on finding songs that fit the theme that we missed our usual singing by the light of the tree time.

3. Find meaningful activities to do less often. The activities overwhelmed me a bit. Some seemed too grandiose to do within a day, while others didn’t seem to fit or were less meaningful. And honestly, I would rather do more difficult stuff less frequently if it has meaning. Our Passover meal and Lights Out nights were incredibly special and the kids got a lot out of the parallels. I’d also like to find more crafts to do for next year.

4. Have the kids make their own Jesse Tree ornaments. Our family ornaments that Shane and I made are special, but I will want my kids to have their own for years to come.

5. Replace ornaments instead of adding. The tree got really, really full and the kiddos didn’t know how/where to place the ornaments. Had I told them to simply replace one of the plain colored balls I had already placed, it would have made for a less crazy tree. 

6. When in doubt and time runs out, Scripture is the most important. There were days that we were rushed for time and were trying to cram it all in. In the end, the Bible says it best.

Did you who did the Jesse Tree along with us come up with good tips? PLEASE share them here! If you did any activities or came up with different songs that you’d like to share, I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Happy New Year!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

The Jesse Tree: Ummmmm…this isn’t going as planned.

Hello Friends!

This Jesse Tree adventure has been a learning curve for me. And being the perfectionist that I am, who HAS to see patterns and meaning in anything like this, I’m getting frustrated really easily with this tool.

It’s Day 5 and I am already giving up on Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, by Ann Voscamp. It is WAY too ecumenical for our family. Almost every story is leaving out KEY Scriptures. And there are omissions that I just can’t get past, (like the fact that Abraham was blessed because of OBEDIENCE, not just because he was “special.”)

Anyway, mid-week, we are switching to The Jesse Tree, by Geraldine McCaughrean as our primary outline. I love the story format better in this book and the symbolism is more clear. I can already foresee one or two changes that I will need to make with this one as well, but Shane and I already feel better about this.

Did you know that the Jesse Tree concept has been around for more than 1000 years? Basically every early Christian church had one in some form, be it a carving or stained glass, etc. Because many people were illiterate and unable to read the Bible for themselves, the Jesse Tree gave pictures that allowed people to follow the whole story from Creation to the Birth of the Savior.

Knowing this has given clarification that I was lacking. And it helps me to hone in and focus on what we want to cover in these 24 days leading up to Christmas.

PLEASE bear with all of the hiccups this year. Our 2017 Jesse Tree should look less confusing…I hope!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

The Jesse Tree: Introduction – “A new family tradition”

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots…” ~ Isaiah 11:1  

Have you ever heard of a Jesse Tree? I hadn’t before last year. I can’t even remember where I heard about it, but the more I read, the more fascinated I became.

Our family has always had a Christmas tree. I love everything about it. The hunt for that perfect one. Placing the lights just so. Lovingly placing each special ornaments, some heirlooms, some new. Watching a Christmas movie while stringing cranberries and popcorn to hang on it. Some years we have themes. Other years are just a hodge podge. And, oh, the wonderful smell it brings into the house! Although I must admit that my allergies KILL ME every year…artificial next year? *sniff*  After all of this, comes my favorite part of all — turning all of the living room lights off, save the tree, the village (if we put it up…this year we’re not) and the nativity lights, and singing songs together as a part of our evening devotions.

But over the last couple of years Shane and I have been struggling with just how much we want to focus on this time-honored tradition. Do our kids treasure the nativity scene as much as they do the tree? Are we perhaps placing it above the true meaning of Christmas? We didn’t like the thought of that.

One thing that adoptive and foster parents will relate to, is that we typically don’t have full influence over our children from birth. In some cases, Jesus is not taught at all and Christmas is all about Santa and reindeer. And the tree.

As a family, we kicked Santa to the curb, along with all of his reindeer (or caribou, as Shane likes to refer to them, tongue in cheek) a long time ago. DISCLAIMER: We DO NOT judge friends and family who celebrate that stuff. No, we do not worry about your spiritual condition and pray for you to “see the light.” Seriously. It’s just that as a family, with SO MUCH worldly influence already poured into our sweet children before we ever met them, we are just dialing that way back. WAY. BACK.

But the tree? I just felt that there was a way we could totally redeem that tradition so that our children could enjoy it while still completely focusing on Jesus and the reason He came for us, by such humble means, no less.

And then I found the Jesse Tree! There are different versions, but essentially, all of them have an ornament and Scripture and/or devotion for every day (some beginning the day after Thanksgiving, others starting on December 1) that show how the Old Testament points to the promise of a Savior, and more specifically, Jesus.

As I mentioned, I have come across several versions. Some have crossover with symbolism (i.e. a dove representing Noah on one list and John the Baptist on another…you can see where it would fit either), some focus only on people of the Old Testament, others more on events. Some only have male characters on the list while others have Ruth, Rahab and Esther. So I looked at several lists and haven’t settled on one for sure yet.

Last year we followed The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones and loved it. However, it wasn’t intended for the Jesse Tree and continues several stories after Jesus’ birth. Which is great. And I loved that Leah is honored, as well as Daniel.

I was really excited about using The Jesus Storybook Bible again, but at the last minute…like within the last two or three weeks, it disappeared into thin air. Seriously?! NOW what was I going to do?!

Well, in my search at the library, I found, not only said book, but one simply called, The Jesse Tree, by Geraldine McCaughrean. I haven’t had a chance to read it, but plan on following this one as well to see if I like it.

However, this year, I’m super excited to follow along with Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, but Ann Voscamp this year. I am already finding things that I wish were there, (like Leah and Daniel), but others are included in this, like Jonah and Zechariah & Elizabeth.

So basically, my kiddos and you are my guinea pigs. Aren’t you thrilled?! Next year you may see that I have morphed a calendar of my own. But for this year we’re following a “plan.”

Now, if the book is readily available, why check on my blog? First, although activities are suggested in the Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, we like to add songs for the kids to sing, so I will have a song suggestion for each one. In addition, you can purchase ornaments for the Jesse Tree, but honestly, they’re spendy and our family couldn’t afford them this year. So I’ll show you the ornaments I have made and give suggestions along the way for you to make your own.

We have decided to start with the introduction tonight, November 30, and the ornaments and stories will officially start tomorrow, December 1.

Thankfully, we already had a HUGE advent calendar that I made out of a clear shoe organizer and they’re super easy to make! Here’s where I found how to make it. In each slot I put the ornament for the day and will likely also put the Scriptures on 3×5 cards for the kids to look up. I also put a 3×5 car with an activity on it for them to do, unrelated to the Jesse Tree, (i.e., We’re watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” tonight!)

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Speaking of ornaments, last year I decided to go through my many, many ornaments to try to find ornaments that were already special to our family that would fit the symbols needed. For the missing days, I am decorating plain glass ball ornaments to fill in the gaps. This year I took the time to paint nice “set” of ornaments to use for years to come. This has been a learning curve for me, but hopefully what I learn can be useful to those of you who wish to start this tradition for your family.

Regarding the Scripture readings: Last year when I was searching for a good plan to follow, many of the readings  felt too long for our kiddos’ attention spans and so I tried to find the stories in our Children’s Bible whenever I could. One HUGE benefit to Ann Voscam’s versin is that the Scripture reading is concise, but an integral part, nonetheless. I do encourage you to have children actually find the Scripture in the Bible. It’s good practice and helps their brains connect that what we are reading is God’s Word and not just a storybook.

I am so excited to share this experience with you, my friends!

More to come!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

Ye Shall Teach Them…

“And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates…” Deuteronomy 11:19-20

When Shane and I were finally approaching parenthood, (the long journey for us took 11 years,) we discussed for the umpteenth time what we wanted to do in regards to teaching biblical truths to our children. It has only become a stronger commitment as our oldest approaches the teen years and both of our boys are in the public school system this year.

I was recently asked to share some ideas of practical everyday ways to teach biblical truths to children and I was struck with the fact that God really has given us such a manageable way to teach our children. And one that will stick. One that will last. He commands us to live it, to teach it every day, to teach it in the little things, in the mundane, in the routine.

As parents, we care about our children’s nutrition. We want to be sure they get the right amounts of everything they need and we make sure they can digest what they’re given. Just as we bottle feed our babies and then give them baby food and then cut up their food in little pieces with physical food, we can — and really must — do the same with spiritual food for our children.

Here are some ideas that I came up with when asked. I have since added a few things to it that have recently come up as well.

“WHEN THOU SITTEST IN THINE HOUSE…”

Prayer time – We’re trying to encourage each of our kids to pray in a group AND individually. Our kiddos get really overwhelmed with the desire to remember needs of others, perhaps more than is even usual, and can get almost panicky that they will miss someone. So we came up with two solutions that have worked.

  • One is to just talk about all the needs we know of, similar to our church prayer room-style, and then pray for “all the needs mentioned.”
  • The other thing that has worked is to make a permanent list to hang of needs/people that we need to pray for every day and then have them look for stickers that they can put by the names to remind them of what they are. We have a fluent reader, a beginning reader and a non-reader. No matter who is praying out loud and needs to see the list, they can all remember those we want to pray for. (Little Miss’s situation has been at the top of our list for nearly three years, but since her name is on it, I’ve edited her name off. The sticker the boys chose was a baby bottle at the time.)

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Games – On occasion, we use Bible trivia games in lieu of devotions.

  • We found a couple of really inexpensive card games, I think at a garage sale, one which is similar to UNO, but has trivia on every card. Even our 3-year old can play.

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  • I have an old-school game called , “The Book Game for kids,” that my parents bought  and used to play with me back in the dark ages. I’m so glad I kept it! But even if you can’t find it on e-Bay or the like, you can make your own variation! It’s basically “Chutes and Ladders” with trivia. It gives you chances to climb the ladders by answering questions, (you get to climb some ladders for free like the “grace” ladder). There are also knot ropes, like the “temptation” rope that you have to get the answer correct or you slide down. There are also “reward” and “setback” cards. Lots of fun!

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“WHEN THOU WALKEST BY THE WAY…”

Out and About Time – We are on the road a lot, which means a lot of van time to fill. I have found that giving up on “my music”, though edifying, so that they can listen to Sunday school songs and audio books and drama has paid off so much. The conversations that blossom from especially the radio dramas have been SO VALUABLE!

  • Adventures in Odyssey – The kids LOVE listening to these in the van. We own one set that we bought from the Focus on the Family store while visiting their headquarters in Colorado Springs. We You can check your local library, or I think there’s a membership that you can purchase direct from Focus on the Family. Visit Odyssey Adventure Club here.
  • “Out loud” Bible reading time – Our oldest son in particular is getting to the place where he’s reading circles around us. The world could be burning down around him and he wouldn’t notice. We are thrilled with his love to read! But we did recently set a guideline for him to help use that gift for his spiritual good. For every hour of free reading time he has, we ask that he give 1/2 hour to Bible reading. He actually really likes his Bible reading time, but is intimidated by the big words. So while I’m driving, he sometimes reads out loud and stops when he needs more explanation. It’s  truly become a precious time that we both look forward to!
  • Sunday school song CD’s – We play them OVER AND OVER AND OVER. We’re particularly fond of Cedarmont Kids, (but there are many others out there!), and you can purchase their CD’s for a relatively inexpensive price. And they’re worth their weight in gold, in my opinion. Visit Cedarmont Kids here.

WHEN THOU LIEST DOWN…”

Evening devotions – This is the time where our entire family really focuses on singing, Scripture memorization, and the Sunday school lesson for the week. We usually do this right before bedtime.

  • Songs – On a typical night, we let each kiddo pick at least one song. They range from Sunday school songs to hymns. It’s nice to own a hymn book for this reason. We also have a Wee Sing Bible Songs book. For more modern songs, believe it or not, there are a lot of Sunday school songs available to view on YouTube. We sometimes ask the kids ahead of time for a list of songs they want to sing for evening devotions and then Shane or I search for and queue them up. They love this and we’ve discovered many new fun songs this way.
  • Memory verses – We try to introduce their weekly Sunday school memory verse early in the week. One fun thing we’ve discovered is that there are many free coloring pages online and we can cut and paste their memory verse to it before printing so that they can color a picture in relation to their memory verse.
  • Sunday school lessons – Because we have three kiddos at three different age levels, we usually pick a Sunday school lesson a night. Our church, the Apostolic Faith Church, creates its own curriculum and it is excellent! If you are looking for something like this for your kiddos, it’s available, free of charge, on our headquarters website. Visit the Sunday school curriculum link here.  
  • Bible stories – For the other 3-4 nights when we aren’t reading the Sunday school lessons, we read from our old Children’s Bible. Realistic pictures are very important to us. We want our kids to know that the stories in the Bible are true accounts. So we avoid cartoon-y books. Honestly, the older the Children’s Bible, the better. Ours was printed in 1971. Thrifts shops and antique stores will yield great finds for old devotional books and Bibles for kids. They’re more likely to be KJV this way (our preference) and we find they treat the Bible with much more reverence than more modern Kid’s Bibles do. Another good source are the Bible stories like you find in the doctor’s office. We have a set of those as well.

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“WHEN THOU RISEST UP…”

Morning devotions, thankfulness and prayer – This one was difficult to maintain in the summer, but we are back on track with this school year. We read a quick devotional (see additional resources), say at least one thing we’re each thankful for and pray for the day ahead of us. We usually do this during breakfast and in the van on the way to school.

“THOU SHALT WRITE THEM UPON THE DOOR POSTS OF THINE HOUSE…”

I’m going to be honest with you. I used to see folks’ homes that had Scripture posted everywhere, similar to the way some people post positive affirmations on their bathroom mirrors and such and thought, Seriously? Maybe a little overkill…

But now that I’m a Mama, I get it. I totally get it! It is so good to have Scripture where you can see it, read it, absorb it. Do I have Scripture posted all over my walls? No. But maybe I should. I’m working on it.

One way I’m already practicing this is to look up each memory verse for the week (including Mom and Dad’s verse, which is good for the kids to see, I think) and print them all on one sheet that we have hanging on our front door. (Little Miss has a verse, too, but her name is on our copy, so I cropped this shot.)

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Another way we’re trying to do this is to have verses posted in the kids’ rooms. Some friends of ours gifted us a beautiful framed, hand-done painting of Proverbs 3:24 for the boys when they first came to be a part of our family.

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I have had it on the wall almost continually in one of their two rooms or another and kind of forgot about it. But today, I found a note from Nutkin hanging on the fridge for all to see. It read: “To The Famuly…One vurs is my faveret…it is Proverbs 3:24… it make me sleepy.”  (I left the spelling as is and just punctuation for clarity.)

The Scripture on the wall is indeed making an impact.

In addition to hanging verses on their walls here and there, I’ve been trying to tie godly values into whatever they’re into and use it to decorate their rooms as I can. For a long time, Pickle was really into knights and swords and Prince Caspian. So I found pictures of the Armor of God to frame and hang around him room. It’s fun and super inexpensive.

Mamas, I believe that as unique as each family is, the variations for teaching our children the Gospel are almost limitless. But if you feel stuck, feel free to take the ideas I’ve shared with you to benefit your family!

In turn, PLEASE share with us here what you are already doing! I’d LOVE to hear what you are doing to teach biblical truths to your children!

Blessings and much love, 

Mama

 

Additional Resources:

  • Pinterest – I’m rarely on Pinterest, but when I am, it’s usually for ideas for Sunday school and devotions. All you have to type in is “Sunday school” and the results are endless! You can narrow the search by the Bible story or even memory verse as well.
  • Jesus Calling for Kids – great devotional for kids that we are currently using in the mornings. My only complaint is that the key verse is not in KJV so I look it up and read it from the Bible instead.
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible – though the art is more cartoon-like than we normally go for, this is a great devotional that we used last Christmas-time that went along with our “Joshua Tree.” If you haven’t heard of it, stay tuned!! I am going to be detailing ours this year for you to follow along. I plan to post the information ahead of time so that you can do it with your family, following the advent calendar, too!

 

 

Stained Glass Windows

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  ~Ephesians 2:10

Here I sit. I have been struggling with writer’s block for a full month. I keep trying to start and then I just stop. It’s partly exhaustion. This has been a trying month. It’s partly because I’m struggling to open my heart. And any of you who have read my blog at all know that I pour my heart out here. I want to share with you all what is going on in my head, but it’s just so hard to put into words.

So I’m going to go back. Way back. WAY BACK. When I was a little girl, my mom would take me to this little ice cream parlor/burger joint called Jem 100. It’s still there and I still love them. I still remember ordering bubble gum ice cream on a sugar cone, and I would admire the totally cool high school girls working behind the counter. I dreamed of being just like them and working there someday. In my sophomore year, my dream came true.

Coolest. Job. Ever!

When I was working there, before they remodeled, there was a little corner booth where I would often take my 30-minute paid lunch. One of the booths faced a stained glass window. I stared at it often. Surprisingly, for as much as I looked at it, I don’t remember what it looked like. I’m pretty sure it had a bird as its centerpiece. I often worked at night, making it dark outside for my dinner break, but there was a streetlamp on the other side of that window, so the colors shone brilliantly.

hummingbird stained glass

I have no idea what was going on in my life at the time. High school was full of trials and tribulations, of course. But the Lord was reasoning with my heart on one memorable night in particular. As I stared at that window, the Lord told me that my life was a stained glass window much like the one I was staring at. It was filled with many different parts. Each seemingly insignificant piece represented events, lessons, phases and chapters in my life. Some were large, some were small. Some had smooth edges, others were sharp and defined. They each were fairly monochromatic. Pretty, maybe, but kind of “meh” on their own.

Then, there was the metal fusing them together. It was hard, cool and silvery. But at some point, under the guidance of a skilled glazier’s hand, that same metal had been an oozing, flowing, red hot fusing material. Whatever was going on in my life, the Lord impressed upon me that the really hard times, possibly something happening at that moment in my life, was one of those lines of lead. And it was still hot and painful to touch. But someday, it would be part of the beautiful masterpiece. And the heat and pain would be just a memory.

Finally, the Lord reminded me that in order to see the true beauty of a stained glass work of art, the light must be shining behind it. Without the Light, even the most beautiful stained glass is dull and lifeless. 

Fast forward to nearly 20 years later. Do you know what triggered that memory?  A grown-up coloring page. Cracks me up to think about it, but many of those pages look much like a stained glass window when they’re completed. I was coloring a card to send to a close friend and the Lord reminded me of that special moment, when as a teenager, the Lord made Himself so real to me. I only meant to repeat it (or the parts of it I remembered at the time) to encourage that friend who was going through a fiery trial. But truth be told, I am, too. 

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I’m facing the fear of loss of our Little Miss. This case continues to drag. And although I am so very grateful for every single day that we have her, I long to call her mine. Yet, I fear that sounds selfish.

I want God’s will above all else. I want the kids’ Mom to be saved and well. I want Little Miss to have closure and stability. And I hope and pray that all of these desires can be answered at once.

Prior to just a couple of weeks ago, I felt extreme guilt from asking to keep her at all. What a selfish thing to pray for, after all. But my sweet husband in his wisdom reminded me of a very important event over 2,000 years ago. Jesus prayed a prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane right before His crucifixion (Luke 22:42). Before my discussion with Shane, I had only focused on one part of His prayer, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” But I was so gently reminded of the fact that in that same prayer, and in fact, in the same sentence, Jesus also prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me…” Jesus had asked for something specific. He wasn’t selfish, and He wasn’t sinful. So praying for something specific like being able to raise this little girl is OK. As long as I am also willing to accept, and embrace His will, should He choose to answer my prayer another way. After all, I am not ignorant to the fact that the Father did not choose to remove the cup from Jesus and He did, indeed, have to suffer for me and for you on that cruel cross.

Now here’s the part that I have been having trouble verbalizing here. The thought of losing her doesn’t cause me to fear that I will turn my back on the Lord or stop loving Him. I can’t imagine my love for Him ever diminishing. But I have been so afraid that I will get lost in my grief and won’t be able to find my way out.

Prior to losing Little Miss the first time back in June 2014, I didn’t really know what a broken heart felt like. But when I lost her, my chest physically hurt for days. The tears couldn’t stop flowing. I felt that my heart was being literally ripped apart. And I struggled to grieve with my family because it was so very painful. It took a full six months to even feel again. So what will happen to me if I lose her again? Will I recover at all? Will I be able to be involved in the ministry? Will I even be able to sing without weeping?

I don’t know.

But by the grace of my Jesus, I can say this. This whole trial, I mean the WHOLE trial…from the first day we brought this bright, beautiful blue-eyed baby into our home until today…has been a very long, flowing, winding line of red hot lead. It has fused the pieces of our lives and our story together in a way that I could never have imagined. And for better or for worse, whether we get to be her forever family or not, our life story has been carefully and gently crafted by the Master and when it’s all said and done, I trust Him.

I don’t trust me. But I trust Him.

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And that’s enough.

Blessings and much love, 

Mama