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Getting Truth Into Our Children

I feel like I am in the golden age of parenting.

My kids are 7, 9, and 11 and they are not only a delight to be around, but they are so moldable and teachable and willing to listen and learn and yet still cuddle. They haven’t reached an age where they are pulling away from me (I hope this never happens), and yet they aren’t so little I can’t hold their attention for more than a few minutes. I am loving parenting right now.

I love watching their personalities come out and how they interact with the world.

I love that I get to be on the front lines with them as we navigate their fears, strengths, weaknesses, and all the tangles of life.

There are hard, crazy days for sure, but overall, right now, we are in a sweet spot. And I’m going to take advantage of that with all I’ve got.

I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility and joy in teaching my children about truth and grace and the God who gave His life so that we may be free and holy and new.

Here are some ways I’m filling the treasure chests of their soul with goodness and beauty and truth:

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Get the Word In

I don’t make my children read the Bible, although I do encourage them to do it. What I do do however is have a morning time with them in the living room where we go over spiritual truths and then I read from the Bible.

Currently we are using The-Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New, but not as a quick read. On a white board I write out the spiritual truth from the page we’re on and we memorize it. We don’t go on until we all have it memorized. We began in September and we only have these four done:

God always was and always will be.

God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

God created everything out of nothing at all.

God is all-powerful.

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We also work on a simple Scripture to memorize and we don’t move on until everyone has it. IMPORTANT SIDE-NOTE: If you’re anything like me, you might get discouraged reading about Scripture memory and your kids. I read blogs where moms have their kids memorize whole Psalms or portions of Scripture and then I feel like a failure as a mom and a teacher. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS. Do what works for your family. If short, simple Scriptures are what you do right now, than do that. We are memorizing one-sentence Scriptures at this point and it is good.

And then I read to them right from the Bible. This morning we read and talked about John 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…he world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”

I’m also doing this wonderful devotional with my oldest daughter.

Read Classic Christian Allegories

We are currently reading the modern-language version of The Pilgrim’s Progress. We began first though with reading a children’s version called, The Dangerous Journey, which is beautiful and interesting and my son in particular loved it (and still does). Now that we’re reading the “grown-up” version, my kids open The Dangerous Journey book up to follow along with the pictures (which are fantastic and not all cartoonish).

We have read Hinds’ Feet on High Places (the children’s version), we’re currently listening to A Wrinkle in Time (which the second half of is blowing my mind and also reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ The Hideous Strength), and when they get to be teens they will have to read C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy (which is profound and fantastic beyond words).

SIDE-NOTE: I never heard of or read any of these books growing up, so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t either and are feeling like you don’t know where to begin. I was not raised a Christian and I am learning right along with my kids, which has been a wonder. If you feel lost over resources or what to read or where to begin, begin with the resources I’m mentioning. Just start with one thing.

Tell the Story of Our Lives

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

The story of our lives is a testimony to our God.

I will never forget when Jesus changed my life.

I was at a Christian retreat my Freshman year of college and a speaker asked this question:  “What would you do if Jesus walked into the room right now?”

Sitting there as 19 year old confused girl and baby believer, I thought “I would hide.”

If Jesus came into the room, I would hide. I would go and bend down behind one of the worn couches and make sure He couldn’t see me. Because He wouldn’t want to see me. He, being holy and good, and me being filthy and having done awful things. I was not clean. I was dirty. A holy God shouldn’t see a dirty girl.

I shared my thoughts with the small group I had been put in, thinking they were obvious and made sense, and someone from the group spoke life to me:

“You wouldn’t have to hide,” she said. “Jesus knows everything you’ve done and everything you’re going to do and He loves you anyway. If He were to come into this room, He would embrace you and put His hands on your face and call you ‘daughter’.”

That night changed everything.

All of us who know Him have cried out to Him and He turned to us…He saw us and listened and inclined to us because He loves us so. And when we bend a knee to Him, He lifts us out of our pits, out of our sin and muck and He gives us a rock to stand on – Jesus Christ. We get steady on a firm foundation. And then He puts a new song in our mouth; one of praise and not lament. We say, “This is what the Lord has done! He is so good and so kind and I am no longer alone. I belong. I am loved. I am His daughter. He makes me new!” And people see and they hear and their hearts get tender and put their trust in Him.

This is the story, the human story, of how God changes the world through changing one person. This is how a flame catches until there is a fire ablaze for Him.

And that fire touches the very people God has put in our care: our children.

My kids hear the stories of what God has done in our lives. We tell of Him and where we were and what He’s done. We talk about our muck and our sin and how Jesus alone takes our sin to the cross so that we are now holy and righteous before Him.

The truth is that there is sin in all of us. It’s a part of our human DNA, and we can’t get it out or make it better, but He makes a way. We can’t bleed it out, so He bled for us that we would be new and have new DNA, holy DNA.

We tell our children that everyone of us will die, and then face the judgement of our holy, good, gentle, just, tender God, and we will give an account because we have all sinned. But if we know Him, if we have believed in Him and received Him as our everything and given our lives to Him in full trust, than we become His children and He gives us life to the full. We will never be condemned and instead He will change us from the inside out with gentleness and care if we are humble and submit to His molding. What a good God we have!

So tell them. Tell your children the stories of what God has done. And when you’re in the middle of a story, in the middle of a storm, tell them to hang because God won’t leave or forsake His children, not ever.

Give Meaningful (but still fun) Entertainment

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for creators like Phil Vischer and the whole team at JellyTelly.

They have managed to get truth and theological concepts into kids through fun characters and stories, and my kids love them! They are funny and clever and so enjoyable. And the library is stacked with not just fun shows, but resources that help me teach my kids Biblical concepts. Just take a look at some of the options:

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My kids love 3-2-1 Penguins, The Last Chance Detectives, Hermie and Wormie (OH MY WORD THE MEMORIES OF WHEN THEY WERE LITTLES!), Clive and Ian, Davey and Goliath, Hillsong Kids, and The Sugar Creek Gang, and we are still exploring! I personally love the series, “Why Do We Call It Christmas?” Mature theological truth about all things Christmas. I promise YOU will learn right along with your children.

JellyTelly is a partner for parents in our media-drenched culture. It provides safe screen time for kids, but more than that – it allows kids to enter a media world where God is real and His Word is true. It can be a powerful tool for parents and kids to spend time together watching and learning, and then talking about Jesus and their faith.” -Phil Vischer

I choose only a few paid subscriptions to be a part of, and JellyTelly is one of them. Because for only $4.99 a month I have access to tons of wonderful, helpful, entertaining resources and movies and shows for my kids that I don’t have to worry about. Also, the five-minute devos are awesome. I can teach my kids what a prophet is, how God is redeemer and protector, what we can learn from Adam, and more in just 5 minutes.

To get a week free (try it out, you’ll be glad you did), or to go ahead and subscribe for only $4.99, just head HERE!

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My dear friend and mentor Sally Clarkson always says, “If you don’t have biblical conviction, you will go the way of the culture.” As Christians, as lovers and followers of Jesus (who is God), we hold fast to our faith no matter what comes down the pike. We believe because we have been changed, because His Word is true and good and He is true and good. And this we pass onto our children, this faith that we pray they take on for themselves.

I will do everything I can to fill my children with the truth. I can’t save them, but I can lead them and teach them. And I will. I will use His Word and His tracing of my life and the stories and good books and good entertainment while I can. I encourage you to keep on doing the same. As I’m sure you are.

Keep on out there. You are doing good, faithful work.

Love, Sarah Mae

With much thanks to the wonderful folks at JellyTelly for sponsoring this post. You all are impacting lives for His Kingdom and I am grateful.

There are affiliate posts in this post. See my disclosure policy here

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If You’ve Had an Abortion But Never Told Anyone

 

I had an abortion when I was 16. You can read my story here or listen to it here.

Every time I speak and share my story, women come up to me afterwards and tell me their abortion stories, and then they tell me how they’ve never told anyone. I have had 70 year old women tell me they’ve never told.

So here’s what I want to do: If you’ve ever had an abortion and have never processed through it or told your story, and you want to tell it, tell me. Email me at sarahmaewrites (at) gmail.com. I will read it and I will sit with you in it, holding space for you and praying for you.

I want to offer you a safe place to share your story and get it out of you. There is something in the writing of our story that offers some freedom. It doesn’t replace counseling, which I highly recommend for post-abortive women, but it does offer a valuable form of processing and releasing. I want to see you free, and this might be a start.

Abortion is complicated and heart-wrenching and confusing. Many women who have had abortions just aren’t even sure how to face it or process it. If you feel that way, you are not alone.

If you need to tell, I’ll listen.

Love to you, Sarah Mae

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Any unkind comments will be deleted.

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Shhhhhhh…ut up

My friend Amy is an angel.

Really, I’m convinced of it. She is also one of my kindred friends. She lifts me up when I’m down, she brings me flowers and comfort foods, she brought me lavender for my moms burial, and she is always sending me voxes or texts to encourage me. I’m telling you, God sent her to me to teach me how to be slow and steady, accept gentleness, receive grace, and keep on. She is absolutely dear to me.

And she teaches me things too, like not to should on myself. You know, I should…I should…I should…

Don’t should on yourself” she says.

When I speak lies about myself she rubs my arm and says, “Shhhhhhhh-ut up” in that perfect Mississippi accent. She told me her mama used to do that to her.

So today I’m passing on two pieces of advice to you, from my angel friend:

1.) Don’t Should on Yourself

2.) Shhhhhhhh…ut up (When the lies try to speak)

Keep on!

Love, SM

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How Are You? Life is Painful and Weird

My neighbor came to pick up her daughter the other night. “Hi!” I said.

“Hi, how are you?” She said? “I’m alright, you?” “Good.”

And so it goes, “Good”, “Fine”, “Alright.”

Nothing wrong with saying the easy surface thing because who has time for the truth?

But I took a walk today and I thought, I don’t want to say the surface thing anymore. It’s boring and it doesn’t give any opportunity for grace or relating or freedom to be vulnerable and let someone else be vulnerable.

So, this is what I’m going to start saying:

How are you?

“I’m okay, things have been pretty good lately. Still dealing with marriage intimacy issues, waiting for God to bind up that mess. Better than it used to be. I’m up many nights with anxiety, fretting over my kids – “am I doing enough? Am I praying for them enough? Time is running out for me to teach them!” Still battling the comparison monster, you know, not feeling good enough, equipped, smart enough, etc. I was feeling depressed on Tuesday, couldn’t get out of my chair. Everything felt dark. Those days come every now and then. I cry over my mom sometimes, the grief just hits me and I’m not interested in stuffing it, so it just is. I actually cried in front of the neighborhood kids the other day as I was writing about her. I figure if anything they’ll see normal grief and maybe have a story to tell about their emotional neighbor one day. I make for a good memoir for someone.

But the thing is, I really am okay, today, right now. I know God will deal with this stuff. I know that tomorrow I might face something hellish. Sometimes life just hurts and I just have to sit in it, the pain. It comes and goes. I’m not fighting it, just sitting with it. “Here God, do something with this. I’ll wait. I love you. I trust you.” Most of the time I think I trust God. Sometimes I cry out and wonder, “are you even there?'”

That’s a lot of words. Maybe I’ll just say, “Okay and not okay. Life is painful and weird.”

Maybe my neighbor or the nice lady at the church desk doesn’t have time to hear all that truth, but that’s okay, I’ll say it anyway because maybe it will loosen something in her. Maybe it will show her that it’s okay to be “not fine” and to just be in the tangle of life and still be okay. Painfully, vulnerably, okay. 

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How are you today? Let me know in the comments and you’ll be entered to win this “World’s Okayest Mom” shirt.

Love to you,

SM

P.S. It’s okay if you’re also feeling awesome today. Those days are my favorite.

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How do we love our enemies? We start with this.

I’m angry. I’m angry at ISIS.

I feel hate towards them. I hate what they’re doing to the world. I hate that they murder and rape and torture and ruin lives and families and homes. I want them to go away and stop hurting people. I want them stopped.

And I open my Bible and the Lord says,

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

But how Lord? How do I love a group of people who hate and murder and rape and torture others? How do I love ISIS?

And the Lord gently leads me to this first thing: pray for them.

It is an act of love to pray for my enemies.

“When I got saved and I was told my mentor to start reading by the book of Matthew, start with the book of Matthew, when I got to reading to Matthew 5:43 and 44, where the Word of God says, “[You have heard it said] love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your neighbors and pray for those who persecute you.” Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.

It shocked me and I knew the Lord was speaking to me. I jumped out of my seat and I screamed so loud saying, “No way! Lord, I will never love them.”

I know what He was saying to me. Love the Jews. I was giving all the excuses for the Lord, why I will not love them. They took my house. They killed my people. They’re still persecuting us. And after I got tired talking, the Lord started speaking to me in my ear saying, ‘They have done more than that to Me, but I still love them.'” -Tass Saada, author of The Mind of Terror (You can listen to Mr. Saada and hear his story on Focus on the Family radio here.)

God loves the leaders of ISIS, each one of the them. And if we want to see change, we must get on our knees for them. We must pray for the leaders of ISIS.

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If you’re not sure how to pray, pray this:

Lord, help me to see the individuals of ISIS as beloved by you, as those created in your image and worthy of your healing and transformative power. I pray for these ISIS leaders that they would have a revelation of Jesus, that their eyes would be opened and they would turn to You. I pray you would speak to them personally, intimately, in their dreams or through friends or through a prophetic utterance from someone. You know all the deep places of their hearts; you know the wounds, the histories, the anger, the hurt. Would you speak to them in those places? Would you show them who you are, and how much you love them. Please choose them, bring them to an understanding of your love. Lift the veil from their eyes that they would see you. And please Lord, give them a tenderness for the people they are hurting; soften their hearts; let them see. I pray they would repent and reject terror. I pray, that like Paul, they would have a Damascus-like experience and turn fully to you, and begin to lead others to love and follow you. I ask this in your name Jesus, Amen.

As you pray daily for these leaders (in the car, as you wake up, as you go to sleep – whenever they come to mind), you can begin praying for their families, those they influence, and however else the Spirit leads.

We are not helpless, and we are certainly not hopeless. We fight with words and groans, and we have an advocate that is working on behalf of our prayers. And that advocate, Jesus Christ, changes hearts. So pray pray pray.

Love, SM

#PrayForISIS

Pray and act. Click HERE to tangibly help those who have been victimized by ISIS.

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