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The Blessing



10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids


This is post #9 in our series 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. To read all the posts in this series, please click here.



I love to hear grown children talk good about their parents, don’t you? It seems we hear so much about what parents didn’t do, how they failed, how they let us down. To hear something uplifting and inspiring is rare. So reading this, written collectively by Pastor John and Patricia MacArthur’s children, was touching to say the least:


“For us who lived in the John and Patricia MacArthur home, the pulpit wasn’t the only place that we heard our dad pray. Nearly every morning of our growing-up years, breakfast together was nearly sacramental. Even when we were very young, we listened attentively to our dad speak to his heavenly Father. We listened and we learned of God’s grace through these humble prayers. And we began to understand who Jesus is and what He had done for us.”

 ~From the forward  At the Throne of Grace: A Book of Prayers



One of the simplest ways to influence our children is through prayer, not only prayer for them, but prayer with them. Allowing our children to hear how we relate with God gives them tremendous insight into who God is. It shows them how to approach God and teaches them what kind of God we have.

Not sure where to start? How about praying a simple scripture blessing over them? In Mark 9, people were bringing little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. The disciples rebuked them but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  And he took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them, and blessed them.

Perhaps it was the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26 that Jesus prayed over these children, we really don’t know. Whatever the case, He touched them and blessed them, thus teaching them about the generous nature of God.



“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord cause His face to shine upon you

and be gracious to you;

The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26


This week’s challenge:

This week, find two or three scriptures you can pray over your children. {Numbers 6:24-26 is a great one!} Then choose a time to draw each of them aside for touch and prayer. I like to do this with my kids in the morning when they wake up or at night as I tuck them in. I’m also working on making this a standard response when they are struggling with something or need correction.

For an entire list of scriptures to pray with your children as well as prayer calendars and printables, see my resource list in this post.  

~See you next week for our series wrap up~


Consecrated Conversation

10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids


Welcome to post #8 in our series 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. For all posts in the series, please click here.


So this post hits me in the gut and convicts and brings me full circle, back to the gospel. It has to do with our talk. Our speech holds the power of life or death, blessing or curse.

It can steer listeners towards Christ or away from Him. Our speech can help our children develop a Christ-centered world view.

As parents, it is our responsibility to talk about the things of God “when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut 11:19)

This week I’ve noticed my speech patterns. Truth is, for some time I’ve noticed how much room there is for improvement, heh. But like James 3:8 says, “no man can tame the tongue.” Maybe you’ve discovered it too, that willpower alone is insufficient at controlling our tongues. There is no simple plan or strategy to fix our communication. The mouth speaks from the outflow of the heart and will always pour forth that which is inside us.

This post will not cover all the aspects of the tongue or the heart; rather, I’d like to just give a starting point for bringing health to our speech, based on Colossians 4:6.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)


I particularly appreciate the word “seasoned” in this verse. It reminds me that most conversations, like most foods, have a certain flavor. The flavor of our conversation can be anxiety. Or anger. Or complaining. Or harshness. Or self effort. Or pride. Or insecurity. Or fear.

Or it can have the flavor of grace. Kindness. Strength. Faith. Hope. Love.

It’s not that we need to go around quoting Bible verses all the time or only engaging in “spiritual” conversations. It’s that when we talk, even about the new find we bought on the cheap, the flavor of our speech can be gracious and full of hope.  When we enter a conversation, we bring to the table the aroma of Christ and the hope of the gospel.

That’s powerful!

So this is what we are instructed to do with our conversation. It sounds great, right? But how do we get there?

I believe it begins with thinking upon grace and the gospel. It means we filter the events at hand through the lens of the gospel BEFORE we open our mouths to speak!

Maybe that’s the whole point. Be slow to speak! I know I need to give myself time to frame my words within the context of the gospel.

For example, this past week I was having a very rushed, hectic morning with the kids. I had to leave early and needed them to quickly get ready so I could get everyone out the door in time. I was frustrated because they were poking and then, one of my daughters spilled her cereal in her lap. She had her blanket in her lap and instead of just standing up and giving me the blanket, she stood up and flung it off. In so doing, soggy cereal went flying ALL OVER the dining area. It splattered on the sofa and surrounding furniture and made a mess everywhere.

I did not have time for such a mess and I was mad. Beyond mad, I was anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I started to vent all those feelings but then stopped because we had just read a portion of Scripture at the table. “In every way make the gospel attractive.” The Lord spoke to my heart and asked what I really wanted: Did I want to feed my flesh and vent? Or did I want to make the gospel attractive by extending grace and showing God’s strength to handle this minor crisis?

The Lord graciously prepared my heart to want the beauty of the gospel more. In that moment, I humbled myself, denied the flesh, asked my children’s forgiveness, and asked the Lord to make the gospel attractive to them. My speech moved from being tense, harsh, and angry to being seasoned with the flavor of grace and the hope of the gospel.

Lord knows I don’t always do things that way… but praise the Lord He gave me a concrete example of what CAN happen in our home. And I like it :)



This Week’s Challenge: Consecrated Conversation


This challenge will really be a lifelong one, but we can get a good start on it this week. Begin by paying attention to what seasons your speech. While we can all give a wide range of flavors, we typically have one certain style or flavor about us. You may want to think through this on your own first, before doing the family activity below.

As a family, talk about your speech flavors. This can potentially be embarrassing or humbling, so to ease the pain ~ grin~ you may want to put different foods on the table for the discussion. Examples would be lemon juice, pretzels, hot sauce, chocolate chips, fresh herbs, whatever things you can think of for a variety of flavors.

As you talk about how each tastes, talk about speech and how our words give certain flavors. Ask what flavor each person’s speech generally is. Then talk about why you tend to talk the way you do. Wrap up by discussing how the HOPE of the gospel can change the way we speak. Practice re-framing your words to a response that is rooted in hope and grace.

This is a lifelong practice but one I look forward to each day. I so want my words to be seasoned with grace and framed with the hope of Jesus! Thank You, God, for such a mighty and beautiful Savior given to us! Amen and amen!


Spiritually Minded Kids: Point the Way with Godly Examples

10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids



10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children; post 1 in series by missionary Arabah Joy


Welcome to post #7 in our running series 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. To read all the posts in this series, click here. 



When I was young, my parents invested in a set of character building stories. They came on tape, you know those white rectangular things you used to put into a tape deck? Yeah, I’m ancient :)  I would listen to those stories over and over and would think about the lives of the men and women I heard about. Looking back on it now, I was shaped by the examples of others through those tapes.

Scripture tells us to imitate the faith of others. One of the best ways to grow in spiritual mindedness is by setting godly examples before ourselves and our children. This is one of my favorite ways because it is enjoyable to learn from others, especially when you are learning through story form.


Way #7: Read biographies together

I have long been an advocate of biographies. You can see some of my book recommendations here. It’s likely your local library carries many great biographical books you can check out. Of course there are always timeless ones that you’ll want to have in your personal library as well. The most recent one we’ve read in our family is Gifted Hands: the story of Ben Carson.

Gifted Hands, Kids Edition: The Ben Carson Story (ZonderKidz Biography)


Here are Just a few biographical resources I recommend for the family:


Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes– This book is a one-stop shop and has been on our family shelf for a very long time. It covers a wide range of personalities and focuses on different character traits each one exhibited. It incorporates scripture and discussion questions, which makes it an easy resource to use~ wink!


David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)- Livingstone’s story is full of adventure and courage and hardship and reliance on God. A real page turner!


George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)- I think every child should know about George Muller! His trust in God was incredible and seeing how God answered his prayers of faith will ignite vision in the hearts of anyone, young or old.

George Washington Carver: Man’s Slave Becomes God’s Scientist (Sower Series)- One of the most inspiring biographies… definitely a favorite.

Amazing Grace- This movie is based on the life of William Wilberforce. I thought it did show a little too much cleavage, so be aware of that. However, overall, an excellent film.

As you can imagine, there are a ton of great resources out there. So your challenge this week…


This Week’s Challenge:


Select a biography to read as a family. Each night, perhaps at dinner or afterwards, read a chapter and discuss key points or events. The conversations it sparks are sometimes very interesting :)  Of course I would also love to hear your reading suggestions and favorite biographies in the comments!


The Habit of Considering

Raising Spiritually Minded Children



Raising Spiritually Minded Children


Welcome to post six in our series 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. For all posts in the series, please click here.


In our high tech world of screens and apps, of meetings and meals out, I sometimes imagine something: the simplicity of a back porch.

I savor it like a good piece of chocolate.

I imagine a rocking chair or two and an abundant supply of sweet tea and birds and crickets and the wind in the trees.

Life was made for simple pleasures.

I have no back porch. I don’t even have a back yard. We live on the 26th floor of a high-rise. And I can tell you one of the things I miss most about “home” is the un-citified outdoors. I grew up with no television but acres of land to roam, and for fun, my brother and I would go outside and throw cow patties at each other. We would. {I don’t miss the patties but I do miss spending lots of time outdoors.}


In Matthew 6, Jesus addressed the disciples’ propensity to worry. Interestingly enough, He gave a practical tool for counseling a worried, fretful heart: go for a walk in nature. Go outside and pay attention to what you see.

In our highly academic and materialistic Christian sub-culture, we think being spiritual means certain things: writing books, going to conferences, getting up in front of people and doing “spiritual” things, pontificating “spiritual” lessons, going to listen to “spiritual” people pontificate, learning from “spiritual” leaders…  You get the point.

But Jesus says, “Spend some time observing birds and flowers.”

I’m not saying we can’t enjoy, appreciate, and learn from those other things; but I am saying we sometimes make things complicated when in fact, it is simple. I wonder how rich and full our hearts would be if we regularly took time to observe and thoughtfully consider what we see in nature.

Nature instructs us in the ways of God. One of the greatest things it does is tell us not to worry! 




Go for a nature walk. Make it a weekly habit as a family.



“Consider the birds of the air… Look at the lilies of the field…”  Matthew 6:24f

The goal of this nature walk is to come away with reminders of truth. Truths like, “Look at the deep purple He clothed that flower with! He daily clothes me with beauty and grace as well.” and

“Wow, God knows everything about that tiny little bird that needs food. Likewise, He knows every hair on my head. Surely He also knows every penny in my pocket and I can be sure He hasn’t forgotten about me.”

Nature reminds us of the goodness of God… and it never ends!  With these truths we can renew our minds and counsel our hearts.

For those of us out of practice it may take some effort to “consider” what we see in nature. So here are some questions to ask as a family after you’ve been on your nature walk. It may be helpful to read them aloud before you go so that everyone knows what to expect from their walk.


Questions to ask:


> “What did you see?”

> “What does this tell you about God?”

> “In your heart, what are you worried or anxious about?”

> “How can what you saw today remind you of God’s care?”

> “Based on what you observed today, how can you counsel your heart and steer it away from worry?”


Enjoy your walk and I’ll see you next week for more in this series!

What Kind of Soil are You?

10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids

We are in the middle of the series, 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. To view all the posts in this series, please go here.


For the past twelve years or so, God has graciously given me a focus verse for each year. Somewhere in November or December, He faithfully lays on my heart a verse for the next year.

This year my verse is Colossians 3:16 (which is why you’ve heard a lot of it the past couple months!) It begins with this phrase, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

Jon Bloom says this,

“Here’s the thing: we are frequently impoverished spiritually by our own not letting ourselves be rich. On our shelves or bed stands or in our tablets or computers is a bank vault of “true riches” (Luke 16:11). But the pawnshop trinkets of worldly words are deceptively attractive. We can even be on our way to spend our time (the currency of life) on the riches in the vault and end up spending it in the pawnshops along the way.

What Paul wants us to do is neglect things that make us poor and not neglect things that make us truly rich.

If the word of the Wall Street Journal or World Magazine or Wired Magazine or David Brooks or David Letterman or David McCullough, or John Mayer or John Steinbeck or John Paul II or John Calvin or Richard Dawkins or Richard Branson or Richard Baxter or Bono or Bach or blogs (even this one) dwells in you more richly than the word of Christ, you’re poor. You might be impressive at a dinner party or around a conference table or at small group. But you’re poor. You’re storing up dust.

You don’t need to be in the know.

You don’t need to be admired among the literati or respected in the guild. You don’t need an impressive net worth. You don’t need to be well traveled or well read. You don’t need to be conversant in Portlandia or know how many Twitter followers Taylor Swift has. You don’t need to be politically articulate, or up on the mommy blogs or the young, restless and reformed buzz. You don’t need to see the movie. You don’t need to read the novel. You don’t need to look hip.

But what you desperately need, more than anything else in the world, is the word of Christ dwelling in you richly.”


When we foster a home environment where the Word of Christ is implanted and richly nourishing our hearts, our conversations, our attitudes, our choices, and our actions, a natural outcome is that our children will be spiritually minded. The logical questions we must ask are first, how do I let the Word of Christ dwell richly in me? In us? And secondly, what crowds out the Word from dwelling in us richly?

In Mark 4, Jesus gives four different soil conditions. One is a soil that competes for nutrients:

“And other seed are the ones sown among thorns.”

Consider the environment in your home as soil in which your children’s lives are being planted. A soil {or home environment} that competes is one that has both good seed and thorns growing in it. “They are those who hear the Word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful.”

Friends, this verse describes so many of our homes. We are sowing the seed but it is in competition with other things… things that end up choking it out.

We cannot be double minded and hope half-hearted efforts will do the trick.

Mark 4:19 gives three specific things that compete for the nourishing Word and crowd it out.

1. The cares of the world. Bills, errands, chores, to do lists. Being overcommitted. Busyness. {Simplifying our lives will go a long way here.}

2. The deceitfulness of riches. Discontent and trying to get ahead. Materialism. Purchasing beyond our ability. Thinking we need more and running after it.

3. Desires for other things. Selfish pursuits. Time wasters. Endless entertainment. Pursuing comfort. Or recognition. Or pleasing ourselves in all manner of ways and taking little thought of serving others, much less sacrificing to do so. The internet. So many other things!

At the end of the parable of the seed and soils, Jesus said, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. Pay attention to what you hear.” I believe Jesus wants us to wake up and begin making value choices. When we realize the Word is in competition with other things in our lives and homes, we need to make some strategic choices. Some things have to go so that what’s really important can take root and “dwell in us richly.”

Maybe it’s busyness. Selfish pursuits. That endless entertainment. Maybe laziness and disorganization. Maybe the internet. Maybe TV.

Whatever it is, we need to first identify it and then weed it out. Pull up the thorns. Don’t allow weeds to compete for a place in the soil of your home.

This post was actually going to be the last one in the series but this week God has directed my steps to do this very work of “weeding out” in our home. I’m sharing it today so that others who choose to do this can do it together and not be alone. If you are doing this week’s challenge, will you leave a comment and pray for the others {and me}?


This Week’s Challenge: Cultivate rich soil by identifying what crowds out the Word… and fast from it!


Start by meeting as a family to brainstorm what competes for “space” in your home. As a family, identify and talk about what things choke out the Word, both individually and as a family.

Then, choose one or two of the “weeds” to take a 30 day fast from, such as T.V. or the Internet or activities that just keep you busy.

In place of those things, be more intentional about slowing down, serving others, sowing seeds, and filling your hearts and minds with the nourishing Word. It may be helpful to refer to your Replacement List… or create a new one… for your 30 day fast. Be intentional!


Personal note: Over the next 30 days, I am fasting from unnecessary computer activities. {This has nothing to do with Lent, by the way!} I want the Word to be what dwells in me richly so am cutting out other voices for a bit. I will continue posting this series on Mondays as long as it does not become one of those things that choke out the Word~ smile~ Other than that, you may not see me on the blog a whole lot this month~

The Nourished Mind

10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids


UPDATE:: It’s Tuesday morning and we started today with Words and I’m happy to say the morning went much better than yesterday. Thank You, Jesus!


10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids


Welcome! This is post #4 in our series 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. You can read the other posts in this series here.


So this morning Jackson got up early to catch a flight. I did the morning routine with the kids alone and they griped the whole time. I herded them out the door at 7:35 and they complained about the smell in the elevator.

They complained about having to share  the elevator.

They complained about a school bus getting in their way. They complained about having to scoot over in the van.

In fact, they did nothing BUT complain.

And today I’m supposed to write a post on raising spiritually minded kids. MmHm.

Today was one of those mornings where you just wonder what in the world is going on and how in the world do you change it?

The birds were singing so I went for a walk. ”Lord, what is going on? Our minds are so frequently consumed by the base, the trivial, the worthless. It provides absolutely no edification but somehow we are attracted to the stimulation such nonsense brings. We just feed on it! How can I guide my children to the noble, pure, and worthy? How can I invite them to something far more attractive? And how can I do it without demanding and forcing? I need to guide them into the better way.”

I thought about Ben Carson’s mom. As a poor, uneducated, single  mom, she relied heavily on the Lord. When her boys started bringing home terrible grades, she didn’t know what to do about it. But she knew who did.

“Sonya pulled Ben and Curtis close to her and looked right into their faces. “Boys, I don’t know what to do. But God promises in the Bible to give wisdom to those who ask. So tonight I’m going to pray for wisdom. I’m going to ask God what I need to do to help you.”

Ben and Curtis didn’t know what to think. Had she gone off the deep end? Did she really think God was going to tell her how to help them get better grades? Two days later, the boys found out God’s answer to their mother’s prayer, and they didn’t like it.

“God says we need to turn off the television,” Sonya told her sons. “You may choose three TV shows each week, but three times per week it is. You can use the extra time for reading.”

The boys complained and tried to change her mind, but their mother wasn’t finished. “You’re also to write two book reports every week about what you read. Then you can present your reports out loud to me.”

~From Gifted Hands, Kids Edition: The Ben Carson Story (ZonderKidz Biography)


Sonya’s boys didn’t like it, but they did what their mom said and every week checked out a stack of books from the Detroit Public Library. It turned their lives around and Ben discovered what he was made for. He went on to become a doctor, eventually becoming one of the most prominent neurosurgeons in America.

What a child needs most is a praying mama.

So this morning, this mama prayed. And God answered:


“The law of the Lord is PERFECT,” He reminded me. “It restores the soul.

The testimony of the Lord is sure. It makes the simple person wise.

The precepts of the Lord are right, they bring joy to the heart. This morning, you fed your children’s bodies but failed to nourish their minds.”


Isn’t God good?! The answer was right there! For the past several months, our morning Scripture reading at the table has been sparse. More like non-existent. It is so easy to get distracted, to think it isn’t doing any good anyway, to feel like it’s just a boring, burdensome ritual.

The truth is that our minds need frequent intake of nourishing truth… just as our bodies need frequent intake of nourishing foods. The mind is renewed through the Word of God. There is no greater agent available. I love the simplicity of just getting back to reading the Word at the breakfast table. Thank You Jesus!


Way #4: Nourish the Mind



This week, my goal is to once again establish the habit of nourishing my children’s minds with the Word of God. Particularly in the morning at the breakfast table. Three resources I’ll be using are:

Daily Light on the Daily Path : This book provides daily scripture compilations, one for the morning and one for the evening. The readings are short (half a page) and are pure scripture. I love this book and it will be my primary tool.


Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids: I’m not a big fan of devotionals but this one is an exception. Our family always hears from God when we read this one. We’ll probably use it when I sense the kids getting tired of Daily Light.


Daily Audio Bible: This online scripture reading with Brian is a great way to start the morning and there’s a kid’s edition too. The only drawback is that it takes longer to finish. This is one for the weekend when we have more time to listen.


I’ve found we can get so complicated in our efforts to memorize scripture, understand the Bible, have family worship, etc that we stop doing the simplest thing of all. Today I asked God for just a few simple seeds. Just a few. Good, solid seeds that will grow with my children and produce a harvest of righteousness. Eating Words at meal times is one of them. So easy to implement! 


This Week’s Challenge:


  • Choose a meal time to regularly read a portion of Scripture as a family.
  • Select your resources (the Bible itself is enough! I use the above resources because they cut out the need for preparation and help engage little minds and hearts.)
  • Share your plan with your family and begin!


Feel free to share your plan with us. See you next week for more in our series 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. You can read the other posts in this series here.



The God Box



10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids



This is post three in our series 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. To read the goal of this series, please see last week’s post on the liberating truth of the Gospel.



I don’t know about you but I want my life to be transformed… not conformed. Likewise, I want my home and family life to be transformed. (Romans 12:2)

Yet “conformed” happens so easily. The word for “conformed” in Romans 12:2 is suschematizo and happens when outside forces squeeze us into a mold, giving us our shape. This is what we DO NOT want!

Transformed is “metamorphoo” and it means to change form from the inside out; an outer representation of one’s inward character and nature. This word is used of Jesus in Matthew 17:2, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”

That’s what we want for our lives and families!

Romans 12:2 tells us an essential means to living transformed is the renewing of our minds. Learning to think about daily life biblically and deliberately fixing our eyes on the character of God is essential for having a renewed mind.

Sometimes in Scripture we see people setting times and places to deliberately remember God’s faithful ways. For example:


Abraham set up altars, marking his encounters with God. (Genesis 12)

Joshua took stones from the Jordan River when God parted the waters. He used them to set up an altar which prompted spiritual conversations for future generations.  (Joshua 4:20)

Samuel took a stone and used it as a “stone of remembrance” after God delivered the Israelites from the Philistines. (I Samuel 7:12)

David said in Psalm 77:11-12, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord;  yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”


Making a habit of remembering God’s deeds, miracles, and works is a helpful way to renew our minds and dwell on His faithfulness to us.


Way #3:  Have a Family Remembrance (or God) Box


Our family has adopted a practice of discussing the ways God has blessed us each week. On Sunday mornings, we recall and record in a journal the special things God has done, ways He encouraged or provided for us, and things He spoke to us from His Word. The younger children can also draw pictures in the journal.

The journal goes into a box, our “God Box,” which also contains items that carry a story of His provision, such as a car key. Our God Box reminds us of God’s faithfulness, goodness, and kind intentions towards us.


This week’s challenge:

Start your own God Box and carve out intentional time to fix your mind on Christ as a family. Find a small box and a journal and you are ready to go! Here are some questions to get you started:


1. How has God provided for you this week?

2. How did God help you this week?

3. How has God surprised you this week?

4. How were you encouraged this week?

5. What scripture did God speak to you personally this week?

6. What characteristic of God did you see more of?

7. Any miracles? Answers to prayer?


Write or draw your answers in the journal and place any memorabilia in the box to remember what God has done.

After you start your box, let me know what’s in it! You can email me at arabahjoy(at)

Raising spiritually minded children does not have to be overwhelming. While we have no guarantee as to the choices our children will make later on, we can sow good seed in their lives and train them in turning their minds to Christ. I hope this series gives “handles” for us to do just that. See you next week for more~~

When you’ve messed christian parenting UP

poopoo parenting


poopoo parenting



So last week I began a series on raising spiritually minded children. And since then, I’ve been questioning what I really want to communicate through this series. Posting “10 Ways” is a brand new form of blogging for me and I really need to say something.


So here goes.

There seems to be something inherently wrong with most of the Christian parenting stuff I read. It operates on the basic assumption that the parent is  good. For example:


We want to spend time with our kids but we don’t know how.

Enter solution: 101 things to do with your toddler.


We deeply desire to speak kindly and show patience when correcting our rebellious child; we just can’t seem to pull it off.

Solution: How to stop yelling in 30 days.


We receive joy at the prospect of selflessly serving our children, even when they are mean and unlovely; but we lack the time to do it.

Solution: Organize your life and live on cloud nine (!!!!!).


But what about when you don’t want what’s right or you don’t desire to deny yourself or don’t receive joy in well doing? What then?

What is inherently missing in the self help sort of approach to writing parenting articles is that it doesn’t get at the root of our most basic issue. It does not answer the fundamental question of “What do I do with my sin?” Because honestly, most of the time it isn’t that I don’t know how to spend quality time with my children; it’s that other things are more important.

Let’s just be honest.

And sometimes I downright resent the demands of my family and am perfectly content to give them my leftovers. What of that?

I am not saying I never enjoy my children or delight in serving them; but there is no point in reading and pinning an article that gives me ideas when what I really need is my sin issue dealt with. No expert can give me 3 quick steps to obliterating selfishness. Neither is there an eBook on miraculously changing my hard heartedness or removing self protection from my marriage bed.


That’s because only the Gospel can do that.


The last thing I want to do on my blog is give 10 steps without giving real hope. Friends, there is hope in the gospel. Let it be heard in sin-sick hearts everywhere.

Your sin issue? Is dealt with. The gospel tells us that we CAN change and we CAN live godly and we CAN reflect God’s glory and we CAN be the aroma of Christ in our home and we CAN change the legacy of our family line.

Because of Christ.

There is an allure to “10 Ways” and “Top Five” and “How to…” articles to be sure (which is why people write them.) But we need to know where to turn when facing the depth of depravity in our own mom heart- the heart that is supposed to nurture, protect, and selflessly serve your own but, in fact, does not.

At best, much of what’s out there can give tips and direction for us after we lay the foundation of the gospel. At worst, much of what’s out there can give us the appearance of wisdom but offer no help in curbing sin and self.

You need to go back to the gospel when you just used your authority to manipulate your child’s heart because she annoyed you. And when you’re confronted with the reality that you do not, can not, will not parent without using shame or condemnation. And when you are stingy with your affection or lazy in your daily routines and a thousand other times. (And if you haven’t been confronted by the depth of your own parenting depravity, just give it some time… you will be.)

Here’s the thing: we are sinners. We are fallen. Not only that, but our sin isn’t just the “little white lie” variety, the sort that’s cute and seemingly harmless. No, our sin is raunchy, deep, and utterly destructive. There’s no 10 step, 30 day, how-to solution deep enough to fix that.

Friends, I need the GOSPEL, for it is the power of God unto salvation.

I need the gospel that tells me Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief, and this is a trustworthy statement that I can rely upon when my heart resents being in a hot kitchen serving ungrateful children.

The gospel I need to hear is that God can take an entire day’s worth of mommy failures and redeem them and make all things new and when I wake up in the morning, even before the sun is up, He is eager and waiting for me and runs to meet me anew with buckets full of fresh grace and mercy.

That’s what I need to know.

I need to know that I’ve been redeemed from my own sin and I’ve not been appointed for stumbling when those temptations come and I’ve been set apart for worthy purposes and given everything I need to live godly and that even when I fail… and I will… God Himself is faithful because He cannot be anything else and He will complete what He started and accomplish what concerns me.

And when I do long to display Christ in my home yet fail… and fail… and fall short of that Glory yet again, I need to know that as true as my falling is, it is not the final word because God says it isn’t the one who works who is justified, but the one who trusts God… because He justifies the ungodly.

Day after day.

Friends, I need the gospel.

I need to know the same God that gave Abraham a promised son is the same God who gives life to dead things even now, even here, and calls into being things that are not. There is, in fact, hope for me. (Romans 4:17)

I need to know that the God who feeds the birds every morning and directs them where to go promises to multiply my seed for sowing today and will produce a harvest of righteousness in me. (II cor 9)

That’s the kind of parenting article I need. That’s the hope of the gospel.

Sure, I can learn from 10 steps and 30 days and 100 tips, and heaven knows I need those menu plans and recipes… but not without the foundation of the gospel. The gospel foundation tells me I CAN eat healthy because God has redeemed me from the worthless. The gospel foundation tells me I CAN relate with my children on a deeper level because Christ is there, whispering in my ear “this is the way, walk in it.” The gospel foundation says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Not because I am good and need some self help, but because I am horribly evil and have no hope of helping myself whatsoever and don’t ever have to. Christ has done it all and because of that, I can change.

Hallelujah, we have the gospel!

For the Christian, there’s no such thing as self help. Yes, there’s an allure to it but the real hope is the gospel. Oh how deep, rich, and sufficient it is! This depraved mommy heart needs it.

Desperate momma, get to the gospel! What you need pumping through your veins isn’t Pinterest. What you need in your face isn’t Facebook. Your secret sauce is not in the kitchen and your biggest help isn’t somebody’s blog. Momma, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… because the gospel is the power of God for your salvation, the moment by moment redemption of a momma’s life.


The Replacement List (Spiritually Minded Kids)

10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids




10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Kids



This is post #2 in our series: “10 Way to Raise Spiritually Minded Children.”


Last week we talked about having a purpose statement. How did you do? If you missed the first post, you can read it here.

Now that we have our statements, we need some creative ways to implement it. This week’s idea will help us get started.

I attended a meeting once where another missionary said their family had memorized their organization’s mission statement. “We did it so whenever we had an hour or an afternoon or fifteen minutes of free time, we would ask ourselves what we could do to fulfill our mission.”

I was impressed. As I thought about what she said, I wondered what a difference it would make if each person in my family not only had a clearly defined, personally owned mission statement, but more importantly, whenever we had a snatch of free time, we learned to ask ourselves what action we could take to fulfill our purpose?

I admit, I had visions of grandeur. Instead of asking for ipad time, I envisioned my children memorizing Scripture. Instead of wanting a Friday family night out, I saw them wanting to have neighbors over to share the gospel. I became so excited by what I envisioned that I gathered my children and together we discussed purpose and vision. My oldest son (11) then asked if we could have 30 minutes each day to focus on purpose! Talk about being fired up!


Way #2: Keep a Replacement List



During our discussion, my kids and I talked about things we do on a daily basis and how they fulfill our purpose. We also talked about meaningless activities within our home and personal lives. We concluded our time by asking, “What things can we do in our free time to fulfill our purpose?” We brainstormed ways we can intentionally choose “purpose” activities and made a list of these activities. This list proved invaluable… mostly to me :)

I have our list hanging in our living room but I’ll be honest: we needed to take the list a step further and translate those activities into goals. For me personally, when I make clear, specific, measurable goals, things happen. So this week I’ll be making some specific goals based on our list, such as “Have locals in our home once a week.”


This week’s assignment: Make a Replacement List


Sit down as a family and list all the things you can do to fulfill your purpose statement. The goal is to replace some mindless or purposeless activities with meaningful ones. Some of your ideas will be bigger projects. Others will be small things, requiring mere moments. When you have your list, post it somewhere in your home. Then, when you or the kids have those snatches of free time, suggest an activity from your list to work on.

Each family’s purpose statement will be different, so activities on your Replacement List will vary, but these are a few from ours:

- Invite neighbors over and have spiritual conversations with them

- Help a sibling with their chores

- Ask Mom what we can do to help her (and all of my children do this one!!)

- Write someone a letter or color someone a picture

- Pray

- Read Bible or work on memory verse


After making your list, translate a few of them into measurable goals, such as memorizing a verse a week as a family. Even having two or three goals is a huge step in the right direction. With your goals and activities handy, you will have the *work* of coming up with something to do out of the way.

This week, try to be intentional about working on your family goals during those snatches of free time. Lastly, in writing this, I was reminded of Ann Voskamp’s “Pick before you Click” printable. A good edition to this week’s challenge, yes?

Feel free to add your comments and suggestions, or hit “reply” and tell me what your family goals are!


Join us next Monday for Way #3: The God Box

At Home With Arabah: For the Parents

paper airplane took 5 years to complete


At Home with Arabah


“My home is not in order. Oh, it’s not bad, but my kiddos are little and are in the training years and I have much work to do; I cannot be distracted. This is my life, and my kid’s lives, and how they will interact with the world.  I know there are no guarantees on how they will turn out, but I don’t want to look back on my life one day and know that I didn’t give it my all.” A must read by Sarah Mae


“Carol Kent has lived every parent’s nightmare. After her only son was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Carol’s life took a permanent detour. She and her husband, Gene, have been adjusting ever since.

A New Kind of Normal begins with the story of that horrible night when Carol and Gene learned their son had been arrested, but it doesn’t end there. In fact, Carol knows what it means to live with an unthinkable circumstance that will never change-and to still make hope-filled choices. Through the eight chapters in this book, Carol will use their own story, the story of Mary mother of Jesus, and stories of women who have experienced their own “new normal” to share how God has led them to choose life, gratitude, vulnerability, involvement, forgiveness, trust, and action.”


“To put it bluntly, a lot of pastors’ children hate the ministry. My team interviewed 20 pastors’ kids who are adults now. They provided some insights that were both inspiring and disturbing.” Ed Stetzer  on 5 Ways to teach your children to hate the ministry @Christianity Today


paper airplane took 5 years to complete

Paper Airplane  Wow! What creativity! This young man began work on this piece of art at 17 years of age. It took him 5 years to complete it. Fantastic!


From boy to man by Al Mohler; When does a boy become a man? This free download reminds fathers and mothers of what really is important.


Parents, don’t raise good kids! Some thoughts from Desiring God blog


And finally, Just for Fun. The funniest thing we read this week: Flatulating cows ignite barn fire.  Go ahead and laugh, it’s good for you.

 Have a great weekend friends! 


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