Happy 4th!

Happy 4th! As we celebrate July 4th, let’s pray with our kids for the men and women who serve our country, as well as their families. Thank you to each of you who has served, is serving, or has a family member serving. We are so very grateful for each of you and that because of your commitment, service, and sacrifice we can have freedom.

Lord, we come together to pray for each man and woman serving our country, as well as for their spouses, children, parents and friends. Please fill them with your peace, your presence, your power, your Spirit, your comfort, your truth, your love. Thank you for the independence and freedom we have here, and above all, for the freedom we have in you, Jesus. We pray your words from John 17:11 for them: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name.” In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Sometimes figuring out how to start a relationship with Jesus can appear like a magic formula and seem confusing or unattainable.

But, in Luke 23:39-43, Jesus shows how we can have a relationship with Him.

The three crosses stood on the hill called the Skull – Jesus was being crucified between two criminals.

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?

We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus doesn’t say – sorry, you believe in me, but your past is too bad.

He doesn’t say – sorry, but you didn’t say the five-step, exact word prayer you needed to, so you don’t make the cut.

No, Jesus knows the repentant heart of the man.

Jesus sees how the criminal acknowledges his own guilt.

That the criminal saw him on the cross, innocent, not deserving of this.

The criminal recognizes Jesus is the Messiah – the one offering the way to God’s kingdom.

And, Jesus says, “TODAY you will be with ME in paradise.”

Not that he would think about it and consider what he’s saying.

The man reached out to Jesus and Jesus accepted him – right then and there.

Right now, wherever you are in your faith, Jesus wants you to turn to him.

To choose him.

To believe in him.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus (Matthew 7:7-8)

Jesus is there for you.

He came to this earth for you.

He died on the cross for you.

He rose again for you.

Because he loves you and wants you to come into his kingdom.

So you can have life now and forever with him – the life that is truly life.

This world is limited. But life with Jesus is everlasting.

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Here are some other verses that talk about starting a relationship with the Lord.

I’m praying for you. That the Lord would speak to your heart, comfort you, and connect with you.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” Jesus (John 5:24)

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“For God so LOVED the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21 & Romans 10:13

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Choosing to Slow Summer Down

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Jesus talks so much about believing and having faith…Asking Lazarus’ sister, Martha, if she believes in John 11. Asking the two blind men in Matthew 28 if they believe that he’s able to heal them. Telling the bleeding woman in Mark 5 that her faith healed her. Telling the blind man in Mark 10 that his faith healed him. And, all throughout the book of John, Jesus asks if people believe.

I find it interesting that Jesus tells us to be like children in how we believe and how we “receive the kingdom of God”. Children are quick to believe, have simple and great faith, and are humble – they’re not afraid to say they’re in need.

I find it interesting and so very refreshing that in Mark 9, a father with a sick son struggled with believing. He didn’t hide it. In humility, he laid it out right before Jesus, begging him to help him with his unbelief. Faith like a child. Humility like a child. Asking for help, telling the Lord he needed help. And, Jesus met him right there.

The Lord doesn’t need us to never feel sad or confused or mad or scared as we believe in Him. If we weren’t human, that would be simple. But we are human, with emotion, a whole lot of it – that’s just how he made us to be and that’s okay.

You know how Jesus wants us to come to him? Raw, honest, open, truthful, telling Him we are in need of Him. Looking away from the struggle, and looking straight to Jesus instead. He will help us, we just need to ask Him.

Going back to the story, the father said, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Then Jesus healed the boy.

Jesus didn’t say, sorry you messed up, you’re not good enough, you didn’t say the right words or feel the right way. Instead, he honored the father’s raw and vulnerable heart that recognized he was so in need of Jesus.

I don’t think the Lord longs for us to come as a perfect package to him (which is impossible by the way), but rather, He longs for us to come in humility, bringing our broken pieces to Him, so He can make us whole.

We are whole in Jesus. Jesus is the One who brings full life, eternal life, joy, healing and hope to us.

If you are struggling like this father, be encouraged that you also can cry out to the Lord, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”. And, the Lord will meet you, right there in that moment, right where you are, and He will rescue you.

If you’re tired, ask the Lord to lift you up. If you want to be present with your kids, ask him to help you.

If you want to be less rushed, ask him to help you slow down.

If you want to be calmer, ask His Spirit to settle you. If you don’t know if you can take that next step, ask him to step in.

If you need community, ask him for it.

If you feel discontent, ask him to be your peace.

If you need joy, ask him for it.

If you are in need, God will help, just ask. ❤

“COME TO ME all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” – Jesus

$An Awesome Way to do Allowance this Summer$

Do you want another way to do allowance than giving your kids money each week just for doing normal family responsibilities? *Get a free chore chart to help with allowance by subscribing to my weekly email.*

This way of doing allowance, based on Dave Ramsey’s approach, works well if you’re consistent with the chart and have the earned money ready to give to your kids that week. It has worked great with our triplets!

Allowance Chore Charts If you would like my chore chart, go to my homepage and subscribe to my Blog on the pop-up. Then the welcome box will have the simple charts listed: one is a sample chart I use and the other chart is a blank one you can fill out. If you are already subscribed to my Blog and would like a copy of the charts, comment below to let me know, and I’ll email them to you. After you print out the chore charts, tape them to the wall (more details of how to use them are below). If your kids are older, they might not need a chart, but you still should post the Bonus Jobs each week (explained below).

Weekly Expectations such as making bed, setting table, keeping room clean, etc., have to be completed to have the chance to earn allowance money from doing a “bonus Job”. There can be some encouragement and grace along the way with completing the chart as they get used to doing it each day. But, after several weeks, they’ll start getting the hang of it.

Bonus jobs are “extra” age-appropriate tasks our kids do to earn the money each week, such as dusting, wiping base boards, washing windows, pulling weeds, etc. At the beginning of every week, write one new bonus job on your child’s chart. They can complete it whenever they’d like that week. If your kids are younger, you might need to plan a time for them to do their bonus job and teach them how to do it.

Amount Decide how much allowance you will give your kids. Some people give $0.50 or $1 per year of their child’s age, and others give more or less. Put the allowance in an envelope, write Allowance on it, and tape it to the wall next to your kids’ charts at the beginning of the week. That way your kids will be motivated to earn it and can get their allowance after they have finished their weekly chores and bonus job.

When to start 5 to 6 years old is a great time to start teaching about chores, bonus jobs and money.

Create “Give”, “Save”, & “Spend” compartments using envelopes, plastic sealable bags, or a craft box with three compartments. Label each one Give, Save, and Spend. “Give $” goes to the church or a charity each week or month, “Save $” is long-term saving and goes in the bank at the end of the month for something they’d like when they’re older like a car or something else, and “Spend $” is for short-term purchases. Creating a goal of something to save for can also help motivate your kids to save. It is helpful to bring your kids to the bank to open an account if they don’t have one. You can get a print out of how much money they have saved so far to keep them motivated.

Verse I also have a weekly verse on the Allowance Chore chart. Memorizing it isn’t a requirement to earn money, but the first three weeks, I did tell them they got a piece of candy once they memorized the verse! (: Then, I stopped giving them the candy, but we’re still memorizing the verses together each week. I put the verse on the wall and we practice it in the morning. Using hand motions and singing the verses can help with memorizing them too. Let me know if you’d like the verses we’ve memorized this month by commenting below.

Percentages for Give, Save, Spend How to divvy out the money into the three categories, depends on the age of your child and if he or she has expenses. If your child is young and receives $3 each week, they could put $1 in each category to keep it simple. Or, if your child gets $5, $1 could go to give, $1 to save, and they could choose where to put the other $3 to give them accountability, responsibility and freedom. As our kids get older and have to pay expenses like car insurance or other expenses, your child could give 10%, and the saving and spending percentages can be adjusted so they are appropriate. See Dave Ramsey’s website for more examples and guidance. 

While they’re young, what matters most isn’t the percentages, but that they’re getting a head start in learning to manage money.

How to use Allowance Chore Chart After your kids complete the bonus job listed that week, they check it off. I list my kids mealtime job on the chart to check off each day and rotate them each week. The mealtime jobs are setting the table, cleaning the floor after a meal, clearing/wiping the table off. I also have a space for a specific goal each kid needs to work on- one of my daughter’s is to keep her room picked up, my son’s is to remember to brush his teeth(!), and my other daughter doesn’t have one because she’s already doing those things. Each Saturday morning, we all do our weekly bedroom responsibilities listed on the chart which helps me a ton. Blast some music to make it more fun!

Have fun watching your children learn responsibility and the freedom that comes with managing their own money through Giving, Saving, & Spending!

Public School, Private School, or Homeschool?

Where our kids attend school is a big decision. I have considered all options thoroughly over the past years: public school, private school, and homeschooling.

I have heard lots and lots of advice. 

I have come to this conclusion:

Your kids should be in the best place for THEM.

There is no one right answer for every child.

I have heard that your child should be homeschooled to protect them. 

But, in reality, our kids are growing up and will be a part of the real world eventually. What a gift to be able to lead and teach them in the “real world” while they are in our home.

And what a gift for the opportunity to homeschool if a child will thrive there.

I have heard that to raise your kids in a Christian school is essential.

But, the foundation we build for our kids in our homes when they are young is what makes the deepest impact.

What a gift to have private schools if that is best for your child and a possibility.

And, what a gift to have some public schools that are excellent – not all, sadly, but many are great. Just as not every co-op or private school is great.

What a gift to have some fabulous public schools and some wonderful staff in so many public schools. And, what would happen if all Christian families took their kids out of public schools?

If the public school is teaching ideas that our families are not okay with and that unsettles us, we can always dive deeper to see if another school would be better. But, that can also be a great topic of conversation with our kids of “what we as a family believe” if they are old enough.

In life, there will be many times when we will not line up with what others’ think. It’s important for our kids to know how to be separate thinkers and to know “what we as a family believe”.

Again, I come back to there not being one right answer. We have to assess what is best for each of our children. 

Some might need the smaller environment of a private school if it can be afforded. 

Some kids might thrive in an even smaller environment like a Co-op with homeschooling.

Some kids might thrive in a bigger public school that might have more opportunities.

As parents, we should continue praying for the Lord to lead us as we make this decision, and to remember that the biggest decisions we need to make are…

Building a foundation of faith for our kids.

Showing them Jesus in our words and actions.

Showing them how to think for themselves.

Showing them how to serve and love others.

Praying for our kids.

And, loving our kids with all our hearts.

Whatever decision you make for your kids, may we as parents always remember that the most important decision we can make is to always love the Lord, our families, and others with all our hearts.

(*If you would like the recommendation of a book that was helpful to me in making these decisions, I’ll be happy to share it in the comments.)

Lord, we pray you would give each of us wisdom as we decide the schools our kids attend. Thank you that we have the opportunity for our kids to even go to school. Please be with families whose kids can’t go to school and provide opportunities for them. Help us to stay focused on what matters the most: loving You and loving Others. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Help us to show our kids you, Jesus, in the way we love them and others. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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Changes coming…

First, I am so grateful for each of you and hope that these posts have encouraged you – the reason I write.

Secondly, I wanted to give you a heads up that the format of my emails will change a bit because I will be using MailerLite to send them, but they will still come from me and say my name. If you subscribed via email, you will still receive the email. If you don’t receive it, make sure the email hasn’t gone to your spam folder. I’ll continue sharing Faith & Parenting content once a week & everything else will be the same. I’m grateful to walk this journey with you!

And, I have an exciting announcement coming in the next few months!

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