out with the old, in with the new

I’ve struggled with exercise-induced asthma since I was a teenager. Well, I didn’t struggle with it a whole lot unless I was doing something really active, and up until a few years ago that wasn’t much! Seasonal allergies seemed to make it worse as well. This was a major hurdle I needed to face as I took up running and I did so armed with inhalers and determination.

It wasn’t until last year, when meeting with a new doctor, that I learned something about the way my breathing works that could help me avoid these asthmatic symptoms while running. She told me when I was feeling like I couldn’t take a full, deep breath, I needed to try to blow out as much air as possible. I won’t say anything technically or medically right here, but basically the “old” air in my lungs was leaving no room for “new” air. I needed to focus more on the exhale before I tried to get a good inhale.

I was skeptical at first, but, for me, it really does work. I still don’t feel like my breathing is normal, especially while running, but I am much more able to control it when I concentrate on “out with the old, in with the new.”

This is the rhythm I find in life and faith as well. I like to start new things. These new things are usually good things, meant to help me with time management or my prayer life or loving my family better. But in the process, I often hold on to the old, even if just by a thread, because it feels comfortable, familiar, non-threatening.

Out with the Old

Trying to add new to my life while holding on to the old leaves me gasping for air, desperate for a full, refreshing breath. Getting up early to spend more time with the Lord before everyone wakes up doesn’t work so well when I hold on to the comfort of late nights reading or watching TV. Frustration sets in quickly when I make up a new schedule but let the old time-wasting habits hang around.

Our pastor spoke this weekend on the ways the enemy seduces us, gradually drawing us away from God with things we don’t consider sins. We rationalize these things as not harmful even though they distract us from relationship with God. We need to recognize the seduction and repent of our part in it, but the last step was the key and the one that really got me. Replacement. Get the old, self-centered, time-wasting, worldly ways out and fill in that space with the true, real, satisfying pleasures of God.

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. ~Galatians 5:16

It really is not enough for us to just take on the new. Colossians 3 is often quoted for its verses about putting on the virtues of love, compassion, kindness, and so on, but do you know what comes before that? Paul FIRST asks the people of Colossae to put to death the old – all manner of evil, impure things. It is only after the old is gone that the new can be put on.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. ~Colossians 3:5-10 12-15

When it feels heavy to put on the virtues of Christ, it is usually because we haven’t let go of the things of old yet. Layering kindness on top of bitterness or envy just feels fake and stifling. Stuffing down anger with pretend patience won’t feel refreshing in any way.

This week, as we draw closer to the time set aside to remember our Savior’s death for my sins, I’m reexamining my repentance of old and choosing to clean house in my soul. I need to make room for more of Him and that means getting rid of the sins, the time-wasters, the unnecessary. And in it’s place will be the best kind of new – the new things of Him refreshing, restoring, and continuing the good works He has planned for me.

Acts 3 19 20

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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 2}

Here is part two of my fascinating interview with Micha Boyett, author of Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer, releasing next week!

Before you read below, check out my thoughts on this fabulous book and part one of our interview, including more about how Micha discovered the Benedictine way.

foundcoverE: You are the mother to TWO boys now. How has your journey of prayer + motherhood continued or changed with a second child in the house?

Micha: Having a second kid magnified the intensity of motherhood for me: More love. More stress. More anxiety. More insecurity.

I have a friend who says she never really felt like a grown up until she had her second baby. I totally get that. Having one child is hard, but you can still feel capable of giving yourself fully to your child. There’s this moment after your second child is born when both are crying and you have to choose which one you will comfort. And you realize this is a metaphor for life from now on!

I have had to learn that I am not enough for my kids. And I’ve had to learn to trust God with my own inabilities as a mom. I cannot hold both my children at the same time. And the older they get, the more I realize that I cannot always rescue them. I have to trust that God’s grace fills in the gaps.

That sort of growing up has reverberated out into my prayer life. More is demanded of me. Therefore, I have to be more protective of the kind of mom I’m going to be for my kids. The changes have really been pretty simple. I go to bed earlier now. I expect less of myself. I allow myself to get the sleep I need. And then I wake up really early so I can pray. Waking up early to pray is much easier when you’re not up all hours of the night trying to be a super hero.

And when I don’t wake up early and I don’t spend time in prayer, I actually believe that God continues to love me, that God is still here with me, that I’m still being remade, even though I didn’t live up to some spiritual ideal. That’s the biggest change that has happened for me. I learned to extend God’s grace to myself and, through that, to my kids.

 

E: Do you include your husband or children in the Benedictine prayers?

Micha: The Benedictine monks and nuns mostly emphasize the Psalms during their daily prayers. (Modern-day monks usually pray through the entire book of Psalms every two weeks.) They also practice a kind of prayer called Lectio Divina, in which you read through scripture in a slower, less intellectual, more heart-driven way. There are a couple of scenes in the book where I pray using Lectio Divina.

I still practice Lectio Divina. I’ve just begun meeting with a group of friends (other moms) once a month for Lectio. And I still use the Psalms in my prayer life, though I don’t have a specific schedule of Psalms like I did in my story.

I love to emphasize the Psalms with my kids, especially my oldest, who really feels things deeply the way I do. I discovered a beautiful children’s book of Psalms—Psalms for Young Children. It emphasizes the whole gamut of emotions in the Psalms in a tender, gentle way that my kids really get. So we read through them when they’re feeling worried or sad.

But more than how I include my husband or my kids in the way I pray, I think the bigger change St. Benedict’s Rule has made in my life will be through my character, my sense of peace. I’m much more at ease with the “ordinariness” of this season of my life. I’m at peace with how I use my time and how God loves me. And I think my boys and my husband experience that on a daily basis. I’m a different mom than I was three years ago, because the Benedictines helped me learn to believe that God’s is finding me, restoring me, here, right now. That has really changed everything.

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E: In the book, you say, “My life has value because God has touched every mundane moment with the glow of holiness.” How do you remember to find that holiness in the mundane?

Micha: Some days I remember to look for it and some days I don’t. In the book I talk about “paying attention” and I really believe that gratitude is the beginning and ending of that process of noticing God in my ordinary life. On the days when I feel like a failure as a mom, or a friend, or a follower of Jesus, I’m learning to start back in the most basic place: gratitude. Even if I don’t know how to pray, I know how to thank God for my three-year-old’s laugh or for pieces of avocado on my slice of toast. And as soon as begin attributing the good in my life to God, I begin to see the holiness of my life again.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 1}

I would love to have you join me at Thrive Moms today to read more about the questions I’m asking God and myself about motherhood!

*****

I’ve been devouring books lately because there are SO. MANY. GOOD. ONES. coming out this spring and I’ve had the privilege of reading several advance copies. I honestly can’t get enough reading time and when I do, I just want to read and read and read these gems.

One of the first of this spring delivery of words I read was Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett. I didn’t know of Micha before I stumbled upon her book in the faith section of a review site. It was a total God-thing I found her there because her words spoke straight to me heart.

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Found is a story of purpose and motherhood and chaos and quiet and so much questioning with which I could absolutely relate. What happens to our faith when we’re doing something different than we ever thought was in the plan? How do we approach the feelings of insignificance in our current role? Where do we find the time and space for Him when little ones are always in our hands and at our feet?

This is truly a beautiful book so many will identify with because seldom does life go exactly as we had planned from day one. And the busyness of life threatens are quiet, intimate relationship with our Savior. But Micha offers hope in her journal-like memoir of discovering the time for all things, inspired by the Benedictine way of life and faith.

I had SO many things I wanted to ask Micha after finishing Found and she graciously agreed to an interview. I couldn’t NOT share all the beauty in her answers, so I’m dividing it into two parts. Here is part one…

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

E: What initially led you to research the ways of Benedict?

Micha: I came into motherhood during a season in my life when I felt pretty frantic about my own spirituality. I was trying to be enough for God, trying to make my life count. And being ordinary seemed the furthest thing from what God would want from me. So I was desperately striving to care for my kid AND do the “big” stuff, the hard spiritual work of ministry.

I was in youth ministry then and felt constantly torn, just like most working moms, between my passion for my work and my students and the demand of my child. And I feared that if I left ministry, I was leaving the thing that made my life valuable.

So much of it came down to a skewed perspective of God. I felt like if I could just figure out how to be more organized, how to be on time, how fit more in to my schedule, then I could finally pray enough, be enough, to feel valuable.

I came to Benedictine spirituality through one quote in Kathleen Norris’ book, The Cloister Walk. In her preface, she mentions that the Benedictines have always believed “there is enough time in each day for work and study and rest and play.” As a mom, I thought maybe I’d found the Holy Grail. Maybe there was a way to have enough time in the day to be everything I needed to be!

The story of my book, though, is the reality that “enough time” is not a five-step plan, some secret sauce that nobody else has figured out. It’s a spiritual condition of believing that there is enough time because God is enough, because God is making me enough.

 

E: What is your favorite prayer of the day in the Benedictine tradition? Favorite psalm to pray?

Micha: I talk about this verse in the book, but it’s become natural for me to pray the psalm that Benedictines pray each morning when they wake up. “Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15).

I love praying that before I open my lips. Before I’m barking orders at my kids to get dressed for school. Before I’m nagging my husband to take care of something for the house, I want to order my heart and my lips into one straight line. Will my mouth declare God’s praise? Will my hands? Will the words I write and the way I change that diaper and the grace I offer my Kindergartener when he refuses to focus on his homework?

What will happen when I open my lips today? Who will I belong to? I want to belong to Jesus. I want to belong to the God who rescues me again and again. I want to recognize God finding me, right now, today. Here.

 

E: What books do you recommend on the topic of prayer and Benedict? {This is for me, too – I’m very interested!}

I mention a lot of books in Found. But my favorite Benedictine author is Esther de Waal. Her books Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict and Living With Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality just clicked with me. Also, The Benedictine Handbook has been important. It includes the Rule of St. Benedict and some reflections from monks on his teachings. It also includes a prayer guide, which I like to go back to from time to time. Also, Macrina Wiederkehr (a Benedictine nun) has a beautiful book called Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day, which works more as a devotional tool, taking you through the daily hours of prayer and offering scripture or poems or reflections to meditate on during those specific moments of prayer.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

 

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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That Pesky Love Idol

I mentioned Jennifer Dukes Lee’s Love Idol back at the beginning of Lent. I had just started reading it and even the first few pages spoke to something I’ve struggled with, well, for all time. I like to be liked. I like to be heard. I wouldn’t always call myself a people-pleaser, but the applause and approval of other humans often edges out the approval of the only One who matters.

“I knew what the Bible said about me, but I measured my worth by other barometers – the mirror, report cards, and my performance among peers – even if it broke well-established moral rules.”

Reading Love Idol has been like therapy for me. With each chapter, I identify with another piece of Jennifer’s story – the striving for good grades, the saying “yes” so you don’t disappoint someone, being wrapped up in what others will think and riding the roller-coaster of their reactions.

“We ache to live our Christ identity more fully, instead of living a life yielded to our approval ratings. It is not a popularity contest. It is not a materialistic chase for medals, money, or Twitter @mentions.”

Unfortunately, the approval-seeking has been my default for so long. It’s a pesky love idol to shake. Pesky, but not impossible.

Preapproved Blog

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I gave up looking at my blog statistics. I did a lot more writing from the heart, not for numbers or comments. It felt a little bold and scary, but also felt like it was less about me.

“God’s Word compels us to choose the Holy Trinity, not the self-centric trio of Me, Myself, and I.”

Can I tell you what I love about Jennifer’s message so much?

Love Idol

It isn’t about denying any praise or compliments that come your way. It’s Jesus and our hearts. It’s about refocusing. And all of this leads to freedom. I need that daily. 

“When you and I no longer rely on praise or approval for our performance, we find new freedom: We can enjoy affirmation without craving it.”

The whole idea of being pre-approved? I’ve plastered those genius little signs on my computer, my bathroom wall, my planner. I can’t write anything that will make Jesus love me more or less. My appearance on any given day has no weight in His eyes. There is no planning or scheduling or working my way into a better place in heaven. I am and always have been pre-approved by Him.

“I yearn for us all to know the deep, deep love of Jesus – that it would be enough, that it always has been enough, and that it’s a love that can never be over matched by anything or anyone in this world.”

Love Idol is marked with many underlined passages and stars in the margins. It bears the soul of its writer in such a way that I felt as though we were confessing and story-sharing over coffee. It spurs me on in my desire to be less about me and ALL about Him. It will be in my nightstand for a long time as I continue to let go of my pesky love idol and hold tight to the love of my Savior.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you join the Love Idol Movement on Facebook! So inspiring!

 

I received a copy of this book to review from the publisher. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own! All quotes are from the book!

 

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A Gift from the One Who Sees Me

In elementary school, the teacher would sit us all in a circle, criss-cross applesauce, for an ice-breaker activity.

“Think of a word to describe yourself that begins with the first letter of your first name.”

Ooh, how I loved these circle times. Exciting, excellent, enthusiastic! I even liked when the challenge varied a little bit. Favorite animal? Elephant! Place you want to visit? Europe!

“E” words were special to me from a young age. They felt like mine.

I spoke at my first conference this weekend – two sessions on finding freedom in healthy living at the Refresh My Heart conference – and loved every single minute. Lelia, the founder of the conference, put together an amazing weekend of Jesus and brave, inspiring women. I was so honored to be a part of it and found myself renewed as I left.

Over and over again, my fellow speakers shared stories of our God who sees and knows us better than anyone else has or ever will. Stories of God showing up and showing off His great love for us in ways only He can. The way He uses clouds and running and notebooks to say, “I see you. I love you.”

And then He showed up and showed off for me, right there in the middle of a general session.

A Gift from the One Who Sees Me

Michelle, Lelia’s sister, had been praying about a way to bless each of the ladies attending Refresh My Heart and this is what happened next… {in Lelia’s words}

She ordered wooden hearts and bought a wood burning kit. Michelle and our mom burned the edges of each heart. Then my sister found 60 words and was going to use each word twice, but my daughter Alyssa insisted that they find a word for each woman.

They found the words and Michelle began to engrave a word on each heart. Then she turned the hearts over and prayed about them for weeks about what name to put on what heart. She never flipped the hearts over to see what word was going with what name, not even on her own heart. She engraved a name on each heart then she placed it in a little box and they tied a ribbon around it.

She had no idea what I would be talking about and how well this went with my message, about how God sees us and how we need to believe what He thinks of us. 

After my message, I told everyone to open their boxes and see what God thinks about them…

One woman shouted, “No way!” Some smiled. Some laughed. Some cried. It was absolutely beautiful. Only God could do something like that. Something to let us know, “I see you.”

What a God!  

What a gift of time and love from Michelle and Alyssa to each of us women. I was moved even before I opened my box.  And then I did…

Gift From God

…and flipped over my heart…

Exquisite

Exquisite. An “e” word. Just for me. Because only He could know. My breath was taken away for a moment. And I was that little girl in elementary school again, treasuring a word that seemed to be just for me.

The Hubby would later tell me “exquisite” has always been one of his favorite words.

A sweet friend I met at the conference learned of my word and texted me the definition:

exquisite: of special beauty or charm, or rare and appealing excellence

He sees me. He thinks I’m exquisite. He knows just what I need right when I need it.

I may be turning 33 today, but inside, I am His little girl treasuring the “e” word He picked just for me.

What a God. What a gift.

 

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The Shamrock and The Trinity!

As most of you know, with my Irish ancestry, St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal around here. It was a big celebration with my family growing up and it is for my own family now, as well!

Besides the wearing of the green, Irish music, and a fun St. Patrick’s Day meal, it’s been very important to us that we keep our celebrations and holidays centered around Christ. This year, along with sharing the history of St. Patrick, I thought of a fun activity that ties together a very Irish symbol – the shamrock – with the Trinity.

Shamrock Object Lesson

Come on over to the Faith Gateway blog to learn about explaining the Trinity to our kids with a shamrock!

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Experiencing the Cross + Resurrection as a Family

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Remember when I said last week that I had a little surprise I wanted to share in regards to observing Lent and Easter with your family? Well, if you follow me on any social media, then you found out yesterday what that surprise is. But if not, here you go…

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That’s right! My amazing friend, Amanda, author of Truth in the Tinsel and writer at ohAmanda.com, released a brand new ebook yesterday all about experiencing the Cross and Resurrection as a family.

I say “experiencing” because A Sense of the Resurrection is all about creating memorable experiences based on Scripture using the five senses.  It’s about moving from feeling to understanding to believing in our Savior and His great sacrifice for all of us. The ebook contains 12 activities which will lead your family through Jesus’ anointing, the Last Supper, Peter’s denial, the cross, the empty tomb and more. Through it all, your home will be transformed into a memorial to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Obviously our family has not gone through these activities as the book was just released yesterday! But I did get a sneak peek of this amazing ebook earlier in the week, and here was my response {in tears as I typed, mind you}:

For years, I have searched for ways to make the days leading up to Easter more real, intentional, meaningful for my children. Easter is fun and joyful like Christmas, but Jesus’ betrayal, suffering, and death are a completely different story. With A Sense of the Resurrection, Amanda White has tackled this sensitive topic of eternal importance in a way my children and I will never forget. Scriptures, activities, and discussion questions are well thought out and Amanda encourages each parent to read through it all ahead of time to gauge how best to approach the subject matter with their children. I anticipate this ebook changing so much about how we observe this time of year as a family, as well as our hearts.

Maybe you, like me, have been searching for just the right way to approach the death and resurrection of our Savior with your children. Friends, I truly believe this ebook will be that approach for me and for you.

I would suggest ordering your copy of A Sense of the Resurrection now so you have time to read through it for yourself before presenting it to your children in the weeks leading up to Easter. And don’t rush it. Spread out the 12 activities and let the meaning sink in and God work in all of your hearts.

How do you approach the death and resurrection of Jesus with your children? Or have you, like me, been looking for some help for this important, but difficult subject?

 

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Giving Up My Love Idol

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I could give up coffee. Maybe.

I could give up Facebook.

I could give up all number of things, but that’s not where God has led me this Lenten season.

I’m joining the Love Idol Movement and giving up a love idol in my life. And I’m hoping it’s for more than just 40 days.

What is a love idol? My friend Jennifer, author of Love Idol {releasing April 1!} describes it as this…

Paul wrote to the Cornithians: “These three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” Yet we take God’s “greatest” and contort it into an idol. We twist our desire for approval into a false god.

So there it is: looking to something or someone other than God for love. For approval. For validation. That something or someone is a love idol.

Mine has been staring me in the face for too long, but I am just SO done with it being what makes or breaks my day. I almost hate to admit it here because my love idol actually has to do with all of you.

Preapproved Blog

I’ve been seeking approval, validation, recognition through the reach of this blog. How many pageviews have there been today? Who is commenting? Why aren’t they commenting? What if I pour my heart out and NOBODY CARES? And what if they do care? Does that matter more than what God has to say about me?!

There it is. Ugly. Vain. A brazen love idol.

Even confessing this now, here, on the first day of Lent, feels freeing, but I know God has led me to lay more down to rid this love idol from my life. And I have a feeling this love idol won’t go away easily, so these will be daily sacrifice:

1. Deleting the blog tracking apps from my phone – there is absolutely NO reason I need to check how many people have visited the blog or commented on the blog when I’m on the go or with my family.

2. Starting my day with God – I have a knee jerk reaction of grabbing my phone the very moment I wake up to see what’s happening in social media. This just sets me up for a day centered around the online world, and I want my whole world to revolve around Jesus. The tweets, posts, emails can wait until I’ve had time to put my heart, mind, soul where they need to be – in His presence.

3. Putting down the phone – This has been a work-in-progress for a while now. It started with boundaries during homeschool. And now I’m feeling the pull for even more. Reading Love Idol as well as Hands-Free Mama – that’s just a recipe for leaving my pursuit of approval in the wrong places behind!

I want to rid my heart of this love idol of numbers and recognition to make room for more of Him – His love, His will, His glory. In her book Holey, Wholly, Holy, Kris Camealy says, “Your life is not just about you – your life is about Christ in you – about the work He can do through you, when you yield to His will.” I’m done being about what I can do and jumping full into what HE can do through me.

PreApproved

Friends, He has pre-approved us. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and we don’t need to search for love anywhere else – His love is more enough.

I don’t wanna tell some arrogant story, or let myself believe I’m you. I don’t wanna be a thief who’s stealing your glory. Will you help remind me of what is true? The only hope I’ve got is you. ~Ellie Holcomb, “Only Hope I’ve Got”

I’m taking this Ash Wednesday to repent and reflect on the heart changes I desperately need. Join me? And find the hearts of many other women giving up their love idols poured out over at Jennifer’s blog today. You can add yours if you also feel led!

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Our Favorite Bible Apps for Kids!

I love that even the iWorld – apps and iPhones and iPads and the like – can be used to further the Kingdom of God!

We’ve recently discovered two Bible apps for kids that are amazing and I had to share them with you! I’m even learning things as the kids play the games on them!

Bible Apps for Kids

Adventure Bible Games

We just received an email about this free app {for iPad only} late last week and, being lovers of the Adventure Bible {affiliate link}, I downloaded it immediately and started playing around before I handed it to the kids. This app has SO much great Bible knowledge for our kids to learn and review!

  • Leapin’ Lemur is like Wheel of Fortune with Bible verses! A few words are filled in and the verse book, chapter, and verse are given, but then the kids have to pick letters to figure out what the verse says!
  • Books of the Bible reviews the order of books in the Bible. I was shakier on this in the Old Testament than I care to admit, but we were all singing through the Books of the Bible songs from Slugs and Bugs trying to remember the order and it was great fun!
  • Leopardy = Jeopardy for Bible trivia! Pick your category and point value and answer the question!
  • X Marks the Spot deals with biblical geography! We loved this one because just playing it is a learning experience
  • Truth Quest gives you a question, a time limit, and three clues to figure out answers to various questions about the Bible. It felt very much like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and there are several levels and categories to go through!

The boys love the jungle theme that all Adventure Bible products bear, the games have them hooked, and we’re all learning more about the Bible each time they play! That is a successful Bible-related app for kids to me!

The Bible App for Kids

The other Bible app for kids we love is the Bible App for Kids from YouVersion. This app is amazing – great animation, several different Bible stories with more being added all the time, AND review questions at the end to check for understanding!

Each story has the choice to be read by the app, but the words are also on the screen, making it great for children of any age and reading level. And within each story, kids can collect points by clicking on different people, places, or things. Earning points and stars makes everything more fun and interesting for kids, doesn’t it?!

With Lent starting Wednesday and Easter to follow, both The Cross and The Resurrection stories are in the app ready to read and share with your children. And The Bible App for Kids is available for many different formats!

Are there other Bible apps for kids your family loves? Please share!

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My Favorite Lent Resources for the Whole Family

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I wrote last week about the two books I will be using to focus my mind on more of God and the truth that He is FOR me during Lent this year. I’m all about keeping this time of year simple and meaningful, so I considered not sharing any more Lent resources with you as to not be overwhelming. But then I said, “Erin, this is what you do! Tell people things you love and let them figure out what is right for them!”

So here I go, sharing a handful of books and products for you and your family to use to be intentional with your mindset this Lent!

Lent Resources for the Whole Family

Reflective Lent Journal from Naptime Diaries

This gorgeous 40 day, undated journal contains scripture prompts and room to write on each page. Jessi, creator at Naptime Diaries says, “There are four sections to the book – Hope, Follow, Live, & Bless – and the scriptures are intentionally picked to help you grow closer to the Lord as you read different passages from all over the Bible.” If you would like yours in time for Lent this year, please order by 5pm ET TODAY!

Mosaic Bible

I received this Bible a few years ago and was drawn to the gorgeous artwork, but found so much more. Along with the full NLT Bible text, the Mosaic Bible features weekly readings and devotions based on the church seasons, including Lent. I love the insights I gained from the quotes, hymns, poems, and more in this Bible! I’m mentioning it as a Lent resource, but it is wonderful for year-round Scripture meditation.

The Jesus Storybook Bible

I’m sorry if you’re sick of hearing about the Jesus Storybook Bible from me, but I’m not really sorry because I will never stop telling people they MUST have this for their family! With Advent, we spent 25 days reading from it leading up to Christmas, but for Easter, I just did a week lead-up with the kids and it was just right. I made a reading plan for Easter week with the Jesus Storybook Bible complete with simple, but powerful activities and a free printable. And you could always start earlier in the Lenten season and read the whole life of Jesus, too! I think we may do that this year!

Trail to the Tree: An Easter Devotional from Ann Voskamp

I’m a big fan of everything God speaks through Ann, and while I haven’t done this with our family yet, I have it saved for when they boys are a little older. It might be just the right thing for you and your children this year. It includes reflections for each day of lent and printables to make an Easter tree. Ann says she made this because, “Easter is more important than Christmas.” And once again, she is spot on. This devotional is free to all of her blog subscribers, so if you’re already one, it’s at the bottom of the posts you receive in your email. And if you’re not, go subscribe now!

Action Bible Easter Story

The Action Bible is by far the favorite “big kid” Bible in our house, so I’m thrilled to tell you that, right now for a limited time, the Kindle version of the Action Bible Easter Story is FREE! Every house of boys should own the full Action Bible, but this is a great starting point to get your boys interested in this graphic novel/comic book-style Bible storybook AND the most important story of Jesus’s sacrifice to save us. Grab this quick before the price goes back up!

I have one more surprise Lent resource to share next week, but until then, here is one last gem I want to mention…

My sweet friend Jennifer has written an important book called Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – And Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. It won’t be available until April 1, but you’re going to want to pre-order it now. Trust me.

While Love Idol isn’t a Lent-specific book, the message and soul-searching found within are very much in line with what Lent is all about – sacrificing the things we hold on to so tightly to have more of Jesus. And I would love for you to join me in the Love Idol Movement this Lent: We are letting go of the love idols that are taking up space in our hearts — space that belong to God alone. You can read more about Jennifer’s heart for this movement on her blog and join the movement on Facebook.

I will end this post with the question I am asking myself and praying about as part of the Love Idol Movement. I would love for you to join me in doing the same and we can come back here next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, to share the idol we are letting go…

Where do the idols of approval and love lurk in my life? How can I practically and prayerfully give that idol up – for good and for GOD?

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