Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some of Our Favorite Children's Books

I was inspired by a recent post on the Gospel Coalition Blog to make a list of some of our favorite children's books. Some of these are currently falling apart on our bookshelves and others are joys from my childhood that I can't wait to share when my little ones get a bit bigger. 

1. I'll Always Love You

2. The Jesus Storybook Bible

3. Blue Hat, Green Hat

4. The Little Red Train Series

5. The Boxcar Children

6. The Wind in the Willows

7. See Inside Your Body Book

8. Caps For Sale

9. Hippos Go Berserk!

10. Baby Shoes

11. Tikki Tikki Tembo

12. Winnie the Pooh

13. The Way Things Work

14. Dear Zoo

15. The Chronicles of Narnia

16. The Princess & The Goblin

17. A Little Princess

18. I Love You Through & Through

19. Curious George

20. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

21. The Carrot Seed

22. Swimmy

23. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

24. Happy Birthday Moon

25. Inch by Inch

26. Goodnight Moon

27. Guess How Much I Love You

28. Richard Scarry's Busytown Books

29. Frog & Toad Are Friends

30. Ed Emberly's Make a World

There are so many great books to read-- though sometimes they get lost in the sea of derivative, tv branded tie-ins. Tolle lege!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten

Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting
 to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.
 -Psalm 103:13-18

Well, the day has finally come. Today I send my first-born, the son who ended my barrenness, the gracious gift from God, out into the world. Today is the first day of kindergarten.

In so many ways I've longed for this day. I want him to grow and to be strong and successful. I want him to be independent. But today I am also incredibly aware of time and opportunities wasted, of all the things I didn't teach him when I could have. Particularly, I wish I read the Scriptures to him more often. Dear Lord, forgive me. Do not hold my son accountable for my sins. Please forgive me in Jesus' name and make me more aware of the eternal priorities each and every day.

But God (aren't those some of the best words in the whole wide world?) kindly gave me Psalm 103 this morning. A psalm of forgiveness. A psalm of glory to Him. The kind of psalm I want my life to sing. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Psalm 103:1-5

And these precious words:

But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting
 to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children

My heart is full of thankfulness for God's Word to me this morning. A good, true, hope-filled, faith-infused, covenant love promise. 

Thank you Lord, for taking care of my children and bridging the gap between what I do and what they need. Be with my sweet little guy on his first day of school and help him look to You if He gets scared (and me too!).  In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nothing Left to Give

My children are 6, 2, and 1. These are the days of exhaustion. Literally. Here is the definition of exhaust from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online:

1a : to consume entirely : use up <exhausted our funds in a week> 
  b : to tire extremely or completely <exhausted by overwork>  
  c : to deprive of a valuable quality or constituent <exhaust a photographic developer> <exhaust a soil of fertility>
2a : to draw off or let out completely 
  b : to empty by drawing off the contents; specifically : to create a vacuum in
3a : to consider or discuss (a subject) thoroughly or completely 
  b : to try out the whole number of <exhausted all the possibilities>

There are many days when I feel completely consumed at the beginning of the day. I'm running on empty, it's 7:30 am. and I'm just hearing the first stirrings from the crib. What do I do? Why does God allow me to be so woefully inadequate? I pray that He would give me strength, so where is it?

I remember the days before I was a mom, back when I thought I was capable. I thought mothering was going to be fairly doable, and I was going to be so devoted that it was going to be great! I'd homeschool, bake cookies, plan family activities & devotions, sew them their own clothes, and have really obedient children who knew better than to misbehave for me.  

What I didn't know then is how all-consuming being a mother is. Your needs are pushed so far to the back burner that they aren't even on the stove anymore sometimes. And unfortunately that is just for the baseline of having healthy, happy, loved, trained, rested, clean(ish), dressed children who've had their hair combed sometime in recent memory. I look back now and know I had no idea how much work goes into achieving the basics. I just sort of assumed that a happy, rested, fed, clean, and cheerful child was going to be the starting point. Ha. Ha. 

For me at least, motherhood is sort of impossible. 

We were reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 to the kiddos from the Jesus Storybook Bible (which is totally awesome, by the way) last night and it struck me. Jesus asked the disciples to feed the 5,000. Really? I had to double check in my Bible and see if that was really how it went down, or if it was just artistic flourish on the author's part. 

When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” Matt 14:15-16

That's crazy. Why did Jesus ask them to do something they can't do?! 

Maybe because it is in that moment, they know themselves. They know their own weakness. They know their need. There is no more pretending "they've got this". And when 5,000 people are fed, the disciples don't think they did it, even though they passed out the bread.

In my Bible reading this morning, I read the story of Elijah and the widow. She is on the brink of starvation, and he asks her to feed him. Impossible. How could he even ask such a thing? Yet the "bowl of flour was not exhausted, nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord..." 

God sometimes asks more of us than we can do. Sometimes he exhausts us, so that we know we can never exhaust him. 

I am strangely comforted by the definition of exhaust. When I am weak, then I am strong. Most gladly will I boast in my infirmities. His strength is made perfect in weakness. If God empties me, then He will fill me. If he draws me out entirely, then He knows me completely. There is nothing hid from him.
This does not make it easy. I'm still exhausted. I still cry for mercy. I still wait on the Lord. But I believe God will answer. I believe he will meet my need. I try to believe the Word he has given me.

God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.
God will help her when the morning dawns. Psalm 46:5

For thus says the LORD GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
"In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15a 

I'm still processing this. Resting is hard when life feels like a crisis. But I'm so thankful that God is talking to me. I'm trying to remember God's character: his love for me, his faithfulness, and to trust that my heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts even if I don't much like them at first.