Wednesday, April 20, 2016
I am shamelessly obsessed with the Bible. I figure, as far as obsessions go, that isn't a bad one to have! Ever since I became a mother I have searched for ways to pass on that love of the Word, so I am always on the lookout for really amazing Bibles and Bible storybooks to share with my children. I am a little on the picky side: I'm kind of hard-nosed about accuracy and thoroughness. I feel like there are children's Bible storybooks that tell Bible stories in a manner children can understand and relate to, and then there are ones that are worse than Hollywood versions of your favorite book-so far removed from the original that the only thing that's the same is the title. You know what I mean?
Anyway, I have had a number of people ask me what my favorite Bible books are for my kids, and I thought I would compile a list of some of our most beloved ones. I have ranked them in order of most simple, therefore appropriate for the youngest age, to the actual Bible versions I use with my own kids now that they are a little older. (I have included my personal suggestions for the age range on each one, which may vary from the publisher's recommendations.)
1. "The Beginner's Bible" from Zonderkidz (3-6 years) We started using this Bible with our kids when they were about 3 years old. As a matter of fact, each of our kids have their own copy, and they are both so well-loved that the bindings are broken! This one is great because the stories perfectly fit the attention span, and understanding, of the average preschooler. Then, as your child begins to read, they can start to read this Bible to you! My son, who is 8, still sometimes reaches for this one because the stories are so familiar. This isn't the most thorough of versions, but it is a great place to start.
2. "The Jesus Storybook Bible" by Sally Lloyd-Jones (4-8 years) This is probably one of the most recommended kids' Bibles, and while my kids really enjoyed it, it isn't my personal top pick. It is even more of a "story" format than most kids' Bible books. It is written in an unusual style that uses many capitalized words that appeal to adults, but I think can be a little confusing for children to read on their own (Example: ..."God would love his children-with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love". pg. 36) I would have preferred that the pronoun "His" be capitalized and not necessarily all the adjectives for love-a little nit picky, I know, but I'm just being honest! My husband did not care to read out-loud from this one because of the writing style. However, I loved how it wove together the entire Bible as one cohesive story, and some of the phrasing brought tears to my eyes. The author does a great job of covering the Old Testament books of prophecy (Ezra, Malachi, etc.), but she completely skips the entire books of Ruth and Esther, which was disappointing to me. So, while this is a very lovely storybook, I wouldn't personally use it as our sole children's Bible.
3. "The Big Picture Interactive Storybook Bible" from BH Kids (5-10 years) This is a recent purchase, and it came highly recommended. I purchased it because our church is using "The Gospel Project" curriculum, and I *LOVE* it! The whole focus of the Gospel Project is to see the entire Bible interpreted through the lens of Christ's gift of salvation. Each story is a concise one page, and includes discussion question and how each story relates back to Christ. I love that it covers the fall of Israel in the Old Testament, often children's Bibles tend to gloss over that portion because it is so complicated, but this one is very thorough while remaining age-appropriate (It covers Hosea and Gomer very tactfully!). With cute illustrations, and meaningful text, this is quickly headed to the top of our list. Even if your church is not using "The Gospel Project" this is still a great addition to your kids' Bible library. Also, an added bonus: the book works with a free app that provides short summaries for each story, in addition to showing a "3D" version of the illustration. For key stories, there are adorable videos, narrated with all of the text, that you can view. My kids loved that part!
4. "The Children's Bible in 365 Stories" (6-10) I purchased this at a thrift store on a whim, and it was definitely worth it. It is very reminiscent of my childhood (although I didn't use it then) and before we purchased "The Big Picture" Bible, was the most complete children's Bible storybook I had ever seen. I love how it is divided into use for a year's reading. The language is a tiny bit complicated, not overly so, but enough that for younger readers it makes for a better read-aloud. There's no squirming here-even David and Bathsheba, Sisera and Jael are covered, so you may want to peruse each day's selection beforehand. I am of the mindset that if it made it into the Bible, then I probably shouldn't hide it from my kids', I just need to handle it in an age-appropriate manner. This Bible doesn't include very much from the Old Testament prophets, and skips over some stories (Achan's sin) while including other more unusual ones (the Gibeonites' deception). Overall, if you have to pick between this one and "The Big Picture" I'd choose "The Big Picture", but they are both good, and the old school style of "The Children's Bible" appealed to my kids, so you can't go wrong with both.
5. "The Action Bible" from David C. Cook (8-12). My kids are *obsessed* with this Bible! I was a little hesitant: it *is* the Bible in comic book format, but my husband really wanted to purchase it for our son. What surprised me is that our 10 year-old daughter is just as interested in it! I haven't read this in it's entirety, but it is a great supplement to other Bible tools. Due to how it is written, it would not make for a good read-aloud, so I only recommend this for kids that can read and comprehend independently and have a firm understanding that, unlike Spiderman and Batman, the Bible is real and this is just another way to gain insight. The illustrations are exciting without being irreverent. My kids and my 12 year-old brother couldn't get enough of the dragon from Revelation. I also noticed that it includes a little bit of what happened between the Old and New Testaments, and some historical background on the world during the early Church years. I really liked that, as it wasn't until I was an adult I was able to put those periods in context. This is definitely the most "fun" and least "devotional" of any of my recommendations. It reminds me of "The Book of God, the Bible as a Novel" by Walter Wangerin Jr. It is really a supplement to other Bible study, and I wouldn't recommend it as an independent Bible, but more as way to get kids interested in the Word.
6. "The Adventure Bible" from ZonderKidz (6 and up) This is an actual Bible, and is available in several translations. My kids both have the NIV version, and the reason I recommend this particular Bible (in any translation) is because it has so many great helps and is a good introduction to study Bibles. It includes footnotes, maps, a glossary, subject index and more. It also has suggestions for how kids can apply the Bible to their own lives. I used an older version of this Bible as a child and I loved it. It has so many practical, helpful additions, but the actual Bible text is definitely the star of the show, which is how a Bible should be! Also, this Bible is available in a version for younger independent readers, the NIrV.
7. "The Message" from NavPress (10 and up) Paraphrased by Eugene Peterson from the original Greek and Hebrew, this is actually a really great translation. I know many people contest that it is a translation, but you must translate to paraphrase, right? This Bible is so accessible, and surprises me often with its fresh, straight-shooting interpretation of the Word. Why do I recommend it for kids? It gives a great perspective on the Bible, and when paired with another more literal translation, can really help kids to see that the Bible applies to *our* lives-it isn't just old (albeit cool) stories from another era, it is about us, here and now. Peterson doesn't pull any punches, and his wording for some of the more hard-hitting parts of the Bible can make you wince if you aren't watching out. (Jesus' words to the Pharisees, or parts of Isaiah for example). It eliminates some of the confusing Bible language (using "dollars" instead of things like "shekels" in the New Testament) so kids' can see the heart of the story. It isn't so "hip" though that the really meaning is overlooked. However, use with caution. Due to some of the more "modern" language, there are occasionally words that you may not be comfortable using with your children (The way "prostitute" is translated in Matthew 21 is a good example. ) I choose to read this version aloud, so I make adjustments with the words that I prefer not to introduce just yet, but that is definitely something of which you should be aware.
With all that said, I highly recommend that you are thorough when choosing any type of Bible-related book for your family. I try to use recommendations as a jumping off point, since there are so many possibilities, rather than a checklist of must-haves. Check these books and versions out for yourself, and be sure and let me know if you have any that I didn't mention that your family adores!
Friday, April 15, 2016
These truly are so much more than just a typical marshmallow-graham cracker-chocolate gift. I included a variety of crackers, 'mallows and candy, plus some fun extras (Nutella and peanut butter!) so your recipient can get wild and crazy with their combinations! The packaging really makes the whole thing-everything is cuter in a Mason jar, amiright?
-graham crackers (I chose the "Fresh Stacks" because there are six individually wrapped stacks in each box, so I didn't need to re-package the grahams, and they are the perfect size for s'mores!)
-Ritz "Big" crackers (These are so fun, they are approximately the same size as a graham square so much better for s'mores)
-Chunky Chips Ahoy cookies, because obviously, I believe you can never have too much sugar!
-Hershey's milk chocolate, can't go wrong with a classic
-Hershey's Cookies & Cream
-Milky Way Simply Caramel (I though the caramel would be a nice addition)
-Jet-Puffed Caramel Swirl (My favorite!)
-Jet-Puffed Brownie, these are flat, so they're perfect for s'mores
-Jet-Puffed S'moreMallows These are giant, and square, and so.perfect.for.s'mores
-Nutella, in individual cups
-Jif To-Go cups
And, of course, don't forget your clean Mason jars!
I realized they wouldn't fit in the jar, but I was loathe to not include them with the gift. So I came up with a solution. I wrapped them together with more scrapbook paper and placed them on top of the gift!
It would be easy to use these labels on simple kits with just grahams, chocolate and ordinary marshmallows, but everyone loved all the options-even if they did just plan on eating them straight from the jar!
Get the "Thank You" Printable.
Get the "So Much S'More Kit" Printable.
I'm trying out a new way to allow you to access printables. Please let me know if you experience any problems!
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Today has been so full. Very rarely do I wish that I could just live a day over and over, but I think if I could, I would just rewind today and do it all over again. Not to change it, just to be able to experience it again, and continue to savor it. I know that seems like a strange thing to say, since it isn't *my* birthday, but it was just a really wonderful day, and I am glad that it was such a celebration of you.
By far the very best part was your baptism. You accepted Christ when you were only five, and baptism was something you had a lot of questions about. It was hard for me to wait, but I am glad that I did. You were truly ready today to proclaim your faith to the world, and it was so very precious. I'm not going to lie: watching your Dad perform your baptism made me cry. He read the verses we picked out for you years ago, before you were even saved and they are still something I pray for you now:
"The very best part of these verses? These aren't just future promises, they are taking place right now, too. I am watching you, and hopefully helping you, become rooted and established. I am seeing you begin to grasp the love of the Lord and watching you as you are filled with His fullness.
And it is taking my breath away. You are so young, but you constantly surprising me with your maturity. Seeing you face your fear about baptism, and conquer it through prayer and seeing your joy...it is blessing I don't take for granted. You are learning so much about the Lord and His Word, and it thrills me.
Today really was such a great display of who you are. You made a decision about baptism, and you didn't back down. You gave it a lot of thought and examined it beforehand, so you were confident in your choice. Then you wanted to celebrate. You just wanted to be with *all* the family, and the same little guy that offered me his cookie at two, made sure that he ordered a dessert today that he could share with everyone. You made sure everyone at the table had a piece of zeppoli before you even took a bite, and you made sure to send the biggest one home for Grandpa Doc, since you know he loves donuts, and kept the smallest piece for yourself. You dived into the new Bible storybooks we bought you right at the table-you couldn't wait until we got home. Then after we were home, you just wanted to help get things ready for your party, offering to clean the toilet even though it is your birthday! And you were so proud to get to make your own ice cream cake. You carefully decorated every family members' cup with stickers and painstakingly wrote their name-it was so important to you to do it right and not forget anyone.
Then when everyone arrived, you were in your element. You love to be the host, and you are never happier than when your house is full of the people you love. You wanted to take pictures with everyone. You weren't worried about being served first, you just wanted everyone to have a good time.You made sure you talked to everyone and thanked them for their gifts.
You even got a "selfie" with me-and I know that I will always have fond memories when I look at that picture. I love you so much. And I hope you know that every day. I am so thankful for all the memories we made today, that I was able to see you proudly profess your faith before our church, but most importantly that I get to see you live that faith every day in your own way, one that honors the Lord.
I am always praying for you, and I am so glad that you are here. I love you more than you can know.
Friday, April 8, 2016
It's that time of year, again. You might be thinking, "Spring?". Well, yes, spring, but also time to start thinking about teacher appreciation gifts! School won't end here until June, but I know that isn't the case for the majority of the United States. Besides, there are plenty of other people that you may want to start planning tokens of gratitude for, such as: sports coaches, Awana leaders, or, in my case, your fellow co-op teachers!
These simple elasticized bookmarks are so easy to put together. I ran mine through the sewing machine, which really only took a matter of minutes, but you could choose to make them "no-sew" and use a strong-hold craft glue or hot glue to put them together instead. However, you don't have to worry about the printable! I put together a free printable, so all you need to do is print it off and punch it out with your 2 1/2 inch circle punch and attach it.
These fabric bookmarks are so cute, and they are really inexpensive!
-Ribbon (choose a size that your button will cover completely) Mine is from Hobby Lobby, so it was half price. $2
-Buttons I choose these gemstone-looking ones, also half price, so $1.25 for six
- Hair elastics I choose smaller ones, I don't usually use ones that are this thin for my hair, as they don't hold it well. I can't remember exactly how much these were, I believe around $2 for 36 from Walmart. You could definitely pick up some from the Dollar Tree, too.
Cut your ribbon to the desired length. I cut mine about 15 inches long, to give me room to fold it over the elastic. I also then heat-sealed the ends by holding them over a burning candle to fuse the threads. This isn't absolutely necessary for the end you will be sewing, but it will help to keep the ribbon from fraying, so you will definitely want to do it to the button end. Then I folded one of the ends under about an 1/8 of an inch, and then folded it over the elastic, leaving enough room to stitch it down. I sewed over it several times to make sure it would hold.
All of the teachers at my co-op were thrilled with them! I was glad that I could put them together for less than $0.75 each! It is really tough when you have more than 2 or 3 people that you want to thank, and I needed about eight. Even with the notebooks and the chocolates, they were still around $3. I think having a handmade element is always such a nice touch to any gift.
Here is the link to the printable. In Our "Book" Your're "Re"Mark"able" printable
If you have trouble with getting the link to cooperate, please let me know. I could not for the life of me get the pdf saved to my computer, so hopefully this will link to the right place. Thanks for your patience!
Saturday, March 26, 2016
What is your greatest fear? Pain? Suffering? Death? Fear always has to do with loss: of a loved one, of your pride, of your reputation, of your health, of your life. But most of all fear has to do with loss of faith.
Good Friday, which I always want to call, "Black Friday", not because I confuse it with the shopping holiday, but more of a Freudian slip: in my mind, it had to have been the blackest of all days. It was so chock-full of loss it was literally bursting at the seams. The disciples lost their leader, Mary lost her child, and the Father lost His Son.
And Jesus? He lost everything. His reputation was in tatters, His power seemed to have deserted Him, His followers had fled, He was literally having the life beaten out of Him. Ultimately, He would lose the only thing no human has the power to replace: His life. We all know how the story ends: His Father restores Him to life, but that had yet to be revealed to those wading knee-deep through the most painful loss any of them had ever experienced, or would ever experience.
And you know what goes hand-in-hand with loss? Fear. Swamping, swallowing, sweeping fear. The kind that opens its gaping maw and gulps you down whole into its acid-filled gut. The ugliest, most consuming kind anyone could imagine because it took every kind of loss and built an invading army out of them-and they were standing powerless, weaponless, before it.
Who could survive that? Who could come out alive on the other side? Well...the answer is: no one. Not even Jesus went through that alive. But He could conquer it through death. What? It doesn't make sense on the surface. How could death-the most feared loss of them all, ever result in anything good?
Over and over and over the Lord tells us through His Word, "Do not be afraid." "Do not fear." How is that even possible? In our own strength, it never will be. In our own strength, the best we can hope for is to dilute fear, to manage it, to sometimes cover it up. But we can never be without it.
So that's why He sent Jesus. Because we could never do it on our own. But Christ beat every fear all hollow! He faced them down, one by one, to show us Who is truly the Victor.
"There is no in . But perfect drives out , because has to do with punishment. The one who s is not made perfect inHe is love. He drove fear out with a crashing whip, and a stunning show of strength. He did not even let the most cumbersome of fears, death, slow Him down.
“Where, O , is your victory? Where, O , is your ?” 1 Corinthians 15:55 NIVThat doesn't even seem feasible to our feeble humans minds. Death is pretty much the most fear-ridden thing we can conjure. It is the greatest loss we can imagine, or experience. Good thing we serve a God who isn't bound by the constraints of our humanity. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, He tells us over and over, like a Father to forgetful children. "Do not fear..."
And then with Christ, He showed us how it is done. Through absolute faith and trust. Through perfect love. Fear isn't something to manage, it is something to expel. Black Friday. Good Friday. Our blackest fears turned in the the greatest victory. Our greatest loss equaled our biggest win. He walked through every dark place, and He triumphed. He suffered every type of loss and was victorious. And He didn't do it to prove His worth-there was no need for that. No, He did it for us. He did it to fulfill every promise and to prove to us that His endless chant could become a vibrant reality for those who believe. Good Friday=No fear.
He doesn't ask us to do anything that He hasn't already done. He showed us the way, and He is the way. Good Friday...the day the door was opened so that we could be free from fear, and free from true loss. This Easter, this Resurrection Sunday, wake to new life-one absolutely, divinely, perfectly free from fear. Don't let it scare you-He has already been there, and He will be with you...
Need further convincing? Every single one of those verse references in the image above is a whisper (or maybe a shout) from your Father who loved you enough to give up His Son for *you*! Don't let your fear keep you from the greatest love ever. He is waiting to take your fears away, today.
P.S. If you would like to make the image above a printable, simply right-click, select save and then print from your saved location. Happy Resurrection Day!