Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Expected One

The Expected One
Today marks the beginning of Advent, or the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  There are so many beautiful and fun calendars out there to help countdown to December 25.  Unfortunately, the true meaning of Advent can get a little lost in the midst of celebrating the worldly "Christmas."  Don't get me wrong, I love eating that little piece of chocolate from the Trader Joe's 24 Chocolate Days Till Christmas Advent calendar just as much as the next person, but, as always, it is so important to keep things in perspective. 

In The Expected One: Anticipating All of Jesus in the Advent, Scott James "brings to light the many promises of Christ--from birth to ascension--that demonstrate His love for us during the Advent season."  The daily devotions highlight scripture that promise His coming, birth, life, death, resurrection and eternal reign.  There are also "Review & Reflect" questions that are great to consider alone or with your family.  This is an excellent guide to help us stop and think about the true meaning of the season.  As always, you can enjoy it on your lunch break at work.  Or, since it is designed with children in mind, take a little time everyday to slow down, gather as a family, and study the day's passage.  You might even consider enjoying it with the treats from the chocolate Advent calendar! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Praying for Children

The world is fraught with danger, particularly for children.  Everywhere we turn there is potential harm.  Parents must be vigilant about guarding children from pretty much everything, and more importantly preparing them to enter the world on their own.  For example, it is not enough to try to protect them from degrading music, we must also carefully explain the dangers in the lifestyle promoted by the music so that hopefully when they get old enough to make decisions on their own, some of what we said will stick.  For me, this can be exhausting.  Virtually all of my conversations with friends or family end with a plea to pray for the little ones in my life.

A Parents Book of Prayers
A number of Christian authors have written extensively on praying for children.  A Parent's Book of Prayers by Tony Woods is a day-by-day devotional that "provides parents with meaningful prayers to God for their children's faith, struggles, direction and future." In The Power of a Praying Parent, Stormie Omartian uses her own experience as a parent to guide others on praying for their child's safety, character development, adolescence, peer pressure, school experiences, friends and relationship with God.  The Love Dare for Parents, which is based on the popular The Love Dare series of books, is a 40-day devotional that gives parents challenges to help them "understand, practice, and communicate Christ-like love to their children."  How to pray for children is featured prominently in the book.

Luckily, we do not have to get fancy with our prayer requests.  I know God hears the quiet "please watch over my son today."  But, if you are interested in getting more guidance on how to pray over your children and children in your life, I highly recommend one of these titles!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

For Such a Time as This

I love the Book of Esther.  When I think of Esther, I think of patience, faithfulness, courage and diplomacy.  She used all of these traits to ultimately save her people.  She waited patiently on God, but when the time was right, showed great courage to fulfill His plan for her.  This is a difficult model to follow in today's world where we often feel we must "make things happen" in order to succeed.  When we fall short as students, spouses or parents, our self-esteem takes such a blow.  Its a difficult time to be a young girl or woman trying to find your way. 
For Such a Time as ThisThat is why I love author Angie Smith's new children's book for young girls entitled, For Such a Time as This. This Bible storybook brings to life forty stories of Biblical heroines like Esther, Mary Magdalene and Gomer with easy-to-read text and beautiful illustrations.  There are also summaries at the end of each story that "highlight the attribute of God to be learned and offer thoughtful reflections for both parent and child to takeaway."

I love the reflections in Esther's story.  Angie writes:

"Because of God's great power, we don't need to worry about our own weakness. When we step out in faith, choosing to believe that God is working through us instead of depending on us, we are free to live a life of courage. We don't have to be afraid that we aren't strong enough to do something or that we aren't big enough to take on challenges. Of course, we aren't strong or big when compared to God, but He is the One who carries our destinies.  When we think we can't do something alone, it isn't weakness; it's realizing the truth. God is in charge, and trust me, that's exactly how we should want it to be."

There are so many other lovely reflections for young girls like this in the book.  I pray that every young girl and woman I know will receive them into their heart...and believe!