The Honeymoon is Over

we do not lose heart

It was bound to happen eventually.  I’ve only been blogging for a few months now, so I don’t really have much experience to go on.  But I think I can say with some certainty that the blogging honeymoon is over.

Blogging, like so many other things in life, was so fascinating and exciting when it was new to me.  Every view was cherished, every comment celebrated.  Some days I would check the blog first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  It’s the truth; I think I became just a tiny bit obsessed! Maybe, just maybe, I even made an idol of it, to my shame.

I do that, though. I throw myself into new things with such enthusiasm, such big plans and dreams.  And then somewhere along the line, it stops being quite so much fun and starts to feel more like work, like just another burden to carry.

Some of you might be thinking, but it’s just a blog! To a certain extent, you’d be correct.  It doesn’t feel like “just” a blog to me, though.  It feels like part of me that I’ve put on display for the world to see.  And there are these nifty little graphs that measure that part of me day by day by day… And some days they just don’t measure up to what I’d like to see. No matter how high they reach, there seems to be this desire for more. And the inspiration isn’t always there.  And busy schedules get in the way.

And sometimes…

I just want to give up.

Let’s be honest.  It happens to all of us!  When that new baby comes home smelling so sweet, and everyone is exclaiming “how perfect”…when that new job is so exciting that you just can’t wait to go to work, and people tell you how happy they are to have you there…when that new ministry that you’ve been planning for and dreaming of finally comes to fruition…when you make that purchase that you’ve been saving up for and it’s just. so. cool….when that mountaintop experience leads you to a faith high that just can’t be matched.

Inevitably, a valley follows that mountain.  That perfect baby that slept so well in the hospital cries all night long, night after night after night.  That new job has its own set of challenges.  That new ministry has flaws, too.  That new purchase grows old or outdated. Thus the mountain gives way to a valley.  And those feelings that had us on cloud nine in the mountains leave us, and we wish for more.

But our spiritual lives are not lived just on the mountain tops.  In fact, those mountain tops most likely add up to a very small part of our faith journey. The truth is that the valleys often naturally follow the mountains , not because anything has changed but because our physiology is built that way.  Our bodies cannot sustain a constant state of  “high,” so we must experience a “low” to bring us back to equilibrium.  And perhaps even more because we were not meant for this imperfect world, so we yearn for something better.

While I know that my faith isn’t built on feelings, as a woman emotions do come into play!  How often I’ve wished those pesky emotions away even though I know they serve a purpose. :)

So what’s a girl to do when she just gets a case of the blahs and the blogging honeymoon seems to be over?  She recognizes the valley for what it is – temporary.  She remembers that she is not a citizen of this world. She blogs anyways because that’s what God led her to do,   just like she mothers anyways, she loves anyways, she trusts anyways, she clings to His promises anyways, she speaks truth anyways, she leads anyways, and she hopes anyways.

She keeps seeking.  Sometimes she even stumbles and falls, and she’s so ashamed of her weakness.  But He’s right  there to help her back up again.  Along the way, she learns a little more of the unfathomable depth of God’s grace.   She grows a little more confident in an overwhelming, unconditional love. She grows a little more confident in His timely provision. She grows a little more confident in the work He’s doing within her.

Because He promised that one day, one glorious day, that work would be complete.

And the valleys will be gone.

And the mountain top lasts for all eternity.

And  we see His face.

So we wait, like so many others before us.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,

let us also lay aside every encumbrance

and the sin which so easily entangles us,

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,

who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,

despising the shame,

and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility

by sinners against Himself,

so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

And we don’t lose heart.

Jen :)

Much Ado about Missions: Praying T.H.U.M.B.

We’ve reached  the third and final week of our Much Ado about Missions series – helping you develop a missions mindset in your home!  If you missed the Introduction to this series, you can view it here.  Also, if you need to catch up, you can find all of the posts listed under the weekly wrap-ups:  Week 1 (teaching missions in the home) or Week 2 (missions experiences for the whole family).

In our third week, we’re focusing on praying for the Nations.  I don’t know about you, but I often pray for unsaved friends and family members.  And since my husband is a pastor, I sometimes even remember to pray for the unsaved in our local community.  I also pray for our missionary friends and those we support.  However, one thing I very seldom remember to do is pray for the most unreached people groups of the world!

Today I’m going to share with you the T.H.U.M.B. method, borrowed (with permission) from some new missionary friends.  The T.H.U.M.B. method is unique because it focuses on praying for the largest unreached people groups according to specific prayer points based on the spiritual beliefs of those groups.

Much Ado about Missions, how tonpray for unreached people groups, praying for the lost using T.H.U.M.B. method

One important distinction to make is that unreached people groups aren’t simply unsaved people.  Unsaved people will always exist on earth until the end of time.  However, the Bible is clear that all nations must be reached with the gospel before Christ will return.  Unreached people groups are those who have literally no gospel presence.

It’s not just that they are unsaved, but that they also have absolutely no opportunity to learn of salvation! Whole generations of men, women, and children are being born, living, and dying without ever hearing of God’s provision in the form of Jesus.

As a follower of Christ, I would like to be more intentional about praying for these unreached peoples, that they might have the opportunity to hear the Good News for God’s glory!  My plan is to use the T.H.U.M.B. method and pray for one group each day of the week, Monday through Friday.  One apsect of T.H.U.M.B. that I love most is that it is so easy to remember!

Much Ado About Missions: Praying T.H.U.M.B., praying for unreached people groups, missions, the THUMB method of praying for the

T – Tribal groups – as you might imagine, these are people who live in remote locations, some only reachable by helicopter or boat or weeks of hiking.  They have their own languages, cultures, and spiritual beliefs.  Many tribal people live in fear of upsetting the spirits, beings they believe are responsible for the health of family members, the growth of crops, and so forth.  So, when bad things happen, it’s because the spirits are unhappy and must be appeased.  Often these beliefs lead to tragedies such as witch trials, ritualistic deaths, beatings and other brutality. These people live in oppressive spiritual darkness.

H – Hindus – Hindus worship many, many gods.  Therefore, one of the challenges missionaries and believers face in sharing the gospel with Hindus is differentiating between their gods and the One True God.  Sadly, Jesus can easily become just one more god that they add on.

U - Unbelievers in China – they cheated a little on this one to fit the acronym. :)  The unbelieving in China are over a billion strong!  One of the unique challenges faced by missionaries to this particular unreached people group is that because of the communist government, believers must be careful about how they share their faith.  China is not fully open to missionaries, so many believers enter as teachers, businessmen and women, and so forth. They work jobs while also trying to learn Chinese and develop discipling relationships with others.

M – Muslims – the Islam religion is spreading world-wide.  Muslims believe in only one god, Allah, but they believe that Jesus was merely a prophet, like so many other prophets.  The Islam faith rests on the pillars of Islam, many of which are based on “good works.” Like China, many parts of the Muslim world are still completely closed off to missionary presence.

B – Buddhists – There are various forms of Buddhism, but most Buddhists do not believe in a god or gods.  They do, however, follow the teachings of a man  named Buddha, who emphasized the need to understand self and the world in a more “enlightened” way.  While I don’t understand all of the Buddhist beliefs and practices, I do know that much of it is based on personal efforts.  Thus, the need for a Savior is a foreign concept.

For more information on the T.H.U.M.B. technique and its specific praying points, please visit Beyond the Bullingtons – the Bullington’s are nearing the end of their training to be church-planting missionaries with New Tribes Mission.

Much Ado About Missions: Praying T.H.U.M.B., praying for unreached people groups, missions, the THUMB method of praying for the

Why not make praying T.H.U.M.B. part of your daily or weekly prayer routine?  As your children, or even grandchildren, grow old enough to understand, you can teach them this acronym so that they might pray for the largest unreached people groups alongside you.

You might even consider praying for a different unreached group at a certain time of day, such as a mealtime or  bedtime.  The acronym is easy to remember, so why not connect it to an easy-to-remember time of day?  As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, nearly a third of the world’s total population remains unreached.  Praying is one way that we can all do our part!

How can you use the T.H.U.M.B. method in your home?

Jen : )

You may find me at any of these lovely blogs.

Much Ado about Missions: Week 2 Wrap-up

Image

We’ve reached the end of week 2 of our Much Ado about Missions blog-hop series, and I can’t believe how quickly it has gone!  If you missed the Introduction, be sure to read it, and if you missed Week 1, all about teaching missions in the home, you can find the links here.

This week we focused less on what to do within the home and more on missional experiences your family can participate in within your community and even the world.  We choose to be intentional about making the most of such opportunities so that our children will develop God’s heart for the nations.  In case you missed any of this week’s posts, I’ll share them here.  I shared about missions experiences for the whole family in The Missions Experience.  Sarah shared about making the most of holidays with Holidays and a Higher Purpose.  Angie shared about involving your children in reaching your community in Get the Kids Involved.

In week 3, we’ll focus on the power of prayer!  You can find Monday’s post right here at Being Confident of This, Wednesday’s post at Love Notes, and Friday’s post at My Four Monkeys.

Thanks for joining us in our endeavor to become more missions minded in our homes and families.  I hope you have found inspiration to do the same in your own homes, whatever your “family” might look like. :)

In the meantime, consider what some of the most unreached peoples (now reached, Praise the Lord!) have to say about reaching the lost:

Does your heart hurt, too?

Jen :)

Broken Yet Not Destroyed

It’s time for Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker at www.lisajobaker.com, when we write for five minutes (more or less) on a one-word prompt that she gives us.  No planning, no editing, no stress; just words.

 

This week’s word: Broken

He didn’t have a chance really.

A divorce early on, a father who left.

A mother forced to work way too much, and siblings who despised him.

Innocence stolen.

He was broken almost from the beginning.

She didn’t have a chance really.

Used and abused by those who are supposed to nurture.

Sold at a price way too cheap for a soul.

Years of love poured out, yet not strong enough to overcome.

She was broken almost from the beginning.

They didn’t have a chance really.

Two broken souls finding solace in one another’s embrace.

Trying to do what’s right for all the wrong reasons.

Saying “I do’s” with no foundation to build on.

A marriage broken almost from the beginning.

It didn’t have a chance really.

Knit together in its mother’s womb.

Ensconced in warm liquid.

A single choice made.

Its life broken even before the beginning.

Broken is everywhere.

Need is everywhere.

Despair is everywhere.

Pain is everywhere.

Grief is everywhere.

Evil is everywhere.

But what they don’t yet understand: God is everywhere.

And what they need to hear: they,

they are broken, but not destroyed.

Because He,

He gave them a chance.

Born in a stable, despised and rejected.

Trading Kingly rights for human weakness,

He became the need,

He became the despair,

He became the pain,

He became the grief,

He became the evil.

His body broken and poured out.

By His wounds they are healed.

Image

Go tell the Broken,

That they may receive Life.

*Disclaimer: I’ve received so many lovely comments from visitors about the ability to write this in just five minutes. However, this week’s post took more than five minutes total.  The first half literally poured out, but I struggled with the ending.  It was just so dark and so hopeless that I felt overwhelmed by burden for the people I thought of as I typed out the words.  So, I took a break to talk to the Lord and came back to it after He reminded me that He was broken, too, and for that reason alone, the darkness isn’t the end of the story!  I broke the five minute friday time-limit rules, but I kept them in spirit. Yes, there is grace for five-minute-friday writers, too. :)

If you’ve never tried your hand at a Five Minute Friday, why not start now?  This week we’re linking up at Lisa-Jo’s facebook page because yesterday her blog was Broken. ;)  https://www.facebook.com/lisajobaker

Jen :)

12 Tips for Surviving Twins

If you haven’t visited this blog before, you might not know that we have a set of twins (boy/girl) who are now four years old. I never imagined myself having twins, and in fact, I had mixed feelings at first (read the story here).

However, our twins have brought a doubled joy to our lives that I could never expected. There is something so precious about watching them sleep side by side or hold hands as they walk down the sidewalk. Observing their unique bond has been a true privilege.

I hope they will always be best friends of sorts even though they are different genders!

Along the way, I’ve learned some methods for dealing with the not-so-cute moments of what can easily become twin madness, and I’d like to share them with you today. These methods would also work with children who are close in age to one another! :)
twins collage

 12 Twin Tips for Survival

1. Divide and conquer.  Whatever task you face, it can be much easier to handle one at a time. For example, I read many success stories from mamas who simultaneously potty-trained their twins. It seems that for these blessed mothers, what one twin did, the other followed.

However, for us it wasn’t quite as simple. Our son was just not ready, but our daughter was!  She insisted on using the potty even though I wasn’t trying to train her.  So, I decided one at a time might actually be easier, and it worked! Not everything must be done in pairs. :)

OR….

2. Kill two birds with one stone.  Some twin tasks are just easier to do together, such as diaper changing (one right after the other, of course), nursing (huge time saver if you can get the hang of it), going to the doctor, bathing, and feeding snacks or meals.

When you already have all of the “stuff” out, you might as well get it over with for the other twin, too!  I even learned such talents as double burping, which only lasted a month or two.

Part of finding my groove with our twins was learning which technique worked best for which tasks – either #1 or #2.

Sometimes it even makes a difference which twin you do first! After a while, I learned to always put my twin son’s shoes on last because he would try to take them off if we didn’t leave the house immediately.  My daughter didn’t seem to mind the shoes, so I could count on her to leave hers on while I wrestled with her brother. :)

For expectant twin mothers and those already in the throes of twin motherhood - these 12 tips will help you survive the early years!

3. Set up stations!  When the twins were infants, this was a lifesaver when it came time to prepare a meal, or work with an older child, etc.  I had a rotation of baby devices for them and when they grew weary of one (after about 10 minutes), I would quickly rotate them to the next thing in line.

Instead of having two of everything, we found we only needed one of most things and thankfully, many of these devices were given to us.  So, at one point in time we had out an exersaucer, a jumperoo, a bouncy seat, a playmat, and a walker (before the walker days, we had a swing).

4. Identify the tough times.  We definitely had specific times of the day that were much more difficult than others.  Meal times, bedtimes, and late afternoon seemed to be the worst for us.  Once we identified those tough times, we were able to problem solve to cut down the stress.  If all else fails, then….

5. Enlist helpers!  By far the best thing we ever did was to accept the gracious offers of friends and family to lend a helping hand.  Many ladies from church took turns helping me with afternoon feedings (my husband worked second shift at the time) even when the twins were quite small.  I would either pump ahead of time or I would take that opportunity to nurse one infant at a time and the company could burp or entertain the other twin.

We also are blessed to have a very helpful oldest son.  He often rocked a fussy baby while I cooked supper or helped our middle child with a problem!  Additionally, for a few

For a few months I also enlisted the help of one of our teenage nieces.  I was able to pay her very little, but she loved coming over to help with the kids. It was totally worth the expense.

Twin mamas, do not be afraid to ask for help, especially in the early months – it will save your sanity! 

For expectant twin mothers and those already in the throes of twin motherhood - these 12 tips will help you survive the early years!

6. Schedule, schedule, schedule.  I wasn’t a very schedule-oriented mom when it came to nursing or even napping our first two children.  Our firstborn sort of fell into a schedule all on his own, and our middle child fought any sort of schedule from day one!

However, by nature I’m a planner, so I like at least a loose form of organization.  And after struggling with our strong-willed middle child, I was determined to start off right.

With two babies at once, I knew that I was going to need to be a little more of a tough mommy in order for us to survive. :)

Since our twins were born prematurely, they spent time in the NICU and came home already on a strict feeding schedule.  So, we were already off to a good start.  However, our infant son was not always happy to keep to the same schedule as his sister.

It was hard work to find a happy medium, but I knew I wouldn’t handle feeding and napping at different times very well.  Persistence paid off, and the majority of the time, they ate together and napped together.

Find a sort of schedule that works for you!

The best pattern to follow for those first 6 months or so is: eat – wake time- then sleep, which is the complete opposite of what many babies naturally do.  However, this pattern sets your infants up not only for feeding success, but for sleeping success as well!

You may be tempted to let sleeping babies go undisturbed, but it will be worth working to keep them awake when they reward you by sleeping for longer periods of time.  Trust me. :)

7. Invest in the gear that makes your life easier.  Being a parent is hard work.  Being a twin parent is sometimes doubly hard work!  Some baby gear makes that work a lot less difficult and is worth every penny.

For example, my husband and I debated about whether or not to purchase a double snap-n-go stroller.  It’s basically a metal frame stroller that the infant carrier car seats can snap right into.  Thanks to some generous gifts, we had the necessary funds and decided to go ahead and purchase it.

Next to my twin nursing pillow, it was the best purchase we ever made for the twins!

It made outings much easier, especially those I had to navigate alone – going to church, going to the store, going to the library, going to the doctor.  I was no longer confined to the house, which made me and our two older children very happy!

Later we switched to a Schwinn double jogging stroller, courtesy of my father-in-law’s fabulous auction skills, and the last stroller we owned was a double sit-n-stand, which I highly recommend for the toddler to preschool years.  When one is tired of sitting in the front seat, you can switch them out to standing, kneeling, or even sitting in reverse in the back seat.

8. Keep your older children occupied.  Sitting down to nurse  or feed two infants isn’t an easy task, especially if you also have an active three-year-old on the loose.  Sometimes our middle child would escape into another room and I would just pray that he wasn’t destroying anything of value! :)

I wish I had known back then about busy bags!  If you don’t know what they are, you need to find out.  Just look up busy bags on Pinterest or Google and find a variety of ideas for quiet play.  I have quite a few pinned on my Learning games and activities board.  Books worked well for us, as well as singing.  Sometimes I would even ask him to perform tricks for me while I was sitting.  And when all else failed I turned to Netflix or PBS Kids.  Did I mention that

Did I mention that having twins also taught me to lower my standards a little?

9. Remind your older children that they are special, too!  Sometimes older siblings have jealousy issues, and then sometimes they have twin fame issues. ;)  Twins not only require a lot of extra attention from mom and dad, they also attract a lot of attention when you are out and about.  People love to look at them and ask questions about them, which might leave your older children feeling a little ignored or neglected.

Going on one-on-one dates really helped our older children when they were exhibiting signs of attention-deprivation.  Also, relatives stepped in often and took one or both of them for special activities or sleep-overs.  Sometimes it’s as simple as mentioning something special about your older children when people are ooo-ing and aaahhh-ing over the twins.

 

10. Remember that it does get easier!  Those early months are oh-so-tough.  I well remember the sleepless nights, the double diaper blow-outs, the duets of screaming banshees, the illness multiplied by two in winter months, and sometimes it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel.  But there is!

Those twins will grow up and while you’ll always have two at the same stage, rather than one, as they grow older it feels a lot less like double duty and a lot more like having two children very close in age.

Believe it or not, our twins are so different in looks and personality that sometimes I momentarily forget about their special bond!

Focus on one day at a time, until you can focus on one week at a time, and eventually one month, and before you know it, you’ll be thriving instead of just surviving!

11. Count your blessings.  On those really rough days, the ones when you barely limp across the finish line that we mamas like to call bedtime, try to let go of the challenges and remember the blessings of having twins.

There are many difficulties in raising twins, but there are equal, if not more, unique blessings wrapped into those challenges.  So when the days are dark, count those blessings.  Remind yourself of the things that you enjoy about your double gift, how one baby catches the other’s eye and both faces light up, how  they “talk” back and forth to one another, even answering one another’s cries.  Remember those good things; cling to them!

12. Pray.  It sounds simple and everyday, but it’s not. Prayer is powerful!  Some days I woke up after a sleepless night asking the Lord for supernatural strength because I just didn’t have it in me.  He literally carried me, not just mentally but physically,  through many of those early weeks or even months.  I know others were praying for me, too – the power was almost palpable at times.

Don’t underestimate the Power of the Spirit; pray for the things you need to raise those twins – for finances, for strength, for wisdom.  I even consulted the Lord on such mundane things as “Should I pick up this crying baby or would it be better to let him cry it out?”

While I didn’t get a direct answer to that question, I was overwhelmed by the peace of His presence.  And suddenly, I realized that maybe it didn’t even matter as much as I thought it did.

 Maybe there is no perfect way to parent, no perfect way to potty train or sleep train or breastfeed or, or, or…  That peace set me free. :)

For expectant twin mothers and those already in the throes of twin motherhood - these 12 tips will help you survive the early years!

Proverbs 3

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

If you have young twins or are about to have twins (or even children very close in age), I hope you find this post helpful.  And if you are already a twin mama and you have some advice to share, please feel free to share in the comments!  I love finding out what works for other moms and seeing if it will also work for me.

Enjoy it while it lasts!

Jen :)

*This post makes use of affiliate links.  Jen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Thank you for helping to support this blog!

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Much Ado about Missions: The Experience

Much Ado about Missions

Today marks the beginning of week two of our Much Ado about Missions blog-hop series.  In case you’re joining us for the first time, in the first week we zeroed in on the need for emphasizing global missions and how we can accomplish that even within our homes.  I shared an introductory post about why the need is so great (and so often misunderstood) and then followed up with a post on 8 Resources for Teaching Missions in the Home.  Sarah, from Love Notes, wrote an excellent post on how to engage children’s hearts by engaging their hands in The Missional M&Ms.  Angie, from My Four Monkeys, finished off the week with a fantastic craft to introduce the concept of missions in Introducing Missions to Little Ones.  If you missed any of these posts. you might want to catch up before we delve into this week’s topic. :)

While we discussed impacting our homes in week one, this week we’ll be discussing how to impact our communities and even our world.  So, week two will be more about missions experience opportunities and outreach opportunities for you and your family no matter what your circumstances!

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that my husband is a minister in a small country town.  So, by nature of his job, our family experiences a lot of community outreach through our church and even aside from the church.   However, we also want our family to be involved in things that have an impact beyond our community.  We want to be mindful of the needs in that great big world out there and have the Lord’s heart for the nations.  I listened to a sermon recently given by a missionary who said that he drove a single mile  to the church he was speaking at that morning and passed 3 churches on the way! Yet in an unreached people group in China that is 15 million strong, not a single church exists. Not. One.

So, I’m going to start out the week by challenging you to leave the comfort of your own home, your own city, your own state and try something as a family that could potentially change many lives.  My husband and I want our children to understand the importance of global missions as much as they understand community service and outreach, and that requires us to stretch beyond what is comfortable.   Experiencing firsthand is so much more powerful than just hearing about it from missionaries who come to speak at church or your former MK wife/mother. :) So, we’ve put together a very brief list of experiences that could benefit the whole family.

the missions experience

Church missions trips – If your church is offering a missions trip experience, this would be the perfect way for you, and possibly your family, to experience and serve alongside a missionary that your church is already connected with.  While  heading into unfamiliar territory, you would at least have the comfort of travelling and experiencing right alongside other members of your church.  This type of trip helps you to better understand the need as well as the missionaries you help support.

Wayumi – if  leaving your home country to serve in a remote location scares the pants off of you, or just isn’t possible for medical reasons, etc., why not start with a missions experiences available right here in America through New Tribes Mission?  You can spend anywhere from 1 day to a week at Wayumi, a center located in Pennsylvania, and be exposed to other cultures, the trials of language study, and so forth.  Although the experience offers very realistic replications of tribal huts, tribal foods, and so on, some modern conveniences are still available.  It’s a way to learn about missions and perhaps even stretch yourself and your family a bit, but the cost is significantly less than an overseas trip.

Serve with New Tribes Mission (NTM) – http://usa.ntm.org/go – this non-denominational mission that focuses on church planting along with scripture translation offerst a variety of opportunties for families and even college students.  Short term, service-based trips last anywhere from 2-4 weeks, while longer stays of a year are necessary for associate workers who go to fill an immediate need.  College students can even earn credits through the Interface internship program in Papua New Guinea.

World Changershttp://www.lifeway.com/worldchangers/index.php/about/ – is a program for youth through college age students.  These trips usually take place in the summer months, when groups travel to specific cities to complete community service projects.  In the past, some groups have gone to inner city ministries, disaster areas for restoration projects, etc.  This is not your everyday community service.  Students complete bible study/training beforehand, including learning how to use evangelistic tools.  If you have or know a youth, this program is an excellent way to teach them how to be someone who changes the world!

These are just a very few of the multitude of opportunities to serve your world beyond your neighborhood, your town, your state, even your country!  What can your family do to stretch and grow beyond what is normal and familiar to you?  How might you consider helping to reach the most unreached peoples of the Earth, the third of our world  population who currently have no hope?

I know that God asks believers to fill a variety of roles in the Body, of which missions is only one.  But I also know that God’s heart is for all nations, not just the one we live in.  I read another missionary comment recently that said what is most needed is not more money.  He reminded us, “Jesus is the fishes and loaves guy.”  What is needed is those who will be willing to advocate for the most unreached people groups and those who will be willing to answer the call of “Whom can I send?”

Deny self

As I mentioned in the Introduction of this blog-hop, I don’t have all of the answers, even for our family.  I believe it is something that all Christians should prayerfully consider. How will you respond?

Jen :)

If you know of another firsthand missions experience opportunity, please feel free to share with the readers in the comments!

Want to learn more about the value of a firsthand missions experience for teens?  Read here:
http://www.wordslingersok.com/2013/07/7-reasons-teens-need-to-go-on-short-term-mission-trips-2/

You may find me at any of these lovely blogs.

Much Ado about Missions: Week One Wrap-up

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We have the final post in our Much Ado about Missions blog-hop live now, so I thought I would put all of the posts together here on a summary page for easy access.  If you are new to the blog-hop, please be sure to start with the introduction.  It contains important information that all believers should be aware of, and it explains the heart behind this blog-hop. :)

Much Ado about Missions Week One:

Introduction – they why behind it all

8 Resources for Teaching Missions in the Home

The Missional M&Ms

Teaching Missions with Crafts

In week two, we’ll be discussing ideas for experiencing missions and serving outside of the home, so stay tuned!  Monday’s post can be found at Being Confident of this, Wednesday’s post can be found at  Love Notes, and Friday’s post at  My Four Monkeys.

Thank you for joining us in making missions a priority!

Jen :)

Grace-colored Glasses

 

Have you ever felt like an epic failure?  Have you felt stuck in old patterns that you just can’t seem to overcome?  That’s how I often feel when it comes to my marriage.  But this story is the moment when I learned to put on Grace-colored glasses and see myself through them.

………………………………

Last night I had a little run-in with Perfectionism again.  He just won’t leave me alone.

He follows me wherever I go, pointing out flaws in my house-keeping, my parenting, my marriage relationship, even my walk with the Lord.  Some days I can ignore him and others I can’t escape. And I know it’s Perfectionism and not the Holy Spirit because of his voice.  He whispers lies to me: “you’ll never change” or “you’re never going to be good enough” or “why even bother anymore.”

I’ve been enslaved by his words before, but last night was different…

The location of this post has moved!  To read the rest, click here.

Much Ado about Missions: 8 Resources for Teaching Missions

As I mentioned in my last post, Global Missions has really been on my mind and heart recently, so I’ve joined forces with two amazing bloggers to do a series of posts on developing a missions mindset within the home.

This week our focus is on ways to teach or emphasize missions in our own homes.

When I began researching for materials on missions to use with our four children (ages 4 through 13) in the home, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of options available! I’ve compiled a list of favorite finds to share with you all.

Resources for Teaching Missions to Kids

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For more information, please visit Being Confident of This’s About page.  Thank you for supporting this blog!

1.       Growing Up Wild DVD series –is about a family of missionaries living in a tribe in Indonesian Guinea.  This DVD series is unique because the missionary children are the ones narrating and introducing topics rather than the adults.   The Wild brothers even have their own blog! So far, we have only watched the video clips available on the website, but we plan to purchase or borrow a DVD or two from this series.  This method of teaching missions works well for antsy learners. :)

So many millions are still unreached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what can an ordinary mom do to help? You can start by teaching your children about global missions right in your own home! 8 Best Resources for Teaching Missions - helpful resources for parents, homeschool, children's ministry, children's church, AWANA, Christian school teachers, etc.

 

2.        Caravan Friends website – is about the peoples of Asia – a country in the most unreached sector of the world.  I love this website   for teaching missions, and so did my four children (ages four to thirteen)! It is colorful and aesthetically pleasing.  The characters they have created help teach children about different areas of Asia, and my children really connected with them.

The videos were interesting to watch and after watching one only twice, my seven-year old was spouting off facts about the people groups there.  The stories are easy to read and not too long.  In fact, I had our seven-year old read several to his younger siblings and he was able.

The website also includes resources for parents and teachers who are teaching missions, such as printables, coloring pages, and other suggested activities (seriously, check out the activities tab for some amazing ideas), etc.  This would be the perfect site for someone wanting to lead a class on Missions for children, for a free homeschool curriculum resource, or for Children’s Church, Sunday School, AWANA, Vacation Bible School, etc.

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3.       Trailblazer Books by Dave and Neta Jackson –  we just discovered this series of books and so far, the kiddos love them, even our thirteen-year-old son! :)  This series doesn’t solely focus on missionaries, but also on other Heroes of the Faith, such as Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther, etc.  Each biography is told from the point of a young, fictional narrator.

Right now we are nearly finished with the Samuel Morris story, and we have requests to read more of it nearly every day.  It’s one book that I have actually been tempted to read more of on my own, even!  Our four-year-old twins will usually only sit for one chapter at a time, but older children could easily read several chapters.  I was happy to find that amazon carries used copies of volumes that contain 5 stories each!  We bought several volumes for less than $20.  The volume pictured below features Harriet Tubman, but it also has 4 other biographies in it. :)

trailblazers

4.       Kids on Mission websitethis website is put out by the International Missions Board of  the Southern Baptist denomination.   Kids on Mission offers a subscription that will provide you with a quarterly release on DVD.  However, according to the website, if you are willing to download the files from the internet directly, you can access them for free!  Under the prayer tab, there are even prayer requests from missionary kids themselves. What a unique resource for teaching missions. :)

5.       New Tribes Mission – is the organization that my parents worked through as missionaries to Papua New Guinea (PNG).  On their website you will find individual missionary pages and newsletters, as well as general information.  While this website is designed for adults rather than children, I included it because they often upload new videos from various tribes around the world. I know my children enjoy seeing what it’s really like on the mission field or hearing about missions from tribal people themselves.

*One note of caution:  not all stories are appropriate for all ages.  Be sure to preview the videos before showing them to your children.  Also, NTM publishes a magazine full of brief missionary stories that we often read to our children.  This resource, NTM@Work, is completely free.  All that is required of you is to go to the website  to sign up for it! :)

6.       Torchlighter DVD series – is very similar to the Trailblazer books in that it focuses on missionaries and other heroes of the Faith, but in a dvd format rather than a book format.  This series features people like Corrie Ten Boom, Augustine, and others who help spread the Good News. Our kids’ favorites so far are the Amy Carmichael story and the Jim Elliot story.  Each animated feature is about 30 minutes in length. What better way to learn about missions than to hear the biographies of those who suffered for the faith, but impacted the world because of it! :)

7.       Windows on the World - is a curriculum that focuses on specific people groups, and their culture and beliefs.  Some of the information is factual in nature, but there are also stories about the people who live there and ways for children to pray for that particular group. This is an amazing resources for teaching missions with a global perspective.

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8.       Missionary Stories With the Millers – This book of short stories about real life events that missionaries have experienced was recommended to me by a friend and is on our wishlist! These stories are shorter in nature and would be easier for younger children to sit and listen to.

As I shared previously, I sometimes struggle with the question of “Am I doing enough?”

But I know that this is a good start, to teach my children of the great need. (It doesn’t hurt for me to learn more about the various people groups in need, either!)

Who knows?

We could be raising the next generation of missionaries right within our own homes!

The next post in the bloghop can be found over at  Love Notes . Sarah shared more about engaging our children’s hearts in missions in Missional M&Ms!

Much Ado about Missions - a series focused on helping us teach our children about global missions right in our own homes.

If you have a tried and true resource for teaching Missions at home, would you please share with us in the comments?  Thanks!

Jen :)

Also sharing this post with: Hive Resources, Grace and Truth

*This post makes use of affiliate links. For more information, please visit Being Confident of This’s About page.  Thank you for supporting this blog!

Much Ado about Missions Series

Since I spent the majority of my growing up years as an MK (missionary kid), global missions is a subject close to my heart.

But lately, I’ve been plagued by questions of Am I doing enough? and What else can I do?

So what’s the big deal about global missions anyway?  We’re all called to be missionaries where we live, right?  Yes, we should be sharing the gospel in our homes, with our neighbors and co-workers, and so forth as is commanded in scripture.

The big deal about global missions is that nearly one-third of the world’s total population remains unreached, meaning these people have had little to no opportunity to hear the message of salvation!  These people groups often live in fear of evil spirits or gods and sometimes even participate in horrors like witch-burnings and ritual killings out of those fears.  Some are trapped by societal boundaries of caste systems or governmental boundaries such as communism.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes! Join us for a series on teaching missions at home for parents, teachers, children's ministers, sunday school teachers, etc.

While we here in America are blessed to find churches on many street corners and  bibles not only in our own language, but also in a plethora of translations, our overseas friends are not.

Even driving down the highway, we often see crosses or billboards proclaiming God’s truth.  And with the rise of the Internet, the possibilities are further increased!  Those unsaved relatives, friends, and neighbors might not know Jesus personally, but most of them at least know of Him.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes! Source of info: The Joshua Project

But for a tribal man, woman, or child in an unreached location, the gospel message is simply not present. By some estimates, the ratio of American churches to unreached people groups  is 140:1.

One hundred forty American churches for every one group of people still waiting to hear the Good News! Are you as surprised by that number as I am?

As a minister’s wife, I know the unsaved are with us here too, but the need for these unreached people groups is even more urgent yet often more easily ignored.

They have no neighbors who believe, no Bibles to read, no billboards, no Internet, no gospel tracts, no revivals, no churches, no outreach ministries… nothing to connect them with life-giving Good News!

We have a responsibility as Christ-followers  to reach out to the unsaved on all levels – within our families, our local communities, our countries, and yes, even our world! Let’s not forget our overseas brothers and sisters who are without hope.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes!

We must be involved with global missions in some way (even if we can’t physically go ourselves), and we must teach our children the importance of reaching the unreached, whether they live nearby or  halfway around the world. Not to be “good” Christians or to pat ourselves on the back but because…

People.

 are.

 dying.  

without ever having even a single opportunity to hear of the Father’s great love for us, without a chance to experience true freedom.

Please take a moment to view this powerful message from the Joshua Project. I promise it will be worth your time! Be sure to watch it to the very end – the last few seconds are important.

You Should Know (English) Video by MUP.ORG from Mustang International on Vimeo.

So, what can we do?  We may not all be able to go at this point in time, so how can we reach out beyond what is comfortable to us? How can we foster a missions mindset in our homes?  I’ll be honest with you that I struggle with these questions.   What exactly does the Lord require of me and our family in regards to missions?

I don’t have all of the answers, even for myself.  My husband is a pastor and much of our “missions” work occurs right here in our neighborhood, but I am convinced that I must not forget that there is a world of dying, unreached people out there, as well.

I hope this bloghop series will answer at the least a few of those questions for us and for you, our readers.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes!

In addition to my own posts, I’m very blessed to have two other bloggers join me in this missions series, as we attempt to answer some of these questions.

           My sister Sarah, from Love Notes,  not only grew up on the mission field, she also elected to return to PNG  (Papua New Guinea) for a while during her single years.  Currently, she and her minister husband serve at a church in Ohio, as well as at the local city mission.

     My blog-savvy cousin Angie, from My Four Monkeys, is a homeschooling mama of four.  Angie writes all over the web for companies like Tommy Nelson and Alex Toys, as well as on her own blog.  She also serves faithfully in her local church, alongside her husband.

We are excited to share with you some amazing materials and methods for teaching missions in your home or in your church, as well as ways to experience missions as a family, and even ways to pray specifically for the most unreached people groups of the world.

The first post, 8 Resources for Teaching Missions in the Home, is live now!

Jen :)

For more statistics on why the need is so great, read here:

http://writtenreality.com/209-million-is-a-very-big-number/

http://weheartnepal.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/life-in-the-fll-why-we-do-what-we-do-part-2/