Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Discipling the Generations: Part 5

This is the fifth and final part in a series talking about discipling the generations, especially young people. I took a couple weeks' break over the holidays to post on other topics, but I wanted to finish off this series. We are looking at aspects of Jesus' life and example of how He worked with His disciples. 

The final point I want to make is Jesus had a deep, significant relationship with each of His disciplesJesus knew His disciples and their needs. He lived with these men and did life together with them for three years. Keeping close track of twelve people in this way is exhausting! And that doesn’t touch all the ministry that Jesus did outside of His inner group. 

While we probably can’t keep up the schedule Jesus did, each of us can pray for one or two young people that we can take under our wing to mentor and disciple in the ways of the Lord. No matter the culture or generation one comes from, having a significant relationship with a person that helps point us to Jesus is life-changing. Let’s you and I be the ones to reach out to someone for Jesus!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Homemade Christmas Gifts

This post is perhaps a little late, but as I promised I would show you pictures of all the handmade Christmas gifts I made for my family this year, I thought I would go ahead and post them. Perhaps they'll give you ideas for birthday or Christmas gifts for this coming year! Let's just say, everyone loved the gifts I made them. The kids wear their new pajamas every night!

The pajamas pictured above were for my eldest. I bought a pajama pattern to make his and it turned out pretty well, though I must say, having never made pajamas before and not having much experience working with knits, I did have a lot of learning to do with these projects. His pajamas were a bit big, though I used the smallest size it came with. But he'll have it to wear for a couple years at least now.

The pajamas pictured below were for my third child. You probably noticed instantly that the pattern on the top is going the opposite direction of the pants. I unfortunately didn't notice it until both pieces had been sewn and finished. Another lesson learned. Oh well. My little boy hasn't noticed it at all and he loves his new pajamas. I panicked a little when I realized that the pattern I originally bought to use for both boys ended up being way too big. I used the smallest size for my eldest and it still came out too big for him. So I ended up searching online for some free patterns and tutorials to make this pajama set. In the end, despite the pattern mix-up, I think it was my favorite. I love the raglan sleeves on the top. Here is the tutorial/free pattern for the top, and here is the tutorial for the pants.

Here is the ornament I made for my baby. You can find the free pattern for it here.

And here is the ornament I made for my daughter. You can find the free pattern for this here.

The day before Christmas, I decided to make an ornament for my husband. He had never had his own named ornament as a child, so I thought it would be fun to include him in on the fun (plus I needed another last minute gift for him). I just found a cross picture I liked and used it as my pattern.

Here is the ornament I made for my third-born. I copied something I saw off Pinterest for this one.

And finally, last but not least, I refashioned an old t-shirt and pair of pajama pants belonging to my husband into a very sentimental pillow that now resides on our bed. Our first child was born in the middle of December of 2011, and my husband's dad found this t-shirt on a clearance rack at Walmart and snatched it up for my husband. I have some very cherished pictures of my husband wearing this shirt as he held our newborn son. He wore it proudly for several years until it became too dilapidated to wear in public. I saved it just for this purpose. And the well-loved old pajama pants made a perfect complimentary backing to the pillow, I think. (Remember the raglan sleeve pajama shirt from above? I used bits and pieces from this old t-shirt to make it up as well. So I got a lot of mileage out of just one t-shirt!)

The handmade Christmas gifts were a big hit and will be far more meaningful for years to come than any toy or trinket I could have bought. Planning ahead of time and starting a couple months early helped to make the projects manageable and not stressful. I honestly had a lot of fun planning and making these gifts! I encourage you to try to come up with a few things to make your loved ones when Christmas rolls around once again.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Goals

Happy New Year, everybody! Normally I post on Tuesday evening, but since this is the beginning of a new year, I thought I would write tonight about some of the personal goals I'm making for this coming year. I am excited about this new year and what the Lord has in store for me and us as a family.

One of the goals I have is to read the Bible in a year. I've tried various reading plans over the years, but I'm excited about the new one I'm going to use. It has reading plans for 5 days each week, with the other two days to use as catch-up. Also, it's in chronological order and has a reading in the OT and NT each day for variety. You can find the reading plan here. Interested in a different reading plan? You can find many excellent types at this website. Check them out and pick one for the new year!

Another goal I have just for this month is to do the Scripture writing plan that this sweet gal posts on her blog each month. The theme for the month of January is Wisdom, and I feel I'm in need of that more than ever! You can find her plan here.

Another goal I have is to get in better shape and make priority in my schedule to exercise. I'm specifically wanting to target my core to help correct some issues I've been having with my pelvic organs. In order to accomplish my goals, I paid for a year's membership to a website called Fit2B. I really like Bethany Learn's gentle approach to exercise and the fact that she has workouts for all fitness levels. All her exercises are "tummy safe," meaning they will help (and not further damage) those who have diastasis recti. I am confidant that if I am faithful, I will see significant healing and improvement in my core strength.

Those are some of my major goals, but I've also written a few minor ones including handicraft projects I'd like to accomplish this year. We'll see how much I get done by the Lord's grace!

Have you made any personal goals?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Discipling the Generations: Part 4

This is the fourth part in a series talking about discipling the generations, especially young people. We are looking at aspects of Jesus' life and example of how He worked with His disciples. We’re going to look today at Jesus’ intentional work of growing His disciples.

The first point I want to emphasize is Jesus intentionally challenged His disciples with tasks meant to stretch and grow them. He taught them, equipped them, and then sent them forth to serve various times, always bringing them back to debrief and make sense of what they’d experienced. For a disciple to truly grow and mature, these times of stretching are critical. It isn’t enough to simply feed your disciple head knowledge. They must learn to apply the Word of God in their daily life. Sometimes, life events will help them along without any involvement from you. But other times, they may need encouragement from you to do something that will challenge and strengthen their faith. Like Jesus, we must be sensitive to these opportunities in the lives of those we have been called to train.

In addition, Jesus used significant events to make impactful messages sink deep in their hearts. Like the feeding of five thousand. Or the raising of Lazarus. Or the storm on the sea. Crisis moments in our lives can become huge “ah ha!” moments of spiritual truths. Sometimes a mentor is all we need to help us see the light. When we are all wrapped up in our own busyness, it’s hard to truly be there for a friend experiencing a crisis moment. But that is exactly what Jesus wants us to do, not only to help them bear the burden, but also to point them towards the light and truth of God and His everlasting Word.

Take a moment to prayerfully consider who in your life is going through a crisis moment right now. How can you be an encouragement to them today?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Discipling the Generations: Part 3

This is the third part in a series talking about discipling the generations, especially young people. We are looking at aspects of Jesus' life and example of how He worked with His disciples. Today we are going to focus on prayer.

One of the most important (and often the most overlooked) aspects of discipleship is faithful prayer for the disciple. Jesus gives us this important example in multiple places. 

Take a look at Luke 22:32 where Jesus tells Peter after his denial of Jesus, "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Jesus' prayer for Peter was powerful and crucial in Peter's returning to the Lord. In another place, during Jesus' great intercessory prayer just before His arrest, He prays for unity among His disciples and for all believers that would come after them. 

This is just a sampling of the prayers we have recorded that He prayed specifically for His disciples. Faithful, fervent, intercessory prayer... this reflects the heart of a discipler for his disciples, and more importantly, it reflects the heart of God. 

I'll be quite honest: I have struggled a lot to be faithful in this area. In a future post, I will be sharing more about how I've found a tool that has helped me tremendously. Until then, you can ask yourself, who is God calling me to pray for today?  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Discipling the Generations: Part 2

This is the second part in a series talking about discipling the generations, especially young people. We are looking at aspects of Jesus' life and example of how He worked with His disciples. We'll examine a couple more points today.

The first point is this: Jesus modeled a faithful life for His disciples and included them in on every aspect of His life to observe His times of devotion, rest, refreshment, nourishment, service, work, and anguish… his life rhythms, in other words. I remember well watching my parents walk through a grief that was not my own and observing carefully how they responded to it. It prepared me to walk through a much bigger grief that my whole family shared a few years later. Observation is a huge part of discipleship, which brings me to my next point. 

Jesus shared His griefs and sorrows as well as His joys with His disciples. His life was an open (and perfect) book. It’s a bit scary for us as we open up our lives to observation from others. What if they see nothing but sin and hypocrisy? Certainly, we need to pray through our habits and examples and continue to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal sins in our lives, but by God’s grace, being still imperfect and sinful, we can make a huge impact in the lives of those we mentor. And when we sin, being honest, humble, and transparent can also be an important lesson to teach others.

How can you include someone needing discipleship in your life during this holiday season? Pray and ask the Lord to continue to direct you to those He would have you disciple.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Discipling the Generations: Part 1

There has been a lot of talk about different characteristics of generations in our culture. A quick internet search will bring up article after article highlighting the qualities of each one and how to engage them. Even Christians are doing their research and suggesting options for how to reach out to our young people. I’ve found, however, that no matter which generation or culture one identifies with, the principles of discipleship that Jesus used over 2000 years ago still are relevant, effective, and needful today.

I am starting a new series on different aspects of discipleship I've learned from the example of Jesus and from personal experience of 5+ years on the mission field. One of our main ministries is discipleship, and specifically, discipling young people.

The first aspect of discipleship that we'll look at today is discipling during teachable moments of daily life. Jesus set the example by following the Biblical model in Deuteronomy 11:19, “You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (By the way, this verse was given to parents first. As parents, we can never forget or overlook our first and foremost discipleship opportunity: our children!) Jesus took advantage of teachable moments as He lived daily life with His disciples. And that is the key: He lived daily life with them. You can’t take advantage of those teachable moments if you aren’t around to experience them. This means making significant time commitments on both the part of the disciple and the mentor.

My husband and I have worked hard to share daily life with the young people we are discipling. Over time, they have come to us with questions from their real world struggles and problems and we have helped them work through the problems through the lens of the Bible. And then finally, they have begun showing signs of spiritual maturity as they learn to apply Scripture for themselves in practical ways in their lives: a sign of Biblical wisdom.

Have you recently prayed about who God might be wanting you to reach out to and disciple? The Christmas season is a great time to bring people into your home to share in your meaningful traditions and learn about the greatest gift of all: Jesus!