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To the Expectant Mother Soon to Give Birth

Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 30:5b- Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Dear Mom Ready to Give Birth,

Motherhood is hard. There are so many challenges in a single ordinary day. But there is also beauty with each challenge we face. So many will be ready to remind you of each new challenge you will face- “war stories” of births and raising children. But many will fail to remind you of the beauty hidden deep within each challenge, and the treasure that you will find if you look hard enough.

I want to remind you that within each challenge hides a beautiful treasure.

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Two weeks before I gave birth to our daughter, my mother went home to be with the Lord. I thought I was going to have to walk through motherhood alone. I hadn’t read any books or listened to the “experts” because I had assumed my mother would be there to guide me down this road called motherhood. And yet as hard as facing motherhood without my own mother was, God brought beauty in a way I had not expected it.

God brought women along side of me to help walk me through the early stages of motherhood. Some of those women were there for a season and some have continued to walk beside me. God has used my aunts, mother-in-law, and other godly women to come along side me and encourage me with God’s Word. I also had the chance to see how awesome my husband really is. From changing diapers- I’m talking the really dirty ones– to quieting a colic-y baby, I was able to see the true man that he really was but had never really noticed or given him credit for before.

The beauty of discipleship from seasoned, Christian women and the hands on love from my husband were a treasure I discovered during those difficult first few months.

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Five days before I went into labor, a senior saint decided to tell me every painful and gory detail about her birth and delivery story. I listened wide-eyed and I began to dread this fast approaching event that according to her would take 3 days with no medication.

Yes, the contractions came, and I experienced more discomfort than I have ever felt, but there was something beautiful about that period of discomfort. My room was filled with those who I loved and loved me. My husband, sister, in-laws, 2 aunts, an uncle, my cousin and her family, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law surrounded me. They breathed in with every contraction that showed up on the monitor and exhaled as each one dissipated.

That was the beauty in that moment of challenge. The community that God knew I so desperately needed at that very moment. He knew that I needed to know I wasn’t alone. I was watching and hearing my family and extended family feel my pain with me. The send offs and joyful laughter as I was wheeled away to deliver my daughter followed me down the corridor. The rejoicing that went on in that room when my daughter entered the world was God’s reminder that when His people “Rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep (Romans 12:15)” His love is visibly evident in the real world.

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I had to have an emergency C-section, and I was faced with having an extra set of bills I wasn’t anticipating, not having the type of birth I had hoped for, and now I would have a life-long scar.

Yet, the beauty came when I realized that my husband and I would have this moment to share all to ourselves. No one else would be able to impose on this moment that was going to turn us from a couple into a family. God allowed our insurance company to not only cover the c-section, but to also reimburse us for the entire pregnancy, reminding me that “my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.” (Phil. 4:19) And my scar is a constant visual reminder that I would do anything for the sake of my children.

As we moved our new family home from the hospital, I began to experience the sleepless nights and midnight feedings that everyone “warns” you about with dread and gloom. As I would get up for each feeding, I would plead to God to let my baby sleep through the night. I was tired.

But the beauty came as I began to use those middle of the night times to have my quiet time. I had no room for distraction- nothing could be cleaned without waking anyone up. No one needed me once the baby had been put back to bed. Those middle of the night feedings turned into a nightly “meet-up” with God, and I began to look forward to it. When our son came along, his middle of the night feedings allowed me to continue having my time with God since I would be waking up to an energized preschooler and my day would get away from me.

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As your life changes in the next few weeks and you add this new little person into your home and family, with each challenge, look for the beauty. It will be there. Sometimes you won’t recognize it right away. But as you look back at the early days with little one, the moments filled with the most challenge are the moments you will remember most and miss once they have passed. And it is then that the beauty will start to become evident.

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bible-books-for-kids

10 of Our Favorite Bible Books and Devotionals for Kids

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We live in a state of moral decline- a society where there is no absolute truth. A society that has blurred the lines between right and wrong. A world where we have shaved the corners off the truth so much in an effort to give the truth without hurt that it no longer resembles itself.

But, dear parents, we can change that.

And it starts in our homes with the children God has given us.

Experts recommend that we as parents read to our children for a minimum of 20 minutes each day.  What if we, as mommas (and dads), took even a portion of those 20 minutes and used them to read God’s Word to our children?

10 minutes each day for 6 days would mean that you could spend an entire hour reading God’s Word with your children in less than a week. Now if we assume that you could read to your children 10 minutes a day, 6 days a week, for 52 weeks (approximately 1 year), you will have spent 52 hours teaching God’s Word to those most precious to you.

Those readings can lead to amazing conversations between you and your child. Those conversations can lead to strong  foundations in faith being laid, personal convictions being shared, understanding the whys of their beliefs, and Biblical principles of behavior can be taught.

We cannot change the moral decline of our nation on our own, but God can use us as we start setting the next generation on the right track here at home.

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When Do I read to them?

We try to have a devotional time together (the kids and me) in the morning before we begin our day, but sometimes mornings are a rush to get out of the house. Brian has also wanted to be an active part in the spiritual training of our children, especially Ian, and mornings don’t work for him at all. So we have begun taking some time in the evenings- he reads to and teaches Ian, and I read to and teach Addie.

There is no right or wrong time to read God’s Word with your children. You only need to find a time that works within the four walls of your home with your people.

Where do I start?

Over the years I have come across so many wonderful children’s Bibles, devotionals, or Bible story books, which I have used with my own children. Although this list does not come close to covering all of the books we have used, these books featured in this list are some of my favorites.

The List

Both of my children began with the See with Me Bible: The Bible Told in Pictures by Dennis Jones. Each story is told through illustrations, not words. After reading through the See with Me Bible with them a couple of times, my children were able to retell the Bible stories on their own. This then became the Bible they used to start them in the practice of personal morning devotions.

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Currently, Life Lessons from the Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop and Susan Henson is the devotional Addie and I are using in the evenings. We have already read the book together, and this devotional serves as a companion. The devotionals begin with salvation and move on to moral purity and purity in our relationships. An important lesson to teach early and repeat often.

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Although we have not begun this one with Ian yet, Life Lessons from the Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop and Susan Henson is the male equivalent of The Princess and the Kiss. We have read the accompanying book to him multiple times, and we will continue to do so before the time comes to begin this Bible study with him. This study deals with keeping God’s Word front and center in the lives of our sons in order to keep them from temptation. 

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What would Jesus Do? by Helen Haidle is an oldie but a goodie. We have been working our way through it in the mornings for a couple of months now. Each very short chapter leaves off with a question or two of personal reflection and a verse. Sometimes the reference to the passage alluded to in the story is put at the very end of the chapter. When it is, we spend the time to look it up.

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Addie has been using Veggie Tales: 365 Bedtime Devos for Girls as her personal devotions in the mornings. This devotional in designed to take your daughter through an entire year. It is done very much in the style of Our Daily Bread with a verse, a small application, and a prayer. It is a great way to get little girls started on having their own quiet time. There is also a boy’s version of this devotional.

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The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones has to be one of my absolute favorite Bible books for children. From Genesis through the New Testament, the author shows how the story of redemption and salvation is found throughout each account, all pointing to Jesus. Beautiful written and beautifully illustrated, this storybook Bible is a must have for every child’s library.

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My Big Book of Bible Stories: Bible Stories! Favorite Bible Stories Kids Will Want to Read Again and Again!  by Phil A. Smouse is a rhyming Bible storybook. The cartoon-y illustrations are engaging for little eyes, and the rhymes are fun to read. Read here for a more in-depth review.

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 My First Hands-On Bible by Group Publishing and Tyndale is a series of excerpts teaching children the main Sunday-school Bible accounts using the New Living Translation. Sprinkled among the verses are little handprints. These handprints indicate a hands-on activity for the children to do which makes the account come alive and more memorable to little ones. None of the activities are labor intensive for Mom or Dad (one might be to count all of the stars in the illustration or march around the room). Both of my children have loved this Bible. I like that we are reading Scripture with fun activities mixed in.

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Around the time that Ian came along, Brian took over the evening Bible reading for Addie. He used the Little Girls Bible for Fathers and Daughters by Carolyn Larsen. The format is laid out beautifully and it allows for a father and daughter to connect over stories from his childhood. I remember Brian reading the topic ahead of time so he could think about which story he wanted to share. Each story from dad relates to the lesson taught in the day’s devotional. There are many others in this series- mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, and fathers and sons.

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If you have read any of my reviews on the Love Letters from God series, you know I am a big Glenys Nellist fan.  Each of her four “Love Letters” books takes children through a beautifully written retelling of a Bible story or Bible character. Each story comes with a beautifully written “letter from God” which is actually Scripture that has been paraphrased and put together in a letter form. Each page is beautifully illustrated and endearing.

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Teaching our children about the Lord is not as hard as it sounds. If you commit to ten minutes a day, 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for the next 10 years, you will have put 520 hours of Biblical truth into your children, and they can turn this world upside down! (Acts 17:6)

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Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girls Heart: Review and Giveaway

There has been a lot of talk in the news about women lately.

Women’s rights.

Women’s equality.

It can all get very confusing to our little girls- the ones who still see life through rose colored glasses… actually pink glasses… with glitter and sparkles.

Which is why Glenys Nellist’s latest book, Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart, is such an important book for our little girls to read.

love-letters-from-god-for-girlsBy choosing 14 different girls (women) in the Bible, Glenys has chosen to teach girls not only how valuable they are, but how strong God has created them. She not only highlights their contributions, but she reminds them of how much the God of the universe loves and treasures them. And she reminds them that although He has made them strong enough to tackle the tasks set before them, He has not abandoned them to go forward in their own strength to accomplish their mission.

As a mom bringing up a girl in today’s world, these are all messages I want my daughter to hear and carry in her heart. I want her to know that she is not only beautiful, but she has a God given strength to do whatever He asks of her. I want her to know that she has been given a life with a purpose, and she has a God who will walk beside her as she walks through her life.

Glenys’s book not only shares that with our daughters, but leads the way to so many wonderful conversations about purpose, value, worth, and courage. Good conversations. Important conversations.

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I asked my daughter to share some of her thoughts with me about Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. Her answers touched me more than I expected them to. My interjections are italicized.

What do you like about the way the book looks?

I like the colors, the flowers with the girls’ names on them, and the butterflies. (Once again, Rachel Clowes did an amazing job with the illustrations!) It looks really girly. I really liked Esther’s dress. I like how the letters from God are not the same shape or color. They are different from each other. (Some are horizontal and some are vertical.)

What is your favorite part about the book?

The Letters, because God is talking to me in the letters. (Glenys uses verses paraphrased to share God’s heart from His Word with the girls.)

I like the stories also. Some stories I never heard before and some stories I have.

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If you could be like any of these girls, who would you want to be like?

That is a tough question. All of them! Miriam took care of her little brother. Rahab saved two spies of Israel. Esther stood up for the Jewish people. Mary had (gave birth to) the best King in the world. The servant girl who told Namaan about Elisha and how he could be saved from his leprosy. The widow who gave Jesus all that she had.

Why?

Because they all have special things (qualities), and God used them and their lives to teach a lesson.

Addie lit up when we reached the end of the book and there was a place for her to write her own letter back to God. I asked her what she would write in her letter.

Dear God, I love you. Thank you for the awesome girls in the Bible because they did great things. Please help me to be just like them. And help me to make better choices. Amen.

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Sometimes hearing the author share about the importance of their work helps us understand the heart of their writing a little bit more. In this video, Glenys shares a little bit of the background of Love Letter from God: Stories for a Girl’s Heart. (I absolutely could sit and listen to her all day!)

Because Glenys has such huge heart and a love for children, she and Zonderkidz are giving away a free book to one of our readers! We at Purposeful Moms are so excited to share this giveaway with you. We hope you will take this opportunity to enter below to win this beautiful book for a special little girl in your life and then share this giveaway with others you know who may have a little girl who could benefit from this book.

***Please note: Zondervan cannot ship to P.O. Boxes or internationally. All entrants must be U.S. residents with a physical address.***

Love Letter from God: Stories for a Girl’s Heart has definitely found it’s way into our hearts.

Update: Thank you to all who entered the giveaway! Congratulations to Elizabeth B!

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