Teaching and Living Out the Fruit of the Spirit at Home

Teaching and Living Out the Fruit of the Spirit at Home

Elizabeth P

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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Guest post by Kelly Finstrom & craft by Elizabeth Patton

Galatians 5:16-17,22 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with one another, so that you are not to do whatever you want…. But the fruit of the spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL.”

Teaching and Living Out the Fruit of the Spirit at Home

We all as moms experience these traits off and on, generally when our children are behaving at their best. But what happens when they are NOT behaving like we have trained them to do? What happens when WE as moms stop behaving as the Lord has so clearly trained us to? Our flesh all too often stands in the way of the Spirit’s work.

Romans 8:5,6 ” Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is LIFE.”

Walking by the Spirit

When controlled by the Holy Spirit we die to ourselves but are given life!

Bearing fruit is completely unattainable by our own strength or our children’s. It is only through the Spirit’s work inside of us that we will be able to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to our families. It starts with us.

Think about what fruits of the Spirit are or have been taught well in your home. Which fruits are you or your children most struggling with?

The Bible is clear. Walk by the Spirit. Hold fast to God’s Word.

How can we practically do this? Focus on one fruit at a time.

Is kindness a struggle for you or your child? Find specific verses relating to kindness and pray for that fruit to grow over the course of a year or for however long it takes to take root.

You may ask, “What if my child doesn’t have a personal relationship with Christ yet?” Is it possible for these fruits to be developed in their lives? What a relief that God’s control far outweighs our own. He will ultimately work in your child’s heart, but we as parents can train responses to life. Even unbelievers can benefit from the principles in Scripture.

Fruit of the Spirit Craft

You might also try this fun craft to help your kids learn these or incorporate one for a real fruit at breakfast or snack.

Love could be a red apple,

Joy could be a “smiling” banana,

Peace a pineapple,

Gentleness grapes and so on- whatever your kids will eat!

Here is a craft that your family might do to keep these in the forefront of your minds:

Make a construction paper tree- mine is about 18 inches tall but it can be as big or small as you want. You can even just draw a tree on a dry erase board OR your chalkboard OR hang them on a string. Then fold a piece of colored paper in half and make a fruit shaped “card”. This can be lots of different fruit or just one type for the whole tree. We used apples! On the outside I wrote a Fruit of the Spirit and on the inside I found a Bible verse that talked more about that Fruit. I tried to pick shorter verses for my young kids.

For example:

The kids got into it by helping trace the apples and cutting them out. We also ended up with a banana and a watermelon.

We spend time regularly working on pointing out and memorizing these verses as a family which are in a really visible place in our home so they can easily be part of the conversations we have on a daily basis.

Is My Dedication Really to Christ?

Is My Dedication Really to Christ?

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Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Is My Dedication Really to Christ?

In essence this is what my 10 year meant when she asked,

“If you had the choice of being killed by a sword or dying for Jesus, which would you choose?”

Me: “I would choose to die for Jesus.” 

10 year old: “But that would really hurt?”

Me: “Yes, but only for a short time. An eternity in hell would hurt a lot more. Remember what Jesus said,So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33). So even if the sword is very painful, I would rather choose Jesus than claiming he isn’t my Savior.”

10 year old: “Oh, yeah. That makes sense. I would rather die in my sleep or of old age than by a sword, but I’d rather have Jesus too.”

Oh, how I love my kid’s questions! This one has allowed us to unpack so much throughout the past couple of days. It has been amazing. It’s like everything that we have been reading in our Bibles over the years is coming together in and understanding is blossoming!  (Happy Dance, Happy Dance!)

Dedication

This question came while we were reading the Hanukkah story. Hanukkah actually means dedication and celebrates the day when the Temple in Jerusalem was once again dedicated to God after being desecrated by the Greeks.

Dedication.

Jesus celebrated this festival of dedication. He knew what it meant to be dedicated. His dedication to redeem our relationship with God that our sin destroyed led him from Heaven to Earth.

Dedication. 

He spent 30 years preparing, so he could live with a fierce focus that would lead to a physically excruciating end on the cross.

Dedication.

He overcame death and destroyed Satan’s hold on us, so that we could live eternally with God.

God sustained Jesus so he could have that kind of dedication.

We have the same choice to live with this kind of dedication. I know it seems out of our reach and if we were trying to do it by ourselves, I would completely agree that it is impossible. But with God all things are possible. With God, Jesus, and the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome. We are called to overcome, not by our own power, but by God’s might!

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
– Hebrews 12:1b-3

 

Webster defines dedication as:

 

 

The Questions We Must Ask Ourselves

Are we really willing to dedicate ourselves to Christ?

If you are reading this blog, more than likely you at some point in your life decided to follow Jesus. You were overcome by knowing that even if you were the only person that had sinned, Jesus still would have gone to the cross to save you. The truth is we all have sinned and should all be overcome that Jesus dedicated himself to rescuing us from our sin.

Some of us, upon receiving his gift of grace, fall completely into digging into the Bible, learning all we can so that we can follow Christ. While some of us, just talk about how we follow God, but never really understand where he is leading, so we miss following his path, all the while proclaiming that we are on it.

(If you haven’t decided to follow Christ yet, email us, I’d love to chat with you. Honestly, I’d love to chat with you either way!)

So how do we know we are following Christ?

Our dedication to following Christ starts with reading his word. We pick up our Bible and read it. The fact that we have access to God’s word is a miracle in and of itself, but that’s a topic for another post. Don’t waste the miracle sitting in front of you. Take hold of the Bible. Even if it’s confusing now, just read it and pray for wisdom. God will give it to you. Then, prepare your heart.

Dedication Starts with Preparation

We have no idea how to dedicate our lives to God if we don’t prepare ourselves for daily dedication. This daily dedication starts by putting what we read into practice. Yep, it’s difficult. Some days more difficult than others, but it’s something we must do. If we don’t do it, then we are deceiving ourselves into thinking we are following Christ!

Deceiving ourselves?

That’s a bold statement but one James does not shy away from. He wants to make sure that if we say we are followers of Christ, then we actually follow Him.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.

Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
– James 1:22-25

Dedication to Christ is a daily choice.

We get to daily choose to:

  • Recognize that Jesus has all Authority on Earth and is our Lord and Savior
  • Recognize that Jesus also has authority over all the details of our lives
  • Trust that He has gifted his followers with the Holy Spirit
  • Believe that his Holy Spirit will be our Counselor and guide us to fuller understanding
  • Lean into His strength and wisdom through prayer
  • Plunge ourselves into His Word like a thirsty soul longing for a sustaining drink
  • Dig into the Bible to find answers to how we should live our lives
  • Live for Jesus no matter what the cost

Another Question that Lead to a Better Answer

Later that day, my daughter had another question in regards to whether or not I would allow her to do something.

Instead of just saying “yes” or “no” and explaining my reasoning, I chose a different option this time. One that takes more time, but will serve her much better in the long run. I asked her,

“What does the Bible says about it? Do you believe Jesus would want you to do it?”

She didn’t know any verses right off that would tell her “yes” or “no,” so the next day we pulled out the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, our Bibles, and read through many passages to which her question pertained. There are many more she can still read to solidify what God’s will is in regards to her question.

The answer she started to find  in the Bible did not line up with what she wanted to do, so now she has a choice and she gets to choose. Will she continue to dedicate her life to Jesus or will she dedicate it to something else?

Taking a break from playing spin the dreidel to dig into the Bible!

As a parent, I pray that I will take advantage of these opportunities to continue guiding her and our other children in the right direction, helping them sort the truth from the lies, and showing them that even when we fail spiritually, Jesus’ grace is sufficient for us.

As followers of Christ, I realize we each get to decide every day if we will continue in dedication to Christ or if we will choose dedication to self. Just so we don’t get complacent, we should ask ourselves often,

“Is my dedication really to Christ?”

 

The Sparkle Box: A Christmas Tradition

The Sparkle Box: A Christmas Tradition

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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Last year I wrote about a tradition I grew up with called, the silver box. The idea behind it is that with our friends and family we exchanged words of kindness. Our words were like a gift, wrapped up in a silver box with a silver bow, edifying and encouraging. Our sweet tradition came from the book Silver Boxes by Florence Littauer. You can read more about this idea here: The Tradition of the Silver Box 

The Sparkle Box: A Christmas Tradition

Last year for Christmas my mom gifted our family with a precious book, The Sparkle Box as a way to continue the tradition with my husband and daughters. It was written by Jill Hardie and the beautiful illustrations are by Christine Kornacki.

In The Sparkle Box we meet Sam, a young boy who learns about the needs of others during the Christmas season. As his family helps others, they write these moments down and place them in a sparkle box. On Christmas morning Sam opens the box with his parents and they talk about their gifts in honor of Jesus’ birthday.

Tucked behind the pages of the story is a sparkle box that you can put together and use with your family.

We have assembled our little sparkle box and have it placed in our living room. We are already excited as we talk about our gifts for Jesus. Sponsoring gifts for a child through our church, bringing a hot meal to a busy family, cards for someone who could use some cheer, quarters in the red bucket outside of Hobby Lobby, donations to a local thrift shop where those in need can shop for free. These are just some of the ideas we’ve thought about for our family to do. I am also excited to blend this new tradition with our silver box tradition by acknowledging that our words of love and encouragement are also because of love for Christ.

The scriptures that inspired this story are:

“You are the light of the world- like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.”- Matthew 5:14

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”- Matthew 25:40

It is such a blessing to discover opportunities to honor Jesus throughout the holiday season. I’m so glad that our family will be using the sparkle box as a way to focus these festive weeks on the sort of love and kindness Jesus wanted us to show others.

To learn more about this fun tradition visit TheSparkleBox.com and read the book for free online through December 31, 2018! The website also has gift ideas and activities. This sweet story can also be purchased on The Sparkle Box

I’m going to close this post with the opening note from the book:

“Dear reader, you are the light of the world. Make it sparkle.”

Enough: Seeing Past the Guilt

Enough: Seeing Past the Guilt

Elizabeth P

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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You are Enough for God

This is a topic that is hashed out regularly on blogs and sermons alike. I do not know that I have anything further to add to the conversation, but my hope is that someone reads this and knows that without a doubt – they are enough.

The Earthly Battle We All Face

Whether or not you are a believer in Christ, we are plagued by the human condition. An irony that while we are made in the image of God and created so intentionally, we also fail so deeply on a regular basis in all sorts of ways. Paul says,

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
– Romans 7:15.

Sometimes Christians say we are “living in the flesh” if we are struggling with an aspect of our lives that does not jive with what Christ has asked of us. That often leads to conviction and then sanctification. I want to be clear here that the guilt I am referring to with this post is not the conviction that comes with God’s molding of our souls, but I’m referring to the guilt that is brought upon by lies from the enemy that creep into our thoughts. Earthly guilt is a spiritual battle we all face.

I want to tell you now, no matter who you are or where you are at in life that you are enough for God. He loves you.  God may ask hard things of us, but His love never fails. Think about that again. His. Love. Never. Fails.

Overcoming Crippling Guilt

Speaking as a mom, (because, well, that’s something I understand right now LOL ) we often get bogged down in the daily failures. The things we miss, the shoes we forgot to send for gym class, the mountain of laundry and chores that have not been finished, the discipline that didn’t happen because you were tired or the anger you had when you finally lost your temper… (that’s a whole other post). I know that the guilt that cripples me is the guilt that comes from me seeking my worth in things of this world, or other humans -even tiny ones.  You can’t find satisfaction from your failures or the admiration you seek from your kids, other moms, even your husband or your parents.

These things we often feel guilty from do not hinge on eternity. I’m not dismissing the feelings, but I want other women out there to have an eternal perspective on their days. Fellow moms- you are the mom he gave to your kids, you are one he placed in their lives.

Colossians 3-2-5 says: Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

What can you do each day to set your mind on the things above?

I’m not trying to add more guilt here, but I am wanting us all to look at our days with a little more eternal perspective.
  • What things are we consumed with that are not Godly and are causing us guilt from comparison?
  • Are we elevating the importance of something worldly and allowing it to overwhelm our day in a way that takes away from the good things?
  • Are we seeking contentment in God or what the someone thinks because your youngest’s hair didn’t get brushed that well?
  • Are we striving for the wrong kind of perfection? If so, that should not be our source of satisfaction or our achievement.

I want to leave you with 2 verses to combat any feelings of inadequacy in your day or in your life:

Hebrews 13:21 says,
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 says,
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 
Do not get bogged down in the guilt of comparison or from earthly standards. You are Enough.  God has created You for the time and place you exist in this world. Cling to the Truth and to the knowledge of Christ and His word.
Black Friday: Life Changes

Black Friday: Life Changes

Toni D

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Black Friday: Life Changes

For those that have been following my family’s Black Friday antics, Black Friday 2017 was quite different. 

Thanksgiving Day just felt different.  (Little did we know at that time that our lives would change so much during the next year, but that is for another post.)  The morning started just a little bit off.  It was nothing that we could pinpoint; it just did not seem normal.

We started our trek to my brother-in-law’s, two and a half hours away.  We had to stop a couple of times for very odd reasons.  We had a nice dinner and started making preparations for our night of shopping.  We even made new shirts for this year.  They were blingy and so cute!

Something Different is in the Air

We headed out with our lists to pick up my sister-in-law’s granddaughter who was not feeling well.  It was our regular crew:  sister-in-law, niece and her husband, the aforementioned granddaughter, my son, and me.  Our niece’s husband is in charge of finding our “theme song”.  He had been very busy at work that week and had not had a chance to find us a song.  The song usually sets the tone for the silliness of the night.  This was definitely a missing component of the night.

We did, of course, have our usual silliness of shopping in a sleep deprived state.  I get very silly when I need sleep.  We did repeat old bad jokes and I would just start laughing like a crazy person.  My laughing would cause others in the group to laugh.  Yes, they laugh AT me and NOT WITH me!  I have come to accept this as my lot in life in this family.

Don’t get me wrong, we did have a successful and fun Black Friday, but I think we all knew that it was a sign of the changes that would be coming our way. The mood was different and things just were not the same.  Our family is growing and so there will be changes, but that will be another post.  We will continue our Black Friday tradition for as long as we can.

Read the hilarious antics that have been a part of the past Black Friday Traditions:

Black Friday It's TraditionBlack Friday Making Memories Black Friday Tradition Continues

All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

Christmas and Thanksgiving mark the beginning of a holiday season supposedly centered on selflessness, contentment, and service.

However, this season often does not “feel” particularly happy or religious. In fact, with Black Friday hordes, Christmas to do lists, and advertisements of perfectly primped and styled families, it all feels very pressured, backwards, and stressful. I know that’s not how I want to feel. Nor is it how I want to act. So this year, as I look forward to holidays, I am making my own wishlist with a personal agenda.

What do I want for Christmas?

Time over Gifts

When I look back over the years, I don’t think, “Wow! What a great Christmas–that was when my grandma got me these shoes that were the very latest fad!” I think back on times when my family spent time with me. Basketball games played with cousins, hymns sung as we all crowded into the living room, sharing and passing and laughing at an overcrowded table.

These are those precious moments, those things that you store up in your heart.

It is a blessing to receive and to give gifts. But one gift doesn’t cost anything and means so much–the gift of your time. This year, I want to give that gift to my family.

Less Activity

Sometimes we get the idea that just because an activity is a “good” activity, we should do it. Well, I am only one person. And I’m pregnant and a mom and a wife…the list goes on. I can only do so much. Doing fewer things and doing them well not only helps me to be less hectic (my family will thank me later for not being so snippy and grumpy!). It also helps me to actually be present and enjoy the activities we choose to do. Less truly is more: more patience, more attention, more grace.

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The Strength of Will to Focus on the Godly

There are many wonderful things about Christmas. For instance, there is no other time in the year when even the lost and the worldly are thinking about Jesus! What a great opportunity, not just to share goodwill and gifts, but to share the best gift ever given: the story of the Christ, His cross, and the salvation it brought.

Yet somehow, it is easy to “fudge” our focus. To be distracted by the hubbub, the travel, the rush of the holiday season.

It’s easy to say to myself that I’m still doing good things. That what I am doing still “counts.” Dashing around to six different stores to buy presents, filling gift sacks and stuffing fruit baskets for the elderly, signing and addressing envelopes to loved ones and friends–they can all be good things.

But they may not be the necessary things. In the craziness that is our lives, I think it is especially important that we be a Mary and not a Martha. We need to realize that the “better part” is to pause and take our gaze upward: to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus. It may mean saying “no” to some things or  losing sleep some mornings. It may mean giving up on having the “perfect” house or the “perfect” schedule. But, as we gaze upwards at the cross, at the face of our Father, we will find not only peace for our hearts but wisdom for our actions.

colossians-3-1-3

And we will find that everything is better after looking at Him.

all-i-want-for-christmas-wish-list-pin

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

5 things to do with Kids at Christmas Christmas Grief Christmas is Here Music Christians celebrating Hanukkah

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