The Quiet Bag “How To”

The Quiet Bag “How To”

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

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

A few weeks ago, a post of mine about “The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag” was reposted. It really sparked my thinking.

I have been immensely blessed in my life with several older moms who have shared their wisdom, experience, and humor with me. They have done so with grace, with understanding, and with much love. They help keep me grounded and they help keep me going, even when it seems I will be swallowed by dishes, dirty laundry, and discipline!

I asked several of them the practical “how-to” of putting together a quiet bag for little ones. The following is a compilation of their wisdom and one or two ideas of mine:

The Quiet Bag

  • Do only put quiet items in there. (The noise-making trucks and dolls that cry are mesmerizing to kids, but are like your cell phone ringing–they only ever make noise during the quietest point of worship!)
  • Do switch it out monthly. (Everyone gets bored with the same stuff.)
  • Do store it in a place where your child can’t play with it during the week. (That way, by Sunday, those items are “new” and therefore more exciting.)
  • Do try to wait to open it till the sermon (or perhaps the Lord’s Supper. When my little guy was younger, I would have a special book and fun jewelry for him to look at during the Lord’s Supper and then would open his special quiet bag during the sermon). Don’t waste your bag of tricks until you really need it!
  • If your child has a snack mid-morning, do include a snack in your quiet bag! Just make sure that it is easy to clean up. There WILL be spills. Often on yourself.
  • Try to include things that are church- or God-oriented if you can. (This doesn’t always work, but if you have some Bible board books, it is great to get your little one thinking about Godly things and associating God with worship time!)
  • Do have everything prepared BEFORE Sunday morning. That saves your sanity as well as your time. Somehow, Sunday mornings don’t seem to have as much time in them as other days of the week!
  • Don’t feel bad if your kid doesn’t like what you put in there! He/she is a person too, with their own likes and dislikes. Just switch out the items for something they enjoy more.

Items you could include in your quiet bag

  • Coloring book and crayons
  • Stickers and notepad
  • Fake wallet (It may be unwise to hand them your actual driver’s license and debit card!)
  • Books
  • Soft toys/stuffed animals
  • Lacing cards
  • Mirrors
  • Jewelry
  • Snacks
  • Aquadoodle
  • EtchaSketch
  • Puzzles
  • Items that button, zip, or snap (an old wallet, old Bible cover, etc.)

 

What would you add? God bless you and your littles as you train them to know and worship God!

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag

The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag

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

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

You’re in the middle of worship. The entire church has their heads bowed in fervent, quiet prayer when suddenly your kid erupts like a verbal volcano and discovers that your previously vetted out and carefully chosen toy can be:


  • whacked noisily against the pew in front of you,
  • launched like a Cuban missile onto the other side of the auditorium,or
  • just in general be likened to an explosion of sound and excitement.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt that mixture of panic, frustration, and embarrassment. These things never seem to happen in the middle of a great, noisy, swelling song, only during Communion or a prayer! So what’s the secret to making your quiet bag a success? I’m here with the answers. Maybe…

Grace

Pack in grace for yourself. Grace for your kid. Grace knowing that no matter how hard you try or how well you prepare, you can’t always be perfect or utterly quiet or completely still. And that’s OK.

I’m not saying to let your kid run loose on Sunday morning while throwing him goldfish in the middle of the sermon. But I am saying that it’s OK if neither you or your kid are perfect. Give yourself the grace that you would extend to other moms. And find peace in the fact that God sees your efforts and will reward them.

Patience

I know. This is like a dirty word with Christians. The problem with praying for patience is that you get it, right?

But you’ll need it. You need lots and lots and lots of patience to quiet your kids, to miss yet another chunk of the worship service, to smile instead of strangle.

Patience is knowing that you’re doing this for the end game. Nobody in their right mind says, “Boy, that mother of two toddlers and a baby is coming to church and just filling her spiritual cup to overflowing.”

patience

What she’s doing is showing her kids that even when it’s hard for her, even when it’s not ideal for her, even when she may only get five minutes out of the worship service–it is still the most important thing to do. There is nothing more important than going to worship the Creator of the Universe. To give Him the praise and adoration He deserves. And to teach our kids to do the very same.

A Sense of Humor

This is, perhaps, the key to surviving not just a worship service, but motherhood in general! Laughing at the crazy, the ludicrous, and the full moon coming out in your kid (and perhaps you!) is the best way to relieve your stress.

It’s OK to find it funny when your son has a poopsplosion in the middle of opening prayer. And It’s OK to giggle when he happily shares his now-slimy cheerios with the little widow you chose to sit next to this morning. Finding joy in these moments is perfectly OK!

Without joy, you’ll turn into a little ball of stress–and that’s no fun for anyone.

So this Sunday, good luck! And good mothering!

proverbs-22_6

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“Christmas is Here” — JJ Heller

“Christmas is Here” — JJ Heller

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Christmas is Here!

I love Christmas music! From Thanksgiving to New Year’s it’s the only kind of music I want to hear. This year I got started a little early though, thanks to JJ Heller’s new album, Unto Us. She released her lyric video for “Christmas Is Here” in October and I’ve been blaring it through our house ever since. The song itself is soft and sweet but the message of the song is so powerful.

 

Here are my favorite words:

Join in the chorus, sing to the baby

Sleeping beneath the stars that He made.

Light in the darkness, hope for the hopeless

His love will never fade away .

Heaven came down from earth

To bind our wounds and wash our sins away.

Let us adore him,

Lift up your voices.

Sing it out loud,

Sing it out clear.

Christmas is here. 

Who can resist the urge to praise God for the moment that our maker came to earth to love us in the flesh? Adoring Him. For my family, that is what Christmas is about. The gifts, Santa pictures, lights– those things are all fun–but the heart of it all is celebration for all that Christ’s birth meant. Celebration for his life here on earth.

the-word-became-flesh-and-made-his-dwelling-among-us-we-have-seen-his-glory-the-glory-of-the-one-and-only-son-who-came-from-the-father-full-of-grace-and-truth-john-1_14

 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Music is a great way to adore Jesus this Christmas season! In the car, at work, around the house–Christ-centered music can help our hearts be full of worship all the time!

(This post contains affiliate links.)

My family is loving JJ Heller’s new album, Unto Us and we think you will love it too!

What are your favorite Christmas songs?

 

 

sing-to-the-baby-sleeping-beneath-the-stars-that-he-made

 

Embracing His Love

Embracing His Love

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Last Thanksgiving my husband’s parents generously hosted Thanksgiving at a condo in Branson so that we could enjoy the holiday festivities at Silver Dollar City. It was truly a wonderful idea! We were very excited about taking our then two-year-old daughter to experience such a fun place!

embracing-his-love-pin

It just so happened that Silver Dollar City’s holiday hours were a tad bit inconvenient for our daughter’s nap schedule and so we went in the evening, a time that is usually not her happiest. In addition the crowds were heavy, which meant we couldn’t let her toddle around very much, and it was so, so cold. As you can imagine, she wasn’t very happy. She cried and cried. My husband’s sweet parents soon took her back to the condo where she could play in a more comfortable setting.

Of course, we were not angry with her for causing stress on our delightful plans. We could see her tiredness and frustration. Understanding her limits as a toddler, we had compassion for her. (As a side note, we really had a great trip and thankfully everyone was able to have a fun time. We just had to work around the limitations of our young daughter!)

The Lord’s Compassion

Psalm 103:8-14 says:

“The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens of the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”

psalm-103

Do you ever feel distraught over your mistakes? Perhaps you were given a wonderful opportunity to do something marvelous but ended up making a mess of everything. In these times it can be easy to let fear and embarrassment keep us from approaching our Heavenly Father. We might even back away from our church family. It is so easy to be overcome by our pride and insecurity. How easy it is to forget that God loves us as a father does his children, that he understands our limits and frailties.

I’m reminded of the prodigal son. He begged for his inheritance money and foolishly blew it all on worthless things while living a lazy lifestyle. When he humbly returned home with the plan to work as a servant, his father RAN to him and threw him a large party. His son’s return filled him with joy! Christ explained that God’s enthusiasm is the same when one of his precious children returns to him.

Embracing God’s Love and Presence

Our Father God is rich in love for us. We must be kind to ourselves when we mess up. We should humbly seek him at even our most shameful times. He understands. He will welcome us! When we rest in His love for us, we will be able to move past our mistakes and shortcomings. We can dare to do great things for Him without worry and doubt in our way!

So be encouraged, sweet friend! How freeing it feels to know the pressure to be perfect can dissipate when we truly embrace that we are His child, whom he dearly loves.

I love the music video for Andrew Peterson’s song “Be Kind To Yourself.”.” Two of his children are featured in the video with him, and the affirming words of his unconditional love for them are a gentle reflection of God’s love for us. I hope it will encourage you today if you are struggling with insecurity or past mistakes. God loves you so deeply! Embrace his presence today!

Click HERE to watch “Be Kind to Yourself”.

*A discussion topic found in The Lifegiving Table Experience by Sally Clarkson inspired this post.

 

you-belong-to-me

 

Communion, Children, and Concentration

Communion, Children, and Concentration

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

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

Generally, when one has a kid, there is an understanding that worship will be different. You may not be able to listen to the sermon as well (at all?). You may miss some of the songs (discipline issues? Poopsplosion?). You may only get to hear the first half (or third?) of a prayer.

But, following the wise advice of an older mom, I have found that one area has improved for me. I have been better able to focus during communion.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I have stood and bounced, rocked, nursed, cuddled, and cajoled a fussy baby. We have our days. We have our weeks sometimes. Sickness, stubbornness, and silliness can all be a challenge on occasion.

But stay with me.

Communion might even get better after you have kids. Here is what my friend shared with me.

You might think of the Lord’s Supper as another high pressure point–after all, it should be at least somewhat quiet, just like in the sermon, which of course means that your kid is much more likely to cry, talk, giggle, etc. Toss goldfish, puzzles, and books in their direction until they find something to occupy them, right?

Maybe not.

What my friend did was something a little different. And of course, not every Sunday worked out like this. But the ones that did were amazing.

First, she would hold her two little girls in her lap. In an intimate whisper, she would tell them the best story ever told. She would tell them of Jesus. Of his life, of his great love, of his sacrifice, of his undeserved pain, and of the wonder of his resurrection. She would tell of the Last Supper. Of what the bread and grape juice symbolized.

And she told them how very special this was–and that some day, they too would participate in these special moments focused on the Savior. They too would get to take part in Communion. That they too would be a part of the greatest, blood-bought family there is: the church.

And in telling them that precious story, she herself absolutely focused on the most important subject there ever could be: Christ and his sacrifice. She was focused, not just in bringing herself closer to Christ but teaching her children to do so as well.

Today, her kids are grown. These beautiful, Christ-like women each have talents they use for God. And now, they each participate in the best supper there is–the Lord’s Supper. They give me hope and renewed energy. Their very lives and examples encourage me to keep on doing this tough but rewarding job of motherhood.

an-amazing-way-to-concentrate-connect-with-kids-during-communion

May you be encouraged to do likewise.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2

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