Let’s Memorize More Scripture.

Recently, I’ve been trying to memorize more Scripture. I know, 31 years old is probably pretty late to that game right? I grew up in the church, and I’ve always known a few verses, but hey, I didn’t do Bible Drill like some other people I know. I’ve never been very good at memorizing anything at all, but I’ve been trying. And guess what? It’s been working. Think you can’t do it? Keep reading.

There are many places in the Bible that suggest we learn His Word, hide it in our hearts (Ps. 119:11), let it dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16), and meditate on it day and night (Josh. 1:8). I don’t know about you, but I can’t meditate on something day and night unless it’s already in my head. I mean, my Bible’s a little too heavy to have in my hand all day.

I actually started memorizing Scripture because I’d read an article by a woman who’d been having trouble sleeping. Her insomnia was awful, and so she took to memorizing Psalms when she couldn’t sleep. She started one at a time, and when she couldn’t sleep, she’d recite the Psalm. At the time that I happened upon the article, I was having some of the same issues. Okay, God. I see You leading me toward this. SO, I began memorizing a Psalm. Which one did I start with? The one I already knew best, obviously. Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want….

You know at least some of this one, I’m sure. So that was my starting place. I began reading it daily, taking it apart, piece by piece. There are many songs about it, which unfortunately (and surprisingly) made it more difficult to learn. The songs don’t usually go word for word, ya know? But I began to meditate on it, day, and mostly at night. I also began to use an app called Verses, suggested to me by one of the pastors at my church. It’s a free, user-friendly app specifically for memorizing more Scripture. (Disclaimer: it comes with the KJV as the default translation, and you have to pay for the other translations. Sorry.) There are several different methods (I like to call them levels.) to go through as you learn a verse or a passage, and there’s even an option to start with one verse, and keep adding to it. It’s an extremely helpful tool, simple to use, and a good place to start if you’re new to memorizing Scripture.

I also took to copying the more difficult verses (read: ones I was stuck on) down in my journal, reciting them out loud, and listening to my Bible app read them aloud to me. If that’s not meditating on it day and night, I don’t know what is. But as I learned it more and more of Psalm 23, I began to say it to myself when I couldn’t sleep. Eventually I took to going through the entire Psalm when I lay awake in the night, and it quieted my buzzing brain to do so. I found it calming, and the more I used it to lull me back to sleep, the more I couldn’t remember even getting to the last verse of the Psalm, because I’d fallen back to sleep.

I’m not saying that memorizing Scripture is so boring that you’ll fall asleep.

What I’m saying is it can change you. Psalm 23 is all about the Lord leading us into stillness with His comforting presence, and providing for our every need. What I needed was sleep, and He was providing it, even as I spoke those words over myself. Isn’t that beautiful?

When He asks us to let His Word dwell in us richly, that’s what He means! His Word is living and active, and it is possible to let it transform us through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). That is GOOD NEWS! We don’t have to conform to the patterns of this world – Praise Jesus! – because He has better things ahead for us than what this world has become.

Things Toddlers Say

Hello and happy Tuesday! I hope y’all had a great Christmas, and are enjoying family, leftovers and new gifts today! Here are a few of our funnies from this past week… I tried to be phone-less pretty often, so I missed a few I’m sure. Enjoy!

EK real talk: I can’t stop drinking lemonade! Sugar is one of my favorite things in the world! But I also like the juicy part of a cucumber.

EK, trying to convince me to let her spend the night at someone’s house: But it’ll be so easier for you and Daddy to only have two kids!

J: I wanna resolution!
Hubby: What’s a resolution?
J: When you say something really funny, and then just fall down on the bed!

J: EK, I’m gonna come kiss you because I love you!
EK: *gasp* Germs!

J: You know what I want for my birthday? Something yellow, yellow, with boy colors, yellow, a yellow, a yellow…
Me: A yellow what, bud?
J: A watch! Because I don’t have one! And one time, Daddy let me wear his for a moment.

After reuniting with some friends we hadn’t seen in a while, EK: There’s too much missing going on here.

D: I want a banana!
Nana: What animal eats bananas?
D: …
Nana: Monkeys! What does a monkey say?
D: OO-AH-OO-AH-AAAAAH!!!

EK meeting new friends: They probably want to play with me because of my half braid.

Hope you and yours had a merry Christmas!!

God Loves Celebrations

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

I’ve been privileged to take part in a great many celebrations. From weddings and anniversaries, baptisms and birthday parties, to dedications of babies and even memorial services, I have been a part of countless celebrations. Honoring relationships, accomplishments, and simply life itself, it is a beautiful thing to celebrate our blessings, the people we love, and just being together. I believe that God gave us the gift of celebration on purpose, that He is pleased when we join together in fellowship and celebration. It is part of the life abundant that He came to give us!

Perhaps the piece of scripture that’s most obviously a celebration is Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. We know the whole story well, but here’s the best part: “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. Bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:22-24)

We aren’t always celebrating the return of a beloved person back into our lives, and we aren’t always killing fatted calves to do so. But if this parable, a picture of God’s love for His wandering children, is full of uninhibited celebration and holding nothing back from the son who was lost and then found, then it is fitting we should celebrate, pull out the stops, and show our love by sharing joy in this way!

Along with the countless other feasts, convocation days, and dedications mentioned throughout Scripture, the most incredible example of God-honoring celebration is found, as you might expect, at the birth of Jesus. There were no invitations sent, or caterers booked. There wasn’t a cake or 10-piece band. There was, however, a gorgeous star put up in the sky for just such an occasion, as well as a singing multitude of the heavenly host, and the proudest parents there have ever been.

This picture of the first-ever Jesus-worshipers is still my favorite image. Surprised, unkempt shepherds, used to hanging out in the fields with their sheep. New parents, knowing they had just experienced something special, but not really knowing the full extent. Angels (Full stop. Can you imagine angels at your next baby dedication?) coming out in hordes to announce the birth of Jesus, singing the first songs of praise, and filling the skies with the glory of the Lord. If that doesn’t seem like a picture of a father celebrating his son, you might need to look again. Jesus had been sent by a Father who was celebrating not only him, but the rest of His sons and daughters who would be saved by this Son of Righteousness. A truly happy Father, who was seeing His redemptive plan begin.

Things Toddlers Say

Happy 6 days till Christmas! We’re excited at our house – how about you? Have a wonderful, restful, joyful week and enjoy our funnies!

J: Look what I made!
EK: That looks terrible.
Me: *side eye*
EK: I mean that looks great! I forgot what I was gonna say.

EK, singing: I wanna be a pretty butterfly, yeah! I wanna be another pretty butterfly!

EK: A friend in my class already has a phone! She’s six! And only in kindergarten! She even knows how to use it!

EK when I woke her up in the morning: Can I just have a few minutes to wake up? Like Dad?

J and EK drinking hot chocolate…
EK: Let’s pretend this is coffee!
J: How’s your coffee, Whit? (He’s pretending he is hubby and EK is me.)

EK being very silly and flouncing in a tutu (knee-deep in a Nutcracker obsession): Look at my girlgeous (as in “gorgeous”) butt!

D is convinced that this pink bear is a pig:

Hubby getting called out…
J: That light was red but you didn’t stop.
Hubby: Back seat drivers.

What are you funnies? I want to hear the hilarious things YOUR kids say!

5 Great Podcasts for Women

This post also appeared on Everyday Exiles and The Grit and Grace Project.

I have a confession to make. I’m a podcast junkie. Or as much as I can be as the mom of three young kids. I don’t have much alone time, ya know? But when I’m cooking, folding laundry, running, or driving without the kids, it’s what I’m doing: catching up on my podcasts. Here are my five favorite faith-based podcasts as a woman:

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs. This is my absolute favorite podcast. As Annie says, she likes to have her friends become friends with her friends, so she has awesome people on each show as her guest. I laugh out loud, and sometimes I cry, too. But I ALWAYS enjoy that hour of my day! (This one isn’t just for women – guys would like it, too!) It is literally always fun.

The Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman. This is a shorter podcast, meant to be a pause in your day to destress and center your thoughts back to Jesus. It’s such a great break in my day, and Emily’s voice is so soothing! I love how she brings Scripture and Jesus into my thoughts with each quarter-hour show.

The Open Door Sisterhood with Krista Gilbert and Alexandra Kuykendall. This podcast is so great, y’all. Sometimes serious, sometimes lighthearted, I’m always hanging on to every word spoken. There are lots of different guests on the show, and sometimes it’s just Krista and Alex. Sometimes there’s a topic, and sometimes it feels like coffee with friends. They usually end the show with a serious question, and some practical life tips.

Shauna Niequist. This gal has a special place in my heart. She’s a great speaker and writer, and frequently gets straight to the heart of the matter right off the bat. I have long loved her writing, and now I love getting to know her in this new way!

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Jamie has a different girlfriend on her show for each episode, and they talk about practical life stuff, and being Jesus in their world. She has some great guests, and I enjoy hearing her adoption and blended family stories, too!

AND if you’re also a mom, here’s a bonus! I’ve discovered a podcast that my kids love… it’s a show called But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, and it’s put on through Vermont Public Radio. They always take a question from a kid who sent it in, and have a scientist on the show to answer it. Our favorite episodes have been “Where does coffee come from?” and “How do butterflies fly?”

Currently: Christmas Time!

Y’ALL. I started this post in plenty of time to get it ready for posting last Wednesday, but then I FORGOT. SO! Here’s my Currently post for December, a little later than it should be. Oops.

December is here! Advent is here! And I am literally the happiest person. It’s my favorite time of year. Everything is extra beautiful, covered in greenery and frost, anticipation runs through our veins, and gift-giving abounds. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. So, since it’s the first Wednesday of the month, I’m linking up with Anne in Residence and Catherine of A Short Blonde for December’s Currently party.

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Lighting || both of our Christmas trees, and our front porch columns! If I had my way, I’d probably cover everything in lights because I love them so much. But Hubby thankfully anchors me down a little bit. Here are our trees and front porch!

Spending || a little less than usual on Christmas presents, I think. I’ve just slowed down a little on how much I’m doing. I know my kids will get plenty from their grandparents, too, and Hubby and I aren’t getting anything else for each other because we just splurged on a Vitamix and a couple of pieces of furniture. I don’t want Christmas to feel “small” for anyone, presents-wise, but I doubt that will be a problem!

Choosing || which of our family photos we’re turning into canvases for our own home, and which we’re giving to our parents! (Did I just ruin their surprise?) It’s the biggest decision to choose a favorite photo from our recent session with Urban Bloom Photography when they were ALL.SO.GOOD. Here’s a little preview…

Sending || Christmas cards! I just finished addressing them and put them in the mail yesterday! It’s one of my favorite things to do at Christmas, and I absolutely LOVE getting them in the mail! I ordered a few less than last year because I always have ten or so left over and now I’m afraid I’m going to have to order a few more! YIKES.

Singing || ALL of the Christmas music. I love Christmas music, specifically Christmas hymns and songs about Jesus (because I’m a worship leader, duh) and also just regular songs about snow and Santa and the whole deal. This year, EK is remembering lyrics and learning Christmas songs at school so it’s extra fun to sing with her!

Leave a comment and tell me what you’re up to Currently!

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! We’ve been busy bees marrying off my brother, and so I don’t have as much to report as usual. But it’s been a nice time off! Enjoy what I did write down!

Talking about Jesus coming to earth…
EK: Well he had to cross outer space from heaven.

When I woke her up one morning, EK: What is happening?!

D’s new favorite animal: falingo (flamingo)

D, pointing at every item in the house: Sing a song o’ dis! Sing a song o’ dat!

J, about my brother’s wedding: I just didn’t know that weddings were so beautiful!

EK standing at the Nantahala River: Smell that ocean breeze!

J went to bed in his clothes, straight from the car, when we got into town last night. This morning he woke up and said: Did you know that last night I went to bed in my clothes?! Not even pajamas, but just clothes! It’s gonna make my bed a dirty bed! But I do like this shirt.

What have your kids been saying recently? Any Christmas funnies?!