A Behind-the-Scenes-Look at Bible Studies for Life

Meet some of the people behind the Bible Studies for Life Curriculum in this new video from LifeWay Kids! (Spoiler: they use it to teach Sunday School, too!)

Weekend Links

I hope you had a lovely and restful weekend! Enjoy this last week in July, and as always, let us know if you come across a link you love.

Where to Find the Best Deals on School Supplies

If you’re anything like me, school supply shopping can get pretty frustrating … not to mention expensive! I can’t even imagine how it will be next year when I have two kids in public school. Whether you’re shopping for homeschool, public, private, or just looking for some art supplies, here are sites that will help you catch a great deal during this time of the year.

 

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Passion for Savings has deals sorted by store for the office supply stores, big box stores, and pharmacies. The author also has a price list to help you aim for the lowest prices possible!

While Southern Savers doesn’t have a back-to-school section, you can search by item, see store details, and also get coupon match-ups, which I find helpful! You can automatically make a shopping list with these match-ups as well.

We Are Teachers is giving a top-10 list of school supplies for teachers each week, but these also apply to parents. If you are a teacher, they share how to save more, too, with educator programs.

Don’t forget to consider stores you might not think of for school supplies: Dollar Tree or other dollar stores, Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, and even thrift stores. Also many stores also have apps now, allowing you to save extra percentages or check prices, like Target’s Cartwheel app.

Enjoy your school shopping!

An Anchor in the Storm: One Mom’s NICU Journey

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In 2010, Kayla Aimee found herself pregnant after infertility and miscarriages. She was thrilled. But her pregnancy only began a rocky sail as Kayla delivered her daughter, Scarlette, at 25 weeks gestation and spent six months with her in the NICU.

If you’ve ever read Kayla’s blog, you know she finds humor almost by accident in every situation, especially now that Scarlette is 4 and adds quite the commentary. But alongside this humor, Kayla found deep faith, a faith she’d never really had to test before. She writes about it in Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected.

Check out this Q&A with Kayla.

How did you keep it together when you felt like your world was falling apart?

I didn’t. Absolutely I fell apart with it. I think it surprises people to hear that because on the outside I looked like I had it together, I was stoic and did the hard things in order to keep myself together when I was at the hospital. Away from that space was different, full of fear and sorrow. But it was in allowing myself to fall apart that I discovered the truth in the Scripture that says that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I learned that God’s grace really is sufficient and the only thing that was comforting was knowing that I could just lean into that and let it do what I could not.

How would you say humor and the ability to laugh at yourself have helped you through parenting? In your marriage?

I remember the first time that I laughed after Scarlette’s birth. I was weary from weeping with heartbreak when the nurse brought me nursing pads and they were wrapped in a bag that said DANGER! HAZARDOUS MATERIALS! I laughed so hard that it hurt my stitches and I remember that was the moment when I knew that I wasn’t lost to my grief. Finding the humor in the moments that are hard helps to shift my perspective. It keeps me from being too quick to anger and makes me appreciate the little things more.

Ecclesiastes says that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry and I think that the intersection of the two is a beautiful portrait of our humanity. Plus, it just brings me so much joy to live a life that is full of laughter and so I chase that, I try to seek out the hope and the humor because that just makes everything a little bit brighter.

What is the #1 thing God taught you through Scarlette’s birth experience?

I tend to want to control things or at the very least to know what is coming. Our experience with Scarlette’s birth and NICU stay really revealed to me that I had a tendency to layer my own plans over my prayers. When there was nothing I could do I learned what it meant to genuinely trust God. I think it was this specific time that sharpened my faith, when I was the angriest at the situation and when I least wanted to be faithful was when I found God faithful to me. Not because of a happy ending but because I felt the hope of Him staying steady in the chaos.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

I love the promise of First Corinthians 13:12-13. I love that it acknowledges how life unfolds in a way that we can’t always know what is around the bend but we can find joy in the middle of the unknown in faith and hope and love.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

What is a funny/favorite parenting story that you don’t share in the book?

Oh man, there are so many to choose from, I could write an entire book just on that topic alone! Recently we had a day where I was having to say “No” a lot and my four year old expressed her disappointment that things weren’t going her way, telling me, “I don’t like it when you say no to me, Mommy! That is very bad.” So we had what I thought was a lovely, fruitful discussion about why Mommy sometimes has to say no and why that is a positive thing, because Mommy’s job is to help her.

Later we went to the grocery store and the cashier greeted Scarlette and asked her how her day was. And my daughter responded “Well, not so good, actually. My Mommy has been saying BAD WORDS to me ALL DAY.”

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Would you like to win a copy of Anchored and this beautiful print from Gracelaced? Just use the Rafflecopter widget below.

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Weekend Links

Happy end of the weekend! Hope you have a wonderful week.

Weekend Links

Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!

 

Why Making a Mess Can Help Your Whole Family Learn God’s Word (GIVEAWAY)

Kids are the ultimate doers.

They come home from school with a backback full of papers they’ve colored, figures they’ve drawn, and crafts they’ve made. Before their bags have even had time to make an impression on the couch, they’ve raced to the backyard or to the park with their friends where hours pass as they build castles out of sand, rainforests out of monkey bars, and as-yet-unseen worlds seen only with the eyes of their imagination.

When we grow up, it’s easy to look back at all of this activity and dismiss it as childish play – fun, certainly, but not educational. By middle school, we come to believe that real learning comes from sticking our nose into a book until knowledge mysteriously transfers from the ink-splattered pages into the recesses of our brain. The problem is that this simply isn’t true.

Don’t misunderstand: book-learning is good and necessary for a well-rounded education. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Christians that learning through doing is equally as important for adults as it is for kids. After all, Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations.

Of course, the gospels tell us that Jesus was a stand-out student of the Hebrew Scriptures, and He would frequently quote or paraphrase those Scriptures to His followers in order to reinforce or remind them of what God has said. But just as often, Jesus chose to teach those around Him by doing.

He walked on the water. He broke bread and fish into thousands of pieces. He raised Lazarus from the dead. He cleared the temple. He died and rose again.

Even when Jesus taught with His words, He often used parables, metaphors, and illustrations instead of simple statements of fact. He created mental playgrounds for His followers where they could feel the surroundings and circumstances of the characters. They could feel the outrage of the older, faithful brother when their father welcomed his repentant brother home and celebrated with a feast.

It will always be important to read Scripture. But as Jesus demonstrated by His own teachings, it is equally important for kids and adults alike to do Scripture.

Hands On Bible

That’s what makes the Hands-On Bible so special. The Hands-On Bible uses this same type of experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way.

With hundreds of fun, memorable activities, the Hands-On Bible is packed with activities and experiences that invite kids (and maybe even their parents!) to crawl inside the Scriptures and do God’s Word! There are over 102 Hands-On Bible Experiences, 52 Key Verse Activities, and 16 Bible Bonanza Experiences that serve as jumping off points to learning God’s Word by doing.

Whether you use it for family devotions or for your kids not-so-quiet time, the Hands-On Bible is the only children’s Bible that teaches and reinforces the lessons of the Bible in the same way Jesus taught – by seeing, experiencing, and doing. As James says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says” (James 1:22 NLT).

Want to win a copy of the Hands-On Bible? We have five to give away! Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

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Weekend Links

I hope you had a lovely weekend and are looking forward to a wonderful week leading into the holiday weekend.

Is My Child Ready for Swim Lessons?

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source: Ianus via Flickr Creative Commons

You’ve heard stories of babies thrown in the water who come up swimming at six months. You’ve seen kids in the pool who look way too old to be wearing floaties. So when should a child learn how to swim?

Here are some tips, although of course you know your child best and should take that into mind.

  • Children younger than 3 are probably not able to do a swim lesson with an instructor. (Really, how often does your 2-year-old listen to YOU, nevertheless someone else when he is distracted by splashing?) Hold off on parent-free lessons until age 3. But if you can take a parent-child class, go for it if you toddler is comfortable with it.
  • Find a class that splits by age range so your child will not be mixed in with kids much younger or older.
  • Most experts will say that the motor skills for actual swimming are not developed until age 5 and beyond. Preschoolers will do great in simple getting-used-to-the-water type lessons, but don’t expect your son or daughter to learn how to really swim in a proper fashion before 5. The more comfortable he or she already is with the water, though, the easier lessons will be in the future.
  • Lessons will be progressive, so continue them each summer.
  • Studies show that whether you start swim lessons at 2, 3, or 4, most kids won’t start swimming independently until about 5 1/2.

I would conclude that you can start swim lessons when you’re comfortable with your child being in the water with an instructor – beginning with a parent-child class and moving onto group or individual instruction without parents in the pool. But don’t be discouraged if your preschooler doesn’t learn to swim independently.

(Puddle Jumpers are so wonderful for that age when they WANT to try to swim but can’t, too!)

Do you have any tips or stories about swim lessons?

 

Friday Links

Have a wonderful, blessed weekend!