Monthly Archives: July 2014

Prayer Box and Bible Time

Our children picking names from our Prayer Box.

Our family has evening and morning Bible (devotional) times together almost every day. During the school year, I lead our kids in a Bible time during breakfast. We read a passage of scripture, work on a memory verse and often a hymn, and then pray for our day. During the summer we aren’t so consistent and we feel this lack of consistency.  By the end of the summer (like right now as I write this) we are ready for those regular morning times together again.

Throughout the whole year, almost every night, Eric leads us in family Bible times together. Eric reads a story from a children’s Bible and then asks our children questions about what he just read. Then we open our Prayer Box and pray together as a family. After our time of prayer, we all praise the Lord together at the same time. We will speak out praises like “You are the kind God.” “Lord you are strong.” “You are wise. You are loving. You are fun.” We end our spontaneous praise by singing the songs “Praise the name of Jesus” and “Jesus loves Me”.  Sometimes we may sing another song.  We end our Bible time with listening to the Lord. We all get quiet and ask the Lord what He wants to speak to us. Our little ones usually get an instant word or picture from God while it takes the rest of us longer. We often have to make Tirzah and Judah wait to tell us what they heard from God so the rest of us get a chance to listen. When we travel, we add high point/low point to this mix. Everyone shares the high and low point of their day. Then it’s time for bed for the littles.

Why do we do this? We want to put God first in our home. When we daily spend time in God’s word, pray, and worship together, we grow closer to Jesus and to each other. There is more peace in our home and we feel connected.  Deuteronomy 11:19 tells parents to teach children the Word of God at home, on the road, and when you get up and when you go to bed.  Our children, oldest to youngest, do not like it when we miss a night of family Bible time together. If it’s a super busy week, we will even do Bible time in the van, sharing verses and doing “imaginary” prayer box.

What is Prayer Box? Our Prayer Box is a box filled with names of family members, friends, missionaries, pastors, and random people God puts on our hearts. Every night, each family member draws a name out of the prayer box and that person prays for the person or family name written on their piece of paper. We all love prayer box! Prayer box is FUN!!! We get to see how the Holy Spirit orchestrates who we all pray for. It’s no coincidence when we draw names of people from the same family, or we draw the same person’s name night after night, or when one of of us draws my name after a really exhausting day and I need prayer. Prayer is not boring and prayer box teaches our children the value and fun of prayer. I got the idea for our prayer box years ago when Josiah and Emmy were little. I cannot remember exactly where, but I think it was from an Above Rubies book or article I read. We been having family devotional times since Josiah(13) was a baby and using the prayer box since he and Emmy (11) were very young.

Here is what your need for your prayer box:
A small box with a lid (can be a shoe box, or a pretty wooden box, or plastic container)
Small pieces of paper (we use colored 3 by 5 cards cut in half then folded)
A pen

Write down names of family, friends, and anyone God puts on your heart onto those papers and then put them in the box. Each person in your family can pull out a name and pray for the person they drew when you have your family Bible time.

Over the years I’ve had some women ask me how they can help their husbands be the spiritual leaders of their home. Family Bible times are a great way to do this. I encourage wives to pick out a simple children’s bible story book and/or a simple devotional book.  Ask your husband if he would be willing to read one of these stories to you and your children each morning or night or whenever works best for your husband (if your husbands schedule makes this difficult, even once a week is better than never!). If he says yes, wonderful, if not, pray for him and start doing this with your children yourself. If your husband does decide to lead in this way, don’t criticize his reading or add a whole bunch to what he reads or does. Let him lead! Simplicity is great and sufficient. Prayer Box takes the pressure off of him to pray “perfect” prayers. Have fun as you spend time with God as a family.  Our kids often get seriously goofy during Bible time. For the most part we let them, laughter is good, and we’re not trying to be religious. We are putting Christ first and prioritizing our family.

If you have teenagers who grumble when you start this, don’t let them stop you, and don’t be offended by their grumbling. They need family Bible time and will thank you eventually!

Statistics show that couples who pray together stay together and I believe the same is true for families who pray together.

So…..start having Bible times together as a family and make your own Prayer Box!   See what God will do!

 

Who’s Your Daddy?

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My daddy is Kerwin Glenn Stover.   He is a good man.  He is a kind and hardworking man.   Growing up I heard him tell me that he loved me every day.  He sang “Jesus name above all names” to me every night.  He played with me, cuddled me, and took care of me.  I have memories of laying my head on his chest while sitting next to him on the couch.  I would listen to his heartbeat and think how blessed I was to have him as my dad.   For many years of my childhood I actually thought that my dad might be Jesus.  I laugh to think of this now, but it’s true.  As a young girl I never saw him lose his temper, never saw him sin.  My dad was the visible image of Jesus to me and so, I thought, maybe he was Jesus, come down to earth again as my father.

As I entered adolescent years, I came to the realization that my dad had sin like everyone else. He wasn’t perfect.  He wasn’t Jesus.   This realization actually brought a lot of hurt with it.  My super hero, Jesus, father, wasn’t as super heroish as I thought any more, but, he was and he still is a good daddy.  I am thankful!

Who is your daddy?  As I ask this question, I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes because I know that some of you have a daddy who hurt you, abused you, lied to you, or withheld affection from you.   You may not even know who your dad is.

How do we have an intimate relationship with Jesus if we don’t trust the Father, or we don’t fully know His love for us?   How do we get to the secret place and hear the Holy Spirit’s voice if we are afraid of what the Father is going to say?  We all have an earthly daddy.   Some of us have good daddies, some of us not.  We ALL have imperfect fathers. And we ALL are asked to forgive our fathers for whatever they did or didn’t do.

When we receive Jesus, we also we receive His Father.   God, King of the Universe becomes OUR dad.   HUGE!   We are now ROYALTY in the kingdom of God.  What does this do to our identity?!  What should it do to our identity?!  Did we have to clean up our lives to be called a child of God?  No.  Jesus’ death gave us this.  Do we have to clean up our mess now in order to be intimate with Jesus?  No.  He wants us to come just as we are.  God is a good dad. He IS a perfect dad.   He is a kind, safe, strong, providing, listening dad.  Our Heavenly Father wants to hold us, comfort us, strengthen us, and send us out to do his will.

Jesus was so trusting of the Father.  Jesus did and said what He saw His Father say and do, even to the point of doing crazy things like spitting on the ground, mixing his spit with mud, and putting it on a blind guy’s eyes.   He let a sinful woman wash his feet with oil and tears, not worrying about his reputation but receiving her love because he was so connected to the Father’s heart.   Jesus often withdrew to a quiet place just so he could get alone with his Father. God wants US to have this kind of relationship with him too.  WE are God’s children and WE are the visible image of Jesus to those around us.  YOUR DADDY IS FATHER GOD!

I encourage you to listen to the song The Anthem (all 10 minutes of it) by Jake Hamilton.  As you do, ask the Father to show you that HE is YOUR good daddy!  Ask him to help you forgive your earthly father if you need to.  Ask him to show you who you are as HIS daughter or son.

You Are Enough!

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The other day as I was driving, I noticed a sign on the side of the road that said, “Note to self, You Are Enough.”  For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with feeling like I am NOT enough.  I’m smart, but not smart enough.  Pretty, but not pretty enough.   A good friend, but not good enough.  Good daughter, good wife,  good dancer, good mom, but not quite good enough.   The list could go on and on.  Ugh…Yuck..this is not ok!  This is not God’s heart or how He views me.  This is not how He wants me to feel.

No particular person or people in my life made me feel this way.  I have personal pain and areas of shame that contributed to my feelings of “Not good enough”  but really, it’s a lie I chose to believe starting at a very young age.   There’s also pride involved….

Two summers ago, I was crying out to God, asking him to deal with this area of my heart and heal me.   The women’s group at our church was doing a devotional book called “Freedom From Performing” by a gal named Becky Harling.  Even though I didn’t attend the group, I felt  led to get the book and do the study on my own.  I can honestly say, that this book brought about huge transformation and freedom in my life!   This book has 12 chapters.  At the end of each chapter there is a short devotional section with room to write down your thoughts and answers to the questions.  My book is filled with notes and reflections.  The Lord used this book to deal with my pride, my shame, and my need to please people.   He also spoke some very sweet things to me and showed me more about who I am,  and who He’s called me to be.

He has crowned me with the beauty of being enough!  I wrote this down at the end of chapter two.  I’m not a perfect (you fill in the blank) and that is ok.   I will not do everything without fault at all times and this is ok.  I can be naked before God without shame.  I am His and He made me.   I am fully known, loved, forgiven, empowered, and pursued by Him.   I still struggle with insecurity,  but now when I’m triggered, I recognize the ugly voice that says “You are Not Enough” and I tell it to go.  “I am crowned with the beauty of being enough.”  I ask my closest friends to pray for me, and we shove that lie out the door!

Being enough doesn’t mean we don’t get healthier, fitter, stronger, grow in our relationships, grow in kindness, etc…  We do grow, we do flourish, but we do it all under grace.  We get healthier, fitter, stronger, kinder, under the umbrella of God’s love, His acceptance, and His forgiveness.  We are not striving to please people.  We don’t say yes to people or things that beg for our time because we don’t want to disappoint.  We do what we do because of our relationship with Jesus and our intimacy with Him.  He shows us how to live!  Second Peter 1:3 says, “For as you know him better, he will give you, through his great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us!” 

You are enough.  You are enough for God.  You are enough for your husband, your children, your family, your friends, and your ministry.  Whether or not you hear this from others, this is the truth.   You are not perfect and that is ok.  Only Jesus is perfect.   You have what it takes to be the wife and mommy God calls you to be.  You are God’s child and He will equip you as you put Him first.

You don’t have to compare your body to other women’s bodies.  You don’t have to compare your boobs, your butt, your face,  your hair or whatever.   You have permission from the Father to stop comparing yourself.   You can and should take care of your body, but let those comparisons go.   I have stretch marks on my belly.  I’m not crazy about these marks, but I am learning to love them because they are the result of 6 pregnancies and 6 gifts from God.   You have permission from the Father to rejoice in the unique features of your body that make you, you.  You are uniquely beautiful.  How about we as women and daughters of the King be free to rejoice in our beauty acknowledging we are created by God and in the image of God!

You don’t have to compare your talents to others.   I have extremely talented sisters.   My sister Kaitlyn is a worship pastor with an incredible voice and leadership qualities.  My sister Hannah is skilled in leaps and turns that I’ve never been able to do.  She’s an encourager and very prophetic.  My sister in law Carrie is a nurse and does things I could never even imagine being able to do.  I rejoice over their talents, and I thank God for my own.  We are all different and we all have talents.   Find out what God has gifted you in and use that gift!

You don’t have to compare your house, your car, or other “things” to what your friends have.   Be hospitable with what you have.  Be content and faithful with what you have.  Love with what you have.  I read about a lady who was so hospitable she had people in her home all of the time.  She started out in a small apartment, then God provided a bigger home again and again as they were hospitable and acknowledged that all they had belonged to the Lord.

You are enough!  Jesus loves you just as you are, and He will help you be all that He has called you to be.

If you struggle with insecurity, shame, or feelings of not being enough, I encourage you to read Freedom From Performing: Grace In An Applause-Driven World.

I also encourage you to watch Who You Are – A Message to Women

YOU ARE ENOUGH!  

Baby Wearing

Wearing Ruthie in my silk wrap.

I love baby wearing!  My friends and family will attest to this. Not only have I been baby wearing for almost 14 years, I’ve given multiple carriers away as gifts and encouraged mommies to wear their babies.  Baby wearing is one of my top “Happy Journal” things in all of life.  I’m wearing my 10 month old on my back right now as I write.  I love having my little ones close to me while I grocery shop, cook, clean, teach, choreograph, and play.   I love knowing they are experiencing the world and learning new things from the safety of my arms and close enough to look at my face.  I love savoring the preciousness of that first year of my baby’s life by having her right at my heart.   I love the convenience of breastfeeding that comes with baby wearing.   Women all around the world for thousands of years have been wearing their babies every day. Baby wearing produces easy going, happy babies!

My baby wearing began when our first born, Josiah, was only a few weeks old.   I was 21 years young.   Josiah wanted to be held most of the time, and I wanted to hold him, most of the time.  I made a sling out of a big white sheet.  Since then, and five children later, I’ve used a Snuggli,  Baby Bjorn, Sling E-Zee, Hava Sling, Moby, Ergo, and Sakura Bloom Slings. Just recently I tried a Girasol woven wrap.  There are more carriers out there than I can count and many blogs and websites devoted to baby wearing.  I’m going to briefly give my baby wearing recommendations and then post some of my favorite baby wearing pics.

If I could only keep one baby carrier which one would it be?   The Ergo!  I’ve used my Ergo a ton.  I’ve brought it to Israel twice, Maui, Jamaica, various road trips, and of course I’ve worn it for walks, hikes, shopping trips, while gardening, cooking, cleaning, etc…  My babies and toddlers also love the Ergo.  You can wear little ones up to 45 pounds or as long as you both are comfortable.  I appreciate the convenience of wearing my little ones on my front, on my back, or on my hip.  It’s easy to get them in and out of.  It’s super comfortable, durable, easy to clean, and doesn’t take up much space.  There’s a zippered pocket for keys, diapers, and it a little bag of wipes.  It also has a little sunshade that can be pulled up and snapped over baby’s head.  There you go.  The Ergo!

Oh how I love the ring sling.   My first ring sling was the Sling E-Zee .  It’s a padded ring sling that comes in a bunch of colors and patters.  I found it to be extremely comfortable and our Isabelle spent many happy hours in that sling. I wore that sling out.  I now have two Sakura Bloom ring slings, one linen sling and one silk sling.  Though I’d have to choose the Ergo if I could only have one carrier, my Sakura Bloom slings get used everyday, multiple times a day. These slings are so comfortable and beautiful.  I recently wore RuthAnne for hours in my linen sling while leading a dance camp in Lake Providence, Louisiana.  I enjoy looking at beautiful pictures of mothers and their babies in Sakura Bloom slings.  I follow several Sakura Bloom Sling Diarists who document their mothering and baby wearing experience on Instagram.   The linen sling is breathable, soft, and great for all climates including heat and humidity.  The silk is grippy, lightweight, and so beautiful.   I love the convenience of a ring sling.  You can slip it on and off in seconds and it folds up easily into your diaper bag or purse.  The ring sling is also convenient for breastfeeding, I often use the tail of my sling as a nursing cover-up.

Then there’s the wrap.  I had a Moby, but it was too hot and bulky for me.  Recently, I tried a Girasol Woven Wrap.  I find this woven wrap to be much more comfortable than the Moby. Woven wraps can be worn in many different ways. There are multiple YouTube videos dedicated to teaching Mamas wrapping technique.  I enjoyed wearing my toddler on my back.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll continue to use the woven wrap.  While it’s fun to try out different carries, I’m not sure I want to spend the time it takes to learn all the carries or to get wrapped up when I go out in public.

For a whole lot more info on baby wearing check out the thebabywearer.com .  Pretty much every question you can think of regarding baby wearing or baby wearing products is located there.

I also recommend reading Dr. Sear’s articles on baby wearing.

So now, here are those pics I promised you.

With baby Isabelle in my first sling.  The Sling E-Zee.

With baby Isabelle in my first sling. The Sling E-Zee.

Judah and I by the Eiffel Tower.

Judah and I by the Eiffel Tower.

Wearing Judah in India.

In the mountains of Rayacotta, India.

Wearing Tirzah in Israel on our first trip there.

Wearing Tirzah on our first trip to Israel.

This pic, just makes me happy. Eric wearing Tirzah as he paints next to our RV parked on the shore of Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico.

Even big kids can be worn.  Judah in Israel.

Even big kids can be worn. Judah in Israel.

With a little Starbucks:).

Sportin my Sakura Bloom Linen in Maple with a little Starbucks:).

Sling back carry as I wash dishes.

Sakura Bloom back carry as I wash dishes.

Front carry in the Girasol woven wrap.

Front carry in the Girasol woven wrap.

Content baby, happy mama.

Content baby, happy mama.

How do you do all that you do?

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How do you do all that you do?  I hear this question a lot.  How do you home school your children, travel with 6 kids, and lead a dance ministry?  My sister tells me I’m super woman, but I know FULL well that I’m no hero.  I do what I do because of Intimacy with Jesus.  When I get face to face with Jesus, when I’m in His Word, (even if only for 5 minutes), I am strengthened to be the wife and mommy and leader and friend He calls me to be.   When I get so close to him that I can hear his gentle voice telling me what He wants me to do and where He wants me to go, then I’m free.  I’m free to say “yes” to him and find the joy that comes from following His voice.

I recently shared one of my fears and insecurities with a friend.  She asked me, “Is more of HIM such a part of you that other thoughts have no room? We both know how our thoughts trail…God is the Author of Peace! Don’t let someone else write the pages of your life!”

I am so thankful that she told me what I needed to hear.  I was not face to face with Jesus.  I was not so close to him that His voice was drowning out lies.  Good conviction entered my heart.  I had felt frazzled, stressed out, needing a break, etc…  But my problem was not my busyness.  It was my lack of drawing near to Jesus in my busyness.

Intimacy with Jesus is the sweetest thing. There is nothing more precious and valuable then having an encounter with Jesus. I don’t want to do this life in my own strength. I don’t function well that way. When I hear Jesus’ voice telling me what to do, where to go, and what matters, then I’m full of peace.

When I’m intimate with Jesus, he shows me how to home school my children.  When I’m intimate with Jesus, he quickly gives me anointed choreography. When I’m intimate with Jesus, he tells me what I need to do to maintain my peace and joy when travelling with our little ones.  When I’m intimate with Jesus he tells me what I need to prioritize in my relationship with my husband.  When I’m intimate with Jesus he tells me what I need to say “no” to and when I need to rest.   When I’m too busy to listen and get face to face with Him, I become stressed out, full of fear, and “works” take the place of relationship.  I lose my joy and I begin to feel like I can’t do all that I do.  And the truth is, I can’t do all that I do.  Without Jesus, I can’t do what I do.  He’s my source, He’s my vision, He’s my help.  

I want my life to be a constant conversation between me and my Savior.  I want to constantly be intimate with Jesus and everything I do to flow out of my intimacy with Him.  I’m not there yet….but I am thankful that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6)

If you know Jesus, I encourage you to seek Him first.  Get face to face with Him, so close that you can hear His voice telling you how much He loves you, what He has for you, what He wants from you, and you’ll be able to do all that He calls you to do.