“The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones

I highly recommend this book, too! Paul Ellis is a fantastic hyper-grace teacher! His writings have helped me immensely.

Escape to Reality

Jesus Storybook BibleA question I am often asked is, “What grace resources are available for children?” It seems there are hardly any.

In Sunday School children are much more likely to learn about Christian values or the Ten Commandments than they are the unconditional love of their heavenly Father. This should trouble every parent.

It certainly troubles me.

Yesterday I happened to watch a puppet-show on a Christian TV station that was telling the story of how Adam and Eve fell into sin. The puppets very seriously told us that Adam and Eve disobeyed God, which is true, but isn’t the point of the Genesis story at all. I’m glad my kids weren’t watching but if they were, I would’ve told them, “Adam and Eve didn’t fall because they disobeyed. They disobeyed because they believed a terrible lie.” Their disobedience was a symptom of a far more serious problem.


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My Reduction of Stress and Frustration through Moving to a Simplistic/Minimalist Space/Schedule

Just wanted to share my story in case it would be an encouragement to someone who reads it. I’m just sharing what works for us — I fully realize that it is not for everyone. I used to be a seriously stressed out and frustrated person. 

2 things have helped me immensely. First, my unreasonable obsession with exploring and enjoying God’s love for me through Christ (the fruit of this obsession has been nothing short of miraculous – peace, joy, etc.). 

Second, radically simplifying my life through “minimalism” (which has quite a large spectrum and looks different in each minimalist’s life). For us, it means several things. 

1. We have vastly decluttered our home of things that ended up not be very important to us (still have more to let go of but we have made big strides) which means that it is ridiculously easy to clean up the house which means that we don’t need to spend much time cleaning. YAY!

2. I have vastly decluttered our schedule. We are very intentional about the things that we commit our time to which leaves lots of room for spontaneous living, serving, loving others, etc. 

3. Our homeschool is simple. We unschool which means that the children (for the vast majority of the learning) choose what they want to learn about and I am right there with them either as their guide or just enjoying the sight of delightful learning taking place. For us, unschooling is the right choice and it melds seamlessly into our belief that God has given each person gifts to develop and use for loving Him and loving/serving others. (I have a decidedly un-American mind when it comes to education, meaning that I am not a fan at all of the prevalent American educational theories and practices.) I definitely am in the minority of Americans with my beliefs (even across the board) and I’m okay with that. I want my mind to be an eternal mind — concerned more about the eternal things than getting stressed/frustrated with Earthly things. 

I am living the life that I never even knew was possible and choosing those aforementioned things has helped to bring me here. I give all glory to God for leading me to those things.

PS And it’s not like I don’t have challenges, problems, etc. because I really do but I practice the not worrying that Jesus and Peter taught about casting our cares to the Father.

If you are interested in exploring the amazing depths of our Heavenly Father’s love for us (all people) and how it relates to gentle Christian parenting, please subscribe either via email, your favorite reader or Twitter.

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Gentle Restoration

So, I opened my Bible randomly the other day and this was the first verse I saw. Galatians 6:1 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (NIV) Gently. Not with fear or control. Gently. Not with yelling or hitting. Gently. Restore. NLT uses the phrase “gently and humbly.”

Oh, here is what the Amplified version says: “Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.” Without any sense of superiority and with ALL gentleness. Wow! I love that. Not easy sometimes — especially if I am super frustrated. So, we should not neglect to set our children right but we do it in ALL gentleness. With the words of life – HIS life.

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Growing in the Knowledge and in the Experience of His Love

Before I get into what I want to post today, I’d just like to say humbly that I hope that my posts never come off as “this is what you need to do” or something to that effect. My suggestions or writing what has worked for me or in our family very well might not be the right fit for your family. Regarding advice: I take what resonates with me and respectfully leave the rest. Feel free to do that with any advice that I give.

So, today I just wanted to share some thoughts and Scriptures on love. God’s love. It’s my favorite thing to meditate on. One of these days I am going to look up and type up all of the Scriptures that speak of God’s love for each one of us so that my mind and my spirit are just so saturated with it. I believe that coming into a greater understanding of His love for us each day is what can radically change our relationship with Him and thus be able to live out the 2nd greatest commandment (to love others as we love ourselves). This has been my experience. I used to think that loving other people (aside from my own family and friends) was almost impossible (because all I saw were their flaws). Ah but growing in the knowledge and in the experience of His love, I am able (not perfectly) to look at people and say “God LOVES that person SO MUCH”. He has given me eyes of His mercy and love, filling me with His love and His joy to serve others (beginning with my family — husband and children). As Philippians 2:13 says “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and [b]delight.” (Amplified Bible). I believe that one of the ways that we can experience His life-changing and radical love for us is by meditating on His love for us as revealed by the words and actions of Jesus; so, I encourage you to meditate on His lavish, everlasting and amazing love for YOU. I’ll leave you with this (since my post is already so long): “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19 (New Living Translation)

Okay, one more thought. In Phil 2:13, there is that phrase “His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight”. What do you suppose is His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight? I believe that it is to love and to be loved by you!

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But how will they learn to obey authority?

In response to my post about “demanding instant, cheerful obedience,” a group member expressed her concerns over how our children will learn to obey human authority (like a job boss, police, etc.), when they are older.

Here is my response:

“I place those concerns in the same category as what Jesus referred to in Luke 12:22-34 (I put the passage at the end of this post). It is possible to come to this place of “not worrying” but I have found that this mindset comes by being thoroughly steeped in the consciousness of His radical love for us as beloved children of a Father who, as you alluded to, has supreme authority. I don’t need to be fearful of His authority as His beloved child. No, I rejoice in the fact that He has authority over Satan, the enemy who seeks to devour me (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8). In fact, He has given every believer authority over all power of the enemy (Luke 10:19) and we are to use our authority to build others up (2 Cor. 10:8). But that is another topic that deserves its own space.

So, let me end with the passage from Luke 12 about not worrying: “22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? 
27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?  29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.  32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. 33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:22-34 NLT”

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Demanding Instant, Cheerful Obedience? Really?

Below is from a post of mine in a group that I created for (local to me) Christian parents who parent gently or want to learn more about how to parent gently with Christ as our model of gentle parenting.  I’ve edited it some so that it makes sense to readers.  I pray that it encourages you to run deeper into the Father’s amazing, everlasting, lavish and radical love for you!

“I don’t demand instant, cheerful obedience with our children. I actually cringed when I even hear the words “demand instant, cheerful obedience.” I treat my children as I would want to be treated which means that I ask them to do things and I ask them for their cooperation. We explain that we are a team and we work together; we cooperate with each other as best as we can. My children are not enthusiastic about cleaning the house yet they do help because of what I mentioned. Just yesterday I took all three boys to the dentist. My almost 9 year old was VERY resistant to going (because he has had to have work done on his teeth and found it to be unpleasant). However, he eventually did cooperate with me and did see the dentist without my having to yell at him, spank him, drag him physically, etc. I explained to him extensively about how it was important that the dentist check his teeth and that part of my job as a good mom is to take him to the dentist to make sure that his teeth are healthy so that they won’t rot and fall out. I explained to him that I needed him to cooperate with me and see the dentist. I won’t lie. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if he continued to resist. Oh, I think that I said that daddy would not be happy if he didn’t cooperate. I think that that helped but NOT because my son fears daddy will spank him since we don’t spank. Anyway, I just felt like I needed to persuade him to trust me – that he has trusted me thus far and that he needs to be confident that I want what is best for him.

Theologically, I feel strongly in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” I especially want to focus on the part about not demanding your own way – in fact, God even does not demand His own way. The Old Covenant “didn’t work” because humans FAIL at obeying perfectly. It was Jesus who obeyed perfectly on our behalf so that we can be completely reconciled to the Father. When we choose to abide in Christ, it is HIS obedience that makes us righteous (Romans 3:24; lots more about it in Romans 4 and 5) – “for if keeping the Law could make us right with God then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:21). I refuse to put a burden of obedience on my children when I cannot even obey perfectly. I focus on what I believe that God wants from us – a cooperative, love relationship. I understand that some of you may not 100% agree with me and that is fine. I just wanted to share my thoughts and experience and if anyone is willing to talk about demanding instant, cheerful obedience. Again, I don’t expect us to agree on everything.”

Here is my response to a concern over this post: But how will they learn to obey human authority?

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My story of healing. His love is central! He delights in me! He rejoices over me!

One of the wounds that received in my youth that I only recently recognized is that I never felt that I was delighted in by my father.  I didn’t feel special and I didn’t feel delighted in.  Sure, he provided for our physical needs and I am grateful for that but my soul longed to be delighted in.

Until about 18 months ago, I didn’t quite grasp the depth of God’s love for me — that I am His beloved — that He soooooooooooooooooo loved me that He suffered and died for ME.  Before then, I definitely felt like I needed to do more to earn God’s love and approval.  My lack of joy and my judgmental attitude toward myself and others was stifling.

I am so thankful to my mother-in-law who sent me a book that I would NEVER have given a glance toward.  I read it because I love her and I was “stuck” nursing my toddler for much of my days so I figured that I might as well read it.  I was set free from so much spiritual bondage by the Truth of God’s love explained to me in that book.

My spirit is strengthened daily by the intimate time that I spend with God, my Beloved, every morning and every chance I get throughout the day to give praise to Him.

For me, my foundation is that I meditate on how much God loves me which melts my heart and makes me fall in love with Him so much so that I WANT to submit to Him in obedience because I trust Him with all of my heart based on what Jesus did for me on the Cross 2000 years ago and what He does in me today.  Otherwise, I will view Him as a far-away and frightening God like I did before.

Today I wrote down on a index card Zephaniah 3:17 which has just become a most favorite verse for me.  When Zephaniah wrote these words, it was before the Cross.  I am on the other side of the Cross, firmly planted in the New Covenant, and so I can change the words from future tense to present tense.  And, of course, I can change the first verse from the word “among” to “in.”

“For the Lord your God is living [in] you.
He is a mighty savior.
He [takes] delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he [calms] all your fears.
He [rejoices] over you with joyful songs.”

He DELIGHTS in ME!!!!!  He REJOICES over ME!!!!!!

I pray, as Paul prayed for the Ephesian church: “may you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand full.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Eph. 3:19)

God’s grace and peace to you this day and every day to come!

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Praise report and a recommendation

I wrote the following a few days ago and posted it on Facebook.  I thought that it would be good to publish it as a blog post.

I just have to share a few awesome things that have happened to me in the past 24 hrs. First, I have to HIGHLY recommend this blow-you-over 4-part series on prayer. Here is the first part of the series: http://escapetoreality.org/2011/03/06/a-better-way-to-pray/ The second thing started about a month ago. In the past month, I have been learning about speaking directly to the problem (sickness, etc.). I am praying that a specific heart-wrenching issue that is plaguing a dear loved one will be bound, plucked up by the roots and cast into the sea in the name of Jesus who has provided for our healing with His shed blood on the cross. I’ve encountered helpful teachings but I was looking for more. Do any of you, readers, deal with physical or spiritual issues according to Matt 18:18, Mk 11:22-24 and Luke 17:6? If so, can you recommend any resources? I did find that aforementioned blog series in which he recommends a book. Anyway, last night I was in a somewhat desperate situation in which I had to speak to a problem. I was the last person at the 577 after my class and it was 4 degrees outside and my car wouldn’t start and my phone was almost dead. My husband didn’t answer his phone and I was sure that he had gone to bed for the night and put his phone on airplane mode. So, I called a towing company but it would have been over an hour wait and I didn’t have enough cash for the service call anyway. I told them that I would call back if I couldn’t find another tow company to come more quickly. I felt prompted in my spirit to try the car one more time. I laid my hands on the car and bound up whatever was preventing it from starting. I prayed in the Spirit for a few moments and then tried again. Thank you, LORD! The car started. I wasn’t sure how or if I would share that story but I definitely want to give God the glory and ask you, my friends, to rejoice with me in this!


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F. B. Meyer on Prayer

“The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer but un-offered prayer.” F. B. Meyer

Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done.”

Please know that I love to pray.  I love to pray for others.  If you are going through a tough time right now, please reach out to me.  I will lift you up to the Father.

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Do your children complain?

Silly question, I know! Of course, they do!  It’s human nature. 99% of all humans do it!

But we can overcome our tendencies to complain and we can teach our children even as we learn to complain less (or even not at all!).

The following is a Facebook post of mine from October when this post How to Complain Less from Becoming Minimalist hit my inbox.  I shared the link on Facebook with the following commentary:

One of the things that I love about my husband is that he very rarely complains. I make it a high priority to not complain and to try to see the bright side of things, even though they didn’t go MY way.

Hearing my children complain can wear down my patience quickly — and, thankfully, the Lord showed me on a particularly “whiny” day a few months ago how to teach them to not complain — I said to them, “you can voice your displeasure about something once but you are not allowed to voice your displeasure over and over and over. I will acknowledge your displeasure although I will likely not change my mind about a decision. Please try to focus on all of the great things that you can be thankful and happy about instead of focusing on the one tiny thing that I said no to.”

I pray this for you and for me today! Philippians 2:13-15 (NLT) “13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” and Philippians 4:8 (NLT)”And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

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