Lent 2018

If you’re looking for my annual Lent family devotions, they are in book form this year! I was coming up with a way to make the family devotional more user-friendly. Scrolling through an entire week of blog posts is a bit messy. It is free, but it is messy. Then, I had this idea to add a personal devotional for moms to the front. In pitching the idea to The Pastor, we kind of thought, “Why just moms?” So, I enlisted his help in getting both a full 40-day devotional for all people and a 40-day family devotional written. We then put it on Kindle for ease-of-use. (It is also available in paperback if you’re not a digital person.)

The entire thing is really cohesive: The personal devotions and family devotions tie into each other, so you’ll all be walking the same spiritual path together. And as usual, the family devotional includes activities to do! Fun!

The theme of this year’s Lenten devotional is Refocus. Lent is a great time to look over everything and evaluate if you’re living the way you think you should be living. “Does my life reflect Christ?” It’ll challenge you to reevaluate where you put your time and money. It will ask you to reevaluate your priorities and commitments. Basically, it is going to step all over your toes and probably make you uncomfortable and you might even hate me for it. Or… you might refocus your life on the cross and do big Jesus-work this coming year. I think it’s worth the risk.

If you want a free devotional, all my previous years of Lent family devotions are still available here on the blog. Since Lent is always 40 days, always starting on Ash Wednesday and always ending on Easter, any of these can be used any year.

Lent Family Devotional 2017 – This family devotional looks into the life and ministry of Jesus.

40 Holy People – This is a Lenten devotional looking at the lives of those who have followed Christ with great courage and wisdom.

Fruit of the Spirit Family Devotional – This is not a Lenten devotional, but you can use it during Lent if you’d like. It is 9 weeks, so it is a little longer than Lent.

Click here to buy this year’s Lent devotional on Amazon.  My hope and prayer is for families to come together around a table and talk about Jesus. So, whatever you chose to do this Lent, be it using Refocus, using one of the free devotions on my blog, using another devotional book, or just reading through a book of the Bible together after dinner— make sure that you don’t miss Jesus during this season. Let the season bring you closer to Him and closer to your family.

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Godbold Academy Spelling Program

I have never found a spelling program that I liked and my kids liked. So spelling has always been a struggle. Then this year, I sat down and figured out my own spelling program for the kids. It has been going really well, so I figured I would share it with you.

The best part of this program is that is is completely customizable for your child. So, if they have trouble with specific words, you can add those in. It is completely customizable to their level.

At the beginning of the year, I picked up these myndology cards on a ring at Walmart. I also grabbed an extra set of rings. I used a set plus a third of a second set of the cards per kid. And each child needs three rings.

I wrote a spelling word on each card. 100 words for the year. (The card come in packs of 75. So you could just do one set or double it. I just decided to not let the set determine the number and went for 100 words.) These are all the spelling words they have to learn this year. Just 100 words. Once the 100 words are learned, they are done with spelling for the year. This has been a big push to learn the words right the first time so they can be done with them.

You have three rings. One ring is all the words to be learned this year. The second ring is for the words of the week. The third ring is for mastered words.

Each week, the student chooses 10 words from the “to be learned” ring. Their choice.(I think ten is a great number for younger kids or struggling spellers. If your kids are fifth grade and above, they may be ready for more words at a time. I wouldn’t do more than 20 words in a week, though.) They place these ten cards on their “words of the week” ring. Those are the words they will focus on this week. Each day, I have them do a spelling activity. They have several activities to do each week. This varies with age level. You can mix and match whatever activities work best for your child or have them choose which ones they want to do each week.

Grade 3+ Activities:

– Write each word 3 times in cursive.

– Write each word 3 times in print.

– Look each word up in the dictionary and write the definition.

– Write a sentence using each word.

– Look each word up in the thesaurus and write three synonyms.

– Look each word up in the thesaurus and write an antonym.

Grade 1 and 2 Activities:

– Write each word on paper.

– Write each word on the chalkboard. (You can also have them write them on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, write them on the shower walls with soap crayons, write them in sand with their finger- anything to get a different “feel” when writing the words.)

– Spell each word out loud. (At this age, some of them like to tell a toy how to spell the word.)

– Write each word with a crayon.

– Draw a picture that reminds you of each word.

– Color each word. (Requires you to print each word in block letters to make a coloring page.)

After they have worked with their words all week, we have a spelling test or spelling bee on Friday. I let my kids choose if they want to write the words or spell them out loud. They hand me the “words of the week” ring and I quiz them. Every word they get correct, they get to move to the “mastered words” ring. Those are done. Words they get wrong go back on the “to be learned” ring and they will have to do all the work for them again next time they choose that word. So, even if they only spell 2 words correct, they are rewarded for those two words. And words they get wrong aren’t just gone and forgotten, they’ll come back to them again when they are ready.

Letting the kids choose the words of the week has been wildly successful. They feel more ownership with it and don’t resist spelling. They are more in control. My kids tend to do enjoy school more when they feel like they have some control over what they are learning. They also really like being able to see their progress on the rings. The “to be learned” ring shrinking and the “mastered words” ring growing.

I’m including some possible spelling word lists because that might help you. If your kids are doing a vocabulary program, you can grab the words from their vocabulary program. These lists are only to help you. You may find you have a sixth grader who is needing some refresher words from the first grade list- that is okay. You may have a third grader who loves to spell and wants challenging words from the middle school list. Some words may appear on multiple lists. I try to pay attention as my kids are writing to get an idea of what words are bringing them trouble. There are clearly an infinite number of words you can have them learn to spell.

first grade spellingsecond grade spellingthird grade spellingfourth grade spellingfifth grade spellingsixth grade spellingmiddle school spelling

Happy Advent Giveaway!

I’ve got a special Advent gift for one lucky winner! A Too Faced Peanut Butter and Jelly eyeshadow palette. I love this palette. The colors are so warm. You’ve got a little pop of color with the jelly color. This is a true all in one eyeshadow palette, meaning you can use just this palette to make a full eye look. No additional products needed. I liked it so much, I bought it’s sister palette Peanut Butter and Honey. And don’t worry, the Too Faced Peanut Butter palettes contain no actual peanut products. They say they smell like peanut butter, but I think they just smell like sweet vanilla cookies.

So, how can you win? Easy!

Comment here and get one entry.

Comment on Facebook and get one entry.

Share on Facebook and get one entry.

Subscribe to the blog and get one entry.

On St. Nicholas Day (December 6), I’ll draw a name to win this palette!

Lenten Family Devotion Week Seven 

What you’ll need this week: This week, we’re making a wreath, adding a bit each day. For the wreath, you can pick up a twig wreath at a craft store very inexpensively. You can decide if you’ll just make one wreath for the family or if each person will make their own. (They can always gift them to Grandma on Easter.) You’ll need to attach the items each day. Hot glue works, but using floral wire to tie things on and in works better. In addition to the wreath, you’ll need: 
– Something gold (like garland or a sprig of gold)

– Feathers (or birds, whatever you happen to find and like)

– Something purple (it can be a flower, ribbon, fabric- it is up to you)

– Something black (flower, ribbon, do-dad, whatever you like)

– Something linen (ribbon, scrap of fabric, flower, butterfly)

– Something white (flower, ribbon, butterfly, lily, etc.)

Day Thirty-Seven: Monday: Betrayal & Arrest

Read John 18:1-14

OR

Jesus Is Arrested, p.210-211 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

OR

A Dark Night In The Garden, p.294-301 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Judas saw all the same miracles that Jesus performed as the rest of the disciples. Why do you think he would betray Jesus?

– Peter the bold stepping up again and cutting off a dude’s ear! Why do you think Jesus rebuked him?

Activity:

– Today, we’re adding some gold to our wreath to represent the betrayal of Jesus.

Day Thirty-Eight: Tuesday: Peter’s Denial

Read John 13:36-38; 18:15-18; 18:25-27

OR

Peter Denies Jesus, p. 212-213 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Why did Peter deny Jesus?

– What do you think went through Peter’s head as the rooster crowed?

– Do you ever try to hide your faith?

Activity:

– Adding to our wreath some feathers to signify the rooster crowing at the betrayal of Christ.

Day Thirty-Nine: Wednesday: Jesus’ Trial

Read John 18:28-40; 19:1-6 and Luke 23:1-25

Discuss:

– Did Pilate want to punish Jesus? Why did he agree to it?

– Why would the people choose Barabbas’ release over releasing Jesus?

– Was any of this fair?

Activity:

– Today, we are adding purple to our wreath, like the robe used to mock Jesus.

Day Forty: Thursday: Crucifixation

Read John 19:16-37 and Luke 23:26-49

OR

The Sun Stops Shining, p. 302-307 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

OR

Good Friday, p.214-219 in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook

Discussion:

– Take some time to discuss the impact of the crucifixion on your hearts today. What does the death of Christ mean? If you need a big word to focus on, Justification and Atonement are good ones to explore.

Activity:

– Though Good Friday is tomorrow, we’re taking time today to reflect on what is coming. Today, we’ll be adding black, the color of mourning, to our wreath.

Day Forty-One: Friday: Burial of Jesus

Read John 19:38-42 and Luke 23:50-56

OR

The Sun Stops Shining, p. 308-309 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discuss:

– What do you think the soul of Jesus was doing while his body was being buried?

– How do you think His followers felt?

Activity:

– Today, we’re adding linen to our wreath, to represent the linen they wrapped Jesus in.

Day Forty-Two: Saturday: Resurrection

We’ve made it through. Today, is the last day of Lent. While today is the day the world waited. Tomorrow will be Easter, and look forward to his Resurrection.

Read John 20:1-10 and Luke 24:1-40

OR

Easter Sunday, p.220-223 in Jesus Calling Storybook Bible

OR

God’s Wonderful Surprise, p.310-317 in The Jesus Storybook Bible

Discussion:

– Do you find it interesting the Jesus first appeared to women?

– When they first realized the body was gone, what do you think they thought happened?

– What does the Resurrection mean for us?

– What have you learned about Justification, Atonement, and Redemption?

Activity:

– Today, we finish our wreath. We add white, the color of the resurrection. And now your Easter wreath is complete. Hang it up or plan to gift it to someone special tomorrow, to remind them of the hope of Easter.

We Are A Blessed Family- Week Two

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 (NASB)

If you are reading this right now, you are blessed. We have this amazing tendency to focus on what we do not have rather than what we do have. We think it trite to be grateful for the common, but what is greater to be thankful for than the ordinary? Without the ordinary, we can have no extraordinary.

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We have life. We have one another. We are infinitely loved by our Maker. We get to experience the wonders of this world He created for us. We get to experience the range of feeling He gave to us. We are abundantly blessed.

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Take time to make a list of your blessing. I think you’ll find this list surprisingly long. Let’s keep our blessings in mind this week and think of them often. Let’s take things with gratitude, not for granted. Let’s thank God for all that He has given us.

Discussion Questions:

  • What would you say is your greatest blessing?
  • Do you count your blessings enough?
  • When you list all of your blessings, does anything on the list surprise you? Did someone else’s blessings surprise you?

Activities:

  • Make a Blessing Table Cloth. Get a light-colored table cloth that you are cool with writing on, or grab some butcher paper and use that as a temporary table cloth. (Or you could even grab some osanaburg fabric to use.) Take time during the week to write your blessings on this table cloth. Aim to fill it up by the end of the week. Alternatively, you can grab a jar and write on pieces of paper and put them in the jar. Will your “cup runneth over”?
  • Do the My-Blessings A-Z. (This is a favorite around my house.) Make a list of your blessings using the alphabet ― one blessing per letter. You could make this into a book if you want, or just a list to hang for remembering.
  • Play the “I’m thankful for…” Game: This is a fun, group memory game. The first person says, “I am thankful for…” and then they name something they are thankful for. The next person says, “I am thankful for…” and names the thing the first person said, plus adds on their own. The third person says, “I am thankful for…” and names what the first person said, names what the second person said, and then adds their own. On and on you go.
My Prayer for You:
Lord, help us see how blessed we are. Help us recognize our blessing and recognize that You are the source of our blessings. Show us how much we have. Amen.

Becoming A Content Family – Week One

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” Phillippians 4:10-14 (NASB)

Contentment is a hard one for most of us. We can barely wrap our head around what it means, much less commit ourselves to trying to have it. We often hear people refer to Philippians 4:13… I can do anything! Yea-uh! But all that stuff before it ― well… we usually don’t keep verses 10-12 with verse 13, and certainly not verse 14! But there they are. Better yet, here it is. Context. Paul is sitting in prison, writing to the Church at Philippi. He tells them that he knows they are concerned for him but assures them that he is content. Again: He is sitting in prison. He knows what it is like to be on the mountain and in the valley. He knows what it is like to be on top of the world and to be sitting in jail. He knows both, and he is content in both. He can do all things in Christ.

Contentment isn’t happiness, despite the dictionary defining it as happiness and satisfaction. Really, that sells the concept a bit short. It is more than just feeling happy. It is peace for what is. Not in a negative, whatever-will-be-will-be sense, but in a full, resting embrace of what is. It is ceasing to struggle for more, ceasing to grasp for more.

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Herein is our modern problem with finding contentment: We choose to go the way of the world; we desire more and more. Instead of taking the approach of focusing our eyes on God and letting the rest fall away, we want. We struggle. We grasp.

We might think that Paul is a little foolish in saying that he can be content with much, but let’s be honest: the more we have, the more we want. It seems that having less helps in our contentment. Oh, the paradox of it! We often find rich men more greedy than poor men. Why? They have enough; why are they not content? Why does the rich man find it harder to give? Prosperity can bring as many spiritual problems as neediness, sometimes even more. The story of the self-made man is that he thinks it is all on his own steam, but he doesn’t realize how much he needs a Savior or other people.

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This week, let’s focus on letting go of our desire for more, letting go of our desire for bigger stuff and better things. Let’s fix our eyes on God and let ourselves desire Him.

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Discussion questions:

  • Do you have a hard time being content?
  • Do you feel like you have enough?
  • What could we do as a family to become more content?
  • What luxuries could you do without? Would you be benefitted by that sacrifice?

Activities: (You can do all or none. Do them today or sometime this week.)

  • Have everyone make a list of what they think they need. Compare lists.
  • Create a picture of contentment. What does that word mean to you?

Write, tell, read, or watch a story about someone who got what they wanted, and found they didn’t really want it after all. (Examples: The movie, Home Alone. The book, The Chocolate Touch. The story of King Midas.)

My prayer for you:

Lord, help us as we become content with what we have. Remind us of how blessed we are as people. Help us to not covet. Show us the difference between needs and wants. Help us find peace and contentment in You. Amen.

My Favorite Things Giveaway

favorite-things-giveaway

This month, I am going to be putting together a basket of some of my favorite things! The basket contents will be a surprise. But you could win it! I’m really excited about this! Get excited with me!

So, how do you enter? Easy. Comment here. It is that simple! Entries will close at midnight on October 31st, 2016 EST. I will literally be putting your names in a basket and pulling out a name.

Want your name in there more than once? Like Notes From The Parsonage on Facebook and comment here that you liked it. Subscribe to my blog and comment here you subscribed. Share this giveaway on your social media and comment here that you shared. Each of those things will get you an extra entry!

I’m really looking forward to sharing my favorite things with you! May the odds be ever in your favor.

** This giveaway is now closed. Like me on Facebook and Subscribe to the blog for future chances to win! **