ESV Family Devotional Bible Review

The last few months, I have been using this Family Devotional Bible from Crossway. I wanted to use it for a little while before I gave my review of it. So, I’ve been pulling it out during family devotion time. I have the hardcover edition, but it is also available in blue or brown imitation leather.

Now, when I think of a family Bible, I think of an heirloom quality Bible. Something pretty and significant. I don’t think of a picture Bible. But this is not necessarily intended to be that stately family Bible. This is far more practical. It is a Bible a younger family can walk through together during family devotion time. I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this or not, but I am a very big advocate for family devotions.

This Bible has plenty of full color pictures. Now, the colored ink on the Bible paper does wrinkle the page a little bit. I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but there is a rippled texture throughout the picture pages. While the paper is thicker than standard Bible paper, it still didn’t hold up perfectly with the ink. But the pictures are beautiful.

They aren’t childish cartoons, you have these beautiful illustrations throughout. They do remind me a little of the Bible storybooks in doctor’s office waiting rooms, but I love the illustrations in those, so it works out.

There is a small amount of ghosting on the backs of picture pages, but they don’t interfere with being able to see the pages. It is very light on footnotes.

The devotions are the real highlight of this Bible. It has these interspersed throughout Scripture. They are with the Scripture you are talking about. I really like the questions they give. They are directed enough to stay on topic, but open ended enough to give real thoughtful discussion. Smaller kids won’t benefit from the questions as much as older kids, tweens, teens, and you will. I think that makes these devotions great for a family with a wide age range. While I wouldn’t say this devotion would be ideal for families with only teens in the house, it becomes ideal for those who may have a teen or two along with a younger kid. With the younger kids, the story and illustrations are going to be where they gain the most. For older kids, tweens, teens, and parents- the discussion is where you gain the most. If you have younger kids, you may want to skip the discussion or go light on it. But if you have kids who are older, definitely make sure you leave time for the discussion questions.

The devotions focus on the hero type stories in the Bible. You won’t find a single devotion in the book of Psalms, for example. They are Biblically based and don’t really veer into any specific theology. They stay focused on the Bible stories.

30 devotions are in the Pentateuch. (None in Leviticus.)

24 devotions through the historical books.

0 devotions through the books of wisdom.

2 devotions in the major prophets.

1 devotion in the minor prophets.

56 devotions are in the Gospels.

14 devotions in the book of Acts.

1 devotion in Philemon.

1 devotion in Revelation.

(For a total of 130 devotions.)

It is reasonable to think you could go through all these devotions in one year. And you can go through them in any order you wish. You could start at the beginning. Or, if you’re starting later in the year, start with the Gospels to get further into the life of Jesus around Advent time. You can go straight through or jump around. They do tell you what page the next devotion can be found at the end of each devotion, but there is also an index in the back where you could pick the devotion that best fits you right now. (Either fits what your preacher talked about this week, fits where you are in the liturgical year, fits what you are studying in school, or just fits where your mind and interests are right now.)

I love the ESV version for kids. It is on a 10th grade reading level, so it still has a poetic, non-childish feel. But when read aloud, it is easy for them to understand in modern language.

There are 8 really nice maps at the end of this Bible. I like how they illustrated them. They are very interesting for kids, but also easy for them to understand.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this Bible. I think the devotions are excellent for a wide range of ages. The illustrations are beautiful. The Scripture is right there with each devotion so you’re not flipping around to find what you’re reading. The ESV version is a great read aloud version of the Bible for kids. I think this is an excellent resource for families. I wouldn’t say this Bible is a good Bible for kids, but rather as a family resource.

**I received this Bible for free in exchange for my honest review. I am in no way obligated to review it favorably. **

***This blog regularly contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a great way to support your favorite bloggers as we do receive a small commission if you buy using our links.***

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Advice to Large Family Parents

Being a large family can be very lonely. People stop inviting you over. You try to understand. You are an entire party in and of yourself now. It feels like you’re only invited to a party last minute when someone realizes they don’t have great guest numbers. Or maybe you have stopped accepting invitations. You feel like you are just too much and so you stop showing up. Either way, the result is feeling lonely. Here are a few tips for that:

– Stop waiting for invitations and start inviting people over. Maybe it can’t be weekly, but it could be monthly. Your house may not be spotless or quiet, but I bet it is fun and lively. Perfect for a party! Invite friends to eat at your place. Host holiday celebrations on your own. Rebuild your community network by being the host.

– Stop saying no to the invitations that are offered. If someone invites your whole family over, they’re accepting the crazy that comes with a large family. They probably really do want you there. You don’t have to feel bad about it being a little hectic. By all means, try to make sure your kids are completely squirrelly, but accept the invite if you can.

– Start asking family to visit you. It really can be a lot to take 8-12 people into someone else’s home. It can be a lot to take one toddler into the home of someone without kids. But instead of just skipping out on family stuff, ask them to come to you. It is easier to fold a few extra people into a big table than a lot of people into a small one.

– Reach out to other parents you might know and work out moms and dads nights out. Let all the dads hang with the kids at one person’s house while all the moms crash another. Then next time, repay the favor.

– Meet up with friends in public places to eat. Take the pressure off anyone feeling the need to host a large crowd. It can be expensive to take a large family out to eat. It can be stressful, especially if you never do it. But kids typically learn good eating out manners by having the opportunity to develop them by eating out. Consider hitting up a pizza place where you can buy a few large pizzas instead of somewhere where you order a meal per person. Or meet in a park one afternoon with some coolers of ice cream.

You may have to get a little more creative about gatherings and you may have to put aside some hurt feelings over why people don’t want you to come over anymore. But you can still create an awesome community and you don’t have to be lonely.

Another issue a lot of large families face is feeling weird. You perpetually feel like you don’t fit and like you don’t belong. Here are some tips:

– Your family is large. Intentionally, unintentionally on your part, God gave you this family. There is no changing it, only accepting it. You need top accept your family and not feel embarrassed about who you are. I know a lot of large family parents who are perpetually embarrassed about being a large family for one reason or another. This just makes you feel so much worse when the random stranger makes a heartless comment or when a family member passive aggressively slights your family.

– Be proud of your family. Go beyond just accepting it. Rework your inner narrative and be proud of the family God gave you. Embrace and celebrate what makes you different.

– Make new friends. I actually give this advice pretty often. When you feel bad about your life because of the people around you, it usually isn’t time to change your life, but change your friends. Make friends with other large families or at least people who respect your family. When you have six kids, you won’t feel weird at all if you hang with moms who have eight.

– Accept that your family is different in the best way and stop trying to fit the 1.5 kid mold of our culture. There are restaurants I won’t visit, not because I don’t like the food, but because the environment isn’t conducive for a party of 9. There are things large families cannot do and it is easier and happier to just accept those things than continually try to make a square peg fit into a round hole. Family memberships that only include 4 children are never going to be for us. Baseball teams that schedule something every single night of the week are never going to work when we’re balancing schedules for 9 people. Large families come with our own benefits. You can have an entire ball team with just your family. You don’t need anyone to come over to have the best game of hide and seek ever. You can get a group discount without begging another single person to join you. Embrace the benefits. Shake off the small family mold.

– Surround yourself with things that encourage you. Listen to podcasts that help you embrace your role as a parent of many. Read blogs and books that encourage you in your role. Follow other large family moms on Instagram. Link up with others like you around the country on Facebook. Use social media to help encourage you. Make it a point to surround yourself with encouragement for your journey, not someone else’s.

– Our God does not put any shame on your family. Any shame or guilt you feel about your family is not of God. Reject it. Stomp it under your feet in Jesus’ name! Our God says children are a blessing. Our God says you are blessed. Our God says be fruitful and multiply and you have obeyed. The shame and guilt of this world is not from our God. Put that mess behind you. “Get behind me Satan!” Know who you are in Him and know how blessed your family is to Him.

– Don’t get a chip on your shoulder about your family. Be proud in who you are without turning that around as judgement on others. Some families are smaller and that doesn’t make them less that you, just different. Take from that well of grace you’ve been given and show the same. Too often our security in our own life turns and judges others for not being like us. We cloth diaper, so everyone should. We grind our own wheat for bread, so everyone should. We have ten kids, so everyone should. Be as accepting of other families as you hope they are of you. Judgy people are miserable. Don’t be miserable. Be confident in yourself. And love others.

Then there are the practical considerations. The idea that your house must run in a certain way because you are a large family. You read large family books and the main portions are about organization and you feel, well, completely unorganized.

– Know that the authors of all the large family books are not trying to shame you for being a hot mess mama with a lot of kids. There is this perception that all large family moms are these super organized women who run the house like a well oiled machine. Then we feel guilt and shame because we don’t measure up. These women had no intention of shaming you. I mean, I don’t know them personally, but I’m thinking the best of them here. They are sharing their systems to try to help a mama out. They found what works for them and they just want to share it in case it helps you out, too. If it doesn’t help you, don’t do it!

– The best system is the one that works. We all know large families do require a little more thought about the average family because that is just the way life works when you’re adding more little cogs to the works. You’ve got more plates to keep spinning, so you’ve got to figure out how they spin. I don’t think this applies specifically to large families. I remember the first few times I had to venture out in public on my own with two babies. Even something as simple as how to get out of the car and into the car had to be a well thought out process. Who goes in first? Can I leave that one in the car while I walk around to the other side? If I take him out and put him in the stroller, then I’ll have to turn my back on the stroller to get her out but if I take her out first, I’ll have the same problem in reverse. I think parenting just takes a little more thought and the more kids you add to the mix, the more complex things tend to get. You do you, though.

– Be willing to adjust. You find the perfect laundry system and it works beautifully for about 7 months and then suddenly, it just isn’t working. And I know you bought 16 color coded laundry baskets. But if adjustments need to be made, adjust. You don’t have to rework the entire system (preaching to myself here), but you can make changes to make it work. And know, you’ve got about 7 months of bliss while it works and then you’ll be back here again.

– Your version of organized may not look like someone else’s. It is fine. You do you.

– You can’t change your family or the personal dynamic of your family, so when setting up systems for the flow of the household, keep in mind you can’t change the people in the household. If your toddler keeps reaching for the same vase over and over again, it can be tempting to try and change the toddler instead of just moving the vase. You know what is important to you in terms of character building and boundaries with your kids, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about trying to change my kids into someone they are not to make a system work. My kids do not wash clothes. I am super anal about how certain items are washed and on what settings. I’m really picky about the order of importance of things washed. So, I don’t have them wash clothes because they can’t be me in washing them. Instead of trying to change them into little versions of myself about washing clothes, I choose to set up the system so I do all the washing. (They put them away and I choose not to look at how they end up in the drawers.) That is what works for us for now. Just keep in mind that you can change your systems, but not your people.

– Know your priorities. Your priorities might look a lot different than mine. But know what they are so you can live as intentionally as possible. The more people you put in a family, the more opportunities there are for things to take your resources. There is only so much time in a day. There is only so much money in your bank account. Knowing your priorities will help you say “yes” to the things that matter to you enthusiastically and “no” to all the rest without guilt.

– Embrace Costco. Or Sam’s. Or BJ’s. Or whatever buy in bulk place you have near you. I did not want to go that route for so long, thinking, “Who needs a flat of toilet paper?” The answer, of course, is that I do. I need a flat of toilet paper. Now, some things are not cheaper in bulk, but many things are. I don’t know what I would do without bulk string cheese now. Embrace it. These places are made for you. When you start noticing how few Pop Tarts come in a box, time to start thinking about that Costco membership.

What advice do you have for large families? Leave it in the comments!

Let’s Talk About Cheap Amazon Diapers

So, if you’re at all like me, you see these super cheap cloth diapers on Amazon and you wonder, “Are they any good?” Plus, they make some awesome prints! I was gifted a few different brands, so I’ll give you the scoop on the ones that I tried.

First, I think a lot of the brands are the exact same. It appears that they are just rebranded by each company. So, don’t fret over Art of Life diapers or Alva diapers- they are the same. Buy whichever you think are cutest. I tried three brands. Art of Life, Alva Baby (with two different labels), and EcoAble. You’ll also see these, these, and these, which all look exactly the same. Now, the AoL and Alva diapers were the exact same since they were both pocket diapers. The EcoAble were a little different since they are All In One style. We’ll revisit those EcoAble diapers in a different post and focus on the cheapie pockets today.

The Art of Life and Alva diapers are identical. The tags are different, but the actual diaper is the exact same. Same dimensions. Same materials. Same efficacy. The Art of Life tagged diapers actually came from a company named “Lil Bit”, or at least that is what the inserts said. I’m telling you, they are all the same. I actually couldn’t find the AOL tagged diapers to link, but I swear they are out there.

How do they compare to a standard cloth diaper? I’m comparing them to a BumGenius pocket diaper because that seems very run of the mill basic to me. You can see from the pictures that the cheapies are much larger. They also don’t have any interior PUL foldover. The inside fabric is similar, but the cheapies are much rougher feeling. The outer fabric on the cheapies is much thicker. It is a TPU rather than a PUL. So it isn’t as thin. It isn’t breathable at all. And it doesn’t feel as soft.

But do they work? Well, yes and no. I tried both the microfiber inserts and the fancy charcoal inserts. I saw zero difference between those two. They both seemed to work the same. The inserts are actually so similar to my BumGenius inserts, that I now can’t tell which is which on my microfiber inserts.

The problem I have with them is that they are using the exact same size insert as the BumGenius pocket diaper. You can see that they are much bigger than the BumGenius pocket diaper. This means that the insert doesn’t cover all the way across. The inserts get bunched and move around a bit more because they don’t fit the space. I have had many leak issues, specifically through the stitch lines around the legs. Same inserts in the BumGenius diapers and they don’t leak.

So, I switched it up a bit. I tried out my Green Mountain Diaper prefolds instead of the microfiber or charcoal inserts. Because I could pad fold them wider, they worked like a charm. Zero leak issues using prefolds instead of the inserts they came with.

So, yes they work, but you need to modify the system a little bit. These also snap a bit different from the BumGenius. Instead of two parallel snaps, they use two snaps side by side on the top row and then a hip snap on the bottom row. I don’t see a difference with the snaps in how they function. They are just a bit different. But other diaper companies use this triangle snap system, so that isn’t weird or new. Just different from the diaper I’m using to compare.

So, is it worth it? It depends on your situation. If I had gotten these when I first started cloth diapering, I would have deemed the experiment a failure because of leaks. You really do have to work a bit harder to get these not to leak. And that means buying prefolds, so they aren’t as cheap as they seem. However, if you’ve got prefolds and are wanting some “easy” diapers for the sitter or grandma or whatever, these are excellent diapers for that use. They don’t make good overnight diapers. These aren’t so bad that I am looking to off load mine. But I am glad I have more than just these in my stash. They do make some really cute prints. These are my out and about daytime diapers and I now stuff them with Green Mountain Diapers prefolds. On the lowest setting, the small prefold fits well. On the largest setting, you’d need a large prefold.

These started fitting Daisy when she got around 10 lbs. They were a little big on her then, but they did work. I’d say 12 lbs. and up is probably the more reasonable size.

** This post does contain affiliate links. Using affiliate links does not cost you more, but it does help me out. I do receive a small commission when you purchase using my links. **

BumGenius Flip Review

I’ve been cloth diapering a long time. So I have seen how diapers evolve. New brands starts. Old brands fade out. Old brands come out with new stuff. The Flip certainly isn’t new, but it took me a while to try it. I’m just going to be up front. The All In Two* concept was a total fail with me. I tried it when those first came out and they just were not my thing. So the Flip always seemed to be a combination of an all in two concept with a prefold and cover concept.

* All In Twos are diapers that have an outer cover but the insert is meant to be changed as needed, reusing the cover. This is usually done by having an insert that snaps or Velcros into place. It differs from the pocket because the Insert sits directly against the baby’s skin and there is no “stuffing” involved.

I was never very interested in the Flip, despite really liking BumGenius diapers and really liking prefolds and covers. But then some Flip diapers found there way into my hands and I figured it was time for me to try them.

Naturally, I’m comparing the Flip to my favorite diaper cover, The Rumparooz cover. That seemed logical to me. Now, I probably should have grabbed a brighter color to take photos of, because this particular color (this is the color Sweet) clearly doesn’t photograph well. I am reviewing both the aplix version and the snap version, but only took pictures of the snap because I hate aplix, though I did try it.

So, the Flip is essentially a diaper cover with a large front flap and back flap for you to place an insert into. You just tuck the insert under the front and back flaps. There are a variety of inserts. I tried the stay-dry insert and the organic daytime insert. I did not try the disposable insert. (I’m just not into half cloth and half disposable diapers. Those aren’t a need for me.)

I did not like either insert. They both leaked, even with a very small baby. Neither were absorbent enough, even after extensive prep. And I gave these things a several month trial. This is not a review based on one use. I tried them with my Green Mountain Diaper prefolds, and those worked a lot better.

The Flip covers are really wide. You can see them here with a BumGenius pocket diaper (the blue patterned diaper) and the BumGenius Freetime (in the color Kiss). The Flip is wider than both. I think they use the same pattern, but the Flip isn’t getting sewn the same way, so you’re gaining a half inch in the width of the diaper. I have very fat, short babies, but the Flip was far too wide in the crotch.

This shows the width of the Flip on the bottom with a Rumparooz One Size diaper cover on top. It is much wider. So, on a small baby, that meant I had to tuck the legs in a bit or the diaper would be from her knees to her belly button.

One thing I dislike about BumGenius diapers across the board is the lack of the double gusset. It was especially problematic on a diaper cover to not have that second gusset to hold in #2.

Also, the Flip only has elastic in the back. (Well, that applies to all BumGenius diapers.) So, there were definitely leaks from having a little too much room in the waist.

They also didn’t work like you think they would. For a small, EBF baby, every time she pooped, it got on the cover. I find this true every single time I pad fold a prefold. It just isn’t my preferred method, I like the prefold wrapped around them so I have double protection from leaks.

Now, in a Flip, you can ignore the front and back flaps and just use it like a regular cover, which is what I ended up doing most of the time. However, the flaps can’t be wiped off like a regular cover, so I found that I only liked using it once or twice before I felt like it was dirty. With other diaper covers, I can usually get 3-4 uses out of them before they just feel dirty. (You wipe them out with a wet wipe after use and let it dry while you use another one.) So, instead of going through 2 diaper covers in a day, I was going through 5 (at least).

Also, I still hate Velcro. I gave the aplix (Velcro is the brand name. Aplix is the generic name. Like saying “facial tissue” or “Kleenex”.) a try. And while they weren’t evil in the wash and kept stuck to their tabs as they should, I still hate the way they wear. Even though BumGenius rounds the edges of their aplix, they are still really stiff and uncomfortable against the baby’s skin. And they will still get snagged on their clothes or yours if they have half a chance. And the aplix starts looking worn out really fast. Snaps look new for a long time. Aplix look ragged very quickly.

Now, the price is where Flip users are usually really happy. Right now, they are running $12.95 to $14.95 a cover. I’m not even going to discuss the inserts, because I think the Green Mountain Diaper prefolds are much better regardless (and they are cheaper). But the covers are a little less expensive that my favorite cover. (Rumparooz are $14-$16 a cover depending on print.) However, I require twice as many Flip covers because they get dirty so much easier and quicker! I can totally get by with 6 covers and 24 prefolds with the Rumparooz covers. However, with the Flips, I would need 10 covers and 24 inserts to be washing at the same frequency. (Every other day.)

So, not a fan of the BumGenius Flip covers. They aren’t terrible. They work for the most part. Are they the first diaper I reach for? No. Are they what I would recommend? No. Are they the cheapest option? No.

* I used small Green Mountain Prefold diapers with the Flip snapped down small. When it is unfolded all the way, a medium Green Mountain prefold is what I found to fit.

** This post contains affiliate links. I do earn a small amount of money when your use my affiliate links to purchase items using these links. **

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.

What Does A Pastor Do?

Last month was Pastor Appreciation Month. During that month, you’ll have a handful of people share on social media a little peek into the difficult life of being a pastor. But for the most part, most people sit around and wonder what a pastor actually does. You hear a statistic that pastor’s routinely work 60-70 hours a week, and most people wonder, “Doing what?” More than one person has responded to hearing my husband is a pastor with something along the lines of, “Must be nice to only work two hours a week.” They mean it as a joke, but the fact is, most people don’t have any idea what a pastor does all week. So, I figured I’d shed a little light on that. Not all pastors do all these things. Some pastors are bivocational, meaning they work more than one job, and cannot do all these things. Some churches have more staff than just the pastor to help with some of these things. But any given week, this is what pastors across your community are doing.

You see them preaching on Sunday morning. That sermon usually takes around 10 hours to write and get ready to deliver. That doesn’t include all the other prep for Sunday morning, like typing up and printing bulletins, getting ready to teach a Sunday School class, choosing music or approving music for the service, picking up the coffee and tea, and making sure all volunteers will actually be showing up on Sunday. Then after church, they are putting things away, cleaning up, and getting the list of thing they need to remember for the next week going. (Remember to go pick up more pens. Get more giving envelopes printed. The nursery is out of wet wipes, pick some up. Etc.) Sunday morning takes a team of people to pull off, but the pastor has the bulk of the work, usually spending 18 hours or more each week just making Sunday morning happen at all.

The pastor is also responsible for making small groups, midweek meetings, and/or Sunday School happen. Even when there are other people to help lead these group meetings, the responsibility to choose curriculum or books still falls on the pastor. Every study done in a small group is usually read by the pastor first, to make sure it fits with their congregation and isn’t heresy. (Pastors, if you don’t already do this, you should.) They are also responsible for teaching those that are teaching how to teach and lead. They are checking in with them, seeing how things are going, and keeping up to date on the group’s progress. Just because they may not be at every small group meeting does not mean they aren’t actively involved in every small group.

The Pastor is on call all the time. Not just for church members, but for anyone in the community. He is called in for counseling on a regular basis. Some of those, he’ll refer to a counseling professional after an initial meeting. Some, he’ll continue to meet with on a regular basis. He is always there when people need to talk, not just people who give or contribute to the church. It may simply be a phone call. Or he may have to leave before dinner and head out to pick someone up that needs a friend right now. Sometimes it is people just needed a place to vent. Life is stressful. Sometimes he may need to mediate a family conflict. Sometimes he may need to pick someone’s teenager up and try to be a voice of reason when they aren’t listening to much of anyone lately. Whatever it may be, it can take hours of his day or week, even in a small congregation. And he can’t just turn off his phone, ever. Because people need him.

The Pastor is often just the guy people call when they need someone. Emergency childcare, emergency transportation, house work, yard work, moving- he’s just the guy you call because he is dependable. When a single mother of four is evicted from her apartment, he’s the guy people call to help her figure out temporary and permanent housing. When she needs a sitter for a job interview, he’s the guy called to babysit. When someone locks their keys in their car, he’s the guy to call to drive them across town and back with the spare key. He’s just the reliable guy that will drop anything he can to help anyone he can.

The Pastor is visiting people often. This is something people in the church should be doing as well, but the pastor is making it a point to see the elderly, sick, and shut-ins in his care often. Taking them flowers to brighten their room. Delivering cards from the kids’ Sunday School class, so they know they are missed and still feel like part of the church. Taking them communion when they can’t make it to church because no one should have to miss the sacraments. He’s visiting strangers in the hospital, because someone called and said there is someone in a local hospital that needs someone to talk to. He’s also visiting with those in the church outside of a church setting. Getting together for coffee to catch up on life. Grabbing a quick lunch on someone’s lunch break with them just to be able to chat. He is staying connected constantly, which takes face to face time.

The Pastor is out there in the community doing the work of Jesus. Yes, he is coordinating volunteers to do this work as well. Yes, he is harassing and dragging those in the church along with him at times. But he knows from the example of Jesus to be a servant leader, to get out there and do the work himself, hoping you’ll follow his example. Often, he’s going at this alone, unable to convince anyone to join him. But he’s out there getting his hands dirty for Jesus, caring for the least of these.

The Pastor is constantly reading and trying to stay “in the know” on both or culture and the Christian culture. He’s reading through the top books at the Christian book store so he can know what you’re hearing. He’s staying up to date on current events so he can know where people are. He’s challenging himself by reading theology, counseling, and leadership books so he can be the best he can be for you. He’s also doing his own daily Bible study, and studying the Bible with his family. He’ll also, likely, be heading to conferences and meetings to stay “up on his trade”, like continuing education. And he’s likely listening to the sermons of other pastors throughout the week.

The Pastor also has to do work that just needs to be done. Keeping up the church website, making sure it stays current and relevant. He has to send out the same information in a half dozen different ways to make sure everyone is informed. He can’t just send an email about an upcoming event because half the church will say they don’t check their emails. He’ll have to put it on the website, knowing only 3 or 4 people even check that on a regular basis; make a Facebook event and personally invite every person in the church and share it on the church’s group page; share it on Twitter; send half the church a text about it, because that is the only mode of communication they use; and then call people every few days to make sure everyone knows what is going on. This is all in addition to the ad on Sunday morning and the reminder in the bulletin. He has to upload the sermon each Sunday and make sure he shares it on every available social media platform. It may look like he is always promoting himself, but really, he has to share things that many times to make sure everyone in the church even knows the thing exists. He’ll also have to type up and send prayer request emails through the week as people call or send those to him.

The Pastor may also have other ministries that he is involved in. Our pastor is on the board for our association, so any given week, he has several hours of work to help them out as a volunteer. They are also contacted by all manner of non-profit ministries and organizations to try to solicit the congregation on their behalf. They have to wade through each request and determine if the non-profit is in line with the values and mission of their church and what their involvement should be, if any.

There are also the services a pastor performs. Weddings and funerals both take considerable time and often, pastors aren’t paid for either. A wedding usually takes about 30 hours of work from the Pastor. (10 hours of counseling, 5 hours to write the service, 5 hours for the rehearsal, 10 hours the day of the wedding from pre and post wedding duties.) A funeral usually takes about 20 hours of work from the Pastor. (10 hours meeting with the family and writing the service. 6 hours of visitation. 4 hours for the actual service and after.) Keep in mind, in both scenarios, the Pastor is first there and usually last to leave. And a pastor isn’t guaranteed to make any money from either, even if travel and hotel expenses are involved.

There are also other speaking engagements a pastor may be asked to do. A youth camp, a retreat, a service at a Christian school. Those are often unpaid, as well.

The majority of a pastor’s work is secret, unseen, so it is easy to see where the misconception comes from that they don’t do that much. But when you are going through a crisis, you know who you can call. When you are in need of guidance, you know who you can call. We know they do things other than just preach on Sunday morning, but we often don’t think about just how much they are doing.

Pregnancy Update- Baby Seven

I realized that I haven’t talked much about this pregnancy and the plans and how things are going. I figured an update was in order.

So far, this pregnancy is completely normal and boring. Boring pregnancies are the best. Nothing is at all out of the ordinary. Daisy (that would be the baby’s name) is measuring right on track. She is usually head down now at 30 weeks, though that last day or two she’s been bugging me with trying to find a new position. I’m trying to convince her head down anterior really is the best in the world. Hopefully she believes me on that one. I have some of the common pregnancy complaints. My hips get mad easily. My legs and ankles are swelling. (90 degree heat is not kind on the extremely pregnant.) Leg cramps keep waking me up at night. Oddly enough, swelling and leg cramps were my two main complaints in my first girl pregnancy and not so much with the boys- maybe it is a girl thing.

The plan for birth this time is for a hospital delivery. We decided with the chances of the cholestasis returning being so high (90%) that we would just plan for a hospital delivery so that we wouldn’t have to really worry about that portion of it. I’ll be delivery her at Emory Midtown, which is where Emery and Ransom were both born. I’m nervous about heading back, since my last two experiences there after the babies were born were pretty bad. However, they have since become “baby friendly” and I hope to not have issues. (As in, I hope to have a baby there and actually get to keep the baby.)

Cholestasis of pregnancy recurs 90% of the time. However, since I didn’t have it with my first 5 babies, we are hoping that I will be among the 10%. We know we have great care set up if the cholestasis does recur. We’re all keeping a close eye out on symptoms and will test and treat if it becomes needed. Right now, I am symptom free. (It popped up in week 31 in my previous pregnancy.) If the cholestasis returns, I’ll have to be induced again at 37 weeks. (October 15) I am hoping and praying that my liver holds out this time and we can await natural labor.

In addition to the cholestasis concerns, there are the usual preterm labor concerns. Two thirds of the Godbold babies have been late preterm babies. I am really hoping and shooting to make it to at least 37 weeks. I’m doing the magnesium and vitamin C with bioflavonoid routine right now to hopefully get to that point. (One baby was born at 35 weeks, three at 36 weeks, 1 at 37 weeks, and 1 at 39 weeks.) Things right now are going boring and fine. So, hopefully that continues for the next 7 weeks.

The kids are really excited about having a little sister. Imogene is especially excited. They talk to Daisy and like to feel her kick. Even the older boys seem excited to be welcoming another girl to the family. Topher calls her a little lady. (And if you ask, he will officially be big the day she is born. Not a day sooner. Yes, he does have a younger sibling, but still insists that he is a little kid.)

We are getting ready to welcome our first girl in a decade. And also getting ready to welcome our first cold weather baby in a decade. We’re slowly accumulating clothes appropriate for the weather. Clearly, we have baby things- crib, car seat, stroller, wraps, bouncy seat. We also still have a full stash of newborn diapers, so yay for that. It is really just clothes and cold weather baby things we just don’t have. Over the next 7 weeks, I’m sure we’ll more or less be prepared.