Announcing “Frankie”

24 Sep

our family

We are expecting! Again. It is exciting for us, even if you “knew this was coming” or are kind of over the every other year announcement. We’re having number 6. The Pastor, the kids, and I are all excited. (I think the kids are the most excited!) This birth brings with it some big changes. For one, we have to buy a new vehicle. Goodbye minivan, hello church bus.

After much deliberation and prayer, we have decided to go for our second home birth. Of course, the only “problem” with this plan is paying for it. With buying a new vehicle to fit cute little number six, we know our funds will be very limited. So, we’ve decided to go out on a limb, a leap of faith, and ask our family and friends to help us out with the birth costs. We have never done anything like this before. But it occurred to us that people don’t know what we need unless we tell them. And our great need for this pregnancy is money to fund the medical expenses. – This is a link to a newly set up GoFundMe site for us. Since I am asking for your help, I’ll be glad to tell you how the $4,000 breaks down.

$2800 for prenatal care and delivery expenses to our home birth midwives.

$180 for an ultrasound and consult with a perinatologist who will provide back up care should I need to transfer into the hospital.

$750 for doula fees.

$120 for newborn exam and tests after the birth.

$150 for lab work throughout the pregnancy. (Likely, this won’t be enough to cover it all, but I wanted to make the number nice and even.)

So, if you are wanting to help us out, head on over to the GoFundMe site. Of course, we’ll take money sent directly to us, but I won’t be giving you my home address on the blog. We are really trusting that God will provide through His people. We’re stepping out on faith to see that happen. Follow along here and on the GoFundMe to see the progress. What we’re asking is nothing short of a miracle.

Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional: Day Five: Down and Back Up

4 Aug

We’ll begin again as we have the past days by saying the entire creed together.

birds apostle's creed

Today, we look at Jesus’s descent to the dead and resurrection from the dead.

descended and rose againLuke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

First, let’s talk about this “down with the dead” business. We have already discussed that Jesus was fully human. What human dies and does not go wherever it is dead people go? A lot of Christians are uncomfortable saying that Jesus descending into hell. So, not only do we want to skip over to the shiny resurrection part, we want to skip the part where Jesus is human and went where the dead people are. I’m not really sure where those people think Jesus went during those three days. If saying Christ went down with the dead makes you uncomfortable, wrestle with that. I’m not asking you to accept it blindly. I’m simply asking you to actually think about it. He was a man, where else do men go when they die? What Jesus did down there with the dead is a mystery to me. Did he hold an epic battle against Satan at that very moment in time? Did His mere presence burst hell wide open? Did He go and gather those that died in the faith and send them on ahead? I really can’t say what happened. I personally like the Ransom Theory of Atonement. It appeals to my personal sense of justice mixed with my love of mysticism.

Now, we can move to the shiny Resurrection! We believe in a real body that was really dead and was really buried and was really raised. A real resurrected body walking the streets, cooking with His pals, letting people touch his bloody wounds. Not a ghost. Not a phantasm. Not a vision. A real Jesus really raised. Amazing right? Don’t skip to the going back to God’s right hand just yet! Jesus walked around and hung out after He was raised from the dead.

Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.


Activity: Read the above poem.

Activity: Put on a play! Use the Doubting Thomas story John 20:24-29.

Art: Coloring Page. Resurrected Jesus cooks breakfast for the disciples.

Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional: Day Four: Was Crucified, Dead, and Buried

3 Aug

We’ll begin by saying the entire Apostle’s Creed together.

birds apostle's creed

Today, we’ll be talking about the following portion, “was crucified, dead, and buried.”

crucified dead and buried

Luke 23 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Before Pilate

23 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute toCaesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

Jesus Before Herod

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

The Crucifixion

26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said,“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happenwhen it is dry?”

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Jesus Is Buried

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and hewas looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid.56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

We must believe that Jesus really died. He was crucified. That is a fact. He was dead. His heart stopped pumping. His lungs ceased to take in breath. His body hung lifeless on that cross. He was buried. He was buried in a borrowed tomb, but he was buried. To take away any of those things removes the power in the future resurrection. We tend to want to skip from Good Friday right to Easter. We don’t want to dwell on the lifeless body in the ground for long. We want to skip to the good part, where Jesus walked out of that borrowed tomb. But he was there, dead. He died like you and I will die someday. In his death, we find life. His body broken for us. His blood shed for us. Don’t skip this part just because it isn’t shiny and bright. This is our justification. This is the price of our sin. Jesus, God with us, dead and buried for us. The lamb who took our place; who took your place. “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” -C.S.Lewis

Art: Coloring Page.

Activity: Planting Seeds. Grab some small pots, some dirt, and some seeds. (Grass and beans sprout quickly for those of little patience.) The fruit of the plant dies and we take the seeds. We then bury the seeds in the ground. We wait for God to make the seed grow. Emphasize the planting and burying portion of this activity, relating it to Christ’s burial.

Prayer: Lord, we are grateful. Thank you for sending us the Lamb, Jesus, to die for our sins. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. My heart breaks for the pain of crucifixion that You endured. Jesus, thank you for giving yourself over to be crucified, dead, and buried for me. Amen.

Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional: Day Three: Conception and Birth

12 Jul

We’ll begin by saying the entire Apostle’s Creed together.


birds apostle's creed


Today, we’ll be talking about the following phrase.


conceived by the holy spirit


Luke 1:26-38: English Standard Version

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

This is going to be a little more difficult to explain to children. They don’t exactly know what “conceived” or “virgin” mean. You can go with my version, or with your own, whichever you’re more comfortable with given the age and maturity of your children.

Jesus wasn’t just another baby being born in Israel. His mother, Mary, wasn’t married yet. This baby, Jesus, was the Son of God. He grew in Mary like any other child- he was fully man. But he was also fully God. The Son of God became a little baby inside Mary’s tummy. He grew there like your grew in your mommy’s tummy. He was born like you were born. He needed His mommy like you needed yours. But unlike you, Jesus’s father was God, not a man. The sinless Son in Mary- Emmanuel- God with us!

Activity: Mystery Revealed! For this game, you’ll need a bag that you cannot see through and a few objects. Place an object in the bag, now let the kids ask questions about what is in the bag and see if they can guess what the object is. Once someone guesses the object, remove it! Mystery revealed! (If your children are too young or aren’t seeming to follow the clues, you can let them reach their hands in the bag and guess by feel.)

Art: O Come O Come Emmanuel Coloring Page.

Art: Jesus and Mary Coloring Page.  Please note: this is an icon. If you don’t like icons, use the other coloring page. It is interesting to note that the hands of the infant Jesus are held with two fingers up, a symbol of the two natures of Christ. (Son of God and Son of Man) Icon simply means “image”. There is a lot of fascinating symbolism in these art works.

Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional: Day 2: And in Jesus Christ

11 Jul

We’re going to begin the same way we began yesterday, by saying the entire creed.


birds apostle's creed


Today, we’re talking about the beginning of the second paragraph.


and in jesus christ


John 3: 16-18: English Standard Version

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 14: 1-7: English Standard Version

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Sin had entered the world. We were all going down with the dead. Then God, our Maker, did something incredible. He sent His only Son. C.S. Lewis said, “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” He came for you. He came for me. The name Jesus means “God is Savior” or “God is Deliverer.” Matthew 1:21-23 tells us about the angel coming to Joseph, telling him the promised Immanuel was coming very soon. “Rejoice, o world, your Savior has come!”

Activity: We’re talking about God’s only son coming to us! Immanuel- God with us! Even though it isn’t Christmas (or it isn’t when I’m writing this), let’s sing a few of our favorite Christmas songs.

Art: John 3:16 Coloring Page.

Art: God with Us Coloring Page.


Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional: Day One: God The Father

10 Jul

Let’s start our devotion today by saying the entire creed out loud.


birds apostle's creed


Today, we’re looking at the first piece. “I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”


God the father almighty


Genesis 1 (entire chapter) – English Standard Version (ESV)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”  So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”  And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.  And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

The very first chapter of our Bible reveals God as Maker, Creator. He made everything. What about polyester? Cars? Plastic? you ask. Well, God made the universe, the atoms, the very people who created those things. Polyester wasn’t invented out of nothingness. It was made by a person who was created by God with materials created by God. The atoms didn’t poof from nothing. They were there, because God made them. God created. He said “Let it be” and it was. Something from nothing. Our best creative efforts are only a shadow of what God the Father is- Maker.

Activity 1: “Let There Be”- This is a game like “Simon Says” but instead of saying, “Simon Says” we’ll say “Let There Be”. (Repeating phrasing used in the Bible gets those words into our children’s minds.) So, take turns being Maker. “Let there be DANCING!” (And there was dancing!) “Let there be HOPPING!” (And there was hopping.)

Activity 2: In The Sculptor’s Shop: This game is more of a pretend game, so it may not be the best for littles. (Which is why there are two options.) One person plays the Maker. The others get to be sculpted into whatever the Maker desires. (Make sure Mom & Dad are playing, too! Making Mom & Dad do silly things is so much fun!) The Maker will make you stand on one foot, raise your hands in the air, flip your hair over your face, place a book on your head, etc. Try to stay still while the Maker creates! Make sure each kid gets a turn to be Maker. (If you’ve got an even number of people, you can pair up to make the game move a bit more quickly.)

Art 1: Grab your clay or Play-Doh and let your children (and you!) experience the joy of creating. Create anything you wish. You could each choose a day of Creation and create a sculpture based on that day. (Good luck on creating light.)

Art 2: Coloring Page.

Prayer: God, thank you for your awesome work! I enjoy the world you made and I am grateful I get to experience the beauty you created. Thank you for taking me in as a child of God. Thank you for being Father, Maker, and Almighty. Amen.

Author’s Note: Entire books have been written about God the Father, The Sovereignty of God, and God’s Creative work in us. Clearly, this one day lesson is not all encompassing about what it means that God is Father. It isn’t even all of what it means that God is Maker. In this short devotional format, I cannot go into all of what that means. In my life I cannot fully comprehend all that means. I could write forever and still not completely encompass “God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” If it is something your children show particular interest in, feel free to park it here and explore what it means that God is Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

Apostle’s Creed Family Devotional

9 Jul

birds apostle's creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

(This is a fairly modern translation of the Apostle’s Creed.)

Three paragraphs. Christian belief at its core. If you’ve got negative opinions of the creed, let’s check those at the door and dive into this. Many people dislike creeds because they are mechanically parroted. But how amazing of a tool is it to teach your kids what we believe in a short, concise way that they can remember? Let the creed mean something to you. If you’re new to it, great! You’ll view it with fresh eyes. If you’ve had it memorized since you were four, amazing! You’ll find new life in teaching it to your children.

We’ll be going through the Apostle’s Creed step by step, disciple by disciple. The legend is that each apostle added a piece of the Apostle’s Creed, dividing it into 12 parts. We’ll keep those 12 parts as we travel through the creed with our families. Though the division is legend and isn’t likely factual, it’ll make it a fun way to divide it up for the kids, anyway.

Each day, begin with reciting the whole creed. It’ll get it into everyone’s mind. Maybe by the end you’ll find your children (or even you) have memorized the creed. You can print out the image I am providing to go along with this devotional series. I promise, I don’t mind. You could begin by making your own artwork for your house with the creed displayed on it. Whatever you do, keep this creed in front of you as you go through. Don’t think you agree with all the parts, keep reciting them anyway. We’ll pull this all together by the end.

All activities are optional. You may find your kids like arts but not games. They may love games but not art. They may be old enough for discussion, debate, and question and answer sessions. The core is the Scripture, the creed, and the lesson. The rest is just fluff. Use however much of the fluff you want.

For my family, we’re doing a devotion a day for five days a week. So, the 12 devotions will last about a week and a half. I’m also offering some incentive (prize, bribe, whatever you want to call it) for those that can memorize the entire creed by the end. My children have heard the creed before, so I expect this to be no problem for them.



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