Keeper of the Time

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By Hannah Benac

In the days of mothering young children there is a rhythm not a schedule. I wish someone would have told me this when I had my first baby. There are tasks to be completed but no deadlines. There is unending need but no accolades for meeting those needs. Your time is in no way your own. This concept of managing time has been hands down one of the most challenging things about motherhood for me. More times than not, I finish the day feeling restless and like I accomplished nothing. This used to frustrate me and often still does…how is it possible that I never sat down once today yet when my husband comes home and asked how the day was I can barely name one thing that actually happened?

Right in the middle of this question of meaning…of wondering if my days matter… is when the words from scripture invade (if I will let them) and somehow began to make the mundane sacred.

 Deutoronomy 6:5-9 says 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

 Slowly but surely God has been faithful to shed light on how to foster healthy rhythms in my home so that He is glorified. I have heard these verses many times and have always been challenged to teach my kids about the Lord but have never thought about setting up our days to allow opportunities for teaching these principles to naturally occur. Do you notice verse 7? It specifically names a rhythm to the day but does not name a schedule or list of things to accomplish. “Talk about them (the commands of God) when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” If I had to put words to the days with toddlers that pretty much sums it up…waking, feeding, walking, driving, sleeping and repeat (plus throw in lots of wiping and tantruming).  However these verses don’t just describe my days at home, they add eternal value to them. The five short years before my children get in school are the years I have the most say over how we spend our days. I am the keeper of time in my household. Some may hear this and feel pressure to maximize every moment of the day. Please don’t misunderstand me; I don’t say this to add pressure to your days but to add freedom. Freedom to not have your days fully scheduled from beginning to end but to structure them so it allows for plenty of time together to teach the ways of the Lord. This doesn’t mean sitting them down for an hour to teach a theology lesson, I’m simply saying we allow time enough to be present, to hear and answer our kids questions. I’m suggesting we take time to point out things that God made when we are outside or make time in disciplining to teach a principle of how God desires us to live. In other words, we live with a vision to see teachable moments and capture them for kingdom purposes, and most importantly to be available to listen without distraction. As the keeper of the time I have the opportunity to build strong relationships with my children, to foster their relationships with each other and most importantly to teach them the ways of the Lord. These are the things that are lasting and the things I need to protect.

Our days are hard but oh so valuable. Lets take moments today to look for opportunities to impress the ways of God on the hearts of our children and pray fervently that the result would be that they would love the Lord their God with all their heart. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14), He will be evident in our homes if we invite Him in.

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CHRISTMAS RESOURCES

Christmas is the perfect time to take full advantage of pouring sweet truth into our littles. Plus there are some amazing resources out there to take advantage of so don’t reinvent the wheel (unless you really want to). I know there are so many more but here are some things our family has loved. P.S. Most of these we have received from my mom so a huge shout out to Grammy for keeping us up to date with the latest materials!

Favorite Children’s books: lane-christmas

The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell (This one’s my favorite!)

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

God gave us Christmas by Lisa-Tern-Bergren

The Jesus Storybook Bible- “He’s Here”

The Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt

Family Advent Guide by the Village Church:

http://www.thevillagechurch.net/mediafiles/uploaded/a/0e2647561_1386956127_advent-guide-2013.pdf

  • Advent is something both our families did growing up and a tradition we have continued with our own kids now. Its the perfect way to stop every Sunday and reflect on what this season really means as a family. These are easily some of my favorite moments together leading up to Christmas.

Music to Listen to:

‘Behold the Lamb of God’ by Andrew Peterson

  • If the Behold the Lamb concert is coming anywhere near you, drop everything and go see it…unbelievable
  • 100% recommend this CD- it gives an overview of all that happens in the Bible leading up to Jesus’ birth in the most creative way. I have a hard time listening to any other CDs at Christmas

DVDs:

Owlegories Volume 4: The Christmas Gift and The Star

  •  https://www.amazon.com/Owlegories-Vol-Christmas-Gift-Star/dp/B01LZMIESF/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1480737938&sr=1-2&keywords=owlegories+dvd

Veggie Tales: St. Nich

  • https://www.amazon.com/Veggie-Tales-St-Nich-Story/dp/B002FOFX6U
  • How we chose to approach Santa in our house is by telling our kids the true story of the saint he really was! He was a Christ follower who gave gifts to those in need on Christmas. This Veggie Tales CD helps explain that. Mostly we love to talk about how Santa remind us to be generous, not that he’s the magic man that will give us whatever we want.

Old Christmas Cartoons on Netflix or Amazon Prime

  • I’m talking about the old school Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph cartoons amongst others. We just watched some of these and although the animation is outdated, the messages are fun and mostly morally sound. I was shocked watching these at how packed with materialism our modern Kids Christmas movies are and I didn’t even realize it!

Activities: There are SO many great activities you can do with your kids so I’ll just give you a few:

The Kindness Tree

  • Cut out a Christmas Tree from construction paper and tape it on any wall or window at eye level for your kids
  • complete acts of kindness for family members, friends or people in the community
  • each time you do something kind write it on an ornament and tape it up. Work to fill your tree by Christmas
  • Here’s a couple of examples: fill a shoe box for operation Christmas child, make treats and cards for neighbors, challenge your kids to do something kind for someone at school that day and come home and tell you about it, write notes to daddy telling him how much you appreciate him working for our family, make bags for the homeless to put in the back of your car and hand out when there’s a need- the possibilities are endless!

Go see a Live Nativity

  • Especially for small children this is so significant for them to see with their own eyes. Usually there are churches in the area that will do these for free!

Act out the Christmas story

  • We do this every year when my whole family gets together and its hilarious and wonderful all at the same time. This is NOT fancy and we seriously prep like 5 minutes before. My dad narrates by reading the story of Jesus’ birth from a children’s Bible and we grab sheets and wrap them around the kids. We then help them through the story as it is read. From beginning to end it takes 20 minutes but it’s so much fun and really solidifies the story for your kids.

Christmas Lights

  • I think most people take their kids to see some sort of Christmas lights but take this one step further and tell them how lights at Christmas remind us that “Jesus is the light of the world”. It is in fact a tradition that was started when Christians put candles on their trees to remind their families of this message.

 

FILLED WITH HOPE

Image result for hopeBy Drew Benac

We are called to walk by faith and teach our family to do the same.  The Bible says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for being certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).  Seems simple enough but what exactly does that mean? Pastor Jonathan Scott brings this thought to life as he connects the ideas of faith and hope in this statement:

Hope is having a faith filled focus on the future fulfillment of God’s promises.”

There are many times in the life when the future may seem uncertain. During these transitional times all we have to hold fast to is the promises of God and the assurance that God’s faithfulness in the past will stand true again today. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 reminds us of this truth, “The one who calls you is faithful, he will do it.” He will…I have experienced this time and again in my own life as God has taken care of our family each step of the way. It didn’t matter if we were moving across town, across the country or to the other side of the world.  It didn’t matter if we were changing jobs or leaving friends and family behind; he provided for our needs, for our family, for our marriage and for our kids.  “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13) God does not let his children go.  There are times when the uncertainty has been great and the risks substantial yet each time God provides, keeps his promises, expands his kingdom and makes much of his name.

Before we can lean on the promises of God we have to know what they are.  Spending time in the Bible and with other men or women who know and love the Lord is the best way to keep the truth of what God has promised in the forefront of our minds and on the tips of our tongue.  What is it that God might be calling you and your family to today?  Are you prepared to walk by faith, in hope and with love to meet those placed in your path?

Check out lyrics from Shane and Shane below that remind us of the hope we have in all things. 

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MAKING PLANS GOD’S WAY

By Drew Benac

In his heart a man plans his course, but it is the Lord who determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

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This has been so true in my life.  Hannah and I were talking at lunch the other day about how often our good plans have been replaced by God’s great ones.  Here are a few examples:

  • I had plans to be a college basketball star….instead I spent must of my career frustrated and on the bench.  I learned the truth about humility, the value of teamwork, and about the glory of God in all things.  Ultimately, my mediocre basketball career led my to my wife and to a career in medicine.
  • Now in medicine I had big plans to be an orthopedic surgeon.  I did research, networking…the whole nine yards.  That’s such a cool job, especially if you’re a dude. Currently, I am about to finish my training as a gynecologist.  Not so cool by most people’s standards.  Ultimately, my choice (or rather God’s choice) in medical specialty has allowed our family to impact families in our community and overseas that never would have been possible otherwise.
  • Currently our family is preparing to move. Following my training I had planned to take a job in a familiar Texas town….instead we are heading to an unfamiliar place where we will start all over…again…for the 8th time in 10 years.

God’s ways” truly are “higher than ours.” (Isaiah 55:9). Recently I have found Romans 8:28 to be especially true.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

It is imperative we do not forget that second to last word. It s His purposes that prevail…every time…for our good and for the glory of His name.  Lord I don’t know what you have next, but I know it’s gonna be good!

A Holy/Terrible Night

christmas-night

By Drew Benac

“The Lord is with you…do not be afraid!” – Luke 1:28,30

We talk about a lot about the angels, shepherds and wise men this time of year.  We talk about the birth of Jesus, as we should, and the significance that his birth, death and resurrection bears on our lives.  We talk about Mary and Joseph and how there was no room for them in the inn but we seldom think about what that night was really like for Jesus’ parents.

Mary didn’t have her mom nearby, no one to hold her hand or help with the baby.  She was a first time mom, clueless and alone.  She had no doctor, no midwife, no bed, just a barn.  She was exhausted from travel, had been in the same clothes for days, and had likely had little to eat in the weeks leading up to her delivery, yet, it was these conditions that God chose for the birth of his Son.

For Joseph, the scene was no less frightening.  He had little money to his name, no place for his family to stay, was the subject of social scorn, and had no clue if his wife or his baby would make it through the night.  (Scholars believe maternal  and infant mortality in Jesus’ day was in the neighborhood of 20-30%).  The conditions that night were nothing short of terrible and I’m sure Mary and Joseph were terrified.  I would have been. Perhaps they were second guessing why the God of the universe would pick the two of them and such trying circumstances for the birth of the Savior?

The Lord is with you…do not be afraid!” These were the angel’s words 9 months earlier (Luke 1:28,30), and it was these nine words, and nothing more, that Mary and Joseph held onto tightly that night.  The Lord would have to be enough, there was no other way.  He would have to get them through.  For Mary, parenthood was a labor of love.  For Joseph it was a leap of faith. Life had not been easy for them and that wasn’t about to change.  The circumstances that night were especially difficult. But God was with them and his faithfulness and his provision were enough.   We can find great comfort in the lives of these two parents because our Savior, the one born that terrible yet holy night, is both unchanging and changed everything.  He will be faithful, he will provide, he will be enough and we can experience rest and peace as a result.  Regardless of the struggle or the sweetness that surrounds your life this Christmas season, regardless of how wonderful or wicked the current circumstances are I hope that you will not be afraid…the Lord is with you. That is why he came.

Post inspired by Andrew Peterson’s song “Labor of Love”. CLICK HERE to listen