A 3-Step Plan for Reading Aloud to Babies and Toddlers

LauraBabies, Books, Motherhood, Preschool, Toddlers

Picture this: You are holding your precious baby on your lap and opening a book to read aloud. You are building his love of reading, nurturing him with quality time, enriching his understanding of humanity. Two seconds later, that same child is escaping across the room – crying, no less – with a freshly-chewed board book in his grasp.

Sound familiar?

You and your baby are perfectly normal.

All of the experts agree that one of the most important things a parent can do is to read aloud to their child.

Most of us know this and we want this, but we silently face challenges on every side when we want to sit down with our baby and a book at the same time.

How in the world are we supposed to read to babies?!?

If reading aloud to your baby or toddler feels impossible, take heart: you’re not alone. All parents have to work with childhood’s limited attention span, unpredictable emotional needs, and ferocious appetites for book corners.

These challenges are part of reading aloud to children. So, if these things pop up in your home, you’re in good company.

All you need is a plan.

Reading aloud to babies requires a strategy.

Today, you and I are going to consider the obstacles and work out a plan so that we know when to, how to, and what to read.

I’ve learned how to read aloud to babies by asking my mom how she did it, and by trial-and-error over the past 12 years of reading to 5 different baby personalities in all kinds of circumstances. (Recently, I’ve received tons of inspiration, encouragement, and ideas from The Read-aloud Revival. I feel like I’ve found my people.)

I have some ideas that will help you to succeed in the ever-elusive ideal of reading aloud to your baby or toddler.

Are you ready?

The 3-Step Baby-friendly Read-aloud Plan:

(increase the odds that you will get through a page or two, un-chewed)

  1. Discover your child’s read-aloud style.

Every child has a unique learning style already at work by the time you open Goodnight Moon for the first time.

Part of your calling is to discover what your child likes about books in the first place.

We all read for different reasons. I read for life lessons. One of our daughters reads for story. Another one of our daughters connects with the characters and likes to re-enact the story afterward. One of our sons likes using books as a reference point. (True story: when he was 2, he suggested to his Sunday School teacher that they reference a picture of a truck from a book whilst working on a little art project.)

Remember that children are simply adults-in-the-making. Some contemplative adults read one paragraph, copy it in their Commonplace Books, and meditate on it for a few days. Other socially-charged adults join book clubs, read half the book, but have lots to say at the meeting.

Have fun observing your child’s unique approach to books and daydreaming about how they might grow to enjoy them over time.

What does your child like about books? 

  • Watching the words
  • Hearing the words
  • Looking at pictures
  • Interacting with the pictures
  • Connecting with the characters
  • Spending time with you
  • Role-playing afterward
  • Asking questions
  • Discussion
  • Personal contemplation
  • Something else?

Try this: Keep your eye open for your child’s learning style and be ready to nourish your child accordingly.

For example, some children will be far more interested in the illustrations, others will need one word or idea to spur a discussion, others will need one idea to spur a play time, others will like to listen to the words while staring into space, others will listen while playing something else, etc.

Once you know what your child likes about books, you can emphasize that when you read aloud. You’ll capture your child’s attention, have more fun, and feel like THE BEST MOM IN THE WORLD when you see your little one in love with a book.

(acting out The Tale of Peter Rabbit)

2. Discover when and where you will read-aloud together.

When is your child most likely to connect with a read-aloud? Every child has a natural “body clock” of energy highs and lows, times of contemplation and times of output.

Most of my babies have been mellow immediately after nursing, so I often read 1 book then in the morning and after nap-time.

Also, where does your baby or toddler seem to settle down and seem most attentive? In the high chair or bouncy seat? Snuggling on the couch? Make the most of the best time-and-place.

When and where are you willing to read aloud? 

Growing up, I always imagined that I’d snuggle with my young children before bed and read chapter upon chapter to them. Now that I’m a mother, this is not my reality.

Some people love to read at bedtime, but I don’t: my patience is as thin as paper by then, so I need to focus on getting those lights out. “Bedtime stories” don’t work for us because I want to spend those few precious evening hours with my husband, or with my own book, or writing to you. So, instead of reading aloud at bedtime, I sing a little song and we pray as a family.

It works best for me and my children to read at the table or in the playroom during the day, not snuggled up in bed at night.

Try this: For 3 days, simply observe when and where your child is quietest and most mellow. Then, plan to read 1 book during that time.

3. Design a Read-aloud Plan that suits you, your child, and your daily rhythm. 

Don’t wait for perfection: The perfect time, temperature or book might never come your way – so, you’re just going to have to do your best and jump in today. Have a hunch that now’s a good time to read? Grab a book and give it a try!

Set yourself up for success:  Keep a small basket of books in every location where you’ll be likely to find an opportunity to read to your baby: near the kitchen table, in the bathroom, next to the rocking chair, etc. Then, you’ll easily access a good book AND it’ll be easy to tidy up afterward.

Age-specific Suggestions…

Maybe some of these ideas will get your wheels turning as you create your Read-Aloud Plan:

Newborn:

Consider reading a poem or a Psalm when you nurse or bottle-feed your baby. Place the poem on your end-table so you don’t have to turn pages and read it aloud to your little one.

Lay down next to baby during tummy time, or prop baby up in your lap and read a simple book with well-defined pictures that you can point to and identify. Even if your baby isn’t looking at the pages, she is absorbing the language and the experience. You are establishing her expectations: you read aloud.

Our Five Favorites:

Goodnight Moon

Big Red Barn

Usborne First Words Look and Say Book

I Know a Rhino

DK Touch and Feel Farm

 

Highchair-sitting Baby:

 

Read nursery rhymes or a baby prayer book while your baby is eating.

The short poems allow for frequent interruptions, and yet you are introducing baby to rich language, ideas, illustrations, and the concept of reading from a book. You won’t feel as frustrated by the interruptions and your baby’s attention span will grow over time. (Added bonus: your baby is eating food and not the book.)

I think it’s often easier to read to an active baby when they are not sitting in my lap wrestling the book out of my hands. So, I like to read aloud when my baby’s in the Exersaucer or Jumpy Seat. I try to keep a few books in the base of the Exersaucer and in a basket near the jumpy seat, so they are accessible.

Toddler:

After you’ve taken some time to observe what type of reader/ learner God has given you, plan your read-aloud time accordingly.

Do you have an active kiddo? Read one board-book, then act it out.

Contemplative kiddo? Read a book, then let her play alone to think it through.

Talkative kiddo? Read a book, then talk about it all day long! Write down some of his thoughts and read them aloud as a story.

Some children like to hold a related toy while listening to the book. (i.e. My daughter loves to hold her “Corduroy” doll while reading the Corduroy books.)

Other children like to have their backs rubbed while they listen.

Our Five – okay, Seven – Favorites:

Judy Dunn’s “The Little ….” books like The Little Kitten

Robert McCloskey’s books like Blueberries for Sal

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Madeline

Little Bear books (read one chapter at a time)

Frog and Toad books (also read one chapter at a time)

Shorter Beatrix Potter books like The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of the Two Bad Mice, and The Tale of Jamima Puddle Duck.

 

A Read-aloud Rule-of-Thumb

I’m no literary expert, but I propose that we feel good about reading aloud:

1 board book for a 1 year old,

2 board books for a 2 year old,

3 board books or short picture books for a 3 year old, and

4 picture books for a 4 year old.

That has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? It’s not a science, but it’s a reasonable goal for most kiddos.

And, of course, don’t forget how wonderful and meaningful it is to talk to your little one

We can nurture our children’s literacy by talking to them about the stuff of life from day to day. (I wrote a whole post about that – including 10 Literary Themes for Babies and all! You’ll want to catch it here.)

Teach Your Baby to Read: The Secrets to a Literary Education

LauraAll Posts, Babies, Books, Early Elementary Education, English Literature, Homeschooling, Kindergarten, Motherhood, Preschool

Tucked in your daily routine are the secrets to your child’s literary education.

You’ll want to know what these are because your child’s literacy depends more on his grasp of the stuff of life than on his ability to decipher short-vowel sounds. After all, you and I can understand literature not only because we can physically read, but also because we can think well about stories and literary themes.

Nurturing a true reader…

Though a child may decipher the words in a chapter book, he may not understand friendship, sacrifice, and redemption. Another child may struggle to sound out multi-syllabic words, but may grasp the stuff of life.

Which child will love reading and read well throughout life?

If I were a betting woman, I’d place my money on the second child because he has the makings of a true reader.

  • A true reader is a person who can identify heroes and villains, discern between good and evil, and think deeply about universal truths.
  • A true reader knows how to follow a story from its introduction to its climax to its ending.
  • He knows how to analyze an author’s choices, a character’s decisions, and a story’s message.
  • She is strengthened by every book she reads because she knows how to think well.

One of the most thrilling aspects of motherhood is helping our children develop these beautiful capabilities from birth. (If you’ve been bored by “the early years” of motherhood, this may ignite a fire in you! Catch a vision for engaging your child in goodness, truth, and beauty. It’s never too early – or too late- to begin.)

Teach your baby to read before he learns to read.

Mothers are humanity’s first Literature professors: we teach our children how to read as we nurture them through infancy on up.

Every little thing is material for conversations that will shape our child’s ability to read well. When we talk to our children, we label their world – “See that fireman? He is a hero who rescues people from fires even when he is afraid.”

We develop our child’s understanding of life, of good and evil, heroism, hope, friendship, and anticipation.

Our ongoing conversation with our children is at the heart of their literary education.

When we talk to our little ones about the stuff of life, we set them up to understand The Bible, to appreciate Black Beauty in grade school, and to grasp Hamlet in high school. We set them up to love reading, to grow from the books they read, and to live well.

To build a foundation for your child’s literacy, throw your heart and soul into 2 simple daily habits:

  1. Read aloud. Stories themselves will introduce your little one to countless life lessons. (I’m hoping to write a post about this next. For now, visit The Read-Aloud Revival‘s blog and podcast. You’ll love it.)
  2. Talk about literary themes. That’s right. Literary themes are for babies. Read on…

Don’t be intimidated by “literary themes”.

You may associate the term “literary themes” with an overbearing high school English teacher, but let me assure you: literary themes are simply the stuff of life.

Long before your English teacher assigned that 5-page paper about the literary themes in Moby Dick, you were surrounded by the concepts of defiance, duty, friendship, and death.  Like the constellations that make sense of outer space, literary themes help us to make sense of truths that are bigger than ourselves, like life and death, rebirth, social mobility, and prejudice.

Classic literature is classic literature because it deals with the stuff of life.

The best books are the best books because they help us to make sense of life.

The life-concepts that a book tackles are its literary themes.

Your baby + intentional conversations = a true reader.

As your child explores the world, you will have countless opportunities to put words around the things she is observing.

Every family relationship, every task, habit, storybook, holiday, and walk in the park is replete with truths that can be expressed in simple, child-friendly terms.

Look for ways that you can connect everyday observations and experiences to deeper things: a fireman is a hero, a flower is beautiful, a loss is painful.  A few simple sentences will do. A little bit here, a little bit there, and you will have introduced and exercised your child’s vital literary skills.

With a little practice and a lot of heart, you can do this.

Ten Literary Themes for You and Your Baby

I gathered 10 literary themes that probably pop up in your child’s life on a regular basis. Skim the list and start talking about them today. (Of course, you don’t have to use the phrase “literary themes” until your child is in middle school. Remember, this is just the stuff of life. Maybe this isn’t your style, but keep in mind that these concepts will make you a more authentic and thoughtful person. On its best day, that’s what reading is all about.)

  1. The circle of life: 

Every day, we walk by the same rose bush. We notice that each flower endures a season of preparation as a bud, has its day of beauty, and endures a season of aging, decay, and death.  We notice that on the same day that yesterday’s flower is fading, yesterday’s bud is entering its own day of beauty.

2. The beauty of simplicity: 

When we clean up a chaotic playroom and enjoy one simple toy together in the middle of a clean carpet, I sigh with relief about the peace that comes with simplicity. I may say, “Isn’t it so nice to play with one thing at a time? Simplicity is so good for us.”

3. Darkness and light:

Every Halloween, we talk about the difference between darkness and light: we observe the physical, literal difference of a candle in a dark room, as well as the metaphoric difference between good and evil. We overcome the holiday’s emphasis on fear and death by blessing our neighbors with kindness.

4. Love and sacrifice: 

We often talk about the cost of loving one another. We need to be quiet when the baby is napping. We need to share our snacks with our friends. We need to work hard to set the table so that our family can eat together. Each act of love requires a sacrifice.

5. Man vs. Nature:

When the toddler faces a frightening thunderstorm, a dog, or a bumblebee, we talk about nature’s power. We admit that we are afraid because sometimes nature is more powerful than we are. What can we do to overcome its fearsome power? What can we do to stay safe and make wise choices? What songs can we sing to remind ourselves that God is more powerful than nature, that He loves us and cares for us?

6. Necessity of Work:

How do Mommy and Daddy provide for our family? Why does Mommy love to write? Why does Daddy mow the lawn? Why do I have to pick up my toys? Because God created us to work, and we must work in order to survive, to build a home, and to love one another well.

7. Wisdom of experience:

Let’s say our toddler was balancing on a small wagon until the wheels began to roll. She fell down with a thud. After comforting the little daredevil, I may say, “Look what you learned from that! Now you know to be more careful. You gained wisdom from that experience.”

8. Heroism:

Whenever possible, I talk about people who do brave and difficult things even when they are frightened or tired. Who protects and defends other people? These are real life heroes. “Look at Daddy protecting his baby from the rain even though his back is getting wet!” “Look at Mommy emptying the mouse trap even though she is grossed out.”  These daily occasions demonstrate the heroic qualities of self-sacrifice and courage.

9. Redemption:

When I am impatient or when the toddler throws a fit, we experience redemption after the tension has cleared away. When we are all patched-up, playing happily together again, I may say, “Thank you God, for redeeming my impatience. Isn’t God so good to make things better?”

10. Good vs. Evil:

This one’s a weighty concept, eh? Yet, the youngest member of society knows the difference between being treated kindly vs. being treated poorly. Though I would never say, “That kid who snatched your toy is evil,” I may say, “Grabbing toys is unkind. We feel much better when we respect one another. God wants us to respect each other because it is good.”

You get the idea!

Of course, our daily interactions aren’t as staged as my examples seem, but you get the idea. (And you probably have some great ideas spinning around in your head about how you may do this… differently… better! I’d love to know.)

The point is, after much use, these themes are in my blood and I look for ways to talk about them regularly with each of our children. I’m beginning to see some beautiful effects from conversations with our 12, 9, and 5 year old readers. I feel very good about their depth of understanding and their relationships with books. It motivates me to keep talking about literary themes with them – and not to grow lazy in my daily interactions with our baby and 3-year old.

Feel free to print these 10 Literary Themes as a cheat sheet to get you started. Post a copy on the fridge, by the changing table, or in the stroller cup-holder.

Give it a try and don’t give up even if it feels weird. Trust that you’ll grow over time and that your investment will nurture your child significantly.

10 Literary Themes for You and Your Child

  • Servings: 10
  • Print

Conversation is at the heart of literary education.

  • The Circle of Life
  • The Beauty of Simplicity
  • Darkness and Light
  • Love and Sacrifice
  • Man vs. Nature
  • Necessity of Work
  • Wisdom of experience
  • Heroism
  • Redemption
  • Good vs. Evil

Need more literary themes? Check out this ginormous list of possibilities. It’ll keep you busy.

I hope that this enriches your conversations with your child.

Daily nurture your little reader well before she learns that “when two vowels go a-walking, the first one does the talking.” (Keep in mind that when you teach her that little jingle, she may want to discuss the literary theme of “the power of silence”. Consider yourself warned.)

Happy talking. Happy reading.

A Fieldtrip for Medieval History: The Medieval Times Restaurant

LauraAll Posts, Homeschooling

School’s Out!

This year, we studied a combo of Sonlight’s Core C and Core G, focusing on Medieval History. Our homeschool evaluator came this week, marking the end of our school year. I love paging through the kids’ portfolios and hearing them talk to the Evaluator about what they loved and learned this year. I usually just sit back and listen to them chat. It brings me so much joy!

Big, end-of-the-year celebration…

We concluded our Medieval History year by taking a special trip to The Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Maryland. What a fun adventure! If you can’t go back in time, this dinner-theater is a fun alternative. 😉 It enriches a child’s understanding of some Medieval vocabulary, dress, and entertainment.

(I don’t want to mislead you: it’s truly a show with a fog machine and everything, so don’t expect a truly authentic medieval tournament, but it’s a good show. It’s also expensive, so save up! And look for their special promotions.)

We checked in as soon as the doors opened, so our front-row seats were right near the King’s throne and the horses’ entrance. We felt the thrill of the horses rushing into the ring and the knights paying homage to the princess.

The horses do some of the same tricks that we read about in Marguerite Henry’s White Stallion of Lipizza. The girls were thrilled!

The knights enact a believable tournament with real horses, authentic medieval challenges, and real weapons, evoking scenes from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. I’m sure that the next time we study Medieval History, the children will have a more vivid foundation for the literature.

I’m glad we told our kids that it was “just a show”…

We told our kids ahead of time that the knights would be acting and that no one would be injured.  And we didn’t bring our 3-year-old: she would’ve been too frightened by the fog, loud music, and fighting.  I read too many accounts of parents having to console their sobbing children who thought that the knights had been killed in battle.

I recommend that you bring your children when they are able to understand the difference between real fighting and play-acting. We discovered that our honesty about the acting didn’t dampen the wonder: instead, we were all impressed by the knights’ athletic jumps, rolls, and choreography. (We did bring our 1-year-old. He just sat there, munching Cheerios, as if he sees galloping horses and jousting men at every meal.)

“How’d they do it?”

Afterward, we were a little obsessed with watching “Behind the Scenes” videos about The Medieval Times. We wanted to know how a person becomes a knight, what is required of them, how they plan the performance, and how they care for the horses. This video about the process of becoming a knight at The Medieval Times is interesting:

 

The Secret to Reading-aloud, Playing more games, Tackling big projects, and Singing to babies.

LauraMotherhood

The adrenaline-pumping command, “Just do it,” isn’t just for professional basketball players, you know.

Cindy Rollins, one of Homeschooling’s beloved matriarchs, says that when you want to change something about your daily life, you shouldn’t sit down at the computer to create an elaborate plan.

“Instead,” she says, “Just do it right then and there.”

Do you want to read aloud to your children? Grab a book and read aloud!

Do you want to play games as a family? Clear the kitchen table and set up that board game!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve wasted a lot of precious time and effort day-dreaming, scheming, and planning something without getting around to doing it.

 

This concept comes to my mind almost every day. It inspires some of my best decisions and helps me to make the most of my time.

So, you want to connect with your daughter? Why don’t you do that right now? Take her hand and walk down the lane. Paint her toe-nails. Sit down next to her and ask her a great question.

‘You want to sing to your baby more often? Sing the first song that pops into your head! 

You want to write an article, downsize the toys, or white-wash the deck? Pick one and get to work! Jump right in and do it.

Think about the difference between Bert’s pretty chalk drawings and Mary Poppin’s actual leap into the drawings.

Magical, right?

When it comes to daily life with friends and family, most of our ideals can be actualized if we just get down to business.

Live the beautiful picture in your mind by just doing the thing.

(The next time you feel a desire cross your heart like, I wish I smiled at my people more, just do it. Then, tell me about it? I need to know that I’m not the only one walking around with an odd mash-up of Michael Jordan, Cindy Rollins, and Mary Poppins on my shoulder.)

Don’t Miss May: How to Savor Your Life When It Feels Like a Blur

LauraFood, Marriage, Motherhood

I asked my friend to pray for me and my scattered thoughts.

I told her that everything – from food to end-of-the-year award ceremonies, from finances to flower gardens – seems out of control.

I’m eating my meals like a highly competitive garbage compactor.

I’m driving down the highway like a 3-year-old boy on a skateboard heading straight down a hill.

Everything is fast, fast, fast. Everything is whizzing right by me and I’m missing May.

She said, “I FEEL LIKE THAT, TOO!”

After all, this is the season of deadlines and finish lines. It’s the season of tying the bows and wrapping things up, which sounds blissful, but is extremely stressful for the mother who is tying all of the bows.

Do you feel like you are in a blur of recitals, concerts, portfolios, weddings, graduation parties, sporting events, and award ceremonies?

Do you feel like you are missing May, too?

Chin up.

We have half the month left!

We can do something to screech the breaks a little bit at least.

Let’s be present in May. Let’s feel it. Let’s taste it.

Let’s come up with a plan (a sustainable plan) to love and savor all of the good, celebratory stuff in May and June. What can we do so we don’t get lost in the blur of responsibility, quickly-inhaled meals, and check marks?

I’ll share my plan with you in hopes that you’ll share yours with me.

To make sure I don’t miss May, I will…

WRITE POST-IT NOTES.

I’m going to stick 3 of them in my life.

  1. At the kitchen table: “Sit down and Chew Your Food.”These two simple behaviors will help me to smell my food, taste my food, look at the faces around the table, share in conversation, and maybe – just maybe- remember and treasure the simple gifts that God gives me every day.
  2. In the front seat of the car: “Breathe 5 Times”.Even with this reminder, I can guarantee that I will breathe 3 times and forget all about it. My self-aware plan is to keep discovering that post-it note like a goldfish discovers its castle over-and-over again.

    The way I figure it, if I keep coming back to one deep breath after another – even if I stop at 3 – I’ll remember that I’m alive.

    I’ll look around me.

    I’ll pray.

    I’ll savor the changing world around me.

    And I might slow down.

  3. On my bathroom mirror: “Thank God for One Today-Thing”We remember things through experience, repetition, and personalization. That’s why I’m intentionally experiencing my meals, repeating my breathing, and now, personalizing the thing I want to remember about the day.

    Today I’d say, “God, thank you for the way my daughters were kind to the nurses and doctors at their appointments today. I was so pleased to see evidence that they’re becoming confident, well-spoken young women.”

    The next time I’d breeze by the mirror, I’d notice the post-it note and say, “Thank you for the pretty patio chair cushions that I found at BigLots. I’m so grateful that they were so inexpensive, and yet will add pleasant and comfortable  seating at our picnic table.”

    And the next time, maybe “Thank you for the International Student who drove out to the farm just to buy a $10 end table from me. I hope that she comes to know you and that I have another opportunity to connect with her.”

    Ah. Just in writing and praying that now, I slowed my whirring, calculating, what’s-next brain to thank God and notice what He has done. I noticed today in May.

I think I’ll keep it that simple: just 3 Post-it Notes. 

I was going to add some boldfaced points about taking a photo-of-the-day, of kissing each member of the family, of keeping a day journal, of creating a simple tradition for each celebration so that you don’t have to juggle so many details and plans (for example, instead of drumming up unique desserts after each-and-every end-of-the-year hooplah, why not go to the same neighborhood ice-cream shop every time? Be regulars! Or scoop out your own flat-bottom cones on the back porch? Or play a tournament of the same board game together? Why not give every graduate the same cool gift – like a Philips Head Screwdriver and a gift-card? You get the point…)

But I think that’s enough from me for today. I’m going to sign off and stop scheming about how you and I can savor May so we can just get down to business.

What will you do to slow and savor May?

How will you be present in all of the recitals, ceremonies, and celebrations that you are creating for everyone else?

Let me know your idea in the comments. You’ll be the wind beneath my wings. Honest, you will.

 

The Big Family Book Party: May, 2017

LauraAll Posts, Books

Although April showers are bringing May showers around here, we’re celebrating this month’s Book Party with flowers anyway.  Here’s what we loved in April and recommend for your May. 🙂

For the adventure-lover: The Green Ember series is sweeping the young adult and read-aloud communities by storm. Lia is the first person in our family to “hop” into the series and, boy is she in. She loved it. (She already started Ember Falls, the second book in the series… look for that recommendation in June.)

The synopsis from Amazon: “Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.”

 

For the school boy: The Usborne Living Long Ago is a homeschooling standard for little ones. Every day, our 6th grader reads a few pages of this book to our Kindergarten Superhero. Learn how people lived, dressed, ate, and traveled through history. His adjective for the book? “Awesome.” His favorite pages are those that explain “how people got around”.

 

For anyone learning how to be a true friend: Little Blue Truck features 2 trucks, plenty of animal noises, a heroic toad, and a celebration of friendliness. This one is a keeper. And, apparently, a real tear-jerker.

 

For a quick, happy read before nap time (or for your favorite chicken):

Laura’s Little House is our 3-year old’s recent go-to book. It’s a simple flap-book with sweet illustrations from the Little House on the Prairie Series. Audrey loves the page where Ma is cooking stewed pumpkin in her cast iron kettle.

For your preteen/ teen who loves humor, adventure, and fantasy: On the Edge of the Sea of Darkness is the first book in Andrew Peterson’s quirky and endearing Wingfeather Saga. This is another series that is taking the YA/ read-aloud community by storm.

The synopsis from Amazon:” Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.” 

Viv loved this delightful story right away and is waiting for the second book through inter-library loan. It should arrive any day now… (We’re especially excited to “meet” Andrew Peterson through August’s Author Access event at The Read-Aloud Revival.)

 

For the C.S. Lewis and Tolkien fan: Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings is my five-star recommendation for anyone interested in the Inklings, writing, community, collaboration, or mentorship.

The author, Diane Pavlac Glyer, is a leading expert on The Inklings (the band of brilliant writers who collaborated on one another’s work) and shares insights on primary sources – letters, conversations, and notes.

When I read BandersnatchI felt like I was standing outside the window of an Inkling meeting – papers riffling, pipe smoke billowing, tea cups clinking – and I couldn’t stop staring. Time vanished! The Inklings inspire me to write, think, and build friendships with other people who write, think, and build friendships.

 

(Although Ryan would have posed for his picture with the book and some flowers – definitely, no question – he happened to have lent the book to a friend. True story. To make it up to you, I’ll post a few extra photos of the kiddos revealing how easy it is to create literary bliss around here… and explaining why I rarely do Instagram.)

For your baseball/ history lover: This month, Ryan recommends Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series. He loves stuff like this: the true story behind history-shaping events, revealing the fiber of man’s character and the impact of his decisions.

The Synopsis from Amazon: “The headlines proclaimed the 1919 fix of the World Series and attempted cover-up as “the most gigantic sporting swindle in the history of America!” First published in 1963, Eight Men Out has become a timeless classic. Eliot Asinof has reconstructed the entire scene-by-scene story of the fantastic scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players arranged with the nation’s leading gamblers to throw the Series in Cincinnati.”

 

OUT-TAKES…

The Photobombing Chicken

 

The Photobombing Dog

 

There’s that chicken again.

 

Ah, yes… the photobombing watering can.

Love our book suggestions? Check these out, too:

The Big Family Book Party: April, 2017

The Big Family Book Party: March, 2017

4 Steps to Take When You Dislike Your Own Child: This One’s a Heart-Changer.

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood

What do you do when you don’t like your child?

How do you overcome annoyance with your own kid?

How do you choose love over dislike?

I wish I could say that I don’t relate to these questions, but I do. I have disliked each of our children at one time or another. For years, I have kept these occasional struggles to myself because I don’t like when I don’t like my own precious children.

My children are hurt by my broken affection: it permeates how I speak to them and how I treat them. I’ve worried about how it may affect them in the long-run.  Do you ever feel the same way?

God is leading me on a mission to understand and overcome this struggle. I’ll share the 4 things that are helping me to gain some perspective and victory. I hope they help you, too.

First, “liking my child” isn’t the objective of motherhood: raising him to know and love Jesus Christ, is.

Talking to her about God’s Word is.

Feeding, clothing, and protecting him is.

Sharing wisdom with her is.

Then, why do I feel so ashamed and distraught when I simply don’t like my child? I guess I feel so badly because my broken affection can hinder her from believing that God created her with infinite dignity, value, and worth.

I feel badly because it reveals my shallow, selfish love and I grieve my inability to extend constant, unconditional parental affection.

When we don’t like our children, we see our need for Jesus.

Four-hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Malachi wrote this about Jesus:

He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.

Without Christ, our hearts are turned away from the precious people we are called to nurture, train, protect, and lead to God.

God hates when parents don’t have affection for their children: it is one of the reasons He is coming to judge the world.

On one hand, I’m glad: I’m counting on God to straighten out the crooked road of parenting, to purify all of our imperfections and negligences.

On the other hand, I’m sobered: without Christ, I deserve God’s judgement. I do not love my children as a parent ought to love.

Before God unleashed His judgement on a world of selfish broken-hearted parents, He sent His own son to work a miracle within the walls of my little home, the walls of my hard heart.

More than that: He sent His son to absorb the judgement that all of us imperfect mothers deserve. When God looks at mothers who trust in Christ, He sees perfectly loving, constant, faithful moms. This is a dream-come-true. Truly.

Jesus came to turn my heart toward my children.

Yours, too.

In light of that, here are 4 steps to take when you dislike your own child. Through these, Jesus will change your heart. 

1. Confess your sin to a prayerful friend.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

A few months ago, I decided to bare my guilty soul to one of my dearest friends. Without sharing my child’s name or my specific complaint, I said, “I’m really struggling to like one of my children right now. Do you ever struggle with this? What should I do? I feel terribly about it.

My friend – a wonderful mother with happy, thriving children – instantly said, “Of course I struggle with that! I can remember times when I didn’t like each one of my children.”

Her honesty and familiarity with the problem put me at ease. She offered some wisdom that moved me to the next step. She asked…

2. “Why do you dislike your child?”

‘Turns out, I’ve been caught in a tangled web of both valid and ridiculous reasons:

I’ve disliked my child because of a personality quirk, a character weakness, or an immaturity.

I’ve disliked them  because they are disobedient, disrespectful, or unloving toward me.

I’ve disliked them because of their never-ending neediness, because they are in my way, and because they are keeping me from achieving certain goals or experiencing certain pleasures.

I’ve disliked them because I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, because their hair look stringy, or because their outfit doesn’t match.

3. Consider the right response.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Often, we feel averse to our child because something is wrong that can be – should be – fixed.

Perhaps we don’t like a behavior or character quality that is sinful or immature?

Perhaps we don’t like a personality quirk or weakness that jeopardizes their future wellbeing or relationships?

Perhaps we don’t like our child when we are tired, stressed, or distracted?

These are all things that can be improved with wisdom, attention, and time.

None of these is a “quick fix”.  Each one will require us to prayerfully develop a plan and devotion to follow through. But as we work alongside our children, we’ll probably notice our hearts beginning to soften.

In time, maybe we’ll something like, “I thought my son would always be angry, but God has transformed him into a self-controlled, strong, and gracious young man. I truly like the person God has made him to be.”

Other times, we dislike our child’s unchangeable circumstances or character qualities.

Perhaps we don’t like that our child is a boisterous, extroverted, dogged leader? Or a reserved, soft-spoken, unimpressive servant?

Perhaps we don’t like our child’s weakness or disability?

Perhaps we don’t like that our child is, well, a child who naturally has many needs and requires our time and attention?

God will give us grace to accept these things.

It is not beyond God’s power to replace our aversion with surprising affection. This may take weeks, months, or years. Renewing the mind, being grateful in all circumstances, and growing in graciousness happens one moment after another until a solid foundation of truth is well-established in the soul.

In time, maybe we’ll say something like, “I used to be turned off by my child’s quirky little ways, but now I admire her for them. I can see that they are part of what makes her an amazing artist. As it turns out, I like her just the way she is.

 

4. Is it a big deal or a little deal?

I’ve come to realize that I’ve often interpreted my feelings incorrectly.  As it turns out, it wasn’t really my child that I didn’t like, it was something my child was doing or something difficult we were enduring. Do you see the difference? (It’s quite relieving to say to my guilt-laden soul, “Oh, I just didn’t like her outfit. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like her. Duh.”) You may realize the same thing about your own struggles. In these cases, breathe a sigh of relief and move along. Let freedom ring.

Other times, our dislike is a big deal.

Sometimes we dislike our children because they are downright difficult. Many mothers are called to love and nurture children who disrespect, hate, and reject them. This isn’t rare or shameful, nor is it beyond God’s care, but it does require serious attention. Don’t let time pass without seeking biblical counsel and help. Perhaps a wise friend or counselor could help you to see a possible solution that you hadn’t imagined? Perhaps God has wonders He wants to show you as you walk with Him through this wilderness?

In closing…

I hesitated to write this post because I don’t want my children to find it some day and wonder how often I struggled to like them. (Hi, kids! It wasn’t very often, I promise. Thankfully, you were all very like-able. Usually, I felt much better after you brushed your hair. Usually.)

But I decided to publish this anyway because I thought of you and how you might need to know that you’re not the only one who has disliked her own child.  I also decided to publish it because I thought about my children who will probably feel similarly about me from time to time, and similarly about their own children. I want us all to remember that Jesus will save us from our tangled web of mixed affections.

We need not wrangle our fickle hearts into perfect parental affection: Jesus turns the wildest heart toward home.

 

Are you Content to Be Small?

LauraBible Study, Healthy Living, Marriage, Ministry, Motherhood

“Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!” said Bilbo.

“Of course!” said Gandalf.  “And why should not they prove true? Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”

“Thank goodness!” said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar (The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien).

I started off strong.

Or so I thought.

When I was born, my parents named me Laura, which means “Victory.” Appropriately, I was successful in just about anything I tried: swimming, running, reading, writing, math, science, acting, and leadership—you name it, I could do it, and do it well. As I grew up, our winner-loving culture accepted me with open arms and lured me along with incentives to keep striving toward strength and success.

I learned that a strong person earns her keep, competes fiercely, is never satisfied, denies failure, and guards herself from anyone who might tear her down. (Sounds like a Nike commercial, doesn’t it?)

Interestingly, my middle name means “Christian,” and from the time of my birth, Jesus Christ was also working in my life. He drew me to Himself when I was just a child. Though I only faintly grasped the truths of the gospel at that young age, Jesus saved me.

You’d think that this dynamic duo—Victory + Jesus—would result in an amazingly strong Christian. But as it turns out, something else happened entirely.

Striving to Be Weak

The work Jesus has been doing in my heart is diametrically opposed to strength and success. For as long as I can remember, He has been turning my attention toward the outcast, breaking my heart over cruelty, and tuning my ear to injustice. He has been teaching me the beauty of humility, the necessity of limitations, the peace of a quiet life, and the pleasure of nurturing children.

Admittedly, He has allowed some hard breaks to draw my attention to my own pride, self-reliance, and guardedness. On top of that, He keeps bringing me to vistas in Scripture that elevate God so high it takes my breath away and shows me how very small I am, indeed.

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps. 8:3–4).

It seems as if Jesus doesn’t want us to be “strong Christians”: He wants us to be “weak Christians,” people who acknowledge our finite humanity and wholly rely on Him. He wants us to be people who are not constantly pushing against our limitations but who receive our work from God with humility.

As for me, the “Victory” part of my name is entirely His own.
“For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me. I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust. My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat. I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads.” (Ps. 109:22–25).
A Wrestling Match
Today, I’m a thirty-something stay-at-home-mom homeschooling my children. Every day I live in the tension of being human in a culture that values those who strive to be superhuman. I wrestle between the desire to be strong in the world’s eyes and the calling to be poor and needy in God’s eyes.
I wonder if the hidden work that I’m doing here at home is worth my time, my education, and my skill set.I wonder if faithfulness in marriage is worth the moments of tension and sacrifice. I wonder if my humble prayer life and simple Bible study amount to anything at all. I wonder if I should just go for it and make my life a big success.
It’s hard not to wonder when the resounding message of our generation is, “Go pro! Actualize yourself! Be all that you can be!”I bet you wonder, too.I see my friends struggling to be successful and strong. I see the Christian culture lured by strength-finders, efficiency models, and self-help plans. We want to do it all and have it all; we want to ignite revolutions, revivals, and crusades, but as long as “human strength” is our strategy, we’ll fail. We’ll gossip, slander, whine, complain, and rot in jealousy of one another.
But God is the heavyweight in this wrestling match, and He lovingly pins us down under this truth: that we are only human, after all. Over and over again, He reminds us through Scripture that He created humans from the dust on purpose. He created us small, hungry, and fragile to make room for His great strength. We will play a part in bringing His kingdom to earth insomuch as we desperately need Him.
Our best work is in worshiping God, being gentle with the people He created, and submitting to His Word.
The secret is in acknowledging our weakness.
He made us that way.
I must say, it is always a relief to remember that I’m “only quite a little fellow.” With Bilbo Baggins I say, “Thank goodness.”
How do you feel about your God-ordained limitations and weaknesses? Would you rather be a superhero?Today, write a prayer of confession about any discontentment or pride in your heart. Then write a prayer of thanksgiving and worship to the God who made you small and, in that smallness, significant.
(I’m delighted that this post is also being published at Revive Our Hearts’ blog, TrueWoman.com.)

The Top Ten Resources that Have Made and Saved Our Marriage

LauraAll Posts, Marriage, Stillbirth

Ryan and I are coming up on our 15 year wedding anniversary: years packed with happy memories full of laughter, intimacy, service, growth, dreams, wackiness, and adventure.

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that our journey has also included many dark valleys. We’ve struggled through infertility, the struggle against sin and heartache from the past, intense arguments, pre-term labor, our first baby’s premature birth, power-struggles, name-calling, a 40-day separation, the loss of our third daughter through stillbirth, the stresses of raising children, and unintentionally carrying 2 mortgages at once. To name a few.

Some of our trials were clearly “the two of us against the foe” while others appeared to be “the two of us against one another”. In retrospect, we can see that they were all trials that we faced together against the foe, but some battles are fought face-to-face in order to advance hand-in-hand. To this day, we wear our wedding bands and snuggle up in bed at night only because God is on our desperate, weak, and sinful side.

Today, we see marriage as the miraculous gift it is. We think God uses husbands and wives to change the world, to show people what He’s like. We love that He called us into our marriage and that He has been with us all along.

The blessings and the struggles alike have made us intensely passionate about marriage.

I share all of this to let you know that you are not alone.

If your marriage happens to be new or old, intimidating or boring, weak or broken, you are not beyond God’s ability to teach, heal, grow, and amaze.

Our Top Ten Most Helpful Marriage Resources

Because God is so generously creating beauty in our marriage, we want to share His wisdom, help, and resources with you.

#1. People. 

What would we do without the countless friends and family who have helped, encouraged, inspired, confronted, and taught us over the years? We’d be gonners.

From Ryan’s 5 friends who have met every Thursday morning for over 5 years to the Young Wives Club book study that I was a part of 4 years ago. From our own parents to our mentors. From pastors to play-date-friends… a community of caring people has held us together. Our worst seasons of marriage have been when we’ve separated ourselves from community for one reason or another. We’ve seen it time and time again: the first thing to cause a marriage to fall apart is a lack of an encouraging community.

If you don’t have people – people-people – who will listen to you yet miraculously bring you back to God’s Word, who will do your yard-work and watch your children, who will ask you to do their yard-work and watch their children – get them.

I can’t give you a quick link to people like this, but you can ask God to provide them for you. Find a wonderful church – full of humans who honor the Bible and help one another. (Here’s a great website to help you find a church in your area: 9 Marks Church Search).

#2. This book: 

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexity of Commitment with the Wisdom of God – Tim Keller

We’ve read this insightful, thorough, not-like-any-other-marriage-book book 3 times: once on our own and twice with other couples. We’ve read so many marriage books, and this is at the top of our list.

It is biblical + thoughtful + relevant + practical + honest + humble = life-changing.

#3. A $ course: like Financial Peace University

Years ago, our church provided a 13-week FPU course that has benefited our marriage. It gave us a common ground regarding money, helping us to develop our budget, teaching us a language with which to discuss finances, and giving us the tools to take practical steps towards financial freedom and generosity. We highly recommend (wish we could require) this course to every engaged or married couple. Unlike “just reading the book,” investing your time and attention in a multi-week course like FPU is a game-changer that sets you up for the win.

#4. An online accountability program:

To protect your marriage from the ever-looming temptation of online pornography or countless, unhelpful distractions, consider installing an online accountability program that will send a report of your monthly Internet usage to a friend(s) of your choice.

We’ve used both Covenant Eyes and Accountable2U and have been so pleased by both programs. They are so much more than an online filter: the accountability aspect keeps us within the love and support of our most-trusted friends (see Resource #1).

So many people install a program like this after pornography or another online distraction has wreaked havoc on their lives. We want to see more people take the temptation seriously before that happens. We always recommend that every couple seriously consider installing one of these programs right away. It’s worth the investment.

(If you use this link to install Covenant Eyes, you’ll get the first month for free!)

#5. Regular slow-down, stop-everything resets.

Several times throughout our married life, we’ve discovered that our commitments, opportunities, and obligations were wreaking havoc on our family. We’ve had to back out of obligations, say “no” to opportunities, and hunker down at home. Sometimes, that can be quite humbling but we’ve never regretted it.

I recommend regular re-evaluations of how you are spending your time, energy, affection, attention, and money.

You can read more about our first reset here: How to Get Your Life Back from Distraction, Depression, and Distance

#6. A counseling/ mentoring relationship like Marriage Savers and Prepare-Enrich.

You may be surprised to discover that people in your church or community are trained in marriage counseling! Many churches in our area support these two ministries and provide training and support for marriages through them.

Marriage Savers trained us to use the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventory and counseling materials to walk with premarital couples as well as married couples.

Over the years, we’ve had the blessing of walking with friends through pre-marital counseling. We’ve walked with other friends through marital restoration. We’ve even had the blessing of walking with friends whose marriages didn’t make it. We’ve loved and treasured each person, honoring their story and praying for them regardless of the outcome.

PREPARE/ENRICH will help you:

  • Identify strength and growth areas
  • Explore personality traits
  • Strengthen communication skills
  • Resolve conflicts and reduce stress
  • Compare family backgrounds
  • Comfortably discuss financial issues
  • Establish personal, couple, and family goals

Though these programs do not replace pastoral or professional counseling, they can make all the difference in the world for engaged, newly married, or struggling couples. You’ll learn a ton, have meaningful conversations, and develop friendships with other couples that will strengthen your marriage.

#7. This book: 

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life – by Cloud and Townsend

Boundaries should be mandatory reading for the human race. Every marriage would benefit from reading and understanding where one person starts and another stops, recognizing the ways we wield power in our relationships, and taking responsibility for one’s own decisions.

When Ryan and I were on the brink of divorce 11 years ago, I didn’t even know that I had a problem with boundaries. I didn’t know that I misunderstood love, generosity, and responsibility. When someone plopped this book in my lap, everything changed. Boundaries will help you to situate yourself wisely in relationships according to Scripture.

So yes, mandatory.

#8. Something to heal the brokenhearted like On the Threshold of Hope – Diane Langberg

Marriages thrive when a spouse’s sin or heartbreak is addressed and healed. Too often, significant heartaches go unaddressed until they devastate a marriage. We highly recommend asking God to heal your marriage sooner than later. You’ll never regret it.

Unaddressed struggles like previous relationships, affairs, abortion, drug-abuse, alcoholism, and sexual abuse can wreak havoc on a marriage. God is powerful and good; nothing is beyond His ability to redeem.

Regarding sexual abuse, which affects at least 25% of women and men, I highly recommend Diane Langberg’s writing. “On the Threshold of Hope offers hope and healing to men and women who have been traumatized by sexual abuse. Dr. Langberg’s insights and the quotations from many survivors assure readers that they are not alone and that Christ, the Redeemer, can heal their deep wounds. Through stories, Scripture, questions, and encouragement, Dr. Langberg walks with survivors on the road to healing through Christ’s love and power.”

#9. Shaunti Feldhahn’s fun, interesting, and practical 3-book series:

For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men

For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference

#10. Something to share.

Lost Cities, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Music Team

Lost Cities is a fun, 2-person card game, The Chronicles of Narnia is a great read-aloud, and The Music Team is the way Ryan and I serve together at church. These are just a few examples of things that Ryan and I have enjoyed together and that have – in small but sweet ways – made our marriage better.

So I encourage you to find simple things that you and your spouse enjoy doing together – a game, a book, a show, a ministry. We’ve discovered that when we are sharing something, our marriage is strong. Come to think of it, we’re over-due to have a little fun around here. I wonder what will be our next adventure? Got any good recommendations?

What’s on your Top Ten List of Marriage Resources? We’d love to know!

We Can Change Our Husbands, After all! (What Happens When a Wife Believes the Gospel)

LauraAll Posts, Marriage, Ministry

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4.

A friend asked me to tackle this question on my blog, “How can I be a “crown” to my husband?” She’s been thinking about Proverbs 12:4 and wants to figure this wife-thing out. (This is the essence of a faithful friend: even her questions spur me on to reflection, repentance, and genuine love.)

So here I sit with the hardest writing assignment of my life. Knowing my inconsistencies and selfishness, it’s difficult to imagine what it’s like to be an “excellent wife”. I love Ryan with all my heart and I’ve grown to love marriage, but I do not consider myself to be a natural.

How about you? Has marriage been an easy fit or has it been more of a steep uphill climb learning experience?

Marriage has not been as natural as motherhood for me.  When Ryan and I said, “I do” 15 years ago, God had his work cut out for Him. And work He has. We are amazed by the softness, sweetness, and surety that God has created out of two selfish kids all dressed up at the altar. But, that’s a story for another time.

For now, one thing is certain: as I write this post, I’ll be listening, learning, and slowly recovering from the spiritual gut-punch.

About the crown…

This is the easy part. A king wears a crown to signify his identity as the king, right? It transforms him from a mere mortal to a reigning national figure.

No matter what the king does or where he goes, the crown remains a symbol of his royal identity.

He may behave very badly: the crown still speaks of his royalty. He may save the day: the crown glitters as consistently on that day as any day.

The crown points the king and everyone else to the truth of the king’s identity.

It points the king and everyone else to the dignity of the king’s calling.

It sets the king apart from everyone else: he is distinct, chosen.

It invites the king to greatness, symbolizing the vast potential reach of his life.

How is an excellent wife like a crown?

This is harder to answer for the lump in my throat, but according to the metaphor, an excellent wife is a consistent sign of her husband’s dignity and worth as God’s creation and God’s son.

She points her husband and everyone else to the truth of her husband’s identity.

She points her husband and everyone to the the dignity of his calling.

She sets her husband apart from everyone else: he is distinct, chosen.

She invites her husband to greatness, reminding him constantly that he has vast potential in the Kingdom of God.

An excellent wife’s thoughts, words, and actions are unswervingly grounded in the gospel, where her husband has the right to be a son of God. 

“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1: 9-12

This is heavy and glorious, not to mention entirely supernatural.

I want to be a crown, but how? What does this look like for you and me, today?

Does the image of a crown on a king’s head help you to envision yourself as a faithful trustee, reminder, and evangelist of your husband’s value and calling? But like you, I want to know how to do this in real life.

Let me know your thoughts on the matter in the comments?  I’ll start the ball rolling by offering 2 big ideas about what “being a crown” may look like on a day by day basis.

I’ve boiled everything down to 2 actionable steps that will shape our every-decision, every-thought, and every-word in limitless significant ways. I have a hunch that when we do these 2 things, we will be like crowns on our husband’s heads. I think God will use us to spark profound eternal change in our men.

  1. We will steady ourselves in the gospel.

    If it’s not obvious already, no wife can truly be like that crown on a king’s head. We’re simply too stuck in our own flesh to promote and honor another human to that extent. Jesus alone can give us the grace to be that loving… that generous and wise.

    So every day – morning, noon, and night – we will deliberately return to the truths that God has forgiven our sin and made us righteous through Christ. This will change everything about us, helping us to think clearly about our identity as well as our husband’s.

    This mindset will determine our words and actions, which will not only honor our husbands literally, but will also honor them by association. Our kindness, joyfulness, and peace will speak volumes about our men. People will look at God’s grace in our lives and say, “He’s with her? Wow. He must be a king.

    Can you create intentional markers in your day that cause you to turn your thoughts toward the great relief and glorious calling of the gospel?

  2. We will speak the truth in love – about our husbands and to our husbands.

    Like us, men are only human.  Like us, they carry burdens and weaknesses. When men look in the mirror, they see mere mortals who are afraid of failure and acquainted with limitation. An excellent wife reminds her husband that in Christ, he is so much more than meets the eye.

    (As I write this, I am imagining men all over the world looking in the mirror: their shoulders are slumped and their faces downcast. They are entirely average and they know it.Then, I imagine wives all over the world coming up from behind them, placing crowns upon their heads.

    The men’s eyes fix strong, they breathe in deeply and hold their shoulders back as they remember: they are entirely significant in Christ and they are called to live as courageously as kings.)

    How can you daily remind your husband of the gospel, which is God’s great love and calling for him?

To wrap things up, remember that these verses from 2 Corinthians 5 apply to our husbands as much as they apply to us:

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5: 16 – 21

A crown never stops declaring a king’s dignity and calling.

May we never stop declaring our husbands’ dignity and calling in the gospel.

May God give us the grace to live in this light.

  • What comes to your mind when you think about this verse?
  • Share this with your married friends so that the next time you get together, you can talk about what this means for everyday life. (Then be sure to share everything you learn with me!)