When God told us to open our eyes

A year and a half ago, I prayed a prayer out of a prayer book for Andrew. It was a prayer against learning disabilities. As I prayed, I repented of accepting something as a life sentence that God could heal. I confessed my unbelief and prayed on his behalf for complete and total healing.

We claimed his sound mind. We claimed victory ahead of time.

That very night, Steve and I lay in bed reading when Andrew walked in upset saying he just wanted to be able to read like all the other kids.

We laid hands on him and prayed for healing. After we prayed Andrew said his body felt tingly from his fingers all the way up his arm. I felt the Lord say, “Go read.”

I know I repented of unbelief that morning, but I felt it still there. Surely, God didn’t simply snap His fingers and cause Andrew to read. Or did He?

I walked Andrew back to his room and reached for a book on the bookshelf, Devotions for Beginning Readers, and opened to the middle.

The title read: Open Your Eyes. The first line read, “If you want to read a book, you need to open your eyes.”

Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes to see the wonderful things in your teachings.”

At that point I had chills over my entire body. I knew the Lord was speaking. Andrew would be healed. All connections would be made. And I planned to claim that healing for him.

The following morning I sat with the Lord and wrote out what had happened as well as my prayer for Andrew.

Here’s part of my prayer journal on that day:

“Andrew will be an avid reader. Lord, let us walk out our healings by faith. May we pick up our mats and walk.”

Everyday we’ve picked up our mat and walked since that day. It was one year after this incident the Lord led us to vision therapy. It was one and half years later to the exact day that reading finally clicked for Andrew.

Andrew is 10 years old. The Lord faithfully did what we believe He told us He would do.

It didn’t come in our time. In came in God’s time.

The healing didn’t happen overnight, it happened over time. Day by day, God healed Andrew. He used doctors and therapists and homeschool. But mainly, God connected the disconnects and that is what we’ve been praying.

A few weeks ago Andrew had an appointment with the doctor at his vision therapy office. Andrew passed tests he couldn’t even take when we first started. The change has been miraculous and a total answer to prayer.

I stand in complete awe of God.

I shared on Instagram last week this:

When we started this school year and when we started vision therapy Andrew could only handle reading a page at a time. He read aloud then I’d read aloud a page. We took turns. He’d have to use his finger to track the words, he’d skip lines, I’d have to hold the book so he could track.

Y’all!  He’s reading chapter books totally on his own!!! And he’s able to report back to me what he read. And because his brothers have read these dozens of times they can verify.

He’s devouring books now and is in love with reading. We’ve told him for years that when God healed his vision processing issues, he’d fall in love with books. And we are seeing it.

We’ve prayed for these moments since he was in preschool when we knew something was amiss with how he processed information.

God is so faithful.

And now we enter our last 3 months of vision therapy. He needed this boost to carry him forward.
I had to share this update with you. So many of you have been here on this blog with me since Andrew was a toddler and preschooler. You’ve walked this road alongside us. You’ve traveled to different states with us. And some of you have even been here when this blog was Be Still then later Barefoot Walks. It’s been a long time, friends.
So many of you I feel such a bond and closeness to because I’ve shared some of our most personal journeys and triumphs. I continue to be amazed by your loyal readership. In a world where there’s so much to read online, you still show up. I’m grateful you allow me to share with you.
I added a new page to the blog. It’s Good Stuff. Just like the name implies it’s all my favorite things I think you’d love too. Check it out. I have much more I’ll be adding in the coming days!
If you are new around here, welcome! Be sure to subscribe to receive posts via email and receive some fun downloads when you do! If you’ve never checked out my shop, I invite you to step inside and browse a bit.

The Christmas Collection

I’m a reflector by nature. Even more so at Christmas. So, naturally, I’m reflecting this morning on some past Christmas posts.

I sat to write this morning, but I realized I have many words stored up over years of Christmas writing I needed to remind myself of today. Sometimes I need time to focus on remembering the old rather than creating something new.

Last year I compiled one post of some of my favorite Christmas posts. You can access it here.

For all posts related to Christmas, simply choose Blog from the Menu, scroll to Categories and choose Christmas from the drop down menu.

In this best of post, you will find the following themes:

  • Ideas for serving others during the Christmas season.
  • A sweet tradition of writing a letter to your child each Christmas, tucking it in the tree for Christmas morning.
  • How to overcome Christmas anxiety.
  • When the season doesn’t line up to your expectations.
  • Lists of non-toy, non-material, non-clutter gift ideas. Experiences and memories. Gifts that keep giving, don’t break the bank or clutter your home and life.
  • Letting go of Christmas comparison.

Don’t miss these 2 posts:

  • My favorite Christmas post from last year Why My Christmas Can Be Incomplete. I needed this reminder. Back to the cross. All the time the cross, which becomes so commonplace, I fear we miss the beauty and magnitude of it in daily living.
  • Actually maybe this one is my favorite. Except the title. I should’ve chosen a different title. December is interesting in that people seem nicer and happier. More giving, less selfish. It’s contagious. Christmas cheer spreads. When it’s over, we are quick to move on with the march of the world. In this post, I’m pondering what each month could look like if we held to the practice of the art of remembering.

You are on my heart this Christmas. I glory at the community God has grown here. I’m humbled by your faithfulness to read here with me in an internet world filled with much more bling to catch your attention. I don’t take you for granted.

I pray your season is filled with a new awareness of the fullness of God in your daily life. May He awe you with His whisper. May He silence you with His presence.

 

Merry Christmas!!

 

If you are looking for a last minute gift that requires no shipping, how about an audio devotion? As you know, over the last year I’ve become quite the audio fan. It fits into our busy lifestyles quite nicely. But also, I learn differently when I listen. So maybe you have a friend or family member who has everything and you can’t think of anything they possibly need.

Maybe Illuminate would be the perfect gift for them. It arrives to their inbox for 14 days of devotions centered on remembering who God is. It’s a quiet gift that will help them release their fears, anxieties, and worries as they are reminded how unfathomable our God is.

The best part is it belongs to them forever.

audio devotional

Maybe you don’t need to wait until Christmas morning? Maybe they need it right now. Like today? And maybe you need it too? Day 1 starts the day you purchase it.

You know what? If you purchase by tomorrow, Day 14 will end on Christmas Eve. Then, they can start again.

 

How to control screens in your home so they don’t control your family

When I began writing about limiting screens in our family, I was surprised to discover I wasn’t alone. It seemed many of us felt the encroachment of electronics in our homes and were searching for ways to protect our time and our hearts.

One common comment I heard, and still hear, is along these lines.

I wish my kids played outside more.

I wish my kids liked to read.

I wish I could get my kids off the screen more.

I wish…..

What do you wish for your family regarding screens?

The parents who make these comments genuinely mean what they said. I hear it in their voices and see it in their eyes. They truly feel at a loss and in need of ideas, help, or direction.

Over the years, I’ve spent much time talking, reading, and listening to families on this topic.

Two things to consider in taking control of the screen issue:

  • It starts with the culture we create in our homes.
  • It starts with starting with the end in mind.

Set the Home Culture

When we moved to Nebraska and visited our church for the first time, we immediately sensed the unique culture. Over the next several weeks, we saw it was a church that had a deeply established culture of servanthood and self-feeders. The congregation didn’t show up to be served and spoon fed the Word. They showed up eager to jump in and serve. And they showed up with their Bibles having spent the week studying the Word on their own and in groups.

It started with the leadership of the church. These were values important to the leaders. They modeled and lived out the culture they wanted to create.

In a similar way, we as parents are leaders in our homes and have the unique opportunity to create a family culture. In order to do this effectively, we can’t be concerned with what “everyone else” is doing. We have to keep our eyes in our own lane. Where do we want to drive our family?

How to limit screen time

In our home we never had the tv on in the background, and we never allowed our kids to simply turn on the tv whenever they felt like it. The same holds true for gaming devices or any screen for that matter.

We have a time and place for screens. We control screens so they don’t control our family.

When our kids were small, we had dedicated tv time. From the beginning screens functioned within boundaries set by us, the parents. As the parent, this is our role to set and monitor these boundaries. We didn’t hand this over to the children because children don’t know what is best for them. Two hours on a device is like 5 minutes to a child.

As our kids grew older, those boundaries remained. They earned more time and greater freedom with age and responsibility, but our family culture remains today the way we created it all those years ago.

Start with the end in mind.

It was highly important to me to have teenagers who wanted to hang around us, who were respectful and kind, and who didn’t live in their own selfish worlds. It’s impossible to one day mold a teenager when they are 13 into what we hope they will be. Instead we begin the day they are born. We spend time with them, we pour love into them, we teach, mold, and develop for years.

With screens, because they can be so invasive in the home, we begin with the end in mind.

If I want a teenager who lives connected to our family more than a device, then I’m careful when he’s a baby or toddler not to put a screen in his hand as a babysitter. What we do in the beginning sets patterns for later.

At the same time, it’s never too late to start again. To create new boundaries and communicate your love and commitment to your family.

If I want a teenager who isn’t completely selfish, I don’t as a baby give him a screen to calm him down or get him to do what I want as we go through our day. I don’t give him a screen so I can do what I want.

It’s hard, it’s sacrificial. It’s a long haul view for sure. But it is so very worth the time and energy it requires of us as parents.

Now when parents tell me the greatest struggle is getting their kids off the screens, I ask them if they allow screens to be turned on without parent permission. I know that if from the beginning we had allowed our kids to turn on the tv or play a gaming device whenever they felt like it, that is all they would want to do to this day. They would have never chosen to play outside or read a book. But screens weren’t an option to turn on whenever they felt like it.

We grow what we feed our appetites.

If our kids feed on screens, their appetites for screens grows. Same for us as adults.

Screens must live within the family’s boundaries. If not, screens will attempt a takeover of the family, and before long, it will feel like screens are in charge.

There is hope. There really is!

Over the years I’ve received my fair share of ugly emails from people telling me how my kids will end up hating me one day. How they will feel excluded and left out. I believe this is a fear many parents have. Often we cave to our fears and begin to allow screens to rule.

When kids understand the why and the heart behind the why, they get it.

From the beginning we discussed the issues and dangers of allowing screens to dominate our lives. We discussed the heart issues. Most importantly, we focused on building the relationship. As Josh McDowell wisely says, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” Build the relationship.

Our kids understand we are for them not against them. As a family, we are on the same team. We are Team Robinson.

The issue runs deeper than many parents have yet to consider. It’s deeply spiritual. When we place screens within protective boundaries, we are training our kids to master the cravings of the flesh rather than live slave to their flesh.

One argument is to give the kids all the screen time they want so they can learn to handle it.

Well, they can’t. Instead they will often find themselves bound to it.

We don’t place before a toddler a bounty of vegetables and candy and say, “They need to know how to handle this on their own.” No, we know what they would choose.

Over time, they would lose all taste for vegetables and find themselves highly sugar addicted. And we all know the spiral of the sugar crash in a child.

Screens are addictive. When our children are in their growing and forming years, it’s our job to protect their hearts and their minds. To teach them what is best for them.

My middle son leans more toward being a spender over a saver. When he was much younger, if he had $5 for 5 minutes that was a miracle. Money in his hand didn’t remain long. He was very impulsive too. We’d go into a store, and if he had money, he’d suddenly find something he thought he had to have.

For awhile I let him try to control his own spending. I told myself it was his money and the best way to learn is the hard way. But I began to see something quite sad take shape. He couldn’t control himself. No matter how many hard lessons, he didn’t seem to learn. In fact, the struggle only became more difficult for him.

He would feel guilt and shame over his choices. He’d be filled with sadness and regret. He saw all the lessons, but he felt powerless in the moment of decision to make the right choice.

Parents, this is so often what happens to our kids when we let them control their screen time. What takes form in their hearts is damaging over time.

So Zachary and I worked together on his spending. We discussed the heart issues. We discussed how this is a small issue now but at 20, it would be a bigger issue. He trusted me and knew I wanted to help him.

So when we went to stores, even though it was “his money”, I no longer allowed him to spend the money impulsively. If we hadn’t planned for it, we didn’t purchase it. He would leave without spending the money and spend a week thinking about it.

You know what happened? When the chemical rush wore off, he never went back to the store for those purchases.

We’ve spent years doing this with him now. He is gaining greater control by allowing us to help him by placing boundaries around his spending.

This applies to screens with our kids. They often simply can’t see what is best for them. They may not know they need us to place those boundaries, but they do.

They will never choose today based on what’s best for them in 20 years. They can’t possibly because they don’t have an adult brain yet.

This is our role as parents. It is loving and kind to place screens within our limits. When kids understand the why behind what we do, they may not love it initially, but they respect it. And over time, you may be surprised when they thank you for placing those limits around them.

I have written for the last 5 years on this topic. It’s a passion of mine because I want to see deeply connected families thriving. If you want to read more, simply choose Categories, Electronics from the Blog page or click here.

If you’d like to receive posts via email, simply click here. Bonus – you will receive some fun free downloads that will help you connect with your kids!

The gift of peace and rest

Today we celebrate Andrew’s 10th birthday. I absolutely CAN believe he’s 10. He’s strong-willed and high energy, so yes, I’ve felt every day of these 10 years. And loved each second.

Today is also the final day to save 10% plus receive free shipping in my shop. I wish you could see my happy dance with each order placed. As a maker, small business owner, each order matters more than I can express. We have super small profit margins compared to large retailers and realize you could find items in the marketplace for less money. However, when you purchase here, you are directly supporting our family and impacting the Kingdom. So thank you.

If you are looking for a simple Christmas gift this year, maybe a scripture pillowcase fits?

What you think of and focus on the first and last 5 minutes of your day holds power.

I struggle with the first few minutes of my day honestly. My thoughts were awake even while I slept. And when I wake, they are ready to take charge.

But we’ve been given authority over our thoughts, and 2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to take those thoughts captive.

Here’s one practical way to help you renew your mind so you begin your day with peace and end with rest. Lay your head on His Word.
Scripture pillowcases help you see Him, the Alpha and Omega with the beginning and end end of your day.

Try it. Start and end with Him.

If you are looking to establish family traditions, maybe Seeking Christmas would bless your family. You can download a free set of 7 ornaments. In addition, you can download the coloring book version for your little ones!

Seeking Christmas can be purchased through Amazon (or your local bookstore can order for you…often with free shipping).

Over the coming days and weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Christmas posts. As God continues to speak the words simplicity to me, I’m realizing I’ve actually been writing about it for years.

I’m praying this season is full of simple moments that glorify our Father.

How This Could Be Your Best Gift + A Sale

Recently, I overhead a conversation about how hard it is to start the day with God. We have good intentions, but the world grabs us via our phones before the Word ever has a chance. It hit me.

What we need most this year is the Word before the world.

When we give our first attention of the day to the phone screen,

  • we invite chaos into our soul right away.
  • We invite stress to precede His promise of peace.
  • We open the door to worry and anxiety.
  • Our to-do list speaks to us before the Creator of the universe utters His first whisper in our ear.

He begins to speak, but the world, through our phone, screams louder.

Why Scripture Pillowcases?

With a scripture pillowcase, we can wake up with His Word right before our eyes. Before we reach for the screen, His Word is speaking to us, and we see it.

So I’m reminded to start with Him. His Word draws me in before the world pulls me away.

My head lays right on His Word. How better to start and end our day?

So many people say to me they want to have a steady quiet time, but it’s a struggle. They say once they check a few emails, scroll Facebook, or read the news, the opportunity for time with the Lord is gone.

This is where I want to help. Starting and ending our day centered on Him changes everything.

So what if you give someone something they are already using, but now you’ve filled it with meaning and spiritual intentionality?

When you give a scripture pillowcase,

  • you remind them they are known and loved.
  • you give them something thoughtful, meaningful, and intentional.
  • you give them something they will treasure forever
  • you give them something that will continue to give back for years to come.

When I began writing about intentional living, Deuteronomy held the verses that guided my choices.

“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.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

When we lie down and when we get up. This is why I’ve created these pillowcases. I’m taking this verse, this command, seriously. My hope is to give you a tool to help you make this a reality in your home and the homes of the people you care about.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday.

Whatever day you are shopping, I wanted to offer you 10% off plus free shipping now through November 27th.

Stock up now on gifts beyond Christmas. It’s a great time to go ahead and fill your gift stash for the holidays that creep up on you.

Use coupon code cyber10 for 10% off and cyberfreeship for free shipping. You can combine the coupons!!

By far the most popular item in our shop is the scripture pillowcase.

The last day to place an order for Christmas delivery is December 10th.

These would make the perfect gift for all the teachers on your list. Or your Bible study friends. Put them in your kid’s stocking. Give one to your mom, sister, best friend.

They are perfect as a stand-alone gift. They are also special paired with a prayer journal and fun pens. Or a coffee mug and a favorite book.

Here are a few items you might enjoy adding to your scripture pillowcase gifts.

 

Prayer Journal

Journaling Pens

 

Inspirational Mug