A Small Disappointment

Well, our power went out a few hours ago and I’m awake, trying to make sure we have a good plan to get everyone ready for violin lessons this morning. A minor inconvenience at most, really. I thought while up I’d share a small disappointment we recently encountered with y’all.

When we moved back to Georgia, I began looking for violin lessons for four of my children. They had been taking fiddle lessons in South Carolina, and I wanted them to continue.

I found a lovely band/choir program for Christian homeschoolers not too far from home. At first, we were only interested in violin, but two of my children decided they would really like to try choir as well after gentle prodding from the directors on several occasions.

At first, I was a bit hesitant because our faith is messianic in nature, and I knew many choirs focused on Christmas music during the fall. But when I discovered the fall performance took place on November 8th, my fears were relieved. I figured this date was far too early for Christmas music.

However, at the parent meeting, I learned that the children would be singing at the Toys for Tots Kick-Off in downtown Atlanta. I sent a message asking for my children to be excused. A few days later, I received a call from the director stating that the entire fall program was comprised of Christmas music, and this is how the children learned to read music. If my children did not participate in these sessions they would not be allowed to participate in choir during the spring.

While the director was super nice and professional about this, I was a bit dumbfounded and my children were disappointed. Not quite knowing what else to do, I pulled them from the choir program.

Now, I know in the scheme of life this is a little thing. Our family does things differently than most people in the greater American Christian communty. And yet my heart ached for my children, who received their first tiny taste of persecution. (Now, I do hesitant to call this actual “persecution.” It probably relates more to poor advertisement of the choir program.)

Mamas, doing the right thing for our families can be hard. We often feel crazy and countercultural when doing what we believe is the most God-honoring thing. This principle applies to so much…public school, holidays, music, movies, and social media are just a few other examples of things we must navigate for God’s glory.

I would like to encourage you to do what you believe the Lord is calling you to do, no matter what the circumstance may be. Yes, it’s been hard for my children to not participate in choir when their heart was set on it, but this situation has given us ample opportunities to discuss why my husband and I believe the way we do, which has been a good thing.

I hope that your weekend is lovely, ladies. If you’d like to read more about how we generally view holidays, you can find that information here.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

A Christian Sabbath Celebration {Resources and Free Printables Included}

SabbathwatermarkLadies, my heart overflows.  I have worked through lots of baggage in regards to the worship of God over the past few years.  While I realize that we will never worship our King perfectly while in our flawed and sinful state, my heart is to know His heart as much as I can.

I’ve desired to learn more about the Sabbath that God instituted, not just the Sunday worship meetings that we normally call the “Sabbath” nowadays.  I believe that Jesus is our Sabbath rest, and we are not required to “keep the Sabbath” in a traditional sense.  At the same time, the Lord instituted the Sabbath Day for us, and He always knows what is best.  He set the Sabbath apart, and made it holy.

The pictured table runner, lazy susan, and tea towel can be found at Mary & Martha.

We don’t celebrate most traditional church holidays any more, and I found that in my heart I still had the desire to celebrate.  As Christ followers, we should celebrate Him on a daily basis.  But I wasn’t quite sure how to do this.  We started to remember Jesus and His fulfillment through the Biblical feasts a little over one year ago, and I thought, “Why not do this with the Sabbath as well?”  The Sabbath, just like the Feasts, is a picture of the perfect rest we have in Jesus after all.

And so, I began to study.  I thought I would compile several resources for y’all here in case you would like to worship the Lord this way, too.  So far, we enjoy a Sabbath meal on Friday evening, and I also add in several “special” items or activities to drive the point home that the day is set apart, or different.  This mirrors the idea that as Christ followers, we are to look different than the rest of the world.  We don’t really carry the celebration over into Saturday morning thus far, but we will see how the Lord leads us in the future. According to the Lord in Genesis, days begin and end at sundown, which is why we begin our Saturday celebration on Friday evening.

This special time will very well look different from family to family.  Please feel free to take my ideas as they stand, or change them to make them your own.

To get started, I designed a free Sabbath Christian Celebration Printable Pack.  I use these items to decorate our home on Friday.  I picked up 8 x 10 $4.00 frames from Walmart to display the verses in.

SabbathCoverPage

Download your free Printable Pack here!

I see Friday as a “Preparation Day,” and we aim to get a lot of house cleaning done in the morning.  Friday is typically our “Home Blessing” Day anyhow, and so we really haven’t made any changes in that aspect.

As I said before, my goal for the evening is to make the evening special, and to make Jesus the center of it all.  We prepare a meal, such as roast beef or a turkey breast as the main course.  I also have a couple of candles on hand and a special dish cloth to cover our bread.  These items aren’t at all necessary, but I have taken a few ideas from the Jewish faith.  My hope is that this time is peaceful, and not solemn.

I set the table with the verses found in the above Printable Pack front and center.  Whenever it is time for the meal, which is around night fall during this time of the year, I light the candles and say the blessing found in the Printable Pack.  To us, one candle signifies creation, and the other redemption.  Since the Sabbath Day is connected to the time of creation, we thought this would work well.

The prayers are as follows:

A few of the other symbols we include are:

Goblet of Grape Juice – This goblet signifies life, and more importantly, Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  We usually drink grape juice with our meal as a way to remember Him.

Two Loaves of Bread – Traditionally, challah bread is used during this meal, but we have yet to do so.  We hope to bake our own challah soon!  In Leviticus 24:5-9, there is a law that loaves of bread are to be placed on the alter before the Lord.  This was done on the Sabbath (vs. 8), as an everlasting sign between God and His people.

Two loaves of bread appear on the table, which is symbolic of the double portion of manna which God provided while the children of Israel were wandering through the wilderness on the day prior to the Sabbath.  We cover the bread with a special cloth, which is symbolic of the dew that was around the camp of the Isarelites. Once the dew evaporated, manna laid in it’s place.  We eat this bread to remember how God always provides.  When we eat this bread, we should remember God’s provision of His Son.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48)

While there are many, many other customs that can be incorporated into the Sabbath meal, this is what we are sticking to for now.

After the meal, we usually present our children with a restful gift.  This is a small reminder of the wonderful gift God has given to us.  On our first Sabbath celebration, everyone received new pajamas and a Sabbath play set from Kid Kraft.  On subsequent Sabbaths, we have given items such as a family book or game.

To drive home the point of the holiness of the day, we usually purchase special treats only to be consumed on the Sabbath.  At the moment, it is hot chocolate and popcorn with a special topping.  This is a simple reminder that the day is different than the rest.  As Christians, we are to be different, or set apart, from the world.

When Sunday morning dawns, we read about Jesus’ resurrection and enjoy some candy.  I usually leave this out on the table as a surprise as the children wake up. I change up how I do this each week, so the children are surprised. I use a special basket, the above Bible verse, and a “He has risen!” plaque that I purchased off of Etsy to decorate the table.

Also, I would like to share a teaching about the Sabbath that I’ve found helpful. We in no means observe the Sabbath in this way at this point, but this in depth study definitely is something to learn and pray about while searching the Scriptures for yourself.

This has been such a fun and meaningful way for us to celebrate the Lord together in our home as a family each and every week. I hope that this post has been an encouragement to you.

FREE Family Tradition Notebook Printable Pack

Since we’ve been discussing traditions this month, I thought it might be fun to put together a Family Tradition Printable Pack for y’all.

This pack is absolutely free.  A page for each month is included, but of course feel free to print out as many pages as you would like.  This is a place for you to journal about your traditions, make note of what you would like to try, and how they worked out!

Click Here to Download Your Printable Pack

If you would like to look back at the tradition posts, please just click below.

Blessings to you and your families as you seek to honor the Lord with your traditions!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I would love to connect with you on Facebook. I’d also like to invite you to my Mary & Martha Facebook Page, or to look at beautiful and inspiring Mary & Martha home decor. It is a such a blessing to serve you!

Possibly linking to these awesome link parties!

Creating Meaningful Family Traditions in Your Home Part 2 – Giving Your Traditions to God

Read Part 1 in this series here.

Family traditions are a beautiful way to instill memories, and even values into our children.  I’m so excited to begin digging deeper into this topic as the holiday season is growing near.  I can imagine now all of the fun we will have with our families!

But first, God.  God should come first always, right?  So, He should definitely come first in our traditions.

Let me paint a word picture for you.  Since it’s fall, imagine your family is torn between visiting a pumpkin patch and a haunted house.  After not giving it much thought, your family pulls into the parking lot of the haunted house.  Once a legion of zombies and demons stroll past your car, you begin to think that this might not have been such a good idea!

Like everything we do in life, we really should think about our traditions through the lens of Scripture before implementing them in our family.  Here are a few first steps to take when we decide what traditions would be best for our families.

Does this tradition glorify God?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

God should be glorified in all things, including our traditions.  This doesn’t mean that all of our traditions must be ultra-spiritual, but that we need to look at His attributes when we decide what to celebrate.   Take the fruits of the Spirit for example, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.   When we live our life for the Lord these attitudes should spring from us.  They should be found in our traditions as well.  Likewise, if the Word of God indicates that we should avoid certain activities, we should apply this teaching to our traditions as well.

Does this tradition focus on the lovely?

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8

As I touched on last time, our traditions should exemplify Philippians 4:8.  Our thoughts have a tendency to fixate on what we are actually doing, and so we should strive to fixate on the lovely things in life.  With the possibility of so many good and noble traditions out there, it doesn’t make any sense to participate in anything that celebrates wrongdoing.

Does this tradition strengthen our relationship with the Lord?

Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

Proverbs 16:3

Again, while our traditions do not need to be super spiritual, they should point us to God.  Aren’t we thankful to the Lord when we share a special moment with our children?  Aren’t we in awe when we watch a magnificent sunset?  Including beautiful and meaningful traditions in our home can and will strengthen our ties to the Almighty.  We must commit our traditions to the Lord, and He will establish our plans.

A few last thoughts…

We can be assured that when we spend time investing in our family, God is glorified.  He instituted the family as the basic unit of society, and through the family He accomplishes many of His goals.  Planning traditions to strengthen our family unit is a noble thing!

We must remember that God has noted that the traditions and customs of people are usually vain.  (Jeremiah 10:3)  We must take great measures to ensure that our traditions are meaningful and do not fall into this category.  We want our traditions to count, and to really have a positive and eternal impact on our family culture.

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Possibly linking to these awesome link parties!

A Christian Simchat Torah Celebration – A Time of Rejoicing in God’s Word!

“How sweet are Your words to my taste!  Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Psalm 119:103

Last week, our family celebrated The Feast of Tabernacles, otherwise known as Sukkot, in our home for Christ.  It was a beautiful time of celebrating Christ’s birth.

On the ninth day after The Feast of Tabernacles began, is a day called “Simchat or Simhat Torah.”  It is a time of rejoicing in God’s Word, and we had a wonderful time doing so!

After studying more about the celebration, I decided to implement a few ideas in our Christian household.  The book, “Celebrating Biblical Feasts” by Martha Zimmerman was particularly helpful to me.  It was such a blessing that I already had it on hand from a My Father’s World bundle I had purchased last year.

In the Jewish community, this holiday celebrates the conclusion of public Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle.  For us, it was a way to remember the importance of daily Bible reading.

Traditional Simchat Torah celebrations include parades, candy, and other goodies.  This is how we translated it into our home:

  1. Along with loads of candy, we set out the verse Psalm 119:103 and discussed how sweet God’s Word is.  It is to be “feasted” on daily!
  2. We brought out our Bibles.  My husband read the final chapter of Revelation, and then my oldest son volunteered to read the first chapter of Genesis.  This is a reminder to always read the Bible…to never stop.  Once you reach the end, start right back over again.  Of course this isn’t to say that the Bible must be read in order, but that we must continuously dig into Scripture.  It is a spring of life to us!
  3. We ate a large family meal to commemorate both this day and the end of the Feast of Tabernacles.  While dismantling our Sukkah earlier in the day, I reflected on how much more meaningful this time had been to me in comparison to Christmas.  Celebrating Christ during this fall feast was amazing!
  4. We finished up the evening with our annual fall scavenger hunt, complete with a basket of Dollar Tree finds.

Again, I believe a new family tradition has been born.  What a fun and beautiful way to remember that God’s Word never fails.  Our children were happy, their bellies were full of candy (which was a fun treat, especially since Halloween is near and we do not participate in this celebration in any way), and my heart wished we had celebrated Biblical feasts sooner.

Connect with me on Facebook to join a community of likeminded women!  You can also find me on Twitter (@Nicole_CAABBlog), Instagram (Nicole_ChildrenareaBlessing), Pinterest, and YouTube.  If you are a blogger, please join our Growing in Grace Link Up on Thursdays.

Possibly linking to these awesome link parties!