Looking for something new to add to your family’s Christmas traditions? Checkout theshepherdstreasure.com. I found this resource last year while on church staff, and think it is a fun way to connect with your family during Advent.
Today is my wife’s birthday. A day for celebrating her life and who she is. Three years ago I posted this post about how incredible she is; all of which is still true today.
In his song Made for Me, TobyMac expresses his sentiment for his wife. When the song was released, I quickly became quite fond of it as it expresses my own thankfulness for my wife (lyric video below).
‘Cause she was made for me
You gave her to me
I said I’d hold on loose but I so wanna squeeze you
Just right for me and for the life of me
I can’t believe I get to call her mine
After 17 years of marriage, I still “can’t believe I get to call her mine.” I find it hard to put into words how thankful I am for my beloved bride. While I often fail at being the husband I should be to her, her unwavering commitment to Christ compels her to stand with me, even when I am helplessly broken. Her kindness and compassion, gentleness and hard work, wisdom and servant-heart are markers of her godliness as a mom, wife, and follower of Jesus. I love you, Janna! These traits have been exponentially demonstrated in this last 6 months as you have walked with me into the next chapter of our life together. May God bless you in the most abundant, exciting, and fulfilling ways!! Happy birthday!
…a prudent wife is from the Lord. ~ Proverbs 19:14
Who can find a wife of noble character? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good. ~ Proverbs 31:10-11
“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” ~ Proverbs 15:1
Let me start with this confession: This is hard for me.
I don’t know if you struggle with being snippy and harsh with your loved ones, but I do.
Not too long ago I confessed that to someone close to me, and their response startled me a little: “I have a hard time believing that. You are always so mild-tempered and never seem frazzled by anything.”
Why did this startle me? Because I know the truth in my heart that controlling my tongue is hard. It was during that conversation I realized something about myself. I intentionally invest and expend a great deal of energy in appearing “in control” at work and, in general, when away from home. What I don’t do often enough is give my family that same level of energy. They are often stuck with the leftovers of my relational energy.
How can this be?!? These are the people I love the most, and yet, they are the ones I treat the worst!
It turns out that James’ caution about the tongue is spot on (James 3), though that really should be no surprise. At times, taming my tongue seems impossible. And it takes an amount of energy and restraint that I struggle to have.
The more important issue I have to deal with, though, is not what comes out of my mouth but my attitude and the condition of my heart. Jesus said that my mouth speaks from the overflow of my heart (Luke 6:45). So when I let my guard down and speak with anything less than a respectful, gentle tone to my family, what is really happening in my heart? It typically boils down selfishness.
Regarding sin, Paul says “whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12) The only “cure” for the real issue is the transforming power of the gospel, that is, the Spirit of God’s renewal of my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2). After all, the fruit of the Spirit is… gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) I must daily… hourly… moment-by-moment submit myself to the Spirt of God and let Him transform my heart.
God, cleanse me from my hidden faults and keep me from willful sins; do not let them rule me… may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:12-14).
It is with sadness I announce that on June 13, 2017, I submitted my resignation from FBC as Minister to Preschool and Children to Gil and our staff. Being just under 3 years, this is not the short tenure I anticipated when I came to Tuscaloosa. I have been offered an opportunity, that my wife and I believe to be God’s direction, to join the LifeWay Kids curriculum team.
This announcement was officially released yesterday (June 22, 2017) in our weekly newsletter; found here: http://www.firsttuscaloosa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/fsw062217.pdf
For those who have encouraged and welcomed us, thank you. It has been my joy and privilege to serve the families of First Baptist. While we are excited for a new opportunity, which will also includes an added blessing of being close to our extended family, this decision to leave has not come easily or without sadness. We were not actively looking to leave so this opportunity came unexpectedly. We will miss the families of First Baptist and the Tuscaloosa/Northport community.
Whatever good God may have done through us during our time in AL, we pray the God of all wisdom and power will carry out His good work in your families far into the future… in fact for generations yet to come. As Aaron was instructed to pray over the people of Israel, this is my prayer for you:
“May the Lord bless you and protect you; may the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace.” ~ Numbers 6:24-26
June 3, 2017, marks the tenth birthday of our stillborn daughter Carsyn. I have written about her impact on our family a few times over the years. The most recent post can be read here: http://jeremypcarroll.com/celebrating2livesonjune3
My wife and I have tried to make the date of June 3 as a memorial stone on our family’s calendar. In Joshua 4 God instructs Joshua to have the Israelites take stones from the Jordan river to remind of God’s faithfulness and miraculous provision as they cross on dry ground. After collecting the stones, Joshua told God’s people: In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones? ’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:21-24) We will find great benefit in life if we establish landmarks in our lives to help us remember God’s provision lest we fall into taking God’s graciousness for granted.
It is difficult for me to believe that season of our lives was only 10 years ago. So much as happened since then: lived in 3 different states, added 3 more children, welcomed into several church families, God has healed our family from that dark place in ways we could never had imagined at the time.
This year we were blessed to be able to celebrate in a special way with almost everyone from our extended family in TN. Just spending an evening of together. Enjoying each other’s company. God’s faithfulness was on display.
God’s faithfulness is most often on display during life’s trials. An interesting thing about life’s trials… they do not play favorites. Someone once said about the trials of life:
You are either in a trial, just coming out of one, or… buckle up because one is likely around the corner.
We all face them. This means we all have various opportunities throughout life to witness and be thankful for God’s faithfulness. In fact, how we deal with the trials of life reveals the depth of our own faith. In fact James said in the New Testament:
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. ~ James 1:2-3
Now, I have NOT reached the point that I can consistently rejoice in the trials I face in life, but by God’s grace and with the support of my wife, I have been able to find the strength to submit to His leadership through them. I am inspired by Paul’s dependence on God’s grace in the midst of his “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12). God’s power is perfected in my weakness.
Whether you are in the midst of a trial, heading into one, or in a place of healing from the last one, may God’s grace be your abundant supply at all times!
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ~ Proverbs 31:30
A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. This verse is frequently used in churches on Mother’s Day. In fact it was YouVersion’s Verse of the Day today (Mother’s Day 2017). And we should celebrate our moms. They work hard, some away from home and some in the home. Regardless of where they spend their days, moms are incredible. They are selfless. They are nurturing. They give of themselves when there is nothing left to give.
But Mother’s Day can be difficult for some ladies due to a variety of reasons.
Whether mom or not, a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Today I am thankful for the women of faith in my life, including but definitely not limited to:
- My wife and the mother of my children, who loves me more than I deserve and who daily works diligently to pass her faith to our children.
- Susan, the woman I call mom who passed her faith to me by showing me what unconditional love looks like through the way she loves me and my siblings, as well as, the way she loves my dad.
- My Mimi, my mom’s mom who passed her faith down to her daughters.
- My mother-in-law, who passed her faith down to my wife.
- My sister, who works to pass her faith on to communities of people often overlooked.
- My sisters-in-law who love their families and work hard to pass their faith on to their families.
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (CSB)
There is a lot packed into this passage. Let’s focus on a few key parts.
1. There is only one God. He alone is to worshiped.
2. God expects us to love Him with our entire being. He isn’t interested in simply getting a compartment of your life. . . even it’s the largest compartment. His desire is your entire life to be filtered through Him.
3. Older generations have a responsibility to train up younger generations. Yes, most directly, this falls to parents, but it doesn’t stop there (see Deuteronomy 4:9-10 and Titus 2:1-7). Each generation should seek to learn as much as possible from the previous generation and to invest as much as possible the generations that follow.
4. Once-a-week investment in younger generations will not suffice to pass the baton of faith. Part of older generations investment in the younger must include encouraging and equipping parents to lead their children in the faith.
God, grant me wisdom to learn from those who have gone before me and invest often in those that follow.
The brand new Big Picture 52-week Bible Story Devotional is the latest addition to the The Gospel Project themed Bible/BIble Story family from B&H Kids… and I love it!! If you are looking for a family devotional, this one would be worth trying out. It is available in print and e-reader (ordering link below).
We have used The Big Picture Storybook Bible with our older preschooler/younger elementary schoolers and it is great for Bible stories. This devotional takes Family Worship to the next tier through well-written life application. Though it doesn’t provide explicit “Bible stories” on each page (Bible story videos are linked), this devotional does an excellent job in the application of Scripture to a child’s life. Consistent with other Bibles and Bible Storybooks in this series, the 52-week devotional retains the central goal of The Gospel Project which is not only to teach Bible stories but to teach the Bible’s story (see tweet below).
Several key features stand out to me:
1. Single page devotional content is good for time-management and younger attention spans.
2. The Read It section features additional Bible passages to support or re-enforce the devotional story as a great addition to keeping each week founded in the Bible.
3. The Watch It section provides a direct link to the Bible story video from which the devotional is based.
4. The iconic Big Picture Question & Christ Connection sections, staples of The Gospel Project, ensure a close tie-in to the gospel helping children and families think beyond the page. This devotional includes expanded Big Picture Questions to help facilitate deeper conversations.
5. The Live Big section sends the devotional over-the-top providing practical application and recommendations to carry the devotional “lesson” beyond the Family Devotional time to the rest of the week. The inclusion of this section expands the applicable age-range of the devotional to include older elementary-aged children.
Teaching Bible stories to kids is critical. Teaching the Bible's STORY is absolutely imperative for giving the other stories their context.
— Jeffrey M Reed (@JeffreyMReed) March 12, 2016
No devotional is perfect in and of itself nor is any one book (outside the Scriptures) the perfect fit for every family. The Big Picture 52-week Bible Story Devotional, however, interweaves a simplicity perfect for older preschoolers with thought-provoking questions and application that will engage older elementary schoolers with such excellence that many families will find this devotional a great resource to guide Family Worship in their homes.
Additional reading about this devotional and sample pages:
Link to purchase from LifeWay:
Each year, June 3rd brings 2 celebrations of life.
One life is my dad! June 3 is his birthday. He is a man who has seen struggles, some consequential and others circumstantial; but today, he is fighting hard to be the man God has called him to be. I am thankful for him and love him so much!
The other life is daughter Carsyn Marie. She was stillborn on June 3, 2007. This morning I have reflected and read through posts from 2012 and 2013. Some thoughts from previous years can be found below.
But this year, I am reminded that the fact that these 2 lives are connected to the same calendar day means a great deal to me. My ability to deal with loss and life’s struggles was, in a large part, learned from my dad. As I said, he is man who has seen many personal struggles in his lifetime, and today, he stands firm fighting against those struggles toward Christlikeness. His example, along with other’s I have seen, wrapped in the mercy and graciousness of God gives me hope. Hope to press on. Hope that God is working things our for good according to His purposes and glory (Romans 8:28). Hope “that He who started a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Finally, I would be negligent if I failed to mention the steadfast faith of my wife, Janna. Through an emotionally devastating situation, she exemplified the peace of God unlike any I have personally witnessed. Paul said, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). She lived this back in 2007. And I’ve seen it over and over again since then. She is one of my greatest heroes.
My encouragement to you is this: struggles come and go, some last a long time and some only a short time. Jesus told His disciples, “In the world you have troubles, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
Original post: http://jeremypcarroll.com/today-she-would-have-been-6
Our daughter, Carsyn, would have been 6 years old today, had she not been stillborn. In one sense, it seems like a lifetime ago; in another, like only yesterday.
Each year, we try to set aside this day to be together as a family. We talk. We do things together, some fun – some somber. We pray. We remember. The goal is not to idolize our daughter but to simply be together and to remember and celebrate, as a family, the mercy, grace, and faithfulness of God in our life during a dark time.
May God encourage you by what we continue to learn.
Below are some excerpts from last year’s post (to read in full: http://jermpc.com/?p=505)
My dear, sweet daughter Carsyn. Today would be her 5th birthday (2012) had she not been stillborn. Her birthday serves as a reminder for our family of one of the darkest seasons we have encountered. In a moment like that, there are no words of comfort for someone who has just been told “I’m sorry; we cannot find your baby’s heartbeat. She has died.” There is grief. Even though, we never heard her laugh or saw her smile. Even though, I never comforted her when she was crying or read her a book or played with her and her dolls…there is grief. There is sadness. She is, to this day, part of our family, though. Her picture hangs on our wall with the rest of the childrens’ pictures. She come up in our conversations.
I find myself reflecting often on the circumstances of 2007 in hopes that the Lord will not allow me to become complacent and stagnant in life. Of course, I do not desire that to return to that valley, but I, also, do not want to forget the lessons that God taught me during that time.
What did I learn then that I do not want to let go of? (note: this list is certainly not comprehensive)
1. Life is in God’s hands. Pretending I have any control or hand on life and death is pure foolishness. Furthermore, I do not need to understand death any more than I need to understand birth. I should not ask “Why did Carsyn die?” any more than I should ask “Why was Carsyn’s life created?”
2. Circumstances change; God does not.
3. Contentment in the Lord must be of highest importance to my family. Paul writes, “I have learned to be content in all things.” and so must I (1 Timothy 6). Not just contentment with stuff but with His power over the ebb and flow of life.
4. One of the most often misquote…and misapplied verses in Scripture is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. (HCSB)
I’ve heard it many times with this verse as support, “God will not allow anything to happen to you that you can’t handle.” This verse does not say this, nor does the Bible, in any other place, teach this idea. This verse is talking about the temptation to sin not the trials of life. The whole point is that we can’t handle many (perhaps argument could be made for all) of life’s circumstances. We need God. We need to Him as focus of our praise in the good times lest we think too highly of ourselves, and we need Him to sustain us during the difficult times by His peace.
5. The peace of God really does surpass all human understanding.
Why is this so important to me? Because as difficult as that season of life was for our family, God has shown us great mercy & grace over the last 5 years since. He has added 2 more amazing children our family and granted us loving relationships from our amazing church staff and church family…to name just a couple. God has shown us His kindness in more ways than I can name…and that is something I never want to forget!