Growing Up & Joining the Church: A Confirmation Decision

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We’ve had a really big weekend around here, for several reasons, but one of the biggest was our Big Helper’s decision to join the church.


Our Big Helper’s faith journey is a simple one, but it’s strong.

When she was 18 months old, we were sitting on the kitchen floor, carving a pumpkin and doing the pumpkin parable devotion with it.  I was rather mentally rolling my eyes as I read the scripture, wondering how my little tiny tyke was supposed to be getting anything other than “pumpkins have slimy guts” from the exercise and the complicated passage in Revelations I was reading (according to the devotion’s directions), when she said she wanted to be clean, too.  I sat there in shock as she said she didn’t want to be dirty like the pumpkin.  We prayed together, and she was very excited – as only toddlers can be – and life continued.  I recorded the event and we continued life.

A few years later, something similar happened.  As a young child, she had continued to participate in our family devotions, to memorize Bible verses at dinnertime, and to pray with us.  The topic of salvation had come up again in another devotion, and she again indicated that she wanted to follow Jesus.  We asked her questions, including if she remembered her first pumpkin experience (she didn’t) but was quite sincere, and so she prayed, and again life continued.

Our Big Helper was never really not following Jesus, in that she never consciously tried to go against the ways of faith.  She has, however, over and over, indicated that she is intentionally choosing to follow Jesus: to love Him, love others, to study His Word, and to serve wherever possible.

For years now, our Big Helper has looked at life through a faith lens.  She often questions how life events compare to scripture, or the other way around – what scripture says about what she sees happening around her.  She studies her Bible, asks lots of questions, and has been working for years to earn enough money for a mission trip to Haiti with the Hands and Feet Project.

It came as no surprise that she jumped at the chance to be confirmed, or to study to join the church.  As United Methodists, this means completing the work begun at baptism and making a public, informed, conscious choice to follow Jesus and to join his earthly Church. 

She began classes weeks ago, meeting with our pastor and the other confirmand, studying church history, theology, the creeds, and what it means to be a full church member.  They met for a retreat, where they continued their work and did some service projects.

And then yesterday was the big day.  My Big Helper was up early, dressed in her new confirmation dress, excitedly twirling to see her skirt flare out and chattering nervously about the ceremony to come.  She’s at an age where the child and the adult she’s one day going to be both manifest themselves, sometimes both in minutes, and it’s odd and amazing to see.

Suddenly it was time.  It seemed somewhat surreal as family members all trooped up front to stand with her in support of her decision.  She answered questions confirming her faith, smiling all the while, standing and kneeling as instructed by our pastor. 

Then, as her first act as a full member of Warren’s Grove United Methodist Church, she was (with our other onfirmand) invited to serve communion to the congregation.  Her smiles continued as she passed out the bread to each in turn, excited to be serving in a real and tangible way.


When church was over, we headed home.  Friends and family joined us to celebrate our Big Helper’s decision, as well as our Little Man’s tenth birthday.  We had a fun afternoon with everyone, and we’re very thankful for the support and encouragement they give our children.

For me, it was an emotional day.  I’m excited about the decision she’s made, but it’s also a sign that she’s growing up, and that’s always a little bittersweet.  I wouldn’t want this decision to be any other way, of course, but her need for discipleship is far from over.  I feel the weight of the responsibility to guide her well; to provide answers, examples, and resources to prepare her for full adulthood.  While she’s now an adult in the church, she’s also only twelve, and still needs much guidance from people further along in their faith journeys.  I pray that she can be surrounded by those people, and by people to whom she can turn with her questions, and by those who will provide strong, faithful examples for her.

Have your children made decisions for faith?  What resources have you found to support them along the way?

These are a few of our favorites:


Download Your Free How-To Guide for Bring Your Bible to School Day


Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are preparing for Hurricane Matthew to hit. For students in hurricane-affected states who are facing school closures but still want to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day, the alternate date is Thursday, October 20.

This brings about a good point: Any day can be a day you organize your friends to bring your Bibles to school together!

By signing up during the month of October for Bring Your Bible to School Day (even if you missed the official celebration), you can download a free how-to guide for teens, parents, pastors, and elementary students. It’s full of helpful information that will help you organize a day to take a stand for religious freedom and bring your Bible to school with your fellow classmates.

(Sign-ups must be received by midnight (MT), Oct. 7, in order to be automatically entered into the Newsboys giveaway.)

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey


Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Commit to Bring Your Bible to School October 6

Celebrate religious freedom with other students across the U.S. on October 6—Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends in just a few short weeks. Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations.

By signing up, you’ll receive a free guide with tips, downloadable posters, sticker and T-shirt designs, information on your legal rights, and other fun, interactive activities.

You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, an award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas!

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey


Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Nourish Your Family’s Spiritual Health this Easter


If your family is like most, breakfast is rushed to get everyone out the door. Lunch is spent at school or work. So where does that leave dinner? Nourish your family’s spiritual health as you eat supper together. Adventures in Odyssey and Odyssey Adventure Club want to give you a free resource to help you begin your new dinner tradition of making the most of your family mealtime, beginning this Easter season. Simply head to this page and fill out the form to receive a free sample of Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions.


Want new resources to continue to build your family’s faith, even after Easter is over? Consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.

To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit, Facebook, Twitter. and Pinterest.

Join Odyssey Adventure Club for a Summer Challenge and Movie Ticket Giveaway

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Summer . . . a time that kids pine for during the school year and parents may anticipate with something akin to dread. Fearing refrains of “I’m bored” or hours spent on the couch playing video games can make moms and dads nervous about the long, hot months stretching before their family. Focus on the Family’s Odyssey Adventure Club offers an answer, encouraging parents and kids to embrace faith and fun with the Take the Plunge Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine’s Summer Challenge.

Take the Plunge

The Take the Plunge challenge features:

  • Master Mind Monday — commit God’s Word to memory
  • Ways to Play Wednesday — spend active time with your family
  • Faith Sharing Friday — share God’s love with others

The Take the Plunge challenge helps families memorize at least five verses, engage in five activities together and share their faith with five people before the school doors swing open again. Those who sign up will receive an 11-week plan with suggested verses to memorize, activity ideas (such as visiting a war memorial) and ways to witness (such as passing out popsicles at the park with an invitation to your church), making this challenge the perfect tool for parents who want summer to be a time of spiritual and social stimulation for their kids.

“Research tells us that the more senses we involve when teaching children a principle, the more likely it is to stick,” Plugged In editor and Adventures in Odyssey podcast host Bob Smithouser says. “Bible memorization by itself is great, but it becomes even more powerful when put into action. Know it. Share it. Live it.”

Families who sign up to take part in the challenge at will have access to weekly verses to memorize, ideas for family fun and suggestions for service projects that allow a family to share their faith. Additionally, anyone who signs up to participate in the Take the Plunge challenge will receive a free scene from the latest Adventures in Odyssey album, as well as a free story from the book Strange Journey Back.

A Bonus Contest

From June 1–5, tell us in 30 words or less how you are going to take the plunge to deepen your faith this summer for a chance to win a family four-pack of tickets to the theatrical release of Beyond The Mask June 5th weekend and free access to the Odyssey Adventure Club all summer long (June, July, August—total $85 prize value)!

Send your entry to Two winners will be chosen to win each day June 1-5 and announced on the Adventures in Odyssey Facebook Page.

Entries will be chosen based on creativity and writing skill. Rules are available at

Becoming Knights of the Book

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to involve men in the church – and about how to keep our kids there.  I also hear lots of people saying that boys have their own unique learning style in the classroom – and that’s very true.  I work with our church’s elementary-aged youth group, and with only one girl, it’s a wiggly, noisy bunch.

With that in mind, I set about praying for a way to make scripture interactive for these boys, and the answer I got involved armor, weapons, and knights.


After praying through this idea, we settled on Ephesians 6:10-18.  I purchased this book and studied how to adapt these plans to make our own armor. We held a fundraiser, collected Duct tape and volunteers, and advertised the class.

The plan was simple:  each week for six weeks we’d study a different piece of the armor mentioned in this passage.  We’d examine it in Roman context, define and discuss the trait connected to that piece of armor, and read through the passage together.  We talked about a related Bible story and then shared about how to live out this trait.

I challenged the kids to memorize this lengthy passage on their own time, and I sent home discussion questions, too.  We worked hard to understand the scripture before breaking out and building armor.  Each night we built the piece of armor we’d studied.  The volunteers who helped us were crucial, as this was a tricky process, but it was fun, too.


Becoming Knights of the Book @ A Nest in the Rocks

When the six weeks were over, the kids met early one Sunday morning to put on their full suits of armor for the first time.  We reviewed the traits we’d studied and what a knighting ceremony looked like.

Becoming Knights of the Book @ A Nest in the Rocks

Then it got real.  We marched out the doors and headed for the sanctuary of our church, where our pastor awaited us.

Becoming Knights of the Book @ A Nest in the Rocks

The kids marched up front, where they took the vows of a knight based on scripture and real knightly characteristics.  Each one was called forward and dubbed a ‘knight of the Book.’

We celebrated afterwards with a reception in the fellowship hall, and the kids proudly showed off their armor.  They worked hard to meet the requirements of the knights, and I’m sure that they learned something in the process.  I pray that the scripture they studied continues to make an impact as they grow.

Now … what to study next??



Bible Journaling with Kids: Going Deeper

 Bible Journaling with Kids: Going Deeper @ A Nest in the Rocks Going Deeper

Last week we talked about Getting Started with Bible Journaling with Kids.  If this is something you’re considering, you may want to go back and read that post.

But looking forward, after you have some supplies in place, what do you do?

I think this can go one of two ways.

First, you could let your child go it alone.  Let him/her see you reading and studying your Bible and branching out artistically from that time, but don’t do anything else.  Let your example lead.

That has worked for us in multiple things, including creating a desire to read the Bible originally.  Both of my kids wanted their own Bibles to read at young ages because they saw me reading mine.

If you have especially young children, this free rein approach could be great for encouraging art exploration and Bible expression.

If your child is old enough to learn how to study the Bible independently, however, a specific, joint journaling time could have the added benefit of teaching ways to study scripture. 

There are great curriculums out there for this, as well as neat methods like SOAP and such; but here are some simple ideas that you can do with ordinary stuff to dig into scripture deeper – and enhance that Bible journaling experience:

  • Journal a story or series.  Not sure what to study?  Use stories of Bible heroes or major Biblical events, like the creation story or the story of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt.  Plan to journal only a few verses at a time, and use some of the following ideas to take your journaling experience deeper.
  • Use a dictionary.  Look up the definitions of words that seem important or that are standing out to you.  Be sure to ask your child which word(s) that is for him/her.  Discuss these words together.  Put the definition of the word into the verse for clarification.
  • Map it.  Most Bibles have historical maps in the back.  Trace traveling routes on the maps.  Figure out the distances traveled, length of time on the road, and maybe even research climate conditions.  Would this have been a winter journal or a summer one?  Hot or cold?  Was it a safe one?
  • Read the footnotes.  Study Bibles have all sorts of information at the bottom of the page.  Read the notes out loud to your kids.  Talk about what that additional information means.  Often it can help put the scripture into the appropriate cultural and historical context.
  • Use the concordance.  If your Bible has additional verses listed, look’em up.  I recently had a great conversation with a group of kids about the ‘underwear of truth’ while we were learning about the ‘belt of truth’ discussed in Ephesians 6.  You never know where it will lead you!
  • Use all your senses.  Think about what it must have felt, looked, tasted, smelled, or sounded like.  Remember that this was before running water, flush toilets, deodorant, or vaccinations!  It might seem silly, but I’m betting that life had an earthier quality to it than most of us Americans can imagine, and thinking in those terms might help us see the scene more vividly.
  • Ask questions.  Many Bible stories have elements that seem outlandish to me.  Why was a plague of frogs thought to be so bad?  Was Eve surprised when the serpent started talking?  What would I have said if some angel popped out of nowhere and told me I was going to have a miracle baby?  What would I have done if….?  Encourage your child to ask questions,  because their natural curiosity is in there churning them up.  Then take them a step further:  what can I do about it NOW?  How can I help people shocked by disease?  What can I do for that new mother at church?  The Bible isn’t a dusty book whose only inspirational actions are past; it’s now.  Allow those questions to spark discussions and journal pages about how to react to scripture and real life situations now – and then go and do.

Bible journaling is a fun and creative practice, but in the end it’s not about the art – it’s about the Bible and the One who inspired it. 

What are your favorite ways to interact with scripture with your kids?

Bible Journaling with Kids: Getting Started

Disclosure Pic For a long, long time I’ve gotten pictures in my head when I read.  I see scenes, characters, clothes, or whatever’s being described well – so when my dad took me to Bible study as a kid, one of the first pictures I ‘saw’ was of Pharaoh with a frog happily perched atop his head. Scripture Journaling with Kids @ A Nest in the Rocks For the past year or so, I’ve been drawing out those pictures.  Sometimes it’s a complete picture, like the froggy and the Pharaoh, but more often than not it’s a mixture of words, colors, and letters.  It’s enough to give me something creative to do with my hands while I ponder the scripture and pray through it. Bible Journaling with Kids: Getting Started @ A Nest in the Rocks The kids have been watching this process, and now they’re interested in Bible journaling, too.  We’ve done several things with it:  we’ve talked about how to draw and highlight scripture in their Bibles so that they can interact with it while still keeping the text legible.  We’ve also purchased simple sketchbooks so that they can make separate pieces of art in there. At first, we journaled together.  We began during Advent and journaled our way through the Christmas story.  After reading the scripture for the day, we read the notes in my study Bible, talked about what specific words meant, about relevant customs of the day, or anything else that popped up. Then we broke out our supplies and got to work. We still journal in this way at least once each week.  We really enjoy the time spent together in scripture, and the artistic endeavor is relaxing.  While we don’t stress about the ‘professionalism’ of the finished product, it is fun to pull out all sorts of art supplies and get colorful.  Sometimes it’s all about the background, others it’s the lettering or a picture, but always it’s about the Bible. So what do we use?  You don’t need anything special.  You probably already have art supplies around the house that will do really cool things.  It is fun, though, to have materials that do new-to-you, special, or unusual things.  With that in mind, these are our very favorite supplies to share among us – and why. These simple Crayola Twistable Crayons – not the pencils – are hands-down my favorite new thing.  I wish I had known about these years ago.  They’re perfect for adults AND for kids for several reasons:  they apply very smoothly to the paper.  That makes them easy to blend to achieve a variety of shades easily.  More importantly, though, you can get great color on the paper and still read the text behind it.  That makes these Twistables perfect for drawing or highlighting in your Bible.  You can sketch in a picture and still be able to read the scripture that inspired the art.  Colored pencils are a basic thing, but you can do great things with them.  My favorite is to color in words that I’ve bubbled or to add shadows or highlights to words.  They’re not too expensive, easy to erase, and easy to sharpen.  Now, to get a little fancier … I’ve always thought of Sharpies as indelible – and they might be, on your clothing or on plastic, but most Sharpies are not waterproof.  This kind, though, IS.  That means that you can use it to outline a drawing, do some creative lettering, and also use in the same piece of art …. Waterpaint.  Waterpaints in the little tubes are a blast to use because you can control the shading and the amount of pigment much more easily than you can the little cakes of color in the plastic trays.  Those will certainly work; but if you’re going to splurge on supplies, the tubes are very fun and they make kids feel as if their artwork and their thoughts are extra important. Gellyroll Glaze pens are new to use, but we’re having a lot of fun exploring with them.  You can use these special, sparkly pens by themselves and enjoy the ink colors, or you can use them (again with the waterpaints) to make a resist.  Basically, you write or draw whatever you want, and when it’s dry, you paint right over top of the whole thing.  The glaze ink pushes the water out of the way, making the ink stand out.  My kids consider this to be almost a ‘secret message’ kind of ink, and they love using it in their Bible art.  (If you’re going to do resists, then white is the most fun color to have.) We keep all of these special supplies in a basket with our Bible and journals, so that we can easily grab it and get to work. Do you journal scripture with your kids?  Want more?  Hop over here to find Six Ways to Turn Scripture into Art. Shared at:

Hip Homeschool MomsBible Journaling with Kids: Getting Started @ A Nest in the Rocks

Lenten Devotions for Young Children

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**I am excited to share this new subscriber freebie with you.  Read on for details about how to get your copy of “Lenten Devotions for Young Children” FREE!

Each year we talk about how we’re going to recognize Lent as a family.  Usually we each choose different things that we feel called to fast from for the duration of the Lenten season.

I didn’t realize that this had such a big impact on My Big Helper until she started talking about Lent immediately after Christmas.

She talked about it so much, sharing all her ideas for things that she could give up, that finally My Little Man, who doesn’t seem to remember much about this season yet, said, “What is Lent, anyway?”

As I got ready to answer him, he quickly added, “And will we have more special devotions like the Jesse Tree with Advent?”

Lenten Devotions for Young Children @ A Nest in the Rocks
He stumped me with that one, because while we try to have a family devotional time each night, we’ve always just continued with our regular devotional book right through Lent.

But he really liked the Jesse Tree format, and he seemed to get a lot out of the stories, so I decided to create our own Lenten devotions centered on the Jesse Tree format and the idea of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Each devotion comes with a scripture reference, an objective, a simple lesson, a prayer, and the matching ornament.

We’ve printed ours off – cut out the eggs, glued them onto triangular banners, and we’re going to attach one each night to a string over the mantel or a doorway after completing that devotion.  You could also just go with the square shape as is – it would certainly be easier to cut out – and hang them from a branch like the Jesse tree, or maybe just look at them and skip the crafty part altogether.

But for the next 46 days we’re going to walk through Lent this way – each sacrificing something important to us, praying our way through the wanting-it times, remembering how very much more Jesus gave for us.In case there are any other curious four-year-olds out there, I thought I’d share.    And if you choose to use any or all of these devotions, I hope they bless your family.

Because this is such a large file, I’ve struggled to find an efficient way to share them with you, and I think I have it figured out!  These devotions are now a subscriber freebie here at A Nest in the Rocks.  Just sign up on the right side of this page, and you’ll get a code in your next Nest update that will allow you to download the devotions for free.

Do you recognize Lent as a family?  If so, how? 

Looking for a great set of devotions for yourself?  Check out this devotional that Candace Crabtree has written! 

Wait Only Upon the Lord

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Hip Homeschool Moms

New Devotional: “Wait Only Upon God” by Candace Crabtree

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Sometimes we have a dream but can’t see the way to fruition.  Sometimes we’re not sure where we’re supposed to be or what we’re to do.  That place of waiting can be really hard, but author Candace Crabtree has written a new 40-day devotional to help you through it.

Wait Only Upon the Lord

Wait Only Upon God is a versatile, flexible devotional about waiting.  The format is beautifully simple:  it contains scripture, a short reflection upon the scripture, and the space for prayers and journaling.  I love Crabtree’s smooth and sincere writing style.  Her honest, thoughtful words are provocative and inspiring.

This would be a wonderful devotional to use during the Lenten season.  If you begin on February 18 and use it every day except Sundays, you’ll end at Eastertime.  I can’t think of a better or more fitting scripture plan for Lent.

Wait Only Upon God is debuting at a special price.  For one week only, you can purchase this book for only $7.99.  After that, the price will go up to the regular price of $8.99.

Crabtree is also running a special giveaway on her blog this week to celebrate the publication of this newest book.  You can enter here.  She’s also offering free printables with the purchase of your book.  You’ll find the download link inside the book.

 You can purchase the ebook version of Wait Only Upon God here