Top 5 Christian Books for Kids

I have thought about writing this for a while. Theres a lot of really good books out there, but theres also a lot of really bad ones. Sometimes books are branded as "Christian" when they teach nothing about God or the bible, or maybe teach something contrary to it. So I am sharing the books I use on a regular basis with the kids. Mostly with Jed (4) because Luke is still too young to understand some of these but its important to start now with him too. So here are my top 5, I guess you could call them theology, books for kids. I have some really good fiction ones too but more on that later.

1. My first Read and Learn Bible
This is my favorite toddler bible. Its simple and easy read and not too long. Im hoping Jed will be able to read it soon and he can read it to Luke.

2. The Young Readers Bible 
I actually bought this at a yard sale! And it has been the best kids bible I've come across. He owns a few other ones but this is by far my favorite. Its the one RJ reads to him every night. It has the reference to where its found in the bible and the stories are very true to the actual scriptures. It also has characters in the front and who they are and a small theology section in the back.  

3. My best ever book of bible stories.
This is such a clever book. The last three books my mother in law sent me. This one tells the bible in a rhyme. Its super cute and Jed thinks its a lot of fun. Its also fun if you ever use puppets or little action figure to tell bible lessons. I enjoy reading it on my own because its so cute. 

4. My 1st book and more.

These last two books are what I would call childrens theology books. They focus on truths that kids can learn about God. This one is almost like a devotional. It has a truth about God and it explains it in a way kids can understand. We try to do one after our bible reading in the mornings.

5. Everything a child should know about God.

This is another theology book that makes it easy for kids to understand more about God. It explains things really simply. It talks about how God made angels, how God is holy, miracles, how the church began. It also has questions at the end of each truth, which is awesome. I think its so important to dialogue with kids so that they can hear what they're thinking and talk things through. Its an easy read too, so it won't take long to go through all of it.

These are the five books that I find really helpful in teaching the boys. We love books and sometimes it can be overwhelming to have too many so we tend to rotate them out. Kids, like adults, need to hear the same thing over and over to learn it. So RJ has actually gone through the entire kids bible a lot with him and he's memorized some of the stories. Its awesome to see him pick stuff up and start to ask  questions.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know some of your favorite books down below. I love finding new ones.

The Mins Games

On my last post I talked a little about minimalism and how our family has come to embrace the concept of it. I got a lot of good feedback and even some emails with people saying they've been wanting to do similar things but find it really difficult. Let me introduce you to the minimalist game! Its a really simple concept by Joshua and Ryan. Its a game you play with someone for 30 days. You get rid of something each day, according to the number date. So the for example on the 12th of November you get rid of 12 things, the 13th its 13, and so on. The first few days it can be easy but as you get further in the month it gets harder. But the reason it works is because you have to really start being intentional about what you get rid of towards the end. Even if you cant get through the whole month, its a good way to kick off a decluterring.

So the way I do it is just make sure that by the end of each night whatever I'm getting rid of is in a box and in the garage. In the original game its suppose to be out of the house but I'm not about to go to the thrift store everyday, ain't nobody got time for that. I'm also flexible on adding days together if you're doing a room at a time. When all is said and done you should be rid of 465 things (if I know math). That is such a great start to decluttering or just reevaluating all of your things. Its really kicked me into a purge and nothing is safe. So I challenge you to give it a try! Even if you don't do it all month, you can still get rid of some stuff.

Let me know in the comments or email if you're giving it a try! Sending everyone who goes all month a little gift :) Happy Purging!

The minimalist approach

I guess I am what I like to call a minimalist. I think when most people think minimalist, they think one bedroom apartment, with white walls, a couch and a table. But that's not necessarily the definition of a minimalist. I don't view minimalism as certain rules to abide by, but instead a way to view possessions. This is probably one of the best definitions on it I've read. I try to constantly declutter and get rid of things we don't need, use, or have a lot of. It can be challenging with kids but I think its important to start when they're young so you can teach them. I try and talk to my oldest about how decluttering can help us enjoy our space to play and we can take better care of the things we have. I also remind him that Its important to not place value on material things, that's its OK if something gets broken or lost. He is very sentimental so this is tough for him at times, but he's learned to let go a little and has even volunteered certain toys to giveaway.

It all started with my husband who I think at heart is a real minimalist. He has always had few possessions. Everything he owns can probably fit in a closet. The only thing he consistently takes on all of our moves are old letters from when we were dating and books (some might say we have a lot of books, and I cant argue that). He probably got me started on the whole idea that material possessions were just not that important. I'm not by nature a minimalist, quite opposite, I might be a closet hoarder. I like stuff, I grew up with my mom showing me love by, you guessed it, buying me stuff. So when my husband challenges me to get rid of that stuff I wanted none of it. I actually thought he was quite crazy, but the more we talked about it, the more I realized he was right. So even though he was probably the main reason to start it, he wasn't the only one.

There were a few reasons why I finally decided to be intentional about getting rid of things. We helped a few people move and I realized it was really hard to move so much stuff, stuff that most people never even used. Moving has actually been one of the biggest reasons for me, I ask myself constantly, am I willing to move this? A lot of times the answer is no. We've moved 5x since we've been married, that's about once a year. Each time it wasn't that hard, moving is never fun but its unbearable when the person you're moving has a lot of things. So I try to be realistic about what a small family (family of 4) really needs and Its not a whole lot. But an even bigger reason is stress. Having things stresses me out, because things cause clutter. So I try really hard to maintain only what we can keep track of, and as we speak I'm thinking about 50 million things to get rid of. It's still a process for me, I try and fill a couple of boxes each month.

This is just what works best for our family, I don't think its for everyone. I don't think you're an awful person if you have a lot of stuff. I think its a matter of what you can best handle without going crazy. For me, the amount of stuff I have directly coordinates with my level of crazy. So we try our very hardest to keep things to a minimum. It also helps us not put so much value on possessions and we don't get as emotionally attached to things. It really is a great way to view possessions but it can be really hard. Lets face it, everything in society makes us want more things. So trying to completely change what can be very innate in us, can be hard, but not impossible.

Going to be trying the minimalist game for November if you're wanting a jump start. More on my IG.

6 things that surprised me about the Army

We've been in the Army all of three years and seeing how I'm an expert on the subject, I thought I would write about it. Well three years in the military is nothing, I know nothing, I have experienced nothing, and I am nobody, but there are things that really surprised me about the military and I've had people ask me whats its like or who say their boyfriend is thinking of joining, what should I know.  Being from California you don't really grow up knowing that much about the military, just what you see in movies and here from the weirdos that are in ROTC. So I had my own idea of what it would be like, and although it wasn't completely off the mark, there are things that really surprised me about it, and here they are....

1. Time away from family

I knew that the military came with deployments and that they weren't fun. But i didn't think about the month long trainings, or the week long trainings, the overnight ones. Or that on a daily basis my husband works 13+ hours. The time away is no joke and its enough for us to say no to a life long career in the military.

2. Not all jobs are the same

Your job matters. As much as all of this is my experience, my neighbors is completely different, and her neighbors is different. Everyone has a job in the Army and it determines your hours, deployments, stations. It matters what you do and more than that, who your boss is. Even though our experiences will be very similar, no ones will be exactly a like.

3. It's not like the movies

I expected soldiers to be really proud of being in the military. I expected them to be honorable and outstanding people. If you're in the military you're probably laughing at all of this. Although those guys are there, a lot of the time you have guys who hate it. Who have attitude, who talk back, who are rude. Theres cheating, stealing, DUIs. All things that happen in civilian life, I guess I just thought the military was different.

4. The people you meet

The people you meet really do become like family. No one understands exactly what you're going through better than them. I didn't expect to get as attached as I have to the people here but we have learned that we are able to make lifelong friendships anywhere. We feel like this has been Gods way of showing us the importance of the global church, not just the church in your hometown. This has honestly been the biggest lesson we learned from the military.

5. It brings you together or tears you apart

Deployments, trainings, time away can all be a huge strain on your marriage. It can lead to resentment, anger, bitterness. The military can make it really easy to have disconnect with your spouse. You are in a sense leading separate lives. Things get busy for them and things get busy at home. If you're not intentional, I think it can lead to a lot of problems. On the other side, it can, at times be good. Being away from your spouse brings a different kind of emotional intimacy that you both experience. If communicated correctly, it can make your relationship grow so much. Every time my husband is away from home, I feel like we grow closer. Its almost like your relationship is put in the oven and it either burns or it grows tremendously and quickly.

6. Family

Even though life in the military has been difficult and at times impossible, I wouldn't take it back. God has used it to grow us. We have really realized the importance of family. Things change so quickly in the military, people often come and go. The constant is our family and we have made it a point to focus on it. We focus on our marriage and on our boys. It has been really awesome to see military families with high school kids that are really close. They're like a little team of Christians, a force, serving and loving wherever they go. Its something to aspire to in the future. I hope wherever we go next and eventually end up that people feel the same way about our family. We're learning that you get out of relationships, what you pour into them, and we should pour everything into the people around us.

The Army is not everyone. It is a really hard place to be, and even more so for Christians. I am grateful for everyone who chooses to do what so few choose. It can be a learning, trying, and growing experience. There is a lot of sacrifice that comes with it, but there is also a lot to be proud of. We are so very proud of our soldier. I love that we can tell our boys that their dad is doing something great and even though he's not always home, we can always be proud of the man he is.

Studying Nutrition

I finally saw Fed Up a few weeks ago, and I have to say it is one of the best documentaries I've seen. This is coming from a reformed (in the process) sugarholic. I love sugar! More specifically chocolate is my thing.  I literally ate it by the spoonfuls in the form of Nutella. Chocolate has always been the hard thing to cut out when I make lifestyle changes. I think mostly because I never really believed how bad it is for you. Bring in Fed Up. That movie was super informative, and you know I'm a sucker for conspiracies. I just thought it made a very compelling argument and they made me a believer. After doing some research myself and finding out that, yea, sugar is pretty bad for you. It was just eye opening to how much we don't know about the foods we eat, and how in the dark companies try to keep us.

It also encouraged me to keep studying nutrition. The main reason being that its something I have always struggled with, but mostly because I don't understand it. Ive heard terms like eat less, calories in vs calories out, smaller portions, but what does it all mean? I think when you understand something, you do it a lot better. Its so much more complex than saying, eat smaller portions. It matters what you put in your body, not all calories are created equal, and its not the same for everyone. Nutrition like anything else in life, is not a one size fits all. And one of the bigger reasons I want to keep studying is to hopefully help other people. In the film they follow a few kids who are obese and they go through what they eat in a day. And as easy as it would be for me to sit there and judge how those parents are letting there kids eat junk, I think a lot of them don't know. I'm reminded of how I grew up with my aunts making super fatty things, and eating sweet bread, and my mom making me eat everything on my plate. Thanks fast metabolism and my mom also forcing us to drink green smoothies (ugh). They just didn't know! Growing up Mexican, comes with a manual and fatty foods are on the top of that list. My husband likes to say that Mexicans just cook whatever taste good, they don't care about how healthy it is ( bless them, because It's good).

So how do we balance good food and food that taste good? I'm still learning that. I cant say that I have completely cut sugar out of my life. But I can say that I have cut back and I am a lot more mindful of what I eat. Its still a work in progress and I'm still learning. I have lost 7lb and there is still a lot more to go. I hope to change not only the way I eat, but the way I see food. I am my own first customer if you will. I hope to learn and change myself and in the process teach people about what they're eating. I'm really enjoying it so far,  I hope to always continue to learn about it, and teach some  people in the process.
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