the Stone and the Oak

A journey into bible education with the depth of the of the oak the accountability of the stone

“Mommy, the juice spilled.”

I’m here.

“Mommy, I need help with my Lego set.”

I’m here.

Mommy, I can’t find my other shoe.

I’m here.

Mom, I am feeling confused about something my friend said and I need to talk to you.

Here I am.

Do you see the shift? “I’m here” is literal: I am present.

“Here I am” is something more. Yes, the physical presence is indicated, but a willingness, an offering of self is also swelling in that phrase.


I discovered I’m here/here I am difference when the Holy Spirit had me pause in my reading of Genesis in chapter 22.

Parents, you know the one.

When Abraham has to lug his own son—the one rightful heir who was meant to father multiple nations— up a mountain to be slaughtered by his own hand?

I don’t know about you, but every time I read this, I silently pray, “please, God, never test me to this extent.”

Something leapt out at me (again, through the Holy Spirit) as I was reading this passage:

Abraham repeats one phrase three times: “Here I am” or hineni in Hebrew.

I did a little digging online, and I found the distinction I mentioned earlier: hineni is not merely presence. In Hebrew to indicate mere presence, someone says Po ani (I also saw this phrase as ani Po).

But hineni carries connotations of submission: I am ready, willing, and able to serve you. To use an idiom, hineni means “I am at your service.”


Let’s examine the three mentions of hineni.

Rightly, Abraham uses hineni when God calls his name to give him this test:

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him ‘Abraham!’ And he said ‘Here I am.’ He said ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I shall tell you.

Genesis 22.1-2, ESV

When God calls Abraham’s name, Abraham is ready and willing to do whatever comes next.

And what came next was absolutely heart-wrenching. Take note of how many qualifications are used in that phrase: your son, your only son, whom you love.

God is emphasizing just how great of a sacrifice this will be for Abraham.

If you are a parent, you know that this request is as unthinkably as it gets. As if the stakes could get any higher, there is the added sacrifice of Abraham’s legacy. If Isaac dies, so does his progeny.

But Abraham does no hemming, no hawing. The offer of hineni, or “Here I am” means— I turn myself over to you.

The offer of hineni, or “Here I am” means— I turn myself over to you.

If a mark of obedience is the haste with which it is performed, then Abraham scores the highest marks in obedience.

The very next verse tells us that “So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac” (22.3).

Can you imagine the tightness in Abraham’s chest? Was his stomach flipping itself this way and that as they silently walked up a mountain in the early morning sunlight? But he forged ahead.


A curious interchange happens between Abraham and Isaac before they reach the top.

Isaac breaks the (implied) silence with “My father!” And Abraham responds with hineni Beni “Here I am, my son.”

He uses the same phrase that he would use in respect to God. Not “what do you want?” Or “be quiet—we are almost there” or “well, you should have gone to the bathroom before we left!”

No. He speaks to his son with the tenderness and respect that this phrases carries.

Why is this notable?

The use of this phrase indicates how much he loves his son.

For anyone who might try and argue that this experience for Abraham is the same as schlepping a goat up the mountain — just a means to an end— is sorely mistaken. No, this is deeply personal. Even in what would be Isaac’s final hours of life, Abraham speaks to him with the tenderness and honor that only a loving father would.

This phrase emphasizes the sacrifice. He loves Isaac so very much, but his love for God is even greater still.


And to give this tale beautiful shape, the resolution holds one final Hineni.

As Isaac is bound, and Abraham is holding the knife (is it poised for striking?), an angel appears and calls Abraham’s name twice in a manner that suggests frenzy: “Abraham! Abraham!”

And what does he respond? Hineni. If the first hineni were out of submission, and the second out of tenderness, I have to imagine this final utterance is brimming with hope and relief.

The angel calls Abraham to a halt, and in a nearby thicket is a ram to be offered instead of Isaac.


I couldn’t help but scan my recent callings from God to see if I was responding in a manner of hineni: I am yours for the taking, Lord.

Did I respond with hineni when He asked me to bring up the gospel to the young mother I just met?

Did I respond with hineni when He asked me to stop advertising during Lent?

Did I respond with hineni when He asked me to send a tee shirt to someone I know is struggling?

My answer is often, “okay, God, soon I will.” But I can’t imagine that God is pleased by the answer “soon.” He wants the complete offering of hineni— the abandonment of self-centered comforts, desires, and timeline.

Again, it was the immediacy and the no-looking-back dedication with which Abraham responded that makes him such a faithful servant.

And we know how the story ends. Isaac is spared, and God declares to Abraham:

I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore… and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.

Genesis 22. 17-18, ESV (emphasis mine)

God values obedience. God rewards obedience. Here I am, Lord.

with His love,


Now, don’t get me wrong, my kids’ baskets will have candy in them. I just don’t think kids need only candy filling their Easter baskets.

Why not add some items that will fuel their love for the Lord, get them outdoors, or give them something fun to do Easter afternoon?

I’ve put together this guide to help parents find some healthy additions to tuck into the shredded grass form Easter morning.


  • Amazon prices aren’t fixed. The prices drop and rise a little from day-to-day, so the price I have included was the price listed on the day I visited each item. Also, don’t ask me why the toddler items are more expensive than the rest— seems backwards to me!
  • When I polled my audience, most people indicated they like spending $20-40 per basket. Please keep in mind that I offer several items per age, but I am not suggesting that you purchase all of those items (that would be pricey!) I am hoping you find one or two things that would bless your kiddo.
  • I am an Amazon affiliate, but by no means do you have to use my links. If you are grateful for the curation and recommendations, using the links I provide means I get a couple of pennies kicked into my blog fund at no additional cost to you. In other words, shopping my links means you are getting something for your child and supporting me at the same time.


Its never too early to teach little ones about Jesus’ sacrifice. Have your toddler learn the phrase “Jesus is the lamb” as they squeeze this little guy. Click here to shop this plush lamb.

I love blending practical items into the basket. This soft, neutral set looks like the perfect romp-around outfit! Click here to shop this sweet little set.

Song is one of the best ways to ingrain something in the mind. Get those little voices singing along to “Jesus loves me!” Click here to shop the little song book.

When my boys were toddlers, this was a favorite! The egg shape is good for little hands to grip when they don’t have the dexterity for regular chalk pieces. Click here to shop the 12 pack of egg chalk.

Okay, how cute is this? I wish I had known about this when my boys were tiny! It’s Biblical, snuggly, and fun all at once. Click here to shop the Noah’s Ark plush set


I love that these coloring pages have the large images and thick lines for little hands! Click here to shop the coloring book,

and click here to shop the rustic coloring pencils.

Give those kids a reason to get outdoors! We have all been cooped up enough this last year. These warm-weather-themed wands require nothing but bubble solution and kid energy. Click here to shop the bubble wand set,

And so you don’t blame me for not reminding you, consider grabbing some bubble solution to go with it.

We loved Priddy books in the preschool years! Some of them are touch-and-feel books, and others like this one have colorful, minimal images for little ones to learn terms. I’m thinking of adding this to my cart for my littlest. Click here to shop the First Bible Words book.

The smell of Play-Doh takes me right back to childhood! What I love about this set is that if you have multiple kids, they can each get an egg of Play-Doh! Click here to shop Play-Doh filled eggs.


Are you traveling to see family for Easter dinner? This is a perfect little travel item!Click Here to shop the Water Wow Bible story activity pad

Okay, this might be my desire to shop for a girl coming through, but fun chapstick is an inexpensive basket item and the egg shape is right on theme! Click here for the egg chapstick,

and click here for the Lipsmackers in the fun flavors.

We have loved The Jesus Storybook Bible in our home for years (in fact, we may need a fresh copy!) but I just learned that there is a companion coloring book. Click here for the Jesus Storybook Bible,

and click here for the companion coloring book.

Uno is one of those rare games that is truly fun for a bunch of ages. We recently played an epic game of Uno that included an age span from my 4-year-old all the way up to his 70-year-old grandpa. This particular set is made of paper instead of plastic! Click here to shop the paper Uno set.

If you have kids the same ages as mine, you know that elementary-aged kids love slime and gak and all things gooey (it defies logic). This slime is iridescent! Click here to shop a 6 pack of eggs with slime.

Glitter tattoos that identify your kids as Christ-followers? Score. Click here to shop the Easter tattoos.


As a companion to The Action Bible, or perhaps to be enjoyed on their own, this set of 54 “hero” cards give information about the Bible’s bravest. Click here to shop these Action Bible cards.

Do you have an outdoorsy one? One who has a green thumb? This collection of six may mean you have a couple leftover to gift to Sunday School teachers! Click here to shop the 6-pack of mini terracotta grow pots (you may need to make the 6 pack selection after clicking on the first link).

This is an item I might get for myself this Easter! Straight from Bethlehem, this olive wood cross is meant to be held during prayer. As your pre-teens and teens develop their prayer life, this could be a fitting addition to their basket. Click here to shop this olive wood cling cross.

I mentioned practicality, right? If your pre-teen is anything like my eldest, having a fun mask makes them feel like they are expressing themselves. I love the washable masks that reduce waste. Click here to shop this tie-dye mask in Jade.

It’s getting sunny out there! Equip your kids for the spring and summer with some classic aviators. Click here to shop this pair (you may need to select “Gold/Mirror” to get the exact shade I have pictured here).

I didn’t forget your artistic pre-teen! This set has 44 cards with scripture and messages to color and share. Click here to shop the color cards.


The poll revealed that you all wanted to see some cute baskets as well, so here we are!

Now, for wicker/straw style baskets, you are better off going to a dollar store or Target because they are much pricier online.

But here are a few cute non-straw baskets I rounded up if you are in the market:

This burlap tote may be my favorite! It’s deceptive in size because it’s actually closer to a reusable bag size. This one clocks in at the least expensive. Choose this one for kiddos who want to dig for their prizes on Easter morning rather than have them on display.

Click here to shop the burlap tote.

This minimal woven basket is good for little ones who are likely to need room for a larger item like a stuffed animal. Plus, I love that this one can be emptied out after Easter and used as storage in the house!

Click here to shop this woven basket (they also have pink and other colors!)

On a budget and need to get several baskets? These woven bread baskets can be purchase three for $18 and offer that understated foundation for your goodies to really shine.

Click here for the woven bread baskets

These little knit baskets have clip-on ears that can be removed! The ears are cute, but I would maybe remove them and attach a little wooden cross on the front for a truly Easter-centered basket.

These are on the small side, so save for baskets with tinier items. Click here to shop this basket.

I hope this guide leaves you inspired to stuff those baskets with items that delight without the cost of cavities!

with His love,


How did I land on creating sweatshirts?” my friend Hilary asked me when I gave her the news. “I have no idea!” I responded.

Did I plan to open a shop with the start of the blog? Definitely not. But I am learning to follow God’s nudges and trust that He knows what He is doing.


While reading the New Testament last year, a verse from Luke sauntered into my heart and took up residence there: “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (9.26).

I scribbled in my journaling Bible: I am not ashamed of you, Jesus.

My heart quaked at the thought of being ashamed of Him. There was probably a time long ago, as an angsty pre-teen, when I was deftly aware of the “uncoolness” of going to church and identifying myself as a Christian.

But time and trials would bind me back to Him, and now the idea of being ashamed of He who sustains me is positively backwards.

I want others to know the joy and freedom that comes from identifying as His, and not as one of the world.

Christian apparel and clothing

I want others to know the joy and freedom that comes from identifying as His, and not as one of the world.


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It’s that time of year when the “read the Bible in a year” plans are rolling out. And I was once a purchaser of a Bible-in-a-year text.

It sounded great— by the end of this year, I will have read the whole Bible! But I did not yet understand that, as a college student at the time, squeezing the whole Bible into my busy work and study schedule would mean that I was just quickly getting through the Bible, and not marinating in its beauty and truth.

Setting the wrong goal was the first of many things I learned the hard way. But trial and error has its spoils: I now have several strategies for making Bible-reading fruitful and manageable.


Quickly getting through the Bible was not the goal I should have set.

As you might imagine, I started off strong in January, and by the end of February, as midterms neared, my Bible-in-a-year book began its stagnation that would ensue the rest of the year.

It took a long time for me to realize that getting through the Bible in a year wasn’t right for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, a plan like this is right for some people. I’m certain there are people who have great success with that plan.

I needed to find a worthy Bible-reading goal for me in my current lifestyle, just as I am.

So last year, I set the goal to read the New Testament— and not in a getting through kinda way. I set a goal to read thoughtfully in a meditative way, and to respond once a month in a blog post.

I met my goal and my year was so enriched by it. So I am here to share what worked for me.

So, if you are wanting to read the Bible, maybe your first worthy, specific goal is read the four accounts of the gospel.


Let’s say you do set the goal of reading the four accounts of the gospel, and you set the goal of reading them all in January.

In my Bible, the four gospels amount to 123 pages. Now, 123 pages is reasonable reading for a month, but reading these accounts is not like reading a drugstore novel.

They are dense, saturated, profound.

Ask yourself if you will be able to give these accounts the consideration they deserve if you have a month for all four. Will your schedule allow for reading, pausing to reflect, researching context or corresponding passages?

If you feel rushed at all, give yourself ample time.

I took four months to read the accounts of the gospel, and it allowed me to journal through each and hold space for God to reveal truths to me:

In the first month, I reflected on the remarkable faith that accompanied each story of healing.

In the second month, I catalogued all of the ways Jesus has been through every single difficult emotion or life situation a human can go through.

In the third month, I applied the “consider the lilies” passage to my difficult season of anxiety.

And in the fourth month, I marveled at Jesus’ radical civil disobedience in favor of God’s law.

Had I not allowed myself time and space for the activities that accompany critical Biblical consideration (annotating, praying, re-reading, meditating, writing), I would not have walked away with the powerful faith-altering truths that I did.


As I mentioned, I read one account of the gospel each month for the first four months of the year.

And I did this for the entirety of the New Testament. I divided the reading into 11 chunks and allotted one month for each reading, making sure to save December for my advent reading of The Greatest Gift.

Would something like this work for you? Would you like your own version of this graphic? Leave me a comment and I will get one to you!


In my inaugural post for this blog, I talked about the chapter in Joshua that inspired my blog’s theme: Joshua 24.

When Joshua challenged the tribes of Israel to choose—once and for all—whom they would serve, they answered that they would turn away from worshipping the Canaanite gods and serve the one true God.

To seal them to this statement (in other words to keep them accountable), he recorded their words in the Book of the Law of God (understood to be the early version of the Bible which was a stone tablet).

He then proclaimed “this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us” (24.27).

It’s unclear if he etched these things into the stone itself, but nevertheless, the communal commitment, the recording (on paper or stone), and the stone in front of the mighty oak were collectively became the measure of accountability. It was a way of saying— with God as the witness—we are holding you to your proclamation.

We are more likely to meet goals when we have someone or something keeping us accountable. By sharing my reading calendar with the blog-o-sphere, I felt the healthy pressure to meet my goal.

Who do you need to keep you accountable? A Facebook group? A best friend? A pastor?

Share your goal and timeline with someone who can check in with you and challenge you to keep going if you fall behind.


At my work at the community college, one of the learning tools we find really helpful is an assessment called the VARK assessment. VARK is an acronym for four common learning style preferences (visual, aural/auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic.

The ten-minute assessment gives you a variety of scenarios and asks you to select how you would learn best in each one. At the end of the assessment, it will show you the style of learning that might work best for you.

For instance, I always score highest in kinesthetic learning which means that I like to use my senses and body when learning. In college, I knew that I liked to re-write my notes to help solidify them in my mind, but until I took the VARK assessment, I never knew why.

Learning how you learn best may help you better study the Bible and invest in the tools that are more likely to make you successful.

  • Visual learners will want to seek out Bible companion videos (like the Bible Project described in the next section), and/or maps of the different regions
  • Aural/auditory learners may want to check out the apps Dwell or YouVersion that read the Bible aloud with your chosen speaker and accent.
  • Read/write learners will want to find the best books or websites on scripture to supplement the reading. Bible Gateway and DesiringGod are two credible sites with sound Biblical information.
  • Kinesthetic learners like me may want to consider investing in a journaling Bible. For me, it was a game changer. I could write questions in the margins, re-write important verses, and draw symbols that correspond with the text.


A friend I met through the Joyful Life Magazine, Amber Thiessen (who has an amazing blog by the way!) touts the importance of habit trackers.

Gaining popularity of late, habit trackers do the hard work for you: they create individual check-boxes for daily goals met.

So, if you have committed to reading two chapters of a Bible book per day, you get to check the box for that day. Watching your sheet fill up with check marks is incredibly satisfying and encouraging for staying the course of your goal.

Habit trackers come in a variety of forms, and most are free to print for personal use:

This free printable is found on


In working through a Bible reading goal, prepare for the inevitability of confusion.

There may be context you don’t have, words that are unfamiliar, or parables that you don’t understand.

Accept that this happens to all of us in studying the Bible, and arm yourself with good resources to help.

I mentioned this resource in the last section, and many times on my Instagram account, that one of my absolute favorite resources for reading the Bible is The Bible Project. Created by Timothy Mackie and Jonathan Collins, the Bible Project combines sound Biblical information with palatable animated videos.

Each book overview video begins with context and offers a birds-eye view of the book of the Bible that helps orient the readers before beginning.

Bird’s eye view of the book of Matthew from The Bible Project

I cannot overstate the importance of grasping the context the verses are situated in.


Celebrating the small portions read will fuel motivation for the meeting the big goal you have set.

For each book of the Bible I completed, I would take my pen and write in the margin above the book’s title “Completed on Month/Day/Year.” It sounds simple, but it was incredibly satisfying!

And upon penning that phrase, it signified that I was ready to move to the next little square in my reading plan.

Each time I moved to a new book, I would create a notification on social media as an invitation for people to read along with me, as well as that accountability I mentioned:

I can say that it worked, friends. I made it all the way through Revelation before the end of November.


Completing a Biblical reading goal is an exciting milestones in your walk with Christ— celebrate it!

When I met my goal of reading the entire New Testament, I allowed myself to purchase something really special from the shop of Dandelions in December: a custom red oak leaf with a little “stone” (mustard seed).

All this to say, not every Bible reading plan is for every person. I finally found what works for me, and I encourage you to find something that will fit your lifestyle and your current Bible reading needs and desires.

Whatever you choose, let it glorify Him.

with His love,


It would be an understatement to say that 2020 had its challenges.

It would also not be fair to ignore all of the blessings tucked into the nooks and folds of its disheveled fabric.

One of the greatest blessings to me came in the form of heart-focused chats over coffee: the monthly feature of the blog I call Sips & Scripts.

Without question, each Sips & Scripts chat filled me with hope, encouragement, and inspiration for my own walk with the Lord.

The 11 women, 1 man, 1 babe-in-utero, and 1 chihuahua that were present for these heart-focused conversations all shaped my faith in some important way.

Take a look at these beautiful, God-loving faces and click on a chat that seems similar to your own walk with the Lord:

This is Kim. Her drink is a hot chocolate.

My beloved cousin, and the blog’s #1 supporter, Kim, bravely recounted her nine years of infertility and reminded me that God’s timing is always better than our own. Click here for the full chat.

This is Alexis. Her drink is a peach and mint tea with honey.

At the wise old age of 23, my kindred friend, Alexis, taught me four powerful and distinct practices for abiding in God in our circumstances. Click here to read our chat.

This is Gianna (carrying baby girl Luca at the time). Her drink is an iced Kuppa Joy.

My strong, God-loving friend, Giana, reminded me of the power of praying specific prayers, standing on those prayers, and watching God answer them as she detailed what it was like to see her young daughter through cancer. Click here for the full chat.

This is Kelly. Her drink is an iced Chai latte from our church coffee shop, the Frappe House.

My big-hearted cousin, Kelly, walked me through how the program Rooted helped to heal the bitter trauma of abuse in her past. Click here to read the full chat.

This is Amanda and her husband Alex. Their drinks are an iced amber latte and an iced cold brew, respectively.

Former tutor, now friend, Amanda, helped me understand how she and Alex (a newlywed missionary team) reach and mentor college students through the Chi Alpha organization. Click here to read the full chat.

This is Jade. Her drink is an iced maple cinnamon latte.

Once my son’s loving babysitter and now a passionate missionary, Jade, shared her experience witnessing to the LDS population in Utah and how individuals are won to the Lord by being loved first. Click here to read our full chat.

This is Michelle. Her drink is a coffee with homemade dulce de leche.

Longtime friend, Michelle, discussed two verses that help sustain her amidst the pandemic, especially during the burnout that we all were/are experiencing. Click here to read our full chat.

This is Hilary. Her drink is an iced vanilla latte.

My dear friend and mentor, Hilary, detailed God’s great faithfulness on the brink of her major life change: a cross-country move for her family of six. Click here to read our full chat.

This is Kim. Her drink is a homemade butter coffee.

One of my newest friends, but already one of my closest, Kim, showed me the benefit of bringing our kids in on our past struggles in order to bolster their own faith. Click here to read our full chat.

This is Emily. Her drink is an oat milk cappuccino.

YWAM missionary and all-around amazing young woman, Emily, shared with me the surrender that comes with listening to God about her future plans. Click here to read our full chat.

This is Shanda. Her drink is an iced skinny vanilla latte.

Women’s ministry leader and podcast host, Shanda, shared with me how motherhood and her ministry are recursive: they fuel one another. Click here to read our full chat.

I first want to say to each any everyone person listed above: thank you.

Truly, thank you, for sharing your story and opening your heart even if it made the conversation tender and vulnerable. Thank you for your trust in me and your candor; your words live on to help others in similar situations.

And thank you for the inspiration each of you offered me. I did not leave one of our chats without feeling my heart filled up with enthusiasm for God’s goodness.


I set out at the beginning of 2020 with a goal to post twice month for 11 months: once on a predetermined part of the New Testament, and once for the Sips & Scripts conversation.

Though I met my goal, I did feel that I may have given myself too much of a restriction at times. Determined to get each conversation published by the end of the month, I sometimes felt like I didn’t give my interviewee ample time to review the draft (especially for those who neared the end of the month). If I ever made you feel rushed, dear friends, forgive me.

And so I want to make some adjustments to the Sips & Scripts feature moving forward:

  • The feature will no longer be limited to calendar months. When friends and topics present themselves organically, I will conduct them.
  • I will open up my “interviewee” list to people beyond my area. Sips & Scripts over Zoom can absolutely occur!
  • I will open up the Sips & Scripts feature to requests. If you or someone you know has a story to tell or something on his/her heart, email me at with your request.

Mugs full, Bibles open, friends.

with His love,