Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent with Books

If you know me at all, you know I LOVE books. I love to hold a book in my hand. I don't care much for these new electronic books, Kindle, Nook... It's just not the same.

I bought myself a Nook this summer. I had over $100 in reward certificates from Best Buy, and I thought I might like to have it for the portable factor. I've used my Nook a grand total of one time. I bought a couple books, but I just don't like reading off of it. I love the feel of pages turning. I'm old fashioned I guess.

I dream of bookshelves filled with books, old and new. I shop at Goodwill just so I can browse their book collection. Every week I invest a dollar a two in used books.

"Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an Anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning 'coming.'" - Wikipedia

We're having an Advent Calendar of Books. I love starting new family traditions! I'm excited! This has been done before and definitely not original to me. I visited various books stores around town for the past several months and got my collection completed just in time.

Tonight will be our third day for opening and reading our new Christmas books. I know most people will be starting their Advent celebration on December 1st. However, I will be in Mexico for Christmas this year, so our Christmas falls 3 days earlier than most.

I found some wonderful books that I'm so excited to read with my kids! I tried to get a couple fun Christmas stories; the traditional ones with Santa, Rudolph, and other fantasy characters. I worked especially hard to find the majority of the books to be centered on the true meaning of Christmas, Christ and His birth.


Some of the books on our list are:

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
Come to the Cradle by Michael Card
Arthur's Perfect Christmas by Marc Brown
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Coloring Book by Dr. Seuss
The Star of Christmas by VeggieTales
The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne
The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier
All is Well by Frank Peretti
Merry Christmas Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The King's Christmas List by Eldon Johnson
The Christmas Menorah's: How a Town Fought Hate by Janice Cohn
Jacob's Gift by Max Lucado
Ordinary Baby, Extraordinary Gift by Gloria Gaither
The Candle in the Window by Grace Johnson
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Richard Schneider

I have to share a couple books we will be doing that are nontraditional Christmas stories. For them there is more involvement then just reading a story.

This Christmas Keepsakes book is such a great idea! You could even make up your own book. I'm going to write in answers for each of my kids, and there are a few pages for Titus and me to do too. It will make for a fun evening!

It has different things to fill out like, Do you have a favorite aunt, uncle, cousin, or other relative who spends Christmas with you? What special gifts or traditions does he or she bring?

Does your family open gifts on Christmas Eve or do you wait till Christmas morning? How did your tradition get started?


Christmas Favorites: Christmas movie, Christmas food, Christmas carol, Childhood toy, Christmas tradition, and favorite thing to do on Christmas Day

Ever peek inside a present and ruin the surprise? Tell your story.

Write a short prayer for your family asking God to bless them during this Christmas season.




Holiday Origami! The kids opened this on our second night. We already made some Christmas candles out of paper. How fun!


When I was searching the books at Goodwill one day, I came upon this Christmas story. I thought it was really neat because it was written by someone living here and they even drew their own simple illustrations. It seems like a good Christmas story, Mr. and Mrs. Claus Celebrate Jesus' Birthday; I have yet to read the story. I wanted to save it for the day we are all snuggled up on the couch during the Christmas season.


Once you have all 24 or 25 of your Christmas books picked out and bought, you wrap them! This makes it a surprise every night. Nobody has any idea what kind of a story you will be reading. It's also really exciting because kids love to unwrap things. It doesn't matter what is inside, my kids love wrapping paper!


For the next month we will be enjoying quiet evenings of relaxing with the family, all snuggled up under a big blanket reading Christmas stories. Titus and I will take turns reading, and he will rescue me when I get tearful and can't make my way through the words. The kids will each take turns choosing and unwrapping our Christmas book for the evening. It's going to be a wonderful Christmas season this year at our house!

Grandma read a book to the kids one night!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

After You Give Thanks

LIVE GENEROUSLY!!

Ever wonder what you should do after you give thanks?

1. Treasure your treasures
"Tell me the things you truly value in life and I can tell you the worth of the life you live."

2. Be blessed by your blessings.

Luke 12:15 "Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot." (The Message)

3. Share your wealth!
What are you wealthy with? What are you doing to share it?

Matthew 10: 8 "You have been treated generously, so LIVE GENEROUSLY!" (The Message)

Every year on Thanksgiving my family and I sit around for a few hours and talk about what God has done in our lives over the past year. I probably say this about a lot of things, but it's really one of my favorite things we do each year. God is alive and very real. He's not a made up character to make us feel better about ourselves and life. He's very real. Even if you don't believe in Him, He believes in you.



Titus
  • I’m thankful for the grace God gives us. He is okay when we don’t get things right the first time; He expects it and takes care of it.
  • I am thankful for the challenging job God gave me.
  • I am thankful that God created music. I was thinking about the "what is your favorite sense at Christmas" question, and mine is hearing. I struggled with using music as a means of praising God until I got involved in making the music. I realized that He set it up in that fashion as something to participate in and not just observe.
  • I am thankful for Amanda’s hugs and kisses.
  • I am thankful for the creativity and ingenuity God has given people. He gave people the ability to create things that make our lives better, directly impacting our lives. Cars, and bojankety cars…even those are really really awesome…ice cream.


Amanda
  • I’m thankful for what we are doing in Mexico; the opportunity to go and bring presents. God has been through every part of it. At first it didn’t seem like it would work out but God has helped all the way. The money has been coming in. I'm really excited for this Sunday. We're going to have a tree with ornaments with every "adopted" kid's name on it. The people can take the ornament home and hang it on their tree, hopefully as a reminder to pray for their child.
  • I am really thankful that I went to Kid's camp. I think God has wanted me to do something with kids for a while. It was extremely difficult but good and now I work with Kidzone which is very meaningful for me. I felt so bad for not getting scores in at camp, and felt like a failure. I prayed that God would allow Ariel to win the "Fruit of the Spirit" award to show that I had not failed in what was important. And she won!
  • I am thankful for our movie and book club that we go to every month. I love spending time with the dedicated people there. I also like that Ariel gets to come and I get to spend time with her. She is growing up. It is nice to have something every month to look forward to doing with my friends.
  • I am really thankful for prayer, especially the prayer journals I do with the kids. I have really enjoyed doing that with the boys in the morning. Gabriel has been drawing intricate crosses for prayer. Zech prays his own prayers and stops and thinks about what he prays. I have enjoyed the few times we went to the church prayer too. In the car we talk about someone and then take turns praying for them. We just stop and pray for people like if an ambulance goes by or someone's name comes up in conversations. It is too easy to say we should pray and not do it so we have been stopping right then and there to do it.
  • I am really thankful this Thanksgiving that for at least part of it we were all together. Daddy got to be here for this today. It has been 6 years since he's participated!... And I am thankful for Goodwill! God has shown me good will from that store. I have found so many different things. It really is a cool store. It is the only store that you can go in every other day and the stuff changes.


Ariel
  • I am thankful for my community group, His Strength.
  • I am thankful for my family and Autobahn and Valentine.
  • I am thankful that I have $25 so far for a new cell phone.
  • I am thankful that I get to play the oboe this year and I am getting way better at it.
  • I am thankful for my school cause I can hang out with my friends. And also I get to learn at school.


Gabriel 
  • I am thankful for God’s miracles, like when I went to the book night they had a drawing to win The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. When I was at my third session with Mrs. Hedstrom, they did the drawing. Two other kids got a lower prize and for the highest prize they announced Gabriel won! Someone said I should play the Lottery because you are so lucky. It was not luck, it was God. So I am thankful for God to God.
  • I am thankful for another miracle… One day I was getting ready for soccer, but I lost my shin guards so I had to go without them. The coach took me out. I prayed to God that they would walk up to me. In the third quarter a man saw how sad I was, went to the store and spent almost $40 on me. The shin guards kind of did walk up to me!
  • I am thankful that God is teaching me about the Bible and I am learning to avoid trouble. I was in the bathroom at school and everybody was yelling and I got out. All that were in there got a DR. (Discipline Referral)
  • I am thankful for my family, God and my relatives…all the way to Adam and Eve. I am really thankful that someone invented crayons, markers, and colored pencils.
  • I am thankful that I have a lot better life than the people at school. I have looked at my family photos (the screensaver on the computer) and see that my family does a lot of fun things. The kids at school just come home and watch TV every day.


Zechariah
  • God helps everyone have a great day.
  • I am thankful for God. He helps me do stuff. He has a sword of help that smushes. That helps you.
  • I am thankful for Stefanie had a good day at Shaun’s house cause she is going to live there.
  • I am thankful I can write my name…zech! (he typed it himself!)
  • Games!! I want somebody else to play a game with me…the best game….Sequence!


Mike
  • I’m thankful for my wife, she always straightens me out. I need someone to keep me on the straight and narrow.
  • I am thankful that I am able to spend Thanksgiving with my family.
  • I want to thank the Lord for watching over me when I was driving down highway 50 going east to Emporia. I was following this truck hauling a bunch of stuff and suddenly all the stuff came flying out at me. I kept hold of the cell phone and didn’t even drop it. Thank God for paved shoulders, I swerved to the right and got out of the way. It didn’t hit me or impale me. Thank the Lord for watching over me!
  • I am thankful that I didn’t have to buy a new car and it only cost me $300 instead of $3000. Also that I got the shock absorber fixed and it is stable now.
  • I am thankful for going to Michigan and learning about all that happened when I was a kid and that someday it is going to stop. I am looking forward to going back there next year. It seems like it gets worse and worse but it just means I am getting closer to the end, digging up more crud. The devil is trying to discourage me but I am close to a breakthrough.


Debbie
  • I am thankful for puzzle piece trust in God, a cool idea from God to help me with my faith. I trust Him one day at a time, not looking ahead for tomorrow or the future.
  • I'm thankful that through properties going vacant, and prayer with Mike, my faith has been stretching. God is always doing way more than we think. He is sovereign and has a bigger plan than just money.
  • I am so thankful for God watching over my mom when she passed out. Grandpa woke up and found her; he doesn't normally wake up in the middle of the night. Her blood sugar was so low if he hadn't found her she would have died. I'm not ready for that.
  • I am thankful for the road trip to Buffalo that I took with Stefanie. The whole thing was wonderful. We had a terrific adventure and saw so many interesting things along the way. And I'm thankful for the road trip with Ariel this summer. She is an awesome traveling companion.
  • I'm thankful that I've still had the opportunity to go to my sign language class. It's something I've always wanted to learn. I think ever since I saw Helen Keller. The sign language teacher even talked to me about a job opportunity this spring. Every job I've had since I've been married has fallen into my lap.


Shaun
  • I am thankful for relationships that make you stronger.
  • I am thankful that God always provides what I need and sometimes what I don’t need too.
  • I am thankful that God provided some extra jobs for me to do so I could go to the soccer games with Mikaela and spend time with her. That is the only way I was able to do that.
  • I am thankful that I have a house and a car that doesn’t break down and is almost paid off. It's been almost 15 years for the house.
  • I am thankful for my accountability group that I am part of. Not just for the accountability but helping each other to move forward in our goals.


Mikaela
  • Food so I don’t starve to death.
  • For my parents that pay for my stuff.
  • Friends to spend time with.
  • Church family


Stefanie
  • I am thankful that God continues to tell me to wait, because I am learning that He has a lesson behind the waiting. It is His favorite word for me so I should like it.
  • I am thankful that sometimes God wants to bless us but sometimes He is waiting for us to ask so He makes it sure it is Him. Like praying about Mexico, praying that He would pay thru my tips. I got $60 the first day and now have over $125. He likes to do the unexpected or crazy things. He is not really boring at all or predictable except that He is awesome and great.
  • I am thankful that my car is still working. I have had several problems with it recently and thought I would have to get a new one. I still have my car and can still save for a new one. It is not perfect but gets me where I am going and I don’t have to walk. And I will be able to buy the car I really want to get and not take out a loan.
  • Like I was saying on the video Sunday, I am thankful for the opportunity to go to Colorado. God stretched me a lot and I learned a lot of new things. He was preparing me to do something here. If I hadn’t gone away I feel as if I wouldn’t be doing what I am now. I'm thankful for the mountains I got to live around.
  • I am thankful for prayer as well because I have realized how important and effective it is. I don’t think it was accidental that we read Piercing the Darkness. It was a reminder to me how we are in a spiritual battle. God shows me images while I am praying that things are changing. God is stretching me in prayer. Spiritual warfare is real. We are going to do more in church. Like Michelle sharing that her first instinct was worrying but instead she prayed first. I am excited for our day of prayer coming up. I am excited to hear more stories of how God is stirring up prayer in people’s hearts.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

"Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

Last night, on Thanksgiving Eve, I went to church. It was a smaller crowd but still very meaningful to me. I wanted to share some things we discussed during the service.

Why does God command us to be thankful?

Being thankful cultivates humility in our lives. We shouldn't think we are more important than we really are.

Being thankful helps you to receive the gift given to you.

Being thankful changes your focus. You stop thinking about what you don't have and start thinking about what you do.

Being thankful allows you to overcome pride. Not the arrogant conceited kind, the admitting you can't do it yourself kind of pride.

Being thankful cultivates interdependency. You must rely on others.

Being thankful makes it possible to practice contentment. It shows you that you can be happy with what you have.

Being thankful about the hard times gives your life meaning. You grow the most during trials.

Being thankful is the shortcut to satisfaction. If you didn't know the hard way there, you wouldn't be able to appreciate the shortcut.

Being thankful makes you generous. You realize how much you've been given and you want to do the same for others.

Being thankful opens you up to receive more. If you are thankful it increases your odds. Do you want to give anything to someone who feels entitled to it? Absolutely not. You look for ways to give to those who are humble and truly appreciate it.


When you get everything you want handed to you, does anything have meaning? It's the hunger pains in us that make the food taste really satisfying.


To: Mom and Dad
From: Gabe
I'm thankful for you taking care of me and preparing
me for when I move out.

Happy Thanksgiving! I pray you remember all that you have to be thankful for, but more importantly, WHO you should be thankful to!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Coloring Book

Have you ever wanted to make a coloring book? I think the most exciting coloring book you can have for your child is a personal one, where the pictures are full of people you know and love. Several years ago when my kids were still into coloring books, I put together a special keepsake for each of them. It's full of family photos turned into coloring pages with a fun prince/princess story written about the pictures.

I'll give you a short explanation on how to make your own coloring pages, and then I will share my complete book with you.

I use Adobe Photoshop for all my editing needs. I'm sure it is similar to other software out there.

Start by opening your picture file.


Make sure that you have the black square selected for your foreground color, and white for the background. If you have black for the background color your picture will be the inverse of what you want.


Drag your mouse over the drop down menu Filter, then find Sketch, and under that you will click on Photocopy.


You get to choose the detail that the picture will show, and how dark you want it. I usually stick with something in the middle. 12 for detail. 24 for darkness.


While this photo might be good for some; I like to clean it up a bit and give the kids more of an area to work with.

You now get to paint your picture. I use the brush tool with white foreground selected. This can be very time consuming, but the effect is well worth it. You will be giving your kid's more fun to color in! See the difference I'm talking about?

Your kids will love coloring these pages in!

I have always enjoyed writing and probably enjoyed writing the story just as much as I enjoyed fixing the photos. Feel free to use any part of my story and make it your own.

Happily Ever After

Once upon a time a king named Titus fell in love with a girl named Amanda. She loved him back just the same.

They decided to get married because God told them to. They had a beautiful wedding. Everyone said so.


King Titus and Amanda loved each other so much they wanted to have a baby to share their love with.

God gave King Titus and Amanda a beautiful baby girl. She was a princess! They named her Ariel, and she filled their lives with joy.


As the days went by Ariel grew bigger and bigger.

King Titus and Amanda enjoyed the days they spent together. They took Ariel for walks, and brought her to the park to play.


Both King Titus and Amanda were happier than they'd ever been before. They loved Ariel very much.

Ariel was so special, and they loved her so much they didn't want her to be alone. They thought it was time for her to have a brother.


As the days began to get colder, the time was coming for the new prince to be born. The whole kingdom was ready to welcome the new baby.

Princess Ariel could not wait to meet her baby brother. She began to practice for his arrival.


The day finally came. The handsome prince was given the name Gabriel. King Titus and Amanda were very pleased.

Ariel enjoyed watching the baby grow up. She was looking forward to the day when they could play together.


The prince and princess developed a very special friendship. They loved each other greatly. Jesus had brought them together as brother and sister.

King Titus and Amanda saw the prince growing into a wonderful toddler. They watched every move he made, knowing their time together would not last forever.


Just like the prince was growing, Ariel the princess was getting bigger every day. With each new day the king and queen's love grew stronger.

Over time they celebrated many special holidays together. But their favorite holiday of all was Christmas.


Pretty soon the family was growing too big for their castle. They were in search of the perfect new home. They needed a castle big enough to have rooms for everyone.

After a lot of praying and searching, God gave them their new castle. It was like a dream come true.


Sometimes on special occasions, King Titus would take his daughter, the princess, out dancing. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Life was very good for the king and queen. They loved every moment they spent with their son and daughter.


Ariel had much fun with her baby brother. He was finally big enough to be the perfect playmate. She could do whatever she wanted with him.

As the prince grew older, he began to build things. He always enjoyed building things with his hands. It was a gift that God had given him.


The time had come for the princess to find her wings. She was beginning kindergarten. So quickly had the king and queens little princess grown up. She was no longer just their baby.

King Titus and Amanda were so happy with their family. They had two of the most beautiful children. But they began to feel like something was missing, like maybe their family was not complete yet.


As they welcomed in the new year, King Titus and Amanda were very excited to share their good news with the entire kingdom. There would be a new prince who would soon be joining the royal family.

It seems it was the season for new life. After discovering her own wings, the princess, Ariel, adopted a baby bird. Valentine, the parakeet, was brought into the castle. The princess and bird were friends at once.


The day was quickly approaching when the new prince was to be born. The whole kingdom was waiting in suspense for a glimpse of him. They would not be disappointed.

Zechariah arrived in the late evening. King Titus and Amanda were amazed at this new little baby. He was beautiful.


It did not take long for the princess and prince to warm up to this new little baby. They were thrilled to have any special time with him.

It was on extra special days that the princess would exercise her new reading skills and cuddle up with the new prince. He was a good listener.


Everywhere that the new prince went, the loyal subjects would comment the same. Prince Zechariah was the most beautiful baby in all the land.

Never had anyone seen such a handsome face. He was loved by all the people.


The kingdom was flourishing under King Titus' reign. All of the royal family was living peacefully together. The children were growing up happy and well loved.


And King Titus, Amanda, Princess Ariel, Prince Gabriel, and Prince Zechariah all lived happily ever after.

The End


Unfortunately the original computer documents have been lost on this special publication. I had to scan in one of the children's coloring books which isn't quite the same as seeing it in its original form. It loses quite a bit of quality with a scan.

It was a very fun project to work on for my kids and I believe it will make a priceless keepsake to hold on to. It has been four years since I made the book, and my kids still love to have me read it to them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Our Greatest Weapon

I am convinced that the greatest weapon we have to fight with is the Bible. If I had heard someone say that a year ago, two years ago, or ten years ago, I might have rolled my eyes and made a comment under my breath about how that's not for me. At least not on a daily basis. When I was desperate for my life to change, I would seek a verse, but I wasn't willing to discipline myself daily to get there.

I think it's been a long process and what finally happened; I fell in love with Jesus. I wanted to fully saturate myself with Him. I was no longer satisfied with just talking to Him; I wanted to know Him, to know about Him. I wanted to use every single resource I had.

I was rather selfish before and thought about my feelings too much. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I didn't force myself to do much. Fear and selfishness ruled my life. I wanted to complain and pity myself for my circumstances but I didn't desire to use the tools laid before me. I wanted an easy fix. I wanted to say, "Help" and it would immediately be taken care of. I didn't want to have to DO something. I thought it should just fall into my lap gift wrapped with a pretty bow.

I have since discovered the gift wrapped box with the pretty bow is holding the pages of my Bible. I want to know the heart of God. What does He think about every situation? What does He think about me? I may never hear or recognize the audible voice of God, but I can get good at recognizing His character. I can learn to discern when God is speaking through someone else to me.

I used a simple idea to conquer this task of reading my Bible. I treat it like a treasure hunt. As I read the words, I am constantly thinking about how I can apply it to my life. I search for a verse to highlight, literally. Some of it reads like a novel, but even during those parts you can find a quote or saying that will stand out to you. I make myself find at least 1 verse to underline that's important to me. I can't quit until I find one treasure to meditate or contemplate for the rest of the day. There is always something.

Sometimes the verse will really stand out to me and I stick it on my wall. I have verses all over my house in key places where I spend a lot of time. They are such an encouragement.


A month ago, I found this pad of sticky notes, 101 Bible Verses that Stick. I was so excited I bought a few for my friends. I found it at our local Christian book store for $6. The concept is fantastic! It's literally 101 Bible verses already put to sticky notes. All you need to do is start sticking them up. I have them all over!


When I woke up this morning, I was struggling. I couldn't really pinpoint what was wrong. I just felt frustrated and angry. I was short with my kids and I didn't have the energy to try or the desire to. I said an angry prayer during our morning time together, and I told God I didn't care. I had no idea what was bothering me but I still felt justified in my bad attitude.

As I was sitting on my couch, feeling rather crabby, and not wanting to do anything productive, a friend texted me. I could tell she needed encouragement.

When we stop focusing on ourselves and start looking at those around us, things change. I couldn't be selfish if I wanted to reach out to someone else. As I was giving her advice I felt it come right back at me. As I was quoting scripture and stepping outside of my own feelings, my attitude changed drastically.

I wasn't angry and agitated anymore. I was happy to be alive.

I believe it was the consequence of two things. First, “Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection - or compassionate action.” ― Daniel Goleman

The second thing I did was meditate on scripture. It has the power to change you if you let it. It's a different mindset. It's our greatest weapon against the enemy, against that selfish, angry person. Me. I had the power to change the whole time. I was choosing not to.

Place scripture strategically around your home. Where do you go the most? What do you use as a source of encouragement when you're feeling discouraged? If it's food, TV, books, shopping, stick a verse there. Remind yourself as much as possible that you have the greatest weapon of this world.

When I'm washing my face in the morning, and I'm experiencing anxiety over getting my kids ready for school, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourself." Romans 12:9-10


When I'm getting dressed or looking in the mirror critiquing myself, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9


When I'm doing the dishes and starting to focus on the bad around me, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12


Remind me to turn to you when things are rough, God. I don't have to do it all on my own. Bring scriptures to my mind when I'm ready to lash out in anger. Stop me when my attitude needs adjusting. I want to be used by you and I cannot accomplish that when I'm focused on myself. Thank you for loving me each day in the way that I need it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Third Wheel

One of the things I really like about our elementary school is the emphasis they put on reading. You don't have to read every day, just on the days that you eat! I believe it. Reading is so important.

This week our school had their Reading Night. The school gets special funding through Title 1 for things such as these. It's a night focused on reading. Free books are distributed, snacks are provided, and a few larger door prizes are given. What makes it interesting is that they have local celebrities come and read books to the children.

My son wasn't interested in going. I was excited at the prospect of free books, but he didn't care. If he wasn't going to leave with a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, his latest obsession, he didn't want to go.

I told him it would probably be more classic style books. Stuart Little. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I didn't think they would be new.

When we arrived they had a sign up for who was attending and all the students could put their name in a drawing for two different prizes. We didn't find out until the end of the evening what the prizes were.

Something we did notice on our arrival, the table of free books held all the released Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. It wasn't explained how we would get them, but they were right there. Things were starting to look up for Gabe.

The evening was divided into three parts. We would be able to choose three out of six celebrity readers to listen to. During the first session we got our snack, gigantic cookies!

We started off the night listening to Ronald Miller, the Topeka Police Chief. He appropriately read us a book about a policeman called Officer Buckle & Gloria.


Our second session we spent with Tom Hagen, the weatherman at Kansas First News. He read to us Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs a story about the weather.


We saved our favorite for last. The principal my children have grown up with retired last year, so it was a treat to have her back for this special reading. She didn't specifically choose one book; she shared pages from her collection of popup books with us.


The most exciting part of the evening was the drawing for the door prizes. The first prize was Jingle, (an interactive dog with a corresponding book). This was for grades K-2. The second prize for grades 3-5 was the brand new Diary of a Wimpy Kid, yet to be released, The Third Wheel book!!!

If you remember my son only wanted to come to get a free copy of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. I dashed his hopes and told him it wasn't going to happen. I had to play the mom card and practically dragged him there. I knew it would be good for him.

And wouldn't you know, God wanted to bless Gabriel. He gave him exactly what he desired. The school drew Gabe's name! I would question what the odds of that happening are, but that's not the point at all. That was the favor of God! Since the book is scheduled to come out next week, I thought it was impossible. God sure did show me.

What's exciting to me is the fact that they even chose that book to give away. Normally, when you give a door prize you have it in your possession. You don't even think twice about giving a door prize with the promise of receiving it later. I believe God wanted to bless Gabe with that book before we even made the decision to show up that night. God knew I would make the decision that day to attend the reading night. He set the plan in motion before the thought was even there for Gabe to ask. What a unique and powerful example of God's love.

We are so blessed by God! Every good thing comes from Him. "My cup overflows with blessings... Your unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life." Psalm 23:5-6

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

I was cleaning out the basement yesterday and came upon our box of Thanksgiving crafts. I thought it would make a fun blog post today. Some of these were made last year, and some were made years ago. I try to find something new to add to the collection each year. It's nice to have a variety of crafts from my kids at all different ages.

I'll start with the name cards for dinner. We have one for each member of the family, and we also have a few that say "Happy Thanksgiving". We typically like to invite guests to Thanksgiving and it's nice to have something to place at their seat.


The body and head is made with a thumb print, and the tail fan is made from dipping the tips of your finger in paint. With a marker I drew on the turkey's face and legs.


I believe it was just last year that we made our Pilgrims and Indians. You can see by the different drawings of the faces how old each child was.


This idea came from the Family Fun website.



Several years ago, we all made place mats out of brown paper sacks. We cut the sides and bottom off to make it thinner. To add a picture to each side, we cut a window from the middle a little smaller than 4x6 inches. If you don't make it smaller, the picture may fall through. When both sides were decorated, and the paint was dry, we covered them with clear contact paper. This makes it easy to wipe down spills.


This is probably the oldest craft of them all. My daughter made it when she was two years old. To make the body of the turkey you trace around the child's foot. The tail fan is made out of hand prints. For our turkey, we have 8 different hand prints cut out of construction paper. The turkey used to have googly eyes on it, but, after several years passing, they seemed to have been misplaced.


Every year our church has a large Thanksgiving dinner where we celebrate together as a church, typically the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Each year there is a different Friendship Group in charge of decorating. A couple years ago, when it was our turn, we made a fun kid craft to put on the tables. We had two families in our group at that time, and didn't have a lot of extra money to purchase decorations with. This was a great idea if you're on a budget and you need to plan for a large crowd.


I love these table runners we came up with. The church had all the supplies we needed; we just had to invest a little bit of our time. We took turns making hand prints so there would be baby turkeys and mom & dad turkeys. The rest of our decorations were free. We placed leaves and pine cones with the table runner to add a little extra something.


This is a craft for older kids. You need to be able to work a glue gun. You also will need some pipe cleaners, googly eyes, felt, and a pine cone.


My last project is not really a Thanksgiving craft, just a fun fall decoration. I made these pumpkins recently for a craft day I had with my mom and sister. They were so much fun to make, and I love how they turned out! You can find the tutorial here at Creations by Kara. I made sure to find some books with scripture verses so you could spend time reading them too. It's a great conversation piece at the dinner table!



"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18