Tuesday, April 30, 2013

God's Not Dead

"Let love explode and bring the dead to life. A love so bold to bring a revolution somehow. Now I'm lost in your freedom and this world I'll overcome...


My God's not dead
He's surely alive
He's living on the inside
Roaring like a LION."
-Newsboys

Summer camp is coming! We are all excited in this house. Ariel will be joining the youth at camp for the very first time, and Gabe will be attending Kid's camp for the second year.

Unfortunately, prices have gone up this year for camp. But with that came a unique opportunity for Gabriel. There is a chance at our church for one boy, and one girl to win a $20 scholarship to go toward their camp fees. The criteria? They must write an essay on the difference Christ has made in their life. Grammar, spelling and punctuation will not be graded on; only the understanding of what it means to live for Christ.

Needless to say, my son was overjoyed at this chance. He directly began writing his paper. Not a moment was to be lost. After a couple rough drafts, his final copy is ready for reading.



God's Not Dead

God is deffently not dead. If he was dead there would not be a single good thing because all good come's from God.

When I have God I can overcome my biggest fears. For example I'm afraid of the basement. Because I get freaked out by the sighn on the fridge that sais "Gotcha". And God gave me the courage to not look at that sighn and do what needs to be done. Be strong and corageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. God is with you every step you take. Joshua 1:9

God gave me a goal in soccer. I've been playing soccer for 2 years and I never made a goal. God helped me score a goal at my very last game. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13


God has made things better for me. For example, I got in trouble at school for distracting other kids and I had to sit in the hallway. When I got home I told mom the truth about what happened and my punishment was not as bad as it would of been if I had lied. If you make it to the top by lying and cheating you get paid with smoke and a promotion to death. Proverbs 21:6

God has helped me forgive others. At Bible study (I do with my Grandma) I got to forgive the 3 big bullys at my school. They have been spreading rumors and laghing sinse kindergarten. And I prayed with Grandma and forgave them.

All good come's from God and this will give proof that



I believe Gabriel has a considerable understanding of how God works in our lives. God has shown Himself to my son in wondrous, miraculous ways, and Gabriel has been willing to see the supernatural things of God, and not dismiss it as coincidence or ability on his own part.

This essay attracted some discussion with my son. When he was writing the paper, it was suggested to include personal experiences. At first, he baulked at this idea. Fear influenced him, and he worried that they wouldn't choose him because of the sinful things he had done. He figured they would probably want to choose someone who was a better Christian and didn't have the weaknesses that he has.

Titus challenged Gabriel to read Luke 7:36-50, the story of the woman who washes Jesus' feet. "So she took a bottle of perfume and knelt at his feet. She was crying and washed his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them over and over again, and poured the perfume on them." Luke 7:37-38

This woman was considered in her time the biggest sinner of them all, the town harlot, yet Jesus forgave her and deemed her love impressive. "That’s why I’m telling you that her many sins have been forgiven. Her great love proves that. But whoever receives little forgiveness loves very little. Luke 7:47

Those who have sinned much, have been forgiven much, and therefore can love much. Weakness is a sign that we need a Savior. If we had no sin, and did no wrong, what use would we have for Jesus? It is in our defects and inabilities that God has a chance to shine through and change us. If only we could all truly grasp that fact.

“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”
― C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Intentional

My days have been brimming with intention and purpose. I only have moments left with my son before summer vacation is upon us and he then will take that next step into kindergarten. My time as a stay at home mom is coming to a close, and I have aspired to make every second count.

Hours have been logged reading books, playing games, watching movies, and doing puzzles. I am so thankful that spring is finally here and we can spend some much needed time outside. It opens up a whole new world of activities for us.



The game is Sequence Num6ers, a fun way to learn addition and subtraction. In order to put down your Sequence chip, you must know the answer to the problem. Sometimes I help Zech come up with the answer, but most of the time he can use his fingers to find the solution.



Before you judge me on my enthusiasm for beating a 5 year old, you must understand Zech is a whiz at games. It doesn't matter what we choose to play, the kid almost always wins. I don't stand a chance when we play Memory, or Trouble. Even if the game is primarily luck, Zech will most often come out on top.



Warmer weather is here! We took advantage of the sunshine and went outdoors today. I couldn't resist letting Zech skip naptime so we could be outdoors on this beautiful day. Nothing can compare to feeling the sun on your face, and seeing a smile on your loved ones.



I couldn't be happier with the role that God has given me. My children bring such fulfillment to my life. And in return I want to intentionally be all that I can be for them. I'm going to miss these rewarding moments when my little friend goes off to school in a few months.




*A Funny Side Note*
Shortly after arriving to fly our kite, Zech tripped on the tall grass and fell down when trying to run with the kite. He was very discouraged and didn't want to hold the string anymore. He only wanted to sit in the car and take pictures of me flying the kite. At one point I was able to release the entire string of the kite, (my last photo) and keep it up for almost 20 minutes. During that time I tried repeatedly to get Zech out of the car to hold onto the string. He refused. And every time I talked of going home Zech would beg me to continue to fly the kite. He didn't want to go home and nap. After all, anything is better than sleeping, even if it means watching mom fly a kite!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Letter Writer

Words are powerful, whether it's the spoken word, or the written word. Our words can change things. Sometimes it's for the best, but regrettably it's also for the worst.

"It suddenly hit me that I was using words to hurt other people and I was quite good at it. At that moment, it had felt like an eternity, I became fully aware of all of the pain that I had inflicted. The worst was it was too late to apologize and make amends to my friend. I knew I had to change. I decided then and there that for the rest of my life I would only use words for good, to lift the brokenhearted and heal the wounded. And that has been my desire and purpose ever since."
-Sam Worthington (The Letter Writer)

I desire to do the right thing, but more often I do what's wrong.

I am imperfect.
I fail.
I give up.
I don't move on.
I focus on the bad.
I hate.
I am human.


I am reminded of my inadequacy.

I repeatedly say the first thing that comes to mind. My words are spoken in anger, and out of fatigue. I have been given the gift of words by God. Constantly my mind is full of them. They fly through me in all different directions and I don't always try to bridle them. They flow out of me before I can stop them. I am careless. I become lazy. I misuse my gift.

I was so inspired after watching The Letter Writer this past weekend. There is power in affirming someone. It can change a person's life to hear that you have value as an individual.

If you aren't familiar with this movie, I'll give you a brief synopsis. Maggie Fuller is a rebellious teenager who is headed for trouble. She is receiving pressure in all areas of her life and can't live up to everyone's expectations of her. Maggie finds hope and significance after she receives a mysterious letter of encouragement which leads her to find and meet Sam Worthington, her letter writer. Maggie is baffled as to why he would send a stranger this letter, as if he genuinely appreciates her.

"Didn't you like your letter?"

"Yeah, but you don't even know me."

"If I'm the one person that has something nice to say about you, I know you better than anyone else."
- Sam Worthington




Sam Worthington has a gift with words. He chooses a name out of the phone book every day and writes a letter affirming them. He daily goes around town giving out encouraging notes. To each individual he meets, he shares with them how he wrote this letter of encouragement not knowing who would receive it, but God has revealed that they are the one. This proves to be a life-changing experience for Maggie Fuller.


The story was inspiring!

I witnessed the power of discouragement. I saw a teenage girl who was reaching out to be loved; a girl beaten down by words spoken in anger and despair. I observed a parent trying to do what she thought was right, grasping at any way of getting through to her daughter.

I watched a stranger, an outsider, who became a lifeline.

And it was all because of encouragement.

We don't realize how cutting our remarks can be. We don't think about who they might hurt. We think we are doing the right thing, but we don't speak in love.

I believe children are the greatest blessing God has given me. I wish my words could better reflect my heart. Sometimes I take things too far. I see mistakes and feel I must correct the behavior, not counting at what cost I'm doing it, or caring how it gets done. I don't ever want my kids to grow up feeling as if they were not good enough for me. I will love them no matter what. But does my behavior and actions always show that to them? Grievously, no it does not.

Deep down, there is a part of me that wants my children to grow up to be perfect adults. Is it because I want what's best for them, or is it my own pride? After all everyone knows that children are a reflection of the parents.

  • I want every hair to be in place, every spot on their body sparkling clean.

  • I want their rooms to always be clean, and their toys to sit nicely on the shelves and in the buckets.

  • I want them to excel in every subject of school.

  • I don't want to get a bad report for misbehavior.

  • I don't want them to ever steal, lie, or cheat.

  • I want them to always put others first and never be selfish.

  • I want them to be polite and have the best possible manners in every situation.

  • I want everyone to like them all the time.

  • I want them to love God with all their hearts, and always make the "right" choices.

  • I want the absolute best for my children.

Is that so wrong? Shouldn't I want my child to succeed? Because if my child succeeds, then I must have succeeded as a parent, right?

It's impossible to expect perfection out of a sinful individual. None of us can reach such a high standard. But does that stop us from wanting it from our children? I think we as parents always want the best for our children; however at what cost? We need to be very careful that our wants don't become our expectations.

God has been showing me for several years that I have to love and let go. I can try to guide my children, but I cannot make the decisions for them. I can see them as separate from me. I can respond to them in loving ways, and even love them when they mess up. I can stop expecting them to be perfect. I can expect them to be human just like me. And when they fail, it has no weight on the person they are right now, or the person they will become. It's simply a mistake; a way to show that we all need God. I must expect them to mess up. And when they mess up, I need to be there to remind them of what they did do right. If I don't do that for them, who will?

I want to be Sam Worthington. I want to encourage those around me, and change their life with my words. I want to use my gift of words to build up people, even strangers who I've never met before. I want to mail out handwritten notes, praying over what words I should say to them, figuring out how God wants me to strengthen and comfort them.

I will definitely be doing this in the future! I'm already making plans to add it to my list of summer fun with the kids. We're going to buy a book of stamps, and write affirming letters each week for whoever God leads us to. I'm excited!

The Letter Writer inspired me as a mother. I hope to weigh my words more carefully. While I do desire for my children to succeed, I don't desire for it to happen out of fear or obligation. My words should be carefully thought of, not a fountain spilling over with no restraint. And the most important thing is that the positive words spoken need to far outweigh the negative. I forget that too easily. We need to be looking for the good and affirming it in our children. Don't let the only words you say to them be negative words of correction. While that is important, it's the affirmation that's even more beneficial to building their character.

"There's a balance in all things. If you give, you will receive. If you give a lot, you'll be rich. It's magical! You see, life is like a mirror, if someone steals or is dishonest, they'll invite people into their lives who also steal and are dishonest. The good thing is you can choose who and what enters your life. Within every human being there is a God given ability that if you find it and nurture it you'll be able to bless the lives of others." - Sam Worthington

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Zechariah likes to drink chocolate milk. He isn't able to mix it himself, but he sure can drink it. The other day I was making a glass for him, and asked him to put the milk away. His response was disheartening.

"No. I don't want to. I just want to drink my chocolate milk."

"What do you mean you DON'T want to? You afraid of a little work?"

"No. I don't like to work.


This response didn't go over very well with me. I made him do it anyway, and tried to explain that we all have to do work whether or not we really want to, and then I added, "Right, Gabe?"

He was sitting at the table coloring and I knew he would appreciate the conversation.

Gabriel gave me a very exaggerated, "Yes. I have to do SO MUCH work. You're lucky, Zech!"

I found this a bit comical. He was referring to the few chores he does around the house. On Saturday's he cleans the bathrooms, and twice a week he washes the dishes. His room is also supposed to be kept clean. This pretty much is where the work ends for him. I might ask him to take out the garbage or the recycling, but that about covers it.

I couldn't resist emphasizing how easy he has it as a child, and that he should enjoy it while it lasts. When did I turn into my mother?

His acknowledgement was priceless. I will never let my husband forget it.

"Well, at least I'm going to be the husband when I grow up. When you're the mom you have to work like 24 hours a day, every day. And dad works what, like 11 hours? And then he gets to play for the rest of the day!"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Hunt for Easter

Happy Easter ... 3 days late... from our wacky silly family! Isn't it more fun to see people acting weird and crazy then perfect and normal?



Are you looking for a new Easter tradition? Or maybe just a fun thing to do with your kids? It doesn't need to be Easter to go on a Bible trivia hunt. You can do that any day of the year! In fact, it's a great way to get your kids excited about the Bible. You could simply switch out the Easter trivia questions for some trivia about a different Bible story. This would be an enjoyable and enlightening family activity to do several times a year.

For the past few Easter Sunday's our elementary aged kids at church having been going on a Hunt for Easter. They break up into teams, and follow clues which lead them around the church property to various locations. At each location, they must answer Bible trivia questions about Jesus' death and resurrection. While on this hunt, they have the chance of running into Elmer Fudd, who's chasing down the rabbit. "Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits." When they've answer the trivia question, they are given a piece of the map, and their next clue. Once they finish their last clue, they can put together the map in order to figure out where the rabbit is hiding. (The end of the hunt, but not the true treasure. The real treasure lies in answering the questions and learning the story.)

If you want to make your own map, you can do this at Google Maps. Once you're there, you can type in the address of your treasure location, and off to the right side of the screen on the map, you should see a small icon that reads Satellite. Click on that and you will be able to get an aerial view of the spot you want. You can zoom in as much or as little as you'd like to.

You can make your hunt as simple as you want, or as complex as you desire. I think it would be fun to get in a car and travel to each location, but you could simply hide clues around your home too. We've done treasure hunts both ways. If you don't plan on leaving the house, make a hand drawn map, marking the x yourself.


Before you start, you've got to figure out your locations and clues. At each place you stop, come up with 2 or 3 trivia questions to ask. I would bring a Bible along in case the kids are stumped and can't figure out the correct answer. If the story isn't one your kids are familiar with, read it aloud together before you go on a hunt. Then the story will stick more once the kids are trying to figure out the trivia questions. If they have to search for the answer themselves, they will probably remember it next time they're asked! Want to make it really difficult, don't give them multiple choice questions; make them come up with the answer. Or if you feel like your kids are too old for trivia questions, make them more personal reflection questions.

Sound fun? Let's go for it!

WINDING THROUGH THE WOODS WITH A GENTLE FLOW, THE PLACE YOU ARE TRYING TO FIND; THE FISH, DUCKS, AND FROGS ALREADY KNOW. (Creek)

The trivia questions are:

1.) Before the rooster would crow, Jesus told which disciple he would deny that he even knew Him 3 times?
A: John
B: Judas
C: Peter
D: Thomas

2.) For how many pieces of silver did Judas betray Christ?
A: 20
B: 30
C: 60
D: 100


3.) How did Judas Betray Jesus?
A: Pointing at him
B: Gave him a hug
C: With a kiss
D: Shook his hand


WITH SO MANY WORDS USED FOR KNOWLEDGE YOU WILL FIND PLACES LIKE THIS EVEN IN COLLEGE. NOW WITH COMPUTERS DEWEY DECIMAL SEEMS BEHIND THE TIMES, BRING BACK WHAT YOU BORROW OR FACE SOME FINES. (Library)

4.) Who did Pilate send Jesus to after he had interrogated him?
A: Herod
B: Annas
C: Caiaphas
D: Caesar

5.) Pilate offered to release one prisoner- which prisoner did the Jews request to be released?
A: Jesus
B: Barabbas
C: Paul
D: Barnabas

6.) After Pilate found no guilt in Christ, for what reason did the Jews say that Jesus should die?
A: He claimed to be from heaven
B: He said He would tear down the Temple of God
C: He claimed He was their king
D: He had blasphemed God


TO BE A KID IS TO HAVE FUN, A PLACE DESIGNED FOR YOU TO RUN. WITH A LADDER LEADING TO A PLATFORM UP SO HIGH, THERE IS A FAST WAY TO GET DOWN THAT WON'T MAKE YOU CRY. (Playground)

7.) Who carried the cross for Jesus?
A: Simon of Cyrene
B: Simon Peter
C: Simon the Zealot
D: Simeon

8.) At Christ crucifixion what did the soldiers place on his head?
A: Crown of Gold
B: Crown of Thorns
C: Crown of Jewels
D: Crown of Thistles

9.) What was the color of the robe placed on Jesus?
A: Blue
B: Red
C: Purple
D: White


YOU FIND ME WITH CANDY OR SOMETIMES WITH ROLL; I'M HEAVY AND LARGE, ROUGH AND DULL. OUTSIDE THE CHURCH I BORDER THE LOT; LOOK CLOSELY YOU'LL FIND THE TREASURE I GOT. (Rocks)

10.) What was inscribed above the cross?
A: Prince of the Jews
B: King of the Jews
C: Savior of all
D: Lord of all

11.) With what was Jesus side pierced?
A: Sword
B: Knife
C: Spear
D: Spike

12.) For what of Christ’s did the soldiers cast lots?
A: Clothes
B: Jewels
C: Donkey
D: Cross


SCRUB, SCRUB SQUEAKY CLEAN. BEHIND THIS DOOR ARE CHEMICALS THAT MAKE THINGS GLEAM. ON THE SHELF IS SOME COMET, MAKE SURE YOU DON'T INJEST IT COULD MAKE YOU VOMIT. (Janitor's closet)

13.) What did Judas do with the silver pieces after he had betrayed Jesus?
A. He buried it in the ground
B. He gave it back
C. He put it in the bank
D. He bought a field

14.) When Jesus died for how long was there darkness over the land?
A: 3 days
B: 3 hours
C: 6 days
D: 3 weeks

15.) In what was Jesus wrapped before he was buried?
A: Goat skins
B: Linen clothes
C: Sheep skins
D: Golden robe


3 LITTLE LETTERS MEANING SO MUCH, LINES SO LONG YOU MAY MISS LUNCH. YOU BETTER GO IF YOU WANT TO DRIVE, TO GET YOUR LISCENSE YOU MUST GO INSIDE. (DMV)

16.) What was the name of the man who requested Jesus’ body for burial?
A: Nicodemus
B: Joseph
C: Phillip
D: Jonathan

17.) Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection beside which sea?
A: Red Sea
B: Sea of Galilee
C: Sea of Tiberius
D: Dead Sea

18.) Who rolled the stone away from Jesus tomb?
A: Jesus
B: God
C: An Angel
D: A Roman guard


WITH A CAP ON HEAD AND MITT IN HAND, YOU ENTER THIS PLACE WHERE SCOREBOARDS STAND. SO MANY AMERICANS HAVE PLAYED THIS GAME AND THE PRO'S KNOW IT'S FOR LOVE NOT FOR FAME. (Baseball Diamonds)

19.) Who of these was the first on the scene after the resurrection of Christ?
A: Simon Peter
B: Cleopas
C: Judas Iscariot
D: Mary Magdalene

20.) Which disciple wanted to see the imprint of the nails before he would believe?
A: Andrew
B: Thomas
C: James
D: Bartholomew

21.) How long did Jesus remain after his resurrection before he ascended into Heaven?
A: 7 days
B: 3 days
C: 14 days
D: 40 days




After the last question has been answered, you can give the final piece of the map. One you've figured out the location, get your treasure. Since this was a church activity, our last location was meeting back in KidZone for a story and worship music. If I had done this hunt at home with my children, I might have had the treasure be back at home, where we would take communion together as a family.

In fact, we did this as a family the night before Easter. We watched an Easter movie of Jesus' death and his resurrection. We discussed what we had seen, and the parts that stood out to us. We read aloud from Isaiah chapter 53. My husband led us in communion, with sparkling red grape juice and sourdough bread. It was memorable.

One of the things that really stood out to my husband and I was while Jesus was dying on the cross. The soldiers are putting the nails in his hands and feet, and "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.'” Luke 23:34

This wasn't done in anger. It was the words of someone who was broken, pleading and begging for the lives of others. He could have been selfish at that point, and just endured the punishment. But his thoughts are outside himself. He's desperately asking his daddy to forgive them. He genuinely doesn't want anyone to suffer, no matter what they've done to him. They were killing him, and he was pleading for their forgiveness. That is real love.

We talked with our children at great lengths about grace. We described it to them as getting something good that they don't deserve. It's a gift that we all must accept. It does us no good to know about, but not accept it.

In order to illustrate the point to them better, we had a gift.

One of the requirements for getting ready for school each day is to have your room clean, and your things picked up around the house. If something is left out in the living room, kitchen, computer room, etc., and they have left for the day, it becomes mine. I did the work of picking it up, so it now belongs to me. I have a box in my closet full of these items. When my children do a job around the house, anything that is not a normal chore, they have the opportunity of choosing an item from the closet. It's kind of a trade. I do a little work, they do a little work.

For Easter, we told the kids we were giving them some grace. My closet was to be emptied out. They were free to take back all their toys and books. No jobs would be necessary. It was grace. A good thing that they did nothing to deserve. The slate was wiped clean, and they could start fresh again.

We have that same opportunity on a much larger scale. Every day we have the chance for a fresh start. Jesus paid the price for our weakness. All we have to do is accept it. We must say thanks for the gift, and receive it. It's that simple. Forgiveness is in our grasp. Don't let it get away from you.

There is peace in knowing that you have been shown mercy. You're not going to get what you deserve. You're going to get a gift! The gift is there waiting for you to take it.