Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where the wild things are not

I've been praying and thinking about writing about Halloween for a while now. With the recent "wild things" movie coming out(and its not so gracious reviews), I thought I'd delve into the question, "If we are Christians, should we participate in Halloween?"

I can go on and on about the origin of Halloween and what all the elements of it stand for. I won't do that now, so you can click here and read a Christian's perspective and evaluate it for yourself.

However, I did want to share a bit of my heart on this issue and why Q and I do not participate in Halloween. This is not to judge or criticize in any way if you do participate. Perhaps it will get you thinking and asking the Lord about how much (if any) you should participate in this event. I cannot even call it a "holiday" because it is not even holy. I am amazed at how much Halloween has crept into churches, Christian schools and Christian homes. And by that I include even to decorate, buy candy, and get involved with trick-or-treating.

Some may say that celebrating Halloween in the smallest ways is innocent fun--it is by no means innocent. I think some are wrapped up in the idea that if they don't let their kids get involved then they are missing out on an important part of childhood. I did not participate in any aspect of Halloween growing up, and neither did Q, and we don't look back saying, "Oh, I wish I would have..." If the Lord blesses us with children some day, they will not participate in Halloween either. Instead, it will be a normal family day--perhaps we'll even include a time of prayer and singing praises to God, instead of giving honor and attention to Satan. I've heard of Christian families doing this, and I think it's a wonderful way to bring back the "Hallowed Eve" it once was. That's really how it started anyway. Amazing how time and the deceitfulness of Satan has crept in....

I have been thought of as strange or different with my views on this issue--even from family members! And that's okay, because I know what I believe to be Truth and I want to obey the Lord in this issue the best that I know how. To give you an idea on how far I will not participate...I won't wish anyone a "Happy Halloween" (there's nothing happy about it); I don't buy candy or pass it out; I don't decorate my house with any of the stuff; I won't make costumes knowingly for people, especially if it is of a witchy, ghostly nature. By "knowingly" I mean that if it's in the fall and someone asks me to make a Halloween costume, I won't do it (even though the pay may be good). If I don't know, or if it is a good costume for a school event or church, then I will do it. Some may say this is too far, but for me, I've drawn the line very extreme, because as I said before, I want to obey and honor the Lord with everything I do.

Here are a few principles with Scripture that are a help to me and perhaps will be a help to you, no matter where you stand on the issue:

Why the Johnson household doesn't participate in Halloween--

1. We want what's in our home to give glory to God. We can praise God for His provisions, but we cannot give Him glory by looking at the ghostly decorations in our home. Philippians 4:8 says we are to think on things that are pure and right. We cannot do that if we are swarmed by the entertainment and decorations of Halloween.

2. Witches, satanism, ghosts, dead bodies and witch craft do not honor the Lord. As said earlier, this is not innocent fun.

"Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God." 3 John 1:11

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret." Ephesians 5:11-12

3. We want to be a "light" in this world, and not a part of it. How can we truly be different if we get involved with what the world deems as fun?

4. We want our time and money to be spent on that which counts for eternity. Going to church, witnessing to others, and even making costumes for a church play all count for something! I Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether therefore we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, do all to the glory of God."

So, how have we dealt with others around us that participate? We pray for them and talk about things that are of a good nature. We get involved in their lives and listen. And how do we deal with criticism? Basically, if the Lord has shown us what to do through His Word, than that's what we focus on--the Truth. With eternity in view, that's all that matters anyway. Someday we will give an account on what we've done on this earth, including this seemingly innocent event.

That's my heart. Hope this was a help and encouragement to you. What I would like to know is...if you do not participate, what do you do with your family instead?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Annalina's sweet birthday gift

Our niece, Annalina, will turn six years old in about a week. I finished a special gift for her today that I know she will love.

I used Simplicity pattern 4254 for this adorable doll outfit. It is a vintage pattern that offers several styles of clothing in three sizes. I used the medium size, which fits dolls that are 16-18 inches. I loved the way it turned out, especially with the added baby rick rack.

I hand-stitched the rick-rack bow onto the top corner of the sleeveless shirt.

I've been out of store-bought "handmade by" labels, so for the last couple projects, I've made my own using iron-on hem tape and a permanent marker. If I got some colored markers, I know I can get pretty fancy with these.

Using left over fabric, I made this tote bag. It measures 10" by 10 3/4". I added a vinyl pocket that can also be used to show a favorite photo. The key to sewing vinyl on is to use a sheet of tissue paper underneath it as you sew it on so that it glides well while stitching. Then, you just tear the tissue paper off. I really liked the way it turned out--hey, I may even make one for myself!

I finished her gift by making her this birthday card. I stitched a flower on, then Q wrote a sweet message inside.

Happy Birthday, Annalina!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The first BIG SNOW of the year!

It has been snowing non-stop since last night. It is incredible as to how much has come down already....and it's supposed to continue until Thursday night. WOW! We've already had a few light snows, but this one is the first BIG SNOW of the year. 

This morning after I woke up, I looked out the window and watched the snowflakes come down. I'm always amazed at how God orchestrates the weather. Although it may be a nuisance to shovel the snow or take a very slow drive in it, I can still say that snow is such a beautiful thing that God has created.

After Q's overnight shift and morning classes, he came home with a cup of raspberry hot chocolate and a chocolate muffin for us to share. It was such a delightful thing to relax inside with Q and enjoy these goodies! Then, he went off to work using the snow plow around our house and the church.

I did some cleaning, then set off to work on a sewing project. We have a niece who is going to have a birthday soon. I'm almost done with her gift. Can you guess what it will be? I will show you when it's all done.

Tomorrow may still be snowy, but I'll stay inside baking, sewing and staying warm. I don't mind staying in for a couple days at a time. It gives me a good excuse to get some additional projects done that I have put off for a while! 

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies--the healthy way!

When your husband comes home from work, snatches a warm cookie off the cooling rack, takes a bite and says, "Wow! You haven't made anything like this before. These are good!", you know you have to blog about it.

And then you also have to say, "Ummm...I've made other good things before, right?" ;) His comment sounded a bit weird, but he does compliment me on my cooking and baking. I just know that he really loves warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies!

I've been looking for more ways to incorporate whole wheat and other healthy stuff into my baking, so when I found this recipe (then finally did it a few months later:), I got really excited!
You have to check out Erin's blog, 5 dollar dinners. She does an awesome job of putting great meals and desserts together--all for five dollars or less!  

You can get her "Healthified Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe here. The only change I made was that I added wheat germ in place of the flaxseed. It still turned out awesome!

With all this yummy chocolatey goodness, you'll forget that it is healthy for you--really! Enjoy!

Some books from my past....

While I organized our children's bookshelf, I stumbled across these old Spanish books that I've had since I was a kid. My dad is Puerto Rican and although my mom is not, she lived in P.R. as a teen and learned the language very well. I grew up in a bilingual home and I learned how to speak, read and write in Spanish. Of course, the speaking came easier when I was very young, but even as an elementary school kid, I learned how to read the language by using these books--the El Monstruo series! 

"El monstruo" means "the monster", but this tall and smiling purple guy doesn't fit the typical monster characteristics. Each book shares a new adventure that he takes with children. The pictures are great and the stories are delightful. I've been reading them again and it's brought back some awesome memories.

I almost lost this set of books a few years ago. When I moved to Colorado 12 years ago, I loaned them to the Spanish teacher to use with her high school students. After she left the school, I forgot about getting them back. Then, one day I thought of them and went looking everywhere for them. No one seemed to know where they were. Then, just a few years ago, they were found by a school staff member who saw my name inside the covers of these books. I was so glad! I know that material things don't last and I won't be able to take them to Heaven, but I wanted these not only for a memory, but to share with my children someday. It's part of my Spanish heritage.

I thoroughly enjoyed teaching a bit of Spanish each year to my elementary and kindergarten students. If you're thinking about having your children learn a second language, Spanish is an excellent choice! Not only is it easy (no crazy phonics rules like English), but you never know how God can use it in their lives. There are many opportunities to witness to Hispanics--even in the United States! It's also a great asset to businesses, and the pay may even be better if you know a second language. So--go for it! Get some curriculum or DVD's, and you may even be learning alongside, too.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How to keep your china looking its best

It's been fun getting all of our things organized in our new home. A couple days ago, I washed and put the china away in a small cabinet that we use for storing  crystal, china, and other serving pieces. Someday, I'll get a real china cabinet, but in the meantime, this works.

I've been reading a book called, Good Things For Organizing, by Martha Stewart. There are some things that she does that I just can't do because it would be too expensive, or we just don't have this or that. But--there are many things she does that I just love because of the detail, simplicity or beauty of it. This book goes through each room in the house and gives practical tips for organizing. 

She gave a tip on using felt pads to keep your china looking great. When stacked, the bottom of one can scratch the one under it. Now, my china set is an older one, passed down to me by a friend several years ago, but I'd still like to keep it as long as possible. Who knows when Q and I will be able to afford a brand new set--maybe never, but that's okay. We don't use the china too often anyway. I've thought recently that perhaps I should use it more. Why save it just for special occasions? 

Okay, now to how to make your own felt pads....

Simply cut rounds of felt slightly smaller than the plates and stack them. I found bowls and large mugs to trace onto the felt with a pen, then cut out the circle shapes. I used pinking shears like she did, and they look so pretty! I placed one on top (although not necessary), to keep that plate clean. Really easy, eh?

If you don't have felt, you can use acid-free paper. You can also use felt pieces to put in your stainless steel pots to keep them from scratching each other. 

Now, have fun cutting out your felt circles and using your china a bit more. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mini thank-you cards

A snowy and cold afternoon kept me inside today, so I chose to make some cards. With the need for more thank you cards, that's what I decided to do. I used white 3x3 cards, scrap booking paper, buttons, a new stamp, and watercolors to create two similar styles of cards. 

Using a paintbrush, I painted the watercolors right onto the stamp, then stamped it onto white paper. I did several of each the purple and green colors trying to get a few good images. Some came out blotchy, while others came out faint. The trick to not getting it blotchy is to wipe the stamp clean after each time. I didn't mind at all if it wasn't "perfect," as I love this type of look with painted images. Painting was the longest process in making eight cards, but it was okay, as it was a very relaxing project for me to do today.

I like making my cards in multiples when I can, because then you can have an assembly line of sorts, and do one step at a time on each card. I sometimes struggle with what I want to do, so once I figure it out, it's good to make several of the same kind.

What about you--do you have any quick and easy tips to making home made cards? I would love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

C is for Creation

We had another great time in our Wednesday night kids' club learning a story from God's Word. This week we did "C is for Creation."

Bible Time: Little Folk Visuals have these awesome flannel graph circles to tell the Creation story. We talked about what God made each day, then I taught the kids Genesis 1:1 which says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." I did the simple game where you erase one or two words at a time on the board, then repeat the verse to learn it. Because they said last week's verse word perfect, I gave them each a "high-five" pencil.

Table time: We are loving the fun reproducible worksheets that go along with the lessons. Schuyler and Mika both enjoyed using the pencils I gave them to write their names on their papers. Then, they were to only color the things on the sheet that God made.

Craft time: To go along with the theme of things God made, we made these cute caterpillars using egg cartons. I painted them before we met, then we put googly eyes and sparkly pipe cleaners for antennae. We used markers to decorate the rest of the body. 

Snack time: We made a "creation salad" using some fruit. You could also do a veggie salad, but I thought that the kids would enjoy putting together one with fruit. I put apple chunks, banana slices, mandarin oranges and shredded coconut each in its own bowl. If you want to get more elaborate, just add more fruit like grapes, mango, and pineapple.

The salad was sweet, but oh, so good! 

Next week is the letter D. Can you think of a Bible character that has a name that begins with that letter? There's more than one, so take a guess!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Have you taken a walk with God recently?

The air is getting cooler and the trees are changing color. I enjoy this time of year, although I must say honestly, that warmer weather appeals more to my California blood! This season is absolutely gorgeous, so I have found myself taking more walks around the neighborhood. 

I have been reminded of when Adam walked with God in the garden. Wouldn't that have been a neat thing to do if we were living back then--to communicate with our Creator and to have Him communicate back verbally? I'm thankful that we can still talk to God anytime, anywhere, and about anything. He is always listening, but we must listen closely to Him as He speaks to us through His Word.

I've had some burdens in my heart this week. On this particular walk, I asked God a lot of questions and told Him my desires. He has immediately comforted me with His Word and through the encouragement of dear friends. 

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30

Although I'm still waiting for answers, I know that God is working all things for good. He loves me and cares about all the details of my life. 

"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:4-5

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can you spot the differences?

There are a couple differences between these two pictures of the front of our house. Can you spot them? They're fairly easy, but the first picture is more close up than the other. I'll confirm the answers in the comment section by tomorrow. 

Here's the before picture.....

And here's the after picture....

While there haven't been too many changes on the outside of the house, the inside has gone through a lot of transformation. Still unpacking and organizing....hopefully it will all get done before the holidays!:)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Almond Chip Scones

Have you ever said to yourself (or even out loud to your family), "Some day I'm going to try making that"? Well, for the longest time I've been telling Q that I'd like to try making scones. I just did it a couple of days ago and we both liked them a lot! They are soft and sweet-- and huge! The recipe I found was from Taste of Home's 2006 Quick Cooking Cookbook. If you've ever been intimidated by trying to make these, you don't need to be. They are so simple to make. I highly recommend that you do not use a mixer, but to use only a whisk, pastry blender and spatula by hand. Go for it--you'll love these!

Almond Chip Scones

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
4 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons almond extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, whisk 3 eggs, whipping cream and extract; add to crumb mixture just until moistened. Gently stir in chocolate chips and almonds. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 6-8 times. On a greased baking sheet, pat the dough into a 10-1/2-inch circle, about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into eight wedges. Beat remaining egg; brush over dough. Slightly separate wedges. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 8 servings.

Don't they look scrumptious? Have one for breakfast with a cup of hot cocoa or coffee. Delightful!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bailey's paisley skirt

Our niece, Bailey, just turned six earlier this month. Her present was the other one that had to wait because of our move. I'm now back on track and I should be able to keep up with hand made gifts for family. I made her a simple skirt using Simplicity pattern #9854. Since the pattern goes to size 6x, I made it a bit bigger so that she could wear it this next spring and summer. Do you recognize the fabric?

I used both fabrics and rick rack for the bag I made for her "going to school" package. When I went to cut out the fabric, I realized I did not have enough of the paisley for both the front and back. So, this was the first time I pieced fabric together like this and thought it turned out well. I did want to incorporate the green fabric somewhere, like on the top or bottom of the skirt, but I'm pleased with this end result.

I love details, don't you? Rick rack is becoming a new favorite embellishment of mine.

I think the skirt and bag go well together. With a cute white top to go with the skirt, and her bag with favorite books in tow, she'll be looking soooo cute! And I've heard that she loves to read. Perfect! It will be a great outfit for school or for a trip to the library.

Happy "belated" birthday, Bailey!

My Garden: the tomato experiment, part 2

Remember the tiny tomato plant that I'm trying to keep alive and growing? Since my last post about this experiment, it has grown a lot! I had to put it into a new pot because that four-inch one wasn't working anymore.

I kept watering it and letting it get as much sun as possible. The early fall weather is so unpredictable, so I didn't know how long my plant would hold on.

When we moved in at the end of last month, it looked like this. I had to place it in a BIGGER pot, because its roots were showing in the other one. I put the plant in a corner on the side of the house where it would get a lot of sun. I started noticing that it was starting to get limpy!

But here's the good news--it started flowering a couple weeks ago and it's still alive!

I took this picture of it yesterday--still looking okay, but it leans over a bit. With the recent snow last weekend, I had to make sure it came inside. I now just water, place it in the sun, and leave it there for a few hours a day. Sometimes Q reminds me to bring it in for the night. The days are going to get cold again. As it continues to get bigger, I may have to place it in a huge bucket. Thanks to my friend, Golie, in Fort Collins, I have a few five gallon buckets she gave me this summer. I know I can use one of those!

Did you notice the church in the background? Yup--we are very close to the church. It only takes us less than a minute to walk over for services.

So, what do you think will happen to my "late bloomin" tomato plant? Will it endure the rest of fall and winter? Will it produce some fruit? We'll just wait and see...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

B is for Baptism of Jesus

At our Wednesday night Kids' club, our Bible lesson for the night was "B is for Baptism of Jesus." If you're new to my blog, I mentioned last week that the book I'm using for this program is Bible Stories from A to Z from Teacher Created Materials, Inc. We are enjoying this immensely. The kids are now trying to guess what the next week's lesson is going to be. Last week Schuyler said, "I know what "G" is going to be about--God." :) Well, the letter g isn't going to be for a few weeks yet, and he and sister, Mika, will have to wait to find out.

Here's what we did last night:

Bible story time: The story of Jesus' baptism is found in Luke 3:1-22. I used the Betty Lukens flannel graph set as I told the story. I shared with them the importance of following the Lord in baptism if they know the Lord as their Savior. We sang a couple songs, then I asked them if they knew the verse from last week. They did, so I gave them a little prize for saying it word-perfect! Each week, I have been writing out the new verse as well as the title of the lesson on the white board. You can see below that I like to embellish a bit. I thought the boat was fitting as there are Bible stories of Jesus and his disciples in a boat.

Memory verse time: The verse for this week was Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Do you remember the memory verse cube I used in VBS this past summer? I've been using it with Schuyler and Mika these last couple weeks and they love it! After we say the verse a few times and I explain what it means, I let them roll the cube and have them do what it says. This great tool idea comes from Child Evangelism Fellowship. All you do is decorate a cardboard box (I used an empty Kleenex box) with construction paper. On each side, write a way that the child can say the verse. You can use the ideas from the picture below or come up with some on your own. The arrows are used if you're doing it in a large group of children. They stand (or sit) in a circle and someone rolls the cube. Whoever has the arrow pointed to them has to say the verse in the way that the top of the cube says, then gets to roll the cube.

Craft time: I had them do the "B" coloring page first, then we had a special craft. We decorated doves. In the Bible story, a dove came from Heaven after Jesus was baptized.

The directions say to use cardboard to cut out the dove, but I chose to use white foam board. Using some white tissue paper and glue, the kids decorated their doves. They also put on some "feathers." I didn't have any craft feathers, so I painted some leaves white. We punched a hole at the top and put some yarn through. I think they did a great job on these.

Snack time:  In the story, we learned about John the Baptist. He lived in the wilderness and feasted on locusts and honey. Since we didn't like the idea of eating locusts, we chose to eat some pretzel sticks dipped in honey. It was delicious!

Next week:  C is for......can you take a guess?:)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ross's Grand Prix playmat

We just mailed off this present to our three-year-old nephew, Ross. He celebrated a birthday last month in the midst of our packing and moving, so he had to wait for this. I'm glad it's done and I'm pleased with the results. It's a toy that Ross can take with him anywhere--to the doctor's office, shopping trips, and long car rides.

I can see him now....zooming his cars along the road for some super fun!

This was in the brain works for a long time. With ideas from Q as well as some cake decorating websites, this car play mat was put together. 

Take a look....

Ross can race his cars on this portable grand prix play mat. The backing is flannel that features race cars. Everything else was made from felt. Each piece was sewn on. I used fabric paint for the title, the flags and the lines on the track. It measures 17 1/2 by 21 1/2 inches. It was fairly easy to make. It just required time to draw things out, measure and some patience for sewing on all those tiny stars!

The "grass" was made by cutting long strips of green felt using pinking shears. The strips were sewn on before placing the track on top of it. Then, the sets of checkered flags were sewn in.

When the mat is folded, this is what it looks like. I folded the bottom to the top, then did a tri-fold. Before sewing the flannel backing to the main felt piece, I made this set of pockets and sewed it on. It's for Ross to store three of his favorite cars. We included two brand new Hot Wheels cars, so he can add a third one to this set. The pocket piece measures 8 1/4 by 4 1/4 inches when the flaps are down. I cut slits on the flap for the hand-sewn buttons to go through.

I placed a couple velcro strips to hold it in place. It's easy, portable and loads of a fun for a young child. 

Can't wait to hear how he likes it! :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Comfort food at its best: Potato-crusted chicken casserole

We all have our favorite comfort foods--chicken noodle soup, mac n' cheese, crock pot delicacies, among others. I think this is a new one on that list! It's another recipe from Taste of Home, and I know you'll love it, too. As our first snow came down this past weekend, I put this meal together for us to enjoy on a chilly night. Enjoy!

Potato-crusted chicken casserole

1 large potato, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
dash rubbed sage

1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. In a large bowl, toss potato slices with oil, salt and pepper. Arrange slices onto the bottom and sides of an 11-inch by 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until potato is tender. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, for filling, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook chicken in oil until no longer pink. Remove from skillet. In the same skillet, saute onion in butter. Stir in flour until blended; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in cheeses until melted. Stir in chicken, vegetables and seasonings. Spoon into potato crust.
3. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over chicken mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and topping is golden brown. Yield: 6 servings

By the way, here's a picture I took on Saturday morning as the snow was coming down! There were only a couple inches, but it did stay around for a while. Today is like any normal fall day--a bit chilly, the sun is shining, and all the snow is gone!

I hope it doesn't snow again for a while. It seems like it's too early, but yet again, we know that God is in control of the weather, right?

Hope you're enjoying the new season. What is your favorite comfort food?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Our New Home: The floors are finished!

Quentin spent many hours buffing, staining, and putting on the polyurethane on our hardwood floors. Days were spent letting it dry between coats and now it's finally done! 

Take a look at our shiny new floors...

Quentin used a basic stain and polyurethane that you can buy at Wal-mart or any home improvement store. He used a paintbrush to get it all on, but you could also use a paint roller.

I liked the "aged" look it has. We learned that Pastor Kemper put in these floors many years ago when he was living here when his kids were young. It will be easy to clean since it covers both the living and dining areas.

We're moving in the furniture into it today! Yahoo! It's been a two-week wait as we've had things piled up in the other rooms, including our many books that will go on a couple of the bookshelves in the living room.

We will be posting more pictures later as each room gets organized and decorated completely. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A is for Adam

I have always loved kids. I don't know exactly when it started, but I think I may have still been a kid myself! So, in coming to a new church, I prayed that the Lord would give me the desires of my heart by allowing me to be involved in the lives of children. I know there are times when in ministry you just jump into whatever needs help, and some of you know that part of my regular ministry is singing. But--God has given me the desire to love and teach children. They make me smile. I loved the ten years I taught elementary school very much. As the Lord hasn't given us any children of our own, I've considered all my students and the kids at church "my kids" for the time being.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, God answered my prayer! First Baptist Church has a program for kids on Sunday morning, but nothing on Wednesday nights. Our church organist, Julie, brought her two grand children to a Wednesday night service and asked me if I could do something with them. With just a few minutes to prepare, I told them the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, with hand-drawn illustrations on the white board! We sang songs, colored and had a snack, too. After church that night, Q and I prayed some more and after some time, felt like this was truly an answer to my prayers and that I could handle this. 

I decided to have some sort of plan in teaching these kids (you always have to have a plan with them, or they will decide what to do!). I decided to use Bible Stories from A to Z, by Mary Murray as my curriculum. It's published by Teacher Created Materials. I found this book at a thrift store for about a buck, and I'm so glad I did. It is geared towards 5-9 year olds, perfect for what we're starting on Wednesday nights. Each lesson includes a story with discussion questions, a craft, a prayer, a snack idea, a take-home story, an alphabet page and an activity page (lots of reproducible pages!). Since we start off upstairs singing with the adults, we only have about forty-five minutes. So, a couple of the fun pages have to be eliminated so we have enough time. I've also added a memory verse each week. If they say the verse the following week, they get to choose a prize from the treasure chest.

Each week, I'll share what we did during the night. While some of the things are from the book, I also like to add a little bit of creativity of my own from time to time. Hope these will give you ideas for your children's ministry, whether at home or at church.

Week 1: A is for Adam

The Bible story this week was about Adam and Eve, their time in the garden and how they sinned against God. The church owns Betty Lukens flannelgraph and the pieces are just beautiful! The verse they learned was Romans 3:23, "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." We focused on the "all" being the word that starts with "a" to go with the theme, and the verse itself fits perfectly with the story since we talked about sin.

Mika is five and Schuyler is seven. They are a lot of fun to be around! They give me hugs each week and I'm so glad I get to have them on Wednesday nights. I've also invited a family with four children to come, so we're praying that they do.

There is a myriad of song visuals at the church. We sang a few of them together. I think this one is my favorite! I love the words of the song, but the artwork is gorgeous--and makes me think of a different time in history.

After the Bible story, prayer, song and memory verse time, the kids colored the alphabet page included with the curriculum. I also had the take-home sheet ready for them. 

Then, it was time for snacks! The book recommended having some animal crackers and to have the kids dip them in frosting and put sprinkles on them. I loved the idea because the animals fit in with the part of the story when Adam names the animals. I chose to make my own cut-out animal cookies and have them decorate them. It was a BIG hit!

I had them choose two animals to decorate. Every now and then I could see them licking the frosting!

These are Mika's cookies. Can you tell what they are? They are lying sideways, but they are a butterfly and a dinosaur. We had a great time, and I'll know we'll learn lots about God's Word together.

The recipes I used for the cookies and frosting are amazing! I've had these recipes since I was in high school and have used them for cut-out cookies for lots of occasions. They are from the Parkay margarine company.

Parkay Orange Holiday Cutouts

3 cups flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
dash salt
1 cup soft margarine
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel (lemon also works!)
1 egg

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat margarine, sour cream sugar, vanilla and peel in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Blend in egg. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Divide dough into 2 equal portions: wrap each in plastic wrap. Freeze 2 hours or until firm. Roll out dough, 1/2 at a time, to 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 6 to 7 dozen.

Parkay Creamy Frosting

4-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup soft margarine
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract, which I think has an awesome flavor!)
dash salt

Beat all ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until well blended and smooth. Makes 2 cups.

Next week: B is for....Come and find out!