Friday, July 24, 2015

Celebrating My Hubby's 40th Birthday!

My hubby turned 40 this year
and I knew I wanted to do something really special.
For me, special means a surprise party!
I began making plans in March for his July party!
The first part of the planning were the decorations.
I decided to make a 'time line' of his life.
Each card, of the time line,
 had the year, a picture of him, and a Bible Scripture.
 I prepared 40 cards for his time line and
then strung ten cards together at a time.

The first twenty cards of time line  were strung
in the center of the room...

The next ten cards were strung and hung over the den windows...

and the last ten cards were strung around the fireplace.

A closer look at the time line...

It took a long time to make,
but I wanted to bless him that as he looked back over 
his life he would see how Jesus has lead and guided him.
(The Bible Scriptures I chose were either ones that I knew
were special to him or that I felt God wanted to 
encourage him with).

(After the party, I had all the cards of the timeline bound
and turned them into a book for him-
so he can page through and enjoy over the next 40 years!).

The next 'special' thing I planned was:
on the invitations I asked  if everyone could bring a pie.
My husband LOVES all kinds of pies!
As I knew all the adults would love pie and whip cream
I thought the kids might not.
I went ahead and made "cherry pie cupcakes" and
'blueberry pie cupcakes!"
(The 'berries' are m&m's!)
When everyone arrived, including the birthday boy, we gathered around and prayed over him. We were a group of about fifty people, all agreeing for God's blessings on my husband's life. I was blessed by all who came, I know he was too!

I think turning forty is a pretty big are realizing half your life is over and you begin to reflect on what you've come through, how you've handled it, and where you're going. (I know all those questions, and more, filled my mind when I turned forty). So, to have those you love and trust around you, praying for you and loving you is really important. I'm believing and praying for my husband to have more joy, and even a clearer vision of what God has for the next forty years of his life!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Hey, Your Joy is Leaking!"

My very first contributing writer is my husband! He is a God-fearing man, and an incredible writer-he was born to write. I hope you are blessed =)

By Benjamin Gill

Have you ever felt like your joy for life was being drained right out of your body? I have. I'm not talking about the ordinary ups and downs of life. This is a deeper problem, and it has much more to do with your effectiveness as a Christian, a spouse, a parent than just your momentary happiness.

A few years ago, I used to drive an old car, at least by American standards. In Cuba, my 1993 Geo Prizm would have been the newest model on the lot. But here on the clogged highways of the U.S., my 225,000 miles represented some decent longevity. The main benefit of that road-weary driving machine was that I didn't have to fork over thousands of dollars a year in car payments. The trade-off was that I had to fork over hundreds of dollars a year in car repairs.  

That car was a blessing in many ways, and it got me where I needed to go. But it also robbed me on numerous occasions, stealing my valuable Saturdays and raiding my wallet. That's similar to what the devil and the world do when they rob us of joy.  We’ll get to that in a moment, but for now, let’s get back to my car.

At one point, my radiator sprung a minor leak. My mechanic encouraged me to replace it. Since the radiator was made with a plastic top, the leak couldn't be plugged. Brilliant! The car was nearing the end of its days, and I wasn't convinced to give the mechanic my hard-earned hundreds just yet. Since the leak wasn't at a dangerous level, he said I might be able to get by with just keeping an eye on it every day, checking the fluid levels, biting my fingernails, that sort of thing.

So I figured I had some time to decide. I spent a few weeks "keeping an eye on it" before I realized it was worrying me more than it should. I kept having visions of breaking down on the way to work and missing some major deadline. I may have even had a mild nightmare to that effect.

A few times I recalled an incident when I had been stuck in traffic, and the car next to me was spewing antifreeze everywhere - no steam, just gushing bright green stuff. The driver was a teenager, and didn't appear to realize what was happening. So I did him the kind service of telling him, "Hey, your radiator's leaking!" I figured he would actually care to know about his radiator’s mortal wound. He ignored me.

In the end, I decided not to become that teenager, and hoping to squeeze yet another year out of my car, I bit the bullet on the new radiator.  

Then there was the time I blew a gasket. Alright maybe it wasn't completely blown, just a bit leaky, but I've always wanted to use that phrase and actually be referring to something mechanical. Everywhere I went, I left a lovely shiny black puddle behind. That was a pretty penny to fix as well.

Car leaks in all their various forms, from oil to antifreeze, remind me of leaky Christians. That's all of us by the way. A friend of mine in college once told me, "One of the Devil's top goals is to steal our joy." I had never heard anyone put it quite that way. I agreed with him then, and I agree with him more now, even though I often forget about this ploy. There are many ways the enemy works us over. But the most insidious form is the steady drip, drip, drip.

The Bible tells us the Devil comes "to steal, kill, and destroy." We also know that he knows scripture. He quoted it, and twisted it while tempting Jesus in the wilderness. With his thousands of years of experience taunting and robbing and attacking people, I think he probably knows by now why joy is so important to Christians.

But I think many of us forget why joy matters so much. It's not just a nice byproduct of knowing Jesus. No, it's much more. The joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10) If you've lost your joy, you've lost your strength. Joy is the lifeblood of the believer. If you're leaking joy, pretty soon you'll dry up, and your spiritual engine can seize up amid the heated frenzy of life.

Of course, our sinful nature is at the heart of this leaking. But "the Father of Lies" also knows how to use our sinfulness and lack of faith to his advantage. He and his minions whisper lies to our hearts as we face life's cares and worries: "you're stuck with that problem," "you'll never lose that weight," "you'll never be able to pay off those bills," "you'll always have that illness," "you'll never make it." Lies, lies, and more lies. He entices many with the love of money, or dare I say it, "the American dream." He inflicts others with sickness, fear, and despair.

But Jesus said He came to give us life, and abundant life at that. So who have we been listening too?

As Psalm 16:11 teaches us about God, “in Your presence there is fullness of joy.” And we all need a fill-up. Getting in God's presence does a lot of things, but in this case the big one is that it changes our perspective. We realize that God is bigger than our problems. When we're in His presence, we know we're safe and secure. We’re reminded that our needs will be met. When we enter His presence through worship, prayer, reading the Word, it reminds us heaven is our home, and brings the Kingdom of heaven to earth. The more we recognize we're part of a different Kingdom, the less susceptible we are to the prince of this earth.   

We’re also told in Galatians 5:22 that joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. So we'll get more joy the more we choose to be filled with the Spirit and walk in the Spirit. 

So it seems to me that the key to plugging our joy leaks is found in walking closely with the Lord, and listening to His voice.  As we fill up our tank in God’s presence, we’ll be able recognize the threats, shoot down the lies, and allow the joy of the Lord be our strength each new day.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Little House on the Prairie: Chapters 12 & 13

Chapter 12: Fresh Water to Drink and Chapter 13: Texas Longhorns

Sadly, I cannot find all the pictures I took of the work the children completed for these two chapters, but I will say that, 'Fresh Water to Drink,' was another chapter that simply amazed my children.

The hard work to dig the well, day after day, and then to need the help of a neighbor because Pa couldn't do it alone was astonishing to my children. As we read about Mr. Scott's carelessness with following Pa's rules, the children began to have more respect for rules, order and taking your time to get the job done right. So, my two little children were asked to make a summary, step by step, on how to dig a well. My older children helped write the summary and then when on to write about how they felt about Mr. Scott's foolishness in not abiding by Pa's rules.

Chapter 13 was a wonderfully exciting chapter for the children and I. We marveled in how God provided work for Pa and cows for the Ingals family. We had not heard the family mention milk or butter, but we had assumed they had it. The awe in not having milk, or butter when you want it amazed my children. My children were so happy for the family that our writing assignment reflected it. They were asked to write how they would feel if they couldn't have milk or butter. To write about all the things that they could not bake or eat. (They wrote about not having cereal in the morning, no 'milk and cookies, no butter on toast...etc.) Then they wrote about the elation of having a cow to milk!

It was a lovely, happy chapter!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Little House on the Prairie: Chapter 11

Chapter 11: "Indians in the House"

In reading Little House on the Prairie we learned that the Osage Indians were the Indian tribe that lived very close to the Ingals family. So, I set out with the children to our local library.
We found the following books. 
These books were PERFECT!
There was enough information for the older children
 to write a separate report!  

I found a moccasin kit at Michaels!
After reading chapter 11 we worked on 
making our own Moccasins!
(Don't forget your coupon!)

This was a fun week!

Little House on the Prairie: Chapters 9 & 10

Chapter 9: A Fire on the Hearth
Chapter 10: A Roof and a Floor

In reading these two chapters we were simply amazed at what Pa could do. We discussed all the hard work it took to make a fireplace, roof and flooring. Choosing the right stones, cutting down trees, splitting the logs, placing them down perfectly and how difficult it must have been NOT to be able to run to Home Depot for nails!

After writing a summary of what we learned, 
I surprised the children with the
 "Little House on the Prairie: The Premier Movie."
The kids were so surprised and excited!

The movie begins with the Ingals family saying goodbye to their family in the 'Big Woods.' It was neat hearing them remember parts of the book as they watched the movie. We watched up to where we had read and stopped the film. They couldn't wait to read more and watch more!

Over the next several weeks as we read we would watch another section of the movie. We often talked about how certain things in the movie were not as they were written in the book. And how the movie left out some of our favorite parts of the book. It allowed for some very good discussions and writing!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Godly Girls: God is Love!

"God is Love"
Is the 2015 Godly Girls Camp theme!

 Scripture Painting our Memory Verse
 is the order of each morning!
 I'm just waiting for my twelve girls to show up =)

Here they are! Ready for the day!

 "God is Love..."

 Afternoon Craft: Learning how to Needlepoint
 the first letter of their name!

 DAY 2: Scripture Painting:"For God so loved the world..."
 (John 3:16)

 Busy at work!

 Afternoon Craft- We Decoupaged an "Answered Prayer" box.
Having a place to write and remember all the ways
God loves us!

DAY 3: Scripture Painting--"See what great love the father has lavished on us
 that we should be called children of God and that is what we are!"
 (1 John 3:1)

My teaching board: giving ideas on 
how to express their heart through art with Scriptures! 

 Afternoon craft: Painting ceramic statues.

Every verse was the same, 
Every art work was unique and different!

DAY 4: Scripture Painting Verse-
"Neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation
will separate you from the love of God in
Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:39

Scripture painting time was just so wonderful.
First: I would have the girls close their eyes as
I read the Scripture of the day to them. Then hands
would begin to raise as visions from the Lord came
into their minds! Watching them express Scripture
through paint- was priceless.
But I have to say, as wonderful as that was,
my favorite part was when they would begin to sing.
There they were are twelve girls painting,
and then someone would think of a worship song and
begin to sing. Before I knew it they were all singing!
It was truly beautiful.

Afternoon Craft: Mason Cookie Jars