Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 4 of Reading the Bible in 90 Days

The Bible in 90 Days Participant's Guide: An Extraordinary Experience with the Word of GodWeek four of reading the Bible in 90 days is officially over.  It was a tough week of reading through 2nd Samuel, 1st Kings, and 2nd Kings.  King David, the man after God's own heart, reigned yet he still messed up with Bathsheba.  I don't know what must have been going through Bathsheba's mind as she must have realized how David covered up their affair.  He had her husband killed yet she still became his wife. 

Reading 1st and 2nd Kings was hard.  Keeping track of the different kings of Israel and Judah was a challenge but main theme of these books was how people fail.  I couldn't help but be amazed at how God didn't just destroy the nation and start over.  A few of the kings were decent and tried to lead the people in following the Law but they didn't remove the high places.  The high places were where the idols were worshipped and, by not completely destroying those places, the kings were in a way condoning idol worship. 

I can't help but wonder after reading about these high places, how many "high places" I have in my life.  Here the people are trying to worship God and they had to be distracted by the idols in their peripheral vision.  What distracts me from worshipping wholeheartedly?  What do I need to tear down to completely follow Christ?  These are the questions that I have been dwelling on this week.  Maybe we all should look for the high places and start tearing them down and focus on the One True God.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reading New Books

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? [BROWN BEAR BROWN BEAR-BOARD BK]I was cleaning Buddy's room today and decided to organize his bookshelf and look to see if we had any Valentine books.  Since I was a school teacher, I have a large collection of children's books and most are on Buddy's shelf now.  So I sat and looked over lots of old favorite books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle, and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.  I also realized how many books that we have that I have not read to Buddy.  We go to the library pretty regularly and have lots of favorite books that we cycle through at home. 

After realizing how many books are on his shelf and how many great books he has not read, I've decided to take the next few weeks (or months) to read all of our books.  This will not take the place of our library books but will be our bedtime readings or fun time readings.  I also plan to do this with Sweetpea and her board books to see if there are more books that she will enjoy.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. is still her top favorite but maybe another book will take that place. 

I'm looking forward to reading new books that are here in our home and enjoying the stories along with Sweetpea and Buddy.  We love reading books and re-reading favorites is always fun but finding new stories to broaden imagination or become new favorites will be exciting. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

On and Off

One of Sweetpea's new favorite things to do is turn lights on and off.  I have been showing her how since she was about four months old but now she can do it by herself if I hold her close enough to the switch.  Buddy loved doing this as a baby and still loves to turn lights on and off when he can reach.  There are days when I stand at her door for five minutes and let her turn the light on and off. 

Some of you are probably wondering why in the world I would teach them about the light switch at such a young age.  My reasoning is that it teaches them to interact with the world around them in a cause and effect manner.  Flip the switch up, the light comes on...flip it down, the light goes off, amazing to a child.  As Sweetpea is playing with the switch, I am narrating what she is doing with the words, "On, off, up, down".  These are opposite words and very tangible to understand with this activity.  While not the most ecologically- conscious or 'green' thing to do, it is an easy way to help children understand the concepts of "on and off" and "up and down".  I also show Sweetpea the sign language for these words and for "light". 

Even the simplest, everyday thing for adults, like turning lights on and off, can help an infant learn and better understand and interact with the world around them.  Sweetpea's exuberant smile as she accomplishes turning off a light is so priceless to me and just shows me that she is loving this learning opportunity.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Acts of Faith Books

The Centurion's Wife (Acts of Faith, Book 1)The Hidden Flame (Acts of Faith, Book 2)Damascus Way, The (Acts of Faith)One of my new favorite historical fiction series is the Acts of Faith series by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke.  The third book, The Damascus Way just came out and Jon gave me a copy for Christmas.  I already had read The Centurion's Wife and The Hidden Flame earlier in the summer and couldn't wait for the arrival of the final book.

All of the books are set in the time period of the book of Acts and involve the character's journey to faith in Jesus Christ.  Bunn and Oke weave salvation into extremely captivating stories and truely bring characters from the Bible to life.  I was truly sad to read the last page of the third book since this meant the end of the series. 

The Centurion's Wife is the story of Leah, servant to Pontius Pilate's wife, and Alban, a Roman Centurion.  Alban is sent by Pilate to determine if the story of the resurrection of Jesus is real, to find his body, and determine if the disciples plan a revolt.  Procula, Pilate's wife, sends Leah on her own journey to discover who this Jesus truly was.  Leah and Alban's paths intertwine as they encounter the disciples and are transformed by the message of Jesus's life.

The Hidden Flame continues with Abigail as she is being pursued by a Roman soldier and a Jewish merchant, neither of which share her faith.  The story again continues through the formation of the early church as we see in Acts and we meet characters like Martha, Stephen, Saul, and Ananias and Sapphira.  Bunn and Oke expand on each of these characters and I enjoyed their portrayal of each.   The knowledge of what happens in Scripture by no means detracts from the story line and in fact enhanced the tension that I felt as I read. 

The final book is The Damascus Way and Julia is introduced while Abigail's storyline is continued.  Martha, Philip, and Saul/Paul are brought to life from the pages of Scripture and I love to read different authors' interpretations of what our Bible heroes might have been truly thinking and feeling.  This book shows the beginning of the persecution of the church and how the church was spreading even unto the ends of the earth. 

I highly recommend these books and if you are looking for a fun read that is steeped in Biblical truth, this series is perfect for you.   Bunn and Oke help transform the characters of the Bible to living people and have challenged me to think about what they might have thought and felt as they did not have the advantage of knowing how their story ended.  Today we have the entire Bible at our finger tips but Stephen, Saul/Paul, Martha, and the disciples all lived and experienced what we too often take for granted.  The character of Martha was especially thought provoking for me because I have always been taught that I should have a Mary heart yet often I identify with Martha's frenzy as she prepared a meal for important people.  Bunn and Oke made Scripture come alive while writing about fictional characters.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Genesis 1:1

Buddy has been working to memorize Genesis 1:1 and he was able to say it this past Sunday.  (I love his little suit!). 

It is one of the shorter verses that he has memorized but a key verse.  We've talked all week about how God has made everything, including him and that He has made us each special.

Awesome Animals in the Bible- Ages 2-7We watched Awesome Animals in the Bible by WonderKids this week at different points.  It has the story of Creation that opens with Genesis 1:1 and then has the song "God Created" at the end.  Buddy and I have been singing that song throughout the day (it is really catchy and repetitive).  The movie has lots of Bible stories that have animals in them and it is one of Buddy's favorites.
Story of Creation (Alice in Bibleland Storybooks)We checked out a lot of books from our church library and Buddy and Sweetpea have both enjoyed listening to the stories.  One of my favorites, and theirs too, is the
Alice in Bibleland Story of Creation book.  The rhyme and rhythm to the story keeps Sweetpea's interest and is short enough for her to sit still.

I also printed the Genesis 1:1 coloring sheet from Hubbards Cupboard and put it on his easel but Buddy has not colored it at all.  He has looked at it and several times has said "I don't want to color" so I didn't push it.

We did our nature walk this past week and I think this activity was the most successful and entertaining for him.  His nature poster is hanging in his room now.

Teaching Buddy scripture has been an amazing journey and has shown me how easy it is to memorize Scripture when you put your mind to it.  It has also taken the excuse "but it is too hard" and shown me the opposite.  If I had really wanted to learn my Bible verses, I could have.  It has also shown our youth that if our two year old can learn a longer verse like Isaiah 9:6, that they should be learning even longer passages.  Memorization does not have to be a drudgery and can not be if we want our children to learn that God's Word is good. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 3 of Reading the Bible in 90 Days

The Bible in 90 Days Participant's Guide: An Extraordinary Experience with the Word of God  I have completed week three of reading the Bible in 90 days and am feeling amazed at how much easier it has been than I thought it would be.  Yes, there have been hard parts and the readings are long but after 3 weeks, I've settled into a routine.  On this past Friday, I needed to change my driver's license over to our new state and I instinctively grabbed the book I was reading for fun and a magazine.  I realized quickly that my Bible needed to come first since I would be waiting during nap time, my normal reading time.  So while at the Department of Motor Vehicles, waiting for forever, I read my Bible.  That was the easiest and best wait I've had and the time flew by while I was immersed in God's Word.  I was even able to read ahead a little which helped me stay on track on Sunday.  We are now currently in 2nd Samuel.  That means this week we finished Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and 1st Samuel.  There are a lot of themes covered over those four books.

Joshua starts out with the phrase "be strong and courageous" or "be strong and of good courage" repeated over and over.  I think God wanted to get his point across.  He knew that the Israelites were going to need their strength and courage to settle into the promised land.   It saddens me to read the book of Judges because the people kept making awful mistakes and falling away from God.  The people would sin and turn away from the Lord, God would allow them to be oppressed, they would cry out to God for deliverance, and He would raise up a judge to rescue them.  Over and over, God's faithfulness to an unfaithful people is demonstrated.  Ruth is a beautiful story of redemption and commitment.  I admire Ruth's courage to leave all that she knew and follow Naomi because I know I would have been like Orpah: too scared or unwilling to leave my family behind.  Finally, 1st Samuel covers Hannah's obedience in giving her first born Samuel back to the Lord, Saul's disobedience, and the beginning of the story of David.  Buddy's favorite Bible story right now is David and Goliath.  I had to smile as I read that section in a non-picture Bible for the first time in a long time. 

Each part of the Bible has had a different impact on me and I am looking forward to continuing in 2nd Samuel this week.  I challenge each and every person has read this post to open their Bible and read.  You may not be able to read it all in 90 days but start reading.  God can reveal Himself to you in a new way!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Homemade Poptarts and Pizza Pockets

Today, Buddy and I tried out the healthy poptart recipe from the Heavenly Homemakers site.  The dough can also make pizza pockets, so I halved the dough and we tried both.  My favorite thing about these is that both can freeze for easy convenience meals in the future.  Plus, I'm a huge fan of anything pizza!

Buddy and I had fun measuring and mixing the dough together.  His favorite part is counting and then dumping ingredients into the bowl.  I helped him stir since I didn't want flour all over the flour and knew the dough would be harder for him stir by himself.  We then let the dough rest and rolled it out after nap. 

Buddy liked sprinkling the flour onto the wax paper and using the rolling pin.  Check out how much flour ended up on him!

 These are our finished strawberry and huckleberry poptarts.  I made icing and drizzled it over Buddy's.

They were very yummy!

This is a picture of the pizza pockets, which were also very good.  I should have added more filling and will definitely be trying them again.

I highly recommend trying both of these recipes and will be making larger batches of both the poptarts and pizza pockets to put in the freezer.   The great thing is that the fillings can be changed to suit your tastes.  Any kind of jelly or jam can be put in the middle for poptarts or even scrambled eggs and sausage for a breakfast sandwich.  Head over to the Heavenly Homemakers and try them out for yourself!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Flower Bows

I love seeing the huge flower bows on little girls yet when I wanted to buy one for Sweetpea, I was shocked at the cost.  I decided to see if I could make her bows and found out how simple and easy they are to make.  All you have to do is look at the picture of Sweetpea on the left to see how cute they are! Here are the easy instructions to make your own flower bows.
What you'll need:
Assorted Fabric Flowers (remove long stem)
Hot Glue Gun
Head Bands
Alligator Clips

Slowly pull the base of the flower off, the green part will not be used.  The first layer of rose petals will be easy to pull off next.

Glue the first two petals together using the hot glue gun.  I use a low heat hot glue gun because I tend to get the glue on my fingers.  Slowly pull the next layer of plastic and petal off of the stem.  Separate the plastic piece and the petal but the plastic pieces will be used because they keep the rose shape.

Glue each layer of petal and plastic pieces in the order that they come off the stem.

Continue with each layer until the rose is complete.

Glue the alligator clip onto the back of the flower.

Clip the flower to the headband.

Here are a few of the other flower bows that I have done.  Every other flower is easier than a rose because there are no extra plastic pieces.  Also, the centers of the flowers can be glued in, like I've done, or you can make the bow more girly by gluing in sequins or other decorations.

I'd love to see any bows that you have made or any tips that you have!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nature Walk

This afternoon, Buddy, Sweetpea, and I went on a Nature Walk through our neighborhood.  This idea was born somewhat out of desperation because both of my children were fussy.  Our Bible verse this week with Buddy is Genesis 1:1 and we have been talking about how God created everything.  I thought a Nature Walk would be a perfect way to look at God's creation and a great way to help us find better attitudes, including me!  I gave Buddy a brown bag to collect a few of the nature objects and we set out for our walk. 

Buddy immediately ran for a leaf and proclaimed "God made the leaves!"

We had a discussion about how God made the cactus but we do not touch the spines.

Having fun!

"Look Mommy, a stick!"

 Sweetpea was trying to follow Buddy's every move and he very courteously showed her everything he picked up off the ground.

When we arrived back home, I wrote out Genesis 1:1 on a piece of construction paper and gave Buddy the glue bottle to glue his nature items around the verse. 

 He was super proud that he did all of the glue by himself!

This activity, though not planned out in advance, saved our afternoon and early evening.  The walk was a reminder to me that God has made everything, including my children, and that life happens in the small moments of Buddy running joyfully for another rock and Sweetpea giggling at his antics.