Reformation Day Party – 2013

15 Oct

This year will be our 2nd Annual Wellman Reformation Day Party! So excited!!

I’ve decided to focus on John Calvin (or Jean Cauvin) this year, as a rather fitting follow up to our Luther-themed party of last year.

So, here are my ideas. You are welcome to borrow, reuse, reinvent and modify these as you please. I probably will, too, over the next several weeks, until I have finally arranged what I believe will work best for us. 🙂

Our home is small, so in an effort to keep everything inside this year, in case of cold or inclement weather, we will only be inviting three other families in addition to ours. So, understandably, the amount of supplies I will have to buy/make will be small enough to make this a not-so-huge expense. If you plan to do a larger party, you might need to alter the food/treat menu and some of the games to be more cost-effective.

First party feature: Simonetta Carr’s book about John Calvin, which you can find here or here.

1) We will begin our party with a meal consisting of traditional French and Swiss foods and drinks, during which I (or some other adult) will read portions of Simonetta Carr’s book.

Menu so far:

– fondue (using Swiss, Gruyere, or Edamame cheese) with French baguette pieces and apple slices to dip out the cheese.

– cucumber and tomato salads in vinaigrette

– Swiss Rösti (recipes here and here)

– chocolate Ă©clairs (there are also “tastes like the real thing” Ă©clair squares recipes — but after reading through the ingredients lists, my Frenchie self just couldn’t stomach any of those suggestions. I’d rather spend the time making the “real deal” than use cool whip, graham crackers and boxed vanilla pudding for an easier replacement, thanks! Gross! I’m sure if you’ve not indulged in real Ă©clairs on a regular basis the substitute dessert is just fine. But if you have, or have guests who have, you might want to reconsider…)

– Croque Monsieur sandwiches

crĂŞpes with powdered sugar and Nutella (and I don’t care what the recipes say, crĂŞpes are NOT like “pancakes”)

Perrier water, Evian water, chocolate milk (served in bowls), and probably some kind of hot apple cider

For prizes to the games, we will give out Toblerone minis, Lindt minis, Buddy Fruits applesauces and tarts (lemon and raspberry flavors). Buddy Fruits also makes jello packs and gummi packs, too.

BTW, I can find/buy all of these at our local Walmart. Yes, we live in a big city. But more rural locations often carry these same items as well, or if you ask, may be able to order them in stock for you.

2) All the plates on which the food will be eaten will have different colored dot stickers pre-placed on the bottom, so that we can easily make two or three teams of party guests for the next game – Calvin’s Pulpit Trivia. Questions will be formed from the portions we read of Carr’s book. The team that answers the most questions correctly will receive one of the above mentioned food prizes to put in their goodie bags (something like this, only we will probably use Calvin quotes).

3) Next up, Pin the Cap on Calvin – just a good ole’ rendition of “pin the ____ on the _______”, except with a life size poster of a famous Calvin image, and pre-cut paper caps to match the one on the poster, tape and a blindfold. Everyone who plays receives a prize, but those are given out in order of 1st to last based on the proximity of each player’s cap to the original one on the poster.

4) This next game, I don’t have solidified yet, but it will be a team game again, based around the traditional game “pĂ©tanque“, which is played in various renditions all around the word, but especially in French influenced areas. The object of the game will be to keep “score”, not by points but by the letters of the Calvinist acronym T. U. L. I. P.  First team to spell “TULIP” wins another food prize. There will be a poster explaining each of these letters and their significance as related to Calvin’s doctrine and teaching.

5) Geneva Lake Boat Races – again, I don’t have this one all detailed out, but it will involve boats looking something like this (minus the balloons), that can be blown by mouth across our living room floor. This will probably have to be a team relay of some sort, from one side of our living room to the other.

6) I’m not sure whether we will have any more games after this. But here is a site I am contemplating, with many great ideas, to see if any of them can be worked into our Calvin theme. Also, here is another traditional French/Euro game children play — a long stretchy elastic rope is stretched between the legs of two players, while a third completes a series of pre-determined jumps over, across, through and on the elastic bands, with the object of the game being to complete the set of jumps required for each picture group. There are often silly rhymes that go with each “set”, but you can also complete the jumps by simply counting them one at a time (a good chance to practice pronouncing French numbers!). Most of these sets have 8-10 jumps to complete, including the starting and finishing positions.

The decorations this year will be simple, since Calvin was a very simple man himself. But I will try to have something set up as his “pulpit” and Bible (we might have a Geneva Bible, Geneva Study Bible or Reformation Study Bible or can find one to borrow), a couple of our Calvin books set out, a slide show of Geneva pictures scrolling by, or maybe some library books of pictures of the area, or if I can find it, my own scrapbook of my travels in Geneva and Switzerland. I will also have a “blackboard” with the menu inscribed on it set out to welcome our visitors, much like European restaurants do to advertise their offerings. I’ll probably try to find or make some “Parisian” and “Swiss” paraphernalia to hang up, set around, with the “Parisian” things being on one side of the living room, and the “Swiss” on the other, with “Calvin’s Pulpit” set up between them.

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Make your own handwriting and letter practice sheets

2 Oct

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We are homeschooling our 4 year old son for preschool this fall, and letter writing is one of the things we are doing a LOT of these days. 🙂 We are all about free resources, things that help us “make and do” for our own curriculum I’ve designed, and I hope to post much about this in the future. It’s a lot of work, but I am having so much fun creating our own complete curriculum from scratch.

So, for a first tip, here‘s a helpful website I found that allows you to make, save (on their site, once you’ve created a free login account) and print your own practice pages. LOVE IT!    http://handwritingpractice.net/handwriting/index.html

Sifting, Sin and Sanctification

30 Sep

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Yesterday was a watershed moment for me. You will find below the encouraging thoughts the Lord gave me, compiled from both the Sunday school lesson and sermon yesterday, with some key verses (that are examples of, but by no means exhaustive defenses of the truths illustrated). I am grateful for the faithful and sound teaching of men like Dr. Bruce Ware (for the Sunday school lesson) and Pastor John Kimbell (for the sermon).

The Sunday school lesson was on the positional (already secured) and progressive (not yet attained but in process) aspects of sanctification (meaning becoming like Christ, especially in His sinless perfection) (various New Testament passages, mostly from Paul’s epistles).

The sermon was about Peter’s denial of Jesus (Luke 22:31-34, 54-62), with some parallels drawn with the record of Job’s trials (Job 1, 2:1-10), and then Peter’s restoration (John 21).

  1. Jesus does not over-estimate us. He knows our weaknesses. He is not surprised by how, when or where we fail.
  2. As the redeemed people of God, our failure is mitigated. It is not as profound, complete, absolute or extensive as it could be. Jesus prays for us, just as He prayed for Peter (Romans 8:34).
  3. Our suffering in trials is limited. God sets the boundaries of our “sifting”. Satan asked to sift Peter for the purpose of causing him to fall, much like he asked to test Job. But his boundaries in which to exercise this “sifting” are limited by the divine decree of God (see Job’s story, and Peter’s). Satan desires to do everything he can to ultimately destroy the people of God by causing their faith to fail absolutely and finally. God does not allow this. He is the one who keeps our faith from ultimately failing (Jude 1:24).
  4. Though Satan’s purpose is to destroy us, God uses the trials and sufferings in our lives for the purpose of sanctifying us, through our failures (sin) and suffering. (Hebrews 12:3-12)
  5. In light of this truth then, in Christ, even our sin and failures have a redemptive purpose. They are allowed in order to sanctify us. Peter was self-confident, but when he failed and lost his self-confidence, he was restored and his shattered self-confidence was replace with Christ-confidence. Peter had lost all self-esteem, but he gained Christ-esteem. God allowed him to be “sifted” and to fail, for a time, in order to conform him more to the image of His son — no longer trusting in his own strength, but in the unfailing power of Jesus (James 1:2-4).
  6. The process of becoming more like Christ is sanctification. The purpose of sanctification is to enable us to see Jesus more, until finally we will behold him full-on, in all His unveiled glory. And the more we see Jesus, the more sanctified (like Him) we become. All of Scripture and the work of God in our life point to this one thing: to see Jesus. And when we see Him, and because we see Him, we will be like Him (1 John 3:2).

In summary then, everything, absolutely everything, EVEN our own SIN serves a redemptive purpose in our lives, through Christ, that we may see Him more, and more, and more, until that final day, when we behold His glorious, astounding, creation-remaking beauty, unveiled in our sight.

THIS is simply astonishingthat Christ would turn the very outworking of our wicked hearts and rebellion into that which no longer condemns us but is part of the very process of our final redemption and salvation. In Christ when we repent, our sin no longer damns us before God because our debt has been propitiated (set aside) by the payment He made through His death. Instead, our sin is a useful tool in His hands for our own sanctification. Is there ANYTHING more ASTOUNDING than this? What a glorious Gospel, what a gracious God. Dear believer, never, ever get over the work of Christ on your behalf and in you!

Caution — lest this lead you to think that we can therefore sin unashamedly and in abundance, with no restraint, read Romans 6. We are no longer slaves to sin, now that we are in Christ. Therefore we are to do all we can to exercise ourselves for the cause of righteousness.

Conclusion: Give thanks in trials. Give thanks even when you suffer the effects of your own sinful failures. As difficult as it is to do, give thanks in all things, because Jesus is using them for your greatest and ultimate good.

On Bikinis, Swimwear and the topic of “modest” clothing in general

30 Sep
Young Woman Shopping for Clothes

I quit wearing bikinis shortly after I got married. Marriage opened my eyes to a whole different perspective on things, and I just couldn’t, in good conscience, wear one in public anymore. While I wish I had the time/discipline to get back the “bikini” body I had (prior to the birth of two children, three miscarriages and various health hang-ups), the only time I use the one I still have is as underwear under outdoor clothing for things like rafting or splashing in spray fountains at the park or such. I think the human body is beautiful, in many shapes and sizes. It’s an amazing work of art and a fabulous display of the Creator’s creativity. But in the Fall, sin complicated a lot of things, and mankind lost the right to expose the human body as we think fitting. We neither govern our own bodies properly without sin, nor do those around us govern themselves sinlessly toward it.

Clothing is a good and gracious gift from a God who knows our weaknesses and seeks to help us in the midst of them. There is a wide variance allowable for what is considered “modest”, and this can vary considerably from culture to culture and time period to time period. But I think the best guidelines for what we wear are 1) that we are not self-conscious in our choice of clothing for our various activities, 2) that our clothing works to reveal character rather than skin or “shapeliness” and 3) that areas of our bodies typically deemed “private” and “sexual”, especially within the culture around us, are sufficiently covered so as to not inadvertently be exposed to the eyes of those around us.

Different aspects of the human body trip up different people  in different cultures. It is simply kind and considerate to strive to be as little of a stumbling block as possible to those around us, regardless of our personal preferences or comfort levels in clothing. I understand in some cultures, this can be exceedingly difficult to discern and do (I think particularly of some muslim cultures where the act of discerning between what is conforming to an ungodly culture and what is exercising Christian charity toward the culture in modes of dress can be complex). But, as women, and particularly Christian wives, we are charged in Scripture not to seek to make as much of a statement about ourselves as our bodies and/or clothing allow, but to make a world-changing, life-altering statement about the Gospel through our character and demeanor.

1 Peter 3: 1-6 ~ In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives. Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming. (emphasis mine)

(Disclaimer: The photo at the top of this post, as far as I can tell, is free for the posting on a personal blog as long as the photo credit is showing. If I am wrong, please let me know so I can remove it. Thanks.)

Celebrating Advent and Christmas Purposefully (Part 2)

15 Apr

Okay, here’s the post with local ideas and decorations that we’ve come up with so far.

1) Attend Christmas concerts that are focused on Christ — this last year, we went to the Getty’s concert at the seminary where my husband attends. It was not all I hoped it would be, but the music was Christ-centered and Gospel-focused. Both our boys had a great time, and were even more excited to learn and sing Christmas carols and hymns the rest of the season.

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If you live someplace where there are good local music options, you might be able to find a church-organized Christmas concert for free, or even a performance of Handel’s Messiah.

2) Visit a “living nativity” — a church in our town puts on a lovely little performance of the story of Jesus’ birth, complete with mini-farm animals. We went this past year, and it was the highlight of our Christmas season!

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3) Choose a local Gospel-focused charity, or international organization (like Samaritan’s Purse, or Compassion International), or just someone in need, and decide as a family how to make a gift to them. Some families skip a meal and save the money it would have cost, or do extra chores, or find ways to make extra money, or collect all or some of their savings and pool it together to make a donation or buy something needed for a charity/organization or family in need. I remember as a kid, one year my family found out what a teen girl in a nearby foster family wanted most, and granted her wish. It was so much fun to take it to her and get to know her! She was so surprised and grateful when we showed up with a new waffle iron for her to fix her family breakfast. She LOVED to do that and the waffle iron she used had recently broken.

ATR International Charity

4) Make gifts for local service people — the mail person, police officers, janitors, garbage collectors, cashier at your favorite grocery store, gas station attendant, etc. People who’s jobs are a great service to the community, but who typically go un-thanked. There are lots of great ideas online of how to make simple and inexpensive gifts. One of my favorites is a “s’mores” treat gift bag, found here.

Now for decorating ideas.

1) DIY Christmas wreath from Christmas cards — you can use old cards from previous years, or even scrapbook paper, for this project. I made it up after googling paper wreath ideas. You can find my inspirations here and here. Make a cardboard circle with the middle cut out (I used an old cereal box) for your base. Then cut 1 to 2 inch wide strips out of your cards or paper, and glue them down around the circle, overlapping them like a fan. Hot glue a strip of fabric or ribbon to the back to make a loop from which to hang the wreath. The first wreath, I used scissors and trimmed the edges to be flush with each other. The second wreath, I left the edge uneven.

Here’s how ours turned out (I added an ornament a friend made for us to the bottom of the first one I made):

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If you like the ornament, my friend found it on Pinterest, and you can find it here.

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2) Spelling seasonal words and phrases with alphabet blocks — if you have alphabet blocks of any sort, or magnetic letter, or Scrabble letters or anything similar, this is just really easy to do. Here’s how ours turned out.

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3) Use nature: if you live where you can readily collect pretty pinecones, nuts, berries, holly branches, or evergreen greenery, bring the “outdoors” indoors, and marvel at the beauty with which God crowns His world, even in the “dead” season of winter. In years past, I have spray painted pinecones and glued stuff to them, or just washed them off and used them “as is”. I’ve also made table decorations from fresh holly branches and berries. Holly really lasts quite a while, once cut! I’ve also collect nuts and arranged them in bowls and glass dishes. You can find a lot of great ideas and uses for natural things like that on Pinterest.

My Natural Christmas Decorations

4) Focus everything seen from the outside of your house on Jesus as much as you can. You’ll see  from the pictures below that I tried to do that this year.

That’s it for tips on what to make/how to make it, so far. Below are just some pictures of other things I came up with, from scraps and pieces of things we had lying around. Nothing that I’d recommend copying, or that I could even tell you how to make it, because the stuff for it was just so random, I couldn’t duplicate it if I wanted to. But, honestly, to me that’s half the fun of crafting! Repurposing junk into something beautiful! 🙂

Front door hanger:

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Leftover cardboard packaging for a wall hanging — paint, scrapbook paper, hand-drawn letters with a Sharpie.

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A Christmas card mounted on matching scrapbook paper.

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Scrap paper, hand lettering with a Sharpie.

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A left over gift tag mounted on scrapbook paper.

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Left over egg crates, painted with acrylic craft paint, letters cut out from scrapbook paper, pompoms and more scrapbook paper.

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Scrap paper decorations, with glue, clothespins and popsicle sticks.

Celebrating Advent and Christmas Purposefully

14 Apr

We have been working out the last several years how to celebrate major holidays in a manner that focuses us on the glory of God, and sets aside the self-centered hype of the traditions and culture around us.

Christmas time has been the hardest holiday to do that. There is so much cultural emphasis on it, so many cultural traditions and expectations tied to it here. Most of them have nothing to do with Jesus, few of them seek to glorify God at all.

We don’t put up Christmas lights. We don’t use a Christmas tree. We don’t give gifts. We don’t host Christmas parties. Not that any of those things are bad in themselves. If you do them as a Christian, you’re not some kind of “sub-spiritual” person.

After all, the lights of Christmas were once to remember that Jesus, the Light of the World, came to us. And Martin Luther supposedly thought the evergreen tree was a wonderful way to use God’s creation as a reminder that He came to give us life.

However, it’s so easy for these things to get mixed up in things that actually detract from the work of Jesus and the glory of God, that we choose to opt out of them during the Christmas season.

So here’s a list (and some pictures) of ways we have found to celebrate the season.

1) Make and use a Jesse Tree

My #1 favorite thing we have done so far is make a Jesse Tree to use during Advent. Right now, this is a poster for us, since we don’t have anywhere to put a “branch” tree, and I’m a little leery with toddlers around, to have anything more substantial. I found the scripture readings and ideas for symbols here, but the RCA site and CatholicCulture.org have some good ideas, too. The RCA (Reformed Church in America) even has an instructional on how to host an intergenerational Advent-Jesse Tree party!

Here’s what our tree looks like –

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If you Google search images for Jesse Tree, you will find a wide variation of ways to creatively make your own Jesse Tree. Some pictures will even come from sites with DIY instructions. One such place, Domestic-Church.com, has DIY instructions here. I found my symbols one by one as free clip art, in Google images. Trust me, that was tedious!

One of the main reasons I love using the Jesse Tree for Advent (besides the fact that it gives us a way to celebrate the season every day, not just on Sundays) is that with a well designed scripture reading schedule, we actually walk through the main stories of the Bible in a month. Genesis to Jesus. And it gives us a GREAT overview of the whole story of Jesus, how He is the main character of the Old (not just the New) Testament.

2) 12 Days of Christmas Calendar

I don’t have a picture of this. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll get one uploaded. If not, I’ll at least try to get the documents I used for this uploaded.

But, the long and short of it is, I found instructions for Noel Piper’s “Noel Calendar” and altered it a bit so that it fit into 12 days — the 12 days after Christmas, between Christmas Day and Epiphany (Dec. 26th – Jan. 6th). Then on the back of our Jesse Tree poster, I made our 12 Days of Christmas calendar, where bit by bit we build a “nativity” scene. I really love this because it extends the Christmas season so that after Dec. 25, there’s no huge “let down”. Over the course of 12 days, we cumulatively recite the story of Jesus’ birth. Each day is a short “prose” summary of an event in the story. This activity is simple, short, and repetitive — a really excellent way to help young children memorize the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

If you’d like the original story to work with, until I can get my altered version up, here it is on Noel Piper’s blog.

3) Make a Nativity

Every year since our oldest son was born, we have made a nativity.

Year 1 – Sock doll nativity characters (so far, we have Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, a Shepherd, one Sheep, an Angel, and 3 Wisemen). Our boys LOVE playing with these little sock people. They are soft, simple, washable, chewable, throwable, and generally indestructible. 🙂 (Sorry, no picture of this yet, either.)

Year 2 – Salt Dough nativity — this was fun to make and paint. Just FYI, don’t try to put it outside for decoration. The squirrels ate baby Jesus and thought the Wisemen were pretty tasty, too!!

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I used just a basic salt dough recipe, shaped individual pieces, baked them in the oven, painted everything with a white craft acrylic paint as a base for the colored acrylic paints, hot glued everything together, and finished everything off with a clear coat of acrylic sealer once I finished painting everything. We collected twigs in our yard, and hot glued those together to form the “manger” and “stable” for our nativity scene.

Year 3 – Gingerbread Nativity — the demise of baby Jesus and the Wisemen from our salt dough nativity gave me an idea for the next year. An edible nativity! So, we made up some gingerbread dough, shaped it by hand (or if you have small cookie cutter shapes, you could use those – boy, girl, sheep and other nativity scene animals), and baked up our cookies. Then we colored some vanilla icing (or you can make your own) and iced up our cookies. (Tip: When coloring icing, especially homemade butter-based icing, use Wilton gel colors, not liquid cheap food coloring. The icing colors look grainy otherwise.) I used the lid to a glass Pyrex bowl as the base for our nativity, so I could seal the glass bowl over the top and keep our cookies around for a few weeks before we had to eat them.

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Sorry the picture isn’t more clear, but you probably get the idea that decorating cookies with a 2 or 3 year old isn’t going to produce the most artistically appealing set of cookies you’ve ever seen. But they sure tasted yummy, even after a week and a half under the glass!!!

Here’s a picture of another attempt at a “prettier” gingerbread nativity

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Year 4 – Woodblock Nativity — I found the idea to make a woodblock nativity here. Actually, if you Google images for “woodblock nativity”, you will find literally hundreds of ideas and variations! Here’s another one I really liked.

And here’s what ours looks like.

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I cut out small squares of paper, drew the characters on them with thin-tip Sharpies, pulled out our old set of alphabet woodblocks, painted a faded side with white acrylic paint, and then used Mod Podge to glue/paint them on the blocks after the white side dried. I think for next year, I will add the matching “word” and “scripture” on the blocks, like at yellowspool.com.

Year 5Toilet Paper Roll Nativity — we haven’t done this yet, it’s my craft for this next year. But I thought this was just a brilliant idea to do with our 4 year old. And I’m sure his little brother, who will be 2 by then, will enjoy it very much, too.

4) Learn one old (before 1960) and one “new” (in the last 50 years) Christmas hymns or Christ-centere carols — learn them, start to finish, every verse. Sing them as often as you get the chance — while making Christmas cookies, or decorating the house, or dancing around the living room, at night before bed, during family worship, riding in the car, or whenever you need something to do. Try to pick ones that are rich in theology (say, “Hark the Herald” or “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”), tell some of the story of Jesus’ birth (“O Little Town of Bethlehem” or “Mary, Did You Know”), and are fun to sing (“Angels We Have Heard On High” or “Hark How the Bells”). When you run out of traditional ones, have fun finding and learning traditional Christmas songs from other cultures.

5) Try once or twice a week making a special traditional Christmas time food from another country. Christmas has long been celebrated worldwide, so it’s a great time branch out for a taste of international flavors in music, customs, and foods. Go here for some ideas of what you can try. Pray for the countries you “sample”, that Jesus would be known and worshipped there as their greatest treasure.

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I hope you found these ideas helpful. I’ll be adding to them from year to year. You can pretty much do these just about anywhere. Next blog, I’ll give ideas of things we’ve done locally and for decorations, since we like to keep things simple for the Christmas season.

 

Book Review: The Church History ABCs

9 Apr

The Church History ABCs cover

This is a great book to use to teach children some interesting facts about important Church history figures (like Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, and Luther) as well as some lesser-known people (such as Anne Bradstreet, John Donne, and Antonio Vivaldi). Each page features a colorful illustration of the featured figure, along with a cleverly worded text about the person. For example, almost all the words used to describe Anne Bradstreet begin with b’s. Calvin’s page is the same, with lots of c’s. At the back of the book are several pages of additional interesting facts and information on each person, as well. For such a brief book, the authors did a great job giving lots of insight into each Church history hero. We found it to be very interesting for children and adults alike.

We have had great success using it as bedtime reading with our two boys, 4 and 1 years old. The oldest one recognizes when he hears names of Augustine, Luther, Calvin and others in seminary-life conversations, and he pipes up with a fact or two that he remembers about these great men. Good stuff!! I relied pretty heavily on this book, and a few other sources, to develop our “Reformation Party” around Luther last fall.

 

Book Recommendations

8 Apr

I am working on a variety of projects, so I don’t have time to do a complete review.

But, two books I am relying on HEAVILY, and that I HIGHLY recommend are listed below.

The Gospel Story Bible, by Marty Machowski, has been a God-send for our family. It’s so hard to find Biblical children’s Bible story books that are thorough and don’t take HUGE liberties with the text. I thought I was just going to have to write one. But thankfully, we found this! It is just about as complete in its selection of stories as I could wish, walks through the Bible from start to finish, quotes a great deal of scripture in its “retelling”, and always makes a neat connection to the New Testament and Jesus at the end of each story. The stories cover one or two pages each, at the most, and the pictures are brilliant and interesting. I think you’ll LOVE this as much as we do!

One Perfect Life

One Perfect Life by John MacArthur is the “Gospel Harmony” book I’ve been waiting for. It takes a complete, chronological approach to a survey of the life of Jesus. I love how each section has the Scripture readings featured. Cleverly, and astonishingly, all the passages have been woven together, and marked, so that you can read a compilation of say, The Beatitudes, from Matthew and Luke, seamlessly. It’s really, really wonderful! This should be Lent – Pentecost reading, yearly. Or just read through it regularly some time each year! Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Reformation Day 2012

4 Apr

Well, a while back, I posted ideas for a Reformation Day party that I never got to do. So this past fall, we actually did it! Our 1st Annual Reformation Day Party!!

The weather turned out to not be so great, but some friends show up and we had a good time anyway. Note to self: if planning an outdoor party in late October, have some way to move it indoors if needed.

So here’s how it went:

As each family arrived, every family got an Operation Christmas Child shoebox to fill (I picked up mine, in installments, from a local LifeWay Christian Stores bookstore) and a party bag. I explained that some of the activity stations were marked with a special OCC sticker and some weren’t. Then as we went around and did each activity, if an OCC sticker was on the game sign the prize went in the shoebox. If it wasn’t, the prize went in their bag. Half the prizes won were for the kids to put in their shoebox i, and the other half were for them to put in their party bag.

Games: Our theme this year was around Martin Luther, and each game station had a “blurb” I wrote up giving some details, interesting facts and history about Luther’s life and work.

1) Luther’s Study — story time with a children’s book about Luther (you could have someone pretend to be Luther and tell the kids about his life. We tried to have that, but it didn’t work out).

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2) Pin the Hat on the Reformer – Martin Luther poster, hat cutouts, masking tape, blindfold. Just like “pin the tail on the donkey” game.

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3) Nail the 95 Theses — I printed out all 95 Theses, taped them to a scroll and hung it up on a door on our shed. Because the prize at this station was water, I filled a wheelbarrow with ice, taped a select number of individually cut out Theses protected in plastic baggies to mini water bottles and buried them in the ice. The kids had to dig them out, find a bottle with a baggie on it, get their Theses out, read it and put it up in the right spot. With the youngest ones, we read it for them and helped them figure out where it went.

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4) Staupitz’s Swan Race — kiddie pool filled halfway with water, solid object in the middle to travel around, ping-pong or foam balls, straws. The kids had to use the straws to blow their floating ball from a set starting point around the object in the middle and back to the starting point.

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5) Katie’s Kitchen Egg Race — I made an obstacle course of things to go around, over, through, etc. and the kids used spoons to balance an egg from start to finish. Younger kids got big spoons or even ladles, older kids got soup spoons. 🙂

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6) Sola Fishing — I used a kiddie pool, filled it with ballpit balls, and hid foam fish with rings attached to them. I also made a poster with each Reformation Sola written out and a symbol representing it. Some fish had symbols on them representing a Sola, matching the Sola poster. They had to get at least one “Sola” fish, match it to the symbol on the poster and read the Sola statement that it represented. I had pencil “fishing poles” with simple paperclip hooks attached to the end of the string.

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7) Luther Rose Bowling — We have a set of plastic kid bowling pins, so I used these, and just taped a Luther Rose onto one of them. Then they had to try to bowl and knock over the one pin with the Rose on it. I also had a poster explaining the parts of the Luther Rose and how he used them to outline the Gospel.

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8) Wheel the Wagon to Wartburg — I set up a path of traffic cones in our driveway. Taped to each one was a picture of various “foes” of Luther. The object of the game was to roll a hula hoop down through the line of cones, weaving through them without touching one “foe” and get Luther safely to “Wartburg castle”. If you touched a cone, you had to start all over again. Older kids had to go down and back again. Younger kids just had to go through one way.

[No picture, but you can kind of see it in the one above for the bowling game.]

9) The last stop was back to Luther’s Study, to pack up all the prizes in the OCC boxes, explain those a little more in detail so families knew what to do with them when they went home. And, as some of the prizes in their bags were snacks, this was the perfect chance to sit down and enjoy them. 🙂

I had actually wanted to make an “entry way” to Wittenburg town, or Lutherstadt, to welcome our guests. But that didn’t happen. The wind made it too hard to put anything up like that. And I ran out of time to create.

I had also planned for a much bigger party than what we ended up with, so I had created two rotation maps through the “Town of Wittenberg” (our game station area) for two separate groups, so no one would have to be standing around for a long time, waiting for everyone to go through. We didn’t need these at all, but it was helpful to think through the logistics of how to do something like this on a larger scale.

All in all, we had a lot of fun and wished more friends had come to brave the cold and wind with us! 🙂 We didn’t miss having a Halloween party one bit!!!! And we learned about an important figure in our Christian heritage, too.

7 Can Soup (Quick and Easy, Not So Healthy! Lol!)

5 May

This is a quick, easy, tasty, favorite fall/winter soup. It was given to me as a quick and easy “New Mom” meal when our first child was born. It does make a nice gift, what with all the cans, etc.

What you need:

+ 2 cans corn

+ 2 cans chili with beans

+ 2 cans condensed veggie beef soup

+ 1 can condensed tomato soup

+ 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

What you do:

Toss the contents of the cans all together into a big stew pot or crockpot, and heat until hot. Prepare the Jiffy Mix as directed on the box. Serve soup and corn muffins together — nice and warm for a cold fall or winter day! If you like your food spicy, you can add your favorite salsa or hot sauce to the soup — it goes really nicely with it. This soup is so tasty, it won’t last long!

(I use WalMart store brand for all the canned ingredients, and buy low sodium cans — it all works well for this soup and makes it a VERY tasty and VERY cheap meal.)