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Monday, December 1, 2014

Train Up A Child... Christmas edition

Many have asked how we teach our children about Jesus and still participate in the fun of Santa, Elf on the Shelf, etc...

I say it simply, they know that Jesus is the true reason for Christmas.  I have had a motto for many years, "If all we put into their little hearts & minds is JESUS, then He is all that will come out!"  Here are some things we do:

  1. We GO to church.  We do not go out of habit or obligation, we go because we want to worship corporately every chance we get.  Our children have all attended Sunday school since they were very young.  I was the Mom bringing my baby to church at 9 days old, 4 days old, two weeks old...  As soon as I was able to get myself dressed by church time, we were there.
  2. Since our children were all very young, we have had nightly devotion time as a family.  Sometimes, this has been a simple prayer together after a long day.  More recently, we actually read from a children's devotional book.  The children often read it then Daddy leads in prayer.  We usually sing a song also.  There is no strict format to follow here, we just make it a priority.  If we forget, or overlook it, the children will remind us that we haven't had our devotion yet.  It is simply a part of our daily routine.
  3. We are quick to find teachable moments with our children.  We let them know why we do what we do.  We do have a reason for our actions and when they are old enough to understand, we tell them.
  4. Jesus is a priority in our home.  We have taught our children that not everyone lives for Jesus the way we do and that is their choice.  This is America and we are free to live as we wish.  For our family, we choose to live for Jesus.  We want everyone we come in contact with to see Jesus in everything we say and do.  We I fail often, then, ask for mercy and do better next time.
  5. Jesus is always on our lips.  I make a conscious effort to make sure the children hear me talk to Jesus out loud.  I ask Him to help me find something I've misplaced, give Him praise, etc...
So, we feel like adding in a little bit of the fun things is okay for our family.  We do not participate in every activity, just the ones we feel we can explain and keep Jesus the focus.  
  1. We have always taken our children to sit on Santa's lap.  We don't make a big deal of it, but we do let them tell him a few things they would like to have for Christmas and take a picture.  Several years ago, we found this one Santa in our area who is a Christian.  There was no one in line behind us so he talked to us awhile after the children told them their wishes.  He remembers us year after year...such a blessing.  We have told our children stories about Saint Nicholas who blessed less than fortunate families with gifts.
  2. About three years ago, some of our best friends mailed us the Elf on a Shelf.  We read the book, named our Elf, and added more fun into the mix.  We named our Elf Jesse Joy; we call him JJ.  Jesse comes from Isaiah 11:1 "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."  It is also my great-Grandpa's name.  And, we could all use an extra dose of Joy anytime!  On another note, JJ is not mischievous at our house.  He simply moves from one place to another all over our home.
  3. We love to ride through our city and look at Christmas lights.  We always are in awe of the beauty of lights shining bright against the night sky.  We take this opportunity to remind the children that Jesus is the Light of the World and we should also shine His light in a dark and dying world.
In my opinion, it all boils down to this simple fact.  If you teach your children about Jesus from birth and always find a way to see Him in everything around you, they will not stray too far away from Him.  

This is just a small portion of what our family does for Christmas.  We make Jesus the focus and make sure childhood is fun. 

Now get busy making your own memories!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christmas! How I Do It...

I have never really considered myself an organized person.  HOWEVER, a lot of people think I am.  When we started having children like rapid fire I QUICKLY realized that I had to get it together.

Unless I wanted to be a mess all the time.

No, Thank you.

So, I came up with a system for pretty much everything.  Chores, who sits in the front, the seating arrangement for dinner, etc...

Due to the unfortunate event that I gave my sweet sister-in-law a turkey pan two Christmases in a row (I'm still really sorry about this...) I made a huge decision to WRITE DOWN the gifts we give. {And I keep the list for a few years so I know what I gave in years past.} This is really not hard.  I just had to: a.) not lose my list; and b.) not let my emergent readers find it.

So, This is how I do it.

I bought a book called Simplify Your Holidays.  It has a wealth of information and reproducible worksheets that are very valuable to me.  I've been using this ever since.

This is a simple photo of the worksheets included.  You could easily make your own or use notebook paper.  I make a page for each section of our family.  Write down their gifts as soon as it's purchased.  Don't be ashamed to pull out your list right on the check-out counter and write it down. I've never had a sales person reprimand me for it!  

{Another hint: all three of these aunts will receive the same gift in a different color, scent, etc.  They don't mind, they know it's coming.  I use this strategy in all of my gift-giving.  If I find something I think is a good gift, I buy it for everyone on my list that will enjoy it.  This year, eight people are getting the same gift.  They don't have to know.  Except now they do...}

Then, I make a list for each of the children and P.  This is the sneaky part...  You can't see in my picture because I already have written in the gifts.  Down the side, I write A, B, C, D, etc.  With four children I do not want one child opening a really special gift while the other opens something not so special like...socks.  So, the gifts have a code.  This also insures the gifts are fair.  

For example, when I buy one child a jacket, I buy four jackets.  They don't have to be the same style or from the same store, just four jackets.  Each jacket is wrapped in the same paper and given all the same code.  Then, viola!  Everybody received a new jacket!  I do this with ALL of the gifts.  They don't open the gifts in order, just all at the same time.  Wrapping the gifts in the same paper makes it easier to find the set of four on Christmas morning.

Begin wrapping as soon as possible.  Even if you are not decorating yet, get to wrapping!  You can see in this picture, four of each of several gifts.

When we are ready to put up our big tree, we already have gifts ready to go under it.  And, I'm not stressed out wrapping gifts all of December.  I enjoy Christmas to the fullest every single year.

 This is what works for me and our family. I would just imagine that with a little effort it will work for you too!  So, now that 95% of my shopping and wrapping is complete, I will leave you with a simple message...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Day of School 2014

A few weeks ago school started here in FullerTown. We didn't have much homework that first week. Yay!!  Then last week, we didn't have ANY due to an evening event at the church that sponsors the school.   We were really excited!  A long weekend made us feel like we were on vacation. 

This week, the homework has hit us full-force. We are on the midst of learning new spelling words, Bible verses, etc...  We are also collecting insects and bark rubbings for two different projects. 

May this be our best school year yet!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Roma testimony

This past Thursday evening I had the privilege of speaking at one of our NC Baptists on Mission Celebration Rallies.  I was to share a brief, 4-minute testimony about my mission trip to Eastern Europe last summer.  It was difficult to relate a 10-day trip into four minutes but I did it.  Here is what I shared:
I believe that if each one of us will reach one person for Jesus; and teach them to reach another we will reach the whole world for Christ sooner rather than later.  For this reason, I joined a team of people from all over our state with a goal of reaching one more for Christ.  We met as a team, prayed together, planned, shared a few meals, prayed more, planned more, then packed our bags and boarded a plane together.  Our purpose was to minister to the Roma people of Eastern Europe.  Honestly, I was really nervous about not having my hot rollers, not even a curling iron.  I was scared to leave my husband & four babies for ten days.
We would work primarily in Romania and Hungary.  Our team would conduct day camps for the children and then hold separate men’s & women’s events in the evenings in different villages.  We were prepared with Bible Stories, art projects, Science experiments, outdoor games, & gifts to share as we ministered.  We were even able to participate in a Sunday service that lasted four hours (with no air conditioning) and included a baptism, The Lord’s Supper and a baby dedication.
Sharing the gospel with the children, with the help of the sweet interpreters provided by Hungarian Baptist Aid, was an honor and once-in-a-lifetime experience.  The children had clearly never heard the stories we shared.  They also had physical needs as well as spiritual needs.  They were dirty, smelly, bare foot, many were cross-eyed, and most needed new clothes.  Their hair was matted and they were ALL in need of a really good bath with clean water and Dial soap.  All of a sudden…it didn’t matter that my hair wasn’t freshly shampooed.
Opportunities for you in 2015 will include work in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine. Churches are invited to send teams to provide English Bible Camps in the public schools in Hungary where they will be able to openly share the gospel. VBS and Evangelistic Outreach teams will have opportunity to work with Roma churches in Romania and Ukraine to work with the children and do outreach in Roma villages. Medical teams will provide medical clinics and evangelistic outreach in the same areas in Ukraine and Romania.   Dates for 2015 projects will be on the Baptists on Mission website in mid-October.
Next time you are weary because your kitchen sink is full of dishes, consider the Roma people who share one red Tupperware cup with the whole village.
Next time you pay your power or water bill, consider the Roma people who don’t have fresh water for drinking, cleaning or bathing.
Next time you get your family dressed, consider the Roma people who each have one outfit of clothes and one pair of shoes that may or may not fit.
Consider the Roma people who are stuck at the bottom of the economic ladder because they are un-educated and despised by their peers. 
Consider the Roma people who are in dire need of proper healthcare.
Consider the Roma people who desperately need Jesus.
You may not think your feet are very pretty but the Scripture says But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?  And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?  And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?  That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Ladies and Gentlemen, you have the good news!  Please don’t keep it to yourselves!  Go, and tell it…to the Roma people of Eastern Europe. 

I cannot wait for the opportunity to go on mission again.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Real Life

These days most everyone takes the majority of any pictures with their phone, tablet, or iPod.  I do have a very nice camera that I pull out for special occasions but mostly, I take pictures with my iPhone.  Here are a few from recently...
Paul at a Gymnastic birthday party.  Needless to say, he had a BLAST!

Sarah Belle was so happy to see her besties on the first day of school.

Our Daddy completed his first triathlon this past weekend.  We are SO PROUD of him.

This kid...he thinks he's AWESOME.  And, I do too! 
My 'skirt girl' wanted me to make her a dress for school.  She likes it!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Inside My Head...

Oftentimes, I have thoughts (some good, others not so good) that I do not have the opportunity to share.  Some are simple, some are complex.  Some take days, or even weeks, to be fully articulated.  This is one of the latter.

I LOVE being a Pastor's wife.  I grew up in a bi-vocational Pastor's home.  This has been my life all of my life.  I've always lived in the Pastor's home.  I have always loved it.

Lately, my thoughts of being a ministry wife have been somewhat muddled in my head.  Let me explain...

I recently lost the hope that I would have two different opportunities that I long for.  I felt rejected.  After several days, I chose to see this as God's protection on my life.  He has a better plan...

One of the joys of being a ministry wife is loving on a new believer.  I have the joy and honor of getting to know each one then connecting them with people that I think they would be good friends with.  This is really fun for me.  I love connecting people and watching friendships flourish.  It is really difficult when, with no warning at all, these new believers lose contact with their new friends; and, ultimately, our body of believers.

This is really tough.

This is spiritual warfare.  The Devil himself is working all the time to keep me feeling defeated, devastated, lonely, invisible, etc.  He has no place in my life.  He has no place in my family.  He has no place in my home.  He is not welcome at my workplace.  He can't even ride in my car...

Life is sometimes hard, really hard.

Then--just this past Sunday, a very sweet member handed me a card with a message inside that brought me to tears.  The card simply said, "You are appreciated."  VICTORY!!  Tears of Joy...

God is stretching me for something bigger that I can imagine at this moment.

I cannot wait.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer 2014

Back in May, this happened:
Then, we 'hit the road' for the coast!  We love that we get out of school before Memorial Day so we can have some glorious relaxing time to rest, & sleep late.  The beaches aren't crowded and we basically have several yards of beach to ourselves.  I would bet that we couldn't see 500 people any day that we were there.
She loves the beach!

Her favorite swimsuit!

Working together to dig a big hole!

Rinsing out his bucket

Riding the skim board
We had a wonderful time at the beach.  We had the busiest summer to date so it was good to have a week to rest before the craziness began.  Now, school is back in session, and life is settling back into a nice routine in FullerTown.