Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pastor Smith's exhortation 12/27/11

During this Christmas season we are once again reminded of the truth that the eternal Word was made flesh. God the Word became a man so that he might be the head of a new body and a new creation. But in order to be the head he first had to be the heel, the heal that had to be bruised. As we have been studying in 1Corinthians, this is the wisdom of God that baffles the world. We don't tend to think about headship in this way. But the only way to lead ... really the only way to live ... is to be bruised. As we reflect upon the past year and look forward to the next is good to reflect upon our lives in light of the cross and what it means to live this cruciform life, having our lives evaluated by this standard. As Christians we don't measure our success in terms of how much money we've made over the past year (even though there is nothing wrong with making money). Neither is success measured by the social status we've gained (even though there is nothing wrong with gaining social status per se). Success in the past year is measured by how we submitted to the "bruising" we endured. Did we chafe and rebel, or did we receive it with thanks and allow ourselves to be malleable? Did we, like Christ, give up our rights and, in some sense, give ourselves over to the bruising for the sake of others? Did we husbands, as heads of our wives, insist on our own rights, or did we give them up for the sake of our wives? Remember men, you can't be a faithful head without being the bruised heel. Did wives give up their rights for their husbands? Did parents give up their rights for their children? Did children give up their rights for their siblings, friends, and parents? Inasmuch as we have done these things, 2011 has been a success in the eyes of the one who judges all things, and his judgment is all that matters in the end. Right now, we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, ruling the new creation. This headship reflects (or is to reflect) his headship, which, as I said, is submitting to being the bruised heel. So, as we look forward to 2012 may we be resolved to rely upon the Holy Spirit given to us so that we might give ourselves over to be the heel that is to be bruised so that we might share in Christ's headship faithfully now and in the future resurrection.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mucky, messy boy fun

There are days when I wonder if I have lost my mind and this was one of them.  We have a book of Kid's Concoctions and they requested that we make what they call "Magic Muck."  I'm not sure what came over me, but I agreed.  By the time they were done, there was muck everywhere.  And, for those of you who have small boys, you know that this is, by no means, an exaggeration.  Here are the photos.

Now, really, the sweet smile on the face in that 1st picture explains exactly why I allowed them to do this.  And, really, this stuff is pretty awesome, messes aside.  It changes from a liquid to a solid and back again.  You can pick it up in your hand and squeeze it and it feels like a hard ball, but if you open your hand, it "melts" back into a liquid.  If you poke at the liquid, you can see it become hard and crumbly.  I'll admit it :  I played with it myself for a bit before tossing it.  Here is the recipe:

Add 3/4 cup cornstarch to 1/3 cup water (colored w/ a few drops of food coloring, if you'd like, but it will stain hands), but DO NOT stir.  Allow the cornstarch to sit in the water for about 2 minutes, then let the fun begin! 

Pastor Smith's exhortation 12/20/11

As we approach the Christmas season (that's right: it is not yet the Christmas season) and focus once again upon the incarnation of God the Son, we are once again reminded that in his becoming flesh, truly human, our God affirmed and sanctified our creaturliness and all that goes with it. God the Son did not come and take a position somehow distinct from the rest of humanity, nor did he seek to rise above all of humanity in order to look down upon all of the rest of us who are but mere mortals. When John says that "the Word became flesh," that is exactly what he meant. God became a man. Unfathomable but true. And with that he took upon himself genuine human callings. He was a male who took up the calling to show us men what being male really means. He took up the calling of a child who had the necessity of growing, learning, and maturing. He took up the calling of a carpenter, probably even building things for that wicked overlord, Herod, just as Israel did for Pharaoh back in the day. He knew the frustrations of dealing with stubborn and even recalcitrant people; just look at his relationship with his own disciples, some of whom seemed never to learn and one of whom betrayed him. Ultimately he took upon himself the calling to give himself in death for his bride, showing us what it means to be a true husband. Jesus' participation with us in our humanity is the affirmation of all our creaturely callings. In Christ we hear the Father's benediction pronounced over us as we are faithful where he has placed us"This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." As we faithfully do the work where he puts us--as children, students, husbands and wives, parents, unmarried, CEO's, mechanics, IT guys, and on and on--God is pleased. Jesus took on creation so that he might transform it in his own calling. We now who are in Christ do the same things. We are bits of creation in Christ who have been given the Spirit who forms and fills the creation so that we too might transform the creation in our bodies and through the work of our hands, imaging our God. Your calling is a worthy one as a Christian no matter your present station. The only thing that God requires of you is faithfulness. Stay faithful where you are.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Even more busy bag ideas

So, apparently we have been too busy doing to blog about it...or Christmas shop...(ahem)...

Playdough snakes into alphabet letters.

Gluing beans and pasta onto a turkey

Great $2 investment - wooden alphabet beads.  The boys made a necklace after matching the letters in their names

I would never have guessed on this one, but they loved putting on and taking off the nut on these screws so much, it occupied each of them for 30 minutes!

Our paper craft decorations

Another great buy at less than $3 - Trader Joe's Letter and Number cookies.  I had the little guys name the letter or number before they could eat each cookie and it was spelling for Julius.

The 22 days of Christmas

We made cards for 5 of our days and are going to put a pic of the boys in each one.  I just hope to get them mailed in time!
We bought a $5 gift card for a guy Jacob goes to school with that's had a tough year and took cookie balls to his coaching staff - which we LOVE!
We sent some bath salts to my nephew's teacher.  My nephew has autism and, let me tell you, special ed teachers get a bad rap.  They are, in my experience, wonderful, dedicated people who are asked to do a near impossible job - multiple children, with multiple disabilities, on multiple levels of functioning - absolutely tiring!

We made chocolate mustache pops and peppermint bark to one of our favorite families in the world.
We gave a bottle of wine to one of our deacons and his wife - amazing people!
Today, we are going to make some truffles for tomorrow's gift and hand out candy canes to random shoppers.

A Few More Busy Bag Ideas

Moving marbles with a melon baller

Transferring pom poms with tweezers

I added numbers to the bottom of an egg carton and had the boys add the correct number of dried beans

This was kind of a 2-for-1. They had to put the correct number of the correct color beads into each egg

The culture in our homes - Pastor Smith

How's the culture in our homes? What are the sights, sounds, smells, language, rituals and rules in our homes that tell us who we are and shape our children? What kind of culture are we developing in our homes, parents? Be conscious and deliberate about what you do. Be aiming for the standard always. Love the standard and teach your children to love the standard (i.e., holiness) by what you say and do. Remember, culture is unavoidable. We are always creating a culture. Whether it is a culture that is pleasing to the Lord and shaping your children in a positive direction is the only question that we must answer.

I want to remind you what that old wise guy with ten children said.

Wise old man?  Not me.  I'm young and vigorous.  But I do have ten kids, several grown and all of them turning out OK.  Stumbles and errors and sins and headaches and problems along the way, of course. But they are all turning out OK - better than OK; they're great kids, and I love them all to death and I'm terribly proud of every one of them.

   Most of this is obvious, but the obvious stuff is the important stuff.

   First, yes, of course, you messed them up already.  You fathered them. To keep from messing them up already, you should have arranged for an immaculate conception.  Too late for that.  So, don't lose any more sleep over it; the question's answered; yes, you messed em up.

   Second, faith is critical.  You've got to do things, and you've got to strive to do it right.  But you're going to do a lot of it wrong, and your hope for your kids is in God not in your ability to keep with a parenting program.  Read Jeff [Meyers] on Ecclesiastes.

   Third, love them.  Tell them you love them.  Show them you love them. Hug them, kiss them, laugh and play with them.  Enjoy being around them.  Listen to them, talk to them.  Take them on dates.  Sing with them.  Eat dinner with them.

   Fourth, love your wife/husband.  You can't be a good parent and a bad spouse.

   The rest takes care of itself.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pastor Smith's Exhortation 11/9

My Pastor sends out a weekly email to all of our members.  At the end of each email, he gives an exhortation for the week.  I have been to make sure that it was OK with him that I share these exhortations, since they are such a blessing to me.  I just remembered to do that.  I'll be sending out more than one a week to try and "catch up," as it were, and then it should be weekly from there.  I hope that these encourage you as they have me.

"Thinking more about what we learned yesterday, marriage is a good gift of God intended for the joy of those married as well as the fulfillment of the mission given to us in Christ. We are, in our marriages, witnesses of the redeeming power of God who puts our lives back together the way he intended and will do completely in the future. In our marriages we are in, what I believe Luther called, "a school of love." Here we learn how to really love one another; bearing with the weaknesses of one another, encouraging when discouraged, lovingly correcting when correction needs to take place, learning to honor and respect one another. As we love one another in our marriages, like our Triune God himself, our love "spills over" to others outside of our families, bringing them in and teaching us how to love "outsiders." Continue, therefore, to persevere in working on your marriages for the glory of Christ and the advancement of his kingdom."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Letter Reversal Help

This was such a "Duh!" moment for me, but, within about 5 minutes, a problem we had been working on for a couple of weeks, was solved, so I had to share!  Check out Laura's solution for letter reversal over at Come together kids:

AND...as if that were not enough...

Amazing.  It's always the simplest solutions that I love the best!

The 22 Days of Christmas

So, we've gotten started on our little giving project.  Our first days was filled with a few hiccups.  We chose to take a cup of McDonald's coffee to the Salvation Army bell ringer outside of our Wal-Mart.  We dropped Jacob off at school, picked up the coffee and headed to Wal-Mart.  Well, apparently, bell ringers aren't out before 8am on December 1st.  Since McDonald's coffee is ridiculously hot and I needed to run to the ATM anyway, we ran over to the bank and came back around 8:30...still not there.  The boys were pretty determined to sit in the parking lot and wait for that bell ringer to show up. :) I decided that maybe it'd be better to go on home and decide what to do.  Consequently, I drank that coffee and I took another cup later after sunset.

On our second day, we baked Banana Bread for our sweet neighbor who is having surgery in a couple of weeks.
We used day 3 to make several types of home made bath salts and on day 4, we gave one of our elders and his dear wife a bottle of wine.
On day 5, we took a jar of our lavender bath salts to the kiddo's grandma who has a fractured vertebrae (ouch!) and is off of work.

Eat What You Have Days 26-30

Day 26 - We had yet another Thanksgiving dinner on the 26th!

Day 27 - This would have been our monthly Fellowship Meal at church, but, with everybody getting over their coughs, we decided to go ahead and keep our funk to ourselves and eat the food we would ahve prepared at home.  We had Baked Penne.  Basically, I layer pasta, sauce with crumbled Italian sausage, and mozzarella cheese and bake for 30 or so minutes at 375 degrees.

Day 28 - Slow-cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans  I omit the chilies in adobo.  In my opinion, their flavor is a bit overwhelming and they are messy!

Day 29 - Leftover night

Day 30 - Seriously, I've looked over my menu, and I CAN NOT, for the life of me, remember what we had this night.  Way to go out with a bang, huh?

We are semi-continuing the Eat What You Have challenge.  Basically, I am keeping a list of all the meats and pantry items that I have, making my menu from that, and getting creative with ingredients.  I did make my monthly Sam's trip for toilet paper, pasta, juice, fruit, staples, and things of that sort.  Beyond that, I've set a goal of spend less than 50% of our grocery budget for this month.  I'll let you know how we've fared at the end of the month!