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Summer time and VBS

Since it is the week of VBS at Little Flock, my thoughts and prayers are there with the children and the volunteers. I cannot be part of it this year, but I am praying for them.

Here is a repost of my VBS experience a number of years ago.

Having been raised in a Christian home, Vacation Bible School, aka VBS, was as normal as hot weather and watermelon in the summer time.

At VBS I was surrounded by other children who may or may not have been churched as regularly as I was.  We invited our friends and our neighbors to come.  VBS was fun, lots of fun.  It was not like grown-up church on Sundays.  It was absolutely geared for the small fry intellect.

There were penny wars between the girls and the boys.  March Madness had nothing on the excitement of this battle of the sexes.  Each group tried to bring the most pennies and the best offering for the week.  We probably robbed piggy banks, searched under couch cushions, and begged for money from mom and dad or any other relative in sight.

I learned to say the pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and the Bible.  They took their place in my memory right along with the pledge to the American flag.

The songs were kid songs, lively and rhythmic.  We could sing to the top of our voices, move and groove, make motions with our hands, and no one thought it was out of place for the church house.

But the Bible stories were the best.   My childhood memories are of flannel graph figures being put on a flannel board.  The figures depicted the Bible stories very visually and non-abstract so a child like me could understand that Jesus loved me and wanted to be my friend.

One year my craft was making a miniature flannel graph board and story figures.  After the week of VBS, I set up my board in the garage of our house and told the stories to the neighborhood children and anyone who would listen.

It was only natural that when I grew too old for VBS, I became one of the workers, one of the assorted volunteers needed to bring all the pieces together.  I’ve taught classes, worked with the music, and directed VBS.  I give my time so other children could have the same wonderful experiences I had.

The last couple of years at Little Flock, I’ve taught second graders, a bouncy, energetic group of boys and girls who are like little birds waiting to be fed the Gospel.  It has been such a privilege to share the stories of Jesus with these little ones.

In the months that followed the week of VBS, I have joyfully watched as some of the children in my class walked forward and publicly affirmed their faith in Jesus as their savior.  And I have witnessed the baptisms that followed.

I am so aware that the parents, Sunday School teachers, and those who weekly train and nurture this young lives are planting the seeds of salvation.  My part was small, just one week long.  But I rejoice that I had a small part in watering those seeds during a week of VBS.

Tomorrow, Vacation Bible School begins.  I anticipate hot weather, tired legs and feet, and a weary-to-the-bone exhaustion at week’s end.  If you ask me on Friday if it was worth it, I will say, “Yes, eternally worth it.”

Vacation Bible School will be held at churches all over the country sometime during the summer.  Take your children.  Be part of the volunteer team.  Make a difference in the lives of children.  Do it for the kingdom’s sake.

Resurrection cookies

Day 33 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Make Resurrection Cookies with a child, yours or someone else’s.

Today my friend Robin and her kiddos visit to share an activity that teaches a lesson, making Resurrection Cookies.  Then they get to eat the results.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

“One of my absolute favorite things in life is baking with my girls.  We bake cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, breads, you name it.  We pick our treat, don our aprons, and get messy . . . I mean busy.

Tonight as we act silly and have fun measuring out ingredients. we also reflect on the sacrifice of Christ and the salvation He offers. The girls take turns adding ingredients and reading scriptures.  We talk about how badly Jesus was beaten and ridiculed by the soldiers, how He was given vinegar to drink when He was thirsty, how His death brought life to His children, the salty tears of the women who loved Jesus, the sweetness of His love for us, and the blood of the Lamb that washes our sins away and makes us white as snow.

The discussion was light and fun.  Memories were being made.

 After the cookies were in the oven and the door taped shut, the girls went to bed.  We sat and talked about the cookies and reflected on the ingredients and the significance of each. 

As I kissed the girls good-night I asked them to think what the cookies might look like in the morning.   I do the same as I lay my head down to sleep. 

NEXT MORNING

GOOD MORNING!  It’s time to check on the cookies!

The girls removed the tape from the oven door in excitement.  They wanted to see what had happened to the cookies overnight.  They didn’t look much different than the night before.  Curious Maddie poked the top of a cookie and crushed it.  Then Emma noticed holes in the tops of other cookies.   I cut one open and we discovered the cookies were hollow.   Before I had a chance to ask them about the empty-looking cookies, Emma smiled and said, “ah-h-h, just like the empty tomb!

 

Yes, that’s it!  The final symbolism is the empty cookie representing the empty tomb!  

The power of death could not hold our Jesus!  He has risen

As we get closer to the season of Passover and Resurrection Sunday,  I remember the importance the Israelites placed on passing stories down to their children and grandchildren.  As we talk about Jesus, we can also make memories our children and grandchildren will share with future generations. 

These cookies are easy and fun to make.  If you don’t have children in your home, make them with your grandchildren.  No grandchildren around?  Borrow someone else’s children!  The memories will be just as special for you.”

For the recipe for Resurrection Cookie, go here.

Here is a list of supplies and ingredients you will need for this project:

Supplies:
1 cup pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Zipper baggy
Wooden spoon
Mixing bowl
Mixer
Cookie sheet
Spoons
Tape
Bible

What’s your story?

Day 22 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Tell your salvation story to your children as you talk about the meaning of this season.

what's your story

God was very clear to Israel in His Passover instructions.  Details are important to Him.

Tucked into the directions, He repeated the command again and again to pass along their faith to the children and grandchildren.

It is just as important for us as it was for the Hebrews coming out of Egypt.  If the next generation is to know the God of glory, His Son who came to save, and the Holy Spirit who will come and live in us, then we must tell the story.

I often heard my mother and dad telling me how they came to know Jesus as Savior.  While they are both basking in the joys of Heaven now, their stories remain with me.

My friend, Robin, visits today to ask “What’s your story?”

“There is nothing like a good story, especially when you’re young.  Think about curling up next to mom or dad and listening to them read your favorite book.  My favorite childhood book was The Pokey Little Puppy.  I am sure my mompokey little puppy had it memorized by the time I was five. 

Now the tables are turned and I am experiencing the joy of reading to my daughters. There are few things better in life than snuggling up with my sweet girls sharing a story.   Each girl has her favorite book, favorite place to sit, and favorite doll or blanket to snuggle with. 

Recently Madeline started asking me to tell her stories about her Great-granny Grace.  The two never met since my grandmother passed away several years before Madeline was born.  But her legacy lives on every time I tell about sweet Granny Grace.  I know I am passing on generational stories to my daughters. 

But what else am I passing on?  What legacy am I leaving them?  What stories of my life are important enough to tell?  What mistakes do I want to warn them to avoid based on my personal experience?  What moment of pure joy do I want to relive in front of them? What are the most important experiences in my life?

I have learned the more I tell them about me, the more they want to know.   Perhaps it makes my life more tangible for them.  They hear about my childhood and realize I was once a little girl just like them.   

Telling them the story of my salvation opened up so many more doors.  They see that I had the same questions they have.  How can I know God is real when I cannot see Him?  Why does He love me so much?  Will He really forgive me when I mess up? 

Having these conversations with my girls shows them that God is real.  It let’s them see that we all struggle with faith and knowing God’s voice sometimes.  It gives them opportunity to talk about their own journey of faith.

Do your children know your salvation story?  Or your nieces and nephews?  Have you heard how your own parents came to experience saving grace?  What about your grandparents? 

Is there a better time than now to tell your story or to learn about those around you? 

As we are preparing our hearts for resurrection day, take some time to share your story.  If you have already, tell it again.  It should be your favorite story of all.”

Robin blogs at IGetUpTooEarly.
Revised and re-posted from March 2014

Let the little children come

Day 20 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Invite a child into your life, someone from your neighborhood

or a friend’s son or daughter, or even a member of your own family.

The 3 grands.2JPGIf you have been reading the blog for awhile or you know Sweet William and me personally, you are aware that our one and only son moved from living next door to far away in 2011.  I was utterly devastated and grieved the loss of him, his precious wife and our only three grand grandchildren.

I could not imagine how I would survive the days, weeks, and now the years without them close by, without seeing them, waving to them in the yard, hearing their sweet voices regularly.

But I have survived.  I prayed for God to sooth my aching heart, to dry my daily tears, to be enough for me.  In the middle of my grief, Sweet William suffered long, and the road to recovery was a distant hope we clung to.

In the struggle to understand and make sense of the trial we were going through, God would not let me go.  My Father didn’t answer the questions of why and when and how long.  But He remained, His presence with me.  He had promised to dwell, to make His home in my heart, and He was not leaving me alone.

Through the sorrow, I finally came to a decision to open my heart and life to other people’s children.  My friends, my neighbors, my family have children, and maybe they needed a person who would encourage them and love them, just spend time with them.

And so we invited them to to come, to spend the day, spend the night, play games and do crafts and projects.

Yesterday I finished a photo book of our life in 2014, a year of memories in pictures.  It included scenes of tea parties and snow men made from socks.  I remembered gingerbread houses created at our kitchen table.  I thought of two little girls asking to adopt us, wanting to call us Uncle Bill and Aunt Peggy though we are not blood related, and how I said “yes!”  I recalled sweet little faces, smiles and hugs that brightened my day and warmed my heart.  And there was the boy who just needed help getting to VBS this summer.  He accepted Jesus as his Savior at the end of the week.

While the longing for my grandchildren still comes from every fiber of my being and their place in my heart is steadfast, my brokenness is being healed by loving other people’s children and their children loving me.  The heart is amazing; the more we love, the more the heart enlarges to love.

Yesterday at Little Flock where Bill and I gather with other believers each week, the children led us in worship.  They were dressed in matching red and blue t-shirts, singing their young hearts out, praying, and quoting Scripture.  And I was bursting with joy to be part of this.

These children are blessed by being trained in the things of God.  Their parents bring them to church and their teachers and leaders are showing them the way of salvation, modeling discipleship, worship and the way to live like Jesus.

But there are children who are not having the same experience.  Some are close by.

There is a little girl somewhere who needs to know a Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and she won’t know unless we tell her.  A boy won’t understand unconditional love until we love him the way we have been loved.

The journey to the cross brings us face to face with our own self-centeredness because it forces us to see a Man who gave His life for another.  And He calls me to do the same, to quit trying to satisfy my own desires and longings for the stuff of this world and do what He did.  Love the unloved, the unloveable, the outcast, the orphan, the lost and broken.  Sometimes they might be the people next door.

Can we look around us today and find a child or a teenager in whom we can invest?  I am convinced that one person can make a difference in the life of a child.  You may be that one person.  And so might I.

Jesus invited the children to come.  Can we do any less?

children clip art

Let’s talk about it

Day 17 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Watch the old classic movie The Ten Commandments (with Charlton Heston as Moses).

Ten Commandments movie

The Ten Commandments hit the silver screen in 1956, produced by Cecil B. DeMille with his “cast of thousands.”  It was epic in its day, lasting 3 hours and 31 minutes and needing an intermission. While it stands in the shadow of today’s high-tech animation and movie scenes that make us wonder what’s real and what isn’t, The Ten Commandments was still an amazing accomplishment for the mid-twentieth century.  It fostered many a conversation.  How did DeMille make it look like the water of the Red Sea stood as a wall while the actors and actress portraying the children of Israel walked through it to the other side?

The story takes us through the beginning chapters of the book of Exodus, and while it weaves a fictional story within the Biblical account, it stays fairly true to the Scriptures, something I can’t say for a lot of movies coming out of Hollywood.

One of my favorite scenes is the night of Passover, the shadow of the destroyer hovering over and through the streets of Egypt.  The scene shifts to the home of Aaron and Miriam partaking of the lamb, the unleavened bread, and bitter herbs.  The mournful sound of the Psalms is appropriate background for what is taking place in the land of the Nile.

The law of God remains the same today as when it was given to Moses.  God has high standards and requires holiness of action,  thought, and motive.  If only we could keep the law.  But we cannot.  Enter Grace.  Mercy.  Forgiveness.  All of this is from the hand of a God who can divide a sea and love us in spite of ourselves.

So catch a rerun of The Ten Commandments on TV or get a loan at the library.  Pop some corn and watch it as a family. Discuss what is Scriptural and what is fictional.  See what conversation comes from the time spent together.

Deuteronomy, another book written by Moses, records an important command to parents to tell their children what God did for them all through the day and all along the way.  It is just as important for us today, for parents and grandparents, for teachers and influencers of young minds.  We must tell them about a God who loves them and a Savior who died for them.  We must.

Even an old movie can give us an opportunity to talk about an amazing God.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Revised and re-posted from March 2014

Deck the halls

It always seems to take me days to get the house decorated.  Perhaps it’s because I have boxes of collected paraphernalia from so many Christmases past.  Decking my halls is some kind of work.    I have my favorite things that must be in a certain arrangement for it to look like Christmas.  You too?

Today a sweet friend and daughter-of-my-heart is posting at I Get Up Too Early.  You will smile as you share her Christmas tree experience.  And you might just be reminded, like I am, that it isn’t the about our homes imitating House Beautiful perfection.  It’s more about our hearts and who our hearts love.

So come along with me for a visit at Robin’s place today.

Boo-boo Bunny

I created Boo-boo bunny as a sample project for a women’s ministry event many years ago. At that time he was white with blue and yellow stripes, bright and clean, and his ears perked up as if he were actually listening for any sound of a cry for help. For that was what he was created for, this was to be his purpose, to ease the pain of someone’s boo-boo.

Boo-Boo Bunny was made simply with a dish cloth, some string, jiggly eyes, a bit of embroidery floss for whiskers, and a few tiny pom-poms to give him a nose, a tail, and those cute bunny jaws.

All put together, he was quite cute. There is a split section in his body that is just the size to hold an ice cube. That is where his soothing characteristic comes into play. With ice cube held nicely in place, the bunny is ready to rest on someone’s scrape or cut and give cooling relief.

He’s been sitting on top of my refrigerator for years. He is on duty and ready to give aid and has done so on many occasions, especially for the grandkids. My three grandchildren are rough and ready kind of youngsters. They climb trees, swing on ropes, skate and scooter and bike. They have had their share of bumps and bruises.

Just the other day, Ethan fell on the driveway, scraping his thumb and causing a bruise under the nail. It looked painful. I placed an ice cube in the bunny’s tummy and offered him to Ethan. He placed the ice-cube-in-tummy on his sore thumb and sat on the porch steps. After awhile, the pain was eased, and Ethan was back to his play.

By now Boo-Boo-Bunny is bedraggled looking because he has been a busy bunny. He is a bit stained. His ears don’t stand up anymore but instead droop down permanently. He has seen the sad side of life. We only bring him down from the fridge when there is a painful crisis where his services are needed.

I sometimes look at him and think of his value. He was made with a couple of dollars worth of materials. But he is dear to our hearts because he has been there when we needed some comfort. The grandchildren know him well. I reach for him quickly when someone comes running in with that look on the face that says, “Help me! I’m hurt.”

What if we were put on this earth to bring healing and comfort to other people? Maybe we are. Don’t we too often, however, think about ourselves and “what’s in it for me?” Instead of promoting ourselves, grasping for our pot of gold, concentrating on getting in on good life (whatever that may be), what if we looked for ways to sooth the troubled soul, to listen to a stranger, to offer a cup of tea and comfort, to weep with those who weep? Perhaps our world would be a little bit better if we were less centered on ourselves, sort of like the contestants on TV talent shows who are sure they are the ones worth one million dollars. Maybe we should be more like a little rag bunny whose only purpose in life is to give aid and comfort to the hurting.

Max Lucado said it well in his book, It’s Not About Me. What “if we played the music the Maestro gave us to play . . . made His song our highest priority?” And what is the Maestro’s highest priority?

I think it is to reach the lost souls drowning in their sins, to strengthen the weak, to lift the fallen, to encourage the discouraged. Jesus taught the idea in Matthew 25:34 – 36:

” . . . I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

What we do for others, we do for Jesus, and He is taking notice of our Boo-Boo-Bunny actions.

Do you have a Boo-Boo Bunny at your house?  Would you like to?

  Visit this link and learn how to make one.