Friday, November 30, 2007

Keep Moving Forward!

I was recently inspired by the movie, "Meet the Robinsons." I don't want to give away the plot that literally brought a tear or two at the end, but there's a motto throughout the show, "Keep Moving Forward."

There's a time in the movie when our under-dog genius makes another bad invention, and the zany cast of characters begins applauding and cheering for him, making comments like, "Good failure!" "Way to go!" and "If you have a success the first time, you learn nothing, but if you fail, you learn a lot... Keep moving forward!"

It was inspired by the Walt Disney Quote:

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Disney wasn't the first to come up with this saying. It started around 2000 years ago when Paul wrote in a letter to the Philippians,

3:10-14 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

We are to forget what is behind us and keep moving forward toward the goal to win the prize that God has called for us, looking to Heaven.

Do we as Christians still sin and mess up? Every day. Angela Thomas wrote in her book "A Beautiful Offering" that it's like turning in a paper at the end of every day. Some days we hand in an A-. Other days it's a D. If we're connecting with God, he takes the paper, sets it down, and says, "Get a good night sleep. We'll go at it again tomorrow." His mercies are new every morning!

Another passage I love about this is Pslam 37:23-24:

The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.

Did you notice the "when he falls?" We are going to mess up and fall, but we shouldn't stand still for fear of falling. We should walk confidently in the path God has for us because he's the one holding onto us. Hebrews calls Jesus the anchor of our soul. We have not been given a Spirit of fear, but of Power.

The enemy wants us to live in the past in fear and regret, but God has an amazing future set out in front of us. So rent the movie, pick up your Bible, and Keep Moving Forward!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Tree Hunt

The 10th Annual Tree Hunt

A tradition we've had since we've been married is to cut down our tree the day after Thanksgiving. Each year we head out in search of a tree farm. We never go the same way twice, and we usually end up somewhere new.

This year was no exception. We headed into town, knowing that there was a tree farm we hadn't been to. It was actually easy to find, which was pleasantly surprising.

We found the perfect tree, made sure it was straight, decorated it with memories, and sat back to gaze at the lights. Peaceful. It was a perfect evening with our family. The girls hung most of the ornaments, while Nathan played with everything breakable.

Nothing profound happened, but that is what made the night so special. It reminds me of the night Jesus was born. There was nothing profound or amazing about the hay, manger, and the smell of animals.

The profound and amazing part was Jesus himself. He was Divine. That's what makes the night so special. And I guess that is why ours was special too.

May your family truly enjoy the real meaning of Christmas this season!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What to do with Santa?

What are we, as Christians, supposed to do with Santa? There are many theories, but this being my blog, I'll share mine.

I did not grow up believing in Santa, so the idea of teaching my children that a large man comes down the chimney carrying presents seems rather foreign. I know some people gave my parents a hard time, but I think I'm a well-adjusted adult despite that lack of fantasy in my life.

So what am I doing about Santa? I've explained to my kids that there is a big game everyone plays in December. We pretend about Santa, Rudolph, Elves, and Snowmen that come alive. The key is - there is no Santa for real, and I tell them that, but because of the game, we are not to tell anyone that he is not real. This keeps them from spilling the secret to other kids on the playground.

It's a part of December that I touch on very briefly, and they have an answer to strangers who ask, "What did Santa bring you for Christmas?" But most importantly, we spend the majority of our time in December focused on the Greatest Gift from the Greatest Giver.

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Christmas Games and Crafts

Here are a few Christmas Games and Crafts I have gathered from different sites. I like putting things like this into one place.

Christmas Games:


Dance to Christmas Music. Slow & Fast.

Begin playing Christmas music, everyone moves and dances until the music stops then they must "freeze" in whatever position they happen to be in.

Hide and Seek

Cut out Christmas Ornaments and hide them for others to find.

Let it Snow

Play let is snow with the snowflakes you made.

Christmas Wreath
Suspend a large Christmas wreath in a doorway at a convenient height from the floor. Prepare in advance "snowballs," made of cotton batting covered with white tissue paper.

The players stand about eight feet from the wreath, and take turns, one at a time. Each is given three "snowballs," and the one who succeeds in throwing all three, one at a time, through the wreath, is given the prize.

To make it more exciting, sides may be chosen, and each one of the three snowballs numbered, one being 5, the other, 10, and the third, 20. If the ball numbered 5 goes through, it counts 5 for that player's side. If it does not go through, it is a loss, and so on. The side scoring the most points is victorious.

The Night Before Christmas Musical Chairs

Another amusement is playing "The Night before Christmas" like "Musical Chairs ." Give each child the name of some part of Santa Claus' outfit, the sleigh, the reindeer, etc. The hostess then reads the well-known story, "The Night Before Christmas." As she mentions the names, the players having them, rise, turn around, and sit down again. When she mentions Santa Claus, all change places, and she tries to secure a seat. The one left out continues the story, and so on, until completed.

Santa Says
Play like "Simon Says" but replace the phrase "Simon Says" with "Santa Says." For instance, leader Elf says: 'Santa says, "Put your hands on your head."' All players should be their hands on their head. When the leader Elf gives an instruction without saying "Santa Says" and the followers do the action anyway, the leader Elf says "HO! HO! HO!" and the player must sit down. The last player left standing is the winner and can then be the leader Elf.

Hot “Stocking” Potato

Big & Little Christmas Trees

Call out big, medium, and little and have your children to be that size of Christmas Tree.

Big: stand up with feet together and put hands above head in a point

Middle: Squat knees together and put hands above head in a point

Little: Sit down with legs crossed and put hands above head in a point

Santa, Santa, Reindeer

Play just like duck, duck, goose

Pin the Star on the Nativity

Play just like pin the tail on the donkey.

Nativity Popsicle Puppets

Draw and Color the characters, put on a show!

Christmas Crafts

  1. Finger Paint
  2. Clay Candy Canes/Candy Cane Beaded Necklaces
  3. Paint nativity scenes
  4. Standup Nativity Craft
  5. See templates below
  6. Peppermint Wreath tacky glue, peppermint candies, cardboard, ribbon. Cut out a circle shape from the cardboard. Then cut out the center to make a wreath form. If you don't have cardboard, you can use an empty cereal box. Spread the glue over the wreath form. Then have the children place the candies all around the wreath. You have the option of leaving the wrappers on the candies, or taking them off. Make a bow with the ribbon and glue to the top center. Let dry. Then depending on the size of the wreath, you can place a magnet on the back to hang on the fridge, or you can tie a ribbon hanger around the top to put on the tree or display.
  7. Gingerbread Dough (Index)
    1. 2 cups flour
      1 cup salt
      2 T ground cinnamon
      1 T ground cloves
      water (about 1 cup)
    2. Mix everything together. If making ornaments for Christmas time, have the children form the dough into desired shapes or use cookie cutters, then lay them down to dry.
  8. Play Dough (Index)
    1. 1 cup flour
      1 cup water
      1 Tblsp. oil
      1/2 cup salt
      1 tsp. cream of tartar
      food coloring
    2. Mix ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and becomes doughy in consistency. Knead until cool.
    3. Not edible! Can be used over and over again. Store in air tight container. Keeps 3 months unrefrigerated.
    4. Glitter Dough: Sprinkle glitter on a tabletop. Work the glitter into the dough.
      Spicy Dough: Add ground cinnamon or nutmeg to the dough.
      Peppermint Dough: Add a few drops of peppermint extract to the dough.
  9. Star Ornaments
    Precut star shapes out of heavy poster paper, two identical shapes for each child. Punch holes around the edges and have children "sew" their stars together with ribbon or yarn. Decorate with sparkle glue and glitter. A clothespin glued onto the back clips the star to the top of a Christmas tree.

  1. Pipe Cleaner Ornaments
    Have the children thread pipe cleaners with tri-colored beads so that they nest together. Bend and shape the pipe cleaners to make a wreath, candy cane, star.....tie on a ribbon loop to hang!

  1. Hole-punched Christmas Trees
    For window displays..let the sun light up the trees.
    You will need: 1/2 shets of 9X12" black construction paper; scissors, small pieces of assorted colors of tissue paper, hole punchers, glue, glitter, yellow construction paper (star).
    Fold black paper in half lengthwise. Cut along open edge to resemble one side of a Christmas tree. Leave paper tree folded in half and punch numerous holes all over tree. Unfold tree. On one side, glue assorted colors of tissue paper over holes. Turn tree over. Finish decorating with glue and glitter to make garland scallops. Add a yellow construction paper star on top.

  1. "Hand-some" Trees
    Everyone can lend a 'hand' to help with this display project. Have the children tracae th eoutline of each of their hands onto three shades of green construciton paper and cut out. Starting at the top, work your way down the tree, stapling one additional hand cutout in each row. After the greenery is in place, add a brown paper trunk and child-made ornaments. A "Hand-some" Tree!

  1. Make Snow Flakes with Tissue Paper

  1. String Popcorn

  1. Make Paper Chain Decorations

  1. Hand print/Foot Print Angel

  1. Foam Tree Ornament

  1. Dangling Snowman Foam Ornament

  1. Nativity Craft Gift Kit (Oriental Trading)

  1. Snowman Door Hanger Gift Kit (Oriental Trading)

Christmas Idea: Luke 2:1-20

I'm going to post the plan I have for my children this Christmas Season. In the past, we've done a version of a Jesse Tree leading up to Christmas. I've created a different plan this time based on Luke 2:1-20.

I'll post the general outline below. If you want a copy of the worksheets I have to go along with each day, give me a comment with your email address and I'll send it your way!

This is also where those of us who are doing this together can post comments and ideas to further expand on mine.

Verse per day


1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

Word: Census

Where is Rome?

What is a census?

Take a census of our family’s favorite things.

2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

Word: Governor.

Who is our governor? What does he do?

Make a Christmas Card for our governor.

Trace Indiana

3And everyone went to his own town to register.

Word: Town

Learn about our home town. Zionsville.

Read a map.

Draw a map of our street.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

Word: Joseph

Where is Nazareth?

Who is in our family tree? Make a family tree.

Make a card for Daddy,

5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

Word: Mary

Mary and Joseph traveling.

Transportation, then and now.

Write a card for mom, grandmas…

6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.

Word: Birth

Send letters to pregnant friends.

Look through kids’ baby books, read birth stories.

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Word: Inn

Act it out – no room in the Inn.

Making room for Jesus in our hearts.

Taking care of a baby.

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

Word: Shepherds

What do shepherds do?

Play follow the shepherd game w/ rod, make sheep masks

Jesus is the Good Shepherd

9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Word: Glory, praise and honor to God.

Sing praises to God.

GLORY – Acrostic Poem

10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Word: Joy

All the people – everywhere.

Pray for those who haven’t heard of Jesus.

Do something good to someone to give joy.

Go Caroling?

11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord.

Word: Savior

What did Jesus save us from?

Cross activity. candy canes and tell about red representing the blood Jesus shed and the white being the forgiveness we get because of Him dying on the cross. We have those red beads and white beads that are kind of triangular and they put them on red pipe cleaners and then shape them into candy canes. Or, you could just eat candy canes, etc.

12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Word: Sign

Read about the signs of Jesus’s birth.

Road signs – hunt outside for them.

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

Word: Angel

Praise God.

Angel Craft

14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Word: Peace

How can we be at peace with God?

Be Peacemakers

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

Word: Bethlehem

Obedience. What if they had waited?

Play Simon Says

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

Word: Manger

Nativity Scene Craft

Hurry – play tag or a game where you have to hurry.

17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,

Word: Spread

Spread Paint on Paper. Spread Peanut butter on crackers.

Tell others about Jesus.

18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Word: Amazed

Practice telling others what Jesus did.

Make a puppet show to share the story of Jesus.

19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Word: Ponder

How do we ponder about God? Read our Bibles, pray, go to Church, talk with others.

20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Word: Praise

Write a letter to God, praising Him.

Make a rubberband guitar.

Play musical instruments in a parade.

Go Caroling?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Power of Advertising

Our kids don't watch TV except for movies and occasionally PBS. I appreciate PBS because there are no commercials. A recent experience made me realize just how thankful for this I really am.

My girls started talking to me endlessly about this fold-and-go carseat. You can fold it up and easily take it with you anywhere. They just had to have one!

The Go Anywhere carseat was a sponsor of one of their PBS shows, so a quick demonstration of how it worked was placed in between their programming. This one mundane ad sent them into a tizzy of excitement. I can only imagine what regular commercials showing talking babies and toy cars that climb walls would do!

I was reminded of how good advertisers are at their jobs. That's what they get paid for - to make us think we need something. If a carseat ad excites my children, I can only imagine what else there would be out there to get them all riled up about.

So for now, our TV-less living will continue! And I'm more convinced of that than ever.

Philippians 4:12-13, NIV
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Where does my peace come from? It is a miracle of God. Unexplainable. I could try and write a whole blog about how real God is in my life, but it really just shows by the peace that is in my soul that flows out after spending time talking with my Creator.

Not all days are peaceful. Last week we moved, and my books were packed, and I'd misplaced my Bible amidst the boxes. I was staying up late at night, giving me a good excuse to sleep in later than usual and skipping my chats with God. At first it was ok, I was sailing along on a reserve tank. But as the week progressed, I grew irritable, judgmental, overwhelmed, self-righteous, impatient, and unrealistic. (I'm sorry if it spilled out on any of you!)

Saturday night I put my bedroom together and found my books, journals, and ahhh, my Bible. So God and I sat down together. He had to show me quite vividly how rotten my heart had gotten in such a short amount of time away from Him.

It's no wonder He teaches us to pray, saying, "Give us our DAILY bread." Just as I get hungry every day, I need to be hungry for Him daily as well.

Yes, I'm feeble and frail. I am not super woman. But I serve a Super God who has promised to be faithful and enable me to do all the works He's prepared for me. That is where my peace comes from.

"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."
James 4:8

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I've always loved thinking about Time.

I remember working at an office job where, at the beginning, there was very little to do. Piles and Piles and Piles of paperwork awaited me every morning, begging to be filed. Although I know my ABC's, filing for 8 hours is not enough brain stimulation to keep me awake, regardless of the amount of coffee I consumed. Those days were longer than summer days as a kid. A close second was the day I got a temp job where I had to sit in front of a paper shredder and - yes - shred paper for 8 hours. Oh my goodness. Great memories.

I also remember when my oldest daughter was around 2 months old, still in the blob stage. I was sitting over her, shaking a rattle thinking, "Is this it?" The day droned on and on. I knew I was supposed to be enjoying it because "it goes quickly, my how they've grown, and you'll blink and they'll grow up," but I have to admit and be honest that it was challenging to savor every moment when my brain was falling asleep standing up.

But then there are other days, like when my friends come over. We have a play group that meets almost weekly with 11 kids combined ages 6 and under. By the time we have arrived, made lunch, eaten, cleaned up lunch, had snacks, done an activity, and kept things under control, it is time to go home and our conversations have been little more than 2-3 sentences in a row. I wonder where the few precious hours went. Then our husbands are amazed when we go out alone without kids and talk until 2 in the morning. "But you see each other all the time!"

I began thinking about this recently after having a dream in between snooze alarms. I know that the dream in reality was only 7 minutes, but in dreamland it spanned over days. Upon first awakening, the dream was very clear and specific and there were very solid details filled into those days. In only seven minutes.

As a finite creature, I often have trouble fathoming the idea of time and eternity. Forever. No beginning or end. No constraints or barriers. Just always. It helps me to think that God is the creator of time and is therefore not contained by his creation, just as he is not subject to gravity which he also created for us.

He is separate from it, Holy, apart.

When I have dreams like that, it helps me realize that there is more to time (or the lack of real time) than our minds can fathom. God gave us the sun to make days and nights so that the small portion of our brain that we actually use can have something tangible to go off of with boundaries we can easily understand.

I'm actually fully satisfied that I don't understand. I'm thankful that I have a God who is bigger and more complex than me. I don't have to have it all figured out, that is His job. I want to trust Him and thank Him that although He is awesome and huge and big and "Oh Wow!" and all the other words like that, he cares for me personally and has a plan for my life and loves me... all the time - and beyond it.

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4