Friday, April 28, 2017

Birthday Dinner Hot Pot Style

It was Saraina's birthday yesterday and since we didn't have plans to go out and do anything special I wanted to do very special dinner.  My dad used to love doing Hot Pots as a family and I thought it was the perfect dinner!  So easy to put together but so good!  I used a big skillet to keep the chicken broth hot and wooden skewers to put the meat on.  We had chicken, pork, beef and of course shrimp.  Keith loved all the dipping sauces and had fun dipping the meat he made in them.
I also did a simple cheese fondue.  Tali is not a huge meat eater so she loved dipping the bread and hot dogs in the cheese.

Another favorite my dad cooked when we were kids was artichokes.  Saraina had never had artichokes before but she was such a good sport and tried eating it.  I don't she really liked them!
She tried to eat Keith to eat an artichoke piece too but he told her no!
I think dinner turned out great and of course it was so fun to just spend time together.
Happy Birthday Saraina!  We are so glad Chandler brought you into our family!  We love you! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

34 Weeks of Jonah

Tonight is our 32nd week of teaching Jonah.  Just two more weeks and we will finally be finished! Several people have asked me what in the world I am teaching that is making it take so long to get through the story of Jonah.  I mean, we have all had the story of Jonah taught to us over and over as a child and it's a pretty simple story.  God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah says no and gets on a ship to Tarshish, A huge storm threatens to destroy the ship, the sailors throw Jonah overboard, Jonah gets swallowed by the whale, Jonah prays and gets right with God , the whale spits him up, Jonah goes to Nineveh and tells God's message, God doesn't destroy Nineveh and Jonah throws attitude.  Shouldn't take more than a lesson or two to teach, right?  The thing is, I'm not surface teaching the story, I'm deep teaching the story. 
Sadly today, we are seeing kids grow up in church and when they hit the teenage years they really struggle with their faith and what church teaches them.  It is during the teen years we see our church kids and bus kids in full out rebellion and it is during those years we see the bus kids stop coming to church and the church kids, although they're in church, they are tuning out the teaching and preaching.  As they continue to grow, over half of those church kids will stop coming to church as adults.  This trend of young people leaving our churches is so disturbing and I hear so many church leaders blame it on the society the kids are being raised in.  Although I do know that society and the decline of morals do affect our kids, what if the real problem was we are too busy surface teaching our kids and giving them the fluff of the Bible?  What if our teaching is so lacking in building a strong foundation in their young years that when the teen pastor comes and tries to build on that foundation, the foundation is unsteady and can't hold up the weight of heavier doctrine and truth. 
2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
This verse is not only for teens or adults but also for children.   We do not think that our kids can learn deep doctrine and Bible truths so we teach them the same Bible stories with the same lesson year, after year, after year, after year.....  David and Goliath, Jonah and the whale, Daniel and the lions den, Adam and Eve, Noah's ark, the Ten commandments, Moses and the plagues of Egypt.  These are all amazing stories and our children should know them but what are they really learning about these stories?  Are they just learning the surface lessons and not the deep doctrinal lessons of these stories?  It is the doctrine of the Word of God that helps build strong foundations that everything we do in life will be built on.
By taking Jonah verse by verse we have learned about who God is, His characteristics, his attributes, how we fail as people, how we, too often have attitudes and emotions that God does not like and what God want us to do as we follow Him in obedience. 
Look at how we can break down a couple of verses and get so much out of it.
Jonah 1:1 -  Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
In this verse we learned why the Bible says LORD instead of YHWH (Yaweh, Jehovah).  We were able to talk how God's name used to be so Holy and revered that people thought it disrespectful to say God's real name aloud.  We were able to talk about how God's name is used now and how we should and shouldn't use God's name.  Out of that verse we also talked about what a prophet was, who Jonah was and how God talks to each of us. 
In Jonah 1:2 we looked at what God specifically told Jonah to do and we were able to talk about how God tells us in His Word what we are to do too!  Jonah 1:2 also describes Nineveh and their wickedness and how that wickedness came before God.  We talked what wickedness was, how all our deeds good and bad come before God and how God is Holy and hates wickedness and sin.
We talked about obedience in Jonah 1:3 and how God wants complete obedience all the time and just as Jonah had to pay the fare to Tarshish, we pay a price when we disobey and run from God.  Two times in the verse it tells us that Jonah was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, and when God tells us something twice in the same verse we better pay attention.  This then led us to talk about God being omnipresent and a few other things we found in the verse.
Every verse in Jonah has been a wealth of knowledge, doctrine and truth and if I truly want to teach the kids about God and His Word, I need to dig deep into His truth and talk about everything we see in each verse.  Each week we have slowly been going over one or two verses and pulling everything we can out of those verses.  Some people asked if the kids have gotten bored with teaching so slowly and methodically but the answer is no, the kids are loving it and hate when class time ends.  I am loving see the kids beg for just one more verse or bringing up something they see in the verse or how the verse applies to something that happened at school.  Jonah has become more than a surface story to them and that has been my goal!
We need to look over what our kids are being taught and be sure they are not being surface taught the fluffy stories that are fun to learn but lack the depth of truth and doctrine that God has put into each story.  We want our children to grow to be strong Christian adults with a solid foundation so that the world and society will not be able to knock them down with every new idea that comes up.  But in order to do that we need to be intentional about what we're teaching them.  Teach them doctrine, instruct them deeply in scripture, give them reproof and correction and then watch as they bloom and grow into the next generation of church leaders who know the difference between fluffy surface teaching and doctrine and truth. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

This Is........

This is what ministry looks like.  Not always preaching or teaching, not always counseling or visiting but simply helping.  Helping when someone says all the light bulbs are burnt out in their kitchen.  Lighting a pilot light on the hot water heater for a mom who's husband won't be home from work until late and she has dishes to wash and kids to bathe.  Taking someone to the doctor or the hairdresser and waiting patiently for them so you can then take them back home again.  Going to the part store to buy and then installing a new battery so someone can get to work on time.  Helping our older people shop and put their groceries in their car and taking the electric cart back into the store.  Shoveling the last of the spring snow off people's sidewalks and towing someone's old car to the junkyard.  The list goes on and on..... It's been a busy month for us as we minister to our church people and help them both spiritually and physically but we are loving each moment as we get a chance to talk, laugh and love on each family in any and every way the Lord gives us.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Blessing Wall

April is our Blessing Month at church and we have such a great time all month counting our blessings.  I made these Blessing wall frames several years ago.  First I screwed together 1x3 boards, and added eyelets every six inches all the way around on the inside lip of the frame.  I then strung string back and forth and crossway over the whole frame.  To finish I hot glued on greenery and flowers to add a springy look. 

We have pens and papers sitting out for everyone to write down the blessings they have received from God and are so thankful for.  They then take their papers and paperclip them to the strings of the blessing wall.  Every week, blessings will be added to the wall and by the end of the month the wall will be full!
Through the month we encourage everyone to pick someone in the church to bless and do something special for.  They can help them in some financial way, give them a gift, a note of encouragement or any other way they can think to be a blessing to another person.  The last Sunday in April we will all share a big pot of blessing soup and have a special service where our pastor reads all the blessings that were written down and gives us a special message.  Our members love Blessings month and look forward to it each year as it's such a special time of fellowship at our church.
My husband and I have talked over several people we will be blessing this month and I am so excited as we give a little extra love to the ones God has asked us to bless this year! 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

To Fool or Not to Fool

This morning as my husband and I talked about April Fool's Day and the last epic prank I pulled on him, we again made our yearly pact, no April Fool's jokes today.  We laughed as we agreed there is no way he will ever top my April Fool's joke but here is a deeper reason we have a agreed not to prank each other. 
When we returned to the states from Germany we got Mason a cat. He named her Mickey and she was a such a loving and sweet cat!  She gave us several batches of beautiful kittens and I'm sure she would have given us many more if we wouldn't have taken her and got her spade. She was so upset after that as she loved being a momma and having babies. She found a small stuffed ball that was covered with fake fur and that furry ball became her baby.  She would carry it around and cry to it, lay the ball by her stomach as if it nurse it and cuddle and clean it. This went on for years and years!

One April Fools Day I had a brilliant idea!  I called my husband at work and told him Mickey was acting weird. I told him she was crying and biting at her stomach like she was in pain. He told me to watch her and if she got worse he said to take her to the vet. I let an hour go by and called him a little more hysterical saying how I was so worried about Mickey because she was getting worse and I didn't know what was wrong!  He then told me to take her to the vet. Smiling, I hung up the phone and then called our vet and asked them if they would help me with my April Fools joke. 

Our vet was absolutely awesome as I told her my plan and laughed as she told me they would love helping me out. I waited another hour and an half and I called my husband back. I excitedly told him that Mickey had given birth to one little miraculous kitten!  I told him that the vet said this was a very rare occurrence but one in a million cats have kittens after being spade. I told him I wanted to name our precious new kitten "Miracle"!  I then asked him to pick up Mickey and her baby on his way home from work. He hardly agreed and was so excited to see our little "Miracle".

My husband said that when he got to the vet and told them he was there to pick up our cat and kitten, the receptionist smiled at him strangely and went to the back and got several of the people that work there.  They all told him April Fools and told him there was no way a spade cat can get pregnant and laughed at how good I had gotten him.  He came home and said that was the best April Fools joke ever and he had fallen for it hook, line and sinker.  That was over ten years ago and we have never pulled an April Fools joke on each other since.

As it think back now, I can see this was really a mean and terrible thing to do to my husband.  Although he laughs about it now, I think about how demeaning it must have felt to go into the vets office and have everyone laugh at him.  I made my husband the brunt of a joke and it really hurts my heart to have caused him any pain or humiliation.

In society today it is normal to make fun of our husbands and make them the brunt of the joke, to belittle them to other people and make them feel small in who they are as men.  Sadly I have done this to my husband too many times.  You see, my husband is an amazing man created in the image of God, but when I don't uplift him and encourage him but rather tear him down and belittle him, I am breaking the incredible gift God has given me in him. God is molding him into the man He needs him to be, the man I need him to be, and the man that can change world but I can so easily hinder what God is doing in his life by my words and actions.  How can my husband live a life to the potential God has made him for, if I am tearing him down in anyway.  I have to constantly be aware of my words, actions and attitude so I do not say anything that would tear him down, embarrass him in front of others or make him feel less of the amazing man God created him to be.

I truly am so thankful for, and love the gift God has given me in my husband!  So this year I choose not to fool or make a fool of my husband but this year I choose to give him a small gift to let him know how much I love him and what a treasure he is to me!

I Love you Chep Day and I'm so thankful for the love you show me each ad everyday! Happy April Fool's Day!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Purple Day

Yesterday we did Purple day at church and we had so much fun!  For the kids I told the story of Lydia and her conversion and we also learned why purple cloth was so expensive and how they made it. 
For our Bible review game we cut pieces of paper that said candy or purple on them and stuck them in balloons and blew them up.  If the kids answered a question correctly they received a balloon and got to pop it and receive either a piece of candy or an item off the purple table.  They loved this and it was quite hilarious watching them try to pop the balloons.  In all the fun, frenzy and mayhem of popping the balloons I didn't get any pictures of the game! 
Everyone was so creative for our purple fellowship.  These sweet potatoes were so purple!  We had purple cakes, purple coleslaw, purple jello, purple deviled eggs, purple rolls, purple meatballs and so much more.  It was all sooooo good!
This month we gave a purple basket filled with purple things to the person who brought the most people to church for the month of March and a teenager won it!  She was so excited to win this basket of goodies!

Of course everyone in the church dressed up in purple and everyone looked so nice!  This was favorite picture of my favorite little people.  Baby girl is my MiniMe in so many ways.  Not only does she look exactly like my baby pics but she is so serious!  I really think she is gong to be just like me and silly crazy people are going to drive her nuts!
April is Blessing Month and we are excited for everything we have planned for it, as we testify of all the blessings God has showered on us and also find ways to bless the people in our church and those around us! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

You Can't Leave Us Hanging!

First I have to post a good picture of Keith and the girls.  In yesterday's post I posted a picture of Keith pouting and crying and although it fit with what the point I was trying to get across, I love pictures of my babies smiling and showing their personalities!  Aren't they all adorable!

Our Wednesday night story board of Jonah is growing!  Every night we review what we have learned up to this point and the kids love shouting the answers out as we go over each verse and each point.  Tonight we finished Jonah 3:9 and talked about how the King hoped if they repented to God, that God might not destroy Nineveh and they might not perish as Jonah had gone through the city preaching.  We then talked about John 3:16 and how God promises us that if we believe in Jesus and His sacrifice we also will not perish, which led us to talk about repenting and salvation.

As I was finished putting the pictures on the story board and was getting ready to end our story time, one of the girls said, "Come on Mrs. Amy, we can't be done for the night!'.  I asked her what she meant and she said, "Every night you tell us more of the story and then you get to an epic point and then you stop and tell us we have to come back next week to hear the rest!  You can't do that!"
I smiled at her and asked her what I couldn't do.  She said "Leave us hanging!"  I laughed and told her we were not quite down with the story yet tonight.  We continued to talk about salvation and I then looked at the girl and smiled and said' "You want to hear what happens next?"  All the kids yell, "Yes!!!"  Still smiling I told them..... "You have to come back next week!"  Groans came from around the room as the kids exclaimed it wasn't fair, they didn't want to stop, they knew I was going to say that!  I love that even though we are going so slowly through the book of Jonah, that they are hanging on every verse and wanting to hear more and more of God's Word.  Truly there is nothing better than teaching these precious kids God's Word and seeing a thirst and desire as they learn who God truly is and what He can do in our lives when we follow and submit to His will and way.

Another Day in the Ministry to teach, to love, to give, to help, to encourage and fellowship with God's people!  I absolutely love my life!