Friday, February 17, 2017

My New Candy Machine - AKA Behavor Motivator

For years I used this gumball machine for a behavior motivator and it worked so well.  The kids would sit up extra straight and tall and would listen very carefully so they could win a chance at getting a gumball!   Several years ago someone tipped it over and it broke!  It was at a time when I was no longer teaching Jr. Church so I never replaced it.  This year I am again helping teach in Jr. Church and after a rough class last week of disruptive kids I decided we needed to implement this again.
I looked online at gumball machines, but they wanted over a hundred dollars for one that was the size I wanted and wasn't plastic.  I told my husband I would just have to come up with another idea for a behavior motivator when he asked me why I didn't just use our boys old one.
When my boys were teenagers, their Aunt Carol tried to help them to become entrepreneurs and make their own money by giving each boy their own candy machine.  For several years they had these machines in their dad's workplace and made a little bit of change.  When we moved to Wyoming and one boy went to college, the machines went into our storage shed and have been sitting there for years.  My husband got one of the machines out and I washed it up and took it into my Jr. Church room.

I filled the three candy containers with Mike and Ike's, Skittles, and Reese's Pieces.

I then took a bag of peanut M&M's and separated the colors.

I put the green M&M's in the Reese's Pieces, the blue ones in the skittles and the yellow ones in the Mike and Ike's and then mixed the M&M's into the candy.

Every Sunday I'll give a quarter to the best behaved girl and boy in the class.  (I'm a softie and if the whole class is being good, the whole class will get quarters!)

If they just get candy and no M&M, the simply get to eat their handful of candy.

But if they get a special M&M in their handful of candy, they then get to pick a prize out of the Treasure Chest.
I got this foot locker years ago from a thrift store for a dollar.  I spent some time cleaning it up and painting it and I have used it in my Bible Adventure Club and my Jr. Church for many years.

Inside are all kinds of fun things I have found on clearance.  Small stuffed animals, cars, puzzles, jump ropes, ect.  The kids just love picking out of the treasure box!  
Looking forward to Sunday and using our new behavior motivatior!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Apple Bible Review Game

The Apple review is one of our kids favorite Bible review games.  First I printed out 24 apples and cut them out.

On the back of each apple I put a number (1-10) or a worm.  I put at least one worm on every three to four cards.  The apples can then be put on a table or hung on the wall.  We put the apples on our giant dry erase board.

Each child gets a Bible review question and if they answer the question correctly they get to pick an apple.  If the apple has a number on it the child gets that point amount for their team. 

We usually play girls against boys as the competition always gets fierce!   As long as the child picks an apple with a number on the back, they then have the choice whether to pick another apple or not.  Their team yells at them encouraging them to either pick another apple or to stop and keep the points they have.  They can keep picking apples until they want to stop or they pick a apple with a worm on it.
If they pick an apple with a worm on it, they lose ALL their teams points and their turn ends!  The kids really have to think if they are going to chance the points their team have or hope to win their team more points.  This game can get really loud as they shout out encouragement and advice to their teammates.  The winning team gets a small treat, IF there is a winning team.  Yesterday the kids kept picking apples and eventually both teams lost all their points by picking wormy apples! 
As the kids pick the apples, I carefully put them back on the board as the child sits down.  This way we don't run out of apples to choose from and the kids are so excited they don't notice me actually putting them back up!  After the game, stow the apples in a bag for quick access.  If you're kids love this as much as ours do, you're going to want to keep this one in your rotation of review games! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I Want You To Know.....

My dear friend, I want you to know I understand, I've been there too.  I have been in the grocery store, going down the aisle looking for a box of Kashi and a can of corn when I suddenly see her.  The one that I used to be such good friends with, the one I laughed and cried with, the one who encouraged me in God and helped me to grow spiritually and emotionally.  She was truly a great friend and then.......I don't know what happened.  Our worlds that were so connected in friendship were no longer aligned.  Something harsh was said and then a few ugly things were said and we stopped talking and started avoiding each other.  Seeing her in the store I'm not sure what I felt.  A little panic, a little fear, a lot of what do I do?  I suddenly become very interested in the box of oatmeal that's on the shelf right by me, reading the label and praying she doesn't see me and walks right past.
This scenario has played out many times in our life and ministry.   I have known and been friends with so many people but when the friendship moves on or they choose to move their family to a different church, you are left heartbroken and often confused as to what happened.  It's painful to run into them, I mean what do you say?  Do you confront them and ask why they said such and such thing about you, it wasn't true and hurt you deeply.  Why did they leave and go to a new church without telling you and your husband, let alone telling you why they actually left?  Ask them what happened to your friendship, what happened to make you drift apart?  Those questions or a thousand others could be asked, but in essence you don't want to know the answer as it would probably just hurt you more.
For years I will admit, I would hurry and hide behind the bread display and peek around the corner until they were gone in order to avoid them.  I would breath a sigh of relief but the near run in would be in my thoughts for days as I thought about and mulled over the hurt that I thought I had finally gotten over.  One morning as I was praying over a near run in with someone that made me hyperventilate and want to hid, (yes my past experience with this lady was that bad!!!)  God told me something very specific.  There are no coincidences.  Did I truly believe that God was in control of my life and was leading and guiding me in every moment?  If so, then in my life, there are no coincidences.  Only God ordained instances.
Meaning, when I run into someone in the store that I want to avoid, God was directing their feet and my feet to that very specific place at that very specific time.  It wasn't just accidental or a coincidence, it was God moving in my life to restore me to the place where I need to be.  As God works in my life to mature me in Him, sometimes I need to face difficult situations in order to deal with them even when all I want to do is run from them.  Even when I think I'm okay and the situation is done and over, God truly knows my heart.  God can not use me to the fullest extent when I have any sinful emotions in my heart such as unforgiveness, strife or discord and if I'm avoiding someone I know I am having one or more of those emotions!   
So with this in mind, I have chosen no longer to hide behind the bread display.  When God ordains a meeting with someone I might have unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment or even a little anger toward, I walk up to them and speak to them.  I speak to them and make small chit chat and let them see the love of Christ in me.  Sometimes my heart is beating a mile a minute, sometimes my knees are knocking or sometimes I can barely breath but I want to live the moments that God gives me.  The moments He gives me to love when I don't want to love and forgive when I don't want to forgive.  When I walk away, my heart is still beating a mile a minute and my knees are still knocking  but I feel so much better knowing that I loved as God wants to me to love and I have worked on an issue that deep down has been holding my heart back from totally following Him.
With those thoughts, my dear friend who hid behind the canned chicken today, I want you to know I understand.  I love you and am praying for you to embrace and live each moment God gives you as He continues to lead you and guide you in the path He has for you.  Stand tall and strong, walk with courage, and speak with boldness knowing that He is standing behind you, holding you up with His right hand.  This life is a journey of living, growing and changing into a beautiful vessel He can use in every situation, while being a witness to every person.  He is using you to touch hearts and lives now and I am excited to see what he does as you keep your heart open to Him and His God ordained instances.
Love and Prayers ~Amy

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Marky's Mouth Bible Review

In Jr. Church, we have been teaching the kids about what kinds of things should and should not come out of our mouths  After our Bible stories about our mouths today, we brought out Marky Mouth to help us with the review.  Saraina used two pop tart boxes, covered them with paper and decorated them.
For the Marky Mouth box, Saraina wrote out and put questions in that went with our Bible stories. 
The other box was filled with small candies for prizes.

The kids loved taking a question out of Marky's Mouth and listened so carefully to see if the child who picked the question could answer it.  If they couldn't answer the question, the question was returned to Marky's Mouth.  If they did answer the question correctly they got to choose a piece of candy for a reward.

All the kids loved this review so we will keep in and use it again in a couple of months.
Today was National Nutella Day, so we gave away these snack packs of Nutella and pretzels.  Of course everyone loves Nutella!  We had two visiting families at church today and one of the ladies said how nice it was that we also gave the adults snacks as they liked getting them too! 
Today's preaching was absolutely amazing and convicted me in so many ways!  It truly was another wonderful day in the Lord's house as we were fed physically and spiritually!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Teens Web of Sin

We have done the "Web of Sin" activity with our teens a couple of times in the last few years and it's one of their favorite nights!  One girl squealed when she walked in and saw it set up tonight and said, "This is my favorite game!!!"
It does take a little while to set up but it is a very cheap activity, great for a cold winters night and worth the time it takes.  First you need to figure out how many teens you have coming and how much room you'll need .  We have done this activity with almost 20 teens but it can be done with a smaller group of teens too.  If you have a lot of teens you can also put the teens in teams of 2.  We knew we only had 5 teens tonight so we set up 3 tables in a triangle.

Next you need a different colored skein of yarn for each teen that will be playing. Using the table legs as a starting point, tie the start of the string off and then start weaving the yarn over, under, around all three tables and anyway you can to make a web.  Make sure you do not pull the yarn too tight or the teens will never get it unraveled!
As the yarn gets spread out over the surface, wrap the yarn around already laid out strings.  This helps make the web effect and makes it challenging to the teens.  Remember you don't want to make it to easy for them!   Alternate and work with each skein of yarn for a few minutes before switching to another skein of yarn.  This makes it fair for each teen and no one will have the skein that is actually the yarn that is holding the whole web together.

Patiently weave under, over and around and work to make the yarn look evenly distributed across the surface of the whole play area.
Use the table legs and even the tops of the table to wrap the yarn around.  When you're done it should look like this.  A tangle of yarn weaved together to form a solid web.

When it's time to play, give each teen the ending of the skein of yarn.  Tell them the first one done wins a prize.  They must wrap their yarn into a ball as they unravel their color.  This keeps everything neat and much easier as they untangle the web.


 They start working diligently to get their yarn untangled.
They sit and untangle.....
They climb under the tables to untangle......

They carefully step in the middle and through the yarn web as they untangle.......
And sometimes they even help each other as they untangle. 

They laugh, they joke, they get frustrated and laugh some more.  It takes them about an hour to untangle their yarn and they have a blast doing it! 

After the get all the yarn untangled and wrapped up, they head to the sanctuary for the message. (Friday Night fun nights, Pastor Mason dresses to play with the teens!)  The message tonight was awesome about the web of sin and deceit we weave and what a mess it is to get out.  Pastor Mason encouraged the kids to live in truth, follow God's will and live a victorious life in Him.  It was a great message and convicted me!
For dinner I make Garlic Spaghetti with chicken and garlic gravy with a cupcake for dessert.  So yummy!  It was another great Teen Night and the teens hated it when it was time to load up on te bus and head home.
I am so thankful for a creative youth pastor who love these kids and comes up with unique ideas to get the teens to have fun but it's fun with a spiritual application!  Love it!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Puzzle Sunday

Our special day for this January was Puzzle Day.  Every Sunday and Wednesday I try to make sure I greet and talk to everyone but it is so much more fun when I have something to give everyone.  We had all kinds of puzzle books, boxed puzzles, metal strategy puzzles and Rubik cube puzzles.  The people loved them and I loved being able to give everyone a little joy through such a small gift.
Last week while we were in Denver we stopped at Walmart and found their 8 dollar puzzles on clearance for 50 cents!  We were praising God for providing these great gifts at such a cheap price!  We also put a bag of puzzles stuff together and gave it to the one who had brought the most visitors in January.

For the kids I also got a good selection of different kinds of puzzles.  The kids were so excited to see all the puzzles and I told them they had to listen closely to the story today in order to win the puzzles.

I loved telling the stories and loved watching the kids faces as the pieces, God's forgiveness, God's protection, God's provision, and God's power slowly came together to make the puzzle.  The kids noticed at the end that the puzzle had an empty spot in the middle and needed one last piece.  I asked them what all the stories had in common and when they said God, I was able to talk about how God is the one who not only completed each story in the Bible but that He is the only one that completes us!  After the story we played review games to win the puzzles.  The kids loved it!
(On a side note - {{{Gasp}}} do you see how much weight I've gained back!!!)

After services we had a soup fellowship.  The ladies of church can surely cook and everything was delicious!  Chicken Taco, Turkey Noodle, Beef Vegetable, Potato, Broccoli and Cheese and my favorite, Chicken, Stuffing and Gravy soup.  It was like Thanksgiving in a bowl!

Everyone enjoyed the soup and Little Lady even licked her spoon and bowl clean!
As you can see in the background, we are still working on the inside of the building.  As we tell everyone, please excuse the mess.
Our special promotion day for February is Carnival Day and I am starting planning now for my special Bible story and prizes that we will be giving out.  I think prizes for the kids will be easy as we play carnival games to review the story and win prizes but what in the world do we give the adults for Carnival Day?  Anybody have any ideas, I'd love to hear them! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Preaching that I Bid Thee

As soon as church was over on Wednesday night, my sweet husband stole me away for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary.  In the hurry of trying to pack and get on the road I forgot my Bible!  I have a Bible on my phone but it's not the same of thumbing through the pages and underlining the words and phrases that God uses to speak to my heart.
I must admit I sat down grudgingly and opened my Bible app as I knew I would not get much out of my study by just reading it on my phone.  So glad that God's Word is alive and speaks to us whether it is in the worn Bible we always use or simply the app on our phone.
As I started to read in Jonah 3, I stopped on verse two and read it several times as I meditated it on.  "Preach unto it the preaching that I bid you".  The Ninevites were the enemy of Israel and I am sure that Jonah thought of many things he wanted to tell the Ninevites that God had commanded in the book of the law, but what Jonah thought the Ninevites should hear was not what God knew they needed to hear.  Because of what Jonah had seen the people of Ninevah do, Jonah knew what he wanted to say to them and he knew he wanted to see them overthrown and destroyed for their actions. Thankfully, God with His unconditional love knew what the people needed to hear and wanted their hearts more than he wanted their destruction and was ready to give mercy and grace to the Ninevites when they repented.
This made me think of myself as I lead and teach the women and children of our church.  How easy is it for me to look and see the actions of these ones that God has entrusted to me, to give His Word to, and how I too often will choose His Words that I feel address the issues I see.  The thing is, I am not God and am only seeing the outside when God truly sees the inside.  He see the issues that each child and each woman have on the inside that is actually producing the actions that I see.  Am I letting God lead me as I write my devotions and Bible studies to touch the hearts that He and He alone knows, or am I using the Words of God that I know and that I think will touch their hearts?    I want to be lead by the spirit, I want to teach by God's spirit, I want to see true changes in these kids and sweet ladies, but these changes will only come when I teach exactly what God is telling me to teach, even when it's not what I feel they need to hear. 
Preach unto it the preaching that I bid you
Thank You God for being merciful, slow to anger and always willing to forgive us when we repent and turn from our sins.  Your love amazes me over and over again!