Thursday, August 25, 2016

Jonah Mural

Less than two weeks until the new year of Bible Adventures
 starts and there is still so much to do!
Today we worked on our Jonah Mural.  On half of the wall I wanted to do a storyboard on the Book of Jonah and what we learn each week. 
First I taped up stencils and traced the stencils on the wall.

I then painted each letter with a dark blue.
I painted a double coat of paint on to make the letters bright and bold.

I think this it turned out cute and will be a great way to tell the story
and review each week's pictures.
On the other half of the wall we started the mural. 
We went online and found a picture of Jonah we liked and then
using the projector, Mason traced the picture on the wall.

He then worked on painting and then outlining the picture again in black.

I think it turned out fabulous and I think the kids will really like it. 
We still need to add a few things to the mural to make it more interactive
 but we made a lot of progress on it today!
This year, each child will be writing out the whole Book of Jonah. 
I found this pack of small, plain notebooks at Hobby Lobby.  
On the first night of class, each child will receive letter stickers
to spell out "Jonah" and their names on the front cover, along with a whale sticker. Again I think they look absolutely adorable!
Today I also ordered Joni, our new puppet and a few whale craft items
that we'll be using throughout the year.  I still have a hundred little things to finish but I am so excited to start Bible Adventures on September 7th! 
I really think this year will be one of our best years ever as we learn more about God through His Word and memorize verses that will help us
 as we trust, lean on and serve God in our daily lives! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Four Years Today

Four years ago we went to the Denver Aquarium and tried to walk Saraina around enough that she would go into labor and have our first grandbaby!
It seemed fitting that four years later we took Keith back
to the aquarium to celebrate his fourth birthday!

I told him I wanted to take his birthday pictures
but he would not stand and smile!

He thought it was funny to make faces but I think he is adorable
 no matter what silly faces he gave me!

He excitedly carried his Papa's phone all over as he took pictures
of every fish he saw!  He loves photography and really
 takes some great pics for a 4 year old!
Keith loved the fish and several times just sat for the floor watching them.

Of course Tali's favorite movie right now is "Finding Nemo",
 and was totally enthralled with all the fish! 
After we finished, we ran around Denver to have lunch and shop but Keith kept reminding us he wanted to go home and eat his Minecraft cake!  Yes, yes, I think this was my Pinterest fail of the month!  Not quite what I was hoping it would turn out like, but it made a little four year old very happy!

Love this Little Man and am so excited to see him grow and change this year as he starts school, learns more about how much Jesus loves him and praying his vocabulary will grow and we will be able to understand everything he says! (Oh and that he will learn to pump his legs when he swings!)
Happy Birthday Keith!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Why I Look Up to My Little Brother

I was so thrilled and proud to watch my little brother officially retire
 from the United States Air Force this past weekend.  He has worked so hard for the last twenty years and his ceremony and all those who gathered to celebrate with him were a testimony of the many things he has done and the many people he has affected in those years.

So many people who loved working with Ben as he encouraged them and helped them become better soldiers in their fields.  It was a amazing to hear testimony after testimony of those who had been touched by my brother and his wise words as he commanded those under him.

I too have been the recipient of those wise and encouraging words. 
 Words about what God wants us to do day by day, words of how to be loving, forgiving and meek, words of how to kindly deal with people and let them see Jesus through you.  He truly is one of my most valuable spiritual advisors and we can talk for hours about spiritual issues!

But you must know, my brother has not always been close to God
 and wanting to follow the Lord's will in his life.  It took a deep, dark tragedy to bring him to his knees. He had no where to go, no one else to help him, so he turned his life to the only one that could heal his heart and love him through the pain placed on him.  In the last few years I have seen my brother grow in his relationship with Christ and as he has grown closer to Christ, he has loved people more deeply and has been a refuge for hurting people who feel unloved and unwanted.  He read once that you should treat every person as if they have a heart and soul and when you love their soul you will see amazing things happen in your relationship with them and that is exactly what he does!  Whether it is the bagger at the grocery store, the gate guard at the base gate, or the people under his command, he looks at their heart and souls and loves them where they are.
At church on Sunday he was constantly approached by people saying how much they would miss him and how much he has contributed to their church and church body.  He introduced me to an older gentleman named Pat that came to his small group Bible study that Ben had been leading.  He told me he was so worried about leaving Pat, as Pat is a newly saved Christian and needs to be discipled in the Lord, which he had been doing.  I love Ben's heart for souls and his desire to help them find the Lord and grow!
I have also watched him be a loving, tender and compassionate father to his two beautiful little girls and I know his greatest desire is for them to know God as deeply as he does.
Not only does he encourage me spiritually but also physically.  He calls to see if I'm sticking to my diet and if I'm running every week.  He even sent me new running shoes so I could train for the 5k we ran this past weekend.  It was awesome to run my first 5k with him and Marisa and I look forward to running many more with him!

With his retirement from the military he is excited to move back to his childhood hometown and find a church where he can get busy serving God and the people there.  He is also praying that he will be able to show his family and brothers and sisters how God has changed his life and that through grace and mercy, God can change their lives too!
I look up to my little brother in so many ways but mainly because I see him living out Psalm 116 in his daily life.
Psalm 116:12-14 - What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of my salvation, call upon the name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of his people.




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

One Year Vow and 80 Pounds!

I confess, I love sugar and chips and fast food and I truly hate vegetables!  My mom cooked mainly meat and potatoes as we grew up and there were always veggies on our plates but I avoided eating them at all costs!  (Yes, my dad made me sit many hours at the table looking at my brussel sprouts that I refused to eat!)  My mom only allowed us sugar and candy on Saturdays when we went to the store and were each allowed to buy one package of M&M's or a candy bar.  When I got married my husband was the exact opposite and a junk food junkie, loving candy and chips and fast food and it's a habit I fell into over the years.  Also being a Pastor's family and being so busy it was easier to grab something on the go as we ran around ministering to those in need, than to cook a healthy dinner at home. 
Those years of unhealthy eating caught up with me though.
I was so excited in October of 2014 to be able to go to Maryland for my brothers wedding, but I was horrified when I saw the wedding pictures!  How in the world had I let myself gain so much weight?  I looked absolutely terrible!  I was my heaviest weight ever at over 250 pounds and I decided there and then that I was change some things in my life and lose this weight!
Over the next ten months I would keep telling everyone that Monday I would start my diet and that Monday I would start exercising.  Monday would pass and I would tell everyone that this Monday I meant it, I would truly start my diet and exercise!  Of course after ten months of saying this no one believed me.  Over those ten months I had lost about 10 pounds
but that was no where near what I knew I needed to lose.
On August 15th, 2015 I knew if I really wanted to lose weight I needed to make a drastic change.  Because I didn't have the strength to do it on my own, I made a promise to God, a vow, because we all know if you make God a promise you can not break it!  I vowed that for one year I would not eat sugar (Candy, cookies, pie, cakes), chips, fast food, fried food, or drink any pop.  And thus began my one year healthy eating, junk food free journey.

People have asked me if I cheated especially in the first week of my diet. 
They said there is no way that someone can just cut themselves off chocolate and cake!  The answer is no I didn't cheat!  I was serious about my promise to God and I was serious about losing weight!  The above picture is two weeks into my diet when I went bird hunting with my brothers. 
 Doing this diet was hard enough at home but driving back to Idaho and being with my brothers and family was hard as everyone was eating so much good stuff around me but I did not give in!!!

I dropped 50 pounds in 5 months!!! 
That is five months with no exercise, just cutting out the bad stuff out of my diet!  Again this is with no cheating what so ever!  Christmas passed without me eating a single piece of fudge or having a single cookie!  Truly I love holiday goodies but I was focused on my goal and losing weight! 
After 5 months and losing 50 pounds I plateaued in my weight loss. 
  I ate the exact same everyday, oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, salad and veggies for lunch and meat and salad for dinner but did not lose anymore weight for four months.  I didn't gain any weight but didn't lose any either so I knew I had to find a way to start losing weight again.
I had gotten a Fitbit two year ago to help me lose weight and had used it off and on but when I got serious about losing weight I wore it everyday.  I started with a goal of 10,000 steps a day and I thought I was doing good.  Seriously though, anyone can get 10,000 steps a day.  When I saw I was not losing any weight, I pushed my daily goal to 15,000 steps a day and as soon spring hit, I pushed it to 20,000 steps a day.  I started walking two miles every morning and two miles every night and I started to see the numbers on the scale go down again.  As soon as summer hit, I started upped my goal again to get between 30,000 and 40,000 steps a day and started walking 4 miles in the morning and 4 miles at night.  This along with eating more veggies and less processed foods helped me to lose another 30 lbs for a total weight loss of 80 pounds in one year!
I am so happy with the weight I have lost but still have not met my weight loss goal.  I still have 30 pounds to lose but I have met my one year goal of not eating sugar, chips, fast food or drinking pop!  I will never go back to drinking pop as that is one way I gained so much weight and I will be more careful about how much sugar and unhealthy food I eat as I never want to gain back what I have lost!  People ask if I feel better after losing so much weight and I have to honestly say no.  I was healthy and never had any health problems before I lost the weight so now I'm still healthy, just a little skinnier! 
To celebrate I am headed to the east coast to spend time with my family as we celebrate my brother's military retirement and take my mom to New York City for her birthday.  I have taken my Fitbit off and for the next week will not worry about calories or how many steps I take.  (Okay, okay,  I am pretty sure I will be second guessing everything I put in my mouth and will not really eat that much!)  When I get back at the beginning of September I think I'll make a new goal of working out for a full year and see if I can get the last 30 pounds off and tone and strength my muscles.  Again I will have to make a promise to God because the only thing I hate as bad as veggies is working out and exercising!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How Many Ways to Heaven?

One of the kid's favorite tricks during Vacation Bible School is "How Many Ways to Heaven".  No matter how many times Pastor Mason shows it to them, they still can't figure it out!   Pastor Mason does this trick after he has given a clear presentation of the gospel and salvation invitation 

Pastor Mason starts off by showing a big dominion with six dots on it and asks the kids, "Are there six ways to heaven?" to which the kids yell out, "No!"

He then flips it and show the other side with three dots and asks the kids, "Are there three ways to get to heaven?", again to which the kids yell "No!"

He flips it again and shows the other side where there are only
four dots now and asks "Are there four ways to get to Heaven?" 
Again the kids answer with a huge "No!"

He flips it one more time and tells the kids,
"That's right there is only one way to heaven!"  Of course many of the kids are just gasping in surprise and there are a few that think they know how he did it, telling him there are really five dots on one side and two dots on the other and he's just covering dots with his hand. 

They are shocked when he flips it one more and there are really six dots! 

You can get this neat little trick at Amazon or at your local magic shop!

Monday, August 8, 2016

And We Have Started.....

Vacation Bible School day #1
I love listening and watching the kids sing and do the hand motions
for the Bible songs and of course the kids love them too!  Our story this year focuses on the life of Herbert Brings and all the songs are verses
that go with his life of surrender and service to God.

In our missionary story today, we saw Herbert get saved and surrender to go to the mission field.  Along his journey he had some wonderful mentors and people who encouraged him, including Mother Chapman who gave him his first Bible and also always gave him sweet treats to eat!

Herbert was in the Navy when he surrendered his life to the Lord
but there were always some sailors that would try to get him to drink and
party with them.  Of course he never did!

The offering race is favorite every morning! 
This year I am sitting with Little Man on the boys side and
teaching him to cheer for the boys.  "Boys, Boys, Boys!"

I was doing secretary work today and didn't get many pictures but I did catch Little Lady in the foyer trying to wear one of the game cones!

It looks like our sanctuary is really empty this year and that's because it is!  We lost a lot of our bus kids this past year and we had a lot of kids sick and miss the first day.  We are praying for more kids tomorrow but no matter how many kids we have, each one is important and we are excited
to share the Good News of Christ with them!

Teen games tonight were all about Frisbees. 
They are listening carefully before heading out to play.

After a message on being a soldier for Christ,
the teens cooled of with ice cream floats.

When teens throw away their cups but want more pop........

And they ended the night playing "King of the Picnic Table" with Pastor Mason.  A game that gets very rough but they love!  Thankfully they listened when I told them no broken bones and no ER visits tonight!

Tomorrow is another day of VBS, another day to love on these kids,
and another day to serve our Savior! 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

September is Almost Here!

As we finish our summer with VBS this week, I can't help but think that September is almost here and time for a new year of Bible Adventures! 
I am sad, as I am every year, to look at last years wall and think of painting over it.  Chandler did such a great job last year making a war scene with an awesome plane battle in the sky!  With Vacation Bible School this week and then heading back east for a week right after that, I knew that I wouldn't have much time to get the wall painted and prepped for the new adventure.
I decided that I needed to at least get the base coat of paint on
 and worked to get it done today.

This year's theme is "Hey Jonah!".  Although I really have not
totally finished planning out the wall, I painted the wall blue to go with a sea mural.  I'll work on it a little bit every day in the coming week in between morning VBS for the kids and evening VBS for the teens and hopefully will have a good chunk done before I go on vacation for a week.

One thing I love about writing my own curriculum every year, is that I can change what didn't work and add what I feel the kids need in order to understand better.  This year we are changing the way we do our verse memorization, I added a Bible activity centered around the story, and added a time when we will be working on writing out the whole book of Jonah.  We will be really going in depth learning about Jonah and will only be going through a verse every week.  How can I teach a whole story and lesson with just one verse?  There is so much in Jonah that can be pulled out of each verse.  The first week we will learn about who Jonah is, what a prophet is, how God speaks to us today and also learn how much God loves us that he talks to each of us individually!  That's a lot to cover in one week!
Looking forward to this year's Bible Adventure as we dive deep into the character and attributes of God that we see in the story of Jonah!