Be with the people that bring out the best in you.
February was a month of celebration. We celebrated new milestones, explored new places, and enjoyed adventures with the people who bring out the best in us.
This is Part 2 in a series of ornament/craft ideas that I think correspond with the daily advent readings from Ann Voskamp’s book “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.” Read about Day 1 and Day 2 ideas here. You can find many ideas on the internet for Bible story crafts. Below are some of my original ideas and some that I modified from Pinterest. I gave credit for those craft ideas that I borrowed. If you decide to make and share one of my craft ideas, I would to love to see it. Tag me on Instagram or send me a link to your blog post. 🙂
-Small piece of ribbon or paper for the tongue
1.) Create the head of the snake by curving one end of the pipe cleaner around itself a few times.
2.) Hot glue the eyes and tongue in place. Note: First, we tried using regular glue but it would not hold so we went with the hot glue gun.
3.)Bead your snake. (LESSON IDEA- You could incorporate patterns (AB, ABC. ABBA) into this part. This is a great fine motor activity. My 2- 1/2 year old beaded the green snake by himself.)
4.) Fold over the tail and then wrap on the tree.
My inspiration for this craft came from Frugal Fun for Boys. See below for link:
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And theLord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:5-8
This craft involved a lot of cutting but once all the cutting was done, it was easy for the kids to put the shapes together to make the ark. It can double as a shape lesson too.
5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5
-empty baby food jar
-black paper cut so it can fit snugly inside jar
-fabric for the cover
Using a small hole punch, punch holes in the black paper. Roll and unroll the paper a few times so that it fits snugly to the inside of the glass. Put a flicker light inside the jar. Cut a circle of black fabric to go between the top of the jar and cover. Decorate the top of the jar. Turn it on at night.
Here is a picture in the light:
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.[a] 4 And Abrahamcircumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” Genesis 21:1-7
This was another big cutting project but I think the ornaments turned out nicely. Lots of hearts and layering of the fabric. The hair and beard were fun to make.
The most wonderful time of the year is here. A time of anticipation, expectant waiting, and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I cannot think of a better way to discover the treasures and gifts of this season, then with Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift and Unwrapping The Greatest Gift.
God has been using these two books to speak to me and my family in many ways. Each day, it seems the devotion was written specifically for me, to meet me right where I am. I know that sounds a bit silly and impossible but it is true. The words are composed so beautifully, so descriptively, and so vividly, that they prompt my thoughts towards better things, redirect my heart to those who are hurting, and provide a salve for the hurt and broken places in my own soul. This is the season of hope, love, peace and God’s great gifts.
In The Greatest Gift, the lineage of Jesus is explored through familiar Bible stories and the colorful characters in Christ’s family tree. Each day there is a Bible passage, a devotional, and reflection questions. I love that the devotions are only a few pages long so that there is no excuse not to read them daily. The reflection questions keep me thinking ALL DAY LONG! They are not questions like- Who was Sarah and Abraham’s baby? or How many brother’s did Joseph have? They are questions that require me to search my life and the state of my heart. My favorite part of each chapter is the “Unwrapping More of His Love in this World” section. These are tangible things that a person can do to show their love to God and others by serving, blessing someone’s day, or worshiping God through letter and song.
In conjunction with reading The Greatest Gift, I have been reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift with the kids. These stories follow the devotional but are written to engage the whole family. The illustrations are exquisite. Free, downloadable ornaments are available when you purchase the book. Last year, I had the girls color each of the ornaments as I read the story to them. This year, I wanted to up the craftiness with making our own ornaments. (We love crafts in our family!) I also wanted a more hands-on lesson illustration that a craft would provide.
You can find many ideas on the internet for Bible story crafts. Below are some of my original ideas and some that I modified from Pinterest. I gave credit for those craft ideas that I borrowed. If you decide to make and share one of my craft ideas, I would to love to see it. Tag me on Instagram or send me a link to your blog post. 🙂
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. ” Isaiah 11:1-2
(You can find wood discs at craft store, the Target Dollar Spot, or use some power tools and cut the discs yourself. I went the power tool route because power tools are fun! )
-skinny sharpie markers, paint
OR a pencil, a wood burner, paint
We live next to a small patch of woods and searched for the perfect dead branch to make this ornament out of. Searching for the dead branch (on a cold, damp, and dreary day) really drove home the idea as to how miraculous and impossible (for all but Jesus) is it to have life come from something dead. We talked about how Jesus is a miracle and how he goes to impossible lengths of love for us.
After the discs had been cut, we drew a shoot with a pencil, wood burned over the pencil marking and then painted the shoot bright green. This project was time consuming but the time could easily be cut down using pre cut wood discs, sharpie markers and/or paint.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27
-2-1/2″ styrofoam balls
-Mod Podge (Matte works best)
-blue and green tissue paper squares
-heart glitter paper (and heart punch)
With paint brushes, we painted Mod Podge on the styrofoam ball and the stuck squares of blue and green tissue paper over the ball to represent the water and land. Note: Larger tissue squares work better than smaller ones. And stick the pipe cleaner in the ball prior to doing the mod podge. It creates a handle to make gluing easier.
After the whole ball was completely covered with tissue, we gave it a generous coat of Mod Podge. Once dry, we added a heart-punched, glitter heart stuck on by pop-up glue-dots. “We were created by love, for love.”
I plan to post a few craft ideas at a time. Check back to see the new ones added and follow along with the fun.
On Sunday afternoon, we decided that it was time to check camping off our Summer Bucket List. We packed the kids in the car, drove to the sporting goods store and purchased an eight-person tent and a queen sized air mattress. My husband and I decided that the kids would have to sleep on a skinny mats because that is what we had to do and before one gets to sleep in “comfort” one needs earn a certain number of hours in camping experience.
We set the tent up in the backyard. Pumped up the air mattress. The kids unrolled the mats and sleeping bags. They brought out a few comforts from home- stuffed animals, blankies, and flashlights.We sat up in our tent talking. We made s’mores and washed up in the house before ZIPPED the tent for the night.
It wasn’t long before the girls were fast asleep on their mats. My son had a hard time sleeping on a mat so we pulled him in between us. It took a good amount of time for him to fall asleep. But once he was asleep, he stayed asleep, on the air mattress, in between my husband and I. We never would have allowed our girls to do this but that is what happened when you are two, the baby of the family, and your parents are old and tired.
Here is how the night went for me:
10:00 PM- My son fell asleep.
10:00PM -11:30PM (?) A metal “dink” sound came from a neighboring yard….dink… dink…dink…It was loud and inconsistent. The type of noise that prevents you from falling asleep. We could not figure out what the noise was but a day later, we saw our neighbor’s son practicing hitting baseballs with his swing trainer. The same “dink” noise followed with each hit and the mystery was solved.
12:30 AM A loud meowing sound came from outside the tent. Our cat had been accidentally left outside and needed to be put in the house. UNZIP the tent. I enticed the cat into the house with treats. Back to the tent. UNZIP to get in and ZIPPED close again.
12:45 AM The meowing sound AGAIN. I had left the sliding door open and could hear the car meowing wanting to come out back out. UNZIP the tent. Close the sliding door. UNZIP and ZIP the tent again.
1:00AM-4:00AM Various noises outside the tent. Apples dropping from the apple tree. Rustling noises from the woods behind our house. Some animal sniffing around and rubbing up against the tent. My husband says it was a bunny. I say it was something WAY bigger. Regardless, it kept us both up. This was added to the constant sleep interruption by my son’s feet in my face and his body rolling over my head.
4:30AM Sunrise! Beautiful morning but the kids were still sleeping (thank the good Lord.) The peaceful sound of birds tweeting lulled me back to sleep.
6:00 AM- Kids up. We woke up. Time to take on the day!
We made breakfast outside on a small camp stove and played Hello Kitty Uno with the girls. We didn’t look at computers or cellphone. The very-short break away from social media was nice.We laughed at the events of the night and imagined what animal really was lurking around our tent. My husband and I were both relaxed. The kids were having a great time too.We were fully present and having fun. Total fun score- 85% (15% off for no sleep.) But we can deal with no sleep. We have taken care of three newborns and survived.
With a successful camp-out under our belts, we packed up our camping gear. Rolled up the mats and sleeping bags. Deflated the air mattress. Took down the tent and packed it away. Our backyard was no longer a campsite.
My husband and I decided that this camping thing would be good for our family. My husband went to the basement and pulled out our old camping gear (stuff that has not been used in about 10 years.) We sorted and cleaned and prepared totes for our next adventure. When all of that was finished, we made a reservation for a campsite at a state park. With all the enthusiasm and expectation of great things to come, we are looking forward to our overnight trip. We are happy that we followed through with the activity on our bucket list. This small adventure will lead to many more and memories that will be last a lifetime.
Waves of nostalgia intensified with each sweet, icy swallow. The cold, waxy, green-yellow cup and the sweet-tangy taste of frozen lemonade, sent me back to my childhood. It was a taste so familiar that it seemed to have been frozen in time. The stand still looked the same. An old clock, the plastic yellowed with age, hung on the inside wall. Nothing was fancy about the stand, it was just as I remembered it.
It was 4th of July weekend, the kids and I were visiting family. I had a romantic idea of having an “Authentic Rhode Island” holiday. I wanted to see old sights, taste the old treats, experience a glimpse of life the way it used to be. Twenty-one years had passed since I had lived in this small city, twenty-one years filled with changes and growing up.
We pulled out of the lemonade stand, driving towards the house I grew up in. The van seemed to instinctively know which way to turn. As we came to a stop in front of the house that I grew up in, I took one more gulp of the lemonade and relished in its familiarity. I put the car in park and stared out the window.
In front of me, was a house that looked so much smaller than I had remembered. A bungalow or cottage according to the sales records. There was a white sign with black lettering declaring that this house was no longer filled with a family but empty property owned by the airport corporation to be used as part of the airport expansion. The house paint was not as bright as it once was. The windows boarded up. The fence falling down. Weeds had started to grow in the cracks and crevices. It sat in a sad, lonely state. This house once filled to the brim with family, faith, hope, dreams, and love was looked so empty.
I looked across the street to our neighbor’s house. It no longer existed. In its place was an empty, grass lot. Down the street and around the block, many other homes had succumbed to the same fate as my neighbor’s house. Houses that were inhabited by grumpy neighbors, messy children, friendly families were all gone. Demolished for the airport expansion. Phantoms of memories rose at every corner and in every empty space. It was a sad and eerie feeling.
A voice from the backseat declared the urgent need of a bathroom, startling me back to the present time. Another voice inquired when we were heading back to the hotel. One more voice, happily made noises from his car seat. My past faded and the present reappeared in vivid, deep color. The world seemed full of hope, dreams, and full of life.
I took one more glance at the house before driving away. I might not see the old house standing again. If I return to the neighborhood, it may be a shiny, new runway for the airport. That is okay.
The memories of my childhood, good and bad, do not live in an old house or in an old neighborhood. The empty, grass lots have not erased the laughter, friendship, and memories made in those spaces. Memories and lessons learned are kept close and held in mind and in my heart. Many hopes and dreams have come to fruition, in mistakes, successes, and with time.
My present place is a wonderful life, filled with constant activity, overabundance of love and laughter, lessons STILL needing to be learned. I was happy I had the chance to show my children the old house and my neighborhood. They may not have appreciated it but that is okay. For me it was a celebrations of the past and the future and of lemonade. It was a memory that weaved my past and present together and will be stored away in my heart.
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