How Can This Be?

Last week, I was rereading Mary’s story in the Gospel of Luke. Mary, a young virgin, engaged to Joseph, a man of good lineage. Her engagement was part of socially acceptable plans, plans that would provide her security in life. She might have thought of her future often, preparing herself to be a wife, dreaming of what it might be like to be married. Every day that went by was one day closer to those plans coming to fruition. Then something happened that would change everything. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary with an incredible message that would challenge her plans and replace them with a new calling from God.

I can only imagine the thoughts and questions racing through her mind as she tried to process the impossible things the angel was saying- “You will conceive. You will give birth. You will name him Jesus. He will be the Son of the Most High.” Although, the Gospel of Luke does not tell us her exact thoughts, it does records one of her questions. A question I think we can all relate to, “How can this be?”

Mary’s first response to this overwhelming information was a question. And her response is similar to many other people in the Bible who also had their days, their plans, their lives interrupted with what seemed like unimaginable missions and impossible callings from God. Callings that would be difficult, go against social standards, and change the trajectory of their lives in order to fulfill the plans of God. In many of their stories, their immediate response to overwhelming information was a “Who am I?” “How can I?” “I am only a….”  

I think many of us have similar first responses to when God calls us to Himself or to His work. While, our circumstances and our callings might be different, the heart of our responsive question is the same- doubt.

“How can this be, since I am a sinner?

“How can this be, since I am unqualified?”

“How can this be, since I do not have the resources?

God’s answer has been, is, and always will be the same. The answer is- “I am with you.” (Exo.3:12; Joshua 1:5, Luke 1:28) We can do the things God calls us to do because of Emmanuel, God is with us. Often, God’s callings come at times that interrupt our carefully crafted plans. They ask us to replace our doubts and fears with faith. He knows your past and your future. He knows where you are lacking and wants to equip and use you in those places for His glory. He knows you don’t have all the resources because He wants to be the One to provide them and He wants you to trust and obey in faith that He will. God fully knows, and has no doubt, that you are the right person for the mission, the job, the good work that He is calling you to do.

Mary didn’t have all the answers or all the details. She didn’t have a spreadsheet, a timeline or a budget. But she did have faith and was told the Holy Spirit would come over her to make this impossible, miraculous thing happen. And because Jesus, we also have the Holy Spirit to encourage us, empower us and remind us- God is with us. Nothing is impossible with God. Anchoring ourselves in those truths and answering God out of a place of faith, our second response can be one of trust and action. We can respond in the same as Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you said about me come true.”(Luke 1:38)


December Acts of Kindness Calendar

Although kindness and charity should be given in every month, December brings a special focus to these things. It’s a month of reflection. An opportunity to focus outward instead of inward. A time to give rather than receive. If you are looking for a few ideas to practice acts of love, kindness and giving to others, check out our plan for December.

Each morning, our Kindness Elves, Amelia and Olivia, will suggest the daily act of kindness to complete as a family. There’s something for everyone on the calendar. Some of the ideas, like donating blood, are obviously for the adults (that’s the one that is going to stretch me the most!) Some of the ideas will take a little longer to complete than others. All of the activities can be done together with each other’s support and encouragement. 

Just a note…This calendar is not meant to add to the holiday hustle and stress. It’s not to give us one more thing to do. Rather, it is a reminder to slow down, gather around a table, have good conversations, create for and think of others as a family. 


Advent-“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Day 16-17-18-19-20-21-22-23-24-25 Craft Ideas

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The most wonderful time of the year is here. A time of anticipation, expectant waiting, and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. One of my family’s favorite ways to be reminded of the treasures and gifts of this season is reading along with Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. 

Last year, my girls and I crafted an ornament each day to correspond with the daily advent readings from the book. This post is the last in a series of ornament/craft ideas which I have created and collected. You can find the complete collection for Day 1-2Day 3-4-5-6Days 7-10, and Days 11-15 by clicking on the blue links.

There many ideas on the internet for Bible story crafts. Below are some of my original ideas, borrowed ideas, and ideas inspired by talented artists and bloggers. Credit for any borrowed idea is noted below the picture. 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.

day16advent

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Materials: card stock, markers, scissors, glue (hot glue), clothespin

I loved this craft idea from His Wondrous Work and thought “Why not turn it into an ornament?” I printed the templates on two pieces of colored card stock (one piece skin- tone and the other gray) and then carefully cut them out. The whale needs to be sticking out beyond the clothespin so Jonah can pop out without getting stuck. Make sure you line up the whale and Jonah on the clothespin before gluing the pieces down. I had to move the whale further up the clothespin in order to make the pieces fit properly.

http://www.hiswondrousworks.com/JONAH%20and%20the%20GREAT%20FISH%20Craft.pdf

day17advent

Materials: can, black card stock, twine for wrapping around the can, sand, paper-piercing tool , glue

Wash and dry a small can (I used an Old El Paso Chilies can.) Wrap and glue twine around the outside. Create a cityscape with black card stock. It took me several trials to get the right size city to fit into the can. Once I had the correct size, I used a paper-piercing tool to created the windows and doors. Using sand and glue,  I made desert at the bottom of the can. Then, I folded the bottom of the city so it would stand upright and glued the city to the sand.

For added effect, hang the ornament near a small tree light to add background light.

cityscape-ornament

day18advent

Materials: pipe cleaners, gems, hot glue

To make the crown, I followed the directions listed at the link below. After the crown had its basic shape, we “blinged-out” our crowns with faux pearls and gems.

http://littleinspiration.com/2014/01/diy-photo-prop-crown.html

day19advent

Materials:  toilet paper roll, silver paint, sharpie marker, gray card stock, Stampin’ Up Dimensionals.

Paint the toilet paper roll silver. While waiting for the paint to dry, cut out the top of watchtower from gray card stock paper. Once dry, draw bricks and a door on the tower with a Sharpie or black paint pen. Put Dimensionals around the top and wrap the tower paper over the Dimensionals and around to a close. This will give the paper a small lift and make the shapes have more depth. Hole punch and string to hang.

day20advent

Materials: Chalkboard paper, silver glitter gel pens or paint markers.

At back-to-school time, I had bought a chalkboard banner from Target’s dollar spot. For this ornament, I cut apart the banner and used one of the circles to write on and decorate. Super easy and cute.

Here are other craft ideas for Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story.

http://biblecraftsandactivities.com/crafts-for-zechariah-and-elizabeth/

day21advent

Materials: sandal template printed on colored card stock (see link below); something to lace with (twine, small ribbon); hole punch.

For today’s reading and craft. I decided to focus on “Prepare the Way” rather than “Thunder in the Desert.” This adorable sandal craft template has easy directions to follow which are found at the link website below. The sandal is a bit large (it might fit a toddler) for what you might think of as a traditional sized ornament but in our house the bigger the better. 🙂 It is really cute and great for lacing and shoe tying practice.

http://www.jesus-without-language.net/john-the-baptist-matthew-3-make/

day22advent

Materials:  1 rounded clothespin, 3 regular size popsicle sticks, 2 half-popsicle sticks,  half of a pipe cleaner for halo, 1 white feather for wings, paint, glitter

Paint the top of the rounded clothespin as a head with hair. (I made the angel one-sided so the side not seen does not have to be painted perfect.) Paint the bottom half of the clothespin white. Paint all the popsicle sticks white and sprinkle glitter over them while the paint is wet. Once the paint is dry, hot glue the two longer popsicle sticks on the back of the rounded clothespin. Glue them close together but slightly angled away from each other. Glue the third popsicle stick on top of the other two, directly in the middle. Glue one “wing” (half-sized popsicle stick) on at a time. Then take the feather and hot glue into place over both of the wings. Make a small ring for a halo. Glue in place.

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day23advent

Materials:  card stock (glittery silver, gray for the saw; brown or wood colored for handle); handsaw template (see link below), scissors and glue

I saved the image of the saw pattern found from the website below and made it smaller in a word document. I made it so two templates could fit on my page. Then I traced each part of the saw, glued it together, and punched a hole for the string. The hardest part of this craft was tracing and cutting out the teeth on the saw blade.

http://patternuniverse.com/download/saw-pattern/

day24advent

Materials: white card stock, paper punches (circle and ovals), straw or raffia, brown paint

Cut the card stock into a circle. Paint hand with brown washable paint and stamp off toward the side of the circle. Add “hay” and make baby Jesus with the punched shapes. Add a cute, little face. 🙂

day25advent

Materials:  glittery gold scrapbook paper, fabric scrap

It’s Christmas! In consideration of Christmas day and all that comes with it, today’s craft is a very simple one. Cut a star out of the gold scrapbook paper and a red cross out of the fabric. Glue the cross on the star and hole punch.


In our house, Christmas is not over until January 2. Only then is the tree allowed to come down, decorations stored away, and the Christmas music turned off until the next year. Before we say goodbye to Christmas, here are two of my favorite Christmas (playdough) recipes. They smell good enough to eat!

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Candy Cane/Peppermint Playdough

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract (more or less to your liking)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • red food coloring
  • white glitter

In a medium saucepan whisk together the dry ingredients. Next, mix in the water, oil, and the peppermint extract and stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over a low/medium heat until a thick dough forms. Divide the playdough in half.  Turn out the halves on parchment paper. One half leave “white” and sprinkle clear glitter over the top. Knead until smooth. Add red food coloring (we use the gel type) to the other half. Knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Candy Cane Playdough
Candy Cane Playdough

 

Gingerbread Playdough

Gingerbread Playdough

(originally from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle )

Note: With three kids, I usually double the recipe so each one has more than enough to play with.

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • dash of orange

In a medium saucepan whisk together the dry ingredients. Next, mix in the water, oil, and the orange extract and stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over a low/medium heat until a thick dough forms. Turn out on parchment paper and knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

PS  I think of the gingerbread recipe as more wintry than “Christmasy” and make it all winter long.

Gingerbread Playdough

 

Two of My Favorite Playdough Recipes


No Gifts Needed

No Gifts Needed

This year, I do not want anything for Christmas. And that is the truth! When I declared this to my husband, he looked at me as if I was leading him into some sort of trap or playing very cruel trick. He carefully calculated his response.

“Ooooo-kayyy…” he said doubtfully.

“No, I am serious,” I said. “I have everything I want and need.”

It is not surprising that my husband was skeptical. I have always loved receiving gifts, things, STUFF. At one point, receiving gifts was my primary love language. It wasn’t just the gift that I liked. It was the thought and effort behind the gift that I appreciated.

On my birthday and at Christmas, I would envision my husband walking through the aisles of  a store, loving thoughts of me on his mind, carefully considering all my likes, what colors looked best on me, how I prefer dark chocolate over white, diamonds over cubic zirconia. This of course, was a romanticized reality. My husband hates shopping. He really does not like “things” or “stuff.” And birthdays and holidays had never been a big deal for him.

Birthdays and holidays have always been a big deal for me and the gifts have always been one of the best parts. Store bought gifts are nice. But I love hand-made crafts and things found out on a nature walk or a walk on the beach that my children hand to me. Someone once gave me a candy wrapper with a saying about friendship that I treasured. I know, lame! But I can’t help attach meanings or a memory to the gifts I am given, its just who I am. Or who I used to be?

What has changed this year in my gift receiving needs?

Me. Life. The state of the world. The fact that I have so much stuff I do not know what to do with while others in the world have nothing and are suffering daily. Awareness that consumerism is taking over minds and the true meaning of life.

I am realizing more and more that memories are not stored in things. Memories are stored in hearts and minds and in your soul. Gifts are all around you, every day. You just have to change your perspective to find and receive them.

Like the gifts of staying in your pajamas on a rainy day and starting homeschooling late.  The gift of unexpectedly bumping into one of your best friends at the post office and receiving a huge, very needed hug. When your husband lets you sleep in late. Gift like laughter over a meal shared with friends. Gifts in the smiles on strangers faces in the long line at the grocery store. Gifts like seeing peace and joy permeate a heart.

Those are the kind of gifts that I want more of.  Unexpected gifts and gifts that money cannot buy. Gifts that make me want to be a better person, friend, wife, and mom.

So this year, it’s the truth! I am embracing the true meaning of Christmas, with less gifts from the store and with a happier heart. And if my husband hands me a store bought Christmas gift, I will throw a tantrum, give him a lecture about not wanting anything, and demand that he return it immediately!

No, just kidding! I will gracefully and gratefully accept the gift, attach a memory and meaning to it and probably treasure it way more than I should. After thirteen years of marriage, I have learned you should never discourage good and thoughtful deeds. And besides, I am a work in progress! And I am okay with that!

 

 

 

 

 


Advent-“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Day 11-12-13-14-15 Craft Ideas

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“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Ornament and Craft Ideas-Days 11-15

This is Part 4 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 1-2 here Day 3-4-5-6, and Days 7-10 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.

adventday11rahabscarletcord

21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”

So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.  Joshua 2:21

Materials Needed:

-Red Yarn

-Optional: small hair elastic

1.)Holding one end of the yarn in your hand, wrap the yarn around your elbow (bent 90 degrees) at least 25 times. You will end up with a loop.

2.) Still holding the loop of yarn. Cut the yarn vertically to open the loop. Tie yarn at one end (or in the middle of the yarn you are still holding.

3.) Braid yarn. Tie with another piece of yarn or a small hair elastic. Look an ornament hook through the top.

adventday12ruth

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. Ruth 1: 16-18

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. Ruth 1:22

Materials Needed:

-mini gold tinsel (I found mine at Walmart)

-tape

-red satin ribbon

1.) Cut various lengths of tinsel.

2.) Bundle the tinsel to your liking and secure with tape.

3.) Wrap a satin ribbon around the middle and tie in a bow.

 

adventday13samueldavid

“7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

This idea came from Jesus Rolon’s blog “Crafting the Word of God.”

http://craftingthewordofgod.com/2013/08/02/god-searches-our-hearts/

Materials Needed:

-cardstock

-contact paper or a laminator

-scissors, tape, glue or glue dots.

To save some time:

1.) I printed the templates (found at the link above)  on card stock.

2.) Cut out all the pieces.

3.) Instead of using contact paper, I colored the heart and laminated it with my table top laminator. (Disclaimer: I tried using contact paper but t makes me all flustered. It wrinkles and bubbles and causes me undue stress! That is why I took the easy route with the laminator.)

4.) Trace the circle on the laminated paper, around the heart, and glue dotted all the pieces together.

 

adventday14lightindarkness

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.” Isaiah 9:2

When my girls were little, I purchased a great advent resource called Truth in the Tinsel- An Advent Experience For Little Hands . Each day we read a scripture passage, created a simple craft ornament all while we talked about the scripture and the true meaning of Christmas. I loved pulling out the book and completing the activities. One year, my grandmother, mother, and sister made ornaments along with us. I still have some of the ornaments and they serve as good memories from that year. If you have little ones, this is a great resource for you. The ebook is only $7.99 and you could get started right away.  Day #11 ornament idea comes from the Truth in the Tinsel and goes along with December 11th’s reading of Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.

 

 

adventday15elijah

“38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”  I kings 18:38-39

Materials Needed: 

-red ball ornament

-heart shaped sticker

-acrylic paint (red, orange, yellows, metallic gold)

-sponges or sponge brush

1.) Stick a heart shaped sticker in the center of the ball.  Carefully press around the edges to make sure sticker is sealed.

2.) Sponge fiery colors on the ball and over the heart sticker.

3.) Let dry.

4.) Peel the heart sticker away. If the paint seeped under the sticker, you can use a small amount of nail polish remover on a q-tip to remove the paint. Be careful to test the area first so it does not strip the red color.

 


Advent-“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Day 7-8-9-10 Craft Ideas

Advent Crafts

“Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” Ornament and Craft Ideas

This is Part 3 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 1-2 here  and Day 3-4-5-6 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. 🙂

day7altar

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1-2

Materials Needed

-mini wooden craft sticks

-colored tissue paper

-glue gun

1.) “Build” a fire with the tissue paper. Tape it in place, around the bottom, so it forms a flowery-bunch.

2.) Build the sticks around the fire, hot glue sticks in place.

 

Jacob's Ladder“12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!” Genesis 28:12

Materials Needed:

-Large Craft Sticks

-Mini Craft Stick

-Wood glue or hot glue

1.) Glue sticks together to resemble a ladder.

2.) Paint the sticks. (PS  I am sure when I do this craft with the kids, their ladders will be colorful, bedazzled, and might include a few angels on the steps.)

 

joseph's coat of many colors

 

“3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. ” Genesis 37:3

I cannot wait to do this craft with my kids. I had fun making it and the colors mixed together so beautifully.

Materials Needed:

-Coffee filter

-scissors

-paper towels

-food coloring  (liquid), water

-bulb pipettes  ( We have the Coloring Mixing Set from  The Homegrown Preschooler  The set comes with pipettes. Amazon has them too.)

1.) Fold the coffee filter in half. Cut out the shape of a long-sleeved coat.

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2.) Put the coffee filter on top of a few layers of paper towels. Mix food coloring with a few drops of water.  You want the colors concentrated and not watered down.

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3.) Squeeze some color in the pipette and drop onto the coffee filter in a polka dotted fashion. The colors will start to run and blend into each other.

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4.) When the filter is completed covered with color, allow to dry. No two coats will be the same.

 

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“And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today” Deuteronomy 5:5

Materials Needed:

-dark colored cardstock

-gray and white crayons

-skewer

1.) Pressing heavily down on a gray crayon, color over the card-stock. Repeat with the white crayon. The colors should resemble stone.

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2.) Cut out the card stock to resemble two tablets.

3.) Use a skewer to write roman numerals.

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4.) Punch hole and hang on the tree.