Monday, December 27, 2010

Advent Activities

Making Salt Dough Ornaments

1 C. flour
1 C. salt
1/2 C. water

Mix the flour and salt together.
Add water gradually (I'm pretty sure ours got dumped and still turned out okay).
Knead into a flexible dough on a floured board.
Roll out and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter.
Use a skewer to poke a whole in each shape to thread string through.
Cook at 250 degrees for several hours (until shapes are hard).

Afterwards, paint the ornaments with water based paint. Varnish with a clear coat so they will last longer. Thread ribbons or string through the holes and add decorative glitter, bows, sequins, etc. Enjoy watching your children give a gift from the heart.

Living Nativity and Christmas in the Park
I enjoyed the live nativity as they presented the Christmas story and then we let the kids walk around petting the animals (as if going back to Bethlehem and the manger scene). I think it gave them better perspective of the story they know so well.

And then we headed across the street to enjoy the lights, cookies and hot chocolate (oh and Rudolph, of course!).

Graham Cracker Houses
We have done this for the past few years and it has been a hit! Not only do I not have to make gingerbread that will never get eaten, it is simple, fun and the whole family enjoys creating their own "house."

Even Easton attempted got eaten, but he attempted nonetheless.

A little nativity, created by yours truly.

A sweet house by the sweetest girl I know.

A stacked house, made and destroyed by the same person...have any ideas?

A precious little church, created by Allen.

All together now...

These are just some of my favorite Advent activities.
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bible Reading Plans

For the past few years, Allen and I have been doing Bible reading plans for reading the Bible in a Year. We have done the ESV Plan and the Discipleship Journal Plan (I wrote a blog post about it last year.

This year I want to do something different. I have been given such perspective by reading the Bible in full...such an overarching picture of God's grace and His character...such an amazing story of redemption. I have loved it.

But this year, I am yearning to have more scriptures written on my heart. I came across the ESV Bible Memory Plan....Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart. You memorize one scripture a week, 52 in a year. Each week is a different truth that you are memorizing scripture about.

The plan recommends:

1)on the first day reading the scripture aloud 10 times, saying it 10 times without looking.
2) on the second day repeating 10 times without looking (if possible).
3) repeating the verse each day for the rest of the week.
4) saying each previously memorized verse once a day
5) having a partner to keep you on track
6) being committed and praying! Ask God to write these scriptures on your heart.

I am very excited about this! I'm not sure if Allen is going to do this with me, so if you need a partner, let me know. I may not have one just yet.

Also, here is the Gospel Coalition's list of plans.

Happy Bible reading and memorizing!

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cars Party

Here are some pics from Beckett's Cars Party. It was a joy to celebrate him!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

{Beckett = 3!}

Sweet boy,

Another year has gone by. Year 3 with you has been my favorite. I loved your baby years, but this year...what a joy!

You are a delight to me. Precious smiles and giggles erupt when the tickle monster comes around. And yet you taunt with your grin and invitation for more, "You better not get me...,"you say. You even giggle as you say it.

You say things like, "I'm Beckett. My hair is bown." (brown) You feel the need to differentiate yourself when everyone else is talking about Taylor Joy and Easton's beautiful red hair. But then they look at you, see your big blue eyes and long eyelashes and say, "oh, he is precious! what a heartbreaker!" And they are right. You don't need the red hair for that. I love your bown hair.

I still sing your hymn to you at night (when it's not Daddy's turn) and sometimes you ask me not to sing it. Maybe you think you are too grown up for that. But I sing it anyway and then I hear you singing it quietly. That quiet humming melts my heart. I know you know all the words and that God has written them on your heart. I praise God all the more for how great He is. After all, He made you! He created you just how He wanted to and for that I am blown away by His goodness. "How Great Thou Art" will forever be my song to you and I pray that it's the song of your heart...

I am looking back with fondness on your 2's, a bit teary because of the sweetness of it, and looking forward with much to be hopeful for. I'm praying for the seeds that we are sowing in your life...for God to bring forth much fruit in you this year. Perhaps even granting you faith and repentance, new life in Jesus! We praise Him for the grace we have seen in you. So much!

Happy 3rd, Buddy!
{Every year gets better with you}

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shutterfly Promo!

I am SO glad to have found this promotion from Shutterfly! I ordered 50 cards earlier this month and I don't know what I was thinking! I ran out of cards just in our church, much less the other friends we have in town and out of town.

So in comes this promo from Shutterfly, who I use anyway...equals AMAZING! Thank you, Shutterfly! I have tried other photo sites and have had complete customer service nightmares. Not so with Shutterfly. So, sign up here and you can get 50 free holiday cards, if you are a blogger. Even if you aren't a blogger, they have great deals on supercute cards.

I have also ordered photo books in the past. As a matter of fact, each of my children have a Baby's First Year book that is out on display in our family room. They all turned out so cute. I will definitely do one for each baby we have as a keepsake. I have also done them as our Year in Review, which has been a hit for family members. They are gorgeous books and they include many different backgrounds to choose from. Cute, elegant backgrounds, not chintzy ones. I happen to love these little books.

The great thing about having kids is the photo gift aspect. You can certainly satisfy the grandparents-who-have-everything with gifts of the grandkids' pictures. Success!

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Books of the Year

As most of you know, I adore reading. I love love love books! That is, if I can wrestle a spare moment to read them. It is probably one of my highest priorities, though. As a mom of 3 littles, priorities are a must. And you can usually only pick one or two and you have to scrap the rest until your kids are older. So, reading is one thing I do keep close to my heart. Since I haven't had time to review any books lately (yeah, that's one that had to go), I wanted to give my list of books I read in 2010 and let you know the ones I enjoyed most. Here they are in the order read this year and with stars (out of 5).

5 Stars - Go out and order it today!
4 Stars - Worthwhile read at some point
3 Stars - If you have a lot of spare time, go for it
2 Stars - Not the best resource
1 Star - Steer clear

2010 Reading

Gospel Primer, by Milton Vincent - *****
Amazing little booklet I have used in my daily reading to grow my affections toward Christ and reflect on the Gospel. Highly recommended!

This Momentary Marriage, by John Piper - ***
A great book with so much wonderful truth. A little dry if I am being honest. Allen and I pushed through and finished but I'm not sure everyone would.

When Sinners Say I Do, by Dave Harvey - *****
I think it's the most honest book on marriage I have read. I blew through it because it was so amazing. In fact, Allen and I are going to start going through this with the engaged couples in our church.

A Praying Life, Paul Miller - ****
An excellent read! I grew and changed so much while reading this. The only reason I didn't give it 5 was because it was very long. It changed my prayer life dramatically.

You Can Change, Tim Chester - *****
Probably my #1 book of the year. Ah-mazing! I went through this book with a few girls and we all loved it. And by love, I mean, love that the Lord used it to change us, but hated the yuck that it brought out. Yep, it's one of those books. Beware that if you read this you may become aware of a lot more hidden sin than you thought was there.

Helping Children Understand the Gospel, Children Desiring God - *****
A must-read for parents! It's small, but it packs a huge punch, reminding parents of our job as sowers of the Gospel in our children and how to cultivate the soil of their hearts. Love the practicality of it too!

Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung - ****
Wonderful little read! It's the first book on this subject that I have read. It broadened my perspective of God's will. It holds great truths for everyone, but specifically college students and grads.

Adopted for Life, by Russell Moore - ****
This book opened my eyes to what adoption is really like and I cried many times. Thankful for the enlightenment that it held for me. It is written for every believer, whether considering adoption or not. Wonderful!

Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart, by John Ensor - *
Recommended on the Girl Talk blog, but I'm not sure why. I would only recommend this as a gift for a non-believer whose life is immoral. There were so many references to sexual immorality that most of the book didn't even apply to the sweet girl I was mentoring.

Prayers of An Excellent Wife, by Andrew Case - ***
A wonderful book of prayers for a wife or wife-to-be to pray over her husband. All the prayers are straight scripture, which made it even sweeter.

Trust, a Godly Woman's Adornment, by Lydia Brownback - ***
A daily devotional put out by Crossway this year. I enjoy the tidbits of truth that she explores and I think if you like devotionals, this would be a great one to have.

Worldliness, by CJ Mahaney - ****
Excellent read! I have been wanting to read this for awhile now and finally did it. It is well worth the time you spend reading it. Questions at the end would make it a great discussion starter.

A Handbook for Minister's Wives, by Dorothy Patterson - *
A friend gave me this to read through. I did. And I just wasn't satisfied. She addresses what it's like for a pastor's wife to have quiet times and what they should include, but never addresses the tough issues (just like every other pastor's wife book I've ever seen). I am hoping someone will come out with one before I am 40 and have to write one myself.

What is the Gospel?, by Greg Gilbert - ****
Wonderful little read about what the Gospel is and what it isn't. I would have thought that reading this book I would have just been nodding along, like "Yeah, I got this." But he explores actions that negate the true Gospel on every level that were enlightening to me.

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