Sunday, February 18, 2018

Spring Cleaning




Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalms 51:7KJV



I’m not sure if the groundhog was right or wrong this year, because around here it depended on what time he decided to get up. At daylight it was a little overcast but in another hour the sun was shining bright. At any rate the daffodils and yellow bells are blooming and the robins are searching  the lawns for worms. It puts me in the mood to do a little spring cleaning.


Speaking of spring cleaning, I need to dust off my heart and do a little cleaning on the inside as well. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples to show them how to serve others but also to remind us we pick up a lot of dirt walking through this world. Using a little soap goes a long way in housecleaning. The Psalmist asked God to wash him so he would be whiter than snow.
I’d like to extend a little help with our spring spiritual cleaning by offering you a little S.O.A.P.


S.O.A.P.
I'm not sure where this idea originated but there are several internet sites that give the details.



  • Scripture: Read a chapter of God’s Word. I suggest beginning a book.
What verse stands out to you?
Write the verse at the top of the first page of your journal.  

  • Observation: What is your observation about this verse?
What surprised you?
What was new to you?
What questions do you have?

  • Application: How can you apply your observation to your life?
  • Prayer: How is God leading you to live out this verse?


Heavenly Father, please help each of us search Your Word and apply it to our lives this year that we might live holy and acceptable lives before you. In the name of Your Son, Jesus we pray. Amen.


Hey Kids:
Have you ever seen anyone make soap? Do you know what the cleansing agent is in soap?
I understand the Israelites did not know that they had soap, but the priest had the makings of soap every time they dumped the ashes from the sacrifices.


To make soap, you need a fat and a source of lye.
When water is poured through ashes, the water leaches out the lye from the ashes.
When this water is added to a fat source, it will saponify, turning  into a soft soap that will harden in a few hours.


The priest washed themselves of the ashes after dumping them. The fat from the sacrifice was already in the ash. The priest were to keep themselves clean. They were washing with soap without even realizing it.


God often does things that help us keep our lives clean without us thinking about it.
Can you remember a time when you avoided a situation that might have been disastrous for your health or your testimony? Could this have been a time God was keeping you clean?


II Peter 3:18 tells us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Using S.O.A.P. in your spiritual life will be a great help to you. Why not join your family in spring cleaning.
Blessings,



Gail

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A New Day Full of Grace




But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. II Peter 3:18 KJV

There it was, the sky peeping blue through the pink of dawning clouds. The sky as old as creation, yet new every morning. A new day full of grace for my family and my community from my Savior. And what is grace? Grace is an undeserved gift. It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). God’s grace is the sacrifice of His only Son. His desire is that we grow in grace and in knowledge.

As a teacher, I learned about Bloom’s taxonomy. It is a hierarchy of learning. At the bottom is knowledge or remembering. You know, read, study, memorize, but it doesn’t have to be boring when we restate them as searching, discovering, remembering. It’s like a treasure map. Once we are able to recall facts we can comprehend and gain understanding. We can ask questions. Why do we need a Savior? Why did God send His Son? Why are we so loved? When we understand, we can apply that knowledge. First we apply that understanding for our own salvation. Then, we can show love to those who may seem unlovable. Grace toward others is the application of the knowledge of God’s love.

Father, help me to gain knowledge of You through Your word, hiding it in my heart, that I might recall it to give grace to those around me. Lord, those seem like big words. Please, just let me be the hands and feet of Jesus today. Amen


Hey Kids:


The season of love is upon us. Red and pink hearts are everywhere, but what is love?
Love is a gift, most likely an undeserved gift.
The greatest gift is God’s only Son sent to die for our sins, a gift none of us has ever deserved.
If you have repented of your sins and asked for forgiveness,
you understand you have received an undeserved gift. We often call it grace.
There are so many around us who do not know of God’s grace, the gift of His Son.
They feel hopeless and helpless.
We hold their hope.
Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
Part of reaching others is meeting their needs so they are able to hear the gospel.
We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Make a list of people you know in need. Here’s a start.
  • A kid at school who needs a friend.
  • Elderly in the neighborhood or at nursing homes.
What can you do?
  • Sit with the lonely kid at lunch.
  • Make Valentines for nursing homes or hospitals.
  • Weed a garden or plant flowers.
  • Take a covered dish to someone who’s sick.

Acts of kindness open doors for the presentation of the gospel.
Be sure to enlist the help of your parents.
Remember, God gave them to you to help you grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Grow in Grace


But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. II Peter 3:18

Did the groundhog see his shadow in your area? Just to make sure we got an accurate assessment, my kids pretended to be groundhogs. We ran outside in our shirt sleeves to look for shadows. At first it seemed we would not see it, but as we started in from the cold, the sun came out and splashed shadows everywhere across the playground. We all gave a shout because here in SC we love the news of more snow. 

This week, I want to share Groundhog Day in Amazing Grace Acres, by Kristi Butler and illustrated by my friend Samantha Bell, published by Guardian Angel Publishing,Inc. Gracie the groundhog has been chosen to predict the weather this year. Her brother, Grover, is jealous. He tries to find a way to trick Gracie and steal the show for himself. Groundhog Day in Amazing Grace Acres not only explains the traditions of Groundhog Day but also addresses issues children as well as adults face each day - jealousy, anger, repentance, and forgiveness. 

Around here, we're looking forward to six more weeks of winter. Think I'll hunker down with the groundhogs a few more weeks. 

Hey Kids:

What's the groundhog's prediction for your area? 
Groundhog Day is half-way through winter. This year spring officially begins March 20. Is the bad weather almost over? 
Here's some ways to have fun checking the accuracy of your area groundhog.

  • Mark the calendar with a warm sun or a cold snowflake or a blustery wind.
  • Keep a journal, noting the highs and lows for each day.
  • Note the day you begin to see flowers push up through the winter mud. Draw them on your calendar or in your journal.
  • Make a graph of the cod days and the warm days. Cold could be blue and warm could be yellow.
What can we do with the information? 
  • Count the days of cold weather.
  • Now count the days of warm weather.
  • Which one has the most?
  • Add the days together.
  • Now you can make a fraction    Cold Days/Total        Warm Days/Total
  • Divide the Total into the Cold Days and then divide the Total into the Warm Days. Now you have a percentage. 
  • What percent of the days were cold? Warm?
Can the groundhog really predict the weather? What's your conclusion?
I'd love to hear how your charting and journaling is progressing. 
Please check back in six weeks with your complete findings and I'll share mine as well.

Blessings,
Gail

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Stranger

All references in this post are from the NIV of the Bible

I'd like to do a different sort of book review today. Not only do I want to recommend this book but I also would like to suggest a way to use it as a family devotional. Some of my favorite books are illustrated with photographs. Nature is my favorite subject. Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick do a great job of capturing nature and children in both story and photography. Stranger in the Woods was my first introduction to their books. I'd like to take a look at Stranger in the Woods and see how our Sovereign God fits into "the picture."

The animals discover a stranger in their woods one morning. When did he come? How did he get there? They tried to answer these things themselves. Even when Jesus was grown and teaching, the people had a hard time accepting Him because they didn't understand where he came from. King Herod wanted to know where the new baby was, the one the wise men were searching for. The Pharisees didn't think Jesus fit the mold of the Messiah either. 

          When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he            asked them where the Messiah was to be born. Matthew 2:4. 

          They(the Pharisees) replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find            that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” John 7:52

In our book, the animals are afraid. Who would approach the stranger first? Would the others follow? At first, people were skeptical about following Jesus. They questioned if any good thing could come out of Nazareth. Then they were afraid to follow because their leaders wanted to kill Jesus, even though by this time they were admitting that no one could do the miracles He did unless God were with Him. 

            Philip found Nathaniel and told him, “We have found the one Moses       wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathaniel asked.“Come and see,” said Philip. John 1:45,46

          Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member            of the Jewish ruling council.  He came to Jesus at night and said,         “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”  John 3:1,2


The animals in our book did follow the chickadee to the stranger. They found food from the snowman's head to his toes. They were filled and went away thankful for the stranger. Jesus is our" stranger" who has come to give himself for us, that we might have that spiritual bread and water for eternal life if we will only come to Him. 

          Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

Two children hidden in the bushes, watched the animals in our book. They were glad to be able to provide for the animals.  They didn't want the animals to worry about where they would find food. Neither does the Lord want us to worry. He wants to provide our every need. 

          So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34

One of the children asked how long they would feed the animals. The other replied with visions of springtime, when the earth would be renewed. Jesus promises us a time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth. A place where there will be no more tears. Until then He will provide for us. 


“See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind. Isaiah 65:10


For the Lamb at the center of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” 
Revelation 7:17

Look around. How is our Sovereign God providing for you today?
Noticing is half way to giving praise. You cannot give praise for that which you have not seen or experienced.

          These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6,7

                                Blessings,
                                    Gail

Hey Kids:
What stories have you read that you can relate to a Bible story?
Some are easier to do than others. Other stories by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick would probably good starters. Fairy Tales and poems are also easy to work with. Give it a try and let us know what you discover this week. 




         
          

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Snowflakes


I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalms 139:14 KJV


My niece, out playing in the snow with her sons, took close-up pictures of the snow on their hats. She obviously has a great camera to take such detailed pictures. Amazing that man can make a camera like that. Oh, I just said, “Man made a camera.” But what about snowflakes? Are they complicated? Simply put they are snow crystals that enlarge and change shape as water vapor changes into ice without going through the liquid state. I wonder if frozen fog would actually be snow formed on the trees.


Amazing that God can make a person who is so much more detailed in every respect. The explanation of the making of a person is so much more complicated than that of a snow crystal. Scientist still aren’t sure why  snow crystals grow with six sides and form symmetrically.  Explaining exactly how a person is formed is still a mystery too that scientist can only observe. That’s why this month is Sanctity of Life month. A time to stop and reflect on how precious each life is whether young, old, middle aged or at the moment of conception. All life is precious and purposeful. Whether a person is a great statesman, a mom, or a mechanic, they each serve a great purpose. Using the talents God has given us to serve Him is even a greater purpose. God has given each of us something precious and holy, life itself. May we use our lives for His glory this year and always.

Hey Kids:
Would you like to learn more about snowflakes? Maybe even make a snowflake? Here's a great site.
Please let us know what you've learned about snowflakes. 
Maybe you'd like to share something wonderful you've learned about yourself as God's marvelous creation. 
Never forget you are precious in God's sight.
Blessings, 
Gail

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hide and Seek


Pray without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17

I want to welcome Jetta Allen as my guest blogger this week. 

Jetta lives in North Carolina where she writes stories for children and devotionals for adults. She and her husband Jim are retired. They often ask their children if the grandchildren can come out to play. Jetta's experiences have shown her how prayer can change a situation. Today, she relates one of those experiences with a snake. Personally, I think snakes are always a good reason to pray. 

On Saturday, nine-year-old Ethan watched his mom shine a flashlight in the kitchen cabinets and under the sink. He peeled his orange and licked juice off his fingers. “Mom, why don't you call Miss Jen and pray about it, like the Bible says?” 

Beth Adams nodded. “You're right. What was I thinking?” She called her friend and explained. 

Jennifer's laughter rippled through the phone. “Oh, I'm sorry, Beth! I've never laughed at a prayer request,” Jennifer said. 

“I know. It's the strangest request ever, but we've looked all over since we got home yesterday,” Mrs. Adams said. “I'm desperate. I don't want to spend another night wondering where it's hiding. With Jason gone for the sixth-grade weekend trip, it's up to the rest of us.”

 Jennifer snickered and Mrs. Adams waited for her friend to settle down. What were a few more minutes, anyway? Jason's pet snake escaped over twenty-four hours ago. “Yesterday afternoon, Ethan went to refill its water. That's when we realized Fang was missing. He escaped from the old aquarium Jason used as a snake home,” Mrs. Adams said. “I'm thankful he's completely harmless, but still . . .
At bedtime, I handed Ethan a bath towel with instructions. He rolled his eyes, but took it. I stuffed another one against the bottom of Tim's and my door. I did not want to discover Fang coiled up by my shoes.” Mrs. Adams peered under the sink again while Jennifer giggled. “This morning, Tim went to work, but Ethan and I looked in Jason's room again. We're still snakeless.”

“Whew, what a problem. Ok, no more laughing. Ready to pray?” Jennifer asked. 

“Yes, thanks to Ethan. He suggested it. I was so busy searching, I forgot to ask God for help. God cares about every problem, I know. Even pet snakes.” 

Ethan headed outside while the two friends prayed. They asked God to reveal Fang's hiding place. “Thanks, Jennifer. I'll update you later,” Mrs. Adams said.

She headed upstairs to look once more in Jason's room. There sat Fang on the desk, swaying like a small cobra. “Lord, that was a fast answer. Thank you. Now it's my turn,” Mrs. Adams whispered. On school books, by the snake lay Jason's big work gloves. Mrs. Adams eased a hand into one and grabbed the snake. Fang resisted. “Oh, great,” she mumbled. She pulled harder. He was stronger than he looked. At last, he gave up and whipped his body around the glove and her arm. Mrs. Adams shuddered. “Okay, Fang, let's get you back home.” She banged on the window. When Ethan looked up, Mrs. Adams held up the snake. The back door slammed and footsteps trotted up the stairs. 

“Wow, you found him!” Ethan grinned and leaned close to the snake. “Hi, Fang.” 

“The Lord uncovered him, so I had to do my part. Run find that old scrap of plywood. And Ethan—hurry. I'm not crazy about holding him.” After easing the snake into the aquarium, Mrs. Adams and Ethan covered it with plywood and stacked heavy books on top. 

Later that afternoon, Mrs. Adams peeked in the aquarium. “Fang, we forgot to leave you air holes. We can't have you smothering.” She called Mr. Adams at work and explained the problem. 

When he got home from work, he and Ethan built an escape-proof lid from a window screen. “This snake's home is really fancy now.” Mr. Adams gathered his tools. “Jason will be surprised tomorrow.” 

“I still don't like snakes, but this little guy is okay.” Mrs. Adams looked at Fang curled against the aquarium's glass wall. “He obeyed his Creator and came out of hiding.” 

“When a problem seems too small to pray about, let's remember Fang,” Mr. Adams said.

Hey Kids:

What experiences have you had that reminded you that prayer is always the answer?

Try writing out your experience. 

Don't forget to use your five senses in describing your story. 

Mrs. Allen and I look forward to reading your prayer experiences. 

Blessings,
Gail

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Light in the Darkness


This year, I'd like to offer a few stories. Maybe a deeper look at Bible stories or modern stories that present a Biblical truth.

Today is a Bible story from Acts 20:7-12. I'd like to take you deeper into the story to see the sights and sounds, "the just like us" human side of the story, because the Bible is just as much about us as it is about the people who lived those stories. Enjoy.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Matthew 5:14
Children chattered and played as they walked with their parents carrying baskets of food and their lamps. Tonight was the last night to hear and visit with Paul before he sailed to Assos. There was a large house, three stories high, where they had agreed to gather. Neighbors watched as the little troop grew larger the closer they came to the house.
The ladies in the house welcomed the guests, taking the baskets and spreading the food along tables for everyone to share. A little food, a little fellowship, a little preaching, because of the buzz of the house no one noticed how late the hour had become.
Neighbors noticed the lamps twinkling into light in a third story room. “What’s going on there?” Their own lamps were going out one by one as they laid down for the night.
Eutychus, a young man, sat propped in a window to catch the night breeze and make room for the older folks to sit. As Paul preached toward midnight, Eutychus’ eyes began to droop and his head to nod. Several times, he’d caught himself from falling onto the old man seated in front of him. He’d rearranged himself hoping to wake up. He wanted to hear and he didn’t want to begin to snore. Suddenly his arms flailed and he toppled out the window to the street below.
People screamed. Lights poured into the streets. Eutychus was dead! The commotion awakened the neighbors. Paul pushed his way through the crowd, then gathered the young man in his arms. “His life is in him,” he declared as Eutychus’ eyes fluttered open.
“Hallelujah! Praise God! Thank you, Jesus!”came the exclamations from the crowd as they lifted their hands and faces heavenward.
Thank you Jesus? Who is this Jesus? , the neighbors whispered along the street. They watched as the people filed back into the house, talking, praising.
Inside the people prayed, ate, listened, and asked questions until dawn when the town began to stir again. Eutychus, the young man was helped home as the people dispersed. Neighbors watched and eyed the window where last night he had fallen.
Lamps through the night, a dead man raised alive, people praising Jesus. “We’ve never seen anything like this before.”

To think, it seemed to have started with lights shining in the dark.

Hey Kids:
What's your favorite Bible story?

I love to take a story and imagine the sights and sounds and smells that may
not be described.

Try taking your favorite story and make a list using your five senses.
In the story above:
I could hear children talking and playing.

I could smell the food spread for the visitors and the oil and smoke from the lamps.

I could see the lights, the neighbors, the people coming in,
and Eutychus propped in a window.

I could feel the breathless thud of Eutychus fall,
because I have fallen from just a short distance and the breath knocked out of me.

I wanted to taste the food because I know potluck meals are always delicious.

So what's your story. I love to have a chance to read it.

Blessings for your writing,
Gail