Sunday, November 19, 2017

Who is Squanto?

O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. 
Psalms 105:1

You know that picture in our minds we all get of the Indian brave who walks into the Pilgrim village in the spring of 1621 to show the Pilgrims how to plant corn, and beans and pumpkin? Wasn’t his name Squanto? Or didn’t any one ever tell you about Squanto?

This Thanksgiving tale of the Indian who greeted the Pilgrims with an English “Welcome” and then taught them to plant corn and fish, always seemed to me to be just that – a tale, until I learned how God brought it all about - A slave ship sailing along a shore, kidnapping young boys and taking them back to Spain; an entire tribe wiped out by disease; a lone man returning from Europe to find no one left. There’s far more to the truth than meets the eye here. God is always taking the evil man devises and turning it into good for those that love him. The slave traders of Europe had meant it for evil against the Indians but God used it for good for the people who came seeking to worship him in a new land.

In the Bible Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. They thought he probably died in Egypt until they went there to buy food. Who should they find to provide for them, but their own brother, in control of all the food of Egypt. Joseph’s brothers meant it for evil against Joseph, but God had used it for good.

Tragedy seems to surround us on every hand, but God has not left us alone. He is working all things for our good. Pray for those involved in all the tragedies. Help wherever you can. Do not be afraid, because God is with us through every circumstance.


Hey Kids:

I remember one Thanksgiving writing a skit with my little brother of the first Thanksgiving. I'm not sure how accurate the skit was, but we had a lot of fun and the grownups thought we were the best.

After we wrote down a few speaking parts we looked for patterns for pilgrim hats and Indian head bands and vests.

Directions weren't as easy to find as they are today. We had to search actual books. No internet in our day much less Pintrest. 

Researching, planning and writing are all fun when we use them for authentic writing. All that means is writing for a real audience for real reasons. Our reason was to share a historical event by performing for the grown-ups at our Thanksgiving dinner.  

I chickened out until my little brother complained that we had already planned the performance and he wanted to do it. I couldn't let little brother show me up.

Have fun sharing your knowledge of God's blessings on our country. I few feathers and a little face paint can make the fun go a long way. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Tree of Thanksgiving

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. Psalms 26:7
Is your tree up? As I left school on Monday, I saw someone had pulled out the decorations. A huge tree with a few sparse balls was already going up in the lobby. Ughhh, yes, I knew there were only a few weeks left until Christmas break and we had Art Night this week, but really? Did we really have to skip Thanksgiving? 
As we entered the building Tuesday morning, a spectacular tree greeted us with fall leaves, pumpkins, and scarecrows. A Tree of Thanksgiving, what a wonderful idea! We delighted in the tree all week as it reminded us to be thankful for all God has given us. It's given us time to teach the children about the Pilgrim's desire to freely worship, their struggles coming to and living in a new land. It reminded us to teach about Squanto, a man God prepared to help the Pilgrims survive. It reminded us of the freedom we have to live and worship because of the sacrifices of others.
I am thankful for so many things this year and I'm thankful for an assistant principal who created our Thanksgiving tree!
Hey Kids:
Did you know Squanto spoke English? How did that happen?
Did you know the support of the main mast of the Mayflower broke in a storm? How did they repair it? 
Let's not rush Christmas. How can you show reminders of your gratitude?
You can make a simple tree of thanksgiving with a few green sticky notes and colored pens.
At each meal, you and your family can write one thing on a sticky note for which you are thankful. 
Place the notes in the shape of a tree on a prominent wall or window. 
Watch the tree grow and take shape this week as you and your family express your  gratitude of all God has given you.
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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thank a Veteran

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:41
Several years ago, a teacher in our district asked his students to make Christmas cards for veterans in a VA hospital. I believe it was his dad who was willing to take the cards to the hospital. Over the years, this one small request turned into the whole school making cards. Now the entire district sends thousands of cards each year to veterans who otherwise may not receive any other Christmas wishes. There are even opportunities for parents to sign cards at school events. Some of the cards go to veterans' hospitals nearby. One of our veterans makes an annual trip to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC to deliver cards. 
Men and women in veterans hospitals may be far away from family and friends and find themselves alone during the holiday season. Cards from students and their families can mean a lot. Jesus said if we have done it unto the least of these our brethren, we have done it unto Him.
Parents, you may want to investigate the address of a veterans' hospital or visit one if you live nearby. Other ideas may be to send cards to someone who is currently serving overseas who won't be able to be with family this year. Your Sunday School class, scouts, home school association or other groups may want to join in the mission. 
Thank you to all who serve and who have served.
Hey Kids
Making cards is fun and easy. 
Fold a piece of copy paper in half.
Draw a large triangle in the center of the card. 
Open the card and write your message before you decorate.
Put a small amount of glue in the triangle. 
Crumple small scraps of green tissue paper and place on the glue to make a 3D Christmas tree design. 
Stick colored foil stars to the tissue paper tree. 
Change it up any way your artist inclinations lead you.
You may not know who gets your card, but Jesus sees and is thankful you were willing to bring the message of Christmas to someone.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Our Tears in God's Bottle

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalms 56:8 NLT

We’ve seen so many tragedies on the news and on the internet this year - hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Some have lost their lives, others their homes and communities. Lately things are hitting close to home for us. Two of my friends have children desparetley ill, one from a flesh eating disease, the other has cancer. A child in our school lost a close family member to a drunk driver. No matter the storm, Jesus sees them all. He cares and “bottles our tears”, records them. Does that seem hard to imagine? We record things that are important to us. We tell the best and the worst in our private diaries. Our tears stain those recordings. Jesus also sees and feels our deepest sorrows.

I recently finished reading Blue, part of the Baker Mountain Series by Joyce Moyer Hostetter. Blue is mid grade historical fiction set in Hickory, NC during WWII. Ann Fay, a thirteen year old girl faces similar tragedies and joys just as we do. Her day is drafted and is sent to fight the Germans. Her four year old brother contracts polio. After carrying the weight of the family while mom is away at the hospital with brother, Ann Fay also succumbs to the virus.
Hostettler’s books deal with war, illness, death, loss, race relations, and bullying. She deals with each situation realistically; the fear, the ignorance, and the hateful side, but also with faith, neighbor helping neighbor, church involvement, strangers with words of encouragement.  All those things help get us through the hard times and as Ann Fay would say “make us tough as hickory.”

Hey Kids:
Is one or both of your parents deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan?

Does someone you know have cancer or some other devastating disease?

Have you lost a classmate or family member?

Have you prayed about the situation, written about it, shed tears on the pages?

Maybe it’s time. Jesus the Great Comforter stands ready to catch your tears for His bottle, knowing and remembering your sorrow.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Bear" With Me

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. Matthew 14:23

This weekend we traveled to Cades Cove in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park for a well deserved rest and a few bear hunts. The last couple of weeks I've had parent conferences, a great math workshop, a testing report to finish entering and grades to enter as well as teach 41 four year olds, all before Thursday, because we had a three day weekend at the end of the grading period. Exhausted is not the word for it. 

Jesus faced lots of work and pressure, just as we do. When he needed to rest and pray and relax, he went into a mountain apart. Yes, He is God and yet fully man. His body needed the rest and He needed to spend time with the Father.

Our camping trip gave me time to hike, rest, pray, reflect, and prepare, spending time with my husband and grandson and a friend. Though my time in the mountains was busy, it was a different kind of busy, a constant prayerful busy. When we returned home, I didn't feel tired. I felt refreshed.  When is the last time you spent a few days away from the rat race and in touch with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? There's no better place than to go into the mountain apart. 

Hey Kids:

Are you sometimes overwhelmed with all the pressures of school and sports and other activities? 

Do you have a special quiet place you can go to relax and read and pray, away from all the technology and distractions of our time?

As a child, my pastor had a favorite rock, where he would go to get away from the distractions.
My mom would hide out in the leaves of a giant tree where no one could find her. 

My spot is my garden when I can't get away to the mountains, but there's nothing like hiking in the cool fall air amidst the changing of the colors, the ridges wrapping me up like a blanket as the sunsets on a quiet day. 

Quiet blessings, 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

True Colors

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord. Psalms 134:2

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 9 million visitors each year. I think all 9 million of us must choose the same weekend to visit. The views are amazing and no picture can ever capture the feeling of actually being there. The sound of the last cicada trying to whir, the crickets in the leafy sides, the caw of the crows, all added to the peace and drama of the real scene. Yes, there are oodles of people, but for the most part, quiet people releasing the things of this world and absorbing the beauty of God's creation. 

In autumn the true beauty of a leaf shines forth. All the green of spring and summer cover up the real color of a leaf as it tries to create the food necessary to maintain the life of the tree. Green is the color of chlorophyll. As a leaf finishes its job, the chlorophyll no longer controls the leaf and the true color is the beauty we see in fall. 

I got to thinking, people are a lot like leaves. We put on a front while we date or at our jobs or wherever we think it will benefit our lifestyles, but our true colors will eventually shine through. Most of the pictures were taken as we caught our breath on our way up Clingman's Dome. As we rested again at the base of the tower, a young father came up and addressed my husband who was wearing a Christian t-shirt. The father said, " I like your shirt. You must know the Lord." My husband and I affirmed his assumption. "We are to lift His name on high. We're high!" the father said as we shook hands and began our assent up the tower. 

We often feel alone in our walk with the Lord, but when, like the leaves, we let our true colors show, we find there are lots of others around us who want to join us in lifting the name of the Lord on high. The cool autumn air, the quiet of the forest, and the meeting of a brother and his family, felt really good after a long hard week of work. 

Friday night as we sat out on our balcony, a falling star graced the sky. 

Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints! 

Revelations 15:3b NKJV

May you find rest in His marvelous works this week

Hey Kids!

Have you tried nature art?
As the leaves change, have you noticed what a rainbow of color you can find?
My kids began picking up leaves on the playground and arranging them by color. It was not my idea, but kids in play came up with an amazing piece of nature art. They chose:

  • Maples for red
  • Poplar for yellow
  • Sassafras for orange
  • Pine for green
  • Blue spruce for blue
  • Dogwood for purple

What types of trees are showing their colors in your neighborhood? 
I wish I had taken a picture of the leaf rainbow my kids made.
Perhaps you could share a picture of your nature art.
What are your thoughts of God's amazing creation? Perhaps you would like to  share those with your pictures.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Teach Them Diligently

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:7

School has begun. My wonderful and concerned parents say, "I can't get him to be still and learn." School just "ain't"  what it used to be - for the better!!

Several years ago, in celebration of Johnny Appleseed's birthday, our class planted two apple trees on the hill behind the playground. We've enjoyed a few spring blossoms, but this year we finally have fall apples.

So, how did we learn without sitting still this week?

  • singing apple songs
  • picking apples
  • tasting a variety of apples
Yes, I read non-fiction books to them, but they didn't find books all that interesting before we visited our apple trees and not before 
  • making our housekeeping area into an apple stand 
  • learning to use a cash register
  • dividing apples into little bags and cups
  • making the science center into a place to weigh apples with heavy blocks
  • pouring and measuring cider
  • making price tags
  • passing out pennies to buy apples and cider 
  • inviting others to come to the apple stand
  • dressing up like Johnny Appleseed 
  • making playdough apples
  • using an apple peeler
  • cooking real applesauce
  • smelling cinnamon
  • eating our own cooking
Then after we'd finally exhausted our week, children began to sit, or rather kneel to investigate the pictures and words they had already experienced.

All of this to say, sitting with your child for daily family devotions is a wonderful thing, but unless we give them experiences throughout the day, not much meaningful learning will come from even the best devotions.

The Bible tells us to talk to our families while we walk, sit and when you get up. It's an experiential day of seeing God in all we think, and say, and DO!

What better time of the year than the cool days of autumn to get out and walk and talk and experience the mighty works of God?

What experiences have you had this week?

Hey Kids:

Have you climbed a tree this week? What could you see?
Have you thought about Zacchaeus? He finally got high enough to see above the crowd. Remember who he saw? Luke 19:2-9

Did you meet an old turtle crossing the road? Did you get a chance to examine his shell? Turtle shell patterns can be amazing. Could it be because God cared enough to make each one special? Psalms 139:13-15

Have a skipped a rock across a pond or splashed a really big one in the stream? God told Joshua to pick up rocks out of the river. Do you know what he did with them? Joshua 4

Discovering God's plan in His creation my help you discover God's plan for you!

Here's a few books you might want to meander through when you begin to experience God's wonderful creation.

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