Teaching Kids to be the Church

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Oh, my!  It’s never good when the first thing you think logging onto a site is, “I hope I remember the password…” and this was my thought exactly this afternoon as I was coming to chat with you.  A month has passed by already.  Crazy.  I am definitely still learning how to juggle “life” and all that it entails.  Between cooking meals, prepping snacks, doing way more laundry than three people should ever produce, saving a toddler from death-defying jumps down slides, playing full-time entertainer, jumping full-swing back into ministry at our church plant, and all of the other lovely chaos that defines current life, some days I celebrate when I take a shower before 11 am.  Or at all, for that matter.  Thankfully, I have a pretty gracious husband.  I am hoping you are gracious too.

 

The adorable culprit to all my chaos.  I love this guy.

The adorable culprit to all my chaos. I love this boy!  Excuse me while I go kiss his cheeks some more…

I promise to be more faithful in the (near) future.  I don’t like to commit to anything more than three weeks out; otherwise I may have to eat my words, gravel, and start all over again.  It’s my own awful cycle.

I have so much to share!  Everything in good time, of course…  But a lot has been stirring in my mind, which I am excited to discuss with you.  Lots of good, wonderful stuff.

First of all, I want to share something I have been working on for a bit now for our Sunday school program at Journey!  It’s my own “curriculum!”  I have been working on this every Thursday (as my oh-so-fabulous mother watches Noah during the days for me.  Thank you, Momma!  Well, more like she watches him in the afternoons.  I typically spend the mornings socializing with her until I have only four or so hours to finish all I had planned.)  I’m not certain that I will always write our curriculum, but it seemed fitting for the young season we are in right now.   Besides, I wanted something deeper and more involved than a box curriculum.

At Journey, we have young families participating, leaving their home churches to help us plant.  And as we all have experienced in life, change is not easy.  Particularly for kids.  Especially when they may not understand what the implications are of what we are doing.  So I am writing a church planting series for children so that we can all be on the same page as a church family.

Because I have everything from kindergarten through 6th grade (or whoever else wants to join us) participating, much of what I am writing is geared to fit kids of all ages.  We’re covering great stuff, like how the church started, what the body of Christ is, how prayer affects what we accomplish, what kids can do to serve in the church, and telling people about Jesus!  My utmost desire is to establish a solid foundation for our young ministry and get the kids excited about what we’re doing together.

While working on this I began thinking about how essential it really is for all kids to be aware of this information.  Not simply during a church plant.  This truly is the calling of the universal body of Christ.  You and are I instructed to serve.  To fish.  As Ephesians 2:10 puts it, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  It’s not an option, it’s an expectation.  As such – as mothers, fathers, teachers, or simply disciples of Christ – it is our responsibility to represent this for all of the young eyes that are watching us.  Trust me, they are watching.  Closely.  It is also imperative that we teach this to them and involve them in our service.

Chris always talks about “doing life” together.  Really, that is what it’s all about.  It’s about following Christ, getting dirty, and letting others come alongside to learn and participate.  It’s about putting together props for VBS with a joyful attitude, allowing our children to observe and help (even if it’s not perfect).  It’s not shipping them off to a babysitter because they may get in the way, it’s allowing them to get in the way and get excited about what is at work and what God may (or rather, will) do.  It’s a testimony of life well-lived to our families.  Or sometimes it’s the same testimony to a young person who has no one else in their life who will stand in the gap and show what a God-glorifying life looks like.

All of this to say, I think it is absolutely important that all kids understand these concepts.  If they can grasp it at a young age, understanding all that God did in the Bible to allow us to accomplish what we do now, they will be leaps ahead of most adults.  We are a body.  Rather, we are the body of Christ.  We were established by God, called by the Spirit, and are equipped to do absolutely fabulous,astounding things.  Together.  As a family.  This is exciting stuff!

So with all of that laid out, I would like to offer my curriculum to you.  I’m sure it needs some tweaking, however I want to give it to you as a general outline (it’s linked below).  Of course, it’s intended for a Sunday school group, but there’s no reason it can’t be used with your own children at home as a small Bible lesson.  Or possibly an after-school children’s group for latch-key kids needing something to do with their time.  There are lots of opportunities when it comes to kids.

I’ll post a lesson every week or so (I’m still working on it, so I don’t want this to get ahead of me).  The lessons begin with Pentecost (perfect for this time of year – we’re almost there) and work forward from there.  I hope you and your family, Sunday school, or kids group enjoy studying this together!  I’m excited as we work together to sow seeds in our kids and help build heroes of the faith for our generation! (Or the next one).

Church Planting Series – 1. Pentecost

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Exquisite Life

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We are aware of people who suddenly have a heart attack.  Out of nowhere.  It’s a terrible thing to happen to anyone, however it is even wilder is when the person isn’t someone we would stereotype as high-risk based on their appearance.

Most of us do our best to appear lovely and attractive.   We put on nice clothes, pull up our hair, apply makeup and make sure to touch our noses to our toes at least five times just to add to the acrobatic craziness.  But no one knows what’s really going on under the skin.  Do we eat well?  Exercise regularly?  These are all extremely important questions because when it’s all laid out a stylish haircut won’t help our arteries.  We need to pay much closer attention to the true workings of our body.

While this is on your mind, consider the Church.  The Body of Christ.

I believe a great deal of effort is placed on the appearance of the Body.  We put money and effort into buildings and programs.  We don’t want to support anything if it’s not going to booster either our attendance number or attractiveness.  We place a ton of attention on our appearance while ignoring the blood, bones and muscles.

Let’s face it: Much of the American Church is a pretty heart attack waiting to happen.

This topic (not in the exact terms I’m using here) has been the center of much discussion in our home lately.  We’re asking ourselves: When we truly look at the New Testament Church, as Christ instructed it to work and the apostles described from the early centuries, what is it?  How does it function?  What are we doing well and where are we failing miserably as the Body?

These are important questions to ask when planting a church.  Actually, these are imperative questions.  We recognize the absolute necessity to build the characteristics we wish to emulate into the DNA of who we are as a Body.  In Colossians, Paul refers to keeping (or losing) “Connection with the Head [Christ], from Whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows and God causes it to grow,” (2:19).  We are the heartbeat and muscle of the church.  We must be healthy, relying on God to exist and grow properly.

We are also asking these exact questions of our family and personal lives.  If we are going to strive to request true godly living of our church family, we must be willing to embrace it ourselves.  We don’t want to be hypocrites.  We want to experience the fullness of Christ in our lives and home.

This is heavy because it is in no way easy or comfortable.  Personally, I much prefer comfort and ease.  In our effort, however, we are offered the amazing opportunity to live life to the fullest.  Life that has meaning.  Life that glorifies the Father and loves one another.

I want to extend an offer to you.  Join us.  Take the plunge.  Embrace the ability to live with absolute abandon to the heart of Jesus.  It may not be glamorous.  It will simultaneously wrench your heart and satisfy your soul.  We are called to something more – to much more.  We have before us the most exquisite opportunity.

It is worth it.

Two paths diverged on a road...

Two paths diverged on a road…

 

Savory Mango Chutney Pork Chops

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We have been dining like kings and queens lately.  The meals have been gorgeous and intensely savory, works of culinary art.  Chicken Parmesan, Pork Chops with Mango Chutney, Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese, and so it goes.  Not to mention the yummy treats!  Every ounce made from scratch.  My husband is one stinkin’ lucky guy!

Honestly, we are extremely blessed in how the Lord allows us to provide for our family with fresh, nutritious meals.  I have thought about this more and more lately as we have been making an effort to eat “cleaner.”  It’s been some hard work and a change in mental attitude, but so very worth it.  I’m getting inspiration from a few new favorite websites and revisiting some old recipes.  I’m also using the “Taste of Home” magazine subscription that my mom gifted to me (Thanks, Momma!).

We’re cutting out the junk (processed foods) and eating simpler, closer to whatever can be produced from nature.

I’m excited to share some of the delish recipes we try!  I love new recipes, so I’m supposing you may too.

Last night we had the Pork Chops with Mango Chutney with Sweet Potato Fries as our side.  Yum!  This dish is absolutely stunning.  There are a few wonderful unexpected twists of flavor, with just the right amount of “kick” in the Chutney.  It’s also fairly quick and simple to prepare – throw the chutney in the pot and let the flavors meld while you pan-sear the chops.  I found the recipe in the Taste of Home magazine from this week.

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Mango Chutney Pork Chops

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 4 pork chops (or 1 boneless pork loin roast – 2 to 3 lbs) – I made pork chops… this was originally written for a roast
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, and ground ginger
  • 2 medium mangoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 C. finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C. finely chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I didn’t have this)
  • 2 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP grated fresh gingeroot
  • 1/8 tsp each salt, ground turmeric, and ground cloves
  1. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat.  Brown pork on all sides.  Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and ginger.
  2. Place on a rack in a shallow pan.  Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes minutes for the chops or 1-1 1/2 hours for the roast, or until a thermometer reads 145*.  Remove from oven.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine all remaining (chutney) ingredients.  Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend, stirring occasionally.  Serve over or alongside pork.

We loved it!  Like I mentioned, I served a side of homemade Sweet Potato Fries along with this, however a nice salad, rice, quinoa, or bread would be great too.  In the meantime, Chris finished off the leftovers for lunch and I’m thinking we may need this again soon!

 

Tulip Muffin Wrappers

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I went by World Market yesterday to grab a little vintage Valentine’s gift for Noah (a cutie pop-gun!).  They have so much lovely Easter and spring decor right now.  I could have just purchased it all to deck out my home.  Thankfully for my husband, I didn’t.  But I did manage to score some adorable tulip muffin/cupcake liners.

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They come in a pack with three colors – pink, orange, and purple.  Simply wonderful for spring treats!  Or Strawberry Valentines muffins when you use the pink liners.

Everything tastes better when it looks pretty.

Everything tastes better when it looks pretty.

I’ll be honest – Noah and I each had one a day early.  I can’t wait to have another tomorrow!  Although Chris is coming home on a very late flight tonight so I may snatch another one before bed while I’m waiting…  when they’re so pretty how can you resist?

Bathtub Painting Session

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Today was a success!  I went into it with a plan – always a great start.  This morning Noah and I went out and picked up all of our new activity goodies and got it all set up, ready for play.  After Noah’s nap we dove right into the fun.

We had a blast with the bathtub painting session!  I found it on one of the websites mentioned yesterday, Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Setup for this is quick and easy.  I put four colors of washable paint in a muffin tin (When I purchased the paint I chose three big bottles of the primary colors because it’s less expensive than the stuff marketed for little kids.  I figured I can just mix my own colors right now).  I cleared the bathtub of all excess toys and bottles, put Noah in a swimmer diaper (lucky for me he still fits the ones from last year), and let him explore bathtub painting.

It was the perfect setup for controlled sensory chaos.  A particularly amazing setup when you have a busy, curious toddler stuck inside for most of the winter.

Muffin tins are a GREAT way to separate paint and make it accessible to young kids.

Muffin tins are a GREAT way to separate paint and make it accessible to young kids.

At first Noah could have cared less about the paint and I thought my idea was all for naught.  He was simply excited to be in the tub and wanted to try and play with the faucet.  After a couple minutes, though, he started catching on as I demonstrated for him how to put the paint on the bathtub walls.  Soon he was busy using the brushes and dipping his fingers in the gooey paint.

Working on getting paint onto the brush - it's a big deal.

Working on getting paint onto the brush – it’s a big deal.

This activity is fabulous for toddlers because they get to discover colors, feel paint, work on fine motor skills while using the paintbrush, and they have unlimited opportunity to make a mess wherever they wish.  It’s also fabulous for Mommas because it’s super-easy cleanup!  Ta-da!  And you thought the two would never meet.

SO Fun!

SO Fun!

After we were finished playing we cleaned up – and kept on playing.  It was great because since the paint is washable everything, including Noah, stayed in the tub as I simply used water to wipe down the walls, tub, tin, brushes, and baby.  Noah was perfectly happy to play with the colored water as I cleaned which made the whole task as simple as water down the drain.

If you have a chance to try this I promise you will be so pleased with yourself – as will your child(ren).  What wonderful discovery play!  I can already imagine the artwork that will grace our tub in the years to come.

We have plenty more activities to try out in the next couple weeks.  As we explore them I’ll post our experiences and reviews for you to consider for your family.  I can’t wait to get our hands on them!

In the meantime, Happy Painting!

Create Some Fun!

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The first few hours of the day are simple in our home.  There’s breakfast, bathtime, playtime in the playroom (since everything is fresh for the morning), maybe play outside, and naptime.  The following hours are a bit more complicated.  I try to make sure we have some fun discovery, craft, or imagination time somewhere in the day.  Lately though, I feel like a rusty pipe in the idea department.  It seems that everything I create in my mind is just a little too old for Noah (like the fort I had planned last week, which royally flopped).  I want something exciting to engage Noah’s heart and mind, as well as to allow us to laugh together.

Tonight I decided to look online for some fresh toddler ideas.  I was a bit skeptical because there just don’t seem to be a whole lot of resources for those under three.  Well let me tell you, I was super-pleasantly surprised!  I found all sorts of fun ideas!  As we try them out I’ll be sure to post the good ones for you to dig your hands into.

While I was looking at all of these ideas and sites I started to try to catalog them in a Word document, along with all of the supplies we’ll need to buy – Pretty much typical child-play items (say, pipe cleaners) that we haven’t had to purchase yet.  I like to keep my kiddo ideas in a binder that I have stored next to all of my recipe books.  It’s my little black-book for motherhood.  Well, I decided to create a document (based off of a great menu document I found on Pinterest) that I could use to catalog all of our play ideas, items needed to complete the activity, and the source I used to find the activity (you never know when you’ll want to go back and check your work).  I’m very pleased with the end-result and wanted to share it with you to use for your family!  So without further ado, here it is: Kids Activity Log.

Here are a few of the websites I found that I’m pretty sure have hidden jewels.  You may want to check them out for your little ones – it’s all about sharing the wealth here!

I hope you find great use for this in your home.  Meanwhile, I can’t wait for tomorrow morning to try a few of our new experiments in creativity!

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Tasty Granola Recipe ~ Deliciousness!

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Yesterday Noah and I decided to make some granola.  Again.  We love granola in our home! It’s hearty, healthy, gluten-free. It’s wonderful as a snack or breakfast in your yogurt.  I’ve been working on my recipe for a while, tweaking, adding, and adjusting to make it just perfect.  I think we struck gold.

This recipe is much healthier than your typical granola, packed chuck-full of delicious goodies.  It’s completely clean.  I cut the sugar down and anteed up the flavor.  Enjoy!

Here are all of your ingredients.  Pretty simple.  I love simple.

Everything you need!

Everything you need!

First, place the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice (from the orange) in a small sauce pan and turn on the heat.

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While your liquids are heating up combine the dry ingredients, including oatmeal (we use gluten-free), cinnamon, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds (or meal), and salt.  I usually add just a pinch extra salt so that there is a true salty-sweet flavor.

Noah recommends the double-spoon stirring method, demonstrated here.

Noah recommends the double-spoon stirring method, demonstrated here.

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Pour the warm, melted liquids over the oat mixture and combine until it’s full coated.

Bake the granola in the oven at 300* for forty minutes, stirring every eight to ten minutes to prevent burning.  I usually add the dry fruit (if desired) in the last ten minute stretch prior to pulling everything out.

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If you leave the granola alone after taking it out of the oven it’s more likely to have some clusters.  Let the goodies cool and enjoy!  My mouth is watering all over again.

Delish!

Delish!

Of course, you can customize the recipe completely to your family’s taste buds.  Add or subtract according to your hearts desire!

Granola Recipe

  • 4 C. Oatmeal
  • 1/2 C. sliced almonds
  • 1/2 C. Sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C. Flax seeds
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 C. Honey
  • 1/4 C. Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • Orange zest from one orange
  • Orange juice from half an orange
  • 1/4-1/2 C. Dried cranberries or blueberries
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 300*
  2. Melt together honey, coconut oil, vanilla, orange juice, and orange zest in a sauce pan.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients, not including the fruit
  4. Pour liquids over the dry ingredient mixture and fully coat
  5. Spread the granola over two cookie sheets – you can use wax or parchment paper to line them if you like
  6. Bake the granola for 40 minutes, mixing every 8-10 minutes to prevent burning
  7. In the last ten minutes add the dried fruit
  8. Let the granola cool about 15 minutes
  9. Enjoy!

I did figure the calories, and a 1/4 cup serving is about 200 calories.  You should probably enjoy in moderation.