Monthly Archives: July 2014

A different approach to play dough…

imageI recently posted about our fun Play dough invitation to play where the kids made their own flowers. See the link HERE. Today I’m going to share a fun, but different idea to use play dough and create flowers. I found that all the ages (2–almost 5) enjoyed this, but the almost 5 year old definitely got the most into it! This is great for kids who enjoy coloring or painting. I liked this concept because it encourages creativity, helps the kids use different motor skills than in painting/coloring yet different than typical play dough too. It was SO easy to prep and provided lots of variations. PLUS it’s reusable!

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I simply googled “flower line drawing,” and selected the ones I thought were simple with plenty of wide open spaces. I decided to do one page worth, so I chose 4 and made them ¼ of a sheet in size. I pasted them in Word and adjusted them. I printed and laminated my sheet, cut them out, and presented them to the kids! Here is some of what they came up with!

If you want to use my sheet, HERE (Blog Flower Card Printables) is the attachment, otherwise, be creative and have fun!! :-)

-Lydia

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When Dreams Don’t Come True

 

I will be 30 in a couple weeks. This is the age when so many of my friends and I are posting on Facebook about our dreams coming true. We post about getting married, job promotions, and having children. Some post about ministries coming to fruition; others about home renovations.

We all post about dreams coming true.

But most of us don’t post about dreams that do not come true – dreams that are lost.

Even when the lost dream is one of the closest things to our hearts, we stay silent.

Who would understand?

Sometimes we sacrifice it for other things that are more important -children, survival.

Sometimes the dream is simply beyond our grasp.

Either way the surrender of those dreams usually happens in silence.

Perhaps only our closest friends know how hard it is to let those dreams go. Often they don’t even know. (Who can truly understand another person’s heartache?)

But losing these dreams is an important part of the Christian walk.

This is surrender.

This is recognizing that God and His plan are enough for us.

In an amazing article on trust and surrender, a friend recently wrote about a dream that was lost. After 5 sons, she realized she may never get to mother a daughter. After prayer and some struggle, she surrendered it to God.

It really struck something with me.

Like all of us to varying degrees, I’ve needed to lay a dream on the altar and have been learning to trust Him more in the process. Through the surrendering of this dream and the embracing of His different plan for me, I’ve been learning several truths.

1. God is Enough for Our Joy

We don’t need ____ to be happy.

If we think we do, we are reducing God’s worth, and we are making that lost dream an idol.

We need to realize He is sufficient for us. He is enough. His grace is enough.

2. God is Enough for Our Purpose.

We were not created to do great things for God. We were created for Him to work His perfect will through us.

We try to make right decisions, and we make choices based on our priorities and interests and strengths. But who gave us those strengths and interests? God.

He picks.

Not us.

If we work, and he gives fruit, it is simply a gift.

The homemaker who faithfully serves her family and seeks to obey God in her humble day, is not less rewarded then the silver tongued evangelist who enjoys hundreds of golden opportunities to see God’s work.

Because it’s God’s work. He gives the increase.

The homemaker and the evangelist were simply called to faithfully play out their jobs.

We run with patience the race that IS SET before us. (Passive tense. We don’t set up the race. The only action word that we do is RUN.)

We are called to run what HE sets before us. And He gives the increase.

3. God’s Plan is Better

Right now my four-year-old wants more than anything to be a hero. He talks constantly about saving his sisters from the monster under the bed, saving all our friends at church from wild animals, and saving our family from bad men.

Wisdom has taught me that God’s plan for working out these desires in my son’s life may be very different than what my son imagines. God may plan for him to be a hero by being a provider for his family, a witness in his community, or a leader in his church. My son wants to slay a dragon.

Whatever God’s plan for him, it will be deeper and better than the crowd-pleasing grandeur he has planned for himself.

4. We Learn that God is Enough. Period.

If tomorrow one of us were stranded on a desert island.

Hope of rescue: Gone.

Every dream: Gone.

And we lived out every day with only Him. Only His love to comfort us when lonely, only His grace to strengthen us when discouraged, only daily communion with Him and hope of Heaven to give any joy, He would be ENOUGH.

If in the sorrow and isolation, we could fulfill our life’s calling to faithfully worship Him through prayer and remembrance of the Bible verses we’ve memorized, it would be ENOUGH.

Now to think, when we are surrounded by blessings of comfort, family, church, successes, those are simply extras!

ANY dreams realized are extras!

Because ultimately HE is ENOUGH!

What a joy then, in an act of obedience and love, to lay down lost those dreams, embrace what He does set before us, and thank Him for being ENOUGH for us.

 

-Verity

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Letting Them Help: Part 1

Painting House for Normal Person:

8:00 Go Outside and Paint Two Sides of (Small) House

10:00 Snack

10:15 FINISH Painting House

12:00 Eat Lunch

Take Afternoon Off.

 

Painting House with Small Children:

7:30 Dress Everyone

8:00 Help them with Chores

8:30 Summer Preschool Time (Focuses Little Minds)

9:00 Baby Wakes! Feed/Change Baby

9:45 Set Up Baby and Kids in Fenced Yard

9:50 Spend 10 Minutes Explaining to 3 Year Old How to Paint (Today Other Kids are Going to Play. Only One Kid with a Paintbrush – thank you!)

10:00 START PAINTING!

(Stop 27 Times to Give Baby a Veggie Stick, 4 times to Help 2 Year Old, Once to Give 4 Year old a Time out, Once to Give 4 year old Something Else,  32 times to help 3 Year old with Brush, and [of course!] Accidentally Drip Paint in Her Hair!!)

10:47 Go Inside to clean up little people, make them lunch do potty breaks, diaper changes, and toss them in bed for naps!

12:00 ( Accomplished:  1/3 of a side of the house)

Admittedly Painting with a 3 year old is a little extreme but the example could hold true to any activity.


IT IS SO MUCH EASIER TO DO IT WITHOUT ‘HELP’
Cooking, planting, and basic chores take so much more thought and time with little helpers.

But as tempting as it is to stick them all in front of the TV so I CAN ACTUALLY GET SOMETHING ACCOMPLISHED I am try really hard to use their ‘help’

(I do resort to the TV sometimes, but I try to view it as a ‘last resort’ for desperate times. Some weeks are definitely more desperate then others.)

But for the day in and day out. I try really hard to let them work with me.Helpers 1

  1. I Want that Time with Them OVER Getting More Done

Sometimes I have to repeat this to myself. I’m not a SAHM to have an immaculate house or gourmet meals, and if something has to give, it cannot be the kids.

It is really hard to remember that though!

(We unfortunately have a web filled with moms who are trying to ‘have it all’ – perfectly decorated and outstandingly clean homes, incredibly dressed children, and thriving careers. And between Pinterest  and parenting forums and Facebook we become Mommy ping-pong balls – bouncing from one great idea to another. And rather than just soak up the minutes with our children, we look around and recognize our life does not measure up to all of the great ideas online.)

BUT our kids are why we are here. We are Stay at Home MOMS. So if we can get a cool Pinterest-worthy project done, that’s really just icing on the cake!

2. It is Fun to Work with Them!

I’ve made cake 100 times, but nothing is as fun as watching their little faces pour in the ingredients. Every task is new and interesting again!

3.  It is a Perfect Time to Teach

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Through the kids helping me, I have learned that one of them only works for seven minutes before he/she becomes bored. This has been a vital time to help him/her push past comfort zones and learn to work. An important lesson to carry through life!

4. To Each His Own

A friend recently shared how she put all of her dishes down on the lower counter level so the kids could independently put them away and set the table. It was a great idea for her family.

This idea would not work for us. Our present schedule, kitchen layout, and the vision of an 8 month pregnant me jerking out dishes at floor-level, makes the the setup almost stomach churning.

5. Kids Take Pride in Their Work

I still remember helping as a kid. We were taking off old laminate flooring. Mom gave Lyd and I (Maybe 5 years old?) each little kitchen spatulas and we went to work – scraping, peeling. We were proud of our progress!

God gave man work right at the beginning of the world – before the fall. It is good, natural and right for us to enjoy watching the fruit of our hands. (Ecclesiastes 12)

6. Eventually they WILL be a Help

(I’ve heard) The Amish have a saying. You invest into your children their first 7 years. At seven, they can earn their own keep. Around 10, they contribute to the family.

Hours teaching now, will make things easier (for the whole family!) later.

So at the end of the day, I may not have a fully painted house.

I have 1/3 of the side of the house painted, and a very happy three-year-old (with a little paint in her hair) proudly showing me her work. She learned to pay attention to detail and get all the cracks, she had 47 minutes to be with me (that was actually more focused then normal), and she learned that when she works hard, she has fruit to show for it!

Very productive morning for us! :-)

-Verity

I’m publishing part 2 of this series next Friday – Teaching Them to Help. :-)

Invitation to Play: Flowers

During the summer, I tend to enjoy incorporating flower crafts into my kid craft times. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I LOVE Invitations to Play, so here is what we came up with for this week!

First, I let the kids make their own play dough. This makes it so special! HERE is a link to my favorite play dough recipe. If you were to do it yourself, it would only take you 5-10 minutes per batch. It’s also super cheap and all common ingredients (as long as you have cream of tartar). Homemade play dough is one of my “go to” activities. This time, the kids chose green, pink, and two different shades of purple. We decided to add glitter to all 4 colors to make it more fun! The kids are all 4 and under, so they did all of the pouring and I did the part on the stove. They loved watching and we discussed color mixing along the way.

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Next, I gave them each a plate with a mound of each color of play dough, a green pipe cleaner cut in half and 2 green leaves. There’s LOTS of flexibility here! That’s what I had on hand, but here are some other ideas.

  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Cut up straws
  • Pom poms
  • Real leaves
  • Fake leaves
  • Real flowers
  • Fake flowers
  • Sticks
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Spices
  • Bay Leaves
  • Paper Circles

Next, talk about flowers, how they grow, and why God gives them to us. They are such a joy! My daughter happened to be wearing a shirt with a large daisy on it, so we talked through each of the parts of a flower as well. I’m always looking for those teachable moments!

The kids spent over an hour on this project! There were some flowers made, but here are some of their creations. :-) image

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Next time, I’m going to share the other super fun activity we did with their play dough.

-Lydia

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Where Did “My” Ministries Go?

 

Before my husband and I were married, I had the opportunity to be actively involved in multiple ministries in churches, at college, in my community, and in my home.  I also worked full time for a Bible memorization ministry where I directed Vacation Bible Schools in dozens of churches, was able to impact many children and teens, and had ministries to the Amish as well. I also spent several months on tour for a puppetry company where I taught classes on various ministry tools. A love of ministry is one of the things that attracted my husband and me to each other. After marriage, we became actively involved in a dynamic inner city church with endless ministry opportunities. I share all of this to express my hearts’ desire to serve God in ministry to others…

The last few years, my husband and I have been in an interesting situation as he has been finishing seminary and we have had 3 children somewhat close in age. Our second child is what’s called a “highly sensitive child” which affects most aspects of our life—though we love her immensely!! We are also currently in a funny church situation as we make some life transitions. All of this together has left me with very few to zero ministry opportunities… at least that’s how it sometimes feels.

It has been over a year since I stood before a Sunday school class of wide eyed children, over two years since I shared God’s Word with a wonderful group of ladies, and nearly 3 years since I directed a large group of children in an athletic activity. For months my heart ached to do these things and I would go to church feeling inadequate because I wasn’t taking part in many aspects of ministry there. So what happened to “my” ministries?

God prepared and raised up marvelous other people to take them on, but he didn’t leave me in the dust with nothing to do. He gave me 3 very special children to transfer my love of ministry, and serving, and teaching, and traveling, and sharing, and directing, and counseling, and caring, and loving toward. God gave me the talents he gave me for specific purposes at different times in life and there was a time when those talents were used to help others across the country, but now there is a time when those talents are used to help 3 little people within the walls of my own home.

I used to love camp ministry because I had the opportunity to be with the same group of girls 24/7 (or 6) and I felt like I could make a more lasting impact than if I was just with them a few hours a day in a VBS or a few hours one time in a class. But what if I had the opportunity to be with someone nearly 24/7 for 18 years?? What if I had nearly 157,680 hours to impact 1 life—or 3 lives? What kind of impact could I make?

These facts make me realize two things:

 

  • Why am I complaining that I am currently in a SEASON of life where I can’t have as many ministries to others?
  • What kind of impact am I making?

This is a short season of my overall life. I had years to minister to others before this phase, and Lord willing, I will have years after this phase to minister to others again. This is a phase and just like all the other ministries I need to embrace this one just as much and give it my all to glorify God in each aspect of how I minister to my children. I need to give my very best and be transparent, and look for the teachable moments in the 157,680 hours just as much as I did in the 2 hours. What an amazing opportunity I have been given to minister to these children! These wide eyed and wonderful children who call me Mama; who love me and trust me, and desire to learn from me. I get approximately 157,680 hours (and more after they turn 18) to pour into their lives! Why would I ever complain about that ministry opportunity? God is so good to allow me to minister to them!

The second thing this truth makes me wonder is what kind of impact am I making? Just like with any other ministry, I need to start my day by asking God for a love for and an understanding of my children. I need to ask Him for the teachable moments and wisdom in my responses. Then I need to set myself aside and pour into their lives. I need to take this day in day out ministry just as seriously as I did the other ministries.

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I have been blessed with an amazing opportunity and approximately 157,680 hours to pour into each of these children and I need to make the very most of the current ministry God has given me. I hope that I never again complain about not having a ministry, because the greatest one is my own children.

-Lydia

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Wars and Rumors of Wars

Increasingly powerful Big Brother, Stazi-like stories (in our country) coming up almost every day, power grabs, high-ranking officials whose values are opposite mine, enemies within our country and without, empire building, economic troubles.

Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time a hundred years and guarantee my children and grandchildren some relative safety from the increasingly socialistic government. But to what? The fever of 1917? World War I? The Great Depression? World War II? The drafting during Vietnam? The Cold War?

Then I realize that there is no time or place that was truly void of danger and heartache.

And I remember Christ’s words. “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” (Matthew 24)

There have always been wars, and there will always be wars – until Christ’s return.

We live in a fallen world.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I was pregnant for the first time.

And it crosses my mind every time I read another frightening news article.

And while sometimes I find myself paralyzed with fear for my children, I need to remember some important truths.

1. God has put Them Here, at This Time, in This Place, for His Purpose.

I remember the first time I voiced my fears to my husband. I was pregnant, and I was sorry to bring my little baby into a messed up world. He responded concerning the baby. “He/She will be part of the solution.” It changed things in my mind. Godly children who grow into godly men and women can make a difference for the better. I’m not raising victims. The goal is to raise leaders and lights.

2. I Can Prepare My Children.

imageI don’t know if my children will face persecution for their faith or have to survive an economic collapse, but I can help prepare them to the best of my ability. My husband  (who is into that stuff) has already started teaching our 4 year old about survival, and we work on verses, the Romans Road, and a toddler catechism a few times a week so they will not be deceived.

3. My involvement in Politics Makes a Difference

imageIn the future I need to write about the incredible usefulness of political involvement. You can make a MUCH bigger difference then you think! For this post, suffice it to say that even in large cities VERY few people get involved, and just a few passionate people – willing to give a few hours here or there can get a good candidate elected. (Couple of decades of experience speaking here.) This summer my son and daughter joined us at our state caucus, and all the kidsimage helped with a parade. If only 10% of Christians got involved, we’d have a very different political lay-out.

4. What is the Worst That can Happen?

In her super good book “Calm My Anxious Heart” Linda Dillow suggests thinking to the end of your worry – and then giving it to God. Ask, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ The worst that could happen as the economy continues to plummet is that  my children will not enjoy as much comfort as I did as a kid. We may need to work really hard just to survive. (That’s not really a bad thing! They will probably have much better character then I do!) And the worst that could happen (in a war or economic collapse) is that my children could die – and then they will be with Jesus. They will no longer be in pain. They will be in Heaven. And in a thousand years, it will be a distant memory. This life is a vapor!

5.  I Need to Trust God

Ultimately, it always gets back to trusting God.  I need to remember that my little ones are truly HIS; not mine.

He loves them more then I do.

He placed them here for this time. He has a perfect plan for them.

My job is simply to prepare them for whatever that plan is. (–By HIS grace, HIS wisdom, and HIS strength.)

-Verity

Summer Flower Wreath

I love practical craft projects that only use normal household items! Today, I am excited to share one of those projects with you!

In the summer time, I find myself looking for crafts that use flowers in one way or another. Maybe I associate flowers with summer, or maybe it’s because I have 2 daughters and nanny 2 little girls. In any case, I ran across this craft idea in my search. It’s a summer wreath with big flowers on it your kids can make.

 

What you’ll need:

 

  • Coffee filters
  • Washable markers
  • Paper plates
  • Newspaper
  • Spray Bottle
  • Tape

Easy enough, right?

The kids get to color the coffee filters however they would like, using the washable markers. My kids each maxed out at about 3 filters, and you really need about 6 to fill a wreath, so they shared wreaths which worked out nicely.

            To save money, I would have them color the coffee filters ON the paper plates they will be using for their wreaths. They do need to color on a plate or you will have a very colorful table… like mine. Once they are done, lay the filters on newspaper across your table, then spray them with water so the colors run together. My kids loved this part! You can talk about how rain makes flowers grow and is part of God’s plan for us to have beautiful things to look at in summer and fresh food to eat. Then let the filters dry. It worked well for us to land over nap time, but I think they dried pretty quickly.

 

Cut out the inside of the plate to form a wreath. I just stabbed it with a knife and started cutting. :-)

 

 

Next, I pulled in the center of each filter and puffed out the edges to make it look like a flower and so that I had enough of a point to tape to the wreath. I taped it to the wreath plate. It took about 6 flowers to fill each wreath, though you could probably do anywhere from 5-8. I thought they looked lovely and my kids love seeing it on our door each time we get home!

 

 

 

 

 

-Lydia