Children’s handmade ornaments

Here are a few ornaments for Christmas I hadn’t seen before. I thought they were adorable so I wanted to share them with you. You can try to make them if you need a last minute idea. I don’t have instructions but I think you could figure out how to make them by looking at them.

Handmade ornaments

christmas ornament photo 2 copy

 

handmade ornament

 

handmade ornament

Sorry, I photoshopped the kids’ faces with royalty free images because I didn’t have permission to use the real kids’ pictures. But you get the idea! Pretty cute, huh! Bless someone this year with a handmade ornament! Great last minute gift for someone special!

Blessings to you all. Merry Christmas!

Laurie

Adversity Displays God’s Faithfulness

How Do We Know God Will Be There When We Struggle?

We live in a crazy, unpredictable and evil world, yet we can count on God’s love and presence in our lives continually. A true friend stands by you when life gets difficult, and Jesus calls us His friends (John 15:15-16).

Facing Adversity

Transforming STORMS of Life into Seasons of BLESSING

When life is going smoothly, we can reason intellectually that God is faithful. Our theology can be perfect. We may theoretically understand that God is Who He says He is.

But when adversity strikes we are able to experience first-hand God’s faithfulness in our lives. Our theories become tangible as the Lord personally carries us through the storm. As a result of walking through the storm with the Lord, we not only mentally know that God is faithful, we also know it “by heart.”

When we are in the middle of a painful episode in our life we need to be continually reminded of three principles regarding God’s faithfulness. Included are references to back them up.

God is always faithful.

  • II Timothy 2:13
  • Psalm 119:75

God’s faithfulness OFTEN delivers us from adversity.

  • Psalm 34:4, 6-7, 19
  • Isaiah 46:3,4

God’s faithfulness ALWAYS sustains us through adversity.

  • Psalm 23:1-5
  • Isaiah 43:2
  • Hebrews 4:16

These verses tell us that our wonderful Lord is always faithful to us through the trials of life. He is faithful in His attitude toward us, His actions toward us, and He faithfully works on our behalf during times of duress.

The Lord loves to carry us through adversity because He carries us close to him. God tells us in Isaiah 46:3, that he has carried us from the womb and even through our old age. He says, “I will bear you! I have done it and I will carry you; and I will bear you, and I will deliver you.” He carries us through our trials holding us close to his heart.

The Lord can quickly deliver us from our troubles, but he often allows her trials to endure for a long time as we cling to Jesus, he continues to demonstrate his faithfulness to us during those seemingly endless days. Though the Lord has not promised to keep us from stormy seas, he has promised that he will always bring us to safe harbor.

“My Own”
by Judy Gerry

I know every bird of the mountains. (Psalm 50:11)
All that moves in the meadow is mine; (Deuteronomy 22:6, 7)
Involved in each life I am counting- (Matthew 10:30)
Compassionate, loving and kind. (Psalm 145:16, 17)

I placed all the stars in the heavens, (Psalm 147:4)
I numbered and measured each light. (Jeremiah 31:37)
With care each name has been given. (Psalm 147:4)
In love they illumine the night. (Psalm 136:9)

So why cry this strange accusation
That you are abandoned, alone? (Matthew 28:20)
Concerned for each bit of creation, (Matthew 10:29-31)
I tenderly nurture my own. (Isaiah 49:14-16)

Just watch the birds fly in the morning, (Psalm 50:11)
And see the stars wink in the night. (Jeremiah 31:35)
View nature as objects for learning. (Matthew 6:26-33)
You can trust me with all of your life. (Psalm 71:5, 6)

This blog is an excerpt from Judy Gerry’s, Facing Adversity- Transforming the Storms of Life into Seasons of Blessings.  Facing Adversity is an 8-week Bible study endorsed by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Wolgermuth), Tom Elliff, and Sammy Tippit.

If you found this post helpful, would you please share it? You can use the links at the top. Thanks!

Keeping Kids Attention- New Ideas

What To Do When You've Lost Them

​Have you found some days are great, and some days just aren’t? Kids have those days, just like we adults do. What do you do when you have so many great things to share and you fail in keeping kids attention?

keeping kids attention

Ever have a teaching day like that? Yes, yes, yes…. and we all say yes!

Keeping Kids Attention

Whether you are a parent, a classroom teacher, or a home-schooling parent here are some thoughts that might help in keeping kids attention, especially as the holidays draw near.

When kids have shifted their focus from you unto something else, they can be really intent on their new interest. Sometimes it can be quite a challenge to bring them back from wherever it is that their mind has gone. You have to interrupt their new found passion with an even stronger diversion. Calling their name doesn’t even always help, because they hear their name so often.

Here are some things you might do to keep kids attention or to get their attention back:

  • Change the environment: Do something in the room that will make them wonder what is happening. You can turn the lights off and then back on for a moment. They are sure to look up and see what is going on. You can open or close the door.
  • Make a different sound: You can make a loud noise or use something like a kazoo. You can change your voice to really squeaky or really low. Make your voice change to the character you are talking about. You may have to change these up a little when they are no longer a surprise.
  • Use your body language: move to stand near the child. He will re-focus on you because he will wonder what you are doing. Suddenly use really big motions. Physically act out what you are saying.
  • Involve kids physically: Have the the whole group act out the points of the lesson. Even if they are not role playing, they can act out a motion of the point you are teaching them.
  • Get their eye contact. Move your face or a hand in their line of vision of what has a student’s attention and then ask him to look into your eyes when you ask him a question about the lesson. Be sure his eyes stay on you. If he looks away, ask him to look at you again. And then give hints so he can answer your question, or he may shut you out again, if he feels it is too hard.
  • Stop talking and give a sign: Sometimes quiet can be very surprising. Before the class, tell them a movement you will do that they all have to copy when the classroom noise escalates. For instance, when things begin to feel a little out of control, stop talking and hold two fingers up and wait until all of the kids to copy you and hold two fingers up before you begin again. When the kids learn what two fingers up means, it can be quite effective.

So there are 6 ideas of things to try in keeping kids attention. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you want to do further research on this, check out this page. I am sure in your experience, you have found great ideas of things that work. Will you share with us what you have found to work below, in the comments section?

Do you know someone else who could use new ideas for keeping kids attention in the classroom or at home? Forward this to them. They will thank you!

Teaching Style- What is Yours?

What is Your Teaching Style?


Have you ever thought about the following question? What is your teaching style? Do you need to plan everything out to the smallest detail, or are you the type that likes to go into a new situation and “wing it?” Do you write out every word of your lesson, or do you improvise as you go along? While I don’t think either extreme produces the most effective teaching, I do think that there are advantages to both, knowing exactly what you want to say and being improvisational and spontaneous. Let’s look at both.

sleeping student

If you find it necessary to write out every word when you are teaching, especially in front of a group, it will probably sound like you are reading- because you will be reading. It is much harder to have good eye contact and connection when you read the material. If you spend the time to memorize the material, you risk forgetting something, losing your place, or you may sound like you are giving a speech, none of which aid in connection to the student. Connection really is important in keeping the students’ focus so they don’t fall asleep or get distracted. Your teaching style matters.

On the other hand, if you come into the classroom and just begin talking without a plan, your presentation will most likely be scattered and hard to follow, which will not be effective either. You may even miss the main point because you spend most of your time on rabbit trails!

Your presentation needs to sound as though it is fresh and you are newly putting these thoughts together, and at the same time, it needs to be polished as though you have taught it forever. How do you do that? How do you make it fresh and polished at the same time?

I believe it is in your preparation. Your teaching style needs to be defined before you enter the classroom. There is a phrase (I think first coined by Benjamin Franklin) that says: If you Fail to Plan you are essentially Planning to Fail. So we do need to make plans. We need to know exactly where we are going or it is likely we will not get there.

Here are some teaching style tips I have implemented when I have put together a presentation.

  • I always start with an outline. It is a sort of roadmap to keep me on track.
  • I write down the points and sub-points so I know exactly what I want to cover. I don’t write down every word I plan to say, but I make sure I have written the key points to keep me on track.
  • I may write down all of the details of a list if I I have a list to share, because I am not great on remembering lists.
  • There might be some other things that I want to say that I will include in my notes.
  • I may run through my notes in a “practice teaching time” and if there is something that trips me up, I write down the beginning of the sentence I want to say, to get me started.
  • I type my notes out in large font so when I present, I am readily able to read them.

For me this really works because then I am free to look into the eyes of the students when I am teaching. That eye contact can help to hold their attention. Again, teaching style. I want to come across with fresh inspiration and discovery but be planned and confident as though I have known it all forever.

Anything that is worth doing, is worth putting a little preparation time into. If you are new to teaching, this may take a little practice to find the balance, but it will be so worth it—for you and your students! And please don’t forget to follow the Lord’s leading by the Spirit and pray! And define your teaching style!

Thanksgiving Thought for November

A Wrong Kind of Thankful

Did you ever consider that there could be a wrong kind of thankful? This was a Thanksgiving thought I had not considered. I hadn’t really thought of it much. All my life I was told to be thankful for things, so I was. The Bible says be thankful, so I was. (Let me make it clear that I’ve not been perfectly thankful all the time. I’m sure you could have already guessed that.) So, how could “being thankful” possibly ever be wrong?

This week, I was challenged by this Thanksgiving thought. There is a correct “thankful,” and it’s worthy of our attention. Many years in the past, our family has shared around the dinner table at Thanksgiving, each person telling of one thing they’re thankful for. I thought it was great. But looking at it now, I was missing something really important.

What Was Missing?

I was missing the object of our thankfulness. It’s not enough to be thankful for our family if we don’t know WHOM we are thanking. We can be thankful for our food, shelter, family, and friends, and many specific blessings, but if we’re not directing our thanks to somebody or something, it means very little. In fact, if we are thanking the tree for its shade, and no more, it is worship of the creation instead of the Creator. 

A Thanksgiving Thought

So this Thanksgiving, I plan to be mindful of this. I will not be thankful to an unknown source. I won’t be thankful to the creation instead of the Creator. And they won’t be thankful to “nobody.” Because that’s what being thankful without an object is– it is being thankful to nobody.

So my wish for you is a very happy Thanksgiving in which you are thankful to God of the Bible. Join me in being thankful to the God who has created us, redeemed us, provides for us, and loves us from eternity past through eternity future. And this Thanksgiving thought is what we want to teach our kids.  

Here is a post about thanking God for things we often don’t thank Him for. Maybe it will trigger more Thanksgiving thought for your prayer time.

Would you click below and tell Whom you are thankful to and also for what you are thankful this year? Thanks! It would mean a lot to me and others! 

Pumpkin Fun- An Object Lesson For You

Hi!

kid at pumpkin patch

A Pumpkin Object Lesson

I have been a fan of Mary Rice Hopkins for years. My kids grew up with her music and even sang on a few of her albums and videos. (If you have the “In My Garden” videos or CD’s, you might hear or see them them.)  Mary has written a great song for this pumpkin season and she has a wonderful object lesson about a pumpkin to go with it. Here is the link to that object lesson- I think you will like it:

http://maryricehopkins.com/pumpkin-patch-fall-object-lesson/

God Bless you guys as we head into the harvest and Thanksgiving season!

I have something for you next week that I have already prepared that will be practical and fun! Stay tuned!

Perspective Changes Everything

How to teach kids on their level

Perspective

Perspective is a funny thing. I can feel pretty big when I am trying to fit into a dress that is too small or when I am hanging around with the young kids at church. But in this picture, I look quite small (taken by Tim Donahue in Buckskin Gulch, Utah). I look at this picture to keep my perspective when I begin to think too seriously about myself. If you haven’t found me yet, I am in the lower third, middle of the picture.

Just because we teach biblical concepts to kids that may seem hard, we don’t have to present them in a way that is hard for them to understand. We need to teach from their perspective. I have very vivid memories of learning some deep concepts at an early age. My learning didn’t come from sitting in church and learning the from adult perspective, but it was the catalyst for my questions.

Complex ideas can be easy to teach

When I was six or seven, I remember hearing our pastor talk about the “crying God.” I went to my mother one day and asked her why God was crying. “Crying?” she asked. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” she said. She said I’d better go ask my pastor. So I did. He didn’t know what I was talking about either. He asked a few more questions and figured out that when I thought I heard “crying God,” he was really saying triune God. Now that is a pretty hefty concept. We adults can’t even comprehend it. He explained that although we humans can’t really understand it, God was 3 parts, yet still one God.

Teaching the Trinity

I can’t remember if he used the standard egg example; the yolk, the white, and the shell all being 3 parts yet also one egg. Although that isn’t an exact replication of the trinity, it does help a child loosely understand the concept. Some have used the ice, water, and vapor (steam) example of the three in one. I don’t think that that is really a great example because they are three different forms of water that can’t exist together at the same time. They change into the other form when the temperature changes. That is not how God exists. He is always all three parts, existing together in real time.

In God Should I Be Baptized?, I used a triangle, with legs of the triangle representing 3 equal parts of God. I chose to use that because The each of the members of the trinity are equally important in function and yet they serve from a different perspective. They make up a whole in unity that is very identifiable. Although this back information is a little deep, kids can see a triangle and see 3 legs to a triangle and they can see a whole triangle. If any part is missing, it is not a triangle. Although not easily understood for any of us, kids can still make some sense out of it.

Back to perspective… To relate to kids, we need to understand how they think, and relate on that level. The best way to know what that is, is to talk to them; let them tell you what they are thinking. Their minds often process thoughts differently than adults.

  • If an adult figures something out by a mathematical equation, we may need to use physical objects so a child can actually see it.
  • We may need to walk them through the thought in smaller steps. (review Building Blocks post here)
  • We can’t use examples that they aren’t very familiar with. Our examples must be things that they use and see everyday: their friends, their pets, their bedrooms.
  • Use examples of kids on the playground, with brothers and sisters and the sports that they play.

It is also important to approach them from their perspective, physically. Bend down on one knee when talking to them so you are eye to eye. You don’t want to be intimidating. You don’t want to be their buddy to the point you lose control of the classroom, but do try to keep a level playing field when it comes to what you are teaching. It will make a big difference in your ability to hold their attention.

Spend some time thinking like you used to think, many years back. You might find you actually enjoy it!

Obstacles To God’s Will

and free downloadable resource list about those obstacles

Obstacles to God’s Will

Do you want God’s will for your life? Do you seek to fulfill God’s purpose? Do you find it hard? When we study Scripture and see what God asks us to do to fulfill His purpose, eventually we find there are obstacles to God’s will. In my two previous blogs, we takes about finding God’s purpose in our lives. (You may want to go back and review with these two blogs here and here.
 Obstacles to doing God's will

Scripture actually addresses many obstacles. I have come up with nine obstacles from Scripture and I know you can probably find more. When you think of more, you can add them at the comments section at the end of the online blog, here.

What Gets in My Way of Doing God’s Will?

  • I don’t think I have the ability.

2 Corinthians 1:21

  • I don’t want to do it because it is too hard.

Philippians 4:13

  •       I don’t know how to do it?

James 1:5

  •       I am lazy.

Proverbs 15:19

Proverbs 18:9

  •      Others will make fun of me if I do it.

Matthew 4:10

  •       I am afraid to do it.

Jeremiah 17:8

  •       I’d rather serve myself.

Luke 8:14

  •       There are other things more important to me than serving God.

Psalm 19:8-10

Psalm 119:10

  •       I try do do His will in my own strength instead of His strength and I fail.

Philippians 4:13

John 14:26

It is not too early to begin to teach this to kids, very simply. You might spend a week on each obstacle talking about what this might look like in their lives and then read and talk about the Scripture that goes with it. Talk to them about how God can help in each of the situations.

A Downloadable List of Scriptures

Click here for a downloadable resource list of Scriptures you can use to teach about these obstacles. These are taken from the Mr. Blue Worksheets which accompany the Mr. Blue- a Job for You picture book

Knowing God’s Will for Me

Some of you might be thinking, but I really want to know God’s will for me on the grand scale of things. I want to know whether I should make a certain investment or which ministry I should take on. He doesn’t tell us those in Scripture. But He does tell us plenty of things that he does want us to do. We need to start with those. If we are trusting Him, and following Him in the small things, then the grand picture will be obvious. And if it isn’t, then we can make any number of correct choices as long as we are following those things He does tell us to do.

If we look at the list above, we might find that most of the obstacles are self-induced. Identifying the reason/excuse for our not doing what is right is a great start. Then we can pray for God’s help and find others to hold us accountable. Doing God’s will is not always easy, but it will become easier as we practice, and overcoming obstacle to doing God’s will be easier when we face them.

 

Teaching Kids Purpose- Not Self Esteem

the comparison trap!

Do You Compare Yourself to Others?

Last week’s blog was about comparing ourselves to others.  Have you been crushed when you don’t meet others, or your own expectations? Are you surprised that the biblical answer is not about feeling better about yourself and your attempts to succeed? No, that is the world’s answer. If you didn’t read the full blog, you can go back and read it here.

Teaching Kids purposeFor years in teaching kids purpose, parents have been taught that the most important thing we could give our kids was self esteem.  This teaching has led parents to find what their kids were good at, and watch them succeed and praise them profusely. Although, in the proper context we need to praise our kids, this extreme can cause disastrous results.

  • Kids that perform well because they are primarily looking for success or praise will be left empty when someday it doesn’t come.
  • And they also are not learning the right reasons they should do good things.

Teaching Kids Purpose- The Biblical Answer

The biblical answer to this is found in Ephesians 2:8-10. I love these verses because here is found God’s answer to teaching kids purpose for their lives. So many search high and low to find their life purpose. We give giftedness tests, we ask life counselors, we read the recent magazines, we read books, yet here is the real answer in Scripture! Kids are not too young to begin to understand this. In fact, this is the best time to begin to teaching kids purpose, that of the importance of living out God’s purpose.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says that our relationship with God is a gift from Him. It is nothing we have done, nor can we earn it, or be proud. It is purely a gift. Then verse 10 says we are his workmanship! We are a special creation crafted by the Master Craftsman. He says that we were created for good works, and here is the clincher- He prepared them for us “beforehand.” He had his plan for us from before the foundation of the world! (Eph. 1:4)

God Has Planned Good Things for Us to Do

We don’t define our purpose- God does! That is a simple but great lesson. I find it very encouraging that I don’t have to strive to figure out what I am to do. I just follow Him. I do His will (not always very well, I might add) and He leads and directs. How we discern His will is another blog in itself. This takes the pressure off of needing to do something that I am the best at. No, like Moses, what I do isn’t defined by what I do well. Rather, I do what God want me to do, what He has already planned for me to do. It doesn’t matter how I will perform, if I am doing what God wants me to do. If I do my best, that is what matters.

When we sit on the sidelines, comparing ourselves to everyone else, we might think we cannot do something as well, so we don’t want to try. Or we only will do things we will receive praise for. This is totally opposite from what God tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10. And this is the message of my book, Mr. Blue- a Job for You.

What’s New?

For teaching kids purpose, I have something new that might be fun for you! If you have read Mr. Blue, you know that Mr. Blue meets many different shapes, each can do something that he can’t do. He is discouraged, that is until the end, when he finds they have come together and formed a puzzle and there is a place for him that God had planned all along. Planned for him, even as he sat along the side of the road discouraged, when everyone passed by and invited him to join them. I have designed an app for Android and iOS that is a puzzle where the Mr. Blue characters can be dragged into place to complete the puzzle. this is designed to go with Mr. Blue- a Job for You. Here is the link for more information about the apps.

 

Comparison That Crushes

Moses' Memorable Mistake

Who is your “comparison that crushes?”

Do you remember a time in your life (or maybe it’s even right now), that you looked at everyone around you and felt hopeless. Maybe not hopeless in a general sense, but hopeless in your ability to make a meaningful contribution. Jen was a better artist, Mark was a better speaker, Sarah was more congenial and had many friends, Joe was brilliant, Mary was clever, Sally was gorgeous, and even the “unknown soldier” had qualities of bravery that you didn’t have. How discouraging it can be to look around us and compare ourselves, our “insides,” to the “outsides” of the best of the best. Yes, comparison crushes! We know very well our internal thoughts and failures and we compare those to the shiny, polished, practiced and perfected part of others that they allow us to see.

ComparisonI was the youngest of four kids in my family. All of my siblings excelled in the various things they did. One sister was an extremely talented musician, my brother was student body president of our high school, and another sister was the lead in the school musical and socially strong. Then I came along. I felt I couldn’t keep up with any of them, much less all of them. Clearly, my viewpoint of life was not a healthy one, nor a godly one. This was comparison that crushes.

 

Where did Moses go wrong?

The Christian is not exempt from these feelings. In fact, our desire for sanctification may even make us more desire to do things well. That, in itself, is not bad, but when it becomes self-focused and in our own strength, it is not biblical. When God appeared to Moses and asked him to do a task, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses’ first reaction was to tell God that he was not the best person for the job because he did not speak eloquently. Scripture tells us that this made God angry. Can you imagine that? The great leader, Moses, made God angry because he questioned his ability to do God’s request. He figured there was someone else who could do it better. Well maybe there was, but God was asking him, not someone else! This is the comparison that crushes. When we compare ourselves to others, we crush our responsiveness to God’s leading.

Somewhere along this road of life, God taught me that comparing myself to others was very wrong. He taught me that my eyes should not be on myself nor on the others around me, but that my eyes should be on Him. If I am focused on God and serving Him, and Him alone, I won’t worry if I am doing a good enough job. I will jump to do His will and not question His will. I am still learning the “Moses lesson” of listening to God and responding in full trust of Him.

A modern day parable of Ephesians 2:10.

It is from this place that I wrote “Mr. Blue- a Job For You.” Mr. Blue is a story based on Ephesians 2:10. He is a blue triangle that sits on the side of the road, comparing himself to each of his friend’s colors and shapes as they pass by. Each of them has qualities that he doesn’t have. He feels useless and uninspired. When they invite him to come and help, he declines. But in the end of the story he is surprised to find that God had a special job for him all along, a job that only he could do.

Has there been a time in your life when you found yourself responding more to the world’s expectations than to God’s? How did God change you or are you still waiting for the change? Who or what was your comparison. Please share with us!

Next week I will explore the topic of how to teach kids to seek God’s purpose for them in the second of the Comparison that Crushes series.