Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simplifying CHRISTmas

It's official...two months from today is Christmas!  I say it every year:

I'm going to have everything planned and all my Christmas shopping done by the end of November so I can just enjoy the month of December.  This year, I'm actually going to enjoy time with the family, Christmas parties and get-togethers instead of running around doing last minute things!
I mean EVERY year I say it but I have yet to do it!  However, this is going to be the year I follow through!  What's different about this year?  A couple of things:  First, it's our last year wtih only one hcild and I know it's only going to get crazier from here on out so I'm determined to thoroughly enjoy this Christmas with "MIss Priss".  Secondly, I have discovered the greatest Christmas guide/ebook ever - "Untangling Christmas" by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice. 

I purchased this ebook a couple of weeks ago and I'm LOVING it!!  I love that it begins by having you think and talk with your family about what Christmas really means to you and what's really important to include in celebrating Christmas.  It has downloadable surverys and questions to ask and decide what you absolutely cannot do without this Christmas.   Pretty much been the theme of my life lately - setting priorities and eliminating all the things that keep us from enjoying those priorities!  Christmas is definitely an area in which I need to do this!

Untangling Christmas is full of tips for everything Christmas:  focusing on Jesus; planning Christmas events; food (including recipies); gift buying, making, and wrapping; decorating; family traditions, etc.  Here's a list of the chapters included in the ebook.  It also includes downloadable documents and instructions for creating an Untangling Christmas Planner. You can customize it to fit your needs. I've started mine (pictured above) and I can tell you it's going to be a life saver!

I'm already looking forward to Christmas without the usual panic attack!  "Miss Priss" is getting old enough to really understand what's going on and I want her most of all to realize the real meaning of CHRISTmas.  Not that it's a crazy time of year but that it is about celebrating the birth of Christ and the peace and joy he brought into the world!  I hope that my little family can start some of our own family traditions this year.  I'd love to hear about any family traditions you may have!  We shared a few in my Good Morning Girls group the other day and I love getting ideas from others especially on celebrating the truemeaning of CHRISTmas!  So how about you?  Have you started planning for a stree-free Christmas?  What are some family traditions that MUST be included in your family's Christmas?  Please share!

P.S. Just checked my FB and realized the 12 Days of Christmas is going on with some of my favorite bloggers so check it out for more great Christmas ideas!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thankful Monday

When I look around and see the good things He's done for me
I know I'm unworthy of them all
But His blessings He freely gives
I owe my life to Him
I've got so much to thank him for

And I've got so much to thank hm for
So much to praise Him for
Well you see-He's been so good to me
And when I think of what I've done and
Where He has brought me from
I've got so much to thank Him for!
                A few blogs I follow do “Thankful Thursdays”.  I’ve thought about doing this myself.  I try to start every morning out being thankful but to be honest there are some days I just wake up with more of a thankful heart – today is one of those days!  What a blessing to be on Monday and start the week out this way!   Here are some things I woke up being thankful for this morning:

I’m thankful for the wonderful, peaceful weekend I had with family.  We actually stayed home Friday and Saturday night both.  We didn’t even  so much as run get something to eat and it was great!  I can’t remember the last time we did this!  In fact, I feel like I’ve spent the last few Mondays recuperating from the weekend.   I’m thankful for waking up this morning refreshed and ready to begin the week!

I’m thankful for my church, my church family, and the spirit-filled service we had yesterday!  I’m thankful that I attend a church that doesn’t have a program/bulletin to follow but we’re free to worship in Spirit and in truth.  It was one of those services where the Holy Spirit takes over and there’s singing, testifying, preaching and we didn’t even make it to Sunday School!  I’m also thankful for our new pastor, his wife, and children.  Change is never easy for me (as I know it wasn’t for them either) but what a blessing they’ve already been the last two services!  Enjoyed the extra time we got to spend with them yesterday!

I’m thankful for the singing I was able to attend last night with Kyla Rowland.  If you listen to southern gospel music you may not know her name but I guarantee you’ve heard a song she’s written!   Some of my favorites are “Did I Mention”,  “Out of Harm’s Way”, “Prior to a Prayer”, “He’s Still in On the Throne”, “There Rose a Lamb” , “I Am No Stranger to Grace”, “A Wall of Prayer”….I could go on and on!  Here’s a complete list of all her songs.  It was such a blessing hearing her testimony and the stories behind some of these songs.  She’s truly an inspiring warrior of God!  She always talks a lot about her mother and ONE thing that really stuck with me last night was when she talked about the faith her mother had in her prayers.  She knew she was going to be triumphant and she’d tell her instead of praying and worrying to pray and rejoice!  She said instead of saying “God, I want” say “God, I thank you for…”  I left the singing truly feeling uplifted! 

Now today as I wake up I’m thankful for being able to stay at home with “Miss Priss” and the time I have to spend with her.  I’m also thankful I have reached the end of my first trimester and no sickness this morning!  I’m thankful for this messy house I have to clean up because it shows what a wonderful time we had here over the weekend!  I’m thankful for the 6 loads of dirty clothes I’m about to wash…and once again I could go on and on!  Thank you Lord for your blessings on me!  Happy Monday everyone!

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.  ~William A. Ward

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Ultimate Teacher and Guide

Let therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning.  If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.  These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.  But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that man teach you:  but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.  1 John 2:24-27
                This week in my Good Morning Girls Group we are finishing up the second chapter of 1 John.  I’ve really enjoyed this reminder of the Holy Spirit being our ultimate teacher and the Bible our guide.  In a world filled with antichrists it is comforting to know that the Holy Spirit dwells within us to let us know what’s of Christ and what is not.   We may not have Jesus in the flesh but he left us well equipped.
                These scriptures talk about two ways to protect ourselves from the antichrists:
1.       Letting what we have ”heard from the beginning” remain in us, which would be God’s Word.
2.       Abiding in the Holy Spirit so that we will know the difference between the truth and a lie.
John Piper summed it up well when he said “The Word of God and the Spirit of God are our only hope for stability in a world filled with antichrists.”   When we truly study and plant God’s word in our heart and draw just as close as we can to the Holy Spirit then God will open up our eyes and show us the truth.  I thought about the last line of the Casting Crowns song “Voice of Truth” :  “Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”  Are you close enough to hear the voice of truth today and if so, are you obeying it?
Thought I’d also share my SOAP sheet today.  Sorry it’s incredibly messy but we had lots of scripture today!  I LOVE this method of studying!  I downloaded the sheet and key word color guide from GMG.  J       

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Simply . . .Enjoying Fall

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."-   Elizabeth Lawrence

I LOVE everything about the fall . . . the cooler weather, apple cider, gorgeous scenery, craft shows, pumpkin patches, etc.  While we lived in Louisiana we didn't really have a fall so I appreciate it even more now!  I mentioned last week we were taking a week off from Tot School and we've simply been enjoying fall!  Maybe not exactly sitting still and enjoying it because that's impossible with an almost 2 year old!  However, over the last week and a half we've been outside pretty much every day and loving it!  Thought I'd share with you some of the places we've enjoyed going:

  1. Homestead Hollow- For those of you who may not know this is a local arts and crafts show in Springville, AL.  It's all outdoors and I love the atmosphere!  We put "Miss Priss" and "Sour Patch" in the wagon and rode them around while we looked at the crafts.  They also got to experience their first horse ride and "Miss Priss" loved it!  Of course they also had some great food like Dinky Donuts!
  2. Our fall church picnic at Camp Sumatanga - Our church does this twice a year in Spring and the Fall.  We have a cookout then the kids play at the park, men play horseshoes, older kids volleyball or basketball, and the women sit around the fire and talk :)  It's absolutely beautiful here and SO peaceful!  They also have a lake where we sometimes fish.
  3. The Great Pumpkin Patch - This is in Hayden, Alabama.  "Miss Priss" went with her other cousin "Superman" and had a blast!  They jumped on inflatables, went to a petting zoo, rode a "train", rode horses again, and of course picked their pumpkins!
  4. Smoky Mountains - This past weekend we also got to go to the Smoky Mountains.  I don't know that there is a prettier place in the fall!  Honestly, I didn't get to do as much relaxing and enjoying the scenery as I would have liked.  My Mom, sister, "Miss Priss" and "Sour Patch" all went without the guys so we mostly shopped at the Tanger Outlets (which was  alot of fun too!).  The kids had a blast at Kids Country riding a train, carousel, and the swings.  We also ate at our favorite place there The Apple Barn.
Here's a few pics:

Before we ate at the Apple Barn

Jumping with "Superman"

"Superman" trying to convince "Miss Priss" to slide down the big slide!

Picking out our pumpkin at The Great Pumpkin Patch

Riding the Carousel at Kids' Country

    Hopefully this week we're going to get back to some Tot School and learning about pumpkins!  We still have another Pumpkin Patch to visit and a couple of hayride/bonfires with friends I'm really looking forward to!  I hope you are enjoying fall as much as we are!!  Do you have any favorite fall traditions or places to visit?  I'd love to hear about them!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Kind of Soil Are You Taking to Church?

Last Sunday our Sunday School class studied Mark 4:1-20.  This is possibly one of my favorite parables – "The Parable of the Sower."  Our Sunday School teacher did an awesome job of bringing out how our hearts are the soil and God’s Word is the seed.  The soil (or the condition of our hearts) determines how we receive the seed (God’s Word).  I’ve been thinking a lot on this all week long and about the condition of my soil.  The parable mentions four types:
  1.  By the Way Side:
    The sower soweth the word.  And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.  Mark 4:14-15
      I’ve been there- went to church with an “I don’t care” attitude, only half listening to what the preacher says and it basically goes in one ear and out the other!  My heart is not prepared to receive God’s word and as soon as it comes from the preacher’s mouth Satan has swept it away!
  2. Stony Ground:
    And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time; afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.  Mark 4:16-17
    Have you ever gone to church just for a dose of “feel betters”?  Guilty, again I’m afraid.  I’ve went to church again with a heart that’s not where it should’ve been.  Instead of truly getting things right with God and truly taking his word to heart, I’ve listened to the preacher and felt better for awhile but then when I get back out in the world and Satan begins to attack I don’t have what I truly need.   As the verses say I only “endure but for a time.”   
  3. Among Thorns:
    And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word.   And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.  Mark 4:18-19.
      This is the one in which I’m MOST guilty!  Letting the care of this world choke out God and his word.  It may be during church while that seed is being planted and I have a million other things on my mind like what I’m doing after church.  Or maybe the word is truly planted, but then I don’t tend to it afterward.  Instead of nurturing it as it starts to grow, I let worldly things in and before I know it those worldly things have taken over my time I should be spending with God and in his word.   It doesn’t even have to be anything big just anything that I put before God.  Before long that seed, instead of producing the fruit God intended, becomes choked out by all the worldly things!  We I need to guard my heart against the things of this world and keep my life “weeded out”!
  4. Good Soil:
    And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. Mark 4:20
      This is the soil I’m striving to have!  The soil that has been carefully tended to and is ready for the seed to be planted!  Ready to take God’s word, apply it to my life, and be fruitful for Him!
Tomorrow starts a new associational year for our association (Blount County Missionary Baptist Association) and it’s also our first Sunday with a new pastor.  It’s my desire that my soil be nurtured, weeded-out, and ready to receive God’s Word!  How about you?  What kind of soil will you be taking to church in the morning?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Message Throughout the Ages

So far this week in our Good Morning Girls Group we’ve covered 1 John 2:12-14. 

I write unto you little, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.  I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.  I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.  I write unto you little children, because ye have known the Father.  I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.  I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

Notice in these verses John addresses the little children, the young men, and the fathers.  I believe he’s talking in a spiritual sense here writing to everyone from the very young in Christ to the elders.  He’s writing to the “little children” those that have just came to know the Father and been forgiven for Christ’s sake.   He’s writing to the “young men” those Christians that have been in the way for a little while and already won some battles.   They have God’s word in them and at this point in their lives they also still have their strength.  Finally, he’s writing also to the “fathers” those that have “known him that is from the beginning.” 

It doesn’t matter what age we are God’s word has something for us!  Isn’t that amazing how it can speak to the very young of heart on up??  It never gets old!  We can read a passage at one point in our lives and apply it - then read it later and see even deeper in His word and apply it to our lives again! 
No matter where we are spiritually there’s always room for us to grow in God’s word.  Peter said “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”  (1 Peter 2:2)  I love that word “desire”.  If we want to truly grow from one spiritual stage to the next we must desire to know more about God’s word.  We must not just read it but apply it to our lives to that we may be fruitful and become the Christian God wants us to be.  
Abby from Trusting in Him, who’s in my GMG group, said it best when she said yesterday, “I’m glad God always knows exactly where we are, and His word gives us exactly what we need, when we need it most!”  I’m so thankful for his powerful Word and pray that I will always apply it to my life so that I can grow spiritually!  Have you seen what He has in store for you in his Word today?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tot School - Week 5

Week Five:  Orange

Last week was a crazy week of Tot School and we didn't get near as much done as we usually did.  In fact, we really only had one "normal" day (whatever that means).  The rest of the week I just squeezed in activities when we got a chance.

Tabel Time:  We colored an orange crayon, played in our fall sensory bin sorting our orange objects (pumpkins, gourds, leaves, spiders),

Floor Time: Sorted pumpkins according to size, went on an orange toy hunt

Snacks:  We had an orange picnic at Camp Sumatanga and ate cheese puffs, cheez-its, and oranges.   

Music:  Itsy Bitsy Spider

Field Trip:  Our Field Trip was to the Imagination Place.  They shopped at "Piggly Wiggly", visited the "doctor's office" and "fire station", worked at a "construction site", visted "The Exchange Bank" and "Grandma's House."  They had a blast and didn't want to leave!

Our Orange Picnic

Sorting our sensory bin items

Singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with her orange spiders

Working at the "construction site" with "Sour Patch Kid"

Showing me the orange

Ready to shop!
No Tot School this week. :( 

We have LOTS going on-several "field trips" planned and hopefully some things we can share later :)

Here are some links for things I'm hoping to do the rest of the month:

Pumpkin Printables and More

Fall Crafty Corner

Once Upon a Book-Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch

Fun Stuff with Spookley the Square Pumpkin (My FAVORITE pumpkin book!)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Whole New Light

Brethren I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning.  The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.  Again a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you:  because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.  1 John 2:7-8
      Have you ever had your mind completely made up about something then prayed about it and came up with a whole new perspective?  If you have, then good for you!  I know I have!  Sometimes God has a way of opening our eyes and allowing us to see things in a whole new light-His light!      
      We know John is writing this letter to the new church; some that I’m sure were still struggling with Christ’s resurrection, death, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  I believe John is telling them here that God’s word is still the same.   I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve heard where the preacher has started off with “I don’t have anything new, the message is still the same.”  If they said they had something new I’d be tempted to leave because God’s word hasn’t and won’t change.  
      So what was different for the churches John was writing to?  The word had come to life through Christ’s walk on earth.  The word was still the same but the light (Christ) had shined upon it giving it a whole new meaning!  They’d passed from the law to grace.
      Just to give one example, John says later:
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother…Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  (1 John 3:11, 12, 16) 
 “Love one another” had been taught from the beginning but Christ really shined the light on that one by giving His own life even when he knew we were sinners and would let Him down!  That definitely gives a whole new meaning to “love!” 

      I’ll leave you with what a quote from John Piper:  Nothing is truly understood until it is understood in the light of God.  How true that is!   Is there something in which you need a better understanding?  Then perhaps it’s time to get on your knees and have some light shined upon it!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tot School - Week 4

Week Four:  Apples

Last week we learned about apples and also reviewed everything else we'd learned for the month of September (red, circle, body parts).  After our trip to the apple orchard "Miss Priss" LOVED our activities this week!

Tabel Time:  We made apple prints with red paint, made " circle apples" for our apple tree on our play-doh mat, made an "apple man", Johnny Appleseed coloring sheet, counted holes (up to 4) on apple die-cuts and placed the same amount of gummy worms on the apples

Floor Time: grocery store/kitchen, apple sort (by color)

Snacks:  Apple slices, apple juice and cider, Made apple pies (using apple pie filling and canned biscuits)

Music:  "The Apple Tree"

Making apple prints

A few of the gummy worms got eaten while we were counting :)

Showing off her apple man

Adding play-doh "apples" to her tree

Making apple pies

I was really hoping to do our first lap book this week but we just didn't have time!  Maybe next month! 

Our October theme is going to be fall.  Our weekly themes will be:  orange, pumpkins, square, and leaves.  I LOVE fall so this is going to be a FUN month!!