Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jonah Day!

A while back I posted about doing Bible theme days with Isaac to teach the Bible in a fun and age-appropriate way. We just finished our first one and I think it was a success! We had so much fun! My mom was there to share in the adventure with us and between the two of us we took about a bazillion pictures. I tried to condense it WAY down and just show the highlights. I worked during the boys' naps a couple of days this week to get things prepared for the day. Here is a whale I made from a milk carton. I got the idea from I also prepared a craft ahead of time, which was a whale with a hole for the mouth for Jonah to go in and out of:
One of my favorite last minute additions was a giant whale in our living room made from a blue sheet, paper and our coffee table:
I couldn't wait for Isaac to wake up. I was like a kid at Christmas! When he came out to the living room, he pointed to the coffee table and said, "Whale!" (Whew! I was so glad he knew what it was). We had breakfast and stayed in our pjs because one of our first activities included the bathtub.
After breakfast we read the story of Jonah out of one of our children's Bibles. After that we played in the whale and acted out the story. He loved being swallowed and spit out by the whale! We read another Jonah story out of a different book and then it was off to the tub!
First, we painted the "water" on our posterboard with Crayola washable paint for our craft later.
Looks good!
After we painted it was time to clean up and take a bath. I'm going to take a moment to brag on my little genius. He knows all of the letters of the alphabet and their phonetic sounds already, so of course, we had to spell out Jonah with the foam bath letters we have. Okay, moving on before my pride causeth me to stumbleth anymoreth...
Isaac was amazed at how the captain and Jonah (really he's supposed to be Noah from our Little People Ark set, but we pretended) braved the storm for a while.
But eventually, Jonah was thrown overboard and the giant fish scooped him up in one big gulp!
Isaac's turn to practice acting out the story:
He totally got it. I was thrilled!
Silas got in on the action too by wearing my favorite outfit: an adorable whale ensemble! He was so good all morning as usual.
Next we read the story again from a different toddler Bible and then had some down time with the VeggieTales Jonah movie. He was mesmerized because we haven't been watching much TV lately. (I will say that I have a few issues with the presentation in a few areas and thought some things were disprespectul about the movie -like calling God the Big Man- but I think that as a whole it was an entertaining way to present the story and know that the "issues" I have will provide for good conversation when the boys are older.)
Next we sang a song about Jonah to the tune of London Bridges. I found it here: (Scroll to the bottom for the version I used. It was the one submitted by a girl named Amber.)
Time to move outside! This was actually a spontaneous portion of the morning. My mom suggested sidewalk chalk to retell the story since he was getting antsy to play outdoors. He enjoyed it a lot!
His slide has a steering wheel on it that we pretended it was the wheel on a boat. He was screaming in delight here because I was shaking the whole toy to make a storm. Next he slid down the slide (Jonah being thrown overboard), and ran around in the grass (swimming in the water), until Mommy attacked (being swallowed by a big fish).
On to lunch! We had fish sticks (gag!), goldfish and Swedish fish. Looks appetizing, right? It was fun, but I don't think it really did that much to reinforce the story. I had all of the "supplies" except the Swedish fish, so it really wasn't that big of a deal, but in the future, I probably won't worry about lunch lining up with our theme too much. (Oh yeah, the "W" was for whale. I know, I know, it was a "great fish," but I didn't have enough fish sticks to make a "GF." ;) Plus, I think there's logical evidence to conclude that it was probably a whale.)
After lunch our water background we had painted earlier was dry and it was time to complete our craft. He loves being independent!
Next, he colored a Jonah figure that had a "frowny face" on one side and a "smiley face" on the other. We put Jonah through the fish's mouth sad-side-up and after he had stayed in there for "3 days and 3 nights and prayed" he came out with a smile. (Okay, probably not in real life, but he got the point that it's better to obey than disobey.)
Isaac's turn to try!
We had so much fun and it made me so excited to plan another one! By the way, one website that pointed me in the direction of many of the other ones was: (Go to the Bible Lessons over on the right hand side.) I'm hoping I can do them all so inexpensively in the future. I already had everything I used lying around the house except for the Swedish fish. Please let me know if you've done anything with your kids that you think we could do in the future. I'm really looking forward to reviewing what we learned today over the next few days and weeks!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Africa or bust!

Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of living in a hut in the bush of Africa. I would live like the people and tell them of Christ. When I was in middle school my best friend and I mapped out a course over the continent to reach all of the major areas in Africa during what we estimated would be our lifetime. (Go ahead, chuckle, I was in 8th grade.) The dream lived on and when I graduated from high school, I spent a summer in Tanzania. When I went to college, I began as a Linguistics major in order to begin learning how to do Bible translation. After a couple of years I realized that I have a really short attention span and am not really cut our for translation work, so I switched to Biblical Languages, but the goal was still misssions and Africa. I wanted to reach the unreached. I prayed about working with Muslims in northern Africa and prayed about working in the more remote, animistic tribal areas. There was no stopping me... Well, here I am, 5 years after graduating from a Bible school with the intention of doing full time ministry and what am I? A stay at home mommy! To tell the truth, sometimes it makes me cringe. My pride gets in the way and I get embarassed. I didn't hide the fact from ANYONE that I fully intended to be living overseas for the better part of my adult life. I can feel the blood rush to my face when I talk with someone who knew those intentions full well and then asks what I'm up to these days. I look at my amazing girlfriends from college and see how God is using them in ministry and I start to question if I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I don't feel like I'm doing anything too impressive for God. And therein lies the problem. My desire to be involved in Christian ministry over the years has not been wrong, but I do believe on some levels it was rooted in a desire to earn God's love and impress him. I'm a one extreme or another kind of person and so my natural tendency when I began to live my life for the Lord was to do the biggest, best thing I thought a woman could do for the Lord and I was convinced that was becoming a missionary. Surely if I were a missionary God would love me because you HAVE to be a good Christian to be a missionary. They're "super-Christians" and I wanted to be one of them. When I became less Africa-focused and more as-God-leads focused I began to think that perhaps children's ministry whether in the inner-city or the local church might be a good fit if I didn't end up overseas. I did just that for a while in college and for a couple of years after Matt and I moved back to Springfield. Then we began talking family and the possibility of me staying home. At first I panicked. What would people think? What would GOD think? I had never been too keen on the idea and was not sure that changing dirty diapers would fulfill my need to do something over-the-top and absolutely amazing for God. I knew he would not be impressed with my ability to juggle two children while cooking dinner, but he would have been floored by my ability to touch the hearts of unreached people in the bush. That would have blown him away, I'm sure! My fear had been that in doing the mundane, I would be a lesser Christian. So, what's a girl to do? I'm going to be at home for the forseeable future depending on how many children we have. I'm just an "normal" person. (Okay, I suppose that depends on who you ask.) We make enough money to have a home and nice vehicles but not so much that we don't have to pinch and go without the extras sometimes. My boys are both healthy and happy. I like my family (even my in-laws! :)). I have a wonderful marriage with a godly husband. All I need is the white picket fence and I'm set. This is NOT what I imagined for myself. Where's the adventure? Where's the amazing testimony? Where's the stuff that will really impress God? I've been coming to a place of peace for a while, but even more so in the past few months. Instead of half-heartedly parenting my kids all the while looking for some great ministry to be involved in, I've been trying to focus on the task that the Lord has put before me. Showing my family and those I come in contact with the love of Christ and praying that he will use me in their lives. Do I still hope that I can be involved in "official" ministry? Sure. Will I ever end up doing it as my vocation? Who knows. Will I board the first plane to Africa when I "retire"? Maybe. Here's to hoping! But for now, I need to quit mourning the adventures I'm missing abroad when I've got a whole realm of God-honoring adventures awaiting me within these four walls. Lord, grant me the grace to keep this perspective!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Confessions of a Cartoon Addict

Okay, so I've been dreading posting this. Mostly because I'm afraid you'll judge me. I really like people to like me... and I'm pretty sure that, well, you'll think I'm less cool after reading this. I keep reminding myself that the reason I started this blog is to help me grow. Step one of resolving an issue is admitting there's a problem. So, let me introduce myself. Hello. My name is Desiré and I'm a cartoon addict. I am not personally addicted to the cartoons, but I am addicted to using them to make my day easier. I've struggled off and on with using it too much since Isaac was born. It seemed to peak when he was sick and I was gigantically pregnant. Then came Silas, and well, let's just say, I am able to "justify" lots of TV time now. My list of excuses goes soemthing like this: "I need to get a load of laundry in and the dishes done." "I need to feed Silas." "He needs to wind down before his nap/bedtime." "I need to get dinner going." "I need 5 minutes to myself (well, I may as well let him finish this show)." "It's too hot/cold/rainy outside and we've played with every toy he has."
I've always hated the TV. The main reason: it's almost always a waste of time! I don't think in and of itself the television is evil (though there is a LOT of sin portrayed on almost all adult shows and I'm finding more and more on kids' shows as well.) But let's say I have the self-control to only watch stuff that is not full of filth. Fine. But is it really a good usage of my time? Sure, it's fun to watch a movie every once in a while or catch a funny sitcom or game show here and there, but at the end of the day, I'm no better off for it. Even with the amount of TV I've watched to this point in my life, I'm embarrassed to be held accountable for it. What a shame to stand before the Lord someday and say, "Well, I watched 36,298 hours of television (almost 2 hrs. a day for 50 years) in my life, but I tried to do volunteer work once or twice a year." How many times have I used the excuse that I don't have time to do things, but sat on my butt and watched TV? What could I do for the Lord in my lifetime with 36,000 extra hours?!?

So, how did I get to this point with Isaac? When Matt and I first got married we owned a television, but had it in the closet and only got it out and plugged it in when there was severe weather. When we moved to Springfield, we set it up, but in our spare bedroom and tried to limit it to watching movies and 2 or 3 shows during the week that we enjoyed. When we found out we were pregnant with Isaac, much to my dismay, it moved into the living room. (Don't be impressed, it was mostly because I thought it looked tacky.) We invested in a nice flatscreen so that it wasn't such an eye sore, but I was none too excited about it. We watched it a little more then, but then Isaac was born and shortly thereafter we discovered his love for animation. Those of you who know much about my beloved son know that he was less than pleasant on many occasion when he was a wee one. We fell in love with the fact that a bright screen could save our ears and our sanity. He became hooked and so did we. Since then it's been a struggle to keep the amount of TV we watch in check. Matt and I watch NONE. (Well, sometimes he manages to squeeze a ball game in on the weekend during their naps, but that's about it.) Isaac on the other hand, is pulled by the magnetic forces that our TV apparantly has every time he walks by it. Seriously, the kid can't get near it without pointing to it and saying in his super cute toddler voice, "Pea, Mommy." (His way of saying please.) I've created an adorable monster! I've "weaned" him down to one show in the morning and one show in the afternoon on several occasions, but since Silas' birth, we've come undone.

Okay, so I'm not wasting my life away sitting in front of the tube, but my child is. (This gives me a lump in my throat and brings tears to my eyes as I type it.) I'm develping a horrible habit in him that will be very hard to break unless I help him get it under control. I was going to post this with my hands thrown in the air and desperately ask for your advice on what I should do. I thought, "I can't make it through a day right now without him watching TV." Then I was convicted. Can't or won't? Ouch. "Okay, Holy Spirit, I'll admit it, won't. I like how the TV makes my day easier, so right now I won't make it through a day without it, but I suppose there's a small possibility that I could. " Thus began Operation TV Detox. The television has not been on in our home since Thursday, July 15 at 9:30am other than to watch the Cardinals play on Sunday afternoon (through which we slept most of). And to my amazement, we're surviving!

Please don't think I am some holier-than-thou super woman. I don't judge you if you watch TV. I assure you that at some point (probably in the very near future) it will be watched again in our home. In moderation, I think the television can be relaxing, entertaining, and educational. We have gone to the extreme in order to reprioritze in our house. I'm pretty sure I can't do a great job of parenting biblically if Isaac is glued to Elmo, Superwhy!, and Curious George all day. I'm not going to lie, there have been a lot of meltdowns over the last week. I've been very tempted on several occasions to just give in and let him watch a show. We've read lots and lots and lots of books and played until my imagination has run dry. I've worked a lot harder than normal, but when I fall into bed at night exhausted I have a sense of joy and peace and accomplishment with how I spent my day with the boys. I'm not sure where this will all go and I think I need to decide before the TV comes back. For my sake, I need clear guidelines in place before I turn it back on. Does anyone have some standards in place that work well for your family? I would love to hear your input as our family continues on this journey of making wise usage of our time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Would you like a little cheese with that whine?

Stop me in the grocery store or at the park and I'll proudly tell you that I get to stay home with my boys. Ask my husband, and some days I sound as if I've been handed a death sentence. He often hears about the "torture" I've endured throughout the day and it's not uncommon for him to be greeted after a long days' work with:
"You don't understand how hard this is. I don't talk to adults all day loooooong." (insert whiny tone here)
(I usually fail to mention the hour long phone conversation with my mom or the playdate I had earlier that morning.)
"It must be nice to get a lunch break!" (insert sarcastic tone here)
(The naps the boys take DON'T count)
"A mother's work is never done! I'm so tired!" (insert exasperated tone here)
(True, but when I worked outside the home, I had to figure out how to do laundry, go grocery shopping, cook, run errands and keep the house clean AFTER I'd put in my 40+ hrs.)
"I'd like to see you keep up with laundry with two crying kids at your feet all day!" after a completely innocent, "I'm out of clean socks." (insert haughty tone here)
(Um... did I mention that he was COMPLETELY innocent and only making a statement? He regularly helps me with the laundry without being asked.)

Needless to say, my pity parties are even starting to get on MY nerves! Seriously, I don't know what I try to accomplish with them. It doesn't make me feel better and it certainly doesn't do much to strengthen the bond between Matt and I that I claim holds such importance.

I've been working on having a better attitude about life the last few weeks. I've been sending Matt short e-mails about exciting, cute or funny things the boys do. That way, it's harder for me to convince him when he gets home how horrible my day was. :) The interesting thing is, that while I tell him these little stories, it makes me excited to look for another fun thing to tell him. I enjoy my day more! I also send him a quick e-mail when a day starts getting rough and ask for prayer. It's nice to know that he's going to my Father for me throughout the day and helps me feel like I have a partner helping from afar rather than going it alone all day.

Contentment is a major issue for me. I'm always thinking I'll be happy when (fill in the blank - the baby's born, Isaac can tell me what he needs, I'm done nursing, Friday gets here, I can fit back into my clothes, etc., etc., etc.) So, my resolve has been simple. "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Ps. 118:24) I like the song by FFH that says "Say hey, it's a good day, even if things aren't going my way. Jesus is Lord and I am saved, so, say hey, it's a good day." So true. Puts things in perspective for me. Toddlers and babies might be a lot of work, but who cares? I'm saved! I know it's not always that easy. Sometimes there are difficulties in life that instill agony and grief, but taking care of my two little boys is not one of them. In fact, it's a blessing!

My goal: Instead of having a pity party every time things don't go smoothly and posting a pitiful status on Facebook, I'm going to try and have a good attitude. I want to have an impact on the Kingdom, starting with my kids who see my every grumpy, whiny move I make. I'd like to show them what the power of Christ in me can do and pray that by having a good attitude in less that ideal situations they will know first hand that he's more than just a story, but a living God who changes lives. So, next time you talk to me and hear me being negative, I give you permission to say, "Would you like a little cheese with that whine?"