Friday, March 28, 2008

Old Fashioned Strawberry Short Cake...

I found another old cookbook in my stash that I didn't realize I had because it was mixed up in a plastic bag of hand written recipes.

This one came out somewhere in the late 1920s to early 1930s according to my research, put out by the Golden Rule company. It was published by the Citizen's Wholesale Supply Co. in Columbus, Ohio.

The featured endorser of the cookbook is Ida Bailey Allen (1885-1973), a noted home economist who submitted many of her own recipes and tested many of the others. She was also one of the first radio cooking show hostesses and president of the National Radio Homemaker's club.

Now, I love watching the cooking network, but I can't imagine LISTENING to someone as they cook. Yet, her show was originally a half hour in length and before it was canceled, it had increased to a 2 hour show in the middle of the day!

I found this recipe for "Old Fashioned Short Cake" in the book and plan to try it today because my husband brought home a luscious box of strawberries this week and though I'd pass it on.

Old Fashioned Short Cake

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
4 Tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons Golden Rule Baking Powder
3/4 to 1 cup of milk

Mix dry ingredients, work in the butter, and milk gradually, stirring well. Keep dough soft. toss on a floured board, pat or roll out. Bake 12 minutes in a hot oven (probably about 450 degrees). Split and spread with butter, then fill as desired. Strawberries should be partially crushed and mixed with sugar for a half hour. Oranges and peaches should be sliced and sugared, and allowed to stand in a cold place while bananas should be sugared and slightly sprinkled with lemon juice.

Serve with whipped cream made as follows:

Golden Rule Marshmallow Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons Golden Rule Marshmallow Creme
Golden Rule Flavoring as desired

Beat until stiff enough to hold its shape.
This sounds very rich - I think I'll stick to Cool Whip or vanilla ice cream! Mmmm! I can taste those strawberries now...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More prayer ideas for children at home and in the classroom

Wow! I received such a great response to yesterday's blog, I decided to share some more great prayer ideas for kids.
  • Prayer Scrapbook
Several pastors' wives suggested creating a prayer journal with photos as prayer reminders. "V" in the Midwest suggested a different theme for each day:

Sunday - Church, pastors, Sunday School Teachers, etc
Monday - Home, Family, Extended family with photos of each one
Tuesday - Schools including teachers, administrators, volunteers, bus drivers, etc.
Wednesday - Our Nation, President, Government Officials, Local Government Officials, etc.
Thursday - Teen Challenge, Samaritan's Purse, any organizations you support
Friday - Missionaries and world situations like the war in Iraq, poverty, etc.
Saturday - Anything Day : Those prayer requests that are important to the children like pets, people they know who need extra prayer, etc.

To adapt this to a classroom situation, have the children make collage pages for a spiral binder, using page protectors so the pictures can be changed as needed. Have them cut photos out of magazines for church, family, and school. Use brochures or missionary prayer cards for those pages. Perhaps you could designate each Sunday as a special prayer day. The first Sunday of the month, pray for your church, etc.

Thanks "V"!
  • Prayer Chain

Another ministry friend I know as "pw" suggested making a prayer chain. You know, the same paper chains children make at Christmas out of construction paper. She starts with a heart, decorated with a Bible verse and glitter and hangs it on the wall to remind the children we pray for others because we love them.

Then for each prayer request, a chain is added with the request and date on it. As God answers prayers, a note is attached directly to the corresponding link on the chain with the date on it. This could be another heart with a thank you to God on it if desired.

Great idea "pw".

Let me add my two cents to the above idea - to use the prayer chain as an object lesson, you could have each child make a series of links with their requests on them. Then have the children gather in a circle and each take ahold of one end of their chain with one hand and the next person's chain with their other hand to form an unbroken circle showing the strength we have in corporate prayer. When we fail to pray, the chain is broken.

  • Global Praying

Here's another Idea I have used for missionary praying. I found a clear inflatable globe (like a beach ball). We sat in a circle and sang "He's got the Whole World In His hands," and tossed the ball back and forth across the circle. As each child caught the ball, they closed their eyes and pointed to a place on the globe. We then prayed for the missionaries there as well as the people for salvation and whatever else needed to be addressed in that country.

If you can't find an inflatable globe, a wall map works well too with push pins and little flags (Could be played like "Pin the tail on the donkey.")

This is really great and I'm getting a lot of wonderful ideas to adapt for my Children's Church group! Thanks to all who have contributed so far! Feel free to leave your comments or ideas


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Making prayer real for kids

Have you ever lived through a natural disaster?

Ten years ago in 1998, we lived in Northern NY when a dangerous ice storm hit the area. A few days into the New Year, the rain began falling and freezing on contact. By 5 AM, transformers began popping and sizzling as telephone and electrical poles toppled like rows of dominoes

Streets were dangerously impassible because of the sheen of ice as well as live power lines in some areas. To top it off, the Senior Citizen apartment complex located near the Oswegatchie River had begun to flood, necessitating the evacuation of the elderly residents. People who had no alternative way to heat their homes evacuated to shelters which were set up in churches, schools and other public buildings.

This disaster became a means to teach my children’s church students a valuable lesson on praying for others. Since all of our church families were affected in some way by the storm, the children understood how it felt to be in the dark and cold because of the disaster. It created an empathy with those in other parts of the world who were also suffering from disastrous events.

I purchased a map which I posted in our room. Each week when the children came into their class, we talked about the things that were happening around the world like floods, storms, fires and other disastrous events. We placed push pins with little flags on the map and then prayed for the boys and girls in that area who were going through difficult times. We prayed for their salvation as well as for God to help them through their difficult and scary times.

What ideas have you used to teach children to pray? I’d love to hear from you this week!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Beauty from the cutting room floor

"Throughout the history of God's people as given to us in the Bible, we see that life is a test. We have before us the option to trust God "no matter what," or to walk away from Him. To walk away from God is to leave the fragments of our dreams in pieces on the floor, but to trust Him is to let God pick up the pieces and make us whole again. When we choose to let Him make us whole again, he will make our lives more beautiful than before."

~ "What I Learned from God While Quilting" by Ruth McHaney Danner & Cristine Bolley~


I love this quote because it perfect;y expresses what God has done in my life. He takes the scraps of broken dreams and stitches them back together in a different pattern than we expect - the end result being more wonderful than we can imagine!

When I was about 14 years of age, I responded to the Lord's call to full time service at a Labor Day youth retreat. The speaker that year was a missionary - though I don't remember much about him. I just knew that I wanted to serve the Lord in some way with my whole life.

I'm not sure when I began to believe God wanted me to be a missionary, maybe it was when a Wycliffe pilot visited my Spanish class to talk about South America and his work as a pilot. No he couldn't "preach" in class, but he said enough that prompted me to want to become a Wycliffe missionary. After all, I loved the syntax of languages and the romantic notions of working with jungle tribes to translate scripture beckoned to me.

Somehow I got the impression that becoming a missionary was the only thing good enough to please God. (I never once considered writing as a career path, probably because I was a mediocre writer at best in school. LOL!)

From that day on, I lived, breathed and ate Missions. I studied Spanish for 5 years and German for 2 in High School. I wanted to go on to college, but my parents said there was no money. My school counselors told me not to waste my time on missionary studies since I was in the 10 ten percentile of my class. They thought I could do better and tried to talk me into applying for grants and loans to more prestigious schools.

I continued to dream and pray, trusting God He would open up a way for me to attend a Bible College. My Abba Father did just that - I found out about a small school in Rhode Island and applied. My joy knew no bounds when I was accepted. My parents couldn't refuse to let me go either, since my cousin (the daughter of my aunt on my mom's side of the family) went there. God even took care of the financial issues, opening up a good paying summer job for me right after graduation.

The dream of becoming a missionary I held on to for 6 years was shredded during my third year of Bible college when a well-meaning professor began some impromptu counseling with me. He showed me from scripture that I didn't have to "buy" God's favor by always trying to be "good enough" for God. He never said I should give up my dream of missionary service, but I interpreted it that way. Because my motives were "wrong" God couldn't possibly want me as a missionary.

After a night of weeping, my dreams lay on the floor like discarded scraps of cloth, but I still wanted to serve Him with all my heart in some kind of full time service. What else could I do except bury my hurt and find some other dream? I met and married my husband that year and latched onto his dream of pastoral ministry, still trying to be "good enough" for God.

Two years later my DH (Dear Hubby) finished his training to become a licensed minister and I thought everything would be okay. Surely God must be pleased. But I wasn't satisfied. Deep inside, there was some unfinished business, buried resentment and longings after lost dreams. I didn't know what God really wanted from me or for me.

I struggled for 12 more years to be the perfect pastor's wife, even trying to create my own new dreams, until I finally began to trust God enough to let Him pick up the scraps of my dreams and put them back together.

When I finally began to let Him work, I learned my Bible College counselor was right. The dreams I fabricated about the mission field were ones I created myself, believing it was the only thing I could do to please God. However, He did have a plan - one that took my desires, my abilities and my needs into consideration.

Standing here and looking back, I can see how He never stopped creating the intricate pattern of my dreams with threads of love, wisdom and experience. All along the way, He brought training, experience and a growing desire across my path to be a writer. My life pattern may be different from what I envisioned, but His work is perfect, filling me with joy and satisfaction in Him. I love that He knows me so well and I love to write about that love so others may know He loves them too.


To participate in "In Other Words" today, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit our hostess Nina at her site, Mama's Little Treasures to read her take on the quote and leave a comment along with your blog URL. If you have a chance, visit the blogs of the other participants as well.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The icing on my Easter Cake!

What a beautiful Easter Service we experienced yesterday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

The most inspiring part of the service for me were the words of the song our ensemble sang from the mini-cantata, Because He Lives:

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Sin has been defeated the enemy has failed.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Sin has been defeated, The Lamb has prevailed!

The Easter Message, coupled with the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of believers, it was a blessed day.

But I think the frosting on the cake came this morning as I met a new friend online from Bangladesh. He shared photos on his blog of a large crowd of believers standing with hands raised and joyous expressions on their faces, celebrating Christ's resurrection at an early morning sunrise service in his community. No doubt many of them walked a long way in the predawn to get there. I sensed how important of a celebration it was for them.

As I looked at those photos, I felt as though I was one with them, my heart singing praises to the Lord: "Sin has been defeated, the Lamb has prevailed!"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Take a walk on the wild side - kids church follow up card


In all the Sunday School literature I've read, follow up is an important element. But it's not always so easy to do. One of the ways I have discovered that is fun and gets the kids involved in the follow up process is to create personalized computer-generated greeting cards.

It started as an extra class activity, taking a class photo for an Easter Play we were going to do. But the kids just didn't want to settle down and pose for the picture. So I took a goofy shot.

Of course, digital cameras are the greatest! Everyone wanted to see what it looked like so they all gathered around and gawked at themselves with silly grins on their faces. Okay, I thought. It doesn't take much to make them happy.

Knowing a good thing when I saw it, I decided to take a few more shots and had them pose in the silliest way they could imagine. Right then I decided to make personalized cards with the photos for our class. We could use the cards for birthdays, missing you and invitations to class events.

Using the pattern for a quarter fold card on my computer, I printed the photo 2 times to make 2 cards from one sheet of card stock. I left a wide border around the photo and printed the words, "Take a walk on the wild side..." above the photo and on one version, I used paw prints for a border treatment on the front of the card.

To make the cards even more personal I decided to have the kids sign a sheet of card stock which I scanned and added to the back of the card. After cutting the card stock in half and folding each half, I had two cards 4 1/4 inches tall and 5 1/2 inches wide.

The inside is blank so we can write any message we want. I like to print up different messages on regular copy paper , trim them to fit the inside of the card and keep on hand so I just have to grab one and zot it in place. Voila! It's ready to send. (It's a good idea to get a signed release form from parents to use the photos as follow up cards though!)

I have attached a sample so you can see how fun they are to create and use. You can change the photo frequently as your class grows or changes. You can even do seasonal ones, indoors or outdoors and change backgrounds. The kids love using them - helping them to get excited about inviting and ministry to the sick class members.

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Meet my friend Author Delia LAtham

Hi! I'd love for you to meet a good friend of mine - Author Delia Latham.

We met two years ago while writing for an online e-zine. I was checking out the bios of my fellow writers and noticed Delia had published her first book, Almost Like A Song, with the same publisher as mine so I contacted her. Since we were both married to pentecostal pastors and had adorable grandkids, we had a lot in common and developed a friendship. We ended up exchanging books and I've been a fan ever since!

Delia is a master at creating plots with unexpected twists and turns, making her Christian romance novels so much fun to read. Several months ago, I was privileged to preview her newest book Golden Eyes published by Vintage Romance Publishing, which is due to be officially released March 30th. Believe me, it's a "must read!"

Pssst - I have it on good authority, it's available now at Amazon! I can't wait for the 30th and am planning to order my copy now!!!
Golden Eyes

A man’s eyes are the windows to his soul … if he has one.

Deep in the darkness of a Depression-era night, a man addicted to alcohol commits an unspeakable crime to obtain it. His vile action impacts the lives of two entire families, and over two decades will pass before the horrible wrong begins to be made right again.
Two young women – strangers to each other – unknowingly enmeshed in a Pandora’s Box of secrets that could prevent them from finding happiness with the men they love. Two adoring mothers who know more than they are willing to say. A newsman with a story he cannot tell. What is their connection, and who is the golden-eyed stranger who moves in the shadows of their broken lives?
The old cuckoo clock on the shelf in the front room struck midnight. It’s persistent chirping irritated Jack Kelly’s already frayed nerves as he paced back and forth across the small room.
“Shut up! Shut up!” he growled beneath his breath, casting an anxious look at the crib in the next room. When no signs of disturbed sleep were forthcoming, he breathed a grateful sigh of relief. The last thing he needed right now was a squalling infant to further vex the burning demon within him. He had promised his wife he would not spend a cent on liquor. New babies meant new expenses, and those things must come first.
So far he had kept his promise; he’d had no choice. Every penny he earned with his hoe, day after blistering day in the cotton fields, was swallowed up in scratching out a meager existence. There never seemed to be a penny extra, to say nothing of the few dollars a bottle of whiskey would cost. With the addition of this new offspring, who knew when he would be able to quench the gnawing demon of thirst that drove him insane? He had to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. The arrival of more children would only make that job harder, and it was obvious Annie did not intend to stop at one pregnancy.
Another glance into the small bedroom revealed no unwelcome stirrings from the crib. A bright moonbeam, however, lay across the bed, and Kelly’s tormented gaze fell on the lovely face of the woman he had married. He had considered himself a lucky man when she said yes to his proposal, despite her goody-two-shoes, Bible-thumping parents. If he loved anything on this poor excuse of an earth, he loved Annie. She was a perfect wife.

Their home might be barely more than a shack, but it sparkled, and she was a real wonder in the kitchen. He could not remember her voice ever raised in anger, even when he had fallen through the front door, dog drunk, a week after she married him.

Kelly’s fevered mind wandered to his conversation with the poor fish in the cotton field. Had it only been eight or nine hours ago? It seemed an eon; every moment without the drink he craved was an eternity.

Poor fella don’t know how lucky he is. Only has to worry ‘bout that pretty little gal and hisself. I bet he could buy a bottle of whiskey if he wanted one!

With the thought, an idea was born, full-blown and itching for action. He actually stopped pacing for a moment, shocked to the core by the undiluted vileness of the seed taking root in his mind. He stood staring at the crib against the far wall and shook his head as if to toss out the evil thought.

“You’re crazy,” he whispered. His heart pounded painfully against his chest; little beads of sweat dotted his forehead and chin. “You’ve done gone stark, starin’ mad!”

And perhaps he had, for suddenly he found himself across the room, gazing down into the hand-me-down crib. He was horrified at the darkness within his imagination, yet knew full well he hadn’t the strength of mind or will to resist its powerful pull.

One more almost desperate glance at his wife’s face … if she would only wake up he would have to forsake this notion, and perhaps he could rid himself of the unforgivable intent. Indeed, Annie did stir a little and drew a deep sigh, almost as though she heard his desperate mental cry. But hers was the sleep of utter exhaustion and she slumbered on.

A few moments later, Kelly slipped silently out the back door of the little shack, clutching a tiny pink bundle in his arms and blinking back the tears of shame and self-loathing that sprang unbidden to his eyes.

You can contact Delia at her website: And be sure to check out her blog:

Also, for one lucky blog reader, Delia is giving away a Golden Eyes tee shirt and electronic copy of the book at the end of her blog tour! Just be sure to leave a comment on my blog today. For more chances to win, visit these blogs and leave a comment as well

Mar. 20 – Cynthia Hickey –
26. Mar. 24 – Pamela James -
27. Mar. 24 – 28 – Tracy Ruckman –
28. Mar. 25 – Christa Allen -
29. Mar. 27 – Melissa Meeks -
30. Mar. 31 – Gina Conroy –
31. April 20 – Marian Merritt –
32. April 27 – Margaret Daley –

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Through the dark to the light

"No matter how many good friends I had, there were aspects of my life I needed to deal with alone - heart issues and attitudes that could not be wrestled with in a Bible study...They had to be confronted by the Holy Spirit in the privacy of my own soul."

~ "A Glimpse of Grace" by Mary Forsythe (with Beth Clark)~


Typical journey tales follow a pattern - the hero or heroine receives their calling or mission. Then they band together with one or more traveling companions who share the ups and downs of the journey toward the goal.

But ultimately, in every journey tale I've ever read, the main character reaches a point in the story where he or she must make the next leg of the journey on his own.There are no mentors, no companions to walk the path with him. He is brought face to face with his inner dragons of fear and doubt; he must overcome them or forfeit the cause.

As the Author of my life story writes each chapter, I see the same thing.He has given me friends who will walk with me and pray. As a teenager, there were Debbie and Gail. We were inseparable - singing, playing and praying together. We even did concerts, radio appearances and made a record with four songs on it.

But there came a dark moment in my teenage years when I was forbidden to see them. My spiritual support system had collapsed and I had to weather the storm alone. Through it, the Holy Spirit walked with me and worked with me, helping me wrestle my teenaged demons.

As an adult, I wrestled new demons - depression and despair. Though my pastor husband walked with me, though Christian friends supported and prayed, the ultimate battle was mine.

I had to put on the spiritual armor and walk into the battle for my soul. I had to make the final decision about whether I wanted to overcome the depression or continue to wallow in it.

No one can change my heart - not even God unless I am willing to be changed. These alone-time battles are the ones I must fight myself - when I wrestle with my own will . Am I willing to change? Am I willing to allow Him to change me?

As my life journey continues, I find it is a cycle of these events - I walk with friends and together we win spiritual coups. But the Holy Spirit always leads me back to that place where I must defeat my attitudes and intentions before I can go any farther.

But that is as it should be. Even the Son of God walked with his friends into the garden of Gethsemane where they fell asleep while He struggled with his own will. He rose from his struggle with renewed purpose, ready to complete his journey at the cost of his own life. That struggle preceded the most glorious part of the story - His resurrection.


If you'd like to participate today simply blog about the quote on your site then visit our hostess Michelle at her site Because I Love You to read her take on the quote and leave your blog URL.

As always you are encouraged to leave a comment for Michelle. Feel free to visit the other participants as well and leave a comment for them.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I have baby pictures!

I just love digital cameras and computers. Here are the pictures of our new grandbaby!
Katelyn Rebekah was born 3/12/08 at 7:57 pm. She weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces and was 19 3/4 inches long. She has lots of dark hair.
I hope her mommy is giving her that kiss for me!

Allissa just got home from the birthing center at 2 am Thursday morning andby 8 am everyone was up wanting to see their new sister. So here's their first family photo. Photobucket

Friday, March 14, 2008

Crock pot cakes

A dear friend of mine was snowed in last weekend. That's not such a bad thing, except that it was my friend's birthday and her family was invited to a relative's house for a special meal.

She was anticipating a good dinner followed by birthday cake for dessert, but with the treacherous roads, of course, the celebration had to be cancelled. Under normal circumstances, she would have just baked a cake for herself and celebrated at home with her hubby and daughters.

BUT (there's always a "but" in a good story!) her stove wasn't hooked up due to kitchen renovations so she couldn't bake anything. She sounded kinda down about it, so I shot a quick prayer heavenward for her, wishing I could help somehow.

As we continued to chat, I suddenly remembered reading about baking cakes in the crock pot. I even tried it once and it turned out pretty good so I shared the idea with her. My friend happened to have a cake mix on hand and Voila! Birthday cake! Well, it did take several hours because it was in a SLOW cooker...but it worked.

So here's some crock pot cake tips and recipes from "Crockery Cookery" published in 1975 by Bantam Books:

"When using a standard cake mix....Cakes are "baked" in a pan set directly on the bottom of the slow cooker, similar to the way you would do it in an oven. It is not necessary to use a trivet or water. Instead of covering the uncooked cake mixture with foil or a lid, cover the top with four or five layers of paper towels. Because there is more moisture in a slow cooker than in an oven it is necessary to compensate for this with the paper towels to help absorb the moist top of the cake mix. Also, leave the lid of your slow cooker slightly open to let extra moisture escape."

The author, Mabel Hoffman suggests that a metal coffee can or any other pan which will fit into your crock pot will work. She also suggests using the high heat setting for the crock pot. Most cakes will bake in 2-3 hours.

Banana Nut Cake

1 (18 1/2 ounce package) yellow cake mix
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (2 medium)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix and soda. Add water, eggs and bananas. Beat 4 minutes on medium speed of electric mixer. Fold in nuts. {our into greased and floured 2 quart container.Place on bottom of slow cooking pot. Cover cake with 4 - 5 paper towels. Cover pot and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours. Invert on cooling rack. Serve plain, dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with a thin glaze.

Applesauce Spice Cake

1 (1 pound 3 ounce) package spice cake mix
1 (1 pound) can applesauce
2 eggs

In large mixing bowl combine cake mix with applesauce and eggs. Blend for 1/2 minute. Then beat at medium speed 4 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 6 cup mold. Place in slow-cooking pot. Arrange several layers of paper towels on top of mold. Cover slow-cooking pot, leaving lid slightly ajar.Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Let stand 5 minutes. Turn out onto cooling rack. Cool; cover with frosting.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I have a new Grandbaby!

Katelyn Rebekah was born at 7:57 pm last evening, weighing in at 7 pounds and 2 ounces. She was 19 3/4 inches long with lots of dark hair.

Mom and baby are doing well and Praise the Lord He worked everything out around the birth. My daughter lives an hour and a half from the birthing center with nothing between her house but swamp and farmland. There is no maternity unit in the hospital in her town so she had to travel the distance to the birthing center.

Because she had quick labors with her other 4 kiddos, the midwife was concerned about the long commute. Alllissa found out that if she went into labor, she could notify the state police office who would gladly provide an escort complete with flashing lights and sirens. What fun!

But, thankfully, she didn't have to cause a scene because the baby was born at the birthing center following her visit yesterday morning. The midwife wisely had her stay for a few extra hours and little Katie cooperated.

So welcome to this world Katie! I'm so glad you're here safe and sound. Can;t wait to see you when we come to visit in a few weeks.

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures then and share them with all my online friends!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Project VBS - Pulling it all together

Being an avid crafter, I have a stash of patterns for all kinds of projects. The patterns are the building blocks of the project telling me exactly what supplies I need and showing me how to tailor and put together each piece so the finished project turns out great.

If your church can afford to purchase the prepackaged materials for VBS, you have the pattern right there and all the supplies you need to create a great program. But if you are in a small church with a limited staff, space, or budget, the "store-bought" pattern might not create a program that will fit your needs.

That's when you need to create your own pattern. In my Wednesday blog two weeks ago, I shared some questions you could ask to assess the needs of your church. Last week, we discussed developing a theme. Today I'm going to take the assessments and theme to help you develop a pattern for your program.

Most types of children's outreach share the same basic pattern pieces including the lesson, memory verses, games, crafts, snacks, music, pre-event advertising and follow up. In a small church situation, you may lack the resources to do some of those things.

Using your resource assessment, decide what you want to include in your program and how you want to use it.

Lessons, memory work and review,: - Do you have enough teachers to break the children up into age groups? No? No problem! This was a frequent problem we encountered. We found several great solutions:

1. Have one teacher present the same lesson on a rotating schedule to the different age groups. You only need one willing "teacher". Since there were often many volunteers who offered to help but didn't want to teach, this worked well. The teacher only had to prepare one lesson but they had to present it more than once, each time to a different age level.

2. If you have limited staff, facilities or a small group of children. you might also consider having the lesson time with the entire group together in a sort of opening assembly, then break up into other rotating activities. You could include fast paced music and the memory work in this time as well.

Games, snacks, activities, videos, contests, crafts decorations and music: These pattern pieces are optional and can be included or excluded based on your type of outreach, your program goals, facilities and staff. You choose which elements will best suit your needs.

Once you decide which elements you want to include in your program, the fun begins!

Take the Theme you chose and list the elements of your program. List them across the top of a blackboard or a large piece of newsprint taped on the wall. Then brainstorm ideas related to each item.

You can either have people call out their ideas, or provide a stack of 3 x 5 note cards and have everyone list their ideas on the cards, placing one idea on each card. Set a time limit for the brainstorming and encourage them to write down their ideas as quickly as possible.

Collect the cards and sort them into the categories on the board. You will then be able to take a few minutes with each category to choose the ideas you want to use.

Here is what one of our programs looked like:

Theme: Safari Theme

Lesson patterns: Bible truths we want to teach, Characters we will use to teach it (Bible stories or life application stories based on scripture), memory verses, review games

We chose to create our own skits with life application stories, having all the children together for the lesson . In this case, it maximized our pool of volunteers to help teach the lesson.

We created Indiana Dan, a world famous explorer who was inept and lovable (We lived in Indiana, PA and Dan is my hubby who enjoys doing silly skits with the kids). The character was on a Safari hunt to discover the treasure of God's Word.
The Bible was his map, his light, his sword and filled with riches to help us live in this world.

We chose appropriate Bible verses for each night's lesson and took time to review them with the children each night before breaking into age groups to do Games, snacks and crafts.

One of the crafts I remember were small plaster of paris fridgies in the shapes of jungle animals which the children painted with markers. To mold the critters, we used a plastic candy mold found in the cake decorating aisle of WalMart and plaster of paris mix. After the pieces were molded and cured for a day, I coated them with a mix of 1 part school glue and one part water. When dry, the children could color on the animals more easily - the color was not absorbed by the plaster figures and they became more durable.

We met for a 5 minute closing before dismissing the children each night.

Decorations included a jungle hut, green sheets with leaves pinned on them for a jungle backdrop and miles of vines made from brown crepe paper streamers twisted to resemble the vines with small pieces of green crepe paper tied on at intervals for leaves. These were strung EVERYWHERE .

It was fun to watch the staff come up with jungle games and names for common snacks.

Your assignment: Take your assessment and theme and use the program pattern pieces to come up with ideas of your own!

Next week, I'll share one of our programs in more detail!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I am imperfect!

""We leave something incomplete everyday, whether it's an area of housework, school, work, friendship, ministry ~ because we are finite.""

~ from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer~

Old-order Amish quilt makers have a tradition where they purposely stitch one flaw into their work to represent the fact that only God is perfect.
Why do we as women struggle so hard to be perfect rather than accepting our limitations and working with them instead of against them?
I used to suffer from the perfectionist's nightmare called "Superwoman Syndrome" - A.K.A The Martha Madness.
If there was anything to do in the church, I was there to do it, partly because I thought it was the duty of the pastor's wife and partly because I just needed everyone to think highly of me since I couldn't think very highly of myself.
Then of course, I worked part time to supplement the family income because though our small rural churches did the best they could, it was still difficult to make ends meet with three growing children at home.
Homemaking was never my strong suit, but DH and the kids did need food, clothing and a reasonably clean shelter, so I shouldered that burden as well.
On the top of my life quilt, things appeared neat and tidy, but only God and I saw all the knots and tangles on the underside and most of the time I refused to look at them because then I would have to admit my "flaws."
To leave things undone would mean I wasn't capable of handling things for my family, my job and my church. I couldn't forgive myself for failure.
No one can live like that forever. It always leads to burnout and depression. I had to learn to prioritize the things in my life, especially my relationship with the Lord. In Him there is healing and life and peace. When I put Him first each day, I can get more done than I can by myself and I can forgive myself for the things I left undone each day. They will still be there tomorrow or the day after.
I still live a "flawed" existence, but instead of it being a condemnation for my imperfection, it is a reminder of things the Spirit of God and I will continue to work on until I rest perfect in His presence!
This week, Lori is hosting "In 'Other' Words" at her site, All You Have To Give. If you'd like to participate, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit Lori and leave your blog address along with a comment for her. Please feel free to check out the blogs of the other participants as well to see theior take on the quote!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Peanut Butter Melt-Away Eggs

With Easter only a few weeks away, I'm in the mood for CHOCOLATE! And nothing goes as well with chocolate as peanut butter.

Chocolate eggs first appeared in the early 1800s in Germany and France. The first eggs were solid - but chocolatiers son found ways to create hollow eggs. The process was complicated and impractical until the discovery of 20th century chocolate making techniques. With the new techniques for processing chocolate, all sorts of shapes began appearing including molded bunnies and chicks for Easter.

In 1922, H B Reese introduced the first peanut butter cup candy bar which has continued to gain popularity through the years, so I am assuming the chocolate covered peanut butter egg originated sometime after that. I remember getting a one pound peanut butter egg each year in my Easter Basket as a child so they've been around awhile. LOL!

Today, over 90 million chocolate bunnies are produced each year. When polled, 76 percent of Americans said they preferred to eat their bunnies ears first. Marshmallow Peeps, especially the yellow ones, are the most popular non-chocolate Easter treats.

I have several recipes for fondant for Easter Eggs, but my favorite one came from the youth pastor at our church in Oakland, MD. Each year the young people made three varieties of Easter eggs - peanut butter, coconut and cherry. The peanut butter eggs were outstanding and working together to make them was the best fun of the season.

Peanut Butter Melt-Away Eggs


2 sticks of margarine
One 8 ounce block of cream cheese
One 18 ounce jar of peanut butter
2 pound bag of powdered sugar

Blend margarine, cream cheese and peanut butter until well mixed. Slowly add in powdered sugar until mixture is the consistency of thick cookie dough. Mold into egg shapes and refrigerate overnight.


1/4 pound paraffin, chopped finely to melt better
1 pound sweet milk chocolate, wafers or morsels
Semi sweet morsels may also be used.

Heat in double boiler over low heat until melted. Dip fondant eggs and allow to cool thoroughly. Decorate with frosting flowers if desired. The number of eggs will depend on the size.



Thursday, March 6, 2008

"We've Moved" note cards

Sunday we will say goodbye to our associate pastor and his wife. They feel God's leading to the city of Detroit to work with an inner city work.

Talk about culture shock! From small town, rural PA to inner city... But they are up to it, since both of them are from metropolitan areas. They are young and energetic, a good fit for their new ministry and I look for God to use them mightily.

For me it means saying goodbye. I will miss them and wanted to give them a going away gift. Since cards are my thing, I decided to create some note cards Brooke could send out to let her friends and family know her new address - a great personal handcrafted gift to say, "I love you and will miss you."


Starting with half of an 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of light green parchment card stock folded to create a 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inch card. I used a 5 inch piece of wired #40 green ribbon as an accent on the side.

The stamped image is by Stampendous which I colored with watercolor pencils. I embossed the "We've moved" wording with green embossing powder. The stamp is by Rubber Stampede.
After matting the stamped image with a dark green card stock, I attached it to the card with 6 gold eyelets.

For the inside, I like to line my cards to cover any brad legs or eyelets, etc, so I type my message on half of an 8 1/ x 11 inch sheet of copier paper (Each sheet will do 2 cards) then I trim the messages so they are slightly smaller than the card and glue them in place using a dot or 2 of glue.)

God bless you Brooke and Steve - you will be missed!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Project: VBS II - Developing a theme

Have you ever gone shopping for just the “right outfit” for some special occasion? Everything looks great on the store rack. But when you get it on in the dressing room, it magnifies the bulges; needs a tuck here or a seam let out there; it's too long in the legs and too short in the waist; or has any number of fitting problems.

Wow! Last week I googled VBS curricula and found lots of great themes from the major publishing houses. They all looked great - but just like shopping for the perfect outfit, choosing a perfect fit for a petite church can be daunting. You either have to purchase a prepackaged program and tweak it to fit your needs, or create your own. Either way, it requires work!

Here's some of the themes I found for 2008:

AIG - Amazon Expedition
Group - Power Lab
Holy Land Tour
Lifeway - Outrigger Island
Holy Land Tour : Jerusalem Marketplace
David C. Cook - Cosmic City
Standard - God's Big Back Yard
Gospel Light - Son World Adventure Park
Son Harvest
Cokesbury - Beach Party
Concordia - Friendship Trek
Baptist Press - Dino Detectives
Big Idea (Veggie Tales) - The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
Augsburg - Rain Forest Adventure
Radiant Life - Deep Sea Adventures

Whew! I'm sure there are others I haven't seen yet.

So why is it important to choose a theme? Your theme is the framework for your event - it ensures that all parts tie together into a cohesive whole so you can accomplish your goal. In interior design it might be called the "inspiration" for the room. It is what influences all the other elements in the design. Likewise in VBS curriculum design, the "inspiration" for the event is what ties it all together and makes it flow.

If you don't feel comfortable creating your VBS from scratch, but you can't afford the entire prepackaged curriculum, you might consider choosing one of the above themes and purchasing a sample kit. The samplers are usually only a portion of the cost and include the bare essentials for putting together a good program. They include the lessons, sample crafts, possibly a CD with music or videos but none of the frills. You would still have find the funds to to purchase any other items you need .

We've done this several times when our Christian ed staff needed a creativity booster. But to be honest, the best programs were the ones we developed from scratch.

*The Theme starts with an idea.

It may be a Bible verse, a story or song the Lord has placed in your heart. It may be something a child says or does. Maybe a picture will spark the theme idea. Your idea can come from almost anywhere!

One year several of the major publisher's themes centered around the old west. We liked the idea of the old west but didn't want to duplicate what the other churches were doing so with that in mind, we developed our own materials calling it "Mining for Gospel Gold." Since our church was on Two Lick Drive, it kind of sounded like an old west sort of name which inspired the concept. Once we had the Gold mine theme, all the other elements were planned with that in mind.

One of my favorite VBS themes came about because one of our volunteers had developed an absent minded professor character who did off beat science experiments. When he shared the professor with us at a planning meeting, we all agreed he should be the theme of our VBS that year. He had a catchy sort of name which no on e could spell - Professor Theomopopopodopolos.

*Determine the goal or objective of your program.
What message do you want to get across to your children? (salvation, Christian growth, overcoming life problems, etc.)

What are the needs of your local children? ( do you have military families? a lot of single parents? are your children inner city kids or from poor families?)

What is the median age of your children? (For example, a younger group may not relate as well to something with a lot of science experiments and likewise, an older group may feel they are too old for something like Veggie Tales.)

Your goal should be clearly stated; the clearer your objective, the greater the potential for achieving it. A clear goal will also enhance the fleshing out process of the program idea: choosing a setting, memory work, related activities, snacks, etc.

*Determine the take-away value
You probably learned the verse as a child: “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:145 KJV. This verse is the essence of the “take-away” value of your program. What lesson, thought, feeling, word or image do you want the children to remember long after the outreach has ended?

The children attending your program will probably not remember the contents of the program twenty years from now. However, they may recall a character, a Bible verse or a lesson that impacted their lives. Perhaps they will only remember how much fun it was to be in God’s house. Even that feeling of pleasure can go a long way toward teaching them to enjoy God’s presence in their lives today. What core memory do you want to stay with the child?

* Setting may help determine the theme.

You’ve probably been to Bible lands, the beach, outer space or the wild, wild west and back with the Vacation Bible School curricula available each year from the major publishing houses. These settings stage an imaginative world where children come for the purpose of learning specific lessons. It’s much like reading a good book, separating them from their everyday experiences into a learning environment where everything pertains to the theme.

The setting of the program fires the imagination and enhances the learning process by allowing the child to use all of his/her senses in the outreach experience.

Even if you use generic themes like a circus, jungle, castle or beach, God can use your theme as a starting point to create a memorable event for the children you minister to.

Your Assignment: Come up with a theme for your children's outreach event or VBS. Using your assessment from last week about your resources(Human, financial and facilities) check to be sure such a theme will work for your group.

Next week, we'll start to flesh out the plans for the event. You'll soon see how easy it can be to create a program from scratch that is a perfect fit for your group!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

To See or Not To See...

Today's quote is:

"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision."
~ Hellen Keller ~

I've worn glasses since I was three years old. My parents took me to the eye specialist because I would stumble and bump into objects. Because I had a lazy left eye, I wore a patch covering my right eye during most of kindergarten to force my left eye to become stronger and focus better. While there was some improvement, it did not become as strong as my right eye.

Now it isn't as noticeable because of lightweight plastic lenses in my glasses, but as a child, the left lens of my glasses was thick and heavy, constantly making my glasses slide down on my nose.

Many years ago, I worked for a behavioral ophthalmologist - an eye doctor who specialized in vision training. He used eye muscle strengthening and other special eye exercises to help the eyes and brain work together to better interpret what the eyes see. The vision training was supposed to help people read better as well as help correct certain types of behavioral problems which were associated with poor vision.

My job was to watch the patients as they did the exercises he prescribed, charting the results and the way their eyes moved. Because of my eye problems, I had difficulty with certain exercises so he examined my eyes.

One of the things he found was that my eyes did not focus at the same point which frequently sent double images to my brain. My brain would react to the confusing double images by turning off one eye (usually the left one since it was the weaker one) for a fraction of a second. Without realizing it, I had learned to compensate somewhat by tilting my head slightly so both eyes would usually focus together. but it didn't fix the problem.

No wonder I would feel so clumsy and bump into things - I was frequently seeing out of only one eye! The doctor prescribed specific eye exercises to help my eyes work together better. The improvement was noticeable - my balance was better and I had an improved sense of general well-being.

This carried over into my spiritual life as well. So often, my mind and my heart would not focus at the same point - on Jesus. My eyes saw "reality" around me and my heart saw the Lord and what He said about my situation. This confusing spiritual double vision overwhelmed me to the point where my brain turned off the weaker image. Often it was the image of an overcoming Christ, leaving me with my fears. When that happened, I floundered and fell under the pressure.

But thankfully, over the years, God has worked with me, exercising my faith and my spiritual vision. When I see life's situations accurately with both my mind and heart, my fears are still there, but they don't overwhelm me. I am able to consciously shift my focus to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith! He helps me rise above the fear and overcome in His strength.

How is your spiritual vision? Maybe it's time for a visit to the Great Ophthalmologist for some vision training?

If you would like to join us today, simply blog about the quote on your blog site, then visit Heather, our hostess for the day at her site "Mumblings of a Mommy Monk" and leave your blog URL along with the other participants.

Be sure to read Heather's take on the quote and leave a comment. As always, you are invited to visit the blogs of the other participants as well!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Real Food For Thought

Though I usually share children's church lesson ideas and such on Wednesday's, I was so encouraged by yesterday's lesson I wanted to share it today!

All last week, I prayed for an object lesson I could share with my group of 14 students. I wanted something related to Easter, but couldn't find ANYTHING that wowwed me. Friday night came and I still didn't have a lesson, so I prayed. Saturday we visited my son and his family in MD and I still couldn't think of anything, even though I used the travel time to pray and develop ideas.

Saturday night on the way home, God finally broke through my foggy brain with a great idea. Thankfully, it was one I had used before so I wasn't flying by the seat of my pants... Passover! I had purchased a coloring book on the Story of Passover several years ago and have used it several times to teach a lesson about the Passover celebration.

During Holy Week, Jesus was in Jerusalem. He had a passionate desire to share the Passover feast with his disciples one last time because He had much to teach them. But Passover is just a word to most of the children I teach so I decided to SHOW them what it was all about - after all, God uses visual aids all the time to teach us.

Beginning with the story in Luke 22:7-10 of Jesus directing His disciples to find a place to prepare the Passover meal, I shared how it was customary to thoroughly clean the room to be sure there was no leaven in the house. Before class I hid a piece of white bread under one of the chairs and had the children find it.

Next I passed out plates and cups of grape juice to each child, talking about the wine in the feast representing the blood of the lamb used to paint the door post so the death angel would pass over the children of Israel.

We played "Fear Factor" encouraging those who wanted to taste all the foods of the passover feast as I brought out each one and shared what it represented:
- The parsley dipped in salt water representing the tears of the Israelites as they prayed to God in their slavery and the parting of the red sea
- The lamb bone representing the lamb that was slain in order to paint the doorposts with its blood. It was eaten quickly and nothing was left til morning in their hurried preparations to leave Egypt
- The egg representing the strength of the Israelites and the new life of freedom God was opening up for them.
- The bitter herbs to show the bitterness and strife of slavery
- The apple-nut mixture representing the mortar used to make the bricks and
- The unleavened bread, baked quickly because they didn't have time to let it rise.
(Since I have a lot of boys in the class, they thought it was great when I brought out the horseradish for the "bitter herbs.")

I shared how each item was an object lesson to the people of Israel to help them remember what God did for them when He brought them out of Egypt. Because Jesus wanted His disciples to remember, He shared the Passover meal with them. But He also had new lessons to teach them too - the lessons of Communion which I will share with them next week.

God ALWAYS comes through! The kids learned the meaning of Passover and were able to see, taste and experience reminders of how God took care of Israel in the difficult times. I can't wait to teach next week's lesson!