Top Ten: Ways you know it’s Bible School week

It’s been Vacation Bible School week at our church, as my past two posts have indicated. We’ve had an amazing week, with very nearly 100 kids in attendance, approximately 50 volunteers, $500 collected for Heifer International, and youth and leaders who have grown and shown the love of God.

After waking up at 3:38 this morning in an absolute panic because I totally forgot to sew 40 teddy bear forms for the youngest kids to stuff during our mission craft time, I realized that this week’s top ten list would be most appropriately themed around Bible school.

Top Ten: Ways you know it’s Bible School week

10. You have stacks of magazines, cloth, coffee filters, pipe cleaners, and/or construction paper in various, yet strategically placed, parts of your house…and every one knows NOT TO TOUCH THEM!

9. You find foam shapes sticking to random parts of your body or clothing…while you’re at the grocery store.

8. Heading to the pool for an afternoon of fun with lots of neighborhood kids AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN THIS WEEK.

7. Figuring out a discipline plan that will work for 20 minutes of classroom time, for 5 days this week…not too strict like a school room, but structured enough to get stuff done.

6. Singing cutesy, memorable Jesus songs…24 hours a day.


4. 3:38am panic attacks about what today’s craft project is supposed to be…and if we have everything we need for it.

3. 6:51am text messages about where the Easter egg box is located at church (subsequent to #4)

2. An afternoon with your own (small) family is suddenly solace.

1. 2,000 toilet paper rolls

Props to Group Publishing’s VBS curriculum ‘Weird Animals’. The KidVid component with short video clips about how God has worked in the lives of real (vastly different) kids was an excellent resource to communicate the message of God’s love. The catchy songs and the dog tag Bible verses make the lessons from this week long-lasting in the lives of our kiddos. We loved this kit!


Holy water is antibacterial


As Pastor Jason began washing the feet of the second grade Vacation Bible School kids, following the story of Jesus’ washing his disciples feet, he offered, ‘If you don’t want me to wash your feet, I can wash your hands.’

It was a kind gesture, cautious for those who may not want to remove their shoes out of personal preference. But, I (leader of these impressionable young children), in my snarky sarcastic, not quite spiritual enough temperament, said, ‘With the same water you’re washing their feet??’

Jason, knowing and loving me, gave me that ‘you’re ruining this moment’ glare, and said, ‘Yes…’

But it was Anne, a veteran teacher, mentor, and spiritual leader who replied, just as casually and sassily as I had begun, ‘Holy water is antibacterial’.

Touché, my friend, touché! I admired her quick wit, so well-matched with mine, and then, I went back to attending to the kids who were removing and then replacing their shoes after being holy washed.

It was later that I processed the depth of what Anne had said in her moment of quick repartee. We rely on antibacterial soaps and gels to remove the unwanted filth of the world around us…the germs from the gas pump handle, the residue from the public bathroom door, the grime of any surface at the Y. We want the yuckiness of the world to disappear…and be replaced with cleanliness.

Just as Jesus showed his followers to replace the bad with good, the sorrow with joy, the weary with comfort, so must we go about the work of wiping away the filthy residue of the world and leave behind the sparkling newness of God.

Let’s approach the world that way, and wash it with the antibacterial properties of holiness.

Want the rest of the story, try here John 13.

Holy water

The Bible verse for today’s Vacation Bible School lesson was ‘Do to others as you would like them to do to you.’ Most kids in the class knew it as ‘The Golden Rule’ because they’d heard it from their families or teachers as such. We discussed what it meant in daily life…sharing, showing kindness, using polite words…And then we went to hear Pastor Jason tell the Bible story for today, and the verse took on a new meaning.

Pastor Jason had a basin (plastic dishpan) and a pitcher of sink water (but it came from the church bathroom, so that made it ‘holy’ to the kids). As he prepared his object lesson, he told the story of what occurred in the upper room, the night Jesus was arrested. He poured the ‘holy water’ into the ‘basin’ and explained that Jesus had offered to wash the tired, weary, dirty feet of his disciples that last night that they were together. The disciples had followed him throughout his three year ministry, laboring through their doubts and waiting for the lingering ones to be resolved. They needed a respite in their travels, a moment of pampering before the real journey began.

As Pastor Jason told this story to the second graders, they were a bit grossed out…’He washed their feet! Gross!’ ‘They took their shoes off and showed him their feet! That’s disgusting!’ Then, his materials prepared, Jason offered to do the same for these children. These sweaty, rowdy, earth-covered children. And they obliged. Some reluctantly, some eagerly…this was quite a treat.

When he finished, he explained that the kindness he has showed them should be shared with others…perhaps, yes, through washing the tired feet of working parents or carrying out the dirty trash or cooperating with the nasty sibling. Doing to others…sharing Christ’s example. For who knows what is ahead in someone’s journey…and just how much they need a hand right now.


Root beer floats

Women are such saps. Hallmark commercials, Lifetime movies… We quote movie lines like, ‘You had me at hello’ and ‘Some people are worth melting for…’ Thanks, Jerry and Olaf, for adding that extra emotional sigh to our already sappy lives.

We also fall for those witty pick up lines. ‘Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?’ ‘You should come with a warning sign that says ‘Dangerous Curves Ahead!’ ‘You must be tired…you’ve been running through my mind all day.’ Oh, ladies, you know we’re goofs for that stuff. It may not get us now, but it got us back then…when the guy was trying to make us smile in that ‘oh, you’ve got me’ kind of way.

For me, it was a line about root beer floats. We both had the idea about a root beer float, and then he added, ‘With two straws.’ (*Sigh*) Insert eye roll and dreamy smile here and mental wedding checklist here.  Oh, I was a goner…

But that root beer float never happened. The two straws weren’t for us. They were for him and someone else somewhere else. And so I banned root beer floats. I refused to have one until the right guy came along. Only then would I allow that float-loving-two-straw-sharing-maudlin weak spot in my heart to be vulnerable again.

Well, little did I know who I would share my next root beer float with…or how long it would be.

My nearly-seven-year-old son overcame a big hurdle in his little life recently. He has been afraid of a particular thing, and  when he finally conquered that fear,  there was reason to celebrate. We had had ice cream the day before, so I considered something different. The same little ice cream stand also advertised the elusive root beer float. And I realized if he, with his brave little internal strength, could celebrate overcoming a fear as big as he was, then it was time to overcome my distant disappointment and celebrate with him.

I asked him if we could share the treat, and he said, ‘With two straws…or maybe in two cups.’

Oh, that very statement that made my heart melt two decades prior…that statement that I thought meant we were M.F.E.O. (‘Made For Each Other’, Sleepless in Seattle). Oh, those wistful haunting words…with a twist that brought me reeling back to the present. The twist that made it belong to my slightly germophobic boy…this boy, my boy.

I looked down at his precious doe eyes and realized that I was still a sucker for that line. Only, the one I would truly share the float with was the one who deserved it most of all. I would melt for his sappy lines for as long as he would dish them out to me.IMG_2764


Top Ten: Things Marriage Has Taught Me

This week marks our tenth anniversary. 3,650 days and nights(give a few for leap years), 520 weekends, 10 of each holiday…and innumerable lessons. Here are the top ten.

10. Always check pockets before washing clothes.  Flash drives, tax deductible receipts, and folded checks don’t jingle like coins…and yet they’re so much more valuable…

9. Food is important to men. I eat to live…a few crackers here, some fruit there. But he lives to eat…a meat-every-day kind of guy.  The importance of food has actually been a valuable learning experience for me. I’ve realized that taking the time to prepare food (not leaving him to fend for himself) is a way to show the big guy that I know what he likes. AND, it’s fostered communication between us about what he likes and dislikes (no cheddar cheese or yogurt…ever…ever). (If you’re engaged to be married, talk about food…it might be more important to your future spouse than you realize.)

8. ‘Organized’ is relative. I like neat and tidy. He likes to see it all…in front of him…at all times. I appreciate having a place for everything, and having everything in its place. He appreciates having everything in its place…in front of him. I can’t organize for him because it just confuses him. But we have established ‘areas’ for items that we jointly use…the office supply ‘area’, the tool ‘area’, the dirty clothes ‘area’.

7. Romantic comedies and country music are lies from the devil. Those men don’t exist in those forms. Women can’t change men to become those men. Movies and music are made for financial gain, not life guidance.

6. Men are sensitive. They may seem aloof and unaware sometimes, but they are not ‘stupid’. Sometimes they just don’t know how to respond in particular situations. They have emotions just as women do, they just display them differently. (Research actually shows that it takes men hours to process emotions that women only need seconds to process…they just need time.) Sentimentality exists beneath that tough exterior. They want to be the soldier heading into the daily battle for their damsel, but under their armor, they do have hearts. Again, communication is crucial to learning these areas about each individual man.

5.  Space is a vital frontier. Girl’s Nights are fun, but men need their Testosterone Nights, too. Be it in the man cave at home or the local pub down the street, they need time with their boyeeezzzz. When I have arranged time for the big guy to see a movie or go out for a drink with his peeps, he appreciates it greatly, even if he doesn’t say it. (see #6) It’s my way of telling him that I love him and I know his needs.

4. Get used to silence. While my mind is constantly racing with thoughts of the kids, the calendar, the jobs, the man, the relationship, his is just cruising along on its one track, usually focused on work. Silence does not equal dissatisfaction (the way it often does with females). He told me once (unfortunately recently), ‘I’ve only been mad at you once in the last six months. I’m usually just preoccupied with work.’ That was a strangely comforting statement. I could rest more assured that he wasn’t brooding about something I’d done wrong; he was brooding about work instead.

3. He has untapped potential. Marriage is a long time to be with someone. A lot of changes occur over the years. His job may change, his occupational focus may totally change. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…and sometimes fish jump out of the water and birds dip into the water. He may want to try something new, and he needs support to do it. My guy has started a side business and even bought out another one for expansion. He didn’t need my frowning disapproval or critique. He needed me as a sounding board and cheering squad.

2. A little talk never hurt, but a lot of talk did. Early on, when we had arguments, I would follow him from room to room, seeking resolution. But in a bizarre turn of events, the argument grew as we traversed through the house. After a shameful number of years of pursuing an end to arguments, he told me, ‘Sometimes I just need to process what we’ve said. I can’t give you an answer immediately’. As much as I wanted to avoid ‘not letting the sun go down on our anger’, I learned that the more useful solution was to just shut up. (See #s 4, 5, and 6).

1. ‘I love you’ isn’t always three words. The best thing this guy ever said to me was that I was ‘multi-faceted’. That was even before we were married, but he still believes it and sees it in me. I tell him, ‘You da man!’ when he accomplishes things. When he asks how the day has been when he knows the kids were off the wall, I know he’s being sympathetic and sensitive. I used to think that we needed to say those three special words at the end of every phone call, at the door every morning, at bedtime every night in order to have a healthy relationship. But now I know that hearing ‘Thanks for fixing dinner’ is really the same thing.



For more great love tips, read 1 Corinthians 13 here.

Top Ten: Summer Solstice Activities

Unlike previous top ten lists, this one is not in ranked order. Our family ignores the pagan origins of Summer Solstice, and we celebrate the beginning of summer just as that…the beginning of summer!!!!!!!!!!! We hang out with friends and let our kids stay up until the sun goes down, which is so far past their bedtime, it’s practically the next morning to them!!! Here are some of our ideas… do any or all of them to celebrate the beginning of summer! Share some of your own as well!

Top Ten: Summer Solstice Activities

10. Sunny Sun Cookies — Make a batch of these happy sunshines…and share some with neighbors!

9. Sharing the Shine — Another gift to share…a whole cookie mix! Spend the extra sunny hours mixing up these tasty concoctions to give away throughout the summer when someone needs a ray of sunshine!


8. Tie Dying Summer Shirts  – Got friends? Wear shirts? What a fun way to spend this sunny evening together…making bright shirts to wear the rest of the summer!

rainbow-tees-craft-photo-420-FF0603DYEA11 (Photo from Family Fun magazine via

7. Bike Ride through the neighborhood– Enjoy the late evening sunshine and you may make some new friends who will share summer fun with you! Make up silly bike races or relays…ride through obstacle courses or yard mazes. Find a new way to enjoy the ol’ familiar bike…you’ll have lots of summer time to enjoy it!

6. A new summer drink– Sangria for you, seltzer and juice for the kids…mix up a little refreshing beverage fun. Set out ice, fruit juices, fresh fruit, seltzer, mint leaves, and some little umbrellas for the kids to create their own summer blend. Give it a special name and it may become a family tradition! Peruse Pinterest for scores of yummy summer treats for mom and dad’s sipping pleasures!

5. Save some sun for a gray day– Take the kids outside and let them splatter paint some blank paper/notecards. Save this ‘stationary’ for notes to someone another day! paint

4. Just add water!!– Most places are in the thick of summer heat by the time summer even begins. Water activities are always a winner for summer fun! Sprinklers, squirters, wading pools…the ol’ standards. But what about water balloon tee ball, water balloon pinatas, sponge balls…and the scores of ideas found on (again!) Pinterest?? So many new ideas, you’ll be set for the whole summer!

3. Scavenger Hunt– choose a theme: summer fun, colors, beat the heat, numbers…and then choose your objects within that theme. Plan it ahead of time…or tell the kids to count to 20 and throw the items randomly around. Then, turn ‘em loose to find them. This activity can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be…

2.  Dance in the Street!!–the neighborhood may rejoice at the ice-cream truck’s jingle, but you can keep on dancing with your own playlist. Let the sun shine and the music play on this long sunny day! Here’s a sample playlist, with some kid-friendly songs…

1. Plant Sunflowers– Start the summer by starting a sunflower patch. Pick a place with lots of sun and room for these tall soldiers of the season to stand. Start a tradition of enjoying nature on this night and you’ll see it’s beauty throughout summer!