Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Heavenly Bread Found In the Night Sky

The night sky, filled with an infinite number of twinkling and shiny stars has become my new playground.

I stare into the dark vastness and search for His creations that appear before me slowly as I focus my eyes.
My son received a telescope recently, and we have been studying with great joy the creation out of our reach, but within our sight.

We fiddle and tweak the scope and set our sights on a world beyond us...a brilliant display of lights and dancing planets and stars.
“This is God’s creation,” I tell him, while looking into his amazed face.
“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” Isaiah 40:26.
The moon, gives way its light and blankets us in awe. I tell him, my son, that we are staring in the face of Heaven. God gave up His place in the starry sky that was not big enough to contain Him to come down in human be held, judged, and hung like a thief.

I remind my son that the same star that appears before us led the way for the wise men to find the baby Jesus.
He, who carved the universe we are exploring, came to us to provide the bread of life.
God took on human form through His son Jesus and took the nails and our sins and made Himself bread so that all who are empty could fill themselves with the Bread of Life.

We continue our talk of the bread and the sky and the gift that is ours for the taking, while standing in the cold night air absorbing this that is God’s creation.
My son says to me, “But Mama, if we are supposed to be bread for others, why are there still hungry people in the world?”

How powerful a question for such a little guy!
And he’s right! What’s more important in this life than to be bread for another man?
It will soon be Christmas. The days are ticking by. We will celebrate the birth of Christ, who came as our daily bread...the bread of life. And yet, somewhere, someone will not be filled with that bread.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51
Will you serve it to one who is hungry? Will you share a life giving portion to someone this season?

As we stare into the openness of the sky, and darkness wraps around us like a soft blanket, I pray that we will all be the bread of life to those who are hungry this Christmas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Make a Mickey Pinata

For my nephew's birthday last year, I made a Mickey Mouse pinata. This was a fun and easy project...and cheap, I might add.
Items needed to make it: a punching balloon, about 20 old newspapers, flour, water, black spray paint, one black and one white poster board, a paper clip or wire, and rope to hang it.
1. Blow up your punching balloon.
2. Cut your newspapers into 2" x 6" strips.
3. Mix 1 part flour to 1 part water. I added some elmer's glue, too. This will be a soupy mixture, but don't worry, it works. If you are making this a week or more in advance, add a tablespoon of salt to prevent molding.
4. Dip your strips of newspaper one a time and place on the balloon. Cover the balloon all the way around, but leave a small hole where the balloon is tied. The opening needs to be big enough to put candy through, so keep that in mind. Make the hole at the top of the pinata.
5. Do one layer at a time, allowing the paper to dry before beginning the next layer. I put mine in front of a fan to speed the drying process.
6. I did about 8 layers. The trick is to make sure your layers are completely dry. You'll be able to tell if you've done enough layers by how firm it is. If you are able to push in easily on the sides, you haven't done enough layers.
7. Once the entire thing is dry, spray paint it. I used black enamel spray paint, so it would have a shiny appearance.
8. After allowing the paint to dry, use a straight pin, and pop the balloon. It is essential to make sure all of your paper and paint are dry before you do this. I let mine sit all night in front of a fan. I highly recommend letting it dry overnight before popping your balloon.
9. Next, cut your black poster board into the shape of Mickey's ears. Cut out Mickey's pupils and nose, too, out theblack cardboard.
(I googled a template for Mickey's face, and then freehanded it on the poster board.)
10. Use the white poster board to cut out Mickey's face and eyes.
11. To attach the ears, I folded the bottom inch of the ears and taped them to the pinata.
12. Use a black marker to draw Mickey's mouth and nose crease.
13. Tape Mickey's face to the front. Use a red marker or red construction paper for Mickey's tongue.
14. Fill Mickey with the candy.
15. I cut a piece of black cardboard to cover the hole and glued it on. Then, I poked the wire through it. This was tricky, but I was able to twist the wire in order to get it to hold the pinata up.
16. Tie a rope or string to the wire and hang up your Mickey pinata.
17. Finally, enjoy the fun of watching the kids pop the pinata and scramble to pick up the sweet treats that fall.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are you giving a cross-shaped life?

The season of turkeys, sweet potatoes, pretty presents, and twinkling trees is quickly approaching. I can almost smell the rolls cooking and hear the scramble of shoppers in hot pursuit of the perfect presents.
Families will gather, fun will be shared and laughter will be heard.
But somewhere, for someone...the holidays will not bring such joy.
There will not be hidden treasures wrapped with tinsel and ribbon or families who gather for love and laughter. There will only be silence and a longing desire burning deep within for more.
There will be a mother with a broken heart who will not have the money to buy presents for her children, or a lonely widow who will not have family that stops by for dinner, or an elderly man that will sit silently on Christmas morn in a nursing home aching for someone...anyone to visit for a quick chat.
The true gift of this season can not be bought and wrapped in sparkly paper.
The true gift of this season was found in a manger surrounded by hay and donkeys and wrapped in cloths.
This baby, born into life only to give his life to die with arms outstretched, blood running down, crucified for our sins and asks only for our love in return.
God demonstrated, by the giving of his own son’s life, the real gift of this season.
God allowed Jesus to die, so that those who believe in Him would not die, but have the gift of eternal life in Heaven.
I am deeply convinced that Thanksgiving and Christmas season offer an opportunity to show a cross-shaped life by giving of oneself, with arms outstretched, unselfishly, and without any desire to receive anything in return.
In John 1:14, the Bible says “The word became flesh and made his dwelling amoung us...”
The holiday season grants each of us a chance to become His flesh to others by giving generously of ourselves, whether monetarily or just by giving of our time.
Allowing Christ’s unselfish cross-shaped life to become who we are creates a desire in the deepest crevices of our souls to love the unloved, suffer with the hurting, and pray with the powerless.
I have been the hurting mother with little to give and the lonely child simply longing to have my father hold me on Christmas morn.
But for the grace of others, who saw my needs and came to me with arms outstretched, pouring forth their cross-shaped lives into this undeserving sinner girl, I would not know the real gift of this season.
Once upon a time, having received the real gift of the season for myself, changed this broken, sinner girl and created a passion for giving to others.
Will you be that gift to someone this year? Will you give of yourself unselfishly, arms outstretched, love pouring forth through your cross-shaped life? Will you allow His presence in your life to be the ultimate present for someone else?

Pinterest fun

So I've discovered Pinterest...Oh how I love thee! Connor and I spent the weekend doing projects. We love crafts, and Pinterest has an unlimited bounty of terrific crafts for kids and mommas. Our first project was a Christmas tree that I put on the mantle. I found some scrapbook paper at Dirt Cheap and cut and taped it. It was super easy!

Next, we made a manger scene. This was totally our idea. I love manger scenes! We cut the shapes of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and the angel and glued them to cardboard. Then, I used some of the left over scraps of paper and made the stable.
These were great projects for 2 people who were sick all weekend. We have the sinus crud and have coughed and sneezed nearly the entire weekend. I sure hope we're better by Thanksgiving!
I found the perfect wreath for the front of my car. I have put a wreath on the front of my car for the last 4 years. Now, Connor claims he will not ride with me if I do it this year. I hope he enjoys walking. Ha! I took the wreath back, but not before I got a cute picture of Connor wearing it on his head.
Y'all have a great week! Be thankful!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weathered Love of Grace

He is weathered like a piece of driftwood…worn and tattered with age. His fingers are dark and rusty and twisted…the kind of hands and fingers that have worked hard and fast in a field or a factory. He walks with a limp. Age and time have worn him and show in his crooked back.

I wait for him every Wednesday with excitement. He is my friend.

The white car rounds the corner, and I see him with his hat on. His wife of many years sits in her spot in the passenger seat. She is always with him…always…except not today. I take a second look. She is not there.

He makes his way through my door smiling a smile that lights my darkest days. We exchange our greetings. He pulls his change from his pocket and passes the coins to me with his brittle fingers. I ask him where she is today…his wife.

His expression changes, and I wait. She is at home now. She can no longer ride with him. I wait…I wait for more. He looks into my eyes, and for a moment, I feel as though my heart may leap straight through my chest. He tells me she is now too sick to ride beside him.

She is not herself anymore. He tries to tell me what is wrong with her. She doesn’t know him anymore. She doesn’t know anyone. She is lost in her own mind, but he knows her…and he loves her. I can tell. And my swelling heart thumps so loud, I am afraid he can hear it.

In that moment, with the morning sun beaming through my office windows and shadows dancing around the room like angels and fairies, I see what I’ve never seen in him before. Suddenly, he is young and spry and speaks with a young man’s voice. In a moment, he is reliving the past with her, and I am soaking it in like cracked earth drinking drops of rain.

He beams like the sun behind him, and I can see it…that unselfish love. The kind of love you get from the Father to give to another. The all-encompassing passion for another human that you pledge to love in sickness and in health. And he does. He does love her, and I am blessed in that moment to share the joy and the sadness with him.

And I am thankful...thankful for God’s grace to live in this see God through a sweet man who asks for nothing and gives it all to his wife just as the Father gives it all to each of us.

My friend turns to leave, and I watch him slowly return to his car. I am filled up to overflowing with the lingering devotion left in the room. What a treasured gift to know the Father's love and to see it!

During this week of Thanksgiving, I pray we each take the time to find a moment of quiet to be with the Father and give thanks to the author of love. It is through Him, love flows from one to another and heals the broken hearted. May you be filled with joy and gratitude this week and soak up the gracious love of your Father.