Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ministry Minute and the Parenting Place--Easter Devotion Ideas

Easter Day 
by Evaleen Stein
Christ the Lord is risen today!
Angels rolled the stone away
From the tomb wherein He lay!
Little children, come and sing,
"Glory, glory to the King,
Christ the Lord of everything!"

Easter is such a crazy, emotional week for me...such sadness when I think about all that occurred on Easter week thousands of years ago, but at the same time, incredible joy at the hope that a RISEN SAVIOR offers to all of us!  

Tonight I kept tearing up when telling the Easter story to my preschoolers at church.  Goodness, I thought I was going to make them cry too--poor things!  
My sweet sister, Dana, emailed me this week with some fabulous and fun ideas she is doing with her own little ones, so I wanted to share with you as well.  I LOVE THESE!    
  • Monday:  Make a cross for decorating during the week, using construction paper, cardboard, etc.
  • Tuesday: Look for/make palm leaves to lay at foot of cross to mark when Jesus arrived into town; write on them other names for Jesus and then glue them down.
  • Wednesday: Decorate the base of the cross with flowers.  On each flower write something that you are grateful for or that Jesus has done for you.
  • Thursday: Wash each other's feet and read the Passover story.
  • Friday: Use black construction paper x's and talk about our sins.  Emphasize how Jesus was crucified for our sins.
  • Saturday: Make a white banner with a message of thanks to Jesus, using a sheet, old shirt, or construction paper.  (Then, while kids are sleeping, remove the "sins" from the cross and hang the white banner on instead. Cross will be beautiful complete with palms, flows and white banner.)
Just so sweet...especially as I imagine her 2 children washing each other's feet and learning to mirror the servant's heart that Jesus had!  I hope these ideas are a blessing to you as well!  I know it is Wednesday already, but I think you could combine some of these ideas in order to squeeze them in on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

There are even more FREE devotion ideas for you at the link below.  Hope you have a wonderful Holy Week! 
Fun Family Easter Devotions and Resources!
Love, Shannon :-)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Moments with Mimi--Picking Your Battles

I must admit that this is one of those weeks when fatigue has left me a little battle weary.  Spring Break, where are you???  Mimi's post was a great one for me to read this week!  

For those of you on Spring Break already, I hope you are having a great time!!!  If you are like me and Spring Break isn't here for you yet, HOLD ON!  It's coming! :-)  

One more thing, a sweet lady from my church is raising funds for her husband.  I know she would love your business if this is a fund raiser you are interested in participating in!  Just be sure to follow the link shown here by March 29th:

Thanks so much!  Shannon :-)  
Picking Your Battles 

Several years ago I tried explain the concept of “picking your battles” to a friend who has asked me about raising her children. I remember saying to her, “All battles cannot be won with children and some are not even worth the effort – so pick them carefully if you want to win often.” 

My question when raising my own children was always, “Is this really a hill worth fighting for, or just a bump in the road worth smiling over?” 

Unfortunately, I tend to like coming out the victor in all battles…whether simply over a dirty glass being returned to the sink or settling a longer, more intense drama. I want there to be meaning, purpose and lessons learned from each battle I face. At the very least, I always want to be able to back over my shoulder and smile with contentment at a job well done…a battle well fought. 

Several weeks ago while my 6 year old grandson was here, we began playing ball in the front yard – just he and I. I thought we were just passing the time before he left to go on a cousin adventure. I would be the pitcher and the outfielder, and he would be the batter and runner. 

I must admit, he could hit the ball with quite a wallop – and his running skills were superb. I, on the other hand could throw the ball adequately, and my outfielding ability proved to be a little less than superb. In addition, I was not in uniform. I was wearing jeans and sporting a brand new pair of boots. 

His fly balls were hit WAY over my head and into the neighbor’s yard on more than one occasion. I finally took a new approach and started just throwing the ball to try to tag him out, but unfortunately, this required even more distance running on my part. After lapping the bases several times, he declared that HE was WINNING! He explained that it was because he had the most runs. Yep, this was my hill, and it was time to have a battle !!! 

I stopped and quickly responded, “Well, I guess you are winning; I have not even had a chance at bat.” He replied, “Mimi, that is because you have not gotten me out yet.” I exclaimed, “William, that’s because I do not have any outfielders. I am the only one running for your balls!!!!” He replied, “Well, I don’t have any other base runners either; what does that mean?” 

I stopped a minute and thought. What that means is that he IS winning, against a Mimi running in boots retrieving all of his hit balls 30 yards away. He owned the victory. Each time he crossed home plate scoring another run, he would jump up and down laughing, pretending to be high fiving the other team mates…that we didn't even have! 

Sigh…I had to ask myself, “Was this really a hill to die on or a battle worth winning? Should I point out all of the unfairness and inequality in the rules of our contest? Or should I just congratulate him on his win? Was this a time for a sit-down explanation of rules of the game?” 

Nope…instead I just conceded. I told William what a good ball player he was and that I was going to work on my fielding skills before next time. As we picked up the bat and ball, he commented that I was a pretty good pitcher after all and grinned up at me. 

In that moment, I knew that although I had lost the ball game, I had really won the battle that was most important. Why? Because sweet William asked me where to put the ball for next time, because our game was fun! 

I came in through the back door, and looked over my shoulder at him and smiled with contentment. As I had told my friend years ago, “All battles cannot be won with children and some are not even worth the effort – so pick them carefully if you want to win often.” 

And yet, I realized one more thing about battles that day in my front yard…it is not always about being right and winning. It is sometimes about gaining wisdom when losing! 
 Blessings, Mimi (AKA Anne) 
Psalm 18:39 You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Moments with Mimi--Cleaning Houses!

Hi!  Happy Monday!  Whew, we have had a terrible storm here.  I am so thankful that all my sweet family is now home and safe and sound.  

Tonight's post from Mimi made me giggle out loud.  I am the daughter in question who caused her so much angst over a plastic suitcase of doll clothes.  Who knew she was so worried?  Never fear, the suitcase and clothes are now safely in my own daughter's possession.  Read below to understand more.  And thanks so much for stopping by!  Shannon :-)
Cleaning House 

I have begun the grueling task of my spring cleaning…cleaning out. I do mean grueling, and I do mean cleaning out. 

Over a period of precious time—as you lose your aged parents and empty the nest of children—somehow you wind up with more belongings. I don’t know how it happens! In the losing and emptying process, I have gained more personal effects than I have room for!!!! 

This season I have planned and purposed to totally organize and thoroughly empty my house of clutter. I started in the attic because if I can clean out the attic, I will have a place to which I can transfer some of the more valuable contents of my closets and extra bedroom. I actually may have a real extra bedroom after all!!! 

I do have a method to the madness. This has been going on for several weeks, and I have worked diligently to “haul off” things and not just relocate them. On my first run through, some of my attic finds were my childrens’ old toys that I am “hauling off” to their homes. Their toys are often in the way when I try to add more to the small planked storage space of my attic. 

I did not realize it, but as my girls went off to college and then married, I remained in possession of their various memorabilia. One particular item that I found was a doll suitcase that both of my girls enjoyed. I didn’t even clean out the contents. Dirty as it was, I just took it to my oldest daughter, still full of clothes. 

As I drove with my car trunk loaded with things to discard, donate, or deliver, I remembered precious moments of the girls’ childhood playing. All of a sudden, I was establishing a bond with this dirty suitcase that I was delivering. This thirty minute trek I was making to my daughter’s house afforded me enough time to reminisce about early childhood games and play times with them. 

I left instructions with my daughter that the doll clothes inside would have to be delicately hand-washed, and the suitcase gently wiped and disinfected. I was a bit remorseful and unsure that she would adequately take care of it. But, it was now hers to do as she pleased. After reiterating my instructions, I was off and back on my way back home for another section of cleaning. 

For a couple of weeks upon my visits to her house, I noted the suitcase remained just where we left it. I would peek inside to see if everything was still OK and in place. And it was. After a little time, the suitcase was moved, and I asked her if she had washed it out. Her response was no, not yet. Then I worried. Where was it? Was it lost? Was it being properly kept? Was it thrown away? The last time I was there I actually, asked my grandson about its whereabouts, and he just looked at me with a funny expression and said, “I don’t know.” That wasn’t a very comforting answer to the whereabouts of this toy item—that I discovered I had formed an emotional bond with. As long as it was in my attic, it was under my watchful eye, and I was the sole proprietor of its safe keeping. (How silly we moms can be!!!!!!) 

I smiled later and told my daughter that my “cleaning house” episode was much like releasing my children’s situations and other problems over to the Lord. I find that I do much the same thing. I place the situations in my proverbial trunk—drive away to rid myself of them—stop and unload it all at heaven’s door—but then keep going back to have a peek!!!! 

We say we are through with it, ready to hand it over, but then we find an emotional reason to hover around, keeping our own watchful eyes on the situation. And at the same time, we continue to fret… how silly we moms can be!!!  Lord, help me to trust you more, in all situations and despite my own worries.

I have since then started on another closet, and WOW!!! I have found most of my girls’ Western riding clothes that they had when they rode their own horses. Don’t worry—I am not even going to put this into my trunk and subject myself to the emotional fiasco…I have a perfect spot already picked out up in the attic! Blessings, Mimi (AKA Anne) 

II Timothy 1:12 “because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gifted Gab and the Classroom Corner--Fairy Tales on This Friday

I am at home tonight with Sadiebug for a little "girls' night in" fun.  We are curled up in the den watching Cinderella and eating Subway. My favorite line from the movie..."Come along, even miracles take a bit of time!"  :-)  
Daddy, the boys, and Mimi are at the movie theater watching The Hobbit--a little too intense for a 5 year old girl and her mommy, I must admit! ;-)

Speaking of Cinderella, I am so excited about my recently developed folk, fable, and fairy tale packets that are now available in both of my teacher stores.  Using these traditional tales as our basis, we have taken an interdisciplinary approach to these favorite stories, expanding and enriching our study through science, technology, writing, critical thinking, global studies, etc.  

Here are just a few pictures from our Cinderella-inspired fairy godmother and godfather illustrations and stories this week.  So completely adorable!
We read versions of the Cinderella story from France, Germany, Mexico, and Egypt...who knew so many versions existed?!  My kids were fascinated.  We also voted for our favorite version...the Egyptian tale was a class favorite for sure!
Egyptian Cinderella (ISBN10: 0064432793; ISBN13: 9780064432795) Adelita: Mexican Cinderella Story (ISBN10: 0142401870; ISBN13: 9780142401873)
I have tried to include tales and stories to our study that both my boys and girls love, and we have alternated between these each week in order to keep both groups engaged.  Want to see more?  Click on the links below to take you to see the ones I have posted so far!
Fairy Tale Fun--Snow White Enrichment/Extension Opportunities
Also, great news!  EVERYTHING in my stores is on sale until Monday--20% off any and all!!!!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Shannon :-)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday Moments with Mimi--Green in His Honor...

Well, I know Monday Moments with Mimi are supposed to happen on Mondays, but I hope you will understand why this is a day late after reading my mom's post for this week.  

We had a family celebration Monday night in honor of my cousin Landon's 21st birthday...I think you'll understand more after you read below.  

I do want to say that I am so incredibly thankful for my family and for the legacy of strength, grace, and faith that has been left for me and for future generations!  Praying that we all live out such a legacy for those in our spheres of influence... Blessings to you and yours!  Shannon

Green in His Honor 

I returned home tonight with every intention of typing the finishing lines of this week’s “Cleaning House” post and emailing it to my daughter for my weekly Monday Moment with Mimi. I only had one more paragraph left to write. It should have been completed in a timely matter with just the addition of a few witty closing lines, but the gaiety of my heart escaped me. I was not necessarily sad, but I found that I had lost the ability to bring insightful wit and humor to my writing for tonight anyway. 

See I have just come from an impromptu family birthday “tribute” for my nephew which was given by his mom, my sister-in-law. Landon would have been 21 today. But at the age 16, while on staff at a Christian Youth Camp in Colorado, he was struck by lightning and ushered into the presence of the Father. 5 years…in some ways it seems like just yesterday, and in other ways in seems like an eternity since we saw him last. 

In actuality, we did not really have a birthday “party” for him, but rather a remembrance. Landon’s mom decorated the dining room in his favorite color—green. Balloons and crepe paper were draped around the dining room chandelier, and even his mom wore green in his honor. She provided us all with pizza and the donuts—his favorite foods!!!! 

The small children ran throughout the house playing hide and seek as the adults shared conversations, stories, and memories. Lighthearted chatter sprinkled with loud laughter came as we remembered and celebrated our love as a family. Landon’s life was full of joy, and we truly miss him, but tonight I mainly want to share with you about his mom, Sharon. Her life over the past few years has been a journey of faith and fortitude. I have no doubt that our children will benefit greatly from her example of endurance while on this journey we call life. 

It was not on purpose, but as the evening came to a close, most of the family left the get together at around the same time and headed to our individual houses. It was almost a mini-parade as various vehicles left the driveway, one behind the other. As we rode down the road to my home, my daughter and I noted that driving away from my sister-in-law’s home brought on a somewhat melancholy spirit. We were a bit saddened to be leaving this impromptu “party” that she had sweetly invited us to. 

But I was reminded as we drove of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I feel incredibly blessed to be part of a family that at a moment’s notice comes together to celebrate a birth, grieve a loss, or have this kind of a “party.” 

So I smiled in my heart, because tonight had happened; we had been a part of a celebration, strange as it seems. My sister-in-law has truly walked a path most mothers cannot even imagine. But tonight she graciously welcomed us into her home and her heart as we remembered Landon’s birthday. She grieved, but with all the beauty of a lady of great conviction. 

I smile now, because I realize that I have not just been to a “party” tonight, but I have been a part of a “journey” over the last five years with a godly lady of great strength. She has fearlessly walked this path, and has set an example for all to follow. She has taught us the importance of REMEMBERING, all the while never wavering from her faith. I am so grateful for our laughter as a family tonight. But more importantly, I will forever be thankful for my lessons learned from her along this journey!!!! Blessings, Mimi (AKA Anne)

Psalm 101:6
"My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
will minister to me."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Goodies for Your March Saturday!

Goodness, what a week!  Are you like me and some weeks are incredibly busy juggling school, home, work, kids?  Some weeks I look back and am amazed at how much we have been able to cram into 168 hours?!  From 2 field trips, a fall down the stairs, car trouble, a son with the flu, our school art show, gymnastics, ballet, church, school, a dance, and 2 days of yard sales, I have to admit I am TIRED! :-)  But the great news is it is Saturday, and tomorrow a new week begins.  I must admit, I am hoping it is a bit calmer than the last for sure!

I wanted to highlight a few of my March resources for you, especially this first one shown here.  It is my FREE St. Patrick's Day devotion pack for your family, so please be sure to download it before March 17th.  Blessings to you and your little ones!
Family St. Patrick's Day Devotions and Resources 

And here are just a few of my other March and St. Patrick's Day goodies for you to check them out as well!  Have a great weekend!  Shannon :-)
St. Patrick's Day Dice Game ("Happy"ahtzee St. Patrick's Day!)
"March"ing Ahead and Lucky to Be Learning!
St. Patrick's Day Freebie:  How Many Shamrock Leaves?
St. Patrick's Day Freebie:  Creative Writing for You!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monday Moments with Mimi--Resuming the DVD

Hi!  This week's inspirational post from Mimi is a great encouragement, so thanks so much for stopping by!!!  Just a quick note, if you have purchased my ABC Idioms resource, be sure to stop by and download your copy of the updated version.  Now it includes 57 pages of goodies for both teachers and students.  Just follow the links below: 
There is also a 2nd version also available, so please check that out as well.
And now on to this week's post from Mimi!  Enjoy and be blessed!!!  Shannon :-)
Resuming the DVD 

I am one of those people that really enjoys all the seasons of the year. For with each season comes a host of holidays and perhaps even more noticeable, refreshing changes in the weather. The transition from the cold of winter into the warmth of spring may be my favorite!!! The only set back is when we have (like this week) a few, wonderful days of warmth followed by a radical turnaround, and we head back into the cold days of winter for a few more unexpected days of shivering! 

I guess in life, change is not really my forte in general. From 72 and sunny back to 32, damp, and windy in 48 hours does not bring me any enjoyment. It forces me back inside the confines of my small den to do my walking/aerobics exercising, and that to me is a real source of discontentment. I have an indoor 2-mile workout DVD that I have made into an aggressive 3 mile jaunt, all within the confines of my small den. The only perk of my morning routine is fixing a cup of coffee, picking up my weights, and beginning my exercise program in 7 minutes or less from waking up. 

The other day, my cast iron weights had begun to be very hard to hold as I approached the 3 mile mark. My hands had become sweaty and my grip was much looser than I expected. Letting loose in-flight of the 3lb weights I was holding would be disastrous through my beautiful picture window, glass display case, or the television that I am at times only 3 feet away from while walking!!!! 

Ordinarily, in the brisk spring air at the outdoor neighborhood track I frequent, my hands do not become slippery or sweaty at all. Even so, really how dangerous is a loosed flying 3-lb weight when you are outdoors??? But this sweaty-hand fiasco was an interesting obstacle for me to overcome in my indoor workout. I paused my DVD, jogged to the thermostat, dropped the temperature, and assessed my den from a different angle. I re-positioned my stance so that if I lost the weights, no real damage would be done. In this new-found position, I had more room to move, but I had to turn away from my inspirational, instructional DVD. Instead, I now stood staring into a very messy desk covered in paperwork and bills. In my peripheral vision, all I could see was a dark hallway. That visual was not pleasing in the least and brought me no reminders of the great outdoors that I love!!! Alas, what to do??? 

Simple solution. I just jogged into the bathroom, grabbed a small hand towel, and hurriedly wiped off my hands and the weights. I then returned to the den and resumed my DVD (facing my original direction), but now with less-damp hands. I tossed the small towel onto my love seat and continued on to complete the final portion of my routine. I was silently amused, and immediately knew that this moment would be the inspiration for this week’s blog post—when circumstances temporarily confine us, another way to overcome may present itself!!!! 

But that was not my only lesson learned—that was just a reminder of the power of positive thinking. It was not until I picked up the remote and resumed playing my DVD that the real lesson came to me. We do not have a remote to pause life for us. The reality is that there are no pause buttons at all in life for us to hit. We are not afforded the opportunity to grab towels, change positions, or even wipe our sweaty hands. Therefore, when our weight becomes a little heavy and our grip a little loose, we just have to hold on tighter!!!!! 

As circumstances sometimes become difficult, don’t get lost gazing at the what if’s; grasp a little tighter on the what is!!! After all of that, it turns out that the ending of my DVD was only minutes from finishing. I really could have held on for a few more minutes. The glass of my window panes would not have been broken at all!!!! All my proverbial broken pieces and imagined “what if’s” could have been circumvented by simply having a tighter grip for a few minutes longer. LOL Today’s reminder for you and me--hold on!!! Blessings, Mimi (AKA Anne) 
Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”