Friday, March 29, 2013

Relics...

I somehow never finished blogging about our trip to Europe that Jason and I took on his sabbatical... two years ago. But I was thinking today about some of the relics we saw while in Italy. Relics are, according to Webster, "an object esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr" and we saw ALOT of them in Rome. After seeing some of them, we just walked away and thought, really? You really think that's what that is? How do you know for sure? But if they are what they say they are, its pretty incredible. I thought this weekend was a good time to remember what I saw. Its going to lead me to research them a little bit because I have forgotten in the last two years what these pictures are of.

 
These are the chains that bound Paul in prison.

 
These are the Holy Stairs, or Scala Santa. These are supposedly the stairs from the palace of Pontius Pilate where Jesus was sentenced to death. The mother of Constantine brought these steps to Rome in 326 AD. It is said that if believers climb the stairs on their knees, they will experience part of what Christ experienced in his suffering. Jason and I arrived right after they reopened after lunch, and had to climb the stairs with all these people so it took a really long time. I can still remember that my knees were killing me, but more than that, I was hot and dizzy and claustrophobic. It did literally bring me to my knees to think about how much more Jesus suffered than that because he loved us. I did make it to the top, and felt kind of changed in some way.  We toured the chapel at the top and then came back down and found the stairs like this.
 
 
Empty. But I probably worshipped more climbing it with the loads of people then if I had sped through it by myself. The drops below are said to be drops of Jesus' blood that spilled as he was being beaten on the steps. As you climb the steps and get to one of those spots, it does take your breath away.


 

 
These are relics from the Passion of Christ. It includes the nails that nailed Jesus to the cross, two thorns from his crown of thorns, the sign that hung about his cross, and a piece of the cross. Again, these were said to be brought to Rome by St. Helen, the mother of Constantine.

 
This is a replica of the Shroud of Turin, the cloth supposedly wrapped around Jesus' body. The real thing may be shown on tv this weekend for the first time. Apparently new research has come out that it is from the time of Jesus.
 

 
These are the chains that bound Peter in prison. There are two sets of them found in two different places and supposedly when the two sections came together, they magically joined together.
 

And this holds pieces of the manger that Jesus was laid in as a baby. See the gold baby on top?
 
I think our main thought was that back when Jesus was living, no one knew who he really was. Even his disciples misunderstood who he was. So how would anyone have saved these items if they didn't know the eternal impact he would make? But they are interesting. I didn't list the churches these items are found in. If you ever travel to Rome, the main one I recommend is the stairs. That was the most meaningful to us.
 
I am so glad my Jesus is eternal and I don't have to depend on access to material items to have a relationship with him. But I am also thankful that people are still searching for ways to connect to him, even if its through material things. 

 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Roller Coaster Day

What a day! Up and down and everywhere in between. This morning was Campbell's last Easter celebration at his preschool. They do a service where the kids put flowers on a big wooden cross to show the children how beautiful the ugly cross becomes because of what Jesus did. I was too busy helping with the little kids to really take it in that it was his last, probably better that way. He did his last preschool Easter egg hunt and I took some cute pictures of him and his friends. Great morning. Bitter sweet.

Then we went to the elementary school where Cade was awarded a Character Award. Each teacher gets to choose two of her students each nine weeks to reward them for having great character. I have always been more proud of my boys when they receive this than any athletic or academic achievement. And its a surprise to the kids, so I loved the smile on his face. Such pride and joy.



But all that was gone an hour later when Cade went to his end of the year chess club party. Yes, he's in chess club and loves it. And he was expecting to receive the first place trophy for having the best match record for the year. I was expecting to see him bounding out of the front doors of the school with a big old trophy. But there he came, with a pouting face and a small participation trophy. He was devastated. He gets mad when he loses stuff because he's very competitive. But this was different. This was get in the car and let the tears loose devastation. So hard for a momma to not jump out of the car and steal the big trophy from the kid on the sidewalk. Heartbreaking.

Tonight Cooper had a baseball game and pitched for the first time in the majors. J and I could tell he was nervous and he had every right to be. He wanted to impress those older kids on his team who are checking him out, wondering how he will perform. And he performed great! Struck out 3 batters in 2 innings. Only walked 2, but 1 was on purpose to load the bases. They won 13-2 and he got the game ball! Huge smile on his face too! Pride and joy back again!

Finally got home at almost 10, and I went to get the mail. In the mail was a letter from his new middle school about band. Coop wants to play percussion like his daddy, but has never had any musical training. The letter said he would have to try out and only 8 kids will make it. And they would prefer the percussion students have piano training. So the built up stress of the day came out in tears. Sadness of not measuring up and worry.

I received a letter I wasn't expecting, didn't really want to receive and didn't need today for sure. It has brought up some stuff I haven't had to deal with in a long time, and I really don't have the emotional strength to deal with it. At least not today. Tired frustration.

So many emotions today. I am so glad that my God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and that no emotion I have can faze Him. I am glad that over the years I have seen how He moves and that because of the trust I have built up in Him I don't get fazed as easily by unexpected letters, disappointments, and worry. Not to say I don't have bad days where I do get over taken by emotions. But today was not one of them. Thankful for all our experiences today.




Monday, March 25, 2013

How to Keep Christ in your Child's Easter

Last Christmas I did a series about how to keep Christ in your child's Christmas. Easter is harder. But here are some ideas that Terri Neal, our Director of Preschool Ministries, and I put together for a parent coffee we did last week. There are a few really good ideas that I'm going to do with my kids this week.

Keeping Christ in Your Child’s Easter

Things to Focus On:
Younger Preschoolers: Jesus is Alive, Jesus Loves Us
Older Preschoolers: The picture of the cross in a positive light, describe that sin is when we do something that makes God unhappy, and Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins

Activities:
Resurrection Eggs (can be bought at a Christian Bookstore)
Resurrection Rolls (http://www.dltk-kids.com/recipes/resurrection_rolls.html)
Tomb Cookie Recipe (www.shirleys-preschool-activities.com/easter-tomb-cookies.html)
Stained Glass Cross (glue tissue paper, or fake flowers) Write “He is alive” or “He is risen”
Block area – build a tomb with blocks, add small stones
Place blue painters tape on paper so kids can paint or color a cross
Cut out a large heart shape, laminate it, and let kids use a dry erase black marker to color on it and wipe off, talk about wiping away sins
Put separate words of a verse, prayer or Bible thought hidden in eggs around room, put words of verse back together when you find all the eggs (Jesus is alive… God so loved the world that He gave his son…) You can do this game far beyond Easter. Or have an entire verse or prayer in each egg.
Compare objects that are alive and not alive (plants, rocks, etc. )
Make a cross kids can lace with a shoe string

Books to Read:
The Tale of Three Trees, Angela Hunt
The Easter Story, Tracy Harrast
Benjamin’s Box, Melody Carlson
The Story of Jesus, Patricia Pingry
The Story of Easter, Patricia Pingry
The Parable of the Lily, Liz Curtis Higgs
God Gave us Easter, Lisa Tawn Bergren (Brand new book!)
My Easter Basket, Mary Manz Simon (This is the book we read to the entire weekday program)

Book with Ideas:
Tina Houser’s Easter-rific! Teaching Kids… Its more than Just One Day!, Warner Press Kids, 2011 (lots of ideas for older kids, but can be modified, covers entire Holy week)
 
Websites:
http://www.christianpreschoolprintables.com/Easter.html
www.dltk-holidays.com/easter/religious.html
www.ehow.com/info_7919770_simple-crafts-easter-preschool-kids.html
www.ministry-to-children.com/childrens-easter-crafts-resource-page/
www.preschool-plan-it.com/christian-easter-activities.html
http://www.perpetualpreschool.com/christianthemes/bible_themes/christian_easter.html
http://wearethatfamily.com/2012/03/ten-fun-ways-to-keep-easter-about-jesus/
(Type Easter in the search box to pull up other ideas on her blog)





Sunday, March 24, 2013

Baseball

The Little League baseball season officially started yesterday with Opening Day ceremonies here, but of course, its been going on our in our home for a over a month already. And, we have three playing for the first time. Campbell should be playing tee ball, but not to the surprise of anyone, except his momma, he was drafted at 4 years old to play on a coach pitch team with 5 and 6 year olds. An overachiever already. He can hit great and throw fairly well, but can't quite catch. But most of the kids on his team can't either, so its ok. He's playing right field which is great for his short attention span. He spends most of the time out there dancing in circles. But he is having a blast. His team won their first game 18-16 thanks in part to his in the park homerun. It was a great hit out to the fence, but yes, only due to the lack of defense on the other team did he make it all the way around. But if you could have seen the look on his face, priceless! And everyone is still congratulating him on his homerun, so that's a great way to start his baseball career! Rumor has it that his coach said "So what do you think about my 4 year old now?!" Very proud momma. Even prouder daddy if you could even imagine.

Cade is playing kid pitch this year and was starting pitcher for his first game. I am really missing machine pitch (a lot faster) but its great to watch these boys grow up and start to play "real" baseball. Jason is coaching Cade's team, so he is whipping them into shape. It should be a great season.

And Cooper, again to remind me how old I am getting, is now in the majors division, the oldest one. Next year will be his last in Little League. Ug, knife to the heart. For years I have seen the oldest kids on the big field and thought how huge they were and how I couldn't imagine my kids ever being that big, and here we are. He has been playing catcher and short stop. He seems to like his team mates, and although they have lost their first two games, I have faith they will have a great season too. He had to buy a new bat because his old one is almost "dead". J and Coop have tried to explain to me numerous times how an inanimate object can die, but I don't get it.

So yes, to answer the question I am sure you are asking, our schedule is crazy! Baseball every night of some kind. I have the colored coded system in full swing. At the top of my wipe board is the practice schedule originally set when the season started. But at the bottom of the board is the reality for the week. So far baseball isn't the issue. It's if we have anything else added to the schedule that it gets crazy. We had one night where all 5 of us had different places to be at the same time. We are very thankful that we have parents on each team that are willing to help us out. It takes a village to raise a baseball player! Its crazy, but we are loving it and are very proud of our boys!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Updated look?

Its been a LONG time since I updated the way the blog looks. I'll try this for awhile. What do you think? Is it hard to read?

Cruise Part 3

So yeah, more pictures tomorrow turned into a week later. I was at my mom's who lost internet connections and then when we got home, life got crazy and I didn't get a chance to finish my three part cruise posts. So here is the last part of cruise pictures and I can't finish without mentioning the best part of the cruise for me. The service! Disney Cruise line spoils a parent like no other! The kids go to the kids clubs during the day whenever they want from 9 am to midnight. They will even feed them if you want. We did pick up our kids for meals, but most meals were filled with hearing my kids beg to go back to kids club ASAP. Even my little one. He didn't want to miss anything. And speaking of meals, amazing! The food was great, but even better was the service. We had the same two servers for the cruise, Marcus and Putra. We changed restaurants each night but they came with us. So they know what we like and didn't like. They cut up my kids food for me! They made ketchup blobs in the shape of Mickey Mouse. They were amazing! Our first meal home was sandwiches, made by me, with no ketchup blobs, no service. We all just sat at the table almost in tears. I so hope we get to take another cruise someday. I cannot say enough how great it was and totally worth every penny. Of course, I didn't pay, so it was totally worth every penny my parents paid for it!
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cruise Part 2

Part 2 is our excursions. We made two stops, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We had to ride in a smaller boat over to Grand Cayman because they don't have docks. Then we rode on a bus out to a sea turtle reserve. We got to see turtles of all ages, from only months old to over 50 years old. Then we got to swim in a really awesome pool with a slide, and Jason and Cooper went into another area to snorkel. We had a great lunch with authentic Caribbean food and just relaxed and then rode the bus and then the boat back to our ship. Fun, relaxing day. The next day we walked right off the ship and then took a taxi to an amazing place called Chankanaab. There Jason, Stephen and Cooper swam with the dolphins, a once in a lifetime experience. Then we had lunch and swam in another great pool. Jason and I walked on a beach and then we headed back. It was really hot that day and we all got sun burned but it was so much fun. Check out our days off the ship. One more post tomorrow. I think.
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Cruise Part 1, Bon Voyage!

My parents gave our family a Disney cruise for the most wonderful Christmas present ever and we all went together the last week of February. The five of us, my step-brother's family, my brother and my parents went on a six day cruise to paradise. I have been so busy since we got home that I've just now had a chance to sit down and talk about it. I also think I was so depressed when we got back that I didn't want to think about it. I'm always a little depressed when I get home from vacations, but coming home from probably a once in a lifetime amazing event is really depressing. But I think I can talk about it now with joy and not just sadness that I'm not there!

I was a little nervous about sea sickness and feeling trapped on the boat. I had patches and pills at the ready, but I used the patch for two days and that was it. I never felt sick and never felt claustrophobic. I am afraid of heights and water so I did avoid looking over the edge of the decks and didn't go on our balcony in our room. Just looking out over the ocean that went as far as you could see 360 degrees and we were the only thing on the water was a little freaky and scary and unbelievable. Reminded me how big our Creator is!

Here are some pictures that tell the story best.
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More tomorrow!