Day 31 Family Devotions

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

I remember my mother taking this to heart. When I was little, she read from the big family Bible and the Upper Room devotional before we went to bed. The words in the devotional were not written for a child to understand. At the end of the reading, Mom would lead us in the Lord’s prayer. I liked the words, but didn’t understand a lot of them. My little sister Lola didn’t either. This became really obvious one night when she got upset at the end of the prayer.”

“What’s wrong?” Mom asked.

“You said something about Halloween.”

“What do you mean?” Mom asked. I didn’t say anything about Halloween.”

I think my sister thought she had missed out on candy or something. Who knows? Mom finally figured it out. The Lord’s prayer starts like this: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

Lola heard the word hallowed and thought Mom said Halloween. Mom explained the meaning of the word and how hallo-wed sounded a bit like Halloween.

That story stayed with me as I grew up and became a mom. I knew spending a couple of hours in church every week was not enough to teach my children about the Lord, so my husband and I planned regular family devotions. We knew it was important to use age-appropriate language, so over the years we collected kids’ devotional books and Bibles to use.

A collection of devotionals and children's Bibles

A collection of devotionals and children’s Bibles

I remembered a picture Bible we had when I was a child. The stories were laid out in comic-book style. I found something similar and bought it for my family. My son especially liked reading the stories in the book. We used it for so many years the cover started to tear and I had to tape it.

The Picture Bible

The Picture Bible

Well-worn cover

Well-worn cover

Besides reading stories for family devotions, we liked to play Bible charades. Once the kids knew enough Bible stories, they could play the game. They went off in another room for a few minutes to choose a story and practice. Then they came back to act out the story. As soon as we guessed the story, it was Mom and Dad’s turn.

We also played Bible Trivia, a game we got at a yard sale. We used the easy questions with the kids or made up our own. Playing with kids whose ages spanned seven years was sometimes a challenge. When our youngest, Sarah was old enough to play, we made the questions very simple., such as: “What was King David’s name?”

“Moses?” she tried.

We would all laugh as we explained the answer was in the question.

“Win, Lose, or Draw” was a popular TV game show when our kids were young, so we adapted the idea for family devotions. We propped up a dry-erase board on a table and put the names of Bible characters or stories on three by five cards. The person who’s “it” chooses a random card and has to draw the scene or character. We were not allowed to talk while drawing. The team has to guess by looking at the picture. (This is similar to the game Pictionary.) This was so much fun. My drawings didn’t look much better than the five-year-old’s, but nobody cared.

The One Year Book of Bible Trivia For Kids

The One Year Book of Bible Trivia For Kids

Now that I’m a grandmother, I still keep kids’ Bibles and devotionals in my house. I am happy to say there are plenty of materials available now to help parents and grandparents with family devotions.

One of my writer friends, Kathy Cassel, has written several devotionals for Tyndale. Her newest one is The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids. Kathy has written 365 devotionals with a trivia question and answer for each day. They are quick to read and a fun way to teach children about the Bible. You can find this and other books on Kathy’s blog, at:  http://just4christiangirls.blogspot.com/.

Whatever you choose to do for family devotions, the important thing is to spend time together with the Bible. Make it age appropriate, and throw in a few games once in a while. Not only will you make lasting memories, but you will be obeying the command of the Lord to teach God’s word to your children.

Advertisements

Day 30 Creating an Heirloom

The first time I picked up a pair of knitting needles, it was to make a baby blanket for my firstborn. A dear friend of mine taught me how to cast on, knit, and purl. At the time, sonograms were not a part of routine prenatal care, so I didn’t know if I was expecting a girl or a boy. I chose a gender-neutral yarn of pastel colors and started knitting.

I made some mistakes in the creation of my first knitted project, but I did complete it. When my children grew out of the baby stage, I tucked the blanket away in my cedar chest where it stayed for a few decades. I saved it to give my son when he had children.

Son's teddy bear and blanket

Son’s teddy bear and blanket

I put away my knitting needles years ago because my friend and knitting teacher moved away. Last year I decided to enroll in a knitting class, and I completed a sampler scarf and hat. When we learned of the baby on the way, I felt confident in my improved knitting skills to tackle another baby blanket. This time, I wanted to try a simple lace pattern.

Unlike the first blanket I knitted, I had access to thousands of patterns online from which to choose. I picked one out and bought the yarn, a lovely white acrylic/washable wool combination. (Yes, I have learned about yarns too.)

Needles and yarn for the blanket

Needles and yarn for the blanket

I purposely chose quality yarn for a couple of reasons. I was the one handling it in order to create a beautiful blanket. I wanted something soft to the touch. I also wanted something easy to care for, which meant it had to be washable. When creating an heirloom, saving money on cheaper skeins of yarn was not an option. It makes no sense to scrimp on yarn for something that may last decades and be passed down to another generation.

I started knitting the blanket about four months before the baby’s due date. The pattern was a good choice, simple enough to do while I watched TV. Knit 1, yarn over, knit two together. The yarn overs made the holes which created the lace. Every four rows I completed the lace pattern.  I did it over and over again until the blanket was the desired size.

The lady at the yarn shop recommended I double strand it since it was a sport weight yarn. As the knitting progressed, I was concerned about the weight of the blanket. I joked with my husband, “I hope this blanket isn’t so heavy the baby can’t turn over!”

His response, “Well, she will be living in a cold state. She’s going to need a warm blanket.”

The baby shower would be held some time in October, and I knitted furiously to complete the blanket in time. Even when I tired of the project, I pushed on, knowing if I laid it down and started something else, I might not finish in time. “I’m creating an heirloom,” I told my husband. And he would admire my work as the blanket grew longer day by day.

I finished the blanket mere days before the shower. I pulled that first knitted baby blanket out of the cedar chest for inspection. The mistakes I made left visible holes, and I had tried to fix it years earlier. One corner looked like it was about to unravel. I took it to the yarn shop to ask if it could be fixed. One of the ladies fixed the corner, and she showed me how I could weave a piece of yarn in and around the holey places to camouflage my mistakes.

Once that was done, I carefully folded it, placed it in a gift box and wrapped it. I attached a gift tag explaining this was my son’s baby blanket and I was passing it on to his family as a keepsake.

My first knitted blanket and the new baby blanket, both heirlooms

My first knitted blanket and the new baby blanket, both heirlooms

The new blanket went into another gift box. As I tucked it in the pink tissue paper, I felt a little separation anxiety. Coming to the end of the heirloom project tugged at my heart. I ran my hand over the soft folds of the blanket and said good bye. My husband reminded me, “The next time you see the blanket, it will be wrapped around our new granddaughter.” That made me smile.

Boxing up the blanket

Boxing up the blanket

Waiting until the blanket was finished to send the big box of presents wasn’t my best idea. It was important to me that it reach the mother-to-be in time for the baby shower, so I paid the piper the big bucks to express mail it.

In a separate box I shipped my son’s first teddy bear (see photo above) dressed in the outfit he wore home from the hospital. I’m so sentimental. I told Stephen he could do whatever he wanted with those items, but he’s pretty sentimental too.

It took about two months to knit this lovely, lace blanket, but I am so glad I took the time and effort to create this heirloom. I look forward to holding my baby granddaughter very soon, nestled in the folds of the blanket I knitted for her.

This post is part of my 31 Days of Family Joy linking with http://www.thenester.com.

Day 29 Mom’s Butterfly Quilt

I have always loved quilts, especially the stories that accompany them. My mother inherited some quilt blocks from her mother.

Grandma Sommers Frank started a butterfly quilt before my mother was born, more than eighty years ago. She always loved butterflies. I guess she liked their colors and their freedom. When I asked Mom to tell me the story of the butterfly quilt, this is what she said:

My mother kept the quilt blocks in a green, brocade box. We moved a lot during the Great Depression because there was no work for my dad. We would stay with an aunt and uncle for several months at a time, then move on to the next family member. Wherever we went, the green box went too.

As a child I remember asking my mother what was in the box. She showed the fabric squares to me. She had appliqued pieces of butterflies made from materials she kept from the 1920s. Then she embroidered around the butterfly shapes. I asked if I could help her sew, but Mother answered, “No, you’re too little to do it.

I don’t know when she stopped working on the quilt, but she kept all of the squares. Some of them still had the skeins of embroidery floss in matching colors pinned to the squares.

My mother crocheted and did crewel embroidery when I was growing up, but she never took the quilt squares out to work on them. I never even knew it existed until a few years ago.

Mom decided to have someone else complete the quilt so she could enjoy this keepsake. She supported a mission through her church and found out from their newsletter the ladies in the mission could complete her quilt. She corresponded with one of them and settled on a price for a queen-size quilt using Grandma’s squares. She laid the quilt squares out on her couch and took this picture before mailing.

Quilt squares

Quilt squares

Mom sent the squares in May, and received the completed quilt in September a few years ago.

Twelve ladies worked on the quilt, and did a beautiful job finishing the embroidery, assembling the squares, putting the backing and border on it, and finally quilting it. Mom was thrilled when she received the finished product, and happy that it helped support the mission at the same time.

Mom with the butterfly quilt

Mom with the butterfly quilt

My mother found a way to carry out Grandma’s vision, and now she enjoys a very special quilt. I’m happy to add another story to our family scrapbook of memories.

Day 28 Hello, I’m Billy Bob

My brother, Les visited us one spring when my son was in high school. Les showed up wearing a pair of nasty-looking fake Billy Bob teeth. He brought along an extra pair for Stephen who took them to school the next day. He had a substitute teacher in one of his classes, giving him an opportunity to try out the teeth.

Without the teacher knowing, Stephen put the teeth in his mouth and kept them there for the entire class period. A little discomfort is worth it to play a good joke.

A few minutes before class ended, Stephen walked up to the teacher and asked, “Could I go to the restroom? I’ve got something stuck between my teeth. ”

I don’t know if the teacher figured it out or not, but she never let on.

Smile, Billy Bob

Smile, Billy Bob

Stephen used the teeth at my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. By then he had finished his first year as a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), and his grandparents wanted him to wear his uniform to the party. They didn’t expect Billy Bob to show up.

He walked around the party wearing the ugly fake teeth. One guest felt sorry for him and commented to another guest. “You’d think the Air Force would do something about his teeth!”

Stephen continued to get mileage out of those teeth. He wore them to a dentist appointment once while he was home from college.

As an upperclassman training other cadets at USAFA, he sometimes used the teeth for a little comic relief. Cadets are expected to respect the upperclassmen while they are being trained. One guy in particular had a hard time keeping a straight face while Stephen stared him down. “It’s okay to laugh, cadet,” Stephen told him.

You never know when Billy Bob will show up, bringing laughs wherever he goes.

Day 27 Something’s Gotta Give

This weekend has been draining, both physically and emotionally. Months ago I planned to attend a writers’ retreat this weekend. With a death in the family, I altered my plans. It worked out for me to go to the retreat for the first night. My husband drove separately and we met up Saturday morning to drive together to our great niece’s funeral. After spending several hours with the family, hubby and I drove back to Gainesville where we spent the night.

This morning I traveled back to the writers’ retreat and he drove home. I haven’t done this much driving in a long time. I feel like I’ve been all over north Florida. I am exhausted.

I planned to write several posts ahead for my 31 Days of Family Joy, but I couldn’t get them all done before I left. I’m only checking in tonight to say that something’s gotta give. We made it through a rough weekend, and I need some rest. Tomorrow I will post part two of the story I wrote a couple of days ago about my brother and the Billy Bob teeth he gave my son.

Day 26 I Go to Prepare a Place For You

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:1-2

Our lives were interrupted this week by news of the untimely death of our great niece, Savannah. When we heard about the car accident that took her life, we were all in shock. This beautiful girl had just celebrated her twentieth birthday, and now we would be attending her funeral.

Today’s post was delayed because of the service and time spent with the family, but I wanted to honor Savannah’s memory by posting something even late in the day.

I thought the pastor did a wonderful job comforting the family with Scripture and words spoken from his own heart. His comments focused on the love of God, and he said even though we can’t answer all the tough questions about why this happened, we can look to God for strength and comfort. He is with us and will be with us every day as we continue to live our lives.

Although our hearts are saddened at this great loss, I am thankful that Jesus is an ever present help in time of trouble. He is our peace that passes understanding.

Rest in Peace, Savannah

Rest in Peace, Savannah

Day 25 The Corn Monster

My brother, Les, seems to have inherited my Grandpa Harmon’s sense of humor. (I wrote about Grandpa yesterday.) Les and I were second and third of four kids, and we played together a lot growing up. Sometimes older brother, Joe would play along too, especially if it involved playing a trick on the girls.

When my dad ran a dairy farm, my brothers would play with the cows. They would sit on their favorite cow (they always had a favorite one) and crank the tail to make it go.

I was very little then, and the cows seemed like huge monsters to me. However, one summer day my brothers talked me into playing bucking bronco on one of the calves. They tied a rope to it and led it to our backyard. It took a bit of convincing for me to mount the calf and hold on. In microseconds I landed on the ground with a bruised ego and a sore butt.

My brothers with their calves

My brothers with their calves

Another favorite trick the boys would play is to tell us there was a horse in the barn. Being raised on a farm, we always wanted a horse to ride. They lured me to the barn more than once as they both kept a straight face and said, “No lie! There’s a horse out there.” We did indeed get a couple of horses a few years later, and we were still young enough to enjoy playing cowboys and Indians on real horses.

I seem to remember a few times touching the electric fence when I was told it was off, but the most outrageous story is when Les and I were sitting in the mulberry tree behind the house. “The berries with the white stuff on them are the best, ” Les lied. I took the bait and ate a few before he laughed and explained the white stuff was bird poop.

Corn Monster time?

Corn Monster time?

As an adult, Les perfected his tricks and unleashed them on the next generation. Les is known for growing the best sweetcorn in the area. In the summer time, as soon as the corn was high enough, he would have a bonfire and play a game he called, Corn Monster. He dressed in black and went out in the cornfield to lay in wait for the kids. He would chase them around in the dark, grabbing whoever was too slow to get away. My kids loved this. If we went to Michigan for summer vacation before the corn was tall enough to play Corn Monster, they were disappointed.

One time when some friends were visiting from Virginia, Les took the boy out hunting. He explained how you could tell how long ago the deer had been there. To the boy’s surprise, Les picked up some deer droppings and ate them. “Yup, these are fresh. The deer were just here.”

Les explained to the kid later. The deer “droppings” were raisins that he’d left there earlier.

We spent many Christmases with our family in Michigan, but if we couldn’t go, Les managed to send a few unique presents to the kids. One year he sent a package of “donut seeds” (Cheerios) complete with instructions on how to grow powdered donuts, cinnamon, or plain. Another time he sent a package of styrofoam peanuts and called it snowman poop.

Les and my sister-in-law, Marcia visited us in Florida when our son, Stephen was a senior. Les showed up at my door wearing a hat with stringy hair coming out the bottom. When I invited him in, he flashed a wide grin sporting a set of Billy Bob teeth.

Since Les was our son’s mentor in hunting and playing tricks, he brought Stephen his own pair of the ugly, fake teeth. What Stephen did with them is another story. Read tomorrow’s blog to find out what happened.