28 September 2013

A super duper awesome bedroom

We finally have the house back in order. Avery's new purple bedroom is done!

The night before the carpet was going to be installed, Chris and I cleared out Avery's new room. That meant we had even more furniture sitting in the rest of the house. We also wanted the carpet installer to re-stretch the carpet in the living room. So the living room furniture was in the kitchen.

Mommaw and Poppaw Clark graciously offered for Avery to spend the night with them. They thought it would be easier on me and the carpet installer if Avery wasn't around. It's a good thing she did because there wasn't any room for her to get to her bed!

Here's the newly painted room with the 1980s mauve carpet. (The white specks on the floor are glow in the dark star stickers, which covered nearly every square inch of the ceiling.)

And after an hour, here is the new carpet!

Don't you love the way new carpet feels on your bare toes? Now every time Avery takes someone to see her room, she politely asks them to remove their shoes and socks so they can feel the carpet.

As we moved everything back into the room, we purged and sorted all of her clothes and toys.

I got a few hugs and kisses as a reward for giving her a new "big girl" room.

When Avery first asked for a pink and purple bedroom, I cringed. But then I remembered this quilt that my Grandma Hromada made for me when I was a kid. Avery loved it as soon as she saw it, so I knew we had to use it on her new-to-her bed.

While we tried to keep the new room a little grown-up (instead of being covered with princesses), Daddy couldn't resist buying this for a subtle girly touch in the room.

Next up, we had to paint the AJ letters my Aunt Ann gave to Avery for her first Christmas. Don't worry...I asked Aunt Ann's permission. I felt terrible covering over her beautiful artwork with purple paint. But I knew this would make Avery happy. And Aunt Ann wasn't offended!

I lucked out by finding this simple white and pink valance, which goes perfectly with Avery's theme. Avery chose the curtain rod. In case you can't tell, the finials are butterflies.

Here's one more personal touch in the room. My Grandma Hromada also made this needlepoint of DeGrazia's "Flower Girl." I always marvel at Grandma's needlepoints. I'm so glad I found a place of prominence for this special piece of art.

I think Avery approves of her new room. After she spent her first night in there, we asked her what she thought. She said the room is "super duper awesome." That's good enough for us!

26 September 2013

24 September 2013

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 2

I remember one of the special things about having a new baby was all of the visitors we had, both in the hospital and at home. So many people wanted to meet "Cheeto," love on her and bestow her with gifts. I imagine the Magi’s visit to see Jesus (when He probably was about 2 years old) also would have been a joyous occasion.

The Magi were wise Gentile men from the East. They were scientists and astrologers, and they were wealthy and important. They would have noticed the new star in the sky when Jesus was born.

While Christmas tradition tells us there were three Magi (probably based on the three gifts we’ll discuss later), there most likely were more of them. After all, consider all of the servants, animals and the rest of the caravan that must have accompanied these great men.

They had a limited knowledge about God and His coming Messiah. Yet they were willing to risk their lives to find the new King Jesus. They acted on their small amount of knowledge. They went as far as they could on their own. Then they asked King Herod for help. It’s OK to ask for help!

I haven’t paid much attention to the rest of the people in this chapter. Let’s consider them now:
  • King Herod was part-Jewish and was called the king of the Jews. He was fearful, jealous and suspicious. Unlike the Magi, Herod did not choose to worship the King.
  • The townspeople were disturbed because King Herod was disturbed.
  • Like the Magi, the chief priests and teachers of the law had knowledge of the Scriptures. But they did not act on this knowledge. They were within five miles of Jesus in Bethlehem and refused to find the King! They knew the truth but did not apply it.
After they arrived, the Magi worshipped Jesus and offered expensive gifts:
  • Gold was an expensive gift.
  • Frankincense was a precious perfume.
  • Myrrh was used to embalm someone before burial.
Which one of these people am I? Am I a chief priest or a teacher who knows a lot about God but doesn’t do anything with that knowledge? Am I Herod, living with fear, jealousy and suspicion? Am I the townspeople who were easily swayed, who didn’t know much about Jesus and who didn’t really care? Am I the Magi, the wise men who didn’t know much but who took action on that knowledge?

After the Magi’s visit, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to take his family to Egypt. This was God’s way of protecting Jesus from Herod’s plan to kill Him by killing all young boys in Bethlehem. So what did Joseph do when he awoke from this dream? Did he think about things for a few days or talk to Mary about the situation? No! Joseph got up and went. Immediately! They got up in the middle of the night and immediately followed God’s instructions. They traveled 225 miles to Egypt. And God provided for them financially through the gifts of the Magi.

Then a few years later, Joseph had another dream. In this dream, God told Joseph to go to Israel. It may sem like Joseph disobeyed God by going to a different city. But actually it appears that Joseph and Mary’s fear drove them to prayer. And God answered their prayers in a dream by telling them to go to Nazareth. When Joseph heard God’s answer, he obeyed – even when it meant going to Nazareth, a place that was despised.

Things to Think About
  • Am I acting on the truth I have, just like the Magi did?
  • Who or what am I worshipping?
  • Am I so overwhelmed with who Jesus is that I fall to my knees and worship Him?
  • Am I bringing costly gifts to Jesus?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice so I can worship Jesus?
  • Will I walk by faith, even if I don’t know where the next step will lead me? If I believe God is trustworthy, I must act like I do.
  • How quickly do I obey God? How intently do I listen to His instructions?

19 September 2013

17 September 2013

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 1

This week we’ll take a look at Jesus’ human genealogy and His divine genealogy.

Jesus’ human genealogy shows He had a legal right to Abraham’s (spiritual) inheritance. Jesus’ genealogy listed in Matthew includes five women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba) and Mary. And these weren’t fine, upstanding women!

Tamar was a Gentile who went to great lengths to become a part of God’s family (see Genesis 38). Rahab also was a Gentile who had such faith in God that she trusted He would rescue her and her family (see Joshua 2, 6:17). Ruth married into an Israelite family and remained loyal to God and her family (see Ruth 1, 4:13-17). Bathsheba committed adultery with King David, but later she became his wife and the mother of King Solomon (see 2 Samuel 11; 12:15, 18, 24). Mary was the mother of Jesus, the Messiah (see Luke 1:26-56).

Jesus’ genealogy includes people we probably wouldn’t choose to include in our own genealogy let alone in the Messiah’s genealogy. It may seem like these people should have been disqualified from being a part of God’s family based on their sins. But God chose to use them to accomplish His divine purpose. If these people can have a place in God’s redemptive plan, then I can, too. God used these people to show that He had a plan for them and a plan for us. If He could love them in their sin, He can love us in our sin. No matter what I’ve done, God’s redeeming love and grace have covered my sins through Jesus’ death on the cross.

Jesus was fully God and fully man because God was His Father and Mary was his mother. Mary was terribly frightened when an angel told her she would give birth to the promised Messiah. But she responded in faith when she said, “I am the Lord’s servant...May your word to me be fulfilled”  (Luke 1:38).

Mary and Joseph were considered married during this betrothal period. So legally, Joseph could have divorced her and could have had her stoned. But when an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, he immediately obeyed God and the angel.

Both Mary and Joseph responded in faith. They obeyed God in a way that went against their culture.

Things to Think About
  • What difference does God’s redeeming love and grace make in my life?
  • What step of faithful obedience is God asking me to take with Him? Will I ask Him for a new perspective and to help me along the way?
  • Friendships in our lives can be precious, but nothing is more precious than having Jesus as my friend and Savior.

13 September 2013

Sidewalk chalk artists

One recent afternoon, Chris and Avery spent a long time decorating our sidewalk. Avery dictated several words, and Chris wrote them. They both drew pictures.

And here's my favorite part, courtesy of Chris!

12 September 2013

10 September 2013

BSF 2013-2014: Introduction to Matthew

Welcome to our study of Matthew! This introduction to the book actually starts with introductions to the entire Bible and the four gospels.

The Bible is made up of 66 books written by more than 40 writers. Yet it contains one story of God's redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament has 39 books and was written in Hebrew. The New Testament has 27 books and was written in Greek. Here is a breakdown of the books:
  • Genesis to Deuteronomy are books of the law and were written by Moses.
  • Joshua to Esther are the books of the history of the Israelites.
  • Job to the Song of Solomon are the books of poetry.
  • Isaiah to Daniel are the major prophets.
  • Hosea to Malachi are the minor prophets.
  • Matthew to John are the gospels.
  • Acts is the history of the early church.
  • Romans to Jude are the epistles (letters of the apostles).
  • Revelation is prophecy of future events.
The Bible is trustworthy, living and applicable to our everyday lives. It is inerrant – free of any errors. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that God chose men He spoke in and through to tell His story in the Bible:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 
The four gospels record Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension to heaven. Matthew was written to the Jews to prove Jesus was the long-awaited King. Mark was written to Christians in Rome to show Jesus as a Servant. Luke was written to Gentiles to show Jesus is the perfect human and Savior. John was written to new Christians and unbelievers to show Jesus is the Son of God.
In Matthew this year, we will read about real people with real lives and real faith (or lack thereof). Jesus' life as told in the book of Matthew will teach us how to combat Satan's attacks. We will see how Jesus fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies. And Jesus' words will teach us all we need to know about life and living.
We'll also see Jesus call 12 special men to be his disciples. He didn't choose these men because of their outward appearances or because of anything they had done. He called them because He wanted them to carry out His mission with Him and for Him. Jesus still calls ordinary people today and equips them to do extraordinary things.

Things to Think About
  • How will I arrange my schedule to make Jesus my highest priority (through Bible study, prayer, etc.)? I can be assured that God will give me the time I need to complete the work He has called me to do.
  • Will I ask God to transform me as I study each day?
  • What is my relationship with Jesus? Do I believe Jesus is the Son of God? And am I certain I have eternal life through Him?
  • Will I allow Christ to take the ordinary me to do extraordinary things for His kingdom?
  • What will my response be as I encounter Christ in the pages of Matthew this year?

09 September 2013

BSF 2013-2014: The Gospel of Matthew

A new year of BSF has sneaked up on me! This year, we will study the book of Matthew. And once again, each Tuesday I will provide weekly summaries about the lessons. The first one will be available tomorrow.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we will see the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. We'll read about Jesus calling His twelve disciples to a life committed to serving and obeying Him. We'll discover that many people refused to believe Jesus was God's promised Messiah. But many more people put their faith in Him, followed Him and promised to share His message of salvation with the world.

This year, I want to improve my study of God's Word. I don't want to see my weekly lesson and preparation as a leader simply as items on my to-do list. Instead I want to allow God to teach me and change me through this year's study, from the inside out.

I also want to focus on my service in my BSF class. I know for certain that God has called me to my position as assistant children's supervisor, and I absolutely love serving God alongside such wonderful women and students in our class. But I'm feeling woefully inadequate this year. This year I want God to use me to support the leaders I work with and to show Christ's love to the students in my class.

Will you join me on my study of Matthew this year? I pray that my posts will encourage you in your personal walk with Christ. Get ready...here we go!

05 September 2013