Saturday, April 30, 2011

Praying for the Stams

This is Chip Stam -- someone very dear to our family.  Over 4 years ago, He roped us into singing in the choir at Clifton before we were even members, and became one of our very favorite people at our new church -- or even in the world! 

Chip has had cancer since the summer of 2007.  I will never forget that week of VBS when his Doris suddenly had to step away from teaching her class (Josh and I took it over) because of Chip's diagnosis and hospitalization.  I have never witnessed someone suffering first hand like this, for so long, with such true strength from Christ.  Who could forget Chip's antics?  He wore a back brace for a time, and would keep time in choir practice with the velcro straps -- I can see him now,  "rip-ripping" it and stomping his brown Crocs in beat to the music.  I remember Chip coming into the bookstore while I was working to inquire about a piece of music or something and while standing and talking to me, handing me handfuls of his hair to throw away for him that he was losing to chemo.  And I'm sure we cracked up about it! 

Every person who has known Chip would say he is one in a million.  So upbeat, so joyful, so gifted.  My life has TRULY changed from knowing him, and being in the services where he led the music.  We love Chip, and our hearts break to think of him being taken from us.  I pray for him and his family every night when I put Susie to bed -- that the Lord would give Susie a good night's sleep, and that he would also give Chip and Doris and Clara a good night's sleep; to be able to lie down and trust God and rest.  I do not know how many more days Chip has before he will enter the TRUE rest, and be taken home to his eternal reward, but for his family I continue to pray. 

I could never summarize all that Chip has meant to us, but I needed to write about him, because he is so present on my heart.  I pray that the Lord will be a gentle Shepherd and carry him and his family forever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good Friday to Easter Sunday

All dressed for church on Easter Sunday

I had such a great time making this past week a celebration with Susie, and have collected lots of ideas for next year!  Here's what we did, and what I'm planning to do next year:

Good Friday -- we ended up spending this day away from home for the most part because of what we thought was an emergency with the baby I'm carrying (turns out he's just fine), so we didn't get to the Easter mountain until dinnertime, but Susie and I talked about Jesus dying on the cross and then put him inside the mountain and put the rock over the opening.  I taught her the song "Easter Friday" from Emu Music that she just loved.  We must have sung it 50 times.  I sang the first two lines with a sad face, and covered my eyes, rubbing them when I sang the word "cried", and then spread out my hands slowly on the line "Sunday morning what a surPRISE", which always made her get really excited!  She requested we sing this song all weekend, calling it "Jesus sad" or "Easter". We also went swimming Friday night -- I tried to have some fun and special outings during this time to really make it special.

Saturday -- our church participates in the Easter parade that takes place on Frankfort Avenue, where Clifton Baptist is located.  Susie and I showed up to walk in the parade, but bad weather (and potential thunderstorms and hail) forced us to pull our float to keep the kids safe.  Back at the church parking lot, we passed out candy to parade watchers and watched the parade ourselves.  Other than re-reading our Easter books and checking to see if Jesus was still in the tomb on Saturday, we didn't do anything really original.  I wanted to make Resurrection cookies, but we attended a birthday party, and by the time Susie got a bath, the day was done.  I'm sure she'll appreciate doing the cookies more next year!

Sunday -- I hung a banner in the dining area that said "Jesus is Alive" and put Jesus outside the mountain with the stone rolled away before Susie got up.  I also set out a basket with a couple pieces of candy and two Christian Focus board books.  I let her eat some M&Ms pre-breakfast while we read them . . . may not have been wise. :)  We ended up with a little bit of spare time that morning (probably because I didn't fix a big meal), so Susie and I turned on her Gettys CD and had fun dancing in the living room.  I'm really glad that happened, because it certainly communicated to her "celebration".  After church, we went out to eat with some friends, and Susie had a really late nap.  When she woke up, we had a small egg hunt for her in the living room (downpour outside all day!).  She ate lots more candies that way, but amazingly still went to bed happily last night!

For next year, I want to do a little more decorating for Easter -- maybe with a special tablecloth, table settings or something.  I feel like decorating communicates celebration to kids -- and we decorate a ton for Christmas! Along with this, I would like to do an Easter tree (with a white branch) that we can decorate all week (or during Lent, maybe) by finding eggs with the decor hidden inside.  I have some things that I collected this year that may work for that next year.  This would be an adaptation to doing Resurrection eggs. I'm also hoping to do the Resurrection cookies (that you bake overnight Saturday and they are hollow inside when you bite them) next year.  The last thing that I feel like I may have dropped the ball on is making an Easter dinner.  We just had such a busy week and weekend, and ended up eating out (which was great!), but I want to be more intentional next year so we could invite people over and maybe start a tradition with our meal even! 

Here are some great ideas from GirlTalk blog for next year as well!

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Holy Week activities


Tuesday -- this is in no way original, but we colored eggs.  I debated back and forth about this activity, but am really glad I chose to do it.  Coloring eggs usually sort of falls in line with celebrating the "American" version of Easter, and not actually anything very holy, but I decided it's time we redeem this this activity!  And since we love to eat boiled eggs (Susie starting asking for a taste from the time I pulled them out of the fridge), I thought it would be a yummy healthy thing for us to eat all week.

In future years, I plan to talk about the colors having meaning and so forth, but for Susie being so small, I left it at asking her who made the eggies (she answered correctly -- God did), and talking about how the yellow was like the sun all big and bright (which is from her Baby-Hug-a-Bible) and just keeping her from sucking on the colored eggs and spilling it all over the kitchen.  I also intended on getting some stickers to decorate the eggs, and I may still do this later this week.  One big craft project in an evening is plenty for a toddler who is not yet two!

Wednesday -- tonight I was going to make our Easter mountain and take Susie swimming, but all our plans got derailed.  Josh made plans with a friend, I ended up babysitting, and the pool was closed.  SO, we did not have any big projects or fun outings, but I did turn on an Easter song for Susie and her friend Charis to dance to: "Christ Has Risen" by the Gettys (from their CD "Songs Jesus Said").  I had planned to teach them  "Easter Friday" from Emu music, which I had great expressions and motions for, but when I opened the CD case, the CD was gone!  Talk about things not going according to plan. :)  The girls enjoyed the Getty's song, though, and we danced to it over and over.  For dinner I cut out cross shapes into our garlic bread, and let Charis and Susie snack on the cut outs while they waited for supper. Before bed, I read Susie this book, which is a good simple story of the passion week (from the triumphal entry all the way to Christ meeting his disciples in the upper room after his resurrection).

Thursday -- I made an "Easter Mountain" out of a simple recipe for homemade playdough this morning and Susie and I decorated it this afternoon.  The idea for this comes from Noel Piper's book Treasuring God in Our Traditions.  You can use the setting all week to act out what Jesus does during the Passion week, but I thought it was most important to have it done by Thursday.  We left Jesus out in the garden to pray (I made the garden out of free Easter grass from CVS and rocks and flowers we found outside).  On Friday, we will put Jesus on the cross, and then in the tomb in the mountain.  On Saturday, we check and see that he is still there and then on Sunday, we put him on top of the mountain, victorious over death!

Adding grass around the mountain (it bakes for 4 hours first)

Coloring the picture of Jesus I copied from her book

Our Easter mountain centerpiece
I am really simplifying the explanation and description of these events for Susie, but am encouraged to see as a whole her vocabulary pick up terms we've been talking about all week.  She recognizes a cross, and of course, Jesus.  She has picked up on how Jesus' friends were "sad" when he died -- though she of course does not understand that. I think if I were home with her more than I am, we'd be able to retell and refresh the lessons and books over and over, but I know there are still many years to come!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week Actvities

I really wanted to do some things each day this week to make Holy Week special.  I feel like Susie is old enough to enjoy some special activities and begin to understand parts of Jesus death and resurrection (and I mean BARELY understand SMALL parts).  So far, this is what we have done:

Sunday -- I pulled out Susie's toy lambs.  She got one last year for Easter and and one this year (a little early).  I put them in a springy bucket with her 2 Easter books from last year (board books).  I figured they could be special toys and books we pull out only during this time of year to enjoy.  As the years go on, we will add to the collection.  

Monday -- pumpkin pancakes for breakfast (I just wanted to make them, even though I realize pumpkin is not very springy!).  I had picked up a set of little Easter cookie cutters at Jo-Ann's a while back with a $5 off coupon (making them like 80 cents!) and used the cross one to cut out the centers of the pancakes.  Susie played with the rest of the springy cookie cutters while I cooked, but I was thinking in future years, she can help me do the cut outs.

 At supper, I gave her cheese cut into cross shapes (again with the cookie cutter), a grape tomato for the rock by the tomb, and baby carrots cut into slices for the thorns.  I showed her the plate and told her about the shapes and what they were for (in VERY elementary terms), and said "This cross is like 'On the cross He took my sin'" which of course made her very excited to sing the Gospel song, so we did about 50 times.  
Diving into the food -- I could not grab the camera fast enough

As we finished eating, I read to her the page about Jesus' death and resurrection from her book God is Great by Carolyn Larson (which I love), and showed her how in the picture there was a cross, and stone, like on her plate.  She loved how Jesus was standing -- she said "Jesus HI!"  We shouted "Jesus is alive, YAAAAAAAY" a whole bunch of times.  She was very excited!  

I love this book -- what a great toddler storybook!

The very cute excited applause about Jesus being alive!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Playing in the Rain

Squishing mud under the boots

Susie is so muddy because she took a few spills!

I let Susie and her friend go out to play in the rain yesterday, since they both had rain boots.  Turns out the boots didn't make much difference for Sus, since she fell in the deep puddles several times, causing the muddy water to flow right down into her new "meow" boots. Haha!!  She's my kind of kid.  STOMP! SPLASH! Dig, dig, dig.  There was a HUGE dead bee on our patio yesterday morning, about which Susie kept commenting "bee fall down!!"  It was pretty awesome to make the bee float in the water and pour more water over him.

Someone commented on this picture that it reminded them of what they did as a kid.  That warms my heart so much, because I too, have these messy outdoor memories, and I'm so thankful that Susie isn't missing out on that, living in a big city.  Thank you, Lord, for giving us a bit of outdoor space at our humble apartment!

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Thursday, April 07, 2011

First Popsicle

Tonight was a lovely spring evening, and after our walk, Susie and I enjoyed some Edy's strawberry bars outside.  It was Susie's first Popsicle. . . mmmmm!

Yesterday Josh took her to the library, and I suggested he get her some more Curious George books -- whatever they had (our library tends to have them all checked out).  He got Curious George Rides a Bike and said "but it's WAY too long for her."  I had the impression that he'd tried reading it at the library or something, and she didn't want to sit for it.  Nope!  She sat and listened to the almost 50 page book the FIRST time I read it to her yesterday afternoon!  And we've read it about ten times since!  This is one I'm thinking we're going to need to find in hardback to keep.  So thankful my girlie likes to read!

Linking up to Simply Modern Mom.
Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood