Chopped Manna

Our Sunday School class is studying Exodus, these days. Today we reached chapter 16, in which God provides for the starving people of Israel with Manna from Heaven (and some quail). Since our class is a full-family operation, I decided to include an activity that would involve everyone, from youngest to oldest.

Nathaniel and Cooper were eager to gather the flakes from the chairs.

Nathaniel and Cooper were eager to gather the flakes from the chairs.

First, I had two of the younger kids gather an Omer (not quite a gallon) of ‘Manna’ (we used frosted flakes to simulate). I had previously coated the classroom furniture with a thin layer of the ‘Manna’. It was interesting to see that, although it took minimal effort to gather the daily ration of food, it was still a task that required some ten or fifteen minutes.

David doesn't really like cream cheese, which was a key ingredient of his team's pancake.

David doesn’t really like cream cheese, which was a key ingredient of his team’s pancake.

Dividing the class into four teams, I gave them each a supply of Manna (frosted flakes), one egg, about a teaspoon of baking powder and roughly 1/3 cup of oil. Then I let each team choose, in turn, two of the eight ‘optional’ ingredients:

  • Almond flour
  • Cream cheese
  • Pistachios
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Honey
  • Goat cheese
  • Raisins

We provided mixing bowls and griddles, as each tried to convert their frosted flakes into some kind of flour and to construct a pancake that would hold together enough to cook on the griddle. I shanghaied two passing church members into being judges, and we held a competition, sort of like the TV series, Chopped, but with a much smaller budget.

This team took a little while to pull their idea together, in spite of Tung's culinary prowess.

This team took a little while to pull their idea together, in spite of Tung’s culinary prowess.

It was a fun way to think about what it must have been like for the Hebrews to eat manna every day, for forty years. I imagine they tried every possible combination of ingredients to add some variety to God’s generous provision. We talked about how even the most awesome of God’s blessings can become mundane and even (if we aren’t careful) despised.

All four teams created a very tasty final product, but the teams with sweeteners (honey and raisins) had a clear advantage.

All four teams created a very tasty final product, but the teams with sweeteners (honey and raisins) had a clear advantage.

It was also sobering to reflect on how much we are like the people of Israel in the way that we complain. We are constantly devaluing God’s abundant gifts to us, and showing great lack of faith, when we complain about our jobs, our spouses, our church, our children, or any other detail in which God has provided for us so abundantly.

Project 365, Day 60
Tim

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Another Busy Saturday

Today the sun was shining brightly, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the day. Daniel went out longboarding with a friend for hours. Tim and David walked Sarah to her afternoon meeting; I met them on the way back, sneaking in a little walk myself. We ran errands, organized, did laundry and dishes, and completed a huge collection of random To Do’s.

Sarah sorted and organized shoes WHILE talking on the phone.

Sarah sorted and organized shoes WHILE talking on the phone.


I think we filled this white board 3 times with small odd jobs.

I think we filled this white board 3 times with small odd jobs.

The kids all went to church for youth group activities, while Tim and I planned some silly activities for tomorrow’s Sunday School class on Exodus 16. How many different recipes are there for manna? I wonder how the Israelites would have done on Top Chef or Chopped? Hee hee hee.

Poor Daniel. He’s been suffering since Tim, David and Sarah started exercising and went off sugar. Once a constant staple, now there’s no more ice cream in the house. There was an old container of sherbert in the freezer which Daniel managed to make last a good couple of weeks. Today I decided to spoil him and buy some cookies and cream at the store.

Look at that happy face.

Look at that happy face.

I don’t think Tim was prepared to watch Daniel savor that ice cream while he went without. Uh oh.

"You won't share with dear old dad?"

“You won’t share with dear old dad?”


Please??!!

Please??!!

Daniel is a resourceful and thoughtful son. He quickly found something for Tim to eat instead of sugar-laden ice cream.

Enjoy your lettuce, Dad!

Enjoy your lettuce, Dad!

Not sure a leaf of lettuce is quite the same treat as a bowl of ice cream. But you can’t say Daniel didn’t try to help. LOL!

Project 365 – Day 59
Kathy

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Murder Mystery Friends

One of the things I like best about living in Lakewood, and attending our church, is that we have acquired some very interesting friends. We’ve been here for more than ten years, now, and we have been greatly blessed. It is a little strange for me, since I’ve never lived anywhere else for more than five years at a time.

One couple that we greatly love and admire recently celebrated the birth of their seventh child, but chose not to have a typical baby shower. Instead, Peter and Abby invited us to attend a Murder Mystery party, hosted by John and Shari and catered by Chris.

Several items of great value were auctioned-off, adding some complexity to the game.

Several items of great value were auctioned-off, adding some complexity to the game.

It was a lot of fun; I played the bumbling detective, and Kathy was an actress-turned-shop-owner, but was secretly an heiress. Prizes were given for:

  1. Guessing the murderer
  2. Having the most net worth at the end of the game
  3. Playing their part the most effectively
Kathy and her 'uncle', who played the butler, and provided the feast (and corroborated her story).

Kathy and her ‘uncle’, who played the butler, and provided the feast (and corroborated her story).

Sadly, I did not correctly guess the murderer(ess), but we had a lot of fun along the way, and very much enjoyed the meal. Baby Tuff did attend, so hopefully he enjoyed the party as well.

Tuff was clearly the MVB (most valuable baby).

Tuff was clearly the MVB (most valuable baby).

Project 365, Day 58
Tim

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The Answer is Found Here

The Lord and I have been wrestling today. Actually I’ve been wrestling with my own heart, spirit and sin. My brokenness and flesh raise its ugly head at every opportunity. Thankfully the Lord has an answer for my struggle and for my weaknesses.

Learning so much about love

Sarah painted this for me.

He’s been meeting me in every moment. I’ve been called to really grow and stretch this month. I’ve had to operate in His strength and not mine. I’ve had to walk through situations, covered in the prayers of friends. I’ve been so empty of my own wisdom and knowledge and ability to walk forward, that His wisdom, glory and love shone brighter than I’ve ever seen it.

My new journal Bible from Tim.

This morning I sat with these two books – my big journal and my new Bible

And this morning, when I came to Him with some hurts and pain, He was there. Quietly breathing life and truth into my soul. As the intensity of the situation has passed, it leaves in its wake the bruises of hurts and offenses and more brokenness.

I can hear my pride fussing about how I was wronged. I hear my self-righteous spirit whine about the sins of “other Christians.” Instead of peace and joy, I find myself wanting validation and justification, even maybe a little vengeance thrown into the mix.

His Word brings me comfort and truth.

His Word brings me comfort and truth.

And so the words in Matthew 5 were especially tender to me today.

“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil again you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

With eyes once more focused on Him, I picked up my pen and confessed my sins to the Lord. I scribbled down my hurts and my concerns and my fears. I listened. I opened my hands, again, to what He is doing through me. I promised to trust Him – His timing, His leading, His protection. With unsteady hands, I told Him I would obey, even if the steps were painful. I would be pure in heart. I would be merciful. I would be a peacemaker. I would rejoice and be glad, even if others persecute me. I will be meek. I will hunger and thirst for righteousness, not personal satisfaction or public glory.

I will love.

I found the answer, again, in His Word, His Presence, His Truth.

Project 365 – Day 57
Kathy

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SALL

OK, I admit, SALL is not a very good acronym.

I created a Serve and Drama Team for our AWANA program this year, but I just couldn’t pull together a decent acronym. Sometimes you have to know the limits of what you can do. I’ll leave the acronym generation for those who follow on with this program.

Serve, Act, Lead, Love

Serve, Act, Lead, Love

For several years, I’ve been worried about a disturbing trend I am noticing in churches.

While kids are in elementary school, some churches do a pretty good job of teaching them about the Bible and giving them a chance to be involved. At our church, fourth, fifth and sixth-graders serve in the nursery, lead worship for the younger grades, or help out with preschool classes. In AWANA we encourage them to memorize God’s Word and bring friends with them to church. There seems potential to become useful members of the body of Christ.

Then they get to Junior High age, and it seems like everything changes. Lay-leader adults, effective in the elementary years, find themselves ill-equipped to handle the hormones and energy often found among Junior High kids. Some youth leaders focus on reaching un-churched kids from the community; because of this, typical youth programs end up being heavy on games and entertainment and short on in-depth Bible teaching. Many of the service projects that youth groups pursue are really fundraisers for their own retreats and parties.

For some reason, it is rare that I see teenagers held to a high standard of servant leadership. It is no surprise to me that many young people leave the church after high school. For six years they are typically treated to a steady diet of entertainment and self-focus, and then are suddenly dumped, entirely unprepared, into the adult church body. Lacking the maturity to appreciate good Bible teaching and worship, they are also severely atrophied in service, and so (from this consumer mentality) they conclude that the church has nothing for them.

My favorite drama and serve team kids.

My favorite drama and serve team kids.

So I started a Serve and Drama Team as a way to begin building the ‘serve muscles’ among some of the youth (in this case AWANA achievers) of our church. My hope is that our teenagers, with all their passion and energy, could discover their spiritual gifts and be a blessing and an asset to the church.

This is our pilot year. So far, we’ve performed about ten different skits for the Council Time part of AWANA, serving the Sparks and T&T kids (and their leaders) by acting out Bible stories and gospel-illustrating skits. We have also done several service projects, including:

  • Detailing the cars of AWANA leaders
  • Creating gift baskets for the five pastors of our church
  • Providing a tasty snack for the entire choir, at the end of their rehearsal
  • Cleaning and reorganizing the Drama Resource room
  • Writing more than two dozen ‘Thank-You’ cards to church leaders
A pile of thank-you cards, written tonight.

A pile of thank-you cards, written tonight.

My hope is that the best and brightest of the Junior High kids will choose to serve their church and their Lord during these (typically self-absorbed) years. I started by pre-selecting the best kids in our AWANA program. The prerequisite to the Drama and Serve Team is completion of three of the T&T books, which requires a significant level of effort over several years. (I’ll accept a comparable level of effort in scripture memorization, for kids who haven’t been involved in AWANA during their 3rd-5th grade years.)

I hope to equip and inspire these kids to offer their energy, leadership and spiritual gifts to the Church, and to set a challenging standard for the other teenagers in our community.

They sneakily wrote me a note while I was out of the room!

They sneakily wrote me a note while I was out of the room!

I have ten kids in the program, ranging from age 10 9 to 15, and I have to say, they are well on their way to becoming champions. I am very excited at the prospect of preparing them to be the core of the next generation of servant leaders at our church.

Project 365, Day 56
Tim

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The musings and ravings of a bloggart family