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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

All Aboard! Staying On Track - VBS 2012 (Part 1)

Just a few days after school is out comes our annual VBS.  This year's theme was different than any other we've done....a TRAIN theme with the name of "All Aboard! Staying On Track".  I was surprised that there wasn't an abundance of train items, but I managed to find some that were pretty neat.  This big train stand-up came from  It was great to take pictures of the kids as the conductor!
For attendance, I made "tickets" to be punched each day.  The tickets slid into pockets made from card stock.  The cloud paper was ordered online and made a perfectly pretty background for the room.
The students had fun punching their tickets each morning!
One thing I do almost every year is incorporate black light stories into the lessons.  Just for fun, I made this fluorescent train.  We pretended to be on a train traveling to our destination (where the Bible story was taking place that day) along an electrical tape train track.
This railroad crossing sign also came from Shindigz.
This train is a peel and stick train sold for children's room wall art.  It was a circus-looking train, so when I told the kids the Bible story about Daniel and the lions den, I teased that maybe the lions had to go to the circus since they didn't do what they were supposed to do by eating Daniel.  Of course, I made sure they knew this was just a silly thought and not biblical truth!
Another black light effect was the "Fiery Furnace" along the right side of this photo.  I'll show more about each lesson in the next few days.

What a fun week it's been sharing God's Word with these 1st and 2nd graders!  Teaching them about "Staying On Track" has been very rewarding. I pray that the lessons they've learned with help them in life each and every day.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Guess Whooooo??? Teacher of the Year Reception 2012

Each May, at the end of the school year, I have the privilege of decorating for our school's "Teacher of the Year" reception.  This year I chose an owl theme for the decor.  I like putting four 6-foot tables together to make a big rectangle for this event.  It allows for plenty of room for the 100 piece cake and large punch bowl.
Because of the popularity of burlap now, I used burlap tablecloths, as well as burlap pieces on the handmade banners I created.  A big crocheted owl, an arch with hanging wooden owls (decorated with paper and burlap) stood on top of the big refreshment table.
Cutting out letters using my Cricut (I purchased it used for $50!!!) made the banner come together rather quickly.  
For this main banner, I actually bought a plain, white banner that came in a package (Hobby Lobby), then just put paper, felt, and burlap on top of it. 
The large piece of owl material over the burlap table cloth was perfect to match the other decorations.  I found it at Walmart.  The owl cake was adorable and tasted great!  It's so much fun to have everything match with the theme!
Our school has a "Teacher of the Year" winner for our public school site, as well as for the juvenile detention center that is in our school district.  Each recipient had a table decorated specifically for them. They received many gifts from a lot of businesses in our area. The owl on the right of this picture became the inspiration for the color scheme.  He was really cute!
Last year, our school also began recognizing a "support staff" person of the year and a volunteer of the year.  The support person for this year was our school custodian who has one of the very hardest jobs at the school.  Can you imagine cleaning up after hundreds of students EVERY day???!  What a big job!  Nancy does it wonderfully!  The stuffed burlap owls on this table were handmade and painted by me.
Congratulations to each of you!
For this teacher's table, I made burlap/felt canvases.  The teacher is an art teacher, so it seemed to fit her perfectly.
And finally, I made some burlap flags to add to each table.  The burlap triangles were actually purchased at Hobby Lobby - though I made some myself for the banners.  I found cute clip art owls that I printed off onto white card stock, then glued them to dowel sticks to poke around in various places. 

The "Guess Whoooooo???"  theme was a HOOT! :)

Friday, May 25, 2012


I wanted to share this with you.  The older I get, I can sure relate to the cute story at the beginning.  The message of the whole thing is a good reminder to all of us to do a self-check from time to time....makin sure we are acknowledging the blessings of God. (Used by permission.)


    I heard about three sisters -- ages 92, 94, and 96 -- who lived together. One night, the 96-year-old drew a bath. She put one foot in, then paused. "Was I getting in the tub or out?" she yelled.

    The 94-year-old hollered back, "I don't know, I'll come and see." She started up the stairs, but stopped on the first one. She shouted, "Was I going up or coming down?"

    The 92-year-old was sitting at the kitchen having tea, listening to her sisters with a smirk on her face.  She shook her head and said, "I sure hope I never get that forgetful," and knocked on wood for good measure.  Then she yelled, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."

    The saddest part about this story is that I don't find it nearly as funny as I would have 20 or 30 years ago!  As each year goes by, I find myself forgetting more and more.  I'm one of those husbands who goes into the store with a list of five things my wife has told me to buy and I come out with four things.  Some of you may be thinking that doesn't sound too bad, but you need to realize that three of those four items never were on the list to begin with!

    While my failing memory gives me some reason for concern, my bigger concern is that I develop "spiritual amnesia".  There is the possibility that I may someday take God's bountiful blessings for granted and not remember to give thanks to Him for all that He has done.  Every day God sends us blessing after blessing.  Whether we ask for them or not, whether we deserve them or not ("He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good"), whether we acknowledge them or not, we are absolutely flooded with blessings from a good and gracious God.  So do we remember where those blessings come from?  More importantly, do we remember to give thanks to our God for them?

    The Psalmist encourages us with these words:  "Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things." (Psalm 103:1-5a)

    As the 92-year-old sister put it, "I sure hope I never get that forgetful!"  Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go see who is at the door!

    To the God who keeps on giving and giving be all praise and honor and glory!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


IF - A little word with a great BIG meaning......

...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 
2 Chronicles 7:14
And what IF His people don't humble themselves, pray, seek his face and turn from their wicked ways?  Will he not forgive their sin and not heal their land?  

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and theblood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7
But what IF we don't walk in the light?  Will we not have fellowship with each other and will we not have His blood purify our sin? 

If you love me, you will obey what I command."
John 14:15

And what IF I don't obey His commandments?  Will He still know that I love Him? 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
But what if we don't confess our sins?  Will He forgive us?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
James 2:8
But how am I doing if I don't love my neighbor as myself?

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-11

But what if I don't possess these qualities ?  What if I don't do these things?

Yes.....IF is a very big word when it comes to our spiritual lives.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Red Carpet Affair - Jr.-Sr. Banquet Theme

Early in the school year, my daughter's Junior class decided on a theme for their spring banquet in honor of the Senior class of 2012.  They voted on the theme, "Red Carpet Affair".  It was especially easy to choose this theme because their class sponsor,who was new to our school, had helped order this theme at her previous school, and knew that we could pay her former school a discounted price and use it for our own banquet.  That plan worked out wonderfully!
The other school had all of the decorations, except for the centerpieces.  That was our "thing" and the sponsor asked me to help with them knowing how I enjoy creating and decorating.  From mid February until late March, I worked on the centerpieces.  I figured I could make everything a lot cheaper and better by doing it myself instead of buying a ready-made plastic centerpiece. I'm not sure they were cheaper, but I do know they were better!  I will post a tutorial on making the centerpieces at my recipe/craft blog HERE.
The tables were set with long white cloths and black toppers.  The toppers were supposed to be squares, but when I opened them, they were rectangles.  Since they were free to use from our school's janitorial supply company, I'm not going to complain!  They still looked great!
The Juniors had a great time decorating and spent a lot of time on small details.  This long hallway led from the "red carpet" area of our gym lobby to the banquet room....our school cafeteria.
It was fun seeing my daughter all dressed up.....but a little sad, too, that she's really a Junior!  My how the time has flown by!
The large chocolate fountain was a BIG hit with all of those in attendance.  Notice the pineapple palm tree used as a table decoration.  Cute, huh?  One of the parents made it.
Many of the Junior class parents helped with the food.  My brother-in-law also made 300 homemade rolls for the event. The students chose the menu from a few suggestions I listed at the sponsors' request.  You can find the recipes for this Teriyaki Chicken and Green Bean Bundles on my recipe blog, as well.  Use the search feature,
The same parent who did the chocolate fountain and pineapple palm trees also made homemade cheesecake and chocolate covered strawberries.  Having parents prepare the meal cut the classes expenses tremendously, so I'm very thankful to have had so many help!
The best part about the whole banquet was the fact that so many of my daughters class took the time to work hard to make the event such a success.  I have to admit that when we started on Wednesday afternoon and then again after Wednesday night worship, and only had about 5 people working, I wasn't sure we could pull it off.  But Thursday, by evening, it was apparent that we were really going to make it!  After working extremely hard from 6 until 11:30 p.m. - and with more parents and Junior class members staying, we DID IT!  They were sooooo proud of their hard work and they had such a great time together!  I even heard one say that they wish that we could do it again next year!  I have to admit that would be okay with me, too!  (But since I won't have a Junior next year, I get one year off before doing it again :)

Thanks for the memories, Junior class!  You'll never forget this special event and the way you worked together to make it happen.  I'm thankful to have been a part of those memories!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pride and Glory

Yesterday was our junior high and high school awards assembly.  Our small school has had an extremely successful year this year, with state champions in many areas, as well as teams going further than they've gone in years.

This morning on Facebook, our high school librarian was again congratulating the speech teacher for the speech teams' success, and telling her she wasn't getting enough credit for her hard work and success.  The speech teacher wrote back: "Thanks! My goal is to keep them winning and keep me a secret!"  Isn't that awesome?  SHE doesn't want the success for HER....she wants it for her students.  Of course she's proud of them, but it is apparent that her pride comes from what they are doing and not on what she is doing.

Many mornings I go to for my daily Bible reading.  I use the verse of the day they have on the home page, expand it to the whole chapter, and use it as a study.  Today's verse went right with the speech teachers thought, but in a spiritual sense:

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." 
Hebrews 6:10

You probably know, as I do, some who want glory for themselves.  Success can turn into self-pride in a hurry.  However, if we're truly concerned with being successful, we will care about helping others be successful and not with what we get out of it.  Just like our speech teacher, Jesus went about doing good for others....never worrying about whether or not his ego was being puffed up.  Sadly, the latter is seen far too often.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” 
Colossians 3:23

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Something to make you think.....

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

Have you ever thought about why you believe what you believe about God.....about Jesus.....about the Bible.....about salvation?  Have you studied God's Word for yourself or have you just believed what you've been taught or what you've heard or read according to man?

The Bible is God's inspired word.  It doesn't conflict itself.  It doesn't change with time or with political correctness.  It is constant and always will be.

I've mentioned this guy - Jeff Bethke - before on my blog.  He's got some great thoughts.  This blog post of his tells the absolute biblical truth about a commonly held opinion that is actually not true at all.  Please take the time to read his blog post HERE.  It may change the way you think....about everything.

If you have any questions, first read God's Word for yourself.  If you don't understand something, ask can ask me if you want.  I'll answer your questions as best I can according to the truth found in scripture.

Have a great day!

 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 
2 Timothy 2:15

Inside the Proverbs 31 Woman's Kitchen? Maybe so!

Maybe it is....maybe it isn't, but I like to think it is.  I like to think that in order for the famous passage about the Proverbs 31 woman to be written, her kitchen often looked like this:  All messey and looking like a tornado might have hit!
Each year, during the first part of May, the Tipton PTO celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week by providing meals, snacks, and treats for our school's teachers and faculty.  Because we're a small school, we treat not only the elementary school teachers, but the junior high and high school teachers and faculty, as well.
I realize some of this mess could be dealt with more efficiently by taking care of it while I work on things, but for some reason, I don't think in those terms.  I just make the mess....then later clean it up. But it occured to me last week, in the midst of the mess, that this would drive many people crazy!  So crazy that they might not take the opportunity to cook for others or help with PTO or other events, because it might mess up their kitchens.  It seems a little far-fetched to me, but maybe it's not.
So I began thinking about the Proverbs 31 women, and the good she did.  Don't you think that at times she made messes?  Her hands got dirty?  She got of off her own schedule to help others in need?  I believe she did!  You see, a Proverbs 31 women musn't be perfect and always have everything perfect in her life,  but she must use what God has given her and serve others as best as she can.  Don't you agree?  Me, too! 

So, on this GRATITUESDAY,  I'm grateful for the messy kitchen, but I'm also grateful when it is all cleaned up.  But I believe I should be more grateful about making those messes because it means I'm doing something - often for someone else.  Perhaps it means that I'm being a servant to others - just like the woman of Proverbs 31.

To see what others are grateful for on this GRATITUESDAY, visit Heavenly Homemakers!

(Note:  I had some "clean kitchen" photos to share when it was all cleaned up, but I can't download them at the time.  You'll just have to use your imagination! :) Lori)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teens - Be a Rebel!!

Yes!  Be a REBEL!  What?  Does that surprise you that I'm actually encouraging teens to be a rebel?  Well, hold on a minute and you'll understand what I mean.  And parents, you can learn to be a rebel as well.  Often times parents have a hard time with some of these ideas, too.

Most of the time we think of a rebel as something bad - something negative.  Specifically, we think of a rebel as someone who doesn't like to follow rules.  But, I want to encourage you to be a rebel in a positive way. I want to challenge you to go against the flow, to say no to what is popular, to resist peer pressure.  I want to challenge you to strive to do the right thing, to stand up for those who need help, and to stand up for what is right and true and good.  I challenge you to resist the devil and to live your life in a way that is pleasing to God, in the footsteps of Jesus.

Being a rebel for a positive cause is hard, much harder than living a life going along with the crowd.  You may get hurt.  You may be shunned.  You may even be persecuted.  But you know what?  You will find that  living this new life as a rebel will do amazing things for you.  You'll notice that you have a lot less drama.  You'll notice that you have a lot less stress.  You may even notice a positive change in your whole attitude, as well as in everything you do.  If you're having a hard time at home, you may see those relationships improve.  If you're struggling in school, you may find those struggles diminish.  And if you find yourself feeling depressed, you may become aware of an inner peace that you've never had before.  It actually will make you feel better to know you are doing what is right.  There is a calmness that comes when you are living your life to the glory of God instead of to receive the praises of a few friends.

There is a great site for teens about being a positive rebel.  It's at and the two guys who founded this cause focus on rebelling against low expectations by doing hard things. I love this concept!!  I'm a firm believer in striving to be EXCELLENT and expecting the best out of myself and others.  Not that I or any one else is perfect, of course, but that we don't settle for mediocrity in our attitudes, performance, leadership, responsibilities, commitments, and service.

The website mentioned uses 1 Timothy 4:12 as its key verse.  I'll close with an excerpt from their site:

In 1 Timothy 4:12, the Apostle Paul tells Timothy, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." In other words, as young people we are called to be exemplary in all areas of life. Our generation is falling incredibly short of that calling. Instead of serving as the launching pad of life, the teen years are seen as a vacation from responsibility. We call it the "myth of adolescence." And the Rebelution is all about busting that myth.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ladies' Ministry

For many years, I have had the opportunity to speak at an annual Bible Teacher's Workshop in Duncan.  Most of the time it's just a ladies' class, but for the past two years I've done a classes geared towards ladies ministry.  I enjoy teaching the Bible to young children, young girls, and even babies at times, but I would say that my passion is more directed towards teaching ladies.  So teaching and talking to others about different ideas to grow a ladies ministry within the church, is very important to me.
One thing that helps a ladies' ministry grown is to provide opportunities for Christian sisters can get together and get to know each other better.  There are many possibilities to accomplish this goal, but for me one of the best ways I've found is by hosting a yearly spring salad supper for all of the ladies.  It is something that many of them look forward to each year and I do, too.

Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures of the yummy food or the sweet guests!  I NEVER forget photos, so I don't know what happened!!!  Oh, yes.....I think the talking and fellowshipping got me sidetracked :).  What a wonderful thing to sidetrack my thoughts!!
The scripture at the end of this post is the commandment for the older Christian women to teach the younger women.  For me, as a middle-aged woman, I can learn from those who are older, but also be a teacher to those who are younger.  And actually, when we get together and get to know one another, we can all learn from each other.  We are fulfilling the scriptures and commandments of God and having fun and fellowship with one another while doing it!
For the salad supper, I find inspiration from the tableware in the party shop.  These plates just seemed to be the perfect thing for this years' spring get-together.  For many years I've used square plates, but these seemed bigger on the bottom - and I was hungry at the time! :)  The only downfall to pretty plates, even at more expensive prices, is that they aren't made quite as sturdy as they used to be.  So be careful and aware of that fact.
One of the highlights of the evening each year is the "ice breaker".  This year I titled the activity "Getting to Know You!".  It featured five questions and each guest answered them either on the paper or in their mind, the we went around to each lady as they shared their memories.  Because not as many were able to come, it worked out having this many questions.  It would be too many for more than 10 people.

It's a blessing to get together and learn more about your sisters in Christ.  I look forward to the next event!

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Titus 2:3-5

Monday, May 7, 2012

Oklahoma FFA State Convention - 2012

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Oklahoma FFA State Convention with my two oldest children.  Well.....actually I wasn't "with" them, but went, and was able to be around them during the event.  In this photo, it's the first that I can remember when my son, who is 15, is actually taller than my daughter, who is 17!  And that's only because it was the very end of the convention and she traded in her heels for flats just right before we snapped this photo.  Amazing how grown-up they are!
One of the highlights of the week, was that my daughter had been selected to be one of 103 members to be in the state convention chorus.  There were two other girls from our town that were selected, as well.  The chorus members go up several days early before the convention, to practice the songs they will be singing.  The chorus was GREAT!  

If you are interested, my daughter has loaded the song videos on YouTube.  The channel is kinsler52.  I made the videos from a loooooonnnnnggggg way away and with a lot of "zoom" so they aren't nearly as good as the group was live, but they're still good. 

A special shout out to a former Oklahoman and FFA member, Colte Julian, who flew in from Chicago with short notice, to direct the chorus.  He is in the musical, "Million Dollar Quartet".  Check out his videos!  
I'm always impressed by the inspirational nature of the FFA Convention, as well as the focus on God from many who speak and many who are the FFA state officers.  Josh Shipp was just one of those who inspired all who heard him.  
Josh is also a former Oklahoman, with an amazing story that leaves his audience spellbound, encouraged, and very motivated to make the most out of life.
Grant Baldwin and his speech entitled "Reality Check" was humorous and uplifting!  He has a book by the same title.
And a special pre-last-session show was this man.  I can't remember his name, but he did the "Deck of Cards Bible" story.  Here's a link to read it, if you don't know about it.      

I'm not sure the story is actually true, but it's still an amazing story to tell and share with others.  You could have heard a pin drop in the convention center, which is saying a lot with thousands and thousands of people.  I heard this story many years ago at a Bible camp.  It's a memorable story with a great illustration using the cards.

This years theme for the FFA convention was "I Believe".  I believe that FFA is a wonderful organization for youth.  Formerly "Future Farmers of American", it's now just FFA.  It's so much more than what people believe it to be - just for farmers and those who show livestock at fairs!  But, I believe, most importantly, that for organizations like this to not be afraid to keep God at the center and the focus of its convention - not worrying about political correctness one bit - is something to be commended.  Thank you, FFA!  I am so thankful my children have the opportunity to be a part of this great organization!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Special Note from Tyler

A few weeks ago my Bible cover broke, so I had to get a new one.  Changing Bible covers is much like changing an old purse for a new one, and not one of my favorite tasks.  I'm quite content using the same one for years and years and years.

Each time, as I move my Bible to a new cover, I also find a big stack of notes and papers tucked into one of the flaps.  Some of these papers are sermon or Bible class notes, some are blog post ideas, and some are sweet notes that have been given to me by my children during their growing up years.  Some I transfer over to the new cover, some I realize can be thrown away, and some I'll keep forever.

Here is one of those "forever" notes from my youngest, Tyler:

This note is special. Some might consider it trash.  I consider it a treasure.
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