We got up early and before it was light we headed out to the edge.
We marched forward in the darkness, walking from hard dirt to shifting sand until we could not go any farther.
We had to stop. We were created with specific strengths and limits and we had to stop and recognize our habitat ends at this line. Who set this boundary? Who drew this line in the sand?
In the darkness one might miss the clarity of this line. But if your ears are open, then it is unmistakable that even in the dark there was a change in our path. The roar of the water is mighty. It’s song drowns out the sound of the city and the night. It deafens the sound of motors and all other man-made creations. Someone incredible put this line here and gave it a mighty sound so even in darkness it was unmistakable.
It clearly defines the boundary below our feet. There are no more roads, no cars, no buildings, no houses, no people, not even trees, no…this line of roaring waters defines a boundary line.
The sky was beginning to shine forth with light separating the day from the night. Standing in one place looking to the east we saw the new day and to the west we still saw the night. We were standing at a boundary line between domains of powerful waters and land, but also between times, between day and night.
The reality of this moment is surreal and amazing! It is encouraging and we waited patiently for the light.
It climbed slowly and steadily.
The waters kept roaring. Their pace was rhythmic and never changing.
The rhythm seemed as if it were trying to lure me to sleep, back and forth, back and forth.
But all my senses were awake. I could smell the energy in the air, I could agree with the rhythm with each breath I took. I could feel the steady pace of life just like my own heart beating. I could taste the salty air as it passed my tongue and as it filled my lungs it electrified and recharged my body.
There is life in this rhythm. It churns up oxygen and minerals that bubbles and froths and is teaming with new life.
Even the birds were excited. They instinctively know the ebb and flow of the water brings abundance into their life and they find nourishment.
It bears witness to the Creator.
The living God. There is none like him. He is the provider. He is the daily bread of heaven. He is the water of life. All those who come to him will be saved and will never thirst for eternity.
We met many others on the journey to the water’s edge. They come to enjoy the inspiring moments of a new day as it dawns.
The light transforms our view. It bounces all around before the sun even appears over the horizon.
Everything takes on a new vibrancy. Colors seem to pop! Details previously unseen suddenly overwhelm the senses and there is a new awareness.
The birds are very excited. The growing light points out the location of their next meal. They dance in the air above the waves in anticipation, expecting provision. They do not worry. Then when there is just enough light, they quickly dive into the water and select their free gifts for the day.
I am dancing too. On the edge. On the line. In the moment I become part of the the rhythm and I dance and wait.
My feet are wet. My toes tingle. My nose is full of sweet salty air that energizes my breaths and my beating heart. My eyes are drawn to the dawning light and I wait.
My spirit is encouraged.
I wait. I know it will be here soon.
My Father in Heaven set this plan in motion.
I can rejoice and dance as carefree as a little child.
I feel alive. I trust my Father’s plan and provision completely. He drew this line. He put this boundary here. I trust him.
The waves rise and fall and rise again, washing the shore. The rhythm is a song in my heart and mind. It reminds me there is a plan, it is not random.
He sent his only begotten son to redeem me, heal me, and wash me clean. My robe is washed by the lamb, Jesus, my savior. God sent his son to redeem all those who would believe and call upon him.
It is a new day, a day the Lord God has made.
Sing about his goodness, I will sing about his provision for my needs. I will tell the world about his love and his mercy. I will praise his name forever.
In him only will I place my trust. His plan is perfect. His plan is in motion. I will trust him with my life and my eternal home.
While we were building the garden beds for the 2017 garden season, we also got our aquaponics system up and running. We currently have a small system that consists of one barrel cut into two parts, with a bell siphon, an outlet pipe, an inlet pipe, and a pump. This simple aquaponics set up is called “barelponics”.
Setting up the barrel-ponics for 2017 growing season. Picture taken before all of the grow bed stone was added.
We have had this system for several years now and it has done a great job of producing salads and greens for us. This small system can produce quite a bit of lettuce because lettuce is ready to harvest about every three weeks or so. It recirculates water that both nourishes the plants and raises fish. The plants clean the water for the fish and the fish provide the nutrients for the plants.
Barrel-ponics set up a few years ago when it was new.
It used to looks a lot nicer when it was new. A few years in the sunshine has taken a toll on it.
I wasn’t able to set up the barrel last summer because the pump broke at the end of the growing season the summer before and we did not replace it when we moved. However I did set it out on my back porch and it filled with rain water and we had the most fun growing tadpoles and watching them mature into frogs last summer.
For my birthday this year, my husband got me a new pump. So as soon as the weather stayed above freezing during the day, we got it up and running. We also had some stone leftover from when we gardened with it before to fill the growing bed on top, so the only thing we had to do was install the new pump. My son built a stand to hold the growing tub above the barrel and this will make accessing the pump much easier than before when we had the growing bed sitting on the barrel.
I loved using this barrel in the past. It was so easy to grow delicious greens for most of the year. I had so much lettuce, celery, green onions, and sweet potato greens from this one barrel that it was unbelievable.
We put fish in the bottom barrel of water and the pump sends the water to the plants in the top. Then the water returns back down to the fish and the process repeats. The nutrients feed the plants and the plants help clean the water.
I am excited to have the aquaponics up and running again. I plan to raise romaine lettuce, sweet potato vines, and other leafy greens as well as fish for the table.
Lettuce growing in my window February 2017
The lettuce in this picture is from my kitchen window in February 2017. I re-grow lettuce after making a salad by placing the base of the head of lettuce in some water and set it in the window. Within a week or so, new roots shoot out from the base and new leaves grow and within a couple of weeks they are ready to harvest. You can repeat this process several times.
I have used different containers to regrow lettuce from leftover lids, leftover water bottles, to basic dishes. As long as the base of the head has access to water, it will regrow roots and as long as those roots have access to water the plant will provide harvest after harvest of fresh lettuce leaves. It grows even better in an aquapoinics setup.
But to make a simple system for your window, just cut the top off a used water or soda bottle. Turn the top upside down in the bottom and fill the bottom with water. Set you plant in the top with the base of the plant touching the water. Set it in the window or under a grow lamp. It will soon show signs of new growth and send out new roots and new leaves.
So after harvesting the new leaves off the plants from my window sill, I put the rest of the lettuce heads and the plants I had already grown to the seed stage into the top of the barrel garden bed and will grow them outside now that the weather is warming up. Besides lettuce leaves, I hope to harvest some seeds once they have gone to seed heads too.
First lettuce harvest of the year! March 2017
The first harvest for 2017 of lettuce from the window sill provided enough greens for4 delicious fresh salads. This is a wonderful way to increase nutrition and because you are re-using the lettuce heads you would have otherwise thrown away, it is basically for free. It is amazing how much additional lettuce it will still grow! The harvest just keeps going and going!
Do You Love Me?
Someday I would love to have a bigger aquaponics set up and grow more food to give away. For a small investment, you can grow hundreds to even thousands of pounds of food including fish in your aquaponics gardens and recoup your initial investment the first growing season. Churches, coops, clubs, etc could set these up too, and if easily accessible to the public like at food pantries, parks, libraries and other places around town, simple food gardens, food forests, and aquaponics would be great way to increase nutrition for the homeless, the needy, and an entire community of people too.
When we stand before the Lord on judgement day, he is going to look at a couple of things. He doesn’t care about your house, car, job, education, income, vacations, clothes, etc. But there is something he deeply cares about.
The first question that will be answered is do we love Jesus as our savior and believe he is the son of God who died for us and his blood cleanses us from our sins. If we are his, then he will separate us who love him (his sheep) from those who are not his and did not believe (the goats).
The second question he has for us is “did we obey him and give him food when he was hungry?”. This may sound confusing, but he is in the midst of us and he said what we do for others we do for him. So he will ask us: “Did you feed me when I was hungry? Did you give me drink when I was thirsty? Did you visit me when I was lonely? etc.”
“ When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”
“ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:31-40
What will be your answer to his question? What will be my answer?
Will he find us faithful stewards who fed him when he was hungry?
I hope each person reading this note today will someday soon hear him say “Well done good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of the Lord”.
The word of God written in the bible is full of FREE nuggets of wisdom. These nuggets are worth more than silver or gold! Yet they are FREE!
In my bible study today, I was reading in Ecclesiastes and came across some nuggets of wisdom that are not the usual advice about how to live life that you might expect to see. However, if you take a close look you just might find your life in contrast, especially if you live in a wealthy modern society. I think these passages represent a profound truth usually missed by most people.
This book in the bible was written by the man who is said to have had the most wisdom and riches of any man who ever lived. He is also a man who made many many mistakes. He wrote this book during a time of deep self examination.
I summarized from Ecclesiastes 1-5 especially 5: 9-20.
If we try to increase our abundance of things, we will never be satisfied. Our “pursuit of abundance” will result in vanity.
When increase comes to us, we should use what we need to live with joy and share the rest with family and friends. When increase from the earth comes, it is for all those who labor as well as for the king. All are to enjoy the fruit (increase) of the labor. When blessings come, they are for everyone to enjoy, not for one person or a few persons, to hoard.
The only blessing in this life that we have on earth that is of any lasting value is to have joy while we eat and drink and enjoy our family, and be happy with the work of our labor. Everything else, every pursuit of anything else in life is vanity and will perish.
Everything else including trying to increase your possessions will vex (curse) your spirit and cause illness and cause you to loose sleep at night. Nothing we can build will bring us lasting happiness and we will die naked the same way we were born with nothing in our hands.
This nugget of truth is the opposite of what we are taught to pursue in our modern culture. If we could grasp this nugget, and apply it, we could be FREE of so much bondage.
Is achieving the “American Dream” the pursuit of true wealth? Will you come to the end of your life and realize you were mislead? Will you realize you spent your life in bondage and were never truly free?
What does vanity mean?
1. lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness
2. something worthless, trivial, or pointless.
3. excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain; conceit:
4. an instance or display of this quality or feeling.
5. something about which one is vain or excessively proud
(quote from online dictionary)
So vanity is WORTHLESSNESS and Shelfishness and Pride. Vanity is pride in one’s acheivements that actually result in a bound hollow pointless life. It is worth less than what it boasts and pretends because it is an exaggeration of value. Vanity is the opposite pursuit of true wealth.
According the wisest and richest man who ever lived, wealth is not equivalent to things. He said pursuit of things is bondage of spirit, like putting a curse upon one’s life, and is a vain pursuit that will result in nothing.
A person only needs what he can carry in his own hands to help him eat, drink, and enjoy his family and have joy in his work. All else is vanity in this world.
“Increase in wealth” should not also mean “increase in things”. You can truly be wealthy and happy without stuff!
In modern society we are falsely shown that wealth equals owning a big house(s) or nice appartment in an expensive neighborhood, expensive cars, fancy trips and vacations, expensive clothes, college degree (s), high ranking jobs that pay big incomes, expensive jewelry, eating at expensive restaurants, going to expensive sporting events and performances, etc. It is all about having “things that represent riches”.
But will having a resume with a college degree, and work history of high paying incomes, owning a house in a nice neighborhood with two cars in the attached garage, a green manicured lawn, and money in the bank equal to a life of true wealth? Is the abundance of things and money equal to real wealth? Is riches the same as wealth?
This truth is free and will set you free!
Wealth is freedom from debt and bondage.
Wealth is freedom from competition.
Wealth is the ability to be happy and joyful and sleep without worry.
Wealth is freedom from people pleasing.
True wealth is being happy simply by being content with eating and drinking with family and friends and with the work you do, while you live in a place of the size that provides just what you need to live a simple life and the ability to share the abundance of the increase with others.
As I thought about these truths, I realized this nugget of truth that wealth is being FREE from vain pursuits, I felt as though I had discovered an amazing treasure.
Reducing possessions to a level that is “just what is needed” to happily work (not struggle or be discourage to earn a living) and eat (nutritious food) and drink (pure clean water) and sleep well (at peace) while you enjoy the company of family and friends in your community is real wisdom! This should be the American dream and the pursuit of all of humanity.
The truth in the bible is free for everyone. It shows us how to avoid living a vain worthless life. Salvation is free for everyone too. Jesus came to save everyone who calls on his name and accepts him as their savior and obeys him. He told us to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as we love our own self and share our abundance and meet their needs. The bible also says that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom and that true wisdom is worth more than silver or gold.
There are nuggets of truth in the bible worth more than silver and gold and if you apply them you will live a life that is wealthy, blessed, and wise!
“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14
“He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.” Proverbs 21:21
“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Matthew 19:29
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” Mark 10:21
“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8
It seems to me that God has made it very clear that he doesn’t want us to chase after cars and trucks, houses, careers, college degrees, sports, hobbies, land, animals, plants, possessions, food, unrighteousness, sins, addictions, time, money, families, vanity and body image, popularity, planets and outer space, science and technology, medical, or anything else.
God wants to be the rhythm and passion of our life. He alone is the reason for every breath we take, and every day we walk this earth. He wants us to turn to him for every plan we make and every need or desire that we have. He wants us to be content with his answers to our requests. He wants to talk to our heart and fellowship with us every day. He wants us to sing about his goodness and tell our children, friends, and neighbors about him.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Loving others isn’t always easy. It is hard to love when you are offended. It is hard to love when you are angry.
I have been praying about how to help my kids solve their disagreements with their siblings in a loving way. Lately a couple of them seem to get on each other’s nerves a lot more. I have six kids, the older two are heading out of puberty and seldom get into big arguments, and two are younger, but the middle two are heading into puberty and lately argue with each other a lot. After having gone through the “preteen years with the older two already, and now with the next two repeating the pattern, it seems preteen puberty has an affect on tolerance and attitude.
Though we have been teaching them about love, forgiveness, and getting along since the beginning of their lives, I feels sometimes like I am starting over in some way, like they forgot what they knew. Before puberty, they used to be more patient and kind and generous and gracious in their attitude. But currently they are easily offended. Right now, one day they are best friends and the next day words spoken by the other person feels like a verbal jab or a put down even when it wasn’t intended that way. So I am in the process of teaching them about loving the other person all over again.
So where do I begin?
Like I said, this is something I have been praying and asking the Lord to point me in the right direction. This is a temporary phase kids go through as they head into puberty, so I have to give them some simple steps they can take to help them work through their feelings and chose to react to the other person with understanding and giving them the benefit of the doubt and not assuming the other wants to offend them.
Today I am focusing on solving an argument with “Love“. Love is an action. Loving someone else you don’t want to love, or someone who has offended you requires something from you. When you love, it results in growth in your character as you make room to overlook the offense, overlook differences, overlook your own wants and put the other persons wants and needs in front of yours. Choosing to argue is an option and choosing not to argue is another option.
“The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.” Luke 10:27
Choosing to forgive and love the other person is what God desires from us. God is love. He wants us to be gracious, to extend grace to each other and offer each other a helping hand. He wants us to show pure love towards each other. When we love others and forgive them we show that we belong to God, that he is our Heavenly Father.
Have you ever watched the setting of the sun at the beach?
It is such a beautiful site.
We spent a November evening on a North Carolina beach watching the sun go down.
The Fall air was cool and crisp, but we didn’t let that hinder our joy.
There is something very special and exciting about being at the water’s edge.
The colors in the sky were beautiful!
The smell of the ocean and the sensation of breathing in the salty air is a completely different experience than our day to day experience. If feels energizing, like it is renewing something inside the body and the mind.
I could watch the ocean and sky for hours and never get tired of the view.
The sand feels amazing and was cool to the touch. We collected some seashells along the beach.
We saw a flock of pelicans flying above us.
Even though it was chilly, we decided to get our feet wet.
We tried to catch the waves coming into the shore.
The waves and the pull of the under tow current were quite powerful and knocked us off our feet several times.
One fella didn’t want to get wet. He said it was too cold.
But the rest of the group was eager to get wet from head to toe even though we only agreed to get our “feet” wet.
Even though the water was cold and the current was strong, I enjoyed getting my feet in the water too. The waves kept a constant rhythm with perfect timing.
It felt so peaceful.
We enjoyed an evening walk on the beach and walked to a fishing peer not far from where we played.
The sun set was stunning behind the peer.
It gave the appearance of a glowing fire off in the distance.
The fishing peer went out so far and then was blocked at the end. It seemed as if the peer would have gone further, but perhaps had been lost in a storm.
Even though a major hurricane, Hurricane Matthew, had come through days earlier, the rest of the peer was still in good standing and many folks were using it for fishing and enjoying the evening.
I loved the contrast of the peer and the evening sky and ocean waves.
You could sense the determination of this peer to withstand whatever the elements of nature could beat it with.
The structure seemed to rebel against the constant waves, the salty air, and the gusts of wind.
The setting sun was gorgeous! It peered through the dark clouds sandwiched between the sky and the water.
This experience reminds us of what it might of been like at the beginning. The bible talks about the beginning.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.”
Looking away from the sun, in the opposite direction, the sky and the water seemed to be a reflection of each other, a matching blue that seemed to go on forever.
But looking towards the sunset, the colors were vibrant and seemed layered like a rainbow that had been deconstructed.
Sitting above the waves, felts as if we were sitting on them. Resting on the benches of the peer was a special experience.
The peer puts you out on the water, away from the shore.
Though you are sitting still, everything around you is in motion and has a rhythm of it’s own. Everything is moving with a beat, the water, the sky, the salty air on your face, and the sound it all makes has a nourishing rhythm that feeds the soul.
All your senses are enhanced and focused on the beat, the soothing sound of the moving water and the amazing colors of the sky.
After we watched the sun set, we walked up the beach a little bit further for some food. Later we came back outside to watch the beach in the darkness.
We sat on the steps of a small gazebo looking out over the water. It was so peaceful.
A long way out, there was a small twinkle of light from ships on the water.
We could also see the lights of the fishing peer reflect on the water.
But otherwise, we could no longer depend on our eyes to understand our environment. We could not see the sky, and we could not see the water, we could only sense they were still there in the darkness.
Instead of using our eyes, we tuned our ears to the sounds of the night. All we could hear was the familiar sound of the waves hitting the beach in a soothing rhythm. It was peaceful.
The older kids and I wanted to stay outside all night, but the younger kids and daddy were getting sleepy, so it was time to head inside. Bedtime seemed to come too quickly, yet we welcomed the end of this day feeling relaxed and renewed.
We definitely want to experience the sun setting on the beach again soon.
If you would like to motivate and encourage your kids to learn stories from the bible, I would encourage you to read Bible stories with your kids and make the stories into Unit Studies. Unit Studies are cross-curricular and subjects (such as math, history, art, science, language, etc) follow a central theme and are adaptable so they are great for teaching all ages.
For example, if you are learning about apples, all the curriculum subjects will have an apple theme. You might do apple math, or apple science, or apple history, or write a poem about apples, etc. Unit Studies are hands on, they can be as simple or specialized as you design them to be, and they help children retain what they have learned. You can teach preschool, elementary, middle and high school all at the same time by varying the level of difficulty of the worksheets, experiments, and reading materials.
This school year we are doing lots of Unit Studies with a bible story theme. Each Unit Study is different, with different themes, but they all center around a theme that came from the bible. For example, if we are learning about musical instruments, we might choose the ones found in the bible, or if we are learning about castles or fortresses, then we can choose a story or few stories in the bible that mention this and then build on our learning about the history and construction of fortresses. Perhaps we want to learn about the eyes and we focus on sight and the brain, calculate vision, learn about colors and light, the disease of blindness, and the miracles of healing sight of the blind that Jesus did.
If you have younger kids, an easy teaching resource like the illustrated The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz is a wonderful way to get started. It contains 90 Bible stories at an affordable price of $16.99. They also have The Beginner’s Bible Website for families and teachers to use with lots of coloring pages and activities for free to compliment the stories you are reading.
A quick search on the interenet will provide you with lots of other ideas you can add to your Unit Study as you build it such as more free printables, lesson plans, craft and recipe ideas, etc. and you can use many of the printables to create lapbooks or keepsake notebooks of their projects too.
The stories in The Beginner’s Bible are written in a simple to understand way and include colorful illustrations that engage the kids and keep their interest. So I wanted to use this as the foundation of the Unit Study learning projects and built additional materials I found into our learning adventure.
Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study & Lapbook
We took advantage of all of the free printables and suggested activities from The Beginner’s Bible Website. They have lot of resources to choose from including two FREE sample curriculum lesson plans. They sell a curriculum kit too. We do not have the kit, but the free lesson plans give you a great teaching format to use to build your own lessons.
I printed out the free lesson plan called “Jesus Rescues the Lost” and created our own unit study. These resources are made especially for The Beginner’s Bible and help kids understand the stories and truths even more as the activities engage more of their senses (listening, coloring, drawing, eye hand coordination, decision making, etc) in a hands on way.
I made a “Bible Teaching Binder” for myself, and a “Bible Lapbook” for the kids with all of these wonderful free printables. On the front of the binder I put the suggested reading schedule. Inside the binder I put the printalbes and any lesson plans I find or create myself.
I keep all of the Unit Study and Lapbook materials in a basket, with pencils, crayons, markers, glue, etc with our Bible so we can easily set this up for our learning time each day. I also put in any other resources we will be using that relates to the story such as a science experiment, crafts supplies, recipes we will make and other activities, and other books related to the subject we are learning. There are lots of varieties of ways you can set this up easily so if you don’t like the basket idea, then you could put the printables in folders or daily workboxes or use another method that works in your home.
My binder is huge and will hold all the lesson plans from the Unit Studies I create using The Beginner’s Bible. I added dividers to help me stay organized. I kept the first section inside the binder for the Unit Study we are currently working on. This is where I put a copy of the free lesson plan “Jesus Rescues the Lost” in my teaching binder. The lesson came with 8 pages of free lesson plans! Next, I added in various coloring pages and other printables and craft ideas and directions. I will use the additional sections in the binder the same way for more lesson plans as we create more bible themed studies. I plan to have about a years worth of plans in the binder by the time we are finished. The kids will have completed about 30 Unit Studies and 30 Lapbooks by the time we are finished.
The “Jesus Rescues the Lost” Lesson Plan suggested reading three of the stories from The Beginner’s Bible and watching a video, a list of several “Bible Verses” to read from a regular Bible, and a “Memory Scripture Verse” for the kids to memorize, as well as a helpful “Teaching Point” to focus the lesson on. The lesson plan provided me with a master supply list for activities, and suggested optional supplies for craft projects (we made sheep puppets and a shepherd staff), printouts, and a skit for the kids to act out with props, and a take home family page. You could spend a week on this lesson, or take three weeks while focusing on understanding one story each week.
The Unit Study in Action
Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study based on the illustrated stories in The Beginner’s Bible and the free lesson plan and suggested printables from the website:
Bible Reading and Speaking:
Read 3 bible stories outloud: “The Lost Sheep“; The Good Samaritan“; and “The Lost Son“.
Audio Video Observation:
Watched the Free Video for Lesson Plan#23 Jesus Rescues the Lost.
Watched a video about the modern life of sheep in Idaho. This video goes over many different things such as economics, land management, herd management, wool, and contains interviews with the sheep farmers too.
Learned about the history of shepherding sheep.
Counting: Younger kids counted cotton balls to represent sheep’s wool.
Graphing: Older kids learned to make a graph that followed the sale price of sheep over a period of time. They also made a graph for the lambs showing the amount of food the sheep eats compared to the rate of growth.
Learned the major body parts of sheep.
We found this worksheet on Page 23 of a 4H manual we found online and it has worksheets for different animals.
Practice writing pages. Here my youngest son is practicing the letter “P” from the story of “The Lost Son” about the prodigal son who wasted his inheritance and ended up in a pig pen and later returned to his father who welcomed him home.
Additional letters to practice are: J (Jesus), R (rescue, redeem), L (lost), I (inheritance), H (healing), S (Samaritan, shepherd, save, and sheep).
We also practices spelling the word “sheep” with this printable.
Colored print out pages from The Beginner’s Bible website that correspond to the stories we read. In this picture, my daughter is coloring a page from the story “The Lost Sheep”.
Created paper sheep puppets with printouts included. You can glue cotton balls onto the sheep (younger kids can practice counting the cotton balls) and put construction paper on the back and attached to a popsicle stick, and the children can hold onto the stick to retell the story. You can also glue the printout to a toilet paper roll and that helps the sheep stand up on their own.
We used two folders and some glue and created a Jesus Rescues the Lost Bible Story Lapbook to store their finished learning activities. If we continue to create lapbooks like this for the entire illustrated Bible, combining two or three stories per lapbook, the kids will have 30+ Bible Unit Studies and Lapbooks for the year.
The last step in our learning adventure of Jesus Rescues the Lost, was to create a Lego sheep and shepherd diorama and use them to retell the bible story of Jesus (the shepherd) looking for the lost sheep (us).
Building with Legos or other building blocks to create scenes from a story you have read is so much fun.
I hope to have time for the older boys create a movie with these props they made where they can record their own retelling of the story. They love to make stop motion animation movies with Legos. We ran out of time to make the movie, but I hope we have it completed soon for a followup story.
Optional ideas to include in this Unit Study are:
Field Trip ideas: take a field trip to a sheep and goat farm.
Crafts and activities ideas: that would make this project lots of fun such as make a donkey, horse, pigs, a farm, a special ring, a shepherd staff, create a money bag, etc. Older kids would have fun creating (sewing or crafting) costumes to use to retell one of the stories. Perhaps they could also wear the costume and retell the story to a homeschool coop class or at a family gathering.
Math ideas: you could practice counting sticks to make a fence or pig pen, or count money in a money bag. Perhaps they could figure out a pretend hospital bill for services and supplies used for the injured man.
Science and Health ideas: You could also learn about health by making a first aid kit or herbs for healing supplies to care for the wounds of the injured man and nurse him back to health. You could learn about bacteria and healing wounds and learn the feed rations, nutrition, and digestion for pigs, sheep, and horses.
Cooking: You could also throw a feast and serve guests to represent the father welcoming home the prodigal son. You could research meals that were served to back in bible times to include in your feast. You could wear the costumes you made or decorate the table with the crafts and props you made.
There are so many fun ways to create a Unit Study with this illustrated Bible as the central foundation for your themes. I am very pleased with how this has turned out and I think this is a wonderful way to learn. I think Unit Studies and Lapbooks are a special way for kids to share what they have learned, and store the worksheet pages they have completed.
I’m spending time reflecting on this past year, as 2016 winds down and 2017 begins. It has been a busy year. Many goals have been met, and some left unmet, as life events have come and gone.
Normally at this time of year, I spend time prioritizing and writing goals and setting new routines for the year ahead. I still have much left over from last year that I want to achieve in this coming year. It would be easy to feel disappointed. But if I allowed myself to be disappointed in areas I see a lack of progress, it would be non-productive at this point.
I can’t be disappointed that I didn’t get it all done, because truly no one can do it all. It is a lie to believe that you can do everything you want to do. Unless you are financially wealthy, there is a reality for most people that puts some boundaries and financial limitations on goals. No one knows what tomorrow may bring or what next week or next month will look like. We can try to shape the future, setting goals and new routines, but the truth is that the future is not 100% within our control.
If you are discouraged about a lack of progress toward your goals, don’t let it get you down. Your value is not in the goals you achieve or don’t achieve. Your value is not in the amount of money you earn. Your value is not even in what other’s think of you. Look for your answers in God’s word, the bible.
Your true value is what God says about you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. He was there when you were knitted together. He knows every hair on your head. He knows what you need before you do. He is always there ready to assist you in the challenges you walk through in life.
I have come to learn that the true measure to look at your life with is what Jesus said. Everything about life and eternity is summed up in his words. If you want to know the truth, FOCUS on the words of Jesus in the scriptures and I promise it will change your whole entire perspective!
Jesus taught us to pray this prayer with complete trust in Father God:
“Our Father, who are in heaven,
Hollowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done.
On earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation.
Deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.
Amen!” (Matthew 6:9-13)
Don’t Worry Be Happy!
I am thankful my life is 100% in the hands of God the Father, and I don’t have to worry about the future. I am thankful that HE knows the future and I can trust Him completely even though I do not know the day or hour of events in my own life until they happen.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:24-34)
I am thankful for the new year ahead. I am thankful for new beginnings, and I am thankful that I am totally secure in spending eternity with God through salvation in his son Jesus who gave his life for me and rescued me from sin and eternal damnation. I have hope and I have a future in HIM!
I am ready for the new beginnings that Father God ordains for my life. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I am not the author of my story. I am not my own god. He wrote the story and he knows it from start to finish, and I trust him with my life completely.
I encourage you today to pray to Father God, to lay down your worries, and trust him with your life, your goals, your desires, and trust him with all of your new beginnings too.
I want to encourage you today to keep going and not give up. Whatever struggle you may be facing in your life, trust your life in God’s hands and believe in his son Jesus. Believe God is in control, and he can reach you right where you are at, believe that he wants a wonderful future for you and he will protect and guide you when you put your life and your hope in him.
Circumstances do not define who you are and are not an indicator of your value. People’s opinions don’t define you either. Instead of these thoughts, only allow what God your creator says about you to define you. His written word, the bible, says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He says he has a hope and a future for you and he will direct your path when you seek his counsel. He will answer you when you call on him, and he will show you many things that you did not know.
We are stewards of what we have been given. We need to be good stewards of these gifts no matter what the circumstance looks like. Some people have been given more, and some less. But no matter how much we have been given, we can be the best stewards of it today. Because when we care for what we have, even if it is very little, we multiply the blessings it produces.
Perhaps all we have in our ability today is to choose to have joy. That is HUGE! By choosing joy, you will see it multiply for yourself and it will multiply in the lives of those around you. This simple choice can bring huge blessings into your life and give you a lot of hope beyond measure even in the toughest situations. Being joyful is contagious and it can change the way we feel and the way others feel who come in contact with us.
Even if the only thing we have control over is the body we live in, we can choose to be the best steward of that body as we can be, and we will reap a blessing. We are given one body to live in. We each have different gifts and talents, but we are similar to each other in that we have a body, and it is fragile at the same time it is strong. We can learn to be good stewards of this body and multiply the blessings in our health and our emotions.
How can you be a good steward of your physical body? We can learn how to nourish it, rest it, challenge it, strengthen it, and care for it. We can be good stewards of our body, multiply the blessings, and overcome limitations, illness, neglect, and injuries, and be the best we can be.
Perhaps all that we have today is a loaf of bread, then we can share it and see the blessing multiply in another person’s life too.
Hope, Faith, and Blessings
There is a story in the bible about a widow who only had a little flour and oil left to make one meal of bread for herself and her sons. There had been a long drought and everyone was out of grain and out of money and she knew that their life was over and there was no hope of any food even in the near future because there was no rain to plant and grow any future crops and no money to buy food even if anyone had some to share.
So in desperation she planned her last meal. But in the midst of her despair, God heard her and sent a messenger, a prophet of God. He told her to go ahead and “make the last meal”, but to give some of it to him. Do what? This was all she had, and her family was about to die, so how could she give this away? But letting go, and placing her trust in God and his plan for a better future for her, she obeyed the instructions.
1 Kings 14 : 7-16
“Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”
It is an incredible story of doing our best in the midst of terrible circumstances, sharing the best (even if all we have is very little) we have to bless another person and meet their need, and putting our trust and faith in God to work out the outcome, in return, we will reap a huge blessing!
Be encouraged today, that no matter what your situation may look like, by acting on your faith in God as your provider, healer, deliverer, multiplier, protector, and the source of life within you, he will reach into your situation and deliver you. He says his arm is not short! His arm is long enough to reach you right where you are. With the help of the Lord, you can and will overcome and reap a blessing that is more wonderful than you have imagined!