Friday, September 30, 2016

All Church Picnic Recap...

Our church has been through a lot over the last 2 years.  Our lead pastor went home to be with His Savior unexpectedly in Spring 2015.  I will never forget sitting in my seat that Sunday as they shared the news, it rocked our church's world.  (That Pastor along with our other pastor brought me to the Lord just over 10 years ago.)  Our solace that day and in the days to come was God knew, He was there and He would provide direction.  So for the next 14 months we went about grieving and then slowly began the search for the pastor God had chosen to lead us next.  We found him and his family and they came on board about 14 months later, early this summer.   We hosted an ice cream social to welcome them and the same committee that hosted that was charged with the coordination of our all church picnic/pastor installation service scheduled for late September.

So we got about our business with a meeting in August to share ideas, pray and plan the event.  I can't speak highly enough of the group who each did their share with their God given talents.  It was fun to work with them and see each person bring what they had to the table!

Their work truly exuded this verse -


And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Col. 3:17 (ESV)

Our theme centered on the lyrics to Great is Thy Faithfulness...it spoke to where we have been, our present and our future.


Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee,

Thou changest not, Thy compassion's, they fail not,

As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

Lyrics by Chisholm

Let's take a look at all the details from start to finish...hopefully you will be inspired for something you are planning!

We went with a "vintage picnic theme" complete with red check table cloths (like these) and our decorating committee went to work creating a few vignettes as well as pictures from across the decades to include on each of the tables.  Guests were encouraged to take photos with them!



Centerpieces included mason jars filled with bible verses on sticks that went with our over arching theme about God's great faithfulness to our church -- "Great is Thy Faithfulness".


We host our picnic at a local lake shelter complete with a baseball diamond and large playground area perfect for our large group.  It also has 3 large charcoal grills.  A community group in our church hosts the grills and the church provides (with an RSVP) the hamburgers and hot dogs.



For about 250 people we set up two buffet lines with lines on both sides.  We also ferried the hamburgers and hot dogs from the grills to roasting pans on the buffet lines.  We also stocked every other picnic table with condiments in hopes of expediting things -- it seemed to work!


We asked each family to either bring 2 sides to share or one dessert and one side to share, we split our congregation down the middle (it looked like A-S for 2 sides and T-Z for 1 side and 1 dessert). We had plenty of food that way.  In addition each family brought their own table service (we had some extra just in case!).  We provided lemonade and water and cups as well.


And since we were celebrating "extra" with the installation of our new Pastor we recruited our church elders to serve up root beer floats, they were a hit and required minimal set-up and cost!


After dinner it was time for the installation service with a charge for both our new pastor and the congregation.  It was capped off by singing acapella "Great is Thy Faithfulness", it was a beautiful moment.

And then it was on to games and some fun...


First up were a few relay races - the hula hoop relay, burlap sack races, water balloon partner toss and dizzy bat relay races.  You can find our inspiration for games here...


A quick fun pastor game with our 3 on staff pastors...a shower cap, some shaving cream and lots of people throwing cheese balls to see which pastor could get the most to stick.  It was no surprise our youth director took the win but each of them was a good sport!



The evening was capped off with an impromptu game of kickball - youth group vs. young kids and adults -- I am not sure the final score but it was competitive!

Our goals were to glorify God and thank Him for His faithfulness to our church, allow people to connect with other church family and have a whole lot of fun.  Judging from the responses, we met our goals.  Until next year, another church picnic is in the books!

You can find all of our inspiration on this Church picnic board...

What have you found to be successful for church picnics, I would love to hear?

**This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What I am learning Wednesday: Encouragement...

source

It's Wednesday and I am starting a new little series about what I am learning.  Above all with this little blog refresh I want people to encounter Jesus and his great big love and grace.  I am a mess but I am thankful He (God!) allows me to use it for a message of his goodness and grace.  This momma needs it more than I want to admit...

I am humbled to serve some sweet women in a bible study where I get to share some encouraging words with them.  Life can be wearisome for us and isn't it nice to breathe in a little of God's word (it's life giving)...it just lifts those weary sails and allows us to journey on.  As it seems to happen, I am meant to encourage and disciple them but most all of the time its the other way around.  If you don't have a group of women in your life that lift you up, I encourage you to seek out a bible study or a women's group at a church where you can connect.  The bible is clear we are not meant to live this life in isolation!  Everyone does!

One of my favorite scripture verse on encouragement is found in  the book of Hebrews which coincidentally most likely was written by Barnabas which means son of encouragement.  Barnabas walked along side of Paul in his missionary journeys (well most of the time but thats another story for a different day).  He even stood up for Paul when he first became a Christian and no one believed him.  Think about all Paul did and he had a dear friend alongside encouraging him every step of the way.  If we look to Paul as an example in the bible, we surely better be finding ourselves a Barnabas and be one ourselves.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today." So that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."  Hebrews 3:13

We all need encouragement or we may become hard, discouraged.  So say the kind word.  Text the friend you know needs it.  Pray for the person that pops into your mind.  Take a weary mom a meal.  Pray that your eyes would be open to the need that surrounds you and allow the Holy Spirit to move through you.  No one is excluded from needing encouragement and we have some good examples in scripture of people living well for God who used that encouragement to keep journeying on.

Who is your Barnabas?

And how can you be a Barnabas today?

This world can benefit from your encouragement today!

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and grad deeds, not giving up meeting together...but encouraging one another -- and all the more as you see the day approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25

Here's the study we are doing right now on Ecclesiastes.



**This post contains affiliate links.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Little Miss V's 5th wild about zebra's 5th birthday...

Our little Miss V turned 5 in September!  I am not sure how that is possible, I remember them handing her to me after a slightly stressful delivery and couldn't believe she was a girl (we never find out until delivery day)!  My heart was so full and continues to be filled, so thankful I am her mom.

Birthdays have been a highlight for me since my kids were wee ones but they have changed a bit too. Gone are the days of mom picking the theme and over the top decor and that's okay too.  Whatever kind of birthday party planner you are, I always remember that we are the best moms to our kids so our birthdays are just right for them :)!

Vera is wild about Zebras - wild about them!  I can thank her sweet older cousin because she loves zebras as well and since she loves zebras so does Vera ;)!  Vera is a planner like her mom so she was set on her theme, oh about April!  We started shopping for all the materials in August and luckily for us were quite successful in finding all things zebra!


We shopped at Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby mostly!  Hobby Lobby had clearanced out all their zebra items so we found cute print-at-home invitations, streamers, and cupcake liners at a deep discount.  Our next stop was Dollar Tree for the goodie bag items...we found hand mirrors, brushes, and cosmetic bags, then added in some gum and a zebra notepad tied up with some zebra ribbon.


 My little helper and I set up the table with zebra table ware we found at Dollar Tree and then added zebra coloring sheets for the little ladies to do while they waited to get their nails painted.


And just like that it was party morning.  We each found our best zebra outfits (good thing I had a similar theme for sorority recruitment in college and I still had the skirt - it was in the goodwill pile and I pulled it for one more wear!).  The girls arrived at 9am and we started with painting nails.  Big brother manned the drying portion while I painted the little ladies choice of color and sparkle!  Most chose "Else blue" with gold sparkles :).



After all the nails were dry and coloring complete we played several rounds of traditional party games.  They are traditional for a reason, they always elicit a great response.  First up 2 rounds of musical chairs and then a few rounds of freeze dance before playing "Pin the Tail on the Zebra".



Vera was very excited to color and cut the tails for the game so I outlined it and she did the rest.  It's still up, she loves it! 


 We took a time out from games for some zebra cupcakes (white frosting with black frosting spread on with toothpicks).  We also served Elsa blue gatorade (the birthday girls choice) and goldfish crackers.

Before wrapping up the party, we unwrapped presents and then played several rounds of "Find the Zebra".  We had a tiny plastic schliech zebra that the birthday girl hid first and then whomever found it that round got to hide it the next round.  The kids absolutely loved it and would shout "warmer or colder" based on where the others were looking.  This might be added to my traditional party games arsenal!

We finished the morning with Perler bead creations.  Vera is a crafter so no party would be complete without a craft.  I ironed them after the girls left and attached some yarn and we included them in a little bag with Vera's thank you note.   For her thank you note I simply took zebra scrapbook paper and printed a fill in the blank thank you note on the opposite side.


It was a wild and fun celebration.  We kept things simple but there was endless fun and joy.  It's all worth it when the birthday girl has a big smile on her face!  She is already forming her short list of birthday themes for next year.  Luckily we have a little time.  

Here are some other birthday parties we have thrown:






Friday, September 23, 2016

August 2016 in pictures...

August 2016 was FULL...get ready this is a photo heavy post :)  

We found ourselves back at the lake at the beginning of August!  My cousin Bailey (who's in college) and his girlfriend decided to come for a visit so my grandparents and us came up too!  We all had fun hanging out, grabbing ice cream and celebrating Solon's birthday at the Mall of America.
We rode the boat to the marina to grab some ice cream...

Ice cream is a fan favorite!

Vera can get ANYONE wrapped around her finger...Bailey was no exception!

Great-Grandma and Lucy enjoyed swinging together

We celebrated Solon's (8/7), my dad's (8/21) and my (8/19) birthday

We also invited our MN cousins to come over and play with us for the day

Maui mat races at sunset...summer at its finest!

While at the lake Lucy learned to stand in her "crib"
 Somehow, it became a tradition for Solon to go to MOA for his birthday and he never forgets.  We all had the best day.  We split up after lunch and everyone did their own thing.  We stayed the longest we ever have and the kids got to do all their favorites several times.  We got our money's worth! 
Vera can get anyone to ride the rides she wants ;)

Good sports along for the ride...Cousin Casen met up with us too!


Then it was a right of passage for Solon, his first upside down roller coaster.  Off he went with my cousins (had he been with us I think we might have chickened out).  He came back with the biggest grin and a "that was AWESOME!"  He and I did it together later in the day...do you see his little noggin???
More rides...

...and more rides while Lucy snuggles with Grandma (they didn't mind ;)

Then after a fun time at the lake we decided to extend our mom and me road trip and hit up our cousins in MN for a few days.  The kids had a blast playing, swimming, going to the park, getting ice cream and just being together :)
some video gaming...

The crew...

Water balloon fight...
 After our road trip it was time to celebrate Solon's birthday some more with a friend party and a cake on his actual birthday and some swimming with Nana and Papa!

We hit up the state fair after cousin camp...
We spent time with friends having picnics at the park...

and going swimming in the afternoons...

more park fun...



And sonic shakes in our jammies after 8!

plenty of downtime at home reading and playing...

just another game of guess who...

And plenty of play time outside in the pool and riding bikes!


How many kids can fit in one baby pool - the answer is at least 3!

A trip to the eye doctor for Solon before school starts with a "holding steady" report...

And Daddy returned to reefing so we kicked it off having our friends over while their parents went on a date.  Squished couches movie night with popcorn :)

I stayed busy hosting a back to school breakfast for the staff...

And helping with our annual PEO fundraiser the "Back 2 School Ball" where little girls can be princesses and scientists too!

Vera got in on the birthday action with a little party prep...

A few afternoon neighbor playdates...

The kids decided to wash the dishes for me one night...

And plenty of snuggles and still nursing twice a day!

And we kicked off September decorating for fall...

And checking out our halloween costume stash...

and a girls night complete with dinner and pedicures with Emilie for our birthdays!
So glad we get a chance to take a peak back...Happy August 2016!
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