Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Christian Pumpkin

Through the years I have taught all different age groups at church, as well as daycare. I love pumpkins, I love fall and these are some of the lessons I've used over the years based on the age group! "The Gospel Pumpkin" was one that was fun to do with my toddler class. We would pre cut the shapes and have the kids glue them their paper as we went through the poem. I also think this would make a great felt board story for circle time :)

The Gospel Pumpkin
I am a Jack O' Lantern 
My light will shine so bright. 
For I am a Christian pumpkin 
My symbols tell what's right.

My nose is like the cross 
on which our Savior died. 
To set us free from sin 
We need no longer hide.

My mouth is like a fish 
The whole wide world to show
That Christians live in this house 
And love their Savior so! 

The story starts at Christmas
My eyes are like the star 
That shone on Baby Jesus 
And wise men saw from far. 

My color it is orange 
Just like the big bright sun 
That rose on Easter Day 
Along with Gods' own Son.

And so on Halloween 
Let's set our pumpkins out 
And tell the trick or treaters 
What Gods' love is all about! 
Author Unknown

With my 4-6 year old Sunday School class we enjoyed this Pumpkin themed lesson called "The Pumpkin Prayer." Just demonstrate on a large carving pumpkin and have the kids watch and/or help. Have them pray this prayer, as well as give them a copy to take home.

The Pumpkin Prayer
Dear God,
As I carve my pumpkin help me say this prayer:

Open my mind so I can learn about You;
(Cut the top of the pumpkin)
Take away all my sin and forgive me for the wrong things I do.
(Clean out the inside)
Open my eyes so Your love I will see;
(Cut the eyes out in heart shapes)
I'm so sorry for turning up my nose to all you've given me.
(Cut a nose in the shape of a cross)
Open my ears so your word I will hear.
(Cut the ears shaped like the Bible)-we did rectangles
Open my mouth so I can tell others You're near
(cut the mouth in the shape of a fish)
Let Your light shine in all I say and do! Amen.
(Place a candle inside and light it)

At a chapel service I attended the youth pastor shared a message on how a pumpkin is like a christian. Here is the meat of that message. This would be great for elementary school kids.

How A Christian is like a pumpkin:
"God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you may have gotten from the other pumpkins. Then he cuts the top off and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

1. Take a pumpkin. "You aren't a pumpkin, but all of us are something like one. God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you may have gotten from the other pumpkins." Talk about how a pumpkin is like us: it has an outside and an inside. The outside is what people see. The inside is like our soul or our heart. A pumpkin left to itself will soon rot and die. We will die some day too." 

2. Carve out eyes and a small "o" shaped mouth.  As you make the holes and pull out the pieces of rind, ask people what they see inside (yucky stuff). "This is what we look like to others and what we are like when are hearts are not changed. The hearts of men are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live (Ecclesiastes 9:3). How can we get rid of this icky stuff?" 

3. "God is the only one who can change our heart. But in order for God to change our heart we must become open to him." Carve an opening in the top of the pumpkin big enough to put your hand through. You might want to quote Revelation 3:20: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 

4. Put in your hand and pull out the insides. "God scoops out all the yucky stuff inside of us. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, impurity, and greed." Talk about the cross and how Jesus was willing to become messy for us, so that we might be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:25b-27). 

5. "But if we leave a pumpkin with just the insides taken out, then it's just hollow. We need to have a light inside that will truly make us alive! Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' Add a light to the inside of the pumpkin. "When Jesus lives inside of you, you can glow! You will want to be kind and honest. You will want to please God, to help others, and to tell other people about your Friend and Lord." 

6. At this point you might want to carve the mouth into a smile! "God carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

Happy Fall, Ya'll

Monday, October 29, 2012


You just gotta "believe."
I've said it. 
You've said it. 
Easier said then done. 

A little over a year ago I was at an all woman's service standing in the alters. I had went for prayer with my boys on my heart. When the pastors wife approached me she stopped and said "I feel the spirit of the Lord saying to you 'BELIEVE!' If you would just have faith and 'BELIEVE!'" 

Honestly, I was a little taken back. I know the Lord spoke to me that night, but what he was addressing was so much deeper than what I was approaching Him with. I thought to myself  "Lord, I believe in you. I have faith. I trust you... I don't understand."

I find myself at times being a little too "real" with myself. The realist in me will factor in statistics and numbers and the likelihood of the result and in that I will shrink God into whatever nominal factor that will fit into the equation. In that I will trust in an outcome that seems reasonable to the circumstance. 

Its easy to believe when you lower your expectations to something that wont be as devastating if the outcome fails you. Your lowering your standards on who God is.

Shame is stirring inside even as I write. I don't like that I fall repeatedly back into this...

In my prayers I find myself saying "I believe God that you can do this" but I walk away thinking "but I don't think you will." 

Conviction falls on me as I'm reminded of all the "limited" prayers I've prayed. 

Thank you Lord for your GRACE. When fear makes my image of you distorted, you show up REGARDLESS and answer prayers in the midst of my doubt. 

When I think of Sophia, I think of this. When I think of all my children, I think of this. 

When I was first told about Sophia's Cleft lip and the array of speculation, I walked around constantly praying "Lord if you would just show up one more time. Just one more time. I will never ask anything again, just one more time." I was struggling as to who He was and what I believed Him to be. And He would remind me "If you would just believe." 

"Believe that I can miraculously heal a child inside the womb.
Believe that I can loose a child's tongue and heal their mind.  
Believe that I can replace a missing chromosome. 
Don't reject My will for your life and let it effect your faith. 
Believe in My will for you life.
For their lives."

And as I remind myself, I wanna remind you too: 
Don't limit Gods power in your life. Don't limit your expectations of Him. "BELIEVE!"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumn Banner

I've been seeing so many of these burlap banners all over Pinterest, and of course I just had to make one!  I had some left over burlap from my last project, so why not :) The type of burlap I was working with was made of heavy fibers, and when handled too much would come apart. So i decided to use some card stock and Modge Podge to keep my triangles in tact. With a sharpie I carefully wrote out "Give Thanks" and tada! Super easy. Super cute!  A nice touch in my entryway :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall Sewing Project

Finally finished my little master piece :) I haven't sewed anything in a while and
decided to scoop up some scrap fabric and get creative.

Free hand, I made the leaves, tree trunk and letters. I 
added some "messy" embroidering as well as a little 
sparkle with gold thread.  

The backing is burlap and the whole tapestry is tacked 
onto cork board. I love how it turned out! 
A great addition to my fall decor!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin Fun

I got to take the boys to a local farm this weekend and my nephew and sister-in-law came along as well.

We had a lot of fun and the weather was gorgeous!!! 
Autumn in North Georgia is absolutely beautiful!

(Of course, what would be Autumn without some pumpkins?)
...and so started the first pumpkin craft of the season!

Roman and I decided to try something different, using crayons, glue, stickers and... a blow dryer!
First we picked out all the colors that remind us of Fall. We talked about the trees changing colors and how pretty it looks. We then took off any paper on the crayons and broke them in half. Using regular Elmer's glue, we put a generous amount around the top of the pumpkin and waited for it to get a little "tacky."

Then we talked about color patterns while placing the crayons in the glue. (patterns are still tricky for us!)

Now the fun part! With the blow dryer on low, we went around and around the pumpkin until the crayons began to melt. As the wax melted down it was a great opportunity to talk about heat and what it does to solid objects. Soon the crayons around the stem of the pumpkin began to blend making new colors, and Roman thought that was pretty cool :) 

Pretty cool looking, hu? With the blow dryer roman could manipulate the direction of the wax as well as how fast it melted. Once cooled we felt the new texture of the crayons, now made into a one of a kind pumpkin master piece! Once completely cooled, we used letter stickers to write our name. 

Happy Harvest!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Operation Smile

John 14:26 
But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.

     Ever looked at something, read something, or heard something that effected you deeply and you weren't sure why? Until one day you are faced with a circumstance and it hits you- God had been preparing your heart for this very moment....

     When faced with the hard stuff, I believe if you look back you will see Gods finger prints all over the situation long before it came to pass. Like hands tenderizing the heart, softening it to things that have never crossed your mind before and now creating a very soft spot inside.

     In my last post, I shared about a text message I had received just the day before Sophia's original diagnosis. As I look back even a couple years prior I can see how God has spoken to this situation long before I knew who Sophia Grace was.

     Long before my pregnancy with Sophia, I was looking up the website for "Operation Christmas Child" and while typing in the Google bar "operation" i noticed a pop up for "Operation Smile." Thinking they were connected somehow, I clicked on the link. I began watching videos of children in 3rd world countries in need of a cleft lip repair. The more I searched the sight, the more choked up I became. A particular video of a mother seeing her sons new smile and the translation reading "beautiful, beautiful." made me just ache. I tried to understand those feelings yet I felt like i connected with her. As I read I learned that these families would come miles, some walking or taking several forms of transportation  to put their child's name on a list and hope they are randomly selected for the repair. Many families are turned away.

     I'm reminded of this when i start to feel sorry for myself, or for Sophia.

     How to be grateful in the midst of an unfortunate circumstance..... Well, Sophia could have been born anywhere, to anyone, but she was given to me. Here, in the US, she will receive and operation that my insurance company will mostly pay for, it will be done and life will go on.... I am so grateful for that. And I remind myself of that when my heart hurts.

     I picture my self sitting at the computer one night looking over this site and Gods hand being on my shoulder. Placing burden for people in situations that I know nothing about, knowing that one day I would. That he would allow these things to come to pass, and was preparing me long before.

     Be sensitive to the things that choke you up and cause your eyes to well. Its the holy spirit working in you and molding your heart... Possibly preparing you for things to come or giving you a sensitivity to a work he needs you to accomplish.

Operation Smile: Son's Story

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Meet Sophia Grace

"No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
 Romans 8:37-39

     About six months ago i was sitting in my living room when i received a text message. It read "Please pray for my co worker. She's pregnant and found out the baby is sick. She is considering terminating the pregnancy." I put the phone in my lap in my heart sunk. At the time I was about 22 weeks pregnant with our latest child and couldn't imagine the fear that that woman must be feeling. Looking to send a reminder to others, I clicked on Facebook and "updated" my status. It read "Who's report are you going to believe? When doctors and tests and results and statistics are rearing their ugly head, who's promises are you going to claim?" I kept clicking the "post" button on my phone, but it wouldn't post for some reason... Soon we were packing up the kids and heading to church and my "status" was forgotten. 
     The next day we all woke up early, packed up the kids and headed out for the anatomy scan of the baby. We were so excited to find out if it was a boy or a girl! Soon we were all in the room, looking up at the monitor, anxious to find out."Would you like to know the sex?" "YES!"  "...Its a girl." I now had two boys and two girls and my heart was happy. The scan continued along with the sonographer showing us where the belly was, and the heart and so on. As she made her way up the baby's body, I noticed she was focusing a lot on one certain area. She was pressing harder and harder into my belly and squinting her eyes as she stared at her screen. Me and my husband shot a look at each other, kinda confused.... "Is everything ok?" I asked. She zoomed into the baby's face and said "Do you see that gray line there? That usually means a cleft lip has formed. I think you should continue this scan at our high risk office." She took the monitor off me and started cleaning up quickly. I was in shock. Utter shock. There are no words to explain how i felt in that moment. We were escorted into another waiting room so we could talk to my OB and find out where to go from there. 

     Sitting in the waiting room, among other woman and their belly's, was me, my husband and our 3 children playing on the floor. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I put both of my hands on my face, looked at my husband and all I could say was "This is bad. This is really, really bad." I just buried my face in his shoulder and sobbed. See, for those of you who don't know, we have been around the block a time or two with doctors and therapists with our boys. I had more knowledge than I care to have when it came these things. I knew all about genetics and testing, and I was well aware of what kind of road we were about to walk down. We met with my OB and she stated that the ultrasound tech was concerned about a few things... It felt like some one had died. I cant explain it. In a second all the joy I had in me seemed to just exit my body. 

     It was a few days later I met with the high risk doctors and they did their own scan. Upon completion I was told that they could not see all the chambers of the heart, a portion of the spine, or whether or not her palate was in tact. It was confirmed that she did indeed have a cleft lip and an amniocentesis as well as blood work was highly recommended... I agreed completely out of fear. Never did i have this kind of testing done while pregnant with any of my children. In fact, I wasn't even sure if I believed in these kinds of things...
      After the testing was done I met with the genetic counselor there in the office. Her first question was if I was going to continue along with the pregnancy. "Of course" I said, baffled. There were a lot of words that came out her mouth after that but I don't recall very many. She just began to nit pick at every little thing in me and my husband all our children... What seemed to be every failure and discrepancy... What was deemed not the "norm" and below average... Can I tell you something? Inside I was screaming mad. It felt so unfair. I wanted to know where the list of all the good things was and when do we pull that out? Instead I was handed a list of statistics and the likelihood of things to come. She was sure that the testing was going to come back and link every detail  together. Looking for some glimmer of hope, I asked her "Is there a chance that my oldest can can have a chromosomal defect, and his brother have sensory issues and this baby have "whatever," just because?" She replied "Sure, it does happen." So then I asked her why that happens. She shrugged her shoulders and said "Bad luck, I guess."

     For about a week our house was silent. Don't get me wrong, the kids and the noise were there, but there was no meaningful words said. No eye contact made. Just a heaviness that filled our home. Eventually, one night, after all the kids were in bed, me and my husband met in the living room and finally tried to form words about our little Sophia. The burden was so weighty that we outwardly started to cry out to God. It was the kind of prayers that come from shear desperation. Where your face is a mess and you cant hardly breathe. When the prayers that are not so pretty sounding. It was that night I was reminded of the week prior and the words i typed on my phone. Like a light was switched on in my head- "Who's report are you going to believe? When doctors and tests and results and statistics are rearing their ugly head, who's promises are you going to claim?" It was prophesied over that we would be tested. That He was still Lord over this situation and this child. With these words I flipped-flopped from being comforted, to angry, to begging for God to take all of it from me... To reading stories of his mighty miracles, to recalling the countless times God intervened on behalf of my children... to believing that this was a lost cause and I was cursed, and me and my family we people of "bad luck."

     Three weeks following that very first ultrasound would be the week that the genetic counselor would be calling with the results. The results came in a series of three tests with three different results. The first call from the office came in, CLEAR. A couple days later the second call, NOTHING SHOWN. And a few days later the final test result came in. This time it was actual genetic counselor called me. While my hand was shaking, she informed me that the last test came back completely normal, that they could not find any genetic abnormalities linking her to any type of disorder or syndrome.... You would think that wave of relief would wash over me. But it didn't. It never came. Tears just started to well up and I didn't say anything. The counselor said "Mrs. Terei, this is great news! Why don't you sound happy?" Choked up, I tried my best to convince her that I was, when in fact all I could hear was her diagnosis of "bad luck." That we must simply have bad luck. Like a curse. Or maybe a punishment.

     Ever since the initial high risk appointment, we followed up with an ultrasound about every 4 weeks. As each appointment went along, we were given an even better report than the last. Suddenly, every chamber of the heart was there, the rhythm was great. Spine? That must of been an oversight, cause a month later it looked good. And three months later during a scan they were almost 100% sure that her palate was completely intact. And even in receiving those answered prayers, I still ended every ultrasound with me asking "But still the lip? The lip is still the same" I was told over and over that the lip was what it was. That it wasn't going to change. I was obsessing over it night and day. I would pray "Ok God, now if you could just take this from me as well..."

     2 weeks before my due date I went in for my final ultrasound. When i had met with my ob a few days prior she told me that she didn't think it was necessary for me to go to the final one. But the day came, i just wanted to go one more time to see if anything had changed. So at 38 weeks I went in for my final ultrasound. We didn't get to stick around that long. The ultrasound showed that there were signs of distress and off to labor and delivery we went. I had never felt so much anxiety about having a baby like I did with her.

     Sophia Grace Terei was born Wednesday, September 5th at 9:20 am. She was 6 lbs 11 oz and 19 inches long. My smallest baby. She is perfect. Yes, she born with an isolated cleft lip. Yes, I am still struggling with that.  Yes, this story is not over yet... There are many details I could expound on, and maybe I will another time. 

     Its very obvious I struggled with the report the doctors had given us. I don't know if it was because I already knew the things I knew from previous experiences or because this was a child that had yet to be born and it all seemed so out of my control. Maybe both.... I struggle with the term "bad luck," one that really carried zero meaning prior cause I don't believe in luck. I believe in purpose. But for some reason I hear that phrase all the time now and something in me tries to rise up. I am going to throw caution to the wind and tell you that I am still struggling with many things, but I am pushing forward. 
     I guess in all of this I just want to say, that I am overwhelmed in knowing that I have a God that will not abandon me during my weakest moments. He knew prior to this time, to this season and these tests how i would respond. And in spite of that I believe he healed Sophia miraculously from the things that were in her initial report. To God be all the glory. It is true, just the faith the size of a mustard seed.... that literally was all i had. And mountains still moved. God could have healed Sophia's lip in the womb if that was his plan. But He didn't. It wasn't because I doubted, but because He has another purpose for this. So, more to come. Thanks for reading :)