Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer Reading Has Begun!

We signed up for our summer reading program again.  This year's theme is Every Hero Has a Story. Gess is now in the middle school challenge where she only has to read 10 books, but they have to be from the J, YA, or A section. She selected several books but started with a Young Indiana Jones book. She was thrilled they had one in a font size she can read!  Her reading is excellent but she can't read books with normal small print.

I also signed up and have to read 10 books. Adults can read from any section but I try to make my own challenges. This year each book must be a different author, but I am not sure what other limits I might set. Anyway, I started with The Auschwitz Escape. I have been wanting to read that since it released but never got around to it.

We started reading right away and are already several chapters in. Hubby came in and took our picture!

I didn't like putting mine away last night, too much was happening!  What are you reading this summer? Have you signed up for your summer reading program yet? What's your goal?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shavuot, Pentecost, & Feast of Weeks

All these names can get sort of confusing. What you need to know is that those 3 titles mean the same thing! 

“You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year." Exodus 34:22

Feast of Weeks is, of course, our English term.
Shavuot is the Hebrew word for weeks.
Pentecost is the Greek term used in the New Testament, but it is the same holiday that is observed above. Pentecost literally means fiftieth for The Feast of Weeks was to occur 50 days after the Passover.

You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. Lev 23:15-16

Christianity celebrates Pentecost Sunday as the day the disciples received the Holy Spirit but while this year Pentecost or Shavuot does happen to fall on a Sunday, that is not always the case. Shavuot is always 50 days from Passover and Passover always begins on the 15th of the month of Nisan.

So enough with the dates and the names, lets get what to this holiday is all about!

The counting began for us the day after Passover. Jews call this the counting of the omer. We used barley to count the 50 days but I confess we failed to do this daily. I often had to catch my calendar up!  Each day (when we remembered) we would say "Today is the ___ day of the Omer" and glue on one piece of barley. Others use a path up a mountain to celebrate the giving of the Torah and say a special blessing.

The Feast of Weeks was one of the 7 appointed observances of the Lord given to Moses.

"Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts." Lev 23:2

Leviticus 23:15-22 tells you about the Feast of Weeks but other than explaining what you are to sacrifice and commanding that you not work it doesn't really say what you must do to celebrate it. We do know that the disciples observed it for in Acts 2 they were in Jerusalem observing Pentecost when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jewish tradition has this day set aside as a day that commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The focus will be on learning the 10 commandments and some will even stay up all night studying the Torah. 

What I find fascinating is the connection between the giving of the Ten Commandments and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Remember, when Moses came down from the mountain he found the people in rebellion against God worshiping a golden calf.  Moses called all those on Lord's side to stand with him and they slew those who rebelled. They lost about 3,000 men that day

And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. Exodus 32:28

Yet, on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit fell upon his people, Peter preached the gospel identifying Jesus as the Messiah. At the end about 3,000 people were saved.

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41.

As many souls that were lost in Exodus were restored at Pentecost!  What a beautiful restoration! So, while I don't see an exact command in Scripture to celebrate the giving on the Ten Commandments on this holiday, there is a connection I find compelling and I will start adding that into my celebration. We actually never celebrated the day of Pentecost at our church anyway, so even that is new to us.

Here are some resources that aided us in our celebration of the many facets of this special day.

The first is a great video from Buck Denver asks What's in the Bible. It explains what happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Their web page What Is Pentecost has this video, the history of Pentecost and some coloring pages.

To learn about the Ten Commandments we decided to read them from Scripture and watch a movie. I think Gess chose Prince of Egypt, but I might put in the original Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston myself!

I would recommend memorizing them. We have done that already so we simply reviewed them. I shared how we went about Learning the Ten Commandments a few years ago. We used these visuals from Living Waters.

My church also taught them with motions. Here is Gess doing them!

A fun song Gess has on her Go Fish Guys DVD Superstar is The Ten Commandment Boogie.

Another Jewish tradition is to read the book of Ruth during the holiday. The Feast of Weeks is also the Feast of Firstfruits and that is when the Barley is harvested. The book of Ruth certainly takes place during that time!  The fact that it was a beautiful picture of redemption gives it yet another connection to our redeemer and the gift we received from him on Pentecost!  We read that this morning.

This is our first year celebrating Pentecost but it certainly won't be our last!  I look forward to finding new ways to celebrate in the years to come.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Piano Recital Number 3

It was Gess' third year at piano and her recital was last weekend. She enjoys playing and does fairly well. Her biggest challenge is the rhythm of the song. She knows where the notes are but doesn't necessarily hold them the right amount. Her teacher works well with her and I am glad for the experience. Reading music is a great thing to learn!

Here was one of her songs: Spaceship to Mars

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Down Side of Down Syndrome

On Friday May 8th at 2:00pm Clara Dey was laid to rest. She was a 15 month old darling little girl who lost her struggle with Down syndrome. While I love to share the up side of Down syndrome and all the accomplishments that our kids can make, there is a down side to it.

The medical problems that arise from that extra chromosome are many and sometimes they cause a life to end before it really even starts. Clara spent a huge portion of her life in a hospital room yet her smile was one of the most incredible things you could ever see. Her resilience was amazing and those who knew her will be forever touched.

Down syndrome is about much more than learning difficulties. There are medical complications as well, sometimes serious ones. Their yearly check ups always bring about a sense of anxiousness even when you know all is well. While Gess' heart repair went smoothly and she is now healthy and strong you can't forget that things like Leukemia and Alzheimer's disease are common in persons with DS and can pop up later in life. You just never know what the doctor might say.

In fact, when Gess was born and in the NICU for 5 1/2 weeks the tears I shed were not over her mental struggles but her physical ones. Hearing my daughter was going to have open heart surgery was truly frightening. We were blessed that it went perfectly, with no complications. While more often that not that is the case, sometimes things don't go that way. Sometimes, after months of struggle, you are forced to say goodbye to the child you love with all your being.

I can't even fathom the deep loss that the parents are going through. They seem to have a deep faith and are strong, but I know that this road will be long and hard. Please pray for them. Also pray for other families around the world suffering the same kind of loss and hardship.

These events have led me to not post on my blog all week. I just couldn't bring myself to write anything. One Sunday I finally had the privilege of meeting Clara for the first time and holding her in my arms. The next Sunday she passed away. There was no way I could write.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Passover Crafts & Activities

Our celebration of the Passover led us to look for some activities for Gess to do to help her learn about the holiday. I found had a site for kids called the Jewish Kids Club. There you can find lots of visuals, videos, and craft ideas.

The Passover Holiday page has lots of great information. Of course this is solely from a Jewish perspective but it really helps to get a feel for how it has always been done. We did two of their crafts, colored some printable pages, and used one kid friendly recipe.

I really had trouble finding many of the things I needed for our Seder meal, including a matzah cover. Their Matzah Cover Craft was a great idea! Now I didn't need to buy anything. We used our own stencils and materials, but the idea came from them. We ended up doing the stenciling just like we did our Challah Cloth.

Next I found a video teaching the kids to make an Afikoman Bag. I had no idea what that even was! You see during the Passover meal you break a piece of Matzah in half and hide one side of it. The Afikoman bag is something to keep that in. Traditionally children look for it later and turn it in for a prize. Since Easter was two days after Passover, we had Gess wait until Easter morning to hunt for it. That's so much better than eggs!  She turned it in for a chocolate cross!

For some reason I can't get their videos to embed here, but do click on the Afikoman Bag Craft link and check it out. It was a lot of fun!

Next was some cooking from their Kids in the Kitchen page. It only took 3 ingredients to make the charoset but boy was it yummy!  Charoset is used on the Seder Plate to represent the bricks and mortar they were forced to make while slaves in Egypt. We used Pecans rather than Walnuts simply because we had some and we used red grape juice rather than wine. You can see it on our Seder Plate below.

I hope you enjoyed these craft ideas and consider using them the next time you celebrate the Passover!  You can read more about what we did during the Passover at my Passover Week page.


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