Happy Easter!

 He is Risen! We had a beautiful service at church today. So very thankful! And then 10 seconds after we came home, I forced our spiffy crew to step outside for pictures! Good thing I did, too, because they changed clothes faster than you can say, “I told you so!”

Aren’t they cute?!

Zakkai thought he was being funny to stick out his tongue. Stinker.

Mr. Z-man! A handsome 7 year old, if I ever saw one!

He has grown up so much this year. Sometimes we still have to remind ourselves that he’s not 5 anymore…

And the little darling! My mom sent her this Easter hat in the mail and she thinks it’s pretty fun to wear! My mom also supervised me making this dress for E! Eliana was excited to wear it!

Little Lady:)

Pretty girl.

Boy, this kiddos is 8 going on 14! He is so big and just maturing so much. Hard to believe he was once our little “Das B!” (his nickname as a baby)

So handsome! He’s getting some wiggly front teeth. I admit I am hoping he’ll lose them a little closer to Christmas so we can sing, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!”

I love these three!

Happy Easter from the Thomas Family!

p.s. as an interesting side, our church was chosen by NBC for the national Easter service aired on television today. The times they aired the show (all NBC affiliates around the country had the option of airing a religious service today and if they wanted to, this was their option!) It was on very early in a lot of states but just in case you are interested to hear: https://www.cc-ob.org/nbceaster. It was pre-taped a few weeks ago so it wasn’t today’s service but still pretty cool!

Advertisements

Going Purple!

 Our Little Pink Girl has decided to make some changes! She got to pick something new out that came in this week. Can you guess what it is??

Oh that’s right! Miss E is stylin’ with some amazing new PURPLE glasses! Her prescription changed slightly and her bifocal needed to be raised up quite a bit, as it was rather useless in her last pair. We had to go to a bigger size so she would have room to see, as well as use her bifocal so she has room to grow:) She loves her new glasses!! She has insisted on wearing purple pretty much every day since so she can coordinate:)

This morning Eliana marched into her Sunday school class and started informing all her teachers that she got some new purple glasses! We thought it might be hard to adjust to seeing her in a new color but it is a soft purple and it brightens up her face. It’s very pretty but the main thing is, she’s happy and she can SEE!

We did not check our forecast this morning before we headed out to church so the terrible storm that passed through totally caught us by surprise! It was a warm 62 degrees and wet outside but by the time we came out of church, it was really dark in the building. My first clue that it was more than raining outside was when I looked towards the front doors, only to see a big group of people stumble backwards with hair flying every which way!

It seriously looked like their was a hurricane outside. It was crazy! There was an indoor church picnic for families that we were going to but unfortunately, we left our lunch in the car! Ben had to brave the torrential rains and even hail to bring our van closer and our lunch in. He was soaked when he finally made it back inside~poor guy!

We really enjoyed the picnic, all safe and warm inside the church. Each family brought a blanket, a picnic lunch for themselves and a dessert to share with everyone. After everyone ate, we all gathered in a big circle and said a prayer, with anyone who wanted saying outloud what they were thankful for and we sang “Give Thanks.” A fun way to end the weekend!

On the way home we spotted a ton of branches littering the roads and yards and some really bad flooding on some streets. We were a little nervous about what we would find in our basement but thankfully, it wasn’t too bad. We threw down several towels and mopped it up and had the boys do a quick clean up while we were at it. They make a huge mess with all of their “projects” and crafts they work on downstairs. There were a ton of sopping wet papers all over the floor!

This week I will have a fun new Christmas toy to share that hopefully will improve my blog! Can you guess what it is??

Weekend Celebrations!

Do you mind seeing yet another picture of a tree?? I think this is the last one. Maybe;) The peek season for trees is over, I believe, as lots of leaves fell with the rain and cold wind that blew in. This past weekend we were in amazement every time we went out! Can’t remember a fall with such amazing, vibrant colors!

We all have varying degrees of colds over here. Ben probably feels the worst out of all of us, with a nasty cough that keeps him awake. I tried to drug him last night (with consent, of course!) but that only worked half the night. Hopefully he will get better rest tonight!

Since it is so chilly out, I have been enjoying making one of my favorite foods….soup! Soup is so amazing. Versatile, filling, hot and delicious! Last night I whipped up a homemade vegetable soup which turned out really good! Well…most of us thought so. Eliana isn’t so keen on vegetables all mixed together. Makes it too hard to pick out the ones she doesn’t like, I guess!

Here is the link for that soup: Vegetable Soup. It was pretty easy and great for leftovers today! I served it with Homemade Saltines. They are pretty easy and good if you don’t over bake them:)

On Sunday, there was a special presentation at church for third graders, as I mentioned. The church sees it as a pivotal time in the kids’ faith journeys and presented them with their own Bibles. The week before, they had a parent meeting where parents got to write in the covers of the Bibles and/or highlight any favorite verses.

Samuel was so nervous when he realized this presentation was happening in front of the church! He almost didn’t go! But thankfully he calmed down enough and now he loves his Bible so much, that he has been reading it every night and morning!

The children’s director, Sandy, who does an amazing job, had some words of encouragement for the parents and the church, then for the third graders. She sang them a little song that she wrote for them and then they called each child up and presented them with their Bibles. I got a quick little video of Samuel below. After they filed out, they went into the sanctuary (where another more traditional service is held at the same time) and they got prayed over. It was really neat!

After that, we quickly left church and headed over to our friends’ church, where Baby C was being baptized. We were only able to make it to the last hour of church since ours started about the same time. It was a very beautiful service and afterwards, we went over to their house, where several family members and friends were gathered to celebrate. We loved meeting their families and seeing the love they have for each other. It was easy to see where our friends get their gentleness and sweetness from!

Our kiddos just loved experiencing that and Eliana has asked every day since if we can go back to Baby C’s church “tomorrow!” 🙂

Explaining time to a three year old is like banging your head against the wall. Over and over:)

Have a great night!

Catching up!

Just look at the little guy. All tuckered out….. (Name that movie!)

I don’t think we had a particularly exciting weekend (unless you count washing/vaccuming the car, running small errands, going to church and playing exciting!), but whatever the reason, Zakkai didn’t last through even one story last night:)
We are getting ready to start planning our big/little guy’s SIXTH birthday at the end of next month! Wow. It was a little hard for me to believe that he was turning 5 last year but he grew into five so nicely and it seemed like he would be five forever so I just enjoyed it. But six??? He was always my little buddy, ornery, up to mischief, saying adorable things and driving his race cars all around the house. How in the world can my little guy be growing up? 
It’s just so amazing to me how fast they grow. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being in awe. And a little sad, too.
The other night, I was showing the boys some old pictures and when Samuel saw some of Missy as a tiny baby, he got really upset and couldn’t look anymore. Minutes later, he uncovered his face, threw himself into my lap and burst into tears. He was SO sad that she isn’t a baby anymore and he misses those sweet days. What a tender heart!!
Eliana got some books today from a friend, who was cleaning out her kid’s closets, and has thoroughly enjoyed reading them today! She’s been carrying around one under each arm and hoisting them into our laps all day:) I was inspired to weed through our book collection, which is quiet large! Most of our books are in the boys’ room on their dresser and Eliana has a couple of baskets in her room. I was able to weed out a small stack but it’s hard to get rid of books! We love books around here!
One book we haven’t read in awhile is called, “Children Around The World.” It’s a book featuring real children from all around the whole world (go figure:) and telling you what that child eats, how they dress, what they call their parents, what school is like, etc.
The boys LOVED it!! We used to love reading it and I was a little surprised at how enthusiastic they were tonight! They opted out of reading another story, just so we could read another couple pages of this book.
They started imagining what the book would say if our family was featured in it. I’m not sure that our life compares in any way to a Tembe Indian from Brazil or a girl from China!
One good thing that has happened since we came back from Christmas vacation is that we’ve settled on a church! This was due to some amazing things that happened over break and we are excited to just settle in somewhere for the remainder of whatever time we may be here. Now, if only Eliana would stop crying hysterically in her class so I could hear a complete service….
Now I am off to finish a movie with my wonderful husband!

Church.

We have visited several churches in the past 2 years, since we left our church home of 5 years when moving out of the city. It seems like an easy thing to find a new church. You find one that’s nice; welcoming people, decent music and inspiring preaching,  and boom, you’ve found a church home. Right?

Wrong.

 
Finding a new church has been far harder than either Ben or I imagined, for many reasons.



Here are a few things I’ve learned from visiting churches (at least 8 in the past 2 years that I can think of). Things that I feel all Christians ought to know if they are part of a church, whether in leadership or just a member of the congregation.

 
1.) Make people feel welcome!! This is probably my biggest thing about churches. I can’t tell you how many of the 8 churches we’ve visited in these past couple of years have been put on my “NO” list because the people were so unwelcoming!
 
Coming into a new church is a really courageous thing to do. Whether you’re new to the area, a new believer (or not even one!) or just looking for a new church home, it can be incredibly intimidating to walk into a church where you don’t know anyone.
 
Please, if you’re part of a church and you notice someone new (if that’s possible!) muster up the courage and take a few minutes to introduce yourself. It could make or break that person/couple/family’s decision to come back. I’ll never forget moving to Chicago and walking into church (where we belonged for 5 years) and having this couple introduce themselves, ask our names and info and then remember our names the next time we came. Sealed the deal.
 
2.) Make a good church website! Technology is a big part of today’s society (whether you like it or not!) and for us, finding one on the internet is the biggest way we search. Some churches we’ve never even visited because they either (a) don’t have a website or b) their website is lacking so much information or is hard to navigate.
 
I wish more churches would take the time to put together a new-visitor friendly site that gives helpful information about what the service is like, what the components of the service are (worship, preaching, children’s ministry, etc.), and more.
 
3.) Invest serious time into your children’s ministries! This is one thing that is important to both B and I, because we’re entrusting our 3 precious kiddos into the church’s hands for an hour or more. If you are a children’s ministry volunteer, BE KIND to the children and the parents!! We left a church because of a children’s ministry teacher and coordinator. The teacher was rude and never ever welcomed my boys into the classroom or tried to learn their names, even knowing we were a new family. And when I approached the coordinator, in tears, after a particularly bad incident with the teacher, I was forced to go have a confrontation with the teacher right then and there and treated so rudely the next week that we walked out and never went back.
 
Again, it takes courage to enter a new church, for parents and children, alike! Seeing a welcoming face and smile makes a huge difference.
 
Also, I think churches should take lots of time to make their children’s church feel professional and well-organized. I want to know my children are safe and well-cared for and learning about Jesus in the best environment possible. Invest the time and I promise, your church will reap the benefits. Children are the future after all….
 
4.) Preaching. Not that any pastors will read this anyways. However! Wouldn’t it be nice to enter a church and hear some well-thought out, thought-provoking, truthful sermons? Can I get an amen? Too many churches have watered down, boring or downright unresearched, unthoughout sermons. It’s so incredibly refreshing when you hear a good one. Rare, as it is.
 
5.) Worship. I won’t say too much on this subject, as… I might say too much! All I can say is, it’s my favorite part of a church service. It can put me in a worshipful mood or a bad one. Take the time to make sure your music is good and varied and your singers can sing on-key!! And please, don’t get stuck in the 80s….
 

I’m sure there is so much I could say on the subject of church, however, these are the most important things that jump out at me. It’s too easy to make church into a business, or a private social circle and forget that it’s the Lord’s House. A place to worship Him. A place to worship with fellow Believers, old and new. A place to set aside your to-do list at the door and focus on what is the most important thing in life: Loving Jesus and becoming more like Him.
 
Take a few minutes the next time you’re in church and look around, greet some one new and really try to remember their name. Thank someone who does the children’s ministry week in and week out (whether you have a child there or not), smile at someone and try to make your church a little more of a home.
 
It could make a big difference to someone and I think it honors the One whom church is about in the first place.