A Great Day to be Alive

April 16th, 2018

great-day-to-be-alive

When you’re living a life of suffering with no end in sight, it’s hard to feel alive. The suffering sucks the life out of you so that you have to rely on God to get through your daily tasks. Strangely, during the past three years of non-stop suffering, I have accomplished more for God’s kingdom than all the rest of my life combined. Maybe it’s because God’s power is perfected in weakness, and the only way to be filled with His power is to surrender when we have nothing left.

This is one reason why suffering is something to rejoice in the midst of, not for the pain itself, but for the results it brings. Endurance and the power of God are only doled out to those who tenaciously cling to God to the death. Or to the living death, which is worse than death because in heaven at least Christ would wipe away every tear from our eyes and there would be no more suffering.

Job felt that way. He sat in the ashes, wailing in horror and sadness, wondering why God had seemingly abandoned him. Why was he born just to suffer?

“It is one thing to bear a sudden tragedy. It is quite another to suffer its pain for weeks and months and even years afterward.” – John Piper

God is full of endless delights, either as we worship Him through song in the midst of suffering to feel His tangible presence, or in His turning events around suddenly in a single day. With Job, God showed up and not only healed him but gave him back twice as much as he had before. He lived the rest of his life in peace and joy, having experienced God in a way few have.

And God was vindicated. Satan lost. God showed Satan that there are some of us—including me—that love God not for what He can give to us but for who He is. He will make all things right in the end and not a single tear goes unnoticed by God. All of our days are written in a book (Psalm 139:16), and if we suffer well, the book that has our name on it in the library of heaven will forever be a slap in Satan’s face that God was worthy to serve even when circumstances appeared to be dark with no way out.

cupcake-stand

So when my daughter walked across a parking lot the other day, she exclaimed with arms extended in the sunshine, “Look, Mom! It’s a great day to be alive!” I stopped and looked at her.

“I guess it is!” I laughed. I remembered a cupcake stand I saw at the mall that my daughter had never seen. I knew she would love the cupcake display, so I asked her, “Do you want to get a cupcake?”

“Sure, Mom!” she said as she rolled down the windows in the car, her hair flying in all directions. I rolled down my own window and shouted, “It’s great to be alive. Woohoo! We’re really living it up today!”

car-wash

After choosing a cupcake and eating it, we drove to the car wash. My daughter wanted to snap selfies during the car wash and told me what a great day she had when we got home.

I guess my point is that you can still feel alive even in a seemingly hopeless situation. With God all things are possible. Even though we might suffer longer than we would prefer, God is bringing about something beautiful out of our tragedy that will be read by generations to come. Don’t lose hope.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV

Robot Birthday Party

April 2nd, 2018

robot-birthday

My son Bryan has always been fascinated by robots, so we decided to give him a robot birthday party. We created various robots, baked a robot cake, and played outdoor games with a robot theme.

How to Make a Robot Cake

robot-cake

I baked two chocolate rectangle cakes: one of them was the main part of the body, and the other one was cut into a head, arms, legs, and feet. We frosted the cake with chocolate frosting. We used candy to decorate the robot: sweet tarts for the buttons and red licorice for the stripes. The eyes and mouth can be made with any candy that you have lying around, as long as they are oval-shaped or circular.

robot-birthday-party

You will need to find some cardboard and line it with foil. Put the robot cake on top of it, since no regular plate will be large enough for this cake.

Robot Centerpiece

robot-centerpiece

For the robot centerpiece we used colorful confetti underneath some Transformer robot toys. You could use any robot made out of any building set.

Robot Invitation

robot-invitation

We bought several LEGO robotics kits and built different robots. For an invitation to a robot birthday party, all you need is a photo of a robot for the front of the invitation.

Recycled Robot

recycled-robot

You can put together a recycled robot with trash around the house, silver spray paint, and hot glue. You need various sizes of cardboard boxes for the body, the legs, and the arms, which you will need to spray paint silver. You can have a large can for the head. (We used a large peaches can from Costco.) Google eyes and plastic lids of various shapes and sizes can be added to your robot.

Robot Birthday Party Games

robot-games

Assembling robots is probably the most fun activity for the party, but you can also set up outdoor games that are made of silver cardboard. Throw ping pong balls through a hole or into a robot head.

We had a simple robotic arm that we used for picking up various objects. We made a light-sensitive robot. Shining a flashlight on it caused it to move towards the light!

light-robot

My son Bryan thoroughly enjoyed his robot birthday party, and it led to my sons joining a robotics league where they competed against other schools and states!

How the Money Multiplied

March 19th, 2018

how-the-money-multiplied

“Why don’t you go home?” my friend from Honduras asked when she saw my eyes drooping as I sat by her bed in the hospital room. I had been by her side for almost a week following her surgery. I decided I needed a nap, and I told her I would be back early the next day to translate the doctor’s instructions before she was released from the hospital.

As I drove away, before getting onto the freeway I saw a bum looking towards the traffic with agony. Normally I feel nothing for bums, but this time I had supernatural compassion from Jesus. I’m not sure how I knew, but I saw that the agony in his soul was real. I couldn’t stop because of the green light and the traffic, so I merged onto the on-ramp to the freeway.

“Why did You give me supernatural compassion for a bum that I couldn’t do anything about?” I asked God, praying for the man, that he would know Christ and that he would once again be a productive member of society. I prayed that God would remove his agony. Then I asked God if I could see him again, and would He tell me what I could do for him.

The next morning while I drove to the hospital, lo and behold, I saw the same bum on the side of the road. I quickly grabbed $20 out of my wallet, rolled the window down, and drew his attention. He came over and received the $20. Then I reached out my hand towards him, and he looked perplexed. He took my hand, and I felt my face shining with Jesus. I cried out, “Jesus loves you!” My heart broke as I smiled at him, and I felt power going out of my hand and into the bum, and he received the love of God coming out of me.

That one moment was frozen in time.

Suddenly he realized the light was going to change and he didn’t want to get run over, so he let go of my hand and hobbled across the street. He was covered in dirt from head to toe, and I could see that he had a lower back problem. I asked God, “Would you please count my laying on of hands for his healing?” I knew that when the power of God went out of me, it felt the same as when I lay hands for healing and deliverance, so something supernatural had already occurred. I had been fasting that day by accident because I didn’t have time to eat before realizing I would miss the doctor’s instructions if I didn’t leave immediately. I determined to go ahead and make it a real fast and dedicated it to the physical healing of the bum.

Entering the hospital room, I told my friend about the bum. The doctor came and gave instructions. The nurse told me we could pick up the medication in the hospital pharmacy. Realizing that there was no one to pay for the medication (my Honduras friend has no money), I went down to my car to get my wallet. I looked inside to see how much cash I had. I despise credit cards, so I buy groceries with cash at a store that only takes cash and has lower-priced foods.

I saw that I had two $20 bills left, and I prayed that it would be enough to pay for her medication. I clearly saw that my wallet was empty except for the two $20 bills that I squeaked in my hands to make sure there was nothing behind them. This is the clearest multiplication miracle I’ve ever seen. My money has multiplied itself before, but I always thought there might have been a rational explanation; that I had counted wrong or whatever.

When I got to the hospital pharmacy to pay for the medication, it was $35. I was overjoyed that I had enough. I opened my wallet, and suddenly there were three $20 bills!

When I got back up to my friend’s hospital room, she was drooping her head because she didn’t want me to have to pay for her medication, after all the time I had spent beside her bed for the past week. I eagerly told her that God paid for her medication by doing a miracle! I jumped up and down while I told her what happened, how the money multiplied itself, and her jaw dropped. And I still had $25 for groceries left over!

We laughed as we marveled at God in awe…

Cowboy Birthday

March 5th, 2018

cowboy-birthday

My son Nathaniel had a fun cowboy birthday theme. His favorite thing to do as a 6-year-old was to shoot off caps guns, wear a cowboy hat, and watch The Lone Ranger. Because of his love for westerns, he even wrote a story that was a cowboy western, with the main character and the villain having a shootout showdown at the end of the story. This is one of the perks of homeschooling. His writing assignments can actually coincide with what he is excited about.

How to Make a Paper Cowboy Vest Craft

For his birthday party, we had the kids make a paper cowboy vest. First you will need some paper bags from the grocery store.We cut them down the middle until we came to the hole for the head, which we also cut out beforehand. Then we painted the vests with tempera paint. We wanted the painted vests to be ready to thread with twine during the party.

cowboy-vest-craft

On the day of the party, the kids cut a fringe on the bottom of their vest. They also used a hole punch to punch holes on the two sides of the vest down the front for the twine to go through. Depending on the age of the child, you might need to punch the holes for a 3-year-old, for example, so that you don’t end up with random holes.

vest-craft-closeup

Then the kids threaded the twine through the holes, making a knot on the bottom and the top on the back where it couldn’t be seen. We attached a sheriff badge to each cowboy vest. We got a package of these at a party supply store.

sewing-paper-vests

The kids loved how their cowboy vests turned out!

How to Make a Horse Cake

horse-cake

Making a horse cake isn’t too difficult. Just bake a rectangular chocolate cake, and shape it into a horse head. The triangle cut from the bottom of the neck will be used for the ear at the top of the cake. We frosted the cake with chocolate frosting and white frosting for the mane. We used black frosting gel to make the bridle and other details. A sweet tart was the eye.

horse-piñata

We also found a horse piñata at a party store, which was perfect for this cowboy birthday theme! My son had a great time and smiled from ear to ear.

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