Monday, March 27, 2017

Favorite Picture Books (January-March)

This quarter, we read a few very fun picture books. I judge which ones were the favorites by which ones Jelly Bean wanted over and over and over....and over....and one more time! :)

Tucky Jo and Little Heart - Patricia Polacco

tucky jo
This was an adorable little story about a soldier in Vietnam who met a little native girl and befriended her. He took care of her and her village, evacuating them when the village was going to be bombed. But he never saw the sweet little girl again. He grew old and was failing, and a nurse helped him get the proper care. Turns out, this sweet nurse was Little Heart, all grown up. It is a true story and was one of the sweetest books I've read.

Puss in Boots- Paul Galdone

puss in boots
A tailor had three sons and left them all some inheritance. The youngest son got a cat. The cat, with his cunning and smarts, helped the tailor's son to become rich and important in the king's eyes...and the son ended up marrying the princess!

Three Billy Goats Gruff-
  Three billy goats gruff
Jelly Bean liked this one (but she liked Puss in Boots better). It is the story of three billy goats who wanted to cross a troll-owned bridge. The first one crossed halfway across and the troll said, "I am going to eat you!" The goat said, "Don't eat me, eat the big one!" The same thing happened with the second one. Along came the third and largest goat, and he butted the troll off the bridge with his horns, and the goats got fat in the pasture on the other side.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck- Dr. Suess
Bartholomew and the oobleck
This book is about a king who got tired of the same things falling from the sky-rain, hail, snow, and fog. So he called his magicians and had them make something new to fall from the sky-oobleck. The only problem was that the oobleck was sticky and gooey...and the drops kept getting bigger and bigger! The king finally decided to stop being stubborn and say "I'm sorry." Almost instantly, the oobleck stopped falling and melted away.



Have you enjoyed any picture books lately? Please share them in the comments! :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Brothers Reconciled- Part Five

Joseph walked up to the house in Goshen, his sons following close behind. He knocked on the door. The door swung open and his brother Reuben stood before him. "Come in," Reuben said. "Our father is in the room in the back." He looked at the teenagers behind Joseph. "Hello Manasseh. Hello Ephraim."
"Hello Uncle Reuben," the boys replied as they followed Joseph into the house.
Reuben led the way to the tiny bedroom where their father lay in bed. He had sent for Joseph because their father was sick, and probably going to die very soon.
"Father," Reuben said, "Joseph is here to see you."
Their father sat up slowly in bed. Joseph stepped forward to stand next to his father, and Reuben stood in the back of the room, knowing he probably should leave, but unwilling to do so.
Their father said to Joseph, "God Almighty appeared to me at Bethel in Canaan and blessed me and told me that he would multiply me and make me into a nation and give me the land of Canaan. Now, your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you here in Egypt before I arrived are mine. I'm adopting them. They will be my sons, as Reuben and Manasseh are mine. Any other kids you have will be yours, and they will share with their brothers in the inheritance."
Reuben's eyes widened. His birthright as the firstborn son had just been taken by Joseph's sons! He couldn't believe what he had just heard!
"When I came from Paddan, Rachel died, and I buried her on the way to Bethlehem," his father added, almost as an afterthought. Then he looked up and saw the boys. "Who are those?" He asked.
Joseph pulled the teenagers forward. "These are my sons," he replied, "whom God has given to me."
Reuben thought for a moment that it was odd that his father had to ask that question. After all, he had met Manasseh and Ephraim before. But then he remembered that his father's eyesight was failing, and the boys probably just looked like blobs.
The boys knelt by their grandfather's bedside, leaning on it. He hugged and kissed them. Reuben blinked back tears as he observed the tender scene before him. His father looked up at Joseph and said, "I never expected that I would ever see you again, but know I am seeing your sons as well!"
The boys stood up and Joseph positioned the boys for the blessing he was sure would come. Ephraim stood by his grandfather's left arm, and Manasseh by his right.
Then a surprising thing occurred. Reuben watched in amazement as his father crossed his arms and placed his right hand on Ephraim's head...giving him the blessing of the firstborn. His father said, "The God before whom my fathers walked,
the God who has been my shepherd,
the angel who has redeemed me from evil, bless these boys;
and in them let my name be carried on,
let them grow into a multitude of nations."
Then Joseph reached out and tried to pry his father's hands off the boys heads and switch them. He said, "Not this way, my father, Manasseh is the older, put your right hand on his head!"
Reuben almost laughed aloud at the comical scene before him.
Then his father said, "I know that he is the oldest, I know. He also shall be a great people, though not as great as his brother." Then he cleared his throat and continued:
"By you Israel shall pronounce blessings and say,
'God make you as Ephraim and Manasseh.'"
Reuben was once again shocked at what had just happened. His father had blessed the boys, putting the younger one first. But he remembered a story his father had told about how he had tricked his older brother so that he received the blessing. Maybe it wasn't completely unexpected that the same thing would happen here.
Then his father presented Joseph with one final gift. "When you are brought by God back into the land of Canaan, you will get a certain mountain slope, rather than your brothers."
Reuben was confused about the gift, but his father was addressing him. "Go, get your brothers," he said. "I want to tell you what shall happen in the days to come."

The brothers assembled before their father. He cleared his throat and began.
“Come and listen, you sons of Jacob;
    listen to Israel, your father."

"Reuben," he called, and Reuben stepped forward. "You are my firstborn, my strength,
the child of my vigorous youth.
    You are first in rank and first in power."
Reuben nodded, anticipating a blessing to follow.
 "But," his father continued,"you are as unruly as a flood,
    and you will be first no longer.
For you went to bed with my wife;
    you defiled my marriage couch."
Reuben turned red as he remembered that day. How he wished he had known the consequences before he had done that!
 
"Simeon and Levi," their father continued, and the men stepped forward together. "They are two of a kind;
    their weapons are instruments of violence.
 May I never join in their meetings;
    may I never be a party to their plans.
For in their anger they murdered men,
    and they crippled oxen just for sport.
A curse on their anger, for it is fierce;
    a curse on their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will scatter them among the descendants of Jacob;
    I will disperse them throughout Israel."
The brothers looked at the floor in shame as their angry vengeance on the men of Shechem when they had defiled Dinah was punished.
 
"Judah," their father called, and Judah stepped up, a little nervous about what kind of a 'blessing' might come to him. "Your brothers will praise you," his father continued, "You will grasp your enemies by the neck.
    All your relatives will bow before you.
Judah, my son, is a young lion
    that has finished eating its prey.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down;
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants,
until the coming of the one to whom it belongs,
    the one whom all nations will honor.
 He ties his foal to a grapevine,
    the colt of his donkey to a choice vine.
He washes his clothes in wine,
    his robes in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine,
    and his teeth are whiter than milk."
Judah grinned and held his head high. What a blessing! He would be the Kingly line!
 
Their father continued and called Zebulun to the front.
"Zebulun will settle by the seashore
    and will be a harbor for ships;
    his borders will extend to Sidon."
 
He went on. "Issachar," he called, and Issachar stepped forward. "He is a sturdy donkey,
    resting between two saddlepacks.
 When he sees how good the countryside is
    and how pleasant the land,
he will bend his shoulder to the load
    and submit himself to hard labor."
Issachar wasn't sure he liked the idea that he would be a slave.
 
"Dan," he said, and Dan took a step up. "He will govern his people,
    like any other tribe in Israel.
Dan will be a snake beside the road,
    a poisonous viper along the path
that bites the horse’s hooves
    so its rider is thrown off.
 I trust in you for salvation, O Lord!"
Dan thought that governing and judging his people was an appropriate job for him, as his name was close to the word for judge.
 
"Gad," he continued, and Gad stepped up. "He will be attacked by marauding bands,
    but he will attack them when they retreat."
Gad puffed up his chest at the idea that he would protect his land from raiders.
 
"Asher," their father went on,"will dine on rich foods
    and produce food fit for kings."

Asher smiled at the promise of a life of plenty.

"Naphtali is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns."
Naphtali also smiled at his blessing-he would flourish and multiply.

"Joseph is the foal of a wild donkey,
    the foal of a wild donkey at a spring—
    one of the wild donkeys on the ridge.
 Archers attacked him savagely;
    they shot at him and harassed him.
But his bow remained taut,
    and his arms were strengthened
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
May the God of your father help you;
    may the Almighty bless you
with the blessings of the heavens above,
    and blessings of the watery depths below,
    and blessings of the breasts and womb.

 May my fatherly blessings on you
    surpass the blessings of my ancestors,
    reaching to the heights of the eternal hills.
May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph,
    who is a prince among his brothers."

The brothers rolled their eyes. Of course the longest blessing was saved for the favorite son, Joseph.

"Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
    devouring his enemies in the morning
    and dividing his plunder in the evening."

Benjamin smiled. So he too would have descendants that were good at war.

Their father stopped. They all knew that the blessings were done. Their future had been laid out before them. But their father had one last thing to say. "I am about to die. Please bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite which Abraham bought. There Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah are buried." When he finished this he lay back down in the bed, and breathed his last.
Then Joseph fell on the bed and wept over his father. The other men wept as well. When Joseph got up, he left the house to go and find his servants. The other brothers were left to talk with one another about the blessings their father had given.
Joseph saw to it that his father was embalmed properly, according to Egyptian custom. After 70 days, when the time for mourning was over, Joseph asked Pharaoh for permission to carry out his father's dying wish and bury him in Canaan. Pharaoh gave his permission, and all the brothers returned to Canaan to bury their father in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. After they had fulfilled their father's dying wish, they returned to Egypt.
Joseph returned to his position as second in command of Egypt, and the rest of the brothers returned to Goshen with their families to care for the livestock.
"So, now Joseph has absolute power over us," Simeon said, "And there is no one to stop him because our father is dead."
"He could have us killed!" Gad exclaimed.
"Maybe we should plead for our lives," Asher suggested.
"Or ask forgiveness for what you did to him all those years ago," Reuben said.
"YOU!" Judah shouted. "Like you had nothing to do with it! Take responsibility!"
"Hey, cool off," Benjamin said. "We all had a part in it. We should send word to him and ask forgiveness."
So the brothers composed a message to send to Joseph.
"Before he died, our father commanded us to say this to you: 'Please forgive the transgression of your brothers, because they did evil to you.' Now, please forgive the sin of your servant."
The brothers remained uneasy, and finally decided to travel to see Joseph face to face. When they arrived, they bowed before him. Judah said, "Behold, we all are your servants."
Joseph said, "Do not fear, am I in the place of God? You meant evil against me, but God used it for good, to bring about the salvation of the people. So do not fear, I will continue to provide for you and your little ones."
The brothers breathed a sigh of relief.
Many happy years passed. The families multiplied more and more. When Joseph was 110 years old, he called his brothers to him and said, "I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you into the land he has promised. Now swear to me that when God brings you up from the land, you will bring my bones with you up out of Egypt." The brothers swore to Joseph that they would do exactly that.
So Joseph died, and his brothers had him embalmed. And they spent the rest of their lives in Goshen caring for the livestock. But one day, God did visit their descendants, who were at that time slaves in Egypt, and they returned to the land of Canaan. But this brings us to the end of this story of how the brothers were reunited after 17 years of separation and conflict. The next part of the story is for another time.

(Based on Genesis 48-50. The story of the return to Canaan can be found in the book of Exodus.)




 
 
 
 



Friday, March 17, 2017

Brothers Reconciled- Part Four

So the family packed up everything they owned and traveled to the edge of Canaan, where their father ordered them to halt. The brothers were anxious to get to Egypt, but Father needed confirmation from God that they were supposed to go. After talking with God, their father told them to pack up again, they were going to Egypt, and God was going with them.
The brothers loaded their father, children, and wives into the wagons that Pharaoh had given them. They traveled out of Canaan, their home of many years, and down to Egypt- all seventy of them!
As they approached Egypt, Judah was sent by their father ahead to lead the way to Goshen...and Joseph. Judah appeared at Joseph's house and was welcomed with an embrace.
"Is my father on his way?" Joseph asked.
"Yes, the whole family is not far away," Judah replied. He returned to his family, and Joseph followed shortly.
When Joseph arrived, he arrived in all his Egyptian splendor. He rode in a chariot, was dressed in his finest, and rode up to the giant group of Hebrews. But the brothers noticed something. When he saw his father, Joseph leapt from the chariot and fell into his father's arms, as if he was a child again. And their father said, "Now I can die in peace because I have seen my son again."
Joseph turned to his brothers and gave them instructions. "I will go up and tell Pharaoh that you are here. I will also tell him that you are shepherds. Now, Pharaoh himself will want to meet you. He will ask you what your occupation is, and this is what you need to say, 'Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.' If you do this, he will allow you to settle in Goshen, because shepherds are an abomination to the Egyptians, and you will be safe."
The brothers nodded their understanding and waited to be summoned into the presence of Pharaoh.
When Joseph returned he chose Judah, Naphtali, Benjamin, Asher, and Dan to visit Pharaoh.
Pharaoh greeted the men, and then asked them, "What is your occupation?"
Judah replied, "Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were." Then he cleared his throat and continued. "We have come to sojourn here in the land, because the famine is severe in Canaan, and there are no fields for our flocks. Now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen."
Then Pharaoh said, "Behold, the land is before you. Settle in Goshen." He turned to Joseph. "Settle your family in Goshen, and put them in charge of my livestock."
The brothers went back to their families and waited while Joseph took his father to see Pharaoh.
Within a matter of days, the Hebrew clan was settled in the best of the land of Goshen. And Joseph provided for them.

Now, the famine became more and more severe. The brothers had plenty to eat because Joseph was providing for them, but the rest of Egypt was hungry...and running out of money. Joseph gathered livestock from them in exchange for food, and the brothers cared for all the livestock that was now Pharaoh's.
As the men sat in the fields with their flocks, they reflected on the fateful day when they had been in the fields and had seen Joseph at a distance and plotted to kill him. How much had changed since that day! Over the last few months, Judah had risen to a place of leadership in the family, and the family had been reconciled. They no longer fought over every little thing, and their father trusted them more than he ever had.

Well, seventeen happy years passed with the brothers caring for Pharaoh's livestock. One day, Joseph came to see them. "I have just spoken with my father," he said. "He has asked me to swear to bring his bones out of Egypt and bury them with the bones of his fathers. Please tell me if he becomes ill."
The brothers promised. They knew how important it would be to Joseph to see his father one last time before he died.

(Based on Genesis 46-47)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Brothers Reconciled- Part Three

After eating with the Egyptian governor, the brothers went to the storehouses to buy grain. And in the morning, as soon as the sun had begun to peek over the horizon, the men left with their bags of grain and their donkeys. When they were only a short distance from the city, they were overtaken by the Egyptian man's steward. The steward said, "Why have you repaid evil for good? Why have you taken my lord's cup? Is it not with this cup that he practices divination? You have done evil!"
Naphtali said, "Why do you say such things? Far be it from us to do such a thing! Behold, we brought back the money that we found in our sacks. How could we steal silver or gold from your master's house? Whichever of your servants is found with the cup, he shall die, and rest of us shall be servants!"
The steward said, "It will be as you say; the one found with the cup will be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent."
The Hebrews got off their donkeys, took down their sacks and let the steward search them one at a time. First, he searched Reuben's sack and found nothing. Then he searched Simeon's and found nothing. One by one the bags were searched, and nothing was found but grain. The brothers looked at each other and laughed lightly. "See?" Reuben said. "We are innocent!"
Then the steward opened Benjamin's sack. And there, in the mouth of the sack was the silver cup.
The brothers cried out in shock and tore their clothes. Then they lifted their sacks back onto their donkeys and returned to the city. They arrived at the governor's home and discovered that he was still there. They fell onto the ground before him. The governor, through his interpreter, said, "What is this that you have done? Do you not know that I can practice divination?"
Judah replied, "What shall we say to you, my lord? How can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants, behold, we are my lord's servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup was found."
The governor said, "No, far be it from me that I keep all of you! Let only the man in whose hand the cup was found be my servant. But as for the rest of you, go home to your father in peace."
Then Judah stepped away from the group and approached the man. "Oh my lord, please hear me, and do not be angry with me, for you are like Pharaoh himself. You asked us, 'Do you have a father or brother?' And we said to you, my lord, 'We have a father, who is old, and a young brother whom he loves. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother's children.' Then you said, 'Bring him down to me.' We said, 'The boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.' Then you said to your servants, 'Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will not see my face.' When we went back to our father, we told him what you had said. And when he said, 'Go buy us some food,' we said, 'We cannot go down unless our youngest brother comes with us.' Then our father said, 'One of my sons is gone, and you would take the other one as well? If you take him, surely I will die!' Now, if I return to my father without the boy, my father will die! For I am a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, 'If I do not bring him back, let me bear the blame.'  Now, therefore, let me remain instead of the boy and let the boy go back to his father. For how can I go back without the boy?"
Then the governor shouted, "Everyone leave me!" All the Egyptian advisors, guards, stewards, and interpreters left the room. And the governor began to weep. He wept loudly and cried, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?"
The brothers stood in shocked silence. This Egyptian man was talking in Hebrew to them! Then a flood of memories returned to them.
Asher remembered the dreams that Joseph had told them of and realized that they had fulfilled the dreams by bowing down to him.
Zebulun remembered the coat of many colors that their father had given Joseph and how jealous he had been that he had not received a special gift.
Levi remembered seeing Joseph coming from afar and plotting to kidnap the boy.
Reuben remembered sticking up for his brother-halfway. He had told his brothers not to kill the boy, intending to rescue him later, but never doing so.
Dan and Naphtali remembered jumping on the lad and ripping off his coat.
Simeon remembered throwing him into the pit.
Issachar remembered ignoring the pleas of his brother for mercy.
Judah remembered suggesting selling the boy to the Ishmaelite traders and dipping his coat in blood to cover up their deed.
Benjamin remembered the sadness of his father when the others had returned with the coat. And he remembered how he suddenly became the favorite son.
And all the men felt a wave of guilt. Then they all felt fear-incredible fear. Here was Joseph, the "dreamer," who now stood before them in a position of power. He had every right to kill them. And the brothers were afraid.
Then the man said, "Come near to me, please." And all the brothers stepped forward cautiously.
Then the governor- or Joseph, I should say- spoke the comforting words that the brothers needed to hear. "I am Joseph, whom who sold into Egypt. Do not be dismayed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land for two years, and there are yet five years where no one will plow or harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve a remnant for you on the earth and to keep many people alive. It was not you who sent me here, but Elohim. He has made me like a father to Pharaoh, and ruler of his household, and ruler over all of Egypt. Now, hurry and go to my father and say, 'Thus says your son Joseph: God has made me ruler of all Egypt. Come down to me, do not tarry! You shall dwell in Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children, and their children, and your flocks and herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you, for there are five years of famine still coming, so that you and your house do not fall into poverty.' And now, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father of my honor in Egypt, and of everything that you have seen. Then you must bring my father down to me."
Then the brothers watched as Joseph embraced Benjamin and kissed him and wept. After that, the men were surprised to see him do the same to the rest of them.
The brothers talked for a long time. There was so much to catch up on in thirteen years. All Joseph's brothers had families of their own, and Joseph couldn't wait to be introduced. The brothers met Joseph's wife, Asenath, and their two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
After discussing things with Pharaoh himself, Joseph gave his brothers wagons and provisions. He gave them new clothes, but, not surprisingly, he gave Benjamin the most. He sent a gift to his father, and provisions for the way back to Egypt.
And just before the brothers left, Joseph gave them a single warning: "Do not quarrel along the way."
The brothers traveled back to Canaan and their father. Then Judah said, "Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt." But their father did not believe him.
Then, piece by piece, the brothers relayed Joseph's message, and he became excited. "It is enough, my son is alive. I will go and see him before I die," he said.

(Based on Genesis 44-45)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Brothers Reconciled- Part Two

Well, time passed, and the family was well fed by the grain for Egypt. But in the back of their minds, the brothers knew that the grain would run out and they would have to go get more. They also knew that they would have to convince Dad to let Benjamin go to Egypt, or the family would die of starvation.
One day, the food finally ran out. Then Dad said, "Boys, go down to Egypt for some more food."
The boys looked at each other and cleared their throat. Then Judah exclaimed, "The man warned us that we would not see his face unless Benjamin is with us. If you will send him, we will go and buy food. If you will not send him, we will not go get food, for the man said, 'You won't see my face unless you bring your brother.'"
Dad said, "Why did you treat me this way? Did you have to tell the man that you had a brother?"
Levi replied, "The man questioned us carefully about our family and background. How were we supposed to know he would demand our brother from us?"
Judah stepped forward and spoke to his Dad. "Send the boy with me, and we will go so that we may live and not die. I will be a pledge of his safety. You shall require him from my hand. If I do not bring him back and set him before you, I will bear the blame forever. If we had not delayed, we could have gone to Egypt and back twice!"
The other brothers looked at one another in surprise. Judah had been the one who suggested selling Joseph to the Ishmaelite traders thirteen years ago. He had hated the boy who was their father's favorite. Now, Judah was pledging himself as protection for Benjamin, Dad's new favorite son.
Their thoughts were interrupted by Dad's decision. "If it must be this way, then do this: take some fruit, balm, honey gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds as a present to the man. Take double the money with you, and carry back the money that was returned in your sacks. Perhaps that was a mistake. Take your brother with you, and go to the man. May El Shaddai grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back both Simeon and Benjamin with you. As for me, if I am bereaved of my children, well, I am bereaved."
So the brothers took the present and the money and Judah took Benjamin. They set off for Egypt and stood before the governor.
The governor's steward brought the men into his master's house. Then men talked in hushed voices. "Why are we in here?" Issachar asked.
"I don't know," Levi replied.
"It is probably because of the money," Asher said. "He is going to assault us and make us servants and take our donkeys!"
The men went up the steward and Reuben said, "Oh, my lord, the first time we came down here, the money we had paid with was replaced in our sacks. We have brought the money with us this time, and more to buy more food. We don't know how it got in our sacks."
The steward smiled and said, "Shalom. Don't be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I got the money."
The brothers were again surprised. How did this man know about Elohim, the God of the Hebrews?
Then they cried out in joy as Simeon was brought to them.
"What took so long?" Simeon asked. "I've been in the dungeon forever!"
"Dad didn't want to let Benjamin go with us," Judah replied.
"You are going to be eating the noon meal here in the house," the steward said. "Come, let me wash your feet."
After their feet were washed, the men prepared the present for the governor. When the Egyptian entered the house for the noon meal, they bowed to the ground and presented the gift to him.
He inquired, "Is your father well? Is he alive?"
Dan said, "Yes, he is well and alive."
The brothers bowed even lower until they were laying face down on the ground.
The governor's eyes rested on Benjamin and he cried, "Is that your youngest brother, whom you told me about? God be gracious to you, my son!" Then the man was suddenly gone.
The brothers were shocked at the hasty departure of their host. After a while, he returned and ordered that the food be served. He was served apart from the Hebrews, because the Hebrews were an abomination to the Egyptians.
When the brothers were seated, they were amazed to see that they were seated in birth order- first Reuben, then Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin. Simeon voiced their thoughts. "How could this man know our birth order?" He asked. No one had an answer.
As the food was brought out,  they noticed that Benjamin's portions were five times the size of the rest. But it didn't bother them, they were used to Benjamin getting the special treatment. So they ate and drank and were merry with their host.

(Based on Genesis 43)

Friday, March 10, 2017

How-to: Distressed Dresser

I have had this dresser in my room for over a year. It was second hand and in pretty good condition, but it was this ugly light wood color. I forgot to take a before picture...oops.
Anyway, I finally decided to move it to the garage and refinish it.
First I sanded it to get the old finish off. Then I painted it white. I used two coats. Here it is-so fresh and clean looking!


I did the same thing with the drawers.

Now for distressing. I used sandpaper (100 grit) to sand all the surfaces. Here are some pictures.



I did the same thing with the drawers.

Then I took it outside and used a satin finish spray to protect it (without giving it a shine). I used two coats.
Here it is, all painted and finished!


Oh, wait. I need some knobs. I got those unfinished wood ones from Lowes and painted them to match some of the colors in my room.

Look, it even matches my blanket! :)

I'm so glad I finally got this project done!


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Brothers Reconciled- Part One

Ten Hebrew men traveled along a dusty road between Canaan and Egypt. All around them, the land was desolate. The men were hungry, thirsty, and exhausted from their long journey.
 "Is there any food left in the sacks?" Zebulun asked.
 "No, we ate the last of it earlier," Naphtali replied. "Remember, we are in a famine. That means-"
 "No food, yeah, we get it," Dan interrupted.
 "Would you knock it off?" Reuben shouted. "Let's just get to Egypt. Remember? There's food there."
After many more hours of travel, the men were swept into the busy streets of Egypt. The land looked as desolate as Canaan, but the Hebrews didn't let it fool them.  They searched Egypt until they found the governor. He was an Egyptian man, not much taller than themselves. His interpreter stood nearby, and guards followed him too. He had a gold chain around his neck, a ring on his finger, and clean clothes of fine linen.
The dusty Hebrew men bowed down before this lord of Egypt.
The man shouted roughly at them, and the interpreter translated. "Where do you come from?"
Reuben spoke up. "From Canaan, sir," he said. "We have come to buy food."
"No," the man replied, "you lie. You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land."
"No, my lord," Reuben said, "We have come to buy food. We are all brothers, sons of one man. And were are honest men-not spies!"
But the Egyptian was insistent. "You have come to see the nakedness of the land!" He shouted.
Reuben replied, "No, I tell you, we are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in Canaan."
Dan spoke up. "Our youngest brother is in Canaan with our father, and the other one, well, he is no more."
The governor said, "It is as I said. You are spies! The whole lot of you! But by this I will test you. As Pharaoh lives, you will not leave until your youngest brother has come down to Egypt! One of you, go, get your brother and bring him to me. The rest of you, stay here. If you do not bring back your brother, you are surely all spies! Any volunteers?"
The brothers looked at one another. No one volunteered to go back and convince their father to let his favorite son go down to Egypt.
"Fine then!" The Egyptian roared. "You will all be held captive until you decide what you want to do."
And so, the men were thrown into an Egyptian prison. And just like they always did, they argued and talked and blame shifted and argued some more.
"Why did you have to tell him that Benjamin was in Canaan with Dad?" Reuben shouted at Dan.
"If you hadn't mentioned that there were twelve of us, we would have been fine," Dan retorted.
The men continued their pointless banter in this way for quite some time- three days in fact.
At the end of three days, the Egyptian governor came to the prison with a new proposal. "Do this and you will live," he said, "for I fear Elohim; let one of you stay in custody here, while the rest of you bring your youngest brother back."
The brothers looked at one another. This man fears Elohim? The God of the Hebrews?
The Egyptian continued. "Those of you who go will carry grain back with you. If you bring your youngest brother back to me, your words will be verified, and I will believe that you are honest men."
The brothers discussed the offer.
"Do you ever feel guilty about what we did to Joseph?" Levi asked.
"Yes, I do," Simeon replied. "Right now is one of those times."
"Well," Dan said, "We are guilty concerning our brother. We saw his distress as he begged us for mercy, but we ignored him. That is why God is allowing this to happen to us."
"Didn't I tell you not to harm the boy? And did you listen? No! So now there is a reckoning for his blood," Reuben exclaimed.
"Would you stop being such a smarty pants!" Judah retorted.
The men turned at the sound of the Egyptian suddenly leaving the prison. His interpreter went with him. Assuming he had other business to attend to, they returned to their conversation.
"Who wants to stay here in custody?" Issachar asked.
"I volunteer you," Gad replied.
"No, leave Zebulun," Judah said. "He is the next youngest."
"I'm not staying!" Zebulun retorted.
The Egyptian returned. He spoke to them through his translator again. "Have you decided? Who will stay?" He asked.
The men looked at one another and shrugged.
"I choose...you!" The man announced, pointing at Simeon. All the other men breathed a sigh of relief-until they remembered that they had to go convince Dad to let Benjamin come down to Egypt with them.
"Come back for me soon!" Simeon reminded them as he was taken and bound.
The other nine men walked out free, but their hearts carried a great burden. They found their donkeys, loaded up sacks of grain, and set off for Canaan.
That night, they Hebrews stopped at a lodging place. Asher opened up his sack to feed his donkey some grain and cried out. "My money has been put back! Here it is in the mouth of my sack." They looked at each other, their faces pale with fear. "What is this that God has done to us?" Naphtali cried.
The next morning, they continued on their journey, their hearts heavy. When they finally arrived back home in Canaan, they all approached their father.
"Dad," Levi said, "the Egyptian governor in charge of the grain spoke harshly to us. He accused us of being spies. We told him that we are honest men and not spies. We told him that we are the sons of one man and that one of us is no more and the other was at home. But he didn't believe us! So he told us to leave one of our brothers, Simeon, in Egypt, and return to you. But the next time we go back, we have to bring Benjamin with us or else we won't see his face...or Simeon. That is the only way he will believe that we are not spies!"
Each of the brothers emptied their sacks of grain. When they did, they all found money in the mouth of their sacks. They turned pale and their eyes grew wide with fear. When their father saw it, he too was afraid. He lashed out at his sons and said, "You have taken my children away! Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin too! The whole world is against me!"
Reuben stepped up and said, "Kill my sons if I do not bring Benjamin back to you. If you entrust him to me, I will return him."
Their father said, "No, my son Benjamin will not go to Egypt with you, his brother is dead and he is all I have left! If harm should come to him, it would kill me!"

(Based on Genesis 42)

    

Friday, March 3, 2017

Family Statement-Share and Pray

I've been asked to repost this letter from Susanna Liew Sow Yoke. Her Pastor husband Raymond Koh was abducted in Malaysia. By seeing this letter containing his story go viral, his family hopes he will be released. So I will ask you to join me and many others in praying for Raymond and his family. Also, if you have a social media, please repost this. Help our brother in Christ.


My name is Susanna Liew Sow Yoke.  I am 61 years old and a housewife.

On Monday, Feb 13, 2017, my husband, Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo, 62, was abducted in Jalan SS4b/10, Petaling Jaya less than 100 metres from the Kompleks Perumahan Polis.

This was confirmed on Feb 14, 2017 by Selangor CID chief senior assistant commissioner Fadzil Ahmat.

On the morning of Feb 13, 2017, my husband left our Prima Sixteen Chapter Two home in Jalan 16/18, Section 16, Petaling at around 10am to go to the Puncak Damansara Condominium in Kampung Sg Kayu Ara, Petaling Jaya.

According to the police report filed by my son Jonathan Koh Szu Hao, 32, my husband left home at approximately 10am.

He then drove to Puncak Damansara where I last saw him just after 10am. He was on his way to a mutual friend’s house in Kelana Jaya to deliver some belachan. My husband never arrived at his destination.

He was abducted in Jalan SS4b/10, Kelana Jaya, by at least five masked men while en route to our friend’s home. The abduction took place between 10:31:42 and 10:32:39 am according to CCTV footage, currently with the police.

My children and I are shocked, saddened and traumatised by the events of the past week. Today, it is almost a week since Raymond was abducted and we have heard nothing.

I believe that the people who took my husband from me are no ordinary abductors because of the following reasons:

•    They were masked
•    The abduction was professionally and deftly executed, taking less than 60 seconds
•    The abductors had money, or were backed by money, or by an organisation with money as the cars they used were expensive SUVs, at least one of which was a black Toyota Alphard
•    The abduction was planned, timed and executed at an opportune moment, which suggests that they were waiting for my husband who drives an old Silver Honda Accord bearing number plate ST 5515 D.

Someone in the group calmly filmed the entire abduction while other masked members of the group re-directed the traffic.

According to witnesses, at least five masked men were involved.

According to CCTV footage, at least three black SUVs stopped in the middle of the road.

I did not learn about my husband’s abduction until about 8pm when a mutual friend called to ask why my husband had not appeared for a 4pm meeting. I suspected something was wrong when he did not return home for dinner.

The fact that after almost a week there is only silence suggests that the abductors’ motive is not monetary gain.

Since the abduction occurred in a residential area and in broad daylight, my family and I are prepared to offer a reward to anyone who can help shed light on this distressing incident.

My husband has been involved in Harapan Komuniti, a community work project which he set up more than 10 years ago and which involves giving free tuition classes to children and English lessons to adults.

I would like to appeal to those who have taken my husband to return him safe and unharmed to me and my children.

I would also like to appeal to any eye witnesses to come forward.

I would also like offer a reward amounting to a maximum of RM10,000 for information leading  to rescue of my dear husband. Please WhatsApp Jonathan at 01139732670.

Susanna Liew Sow Yoke

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What I read- February 2017

First off, for my personal Bible Study Time, I went through "Lord, Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days" by Kay Arthur.

Lord Teach me to Study the Bible

If you don't know how to effectively do an inductive Bible study, I highly recommend this to you! It takes you through all the steps of inductive Bible study in a simple, easy to understand way. In the past, Bible Study has felt overwhelming, but after going through this, I feel like it is something I can handle doing. It doesn't seem so intimidating anymore. (Picture from Goodreads)


The second thing I read this month was "The Boy who Saved Cleveland" by James Cross Giblin.

The Boy who Saved Cleveland

This is a book about a boy named Seth in the baby city of Cleveland. One by one, his family members became ill with malaria, as did the others in the little settlement. Seth bravely goes to the mill every day to grind corn for the whole settlement. He eventually takes ill himself, but because of his brave acts, he saved the tiny town. This is a touching story based off of real events. (Picture from Goodreads)


The third thing I read was "True Worshippers" by Bob Kauflin.

true worshippers

In this book, Bob talks about what it means and looks like to truly worship God from the heart. The chapters that impacted me the most were chapter four, which talked about how meeting together is a necessary part of worshipping God, chapter eight, which talked about expecting God to work in you and others while you are worshipping him, and part of chapter seven, which talked about using distractions as a chance to glorify God. This book (along with a worship conference I went to at the beginning of the month) have impacted my attitude while playing in a worship band. When you are helping to lead worship, the correct attitude is to by worshipping your savior, not draw attention to yourself. This book REALLY impacted me this month. (Picture from Goodreads)


The final thing I read this month was "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.

Pride and Prejudice

This romantic comedy had me laughing the whole way through...especially when I was introduced to Mr. Collins. Set in London around the late 1700s-early 1800s (I'm not exactly sure), Mrs. Bennet is set on marrying off her 5 grown daughters as fast as possible, while Mr. Bennet could care less. This conflict escalates when Mr. Bingley (a handsome rich single man) moves to town. He brings with him his good friend Mr. Darcy. Mr. Bingley and Jane, the oldest Bennet daughter, are immediately draw to each other. Lizzy, the second, forms quick judgment of Mr. Darcy. She believes him to be proud and conceited and full of himself. He, however is draw to her. This introduces the second level of the plot. When Mr. Darcy works to get Mr. Bingley to move away, breaking Jane's heart, Lizzy's hatred of Mr. Darcy grows. But, when the youngest Bennet girl, Lydia, runs off with Mr. Wickham and shames the Bennet family, Mr. Darcy steps in, seeing to it that Lydia and Wickham have a proper marriage. When Lizzy finds out, her opinion of Mr. Darcy begins to change...and I'll leave you to either guess the ending or read it yourself to find out! I greatly enjoyed reading this book, and now I have to watch the movie! :) (Picture from Goodreads)

Well, this is what I read in February. Next month you can expect to see "7 Women" by Eric Metatexas and "The Key to Zion" by Bodie Thoene on the list.

And always remember:

Reading quote

(Picture from Pintrest)