From our family to yours…
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” ~ Psalm 107:1 CSB
The Bible says a lot about being thankful. In fact, it is commanded often.
Even though I know should be thankful and have much to be thankful for, I struggle with having a thankful heart. Nearly everything in this world seems to lead me down a path of seeking my own happiness. A self-inflating culture stands in opposition to true thankfulness.
For years I’ve been told I am always right and I deserve things to be “my way, right away.” There are few attitudes that are as anti-biblical and anti-Christian as these. (For this writing I am speaking from the consumer side, not the customer service side – much could be said of the value of these approaches as a customer service professional.) As followers of Jesus, we are to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than [ourselves]… [looking] out not only for [our] own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) When we are truly looking out for others, it will be hard to be consumed with our own selfish desires. A common side effect of shifting our focus from ourselves to others is a grateful attitude for what we already have.
James 1:17 reminds us that “every good and perfect gift is from above… .” Gifts such as air to breathe, clothes to wear, a roof over my family’s head, healthy kids, a job that provides for my families needs and many of our wants, an incomparable wife whose depth of service to her family is immeasurable, friends and family who encourage and challenge me to follow Jesus and live a holy lifestyle, and so much more.
I have much to be thankful for. So much in fact, I should easily be able to follow Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything.” So what prevents me from having a thankful heart? Discontentment.
Discontentment is the enemy of a thankful heart. With the world around me telling me to pursue my own happiness at all cost, discontentment is always close by, lurking in the shadows. Paul tells the church in Philippi “in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” So what’s the secret? The answer is found in verse 13 – in Christ. Paul’s contentment was the result of a lifestyle of not worrying about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, as the peace of God surpassed all his understanding and guarded his heart and mind in Christ Jesus. He recognized that his life is dependent on Christ, and in Christ, he can do all things. (Philippians 4:6-7,11-13)
One of the prayers I pray with and for myself and my kids is that we will constantly pursue a thankful heart through contentment. Not just during the season of Thanksgiving, but all year ’round. As we follow Jesus, our lives, like Paul’s, should be marked by contentment and a thankful heart.
For a little #ThrowbackThursday fun, check out the VeggieTales video below “The Thankfulness Song”
Looking for something new to add to your family’s Christmas traditions? Checkout theshepherdstreasure.com. I found this resource last year while on church staff, and think it is a fun way to connect with your family during Advent.
I wanted to put up a large Nativity scene in the foyer of our children’s building at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa.
I found a backdrop scene at Oriental Trading called Christmas Nativity Scene Design-a-Room Pack for $39.98.
Note: this backdrop scene is made of the common Oriental Trading cheap plastic.
After receiving the kit, I couldn’t find any helpful information on how to assemble this kit. So this is what I decided to do. I hope it helps you.
Nativity Kit = $39.98
Foam Boards = $43.92 (4 x $10.98)
1/2″ white Mounting Tape = $79.60 (20 x $3.98)
1″ clear Mounting Tape = $9.96 (2 x $4.98)
Additional items I purchased from Lowes
Four 4’x8′ 1/2″ foam boards (lowes.com/pd_15355-46086-389697_1z0vill__?productId=3365568&pl=1&Ntt=insulation+board#img)
20 packs of 1/2″ and 1″ Scotch Double-sided Mounting Tape (I love this stuff!) (lowes.com/pd_488024-98-410/DC/SF___?productId=50053419&pl=1&Ntt=mounting+tape)
I used some old lumber I had lying around from other projects to build a wooden frame to prop the panels on so I didn’t have to purchase any lumber for my frame.
First I opened and laid out the 30’x4′ backdrops to get an idea of how they would fit together.
NOTE: The lower section (city scape) was shorter and not the full 30′
I slid the four foam boards underneath to measure where the cuts would be.
I trimmed the excess from the backdrops leaving about 12″-18″ on each end, just in case.
Using the 1/2″ Mounting Tape, I put a 4′ strip down the edge of the board making sure to press the tape down well.
I used one 4′ strip for each side. 1 piece for the upper section and 1 piece from the lower section.
There may be a better way to do it, but I attached my tape on one side of the backdrop. Then I stretched and trimmed the other side.
After I trimmed the plastic, I placed a 4′ strip of 1/2″ tape on the opposite side and attached the backdrop.
One of my favorite things about this Mounting Tape is that I was able to de-attach and re-attach the backdrop several times without ripping the plastic. If you’ve used anything from Oriental Trading made from this plastic, you know how HUGE this is!
I cut and attached the lower section (city scape) on each board first then came back to do the upper section (sky). I overlapped the upper section over the lower section by 1/8″ or 1/4″.
I wanted the backdrop to be completely free-standing.
I had some old lumber lying around that I used as frames. I didn’t have to build it because I was making use of some old pieces that were already put together.
I let the frame lean just slightly and screwed in 4 additional pieces of lumber to prop up the frame.
I used command strips to attach the foam board to the wooden frame. These seemed to work fine. My backup plan was to use some of the Mounting Tape.
Also, I duct taped the seams of each board in effort to keep them together (see pic above).
Then finally, to keep the frame from tipping forward, I used some small rope to tie it to a bucket of sand.
Attaching the Characters:
The characters come on 2 sheets (per pack) in random orientation. The will need to be cut out.
Using scissors, I (and some ladies helping me) cut out each of the characters. We cut them relatively close to the edge, but I was not very concerned to get them unnoticeably close.
I cut thin strips of the 1″ clear Mounting Tape, as many as needed, to attach the characters to the backdrop.
This is what I ended up with. While not perfect, but I am happy with the final product.
Like many of you, our family has much to be thankful for this year! We have been humbled by God’s graciousness to us over the past decade.
I began this post last Thanksgiving and dropped the ball on posting it. I thought I’d pick it up today and see if I could finish.
When we moved to Keller, TX, in 2007, we were in the middle of the darkest years of our married life up to that point. Moving to Keller was the answer to much prayer, and we had no idea how refreshing the years that followed would be. During our time in Keller, we were blessed part of an incredible church and community. We have so many friends who have had dramatic impact on our lives. When we moved to Keller in 2007, we were a small family of 4. God graciously added 3 kids to our family in those 7 years.
Growth was not only familial; there was spiritual growth, as well. I had the great honor of being ordained into the gospel ministry by our church family and baptize 2 of our children.
The deep friendships we made during our time in Keller continue to have a meaningful impact on us even today.
September rounded out our first year in Tuscaloosa. While we miss our friends from TX, the Lord has been gracious to us over the last year. Here are some highlights:
- Moved to a new town
- Moved into a new house
- Began a new ministry
- Lovingly welcomed into a new church family
- Began new homeschooling endeavors
- New soccer opportunities
- Began new friendships
- J: soccer (being able to continue to play after our move and for new opportunities)
- C: 10th birthday
- R: our home
- H: our family (“& that I can draw a ghost on paper” Haha!)
All the way around, we have so much to be thankful for. We are grateful to have had another year together and know that we owe our gratitude to Jesus. We know that many have not had a great… or even a good year. Many of you have faced incredible challenges in 2015. To you, know that my family is praying for God’s sustaining grace and mercy be present and evident in your life. We pray that God will engulf you with His faithful love during this holiday season.
One of the verses that hangs in our home is Philippians 4:12-13, and it is one we pray envelopes our family.
In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
In the last few years, many resources have been produced to help guide families in celebrating the season of Advent and Christmas together. You can find a few of them of the under the “Articles” link at ttownparents.org.
At FBC Tuscaloosa, we encourage families to set aside time to worship together throughout the week, but we realize that having family worship times can, sometimes, seem intimidating and overwhelming. We want to encourage you to use this Advent season as a time to begin, restart, or just continue to worship together as a family. To that end, we are providing a simple resource to help you.
During Sunday worship, beginning Sunday evening November 30, we will celebrate Advent corporately as a church. Coming alongside our corporate worship, we are providing a Family Advent Devotional to help guide you in leading your family through the season of Advent.
“How do I get a copy?” Glad you asked. There are 2 ways:
- Click here for the digital version (or the Family Advent Devotional link in the top menu).
- Printed resources are available in the foyer of the Children’s Center and the Hub of the main building. Look for this:
We pray you will find value in these resources! May God bless your time together as a family!
Minister to Preschool & Children
Due to family circumstances our Family Pastor was unable to attend our 4pm Family Christmas Eve service. He asked me to fill in for him. So I had the tremendous privilege of teaching a lesson on The Gifts of God. The lesson turned out to be longer than I had hoped.
Back around Mother’s Day, Cameron, the 7 year old, asked why there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day but not a Kid’s Day. So my wife and I have been talking about how and when to do celebrate this with our kids.
For a a couple of weeks, we have been planning on celebrating Kids Appreciation Day today. While not an official holiday, we believe that our children should never have a doubt that we love and appreciate them. We are very intentional that our children hear several times a day that we love them. We regularly tell them that we are proud of them. So we aren’t saving up our affection for a special occasion, but we do think that they deserve a day of specialness.
We have planned special activities and gifts for each child today. The first gift of the day are special Bibles with his/her name on it.
Other pictures and updates can be found at Facebook.com/jermpc and Facebook.com/jermswif