Friday, June 20, 2008

Flip-Flops and Belly Flops

Today we had our second Backyard Bible Adventure of the summer, and it was so much fun! Backyard Bible Adventures combine the fun of a birthday party with a spiritual message. Our theme this summer is "Making a Splash," and host Karen Pruitt welcomed us this morning for a pool party. Karen has such a heart for young mothers, and she treated us to a refreshing summer lunch of chicken salad croissants, fruit salad, jello salad, pickles, deviled eggs, chips and an ice cream sandwich dessert. We mommies sipped iced tea and lemonade on the screened-in porch while the children enjoyed picnic lunches by the pool.

At our first BBA this summer, we talked about changing our hearts and being kinder to our families. Our Bible story today came from John 13. As the children sat around the pool, we talked about how we would feel if we all had to walk home from our Backyard Bible Adventure in our flip-flops. The children agreed that we would be really hot, tired and dirty by the end of our journey -- and that it would feel wonderful to dip our fit into cool water when we got home. This gave us an interesting perspective to look at the story of Jesus watching His disciples' feet.

Washing the apostles' dirty, calloused feet was truly an act of service. We learned that we can make a splash in the lives of those around us by developing a servant's heart. And we talked about ways we could show kindness to people in our church and community. Our final thought for the day was Matthew 10:42: "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward." We all agreed that we want to be as refreshing to those around us as a cool drink of water on a hot summer day!

Scroll down to see more images from our day, including easy cake and craft ideas!

The children flipped for our festive flip-flop cake!

To make this fun summer cake, bake 1 1/2 cake mixes in a standard sheet cake pan. Allow the cake to cool, then release it onto a platter. Use a toothpick to trace the shape of the left flip-flop lengthwise into the cake. You will cut the flip-flop out with a sharp knife and invert it onto the remaining half of the cake to cut the right flip-flop, but first measure the widest part of your first flip-flop to make sure you have enough cake on the other side to make a balanced shoe. Use your toothpick to adjust the first flip-flop if necessary, then cut away the excess cake. This first flip-flop is your pattern for the second one, but be sure to invert it onto the other side of the cake so you will have a left and a right shoe. Position the flip-flops on your serving platter, but make sure you leave enough room between them for decorating the "insoles."

Ice your flip-flop cake, then draw designs into the top of the flip-flops with a toothpick. Use decorating tip 47 to pipe ridged stripes around the cakes. Use round and star tips to fill in the top of the cake. To make the straps, cut a drinking straw into six equal pieces, and cut four lengths of grosgrain ribbon. Thread two straps through a straw piece, and insert this into the flip-flop toe area to make the thong. Stretch the ribbons across the cake, thread each one through a straw piece, trim as needed, and then insert one into each side of the flip-flop. Use the remaining two ribbons to embellish the other flip-flop. Complete the look with graham-cracker crumb "sand" sprinkled around the flip-flops.

These monogrammed sport sippers will remind the children that sometimes being kind is as simple as offering someone a cup of cold water.

For our craft today, I ordered sipper cups in bulk from Oriental Trading. Although they were smaller than I had anticipated, 9-year-old Carson assured me that he would use one, so I felt like the other kids would like them too. These cups come with paper inserts for decorating, which makes them ideal for kids craft projects. And presenting them with personalized liners makes them a great favor for birthday parties, Bible classes and school parties.

You could make laminated paper liners for this project, but I chose to make monogrammed fabric inserts for the children enrolled in our Backyard Bible Adventure program. I found a floral-print fabric in sunny, tropical colors for the girls, and a vibrant blue fabric that looked almost like pool water for the boys. I ironed a fusible backing to the wrong-side of the fabrics to give the liners a little more body. I used a paper insert as a pattern and cut out the fabric liners with pinking shears. I monogrammed the girls' names in a scripty font, and the boys' first initial and names in more masculine selections.

I assembled all the cups ahead of time, and handed them out at the party at the end of the devotional. We had crayons and markers on hand for those who wanted to decorate their own liners as well. I hope using their special cups this summer will remind the children that God gives all of us special opportunities to serve others. And that we will be blessed when we share our cold cup of water with someone who needs it.

Karen's swing set was a great gathering spot at our backyard party. The picture of Carlie (top row, center) reminds me how it felt to swing so high that you touched the sky. Several photos demonstrate the spirit of helpfulness we talked about today. I love all these kids and can't wait to talk with them at our final BBA about making a splash in the world!

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