Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Last Splash

We enjoyed our last Backyard Bible Adventure of the summer at our house. Our group of about 25 enjoyed a morning of beautiful weather, great fellowship and poolside fun. Our theme this summer has been "Making a Splash." We began the summer talking about changing the world by starting with our own hearts, and we focused in particular on being kind to our families. As we progressed through the summer, we moved our focus outward. At our second BBA, we looked at Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet. We talked about how developing a servant's heart would bless our church and community. And now we are ready to make a splash in the world!

For our final lesson of the summer, I told the children that we can all make a difference in the world. God gives each of us gifts and talents, and all of us will have unique opportunities to influence, teach and bless other people. I have known most of these children since they were born, and it is such a pleasure to watch them grow up. Each one will have a unique sphere of influence. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for each one!

Our sandcastle cake was inspired by the April 2008 Family Fun magazine cover. To make this great summer cake, bake a sheet cake and two round cakes. Use a serrated knife to level the cakes as needed, then place your first round layer on your serving dish. Ice the top of this layer, and add the second round layer. Cut graduated circles from the sheet cake, and layer these rounds on the cake, sealing with icing. Give the extra cake to your adoring husband and children, who probably gathered in the kitchen when they smelled cake. Ice the top and outside of the cake, dipping your icing spatula into a cup of hot water as needed to help it glide smoothly across the cake. Cover the iced cake with graham cracker crumbs, and finish off the design with ice cream cone turrets. Flags, paper umbrellas or candy can add a punch of color, if desired.

In the above photo, Carlie is sporting our Backyard Bible Adventure craft. Our congregation supports missions to Panama, and Operation Christmas Joy provides an opportunity for children to become involved. We fill plastic shoe boxes with age-appropriate trinkets, toys and toiletries for boys and girls. At our house, we make a family affair of shopping for boys and girls the same ages as our children. Shoebox gifts are collected by our church and wrapped by the youth group. Then they are sent to Panama and distributed by missionaries.

Sara Bills, who coordinates the project, has so many heartwarming stories to share about children who have never received a Christmas present. One little girl thought the pretty package was the gift; she couldn't believe that she could open it to find more surprises inside!

So at our Backyard Bible Adventure, we sat on beach towels and strung necklaces to be included in shoebox gifts. I purchased necklaces in bulk from Oriental Trading. The children made two: one for a boy or girl their age in Panama, and another to keep. I told the children that when they wear their necklaces, they can say a prayer for their friend in Panama they've never met.

One of the moms started feeling queasy on the drive out to our house, and she was really sick by the time the party was breaking up. As she was gathering everything up to head home, I encouraged her to let her boys spend the afternoon at our house. We were working out the details as another family was saying their goodbyes.

"What do you tell Miss Melissa?" Allison asked as she thanked me for inviting them.

Immediately Ford responded: "Can we stay too?"

Oh, that made me laugh! I feel like it's a successful party when the children don't want to leave. Thanks to all the moms who came out and helped us make a splash this summer! You are welcome in our backyard any time!

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