It's Swim a Lap Day, or could be Go Swim in a Lake Day. Either way, today is the day to jump in and enjoy a little bit of swimming. Swimming is so good for you. It's good for your heart and for your lungs. It is a fun thing to do together, or all by yourself.
Swimming has been around for hundreds of years, maybe thousands! It's pretty important that kids learn how to swim, especially in Minnesota, but really anywhere. Did you know you can drown in just a tiny shallow pool if you haven't learned about swimming. If you ever get a chance to go snorkeling in the ocean, that is a wonderful way to explore all of the beauty that God has created UNDER the water.
I'm pretty sure that there wasn't much swimming in Jesus' day. There are many stories about people being on the water, but I can't find anything about swimming. In fact, the Jewish people often feared the sea. But there is a story about Peter and Jesus that is worth reading today. It's in Matthew 8. The disciples left Jesus on one side of the Sea of Galilee, and to catch up to them, Jesus walked on the stormy sea. When Peter saw him, Peter stepped out of the boat on to the stormy sea to walk toward Jesus. That sure took a lot of courage. I don't know if Peter could swim, but I sure know that he didn't have the power to walk on the water! But his faith in Jesus gave Peter the courage to step out and go toward Jesus. You know how the story ends, Peter starts to sink and Jesus helps him up and they walk together to the boat.
That is a story with lots of meanings and lessons. Today when you are thinking about swimming, think about Peter walking on the water. Think about how much courage it took to step out of the boat. Do you have that much courage to follow Jesus? Even if it seems crazy? Sometimes crazy following will result in Jesus taking us by the hand and helping us with every step, just like He did for Peter. Go take a dip in the the lake or pool today and think about doing something crazy for Jesus.
The American Bald Eagle is an amazing bird! Here are just a few facts I've learned...
Isaiah 40:31 says, "They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles..." That's the kind of strength I want! It's not talking about muscles, it is talking about discipline. If I wait and trust the Lord, God will give me strength to be disciplined and say "no" to bad choices, and "yes" to good choices. Strength like eagle wings!
We have a lot of eagles around here. Have you ever seen one? Why not ask your parent to drive you to a place where the eagles live -- maybe along a river, or maybe out by Tracey's house!!
We've been hearing alot about Juneteenth in the news, but I hope you as kids haven't been watching much news. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observation in 49 of the 50 states. It was named a federal holiday in 2017.
President Lincoln, at the end of the war in 1865 declared that all slaves were free, but it wasn't until June 19, 1865 that the word reached Texas and the Confederate Army surrendered. With the reading of "General Order No. 3", freedom was given to all slaves in America. It was no longer legal to own another person. Juneteenth has been celebrated since 1866, the year following their emancipation.
Do you know where I'm going with this lesson? Are all people really free? No, many people live in bondage to sin, addiction, hurt, and unforgiveness. These things control them and steal their joy. Jesus said, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!" (John 8:36) He understood that everyone is born as a slave to sin, and only when we accept Jesus' forgiveness do we truly find freedom.
Today we can celebrate the freedom we have in Jesus.
Most people in the USA have never been fishing! I know it is hard to believe but most have never been in a boat. We are blessed to live in a part of the country that is scattered with over 10,000 lakes and about 162 different species in Minnesota waters, including Lake Superior, according the the DNR website. Around here we hear lots of talk about walleye, bass, northern pike, crappies, and of course, carp. On most winter and summer days you will see the lakes speckled with fishing boats or fish houses. We love Minnesota, and we love fishing!
Have you ever been fishing? Do you fish from a boat or from the shore or dock? What is the biggest fish you have ever caught? Have you ever been out with other fisherman and caught a whole bunch of fish? That is so fun to win the fight with a big fish on the end of your line. Makes me want to go right now.
The Bible is full of fish stories. We have Jonah and the big fish, we have several fish stories with Peter, and Jesus told his disciples he would make them "fishers of men." Fishing was a pretty common occupation in Jesus' day so he used fish as a way to start a conversation with people. Just like our bucket lessons on Sunday, we learn that we can use anything to learn about Jesus. It just so happened that in Jesus' "bucket" was fish and so he taught about God from fish.
The next time you are with your friends (or family) look around. What is important to them and tell them something about Jesus from whatever they have in their "bucket." Enjoy thinking about fishing today and maybe ask your parent to sneak out to the lake or pond this evening with a rod and reel. Catch a big one!!
According to doitgreen.org the average Minnesotan generates 6 pounds of trash every day, or over a ton per person annually. That's a lot of trash and someone has to get from our house to the landfill. That person is the garbage "man". Sometimes we call them the trash specialist or waste managers, but whatever you call them it is a pretty stinky job.
My brother-in-law was a trash man for several years. He found it very rewarding to serve people in this way. He drove a regular route so he saw the same people each week on his route and found pleasure in knowing that he was helping people. Sometimes people would leave a Christmas gift on the top of the trash can, and sometimes he never-ever saw the people he served. In either case, he worked with his whole heart serving people.
Jesus did that too. The night that he was going to start the whole journey to the cross, before Judas betrayed him with a kiss, Jesus served his disciples. They ate a meal together and then Jesus got down and washed their feet. That was a job for a servant, not for the most important person in the room! But Jesus loved his disciples so much and serving them was one way to show his love.
You probably have never thought about growing up to serve people as a garbage man. But I hope you have been thinking about growing up to serve people like Jesus did. You might not have to wash their feet, but maybe you could do a good deed for them to show your love. Start today. How can you serve your family today? Got an idea? Send me a comment to share your idea.
A couple of years ago I decided to have a garden plot. I'm not really sure why, but at the time I thought it was a good idea. Oh, we were going to enjoy beans, peas, tomatoes, and maybe even some carrot -- straight from the garden. We got it all planted and it went well for the first few weeks, well maybe it was only a week.
The weeds started to grow. We did OK at first but then it seemed like the weeds grew faster than the vegetables and before you know it I couldn't tell what was weed and what was garden. Thankfully I had some help from my husband and other gardeners and we salvaged much of what was planted.
So what would have happened if I had just given up and let the weeds grow alongside the garden vegetables? Soon the weeds would have choked out the good stuff. The weeds would have sucked up all the moisture in the ground, they would have blocked the vegetables from sunlight, and may have choked off any potential growth in the good plants. I read that one of the best gardening tips is to "stay in control of your garden." That seems like good advice.
Matthew 13 tells a parable that Jesus told about seeds that were sown by a farmer. Some seeds fell where the birds ate them; some seeds fell on rocky soil so they could not grow deep roots to gather moisture; and some seeds fell on ground that soon was full of weeds. But the last seeds fell on good soil that produced a big harvest. The lesson that Jesus was trying to teach us is that we need to listen to God's Word and really understand and apply it. Then God's message will grow deep in our hearts and really change us.
Check out the refrigerator today. Are there any carrots or other vegetables in there? Grab a quick snack and head out to weed the garden. While you are there think about how well you are hearing God's Word. Are you really listening, or will God's message be choked out by all the distractions in your life that are like weeds in the garden?
Why do we put a criss-cross on the top of a peanut butter cookie? Have you ever wondered why? I don't have the answer but I know they taste better, more authentic, with the fork marks!
Peanut butter is a really old treat, dating back to the Aztecs who mashed roasted peanuts. Peanut butter became popular in America around 1900 and in 1913 the President's wife put out a cookbook that included Peanut Butter Cookies! We had a president who was elected in 1976, Jimmy Carter, who had a peanut farm. Peanuts became an important crop and was used for many things including paper from peanut shells, shaving cream, shoe polish, grease, and ink. My favorite product is peanut butter!
But back to the question. Why do we put a cross-cross on the top of a peanut butter cookie? The first time that a printed recipe instructed the baker to criss-cross was in a 1936 Pillsbury cookbook. There was no explanation why. People have come up with some ideas why (like to flatten the cookie to bake more evenly) but no one really knows why. Since 1936, thousands of bakers have put that mark on the cookie just because everyone else does. Think about that. Just because someone said to do it once almost 100 years ago, we still do it without even asking why.
I'm not suggesting that you should stop criss-crossing your peanut butter cookies, but I am going to challenge you to think about why you do certain things. Just following the crowd can get you in big trouble and maybe lead you to make some really bad choices. Just one little choice at a time can turn into a big choice. The Bible tells us to be on our guard because the devil is like a lion who is sneaking around trying to deceive and trick us. Be strong. Follow Jesus close. Every day think about your choices. And, maybe today you should make a batch of peanut butter cookies.
Sam German invented a dark baking chocolate to be used in cakes in 1852. This was a little different taste than the traditional chocolate cake. The company who marketed Sam's chocolate was called Baker's Chocolate Company.
Over a hundred years later, in 1957, a recipe for "German's Chocolate Cake" appeared in a Texas newspaper. It became quite popular. The most important ingredient was not from Germany, but named after the inventor Sam German. German's Chocolate Cake soon dropped the 's to become German Chocolate Cake. It's funny how for all these years people assumed incorrectly about its origin. It's a little detail. Probably not that important. After all, we love the cake no matter where it comes from. And the traditional caramel/coconut/pecan frosting just tops it off to be one of America's favorite cakes!
Sam German was credited as having invented German's chocolate, and we are really glad about that. But Sam German didn't create German's chocolate from nothing. Only God can do that. People can put things together in new ways. People can invent new ways of doing things. But only God starts with nothing and creates something brand new. Webster's Dictionary says that "create" means to bring something into existence. We are glad that God helped Sam German to invent this special chocolate, and we are happy to be a part of God's big creation and to be loved by Him.
Have you ever seen in an old movie the way people used to have to write. They will dip a quill or a fountain pen into a little jar of ink. They could write a few words and then have to dip again.
But on June 19, 1943 the patent was filed for a revolutionary new pen -- the ballpoint pen! It contained ink in a barrel that had a small ball on the point that would roll on the paper. It was genius and quickly became a valuable part of every office and home. Originally it cost over $12.00 each, now you can get a package of 10+ at the Dollar Store for a buck! But just because it is cheap doesn't mean that it isn't valuable. Imagine having to go back to the quill or fountain pen. That sure would be messy to carry in your backpack or in mom's purse!
In Bible days the words of the Bible were written with a quill, one letter at a time by a scribe who was a person whose job it was to write. Scribes would write these ancient Bibles on a scroll. Maybe there would be one scroll of the Bible in a town; maybe a rich person could afford to have a personal copy of part of the Bible. Around 1440 a printing press was invented by Johannes Guttenberg that allowed for mass copies of printed materials to be printed, including the Bible. Soon more people had access to the printed Bible.
We would never want to go back to pre-printing press days. Neither would we want to have to personally copy the Bible with a ballpoint pen, but we are certainly grateful for this writing invention! It has made life so much easier to write an encouraging note to someone, or to draw something for the refrigerator. Today's challenge is to count how many ballpoint pens you can find in your house. And while you are doing that, maybe a good verse to memorize is Psalm 40:8 "I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart."
Do you know who Clarence Nash is? How about Tony Anselmo? Let me give you a clue. You may have never seen them, but you have heard them plenty? These two men are the only 2 official voices for Donald Duck.
Donald Duck first premiered on June 9, 1934 when Walt Disney first heard Clarence Nash speak in his Donald Duck voice. That was the beginning of 50 years of speaking for Donald Duck. He also did the voices for the three nephews: Huey, Louie, Dewey, and Daisy Duck. Nash's biggest challenge was to do the voice of Donald Duck in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and German. That is a pretty amazing talent.
Originally Clarence Nash wanted to be a doctor. But he found his success just being a voice for a cartoon character. Donald. Duck. I wonder if Nash was ever disappointed that he didn't accomplish his dream, or at least what he thought he wanted to be. Was he disappointed that his voice made him famous instead of his wonderful brain or skillful hands?
Sometimes God changes our plans. We might think that we know for sure which direction we are supposed to go. Then -- watch out -- God has a different idea. And that new idea might be exactly what we need to be happy. The trick is to always say "yes" to Jesus whenever He is leading us. Being in the "yes lane" is where we will always be most happy! Proverbs 16:9 says, "The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps."