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Relax and Learn With A Youth Group Game Night

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One of the most difficult responsibilities of youth group leaders is to balance learning and fun. Too much teaching and our teens get glassy-eyed and restless. Too much fun and they see it as a social hour.
Our Wednesday night schedule is pretty unique - we meet at 6 p.m. for crafts or games that are going to tie in to that night’s lesson. It’s always amazed me how much our youth love having a few minutes with a coloring page and some colored pencils. Then we go upstairs for the song service with the adults. At least one of them will request a hymn every week, which absolutely delights my heart.
After that 15 minutes or so, we go back down to the teen room for the real meat of the lesson. We all have our notebooks and pens, and we let them use the Bible programs on their phones for reading Scripture out loud to the group. Some youth group leaders refuse to let their teens have their phones, going so far as to put them in phone jail until the end of the evening. For us, though, we’ve …

Breakfast Cereal Ice Cream

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Summer may be winding down, but there is absolutely no reason for the ice cream to stop flowing! In fact, adding a little something special to it can make ice cream an everyday event.

Here are two ways to make breakfast cereal ice cream your new go-to sweet treat.

The next time you go grocery shopping, pick up a carton of ice cream. Choose something that doesn’t already have mix-ins like chocolate chips or strawberry chunks. One of the fancy vanillas will work perfectly, but you can pick your favorites. Let it soften to the point where it’s soft but not runny and it still holds its shape. Scoop it out into a large mixing bowl and stir in 2-3 cups of cereal. Immediately. Spoon it back into the container and return it to the freezer.

This way is probably more fun, and it can easily involve the younger members of your family. They still make the individual-sized boxes of cereal, like the ones you find at a hotel’s continental breakfast. At the grocery store, pick out your favorite cerea…

Words For Wednesday

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Whatever Your Hand Finds To Do...

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The verse jumped off the page at me as though it had a flashing neon sign on it. A woman had journaled this verse in her Bible and illustrated it in such beautiful letters, then posted it on social media with a passage from Charles Spurgeon.

But it was those words from Ecclesiastes 9: Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with thy might...

Whatsoever means just that - whatsoever! Whatever I do today, whichever of the many hats that I wear I have on at that moment, I have a God-given directive to do it with all my might.

With all my might. With all my heart. With all my strength. With all my mind. With all my being.

There are many things on my daily to-do list that I don’t enjoy. They’re menial, sometimes trivial, often strenuous and all necessary. And I am to do them all with my might. Not just to get them done and get them checked off the list - but with my might.

What does that look like in real life?

When I’m preparing meals for the week, I should be planning and grocery shopp…

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

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Just a stone’s throw away, out in the countryside, is the grave of Chief Wapello, our county’s namesake. In 1838, Chief Wapello and his Fox tribe settled in the land that is now Ottumwa.

The memorial park is beautiful, and there is a building there featuring the story of Gen. Joseph Street, the Agency man who worked so closely with our Chief. They are now buried next to each other with their families.

The details of Chief Wapello and Joseph Street’s lives live on through this memorial and the historical narratives saved over the years. Anyone who wants to learn about what they said, did and accomplished has access to the story of these personalities of our local history.

How do you want to be remembered? For being a great daughter, wife or mom? For being a pillar of the community or the church? For what you’ve done, been active in or accomplished? Those are all good things, but there’s something much better than that.

There’s a wonderful song out right now called Only Jesus. The word…

Sunday Sketch

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My goal for the next few weeks is to use up every single scrap of paper I have in my craft room before I buy any more. This seems like a lofty goal, I know, but cards made from sketches like today’s will help tremendously.

For my card, I ink-distressed the edges of two colors of card stock and three pieces of decorator paper. I also distressed two die cuts - the flowered ribbon and the Thinking of You sentiment.

I matted the fabric-looking white paper on the textured card stock and ran the spotted paper down one side. Then I cut the flower die cut and matted it on coordinating card stock. The flower-patterned paper is the same size as the sentiment block, which is accented with acrylic dots, as are the corners of the card.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start by choosing coordinating card stock and decorator paper. You’ll also want a nice, square sentiment and some small embellishments.

From there, you can create your own background, focusing on the strip running down the left h…

Why More People Think Iowa Is Amazing Than Ever Before

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Over the years I’ve seen many states, lived in many cities and been to visit the other side of the world. All these places are beautiful and fascinating, but Iowa will always be home. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Iowa has received national recognition lately as a great place to live and work - something Iowans have known for several generations! No longer just a fly-over state or a pass-through on the way to somewhere, Iowa is seeing a resurgence of interest in what makes it so great.

Here are just a few reasons you should be interested in Iowa:

* Our pace of life is slower and more relaxed. While the big cities bustle like anywhere else, there are many smaller towns and communities where it’s easy to live in the moment and take time to know the people around you.

* You’re going to meet kind, happy people everywhere you go. It’s been called Iowa Nice, but it’s really about wonderful people and creating connections with those around you. This is the place to be if you want stor…