Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gracious Words

(Marilyn here!) "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

Kimberly stood with her back against the wall, just like all the other girls in her P.E. class, and looked down at her bare feet. It was the second day of school, and she couldn't wait to go home. Yesterday was her first day of middle school, and it was horrible. First, she'd overslept and barely made it to homeroom. Then, she forgot to bring money, even though Mom reminded her a thousand times not to forget. This was the first year she had to change classes, and she got lost twice. Already, she had a stack of homework to do. And that was only her first day.

Even with all that, it wouldn't have been so bad if her friends went to the same school. But they went to Lincoln, while she went to Union. And there wasn't anyone she knew in any of her classes. She felt like a stranger in a strange land. Everyone said she'd love middle school, but so far she didn't love it--at all. And all she wanted to do was stand there, her back against the wall, waiting for her turn to be weighed, and not say anything to anyone until she could talk to her friends that evening. After P.E., she only had one more class--art--which wasn't on her schedule yesterday.

As she stared at her feet, the toes of the girl standing next to her wiggled. Kimberly noticed the girl's toenails were all painted different colors. Then she remembered something that Suzanne, her youth leader, had said last Sunday, when they were talking about Proverbs 16:24. Suzanne had said, "If someone takes the time to wear something special, do something to let them know you notice it."

Kimberly looked again at the girl's toenails. They were pretty, all turquoise and purple and magenta and pink and teal. And she thought of the verse from Proverbs: "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." It wouldn't hurt to say something nice about them, she thought, and turned to the girl beside her.

"I like your toenails. They're pretty," she said.

The girl smiled. "Thanks," she said softly. "I like different colors."

"Are you an artist?" Kimberly asked.

The girl nodded. "Some people say so."

Then Kimberly thought about the one class she hadn't been to yet, and asked, "Are you taking art this year?"

"Yes," the girl said, "but I haven't been to it yet."

"Me, neither. I bet we're in the same class." Kimberly smiled. "I'm Kimberly."

"I'm Anna."

And that was how Kimberly and Anna became best friends on their second day of middle school.

God says that gracious words are "sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." We never know how our words affect other people. Can you think of someone who needs to hear some gracious words? Who knows--they may lead to a great friendship, just like Kimberly and Anna's!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Organizing for School

Aloha from Karen,
        School starts all too soon, so get organized to succeed. Prepare to track homework and reports due and set up a study area that fit's your personality and learning style.
        Track assignments with a calendar, day planner, or sticky notes-whichever works for you. With a giant wall calendar you can use different colored markers to visually show deadlines (red letter dates) and test dates (yellow highlights) and vacations. A day planner is good for tracking details and writing in every little assignment. If you're not tuned in too calendars you might want to put sticky notes where you'll notice them-on a mirror or closet door, with reminders of deadlines and tests. Also check the best way to let your family know your important school dates and deadlines. They may need a wall calendar in the kitchen or a school folder where you can slip in notes of your needs and deadlines.
      Your place to study is important. Consider whether you work best in quiet and order, or around people and with a study buddy. If quiet is important find a place away from noise where you can be alone, probably in your room. If you like to study with noise then set up a corner of the family room, or make a place for friends to come and study, possibly with pillows to sit on the floor. 
     Be sure to have good lighting where you study and a cabinet or desk stocked with supplies, such as pens, paper, pencils, rulers, markers, and report covers.
     Consider what most sidetracked you in past school years as well as what helped the most. For any problem areas brainstorm with a parent or friend about ways to overcome the problem. This might mean noticing fast if you are having trouble understanding a subject and getting a tutor, or if you tend to get too busy and skip studying (you might need to say no to some activities).
     Spend a weekend or a few days organizing and also praying about the school year.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Hi, Sherry here, writing from my laptop in central California. This morning my daughter got braces on her teeth. She has an upper tooth that is in cross bite (or inside) when she bites. If we left it that way, she could wear down the tooth. Braces were the best option to make sure she has a good, healthy bite.

Why do people get braces?

To straighten teeth—sometimes teeth come in crooked or misaligned causing difficulties when eating.

To fix a bad bite—some people have over bites where the upper jaw and teeth jut out too far forward, while others have under bites, when the bottom teeth and jaw extend too far forward and the upper teeth sit inside when chewing. If the bite is off, other problems can occur such as jaw problems or headaches.

For cosmetic reasons—some people don’t really need braces, but want to improve their smile. For example, someone with spaces between their teeth might want to get braces to close the gaps for that “perfect” smile.

If you dentist suggests a trip to the orthodontist, it would be best to follow his recommendation. Don’t worry! A lot of kids your age have braces. I’m sure my daughter will discover that many of her friends also got braces over the summer.

Do you wear braces?

Chime in and let us know how long you’ve been wearing them.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cleaning you room by making choices

Aloha from Karen,
It's good to clean your room--but that means getting rid of stuff and that can be hard.

Try these useful tips on what to do with stuff you need to part from but have a hard time letting go.

Note:  Do these on separate days- choose one a day!
1. Clothes that don’t fit
    a. Give to younger relative
    b. Give to needy neighbor with children that size
    c. Give to charity
2. Worn out clothes you love
    a. Cut a scrap for an album and throw away the rest
    b. Take a farewell photo in it then throw away
    c. Hang in room as a banner
    d. Use as a rag
    e. Put in the bottom of a box of good stuff and give it to charity.
3. Old school papers
    a. File the ones you want to keep, alphabetically by subject
    b. Throw away ones not needed
    c. Put ones you want as a memory in a scrapbook
    d. Put in a box in the attic with a date on them and throw them away in a
year. Write “ Toss on (date)”  on the side of the box.
4. Childhood box for attic: fill one box/plastic container with things to
someday give your own children
    a. Favorite toys
    b. Favorite outgrown outfit in good condition
    c. Favorite book
    d. Best schoolwork
5. Stuffed animals
    a. Out of every two choose one to keep and one to give to charity
    b. Make a shelf display of favorite animals
    c. Add one to childhood box for attic
    d. Take photos of animals before giving away
6. Consider this, then take 5 photos and give things photographed away:
    a. A memory photo takes less room than the item
    b. A photo can be displayed or put in album
    c. Others may need items more than you do
    d. Photo memories can be shared with future generations
    e. You can write a story/poem/reflections to keep with a photo
7. Junk drawer
    a. Dump into box and put back only what you need
    b. Throw out all broken items
    c. Give away all you don’t need
8. Shoes
    a. Choose best pairs to keep
    b. Get rid of outgrown ones (Don’t forget the charity box.)
    c. Toss away worn out ones
    d. Clean dirty ones
    e. Make or get a storage holder for shoes- keeps off dust and keeps
closet neater
9. Games
    a. Keep any played in the last month
    b. Throw out any broken games/ones missing important pieces
    c. Give away ones not played in last 6 months
    d. Can put one in childhood box
10. Craft supplies/kits
    a. Look at uncompleted ones- discard those you don’t like
    b. Choose one craft to finish and give away at least one unfinished
    c. Have a craft party and let each guest make and keep a craft
    d. Throw out broken/no longer good supplies, like dried paints
11. School supplies
    a. Discard broken pens/markers/etc.
    b. Give away ones you never use/excess if you have too many
    c. Organize keepers in a silverware divider or other container
    d. Throw away or put in album old school notes/ticket stubs, etc.
12. Hair accessories
    a. Discard broken/worn out items
    b. Give away ones not used in past 6 months
    c. Any that match only one hanging outfit, hang with outfit
    d. Choose or make a storage container/drawer dividers for storing items.
13. Makeup
    a. Toss out broken/used-up makeup
    b. Keep in convenient small case what is used daily
         (I use a heavy sandwich bag in my purse.)
    c. Sort and keep extras in a makeup case
    d. Store extras in closet or under bathroom sink
    e. Give away extras/those not your colors or out of style stuff

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer Dreaming

Aloha from Karen,

Summer's a great time to relax and daydream. Take some time to dream about the future. Pray about it too. Think about what you want to do next year, next summer, and even when you grow up.

Then consider turning some of those dreams into reality. To do that, write each dream as a goal and list what you need to reach the goal.

For example, if you want to take a summer mission trip that will mean raising funds to go (finding sponsors or seeing if your church will help you with fundraisers) and possibly getting good grades in school so you won't need to go to summer school.

Or if you want a career that takes college or other training you'll need to get good grades in school and may need to start saving toward that goal or help your parents start a college fund and find ways to help your family save money.

If you want to grow up, get married, and have a family, or live on your own, you will need to learn to cook, manage a house, and shop for groceries. You could start working on those skills now.

For many future careers summer may be a good time to visit or shadow someone with a job you'd like to have someday. Talk with people to find someone in a career you'd like. Find out hat it takes and ask to visit them on the job to learn and see what they do. Also check out the carer online (with parent's permission to safely browse the internet for the information).

Check out a few dreamers in the Bible. God sent them special dreams. Jacob (Genesis 28:10-12), Joseph (Gnesis 37:5), Pharaoh (Genesis 41:1-31), Solomon (1 Kings 3:5). 

Have fun,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

When Someone Gets What You Want

Do you remember a while back we were talking about Sarah? She was jealous of Hagar because Hagar could have children and she couldn't. Most of us know what it feels like to be jealous--but what about when you're the one who has what someone else wants? That's kind of the flip side of jealousy. And that's the position Hagar was in.

     Hagar's story is intertwined with Sarah's. You already read how God promised that Abraham and Sarah would start a great nation, but years passed, and they still had no children. Sarah came up with her own plan. She told Abraham to have a child with her maid, Hagar. So Abraham did what Sarah asked, and Hagar became pregnant.
     Sarah had wanted to have a child for years, but it was Hagar who was pregnant. Since Hagar was pregnant with what was assumed to be the promised child, she began to act like she was more important than Sarah. That was too much for Sarah.
     Sarah was strong in faith, but she was human. She had the same emotions you have when you see someone else getting what you want, especially if they flaunt it in your face. Sarah was jealous, she was angry, and she took it out on Hagar. She even blamed Abraham for the predicament, even though it was her own idea for Hagar to have a son for Abraham.
     Hagar teased Sarah. Sarah became jealous and angry. No one was winning. Abraham told Sarah to handle it however she wanted, and Sarah mistreated Hagar. That is all the Bible tells us about what happened between Sarah and Hagar, but whatever happened was bad enough that Hagar fled to the desert to escape Sarah.
     Jealousy and teasing rarely lead to good relationships as the problems between Hagar and Sarah show.
     Sarah desperately wanted to have a baby. Hagar became pregnant with the child Sarah wanted. Hagar flaunted her pregnancy, and Sarah reacted with anger and jealousy.
     You may have been in that situation. Not with a baby but with other things. You want to be best friends with someone, but another girl comes along and becomes the best friend. You want a particular pair of shoes. Your mom says they are too expensive. You see another girl wearing a brand new pair of those shoes the next day at school.
     Can you think of a time when someone got what you wanted? How did you feel?
     Has there been a time when you had something (a possession, a talent, an award) someone else wanted? How did that make you feel?
    No matter whether you are the one who wants what another has or are the one who has what someone else wants, it's important to act graciously and kindly. Jealousy and pride both lead to hurt.

Have a great week!