I Want to be a Toy Maker When I Grow Up…

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Or, do I really want to grow up?

When I became a mother and as our oldest grew more interactive and playful, I felt so fortunate to find an excusable outlet for my inner child. I love to be silly and horse around. Being a parent gives you an avenue to do that without looking to weird.

I am also learning, that with three boys, I really enjoy creating and making toys for them to play with and use their imaginations. The mass toy market is saturated with plastic, battery-operated, light-up, noisy toys. Everything is also so brightly colored and “attractive”…or perhaps over-stimulating. Even I began to feel overwhelmed by all the brightly colored plastic toys.

Like many other homes, our living room began to look like a toy store instead of a family room. So, I began thinking of alternatives. I didn’t want to just pack everything away. I want our family room to appeal to all of us, including our children.

The product of my imagination became Adventures on the Wall ™ , my original vertical playscape.

14570276_551550921717132_8713510960624530311_nI wanted to design a visually appealing and engaging toy that didn’t have a large footprint. What better way to have a small footprint than a toy that can hang on the wall?!

My first three playscapes included a farm/barnyard, an outdoor camping/mountain landscape and a fairy village. The soft colors on the blonde wood background are pretty for us grownups to enjoy and appealing to our boys.

My next addition to Adventures on the Wall ™ series is one with a chalkboard background so that the boys may draw their own playscape to suit their mood.

Originally, we used our Little People collection to pretend and play with these fun, vertical adventures but I knew I would be making some peg dolls to accompany them. I finally did this weekend! And let me tell you, it was so much fun!

Using watercolor paint, felt and embroidery thread, I made two boy/girl sets of fairies/gnomes as well as a king/queen set. I also found the adorable toadstools and watercolor painted the tops red and added some white spots. They turned out so cute!

The birdhouses are the $1.50 ones you can find at the craft store and I just added a soft toned watercolor wash to the roof and kept the rest raw.

I also painted some rainbow peg dolls to be used in any manner needed for the creative moment.

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Again, using watercolor paint, I “washed” the bodies with the rainbow colors and the result was fantastic!

Watercolor + wood = beauty.

The soft colors that resulted are so pretty and inviting. And by leaving the faces plain, the possibilities are endless!

(Can you see some Waldorf inspiration here?)

 

I also cut a wood block set from pine boards. We have a set of wood blocks that are the really chunky kind, which I adore, but I wanted to add a set of thinner blocks that included some bigger triangles for mountains and volcanoes as well as some house/building shapes. You can also see I ended up with some considerably smaller triangles that make wonderful chimneys or small shrubs. I just love how they turned out!

I considered adding some watercolor to a few of these but abstained for now. I can always do it later if I want to but my goal is to have open-ended toys that can be anything their imaginations desire!

I also witnessed our older son (1st grader) using the shapes to make tangrams. He was piecing them together to make different bigger objects such as a windmill!

My last addition to the handmade pieces in our new Waldorf-Reggio-Montessori play was some simple dolls that we refer to as pillow people.

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My husband was a little skeptical of me making dolls for our boys but I assured him that they would be simple and perfect for playing house or school or doctor or whatever they wanted. Are they the beautiful Waldorf dolls like the ones I covet but cost $100+? No. But are the simple, sweet and snuggly? Yes!

They also make really good “throw pillows”…not the kind you decorate a sofa with. I can see these being used to create some kind of indoor {ball}game as well as a tossing game into the box for points. Its fine with me since they are so lightweight.

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With all these new toys I made, I went through the rest of our toys and packed away all the plastic toys. We have other pieces for the boys to play with besides the one I made including a raw wood, handcrafted barn that folds up into a 10″ x 20” footprint but has gates that pull out to make a paddock; a couple of wood puzzles, a treasure bucket filled with sea shells and other natural and fabric treasures.

I will share another post soon about what our play areas look like now with no plastic toys! I can’t wait to show you!

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Do you like to make toys for your children? What are your child’s favorite things in their play area?

Thank you for stopping by!

◊◊◊ For more information on my Adventures on the Wall™ or to order your very own you can email me at caseyreneeblog@gmail.com or visit my Facebook page, Casey Renee Designs

With God All Things are Possible!

Matthew 19:16-30

And behold a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great treasure.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

verseMatthew 19:26 says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Now, I want you to close your eyes and say it with all your heart. Ready? Go for it.

Okay, now let us look at the context surrounding this verse. Matthew is sharing about a young rich man who approached Jesus and asked what good deed he needed to do to have eternal life. Now we all know that it is not our deeds that save us but our whole-hearted belief and faith in who Jesus is and what he accomplished for us. But let’s look a little further here. Jesus proceeds to cover several of the commandments; you shall not murder, steal, lie, cheat, disrespect your father or mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young man replied that those were of no problem for him (most are probably not an issue for us as well) so what is he still lacking. And then Jesus replies with the biggest challenge for him…

“Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; come and follow me.”

Yikes!

Jesus just told this man to go home and sell everything he has worked so hard for and holds so dear. Sadly, the man turns away because he really loves all of his great possessions.

But I want to draw your eye to something. Did you see how at the end of that command, Jesus gives him an invitation. He says, “Come and follow me.” He is inviting this young man to come and share in the glorious blessings that he soon explains to Peter and the disciples, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.”

So, now I want to ask you, what are you holding on to so dearly and so tightly that may be keeping you from the closeness you can have with Jesus.

Are you clinging to possessions and pursuing stuff?

Are you holding tightly to a lifestyle that pulls you away from your Savior?

Are you struggling with surrendering an addiction?

Are you pursuing the affections of someone else, either outside of a marriage or someone who may not be the best choice for you?

Are you always searching for the next best thing; best house, best job, best clothes, best technology, best gadgets, etc.?

Let me invite you to pause here, to close your eyes and ask Jesus to search your heart and reveal what is distracting you from him.

Now, let’s look through the rest of the passage.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Jesus explains to his disciples that he knows how hard it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. It would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle! And you may be thinking, “I am not a rich person, I can barely cover all my expenses each month!” But, let me tell you, you are rich. You have wealth that others all over the globe could only dream about. And if you have Jesus, you have all the wealth you could ever need.

Now, I would like to challenge you to insert yourself into the conversation between Jesus and the young rich man. Where Jesus asks him to go and sell all of his possessions, I want you to insert whatever God pressed on your heart a few minutes ago.

Are you reading, “________________, go and throw out those cigarettes/liquor bottles and divide that money between savings and tithes; and come, follow me.”

Or maybe, “_________________, turn your lustful thoughts over to me, pursue me and I will give you the desires of your heart; and come, follow me.”

Or you hear, “_____________, there is always going to be something shiny and new to distract you from my teachings, my kingdom, but none of it will ever compare to the riches I have in store for you; and come, follow me.”

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It is hard, I know. But do you see what Jesus says after he acknowledges how hard it is?! He says, “With man THIS is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible.”

Friend, did you hear that?! With God ALL things are possible!!

Allow me to encourage you to pray and seek his face. Go boldly before the throne of grace and ask God to empower you with his might so that you may be free from any strongholds that are keeping you from the closeness with Jesus. And I am praying with you!

Your faith has saved your, now let the Holy Spirit change you! Trust in God’s plan for you because I promise it will be far better than anything you can imagine. I am not saying it will be easy, Jesus tells us there will be difficulty. But, commit your ways to the Lord and let him bless you with the desires of you heart.

May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

The Pursuit of Rest

Rest. What is that?

Is it curled up on the sofa with little warm bodies while you read aloud The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

Is it cuddled in bed with the ones you love telling stories of when you were growing up?

Is it quietly coloring and drawing while you listen to music?

Is it a nap on a Sunday afternoon after church?

Is it a ninja/wrestling match with a seven and two year old followed by a dance session with the baby?

Rest is all of this and more! And it. Is. Glorious!

Our family is in the pursuit of rest this year. I have felt like the Lord has been urging me to observe a Sabbath. The holy day of rest that He created for His people in the very beginning of creation.

1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

This is something that I know many others wrestle with, each in their own way.

It is a hard concept to entertain when you have a busy family and are ushering multiple kids to multiple activities each day of the week. But I have felt and feel even more so that it does not have to be that way.

While I agree that varying activities can enrich your child’s life, I feel even more so that not spending intentional time at home, together, communicating and laughing and sharing space together will shortchange our children on a rich and solid foundation of faith and family. By not building time for rest and connectedness into their lives early on we inadvertently teach them that the only way to be anything or anyone is to go, go, go.

I want to raise our boys to work hard those 6 days of the week but with each day to carry the joy and rest and peace they received the Sabbath before and took look forward to the Sabbath to come. I want them to be able to see God in all of the endeavors and the things that they face all week and to meet Him in the quiet of Sabbath to restore and refresh. I want that peace to shine from their hearts and their faces to the people they meet and work alongside in between.

At first when I began praying and reading about practicing a Sabbath I was a little overwhelmed. An orthodox family would observe from sundown on Friday evening until sundown on Saturday evening. But as I explored further it became apparent for our family that our Sabbath would begin on Saturday evening at 7:00 and continue until Sunday evening at 7:00.

Next became deciding what our Sabbath would look like. This part was a little trickier but provided great conversation at the dinner table as we decided together what we would and wouldn’t do on our Sabbath. The “wouldn’t” was easy; we wouldn’t watch television or utilize any devices, we wouldn’t work on any projects, we wouldn’t do any cleaning beyond tidying up after meals and play, and we wouldn’t work (except for my husband for just a short while – the fish need to be fed!), and we wouldn’t shop or cause others to work.

What would we do? This first Sabbath we spent the first night reading aloud and talking. We went to church in the morning and then came back home. While DH went in to take care of the fish the kids and I warmed up lunch and colored some bible coloring pages. Then DH got back and jumped in on the coloring too. I fed the baby and read some of my book while the littles napped. Then we all got in to a game of UNO before dinner and while it warmed in the oven. We capped off the evening with some glow-in-the-dark racetrack fun and more reading aloud. Then, upon irresistible request, the boys talked DH into some hilarious karate and wrestling shenanigans.


As we observe each new Sabbath in our home we will begin introducing more of the traditional aspects into is such as lighting a candle, speaking blessings upon the children and one another, and Sabbath prayers.

I recently read a book called Celebrating Biblical Feasts: In Your Home or Church by Martha Zimmerman. This book was rich with concept for what it could look like to participate in the biblical feasts as a Christian family. I gleaned so much information and affirmation from it that I purchased my own copy so I could have it to reference as we establish these traditions and blessings in our young family.

I look forward to sharing more as our family grows in this obedience out of love for God.

Do you and your family observe Sabbath? Are you more traditional or is your observance modified a little?

 

I should be packing instead of crafting…

Oh my goodness! Makers gotta make, y’all! We are leaving for a trip in the morning and I should be packing, but as I was packing my bible study and devotional supplies I had an idea and I just had to make it!

Bible journaling is a big deal to me, it is my worship and personal spiritual growth tool and I am so fortunate to get to share it with our oldest son. He loves it too!

Illustrated Faith has launched a Kids Club of devotionals and cute printables but they are just too cute for my all-boy son. So, like I made some doodle printables for him to color and paste in his bible, I finally made him a traveler’s journal-style devotional for him to use as well! I am so excited! 

I went searching for some simple and free devotionals that I could use for this project and I hit pay dirt at www.jesuslovesmedevotions.com. She created these adorable printable devotions for kids. 

For the structure of my project though, her pages wouldn’t work. So I saved them, of course, and then copy and pasted the text on to a two-column word document. Then I printed them front and back on cardstock. 


Next, just fold the pages in half to create little books. Since I printed three of her devotionals and didn’t think too hard how they would land in the order of the folded pages I had to get crafty. 


I stacked the mini-books in the order I wanted them and then in two batches, layed them together so I could stitch along their middle seams. Then, adding the third book to the back of the middle book, I stitched along their middle seams. 


It got a little wonky at one part but for a quick (we are talking 10 minutes here) and crude trial run, this is working great!


Last, I just glued a cover out of this I Love Jesus Words craft paper by the Paper Studio. It looks so cool guys!

 

All I have to do it cut out some more of the printables I made earlier, cut some tabs out of cool papers and then stuff them in an envelope that I will attach on the inside of the back cover. Then he will have quick acces to his journaling notions. 

We will see how much he goes to use this but I will keep you posted. This will be our devotional tool while we are on our trip this weekend. 

Does this inspire you to make a travel journal for your child? Let me know, leave a comment!

Bible Journaling for Boys Series: Post 1

Hi there! Glad to see you again! I am back with bible journaling today except this time I am going to feature my son in action with his new bible journaling printables from my earlier post.

L was so excited to get to use these, he chose the viking helmet to prompt his entry. Once he selected the viking helmet we talked about how vikings are strong. This prompt led us to Psalms 31:24. We read the passage and talked about how God gives us strength through Christ when we need it. That we have hope because of Christ and He makes us brave.

From here, L instructed me on how he wanted his page to go. He picked out die cut letters…

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Then placed and glued the word STRONG to his pages. He colored and cut out the viking helmet to use as his page tab. And then added word stickers and a stamped heart to write out the verse on his pages.

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After everything was adhered he decided to embellish around the stickers like he had seen me do. (They really are always watching us)

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Once finished, we read the verse several more times. I will be honest and say that this particular journaling session was impromptu and not as spiritual, and that is okay. Sometimes it will be more about the art. But, I will tell you this; God will use this. I see a desire growing in him and a joy. We had been experiencing some complaining and negativity from him about going to church where before he was always excited to go. Now, he is wanting to be in his bible so frequently. He is even wanting to share bible journaling with his best buddy next door. (We will have to pray about a friendship entry for them to do together!)

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Our journaling inspiration comes from image prompts like shown in this post; they are also inspired by teachable moments we encounter everyday, scripture reading, song, and any other way that would initiate pointing conversation to the gospel and learning through God’s word.

My heart is so happy about this journey with him. He is a creative person like his momma so being able to get in our bibles together, pray, read, worship, and make art will create lasting experiences and help him to recall lessons.

I am gearing up to do a workshop at our church to share this with others and believe that by sharing this with L and showing others this engaging way to study God’s word at home with your children, they to might experience the same kind of excitement and joy.

Blessings to you my friend!

Do you and your children journal together? Did you notice a difference in their attitude toward church or bible study when you introduced bible journaling to them? Please share!

Bible Journaling for Boys

For months our oldest son has witnessed me painting, drawing, coloring, sticker-ing (is that a word?), and taping in my  bible. And now here recently he has been wanting to journal alongside me in his own bible.

We started with a DIY art journal to do mixed media pieces in, but he was too tempted to do everything but scripture related art in it. I did some digging, and some recollecting of where another bible might be in our garage since I did not want him journaling in his everyday Adventure Bible and remembered I had one still in a moving box in the garage.

I grabbed the bible, some supplies, and my own bible and we sat down together to journal. I honestly didn’t know how it would go. Would he get bored? Would he change his mind? Would he eat it up, just like his momma?

He loved it!
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We had sat down last week and I showed him Illustrated Faith’s new Print & Pray Kid’s Devotional, which I thought was so cute. But, that was the problem. It was too cute for my boy. He wanted BOY stuff to use in his journaling entries.

I got on good ol’ Pinterest to find something and there just isn’t any. So I made some and they are big-boy approved!

Go..

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warrior

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JesusIsMySuperhero

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lists.pdf

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If you are a mom parent of boys that are interested in the mixed media approach or the print, color, paste approach then I hope you and your kids enjoy using these as well. They were fun to doodle and I can’t wait to see what my kiddo does with them in his bible. Look out for photos on my Instagram @caseyreneeblog.

Do you bible journal with your children? What are their favorite ways to illustrate the things they are learning?

Grace, peace, and hugs!

Casey

 

Illustrating my heart…

There is a craze among the creative hearts in today’s society of believers. Bible journaling is sweeping social media as Christ followers blend their creative talents with what lessons they are learning in their personal walks of faith. I, too, have taken part.

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The beautiful thing about this bible journaling us that there are no rules, no formats to follow, just experimenting and exploring the Word and turning your art into worship.

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You can use a journaling bible with margins there for you to create in, you can even leave those margins as your art works its way across tge whole page! I personally aim to keep all the text visible so I can still read everything. But, when you have a prayer, song lyrics, photos, or anything else that you want to include near that passage you can attach what is called a tip-in.

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Using washi tape, you can adhere a card or whatever you want to the edges of your bible page so it will open back and not cover the scriptures on the page. It is also great for concealing personal prayers or thoughts. That is what I did with the page above; I wrote out a prayer that inspired this page.

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Your bible art can be insired by many things. It may begin with a song, poem, or inspiration quote that leads you to a passage of scripture. Sometimes it will be sermon notes that need remembered in an expressive way. Maybe there is a scripture prayer that begs to be journaled with a handprint or photo of a loved one. I have even journaled around a photo of our house when we were going through the buying process. Inspiration can even come from a devotional or bible study you are working through.

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Bible art journaling is a beautiful way to explore scripture and document your journey. But if you are not quite comfortable with drawing in a bible, even one produced specifically for this purpose, you can use a notebook or sketchbook.

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However you approach it, the most important part is keeping it centered on God, not art. Don’t feel obligated to go out and buy all the art supplies and special bibles and journals. For me, this all began with a $7 used journaling bible on amazon, a small set of Micron pens and some crayola colored pencils. I am a crafter so I have other supplies on hand like watercolor and acrylic paints. But stickers and die cuts and stamps can be added slowly if you would like. If you aren’t artistic or you don’t like your writing, maybe add an alphabet stamp set and ink pad for a few dollars and then grow your supplies slowly. You may even have a friend that enjoys bible journaling so you can get together with them and share supplies and techniques.

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I love spending time in God’s word and journaling the lessons He impresses upon my heart as well as documenting big prayers and seeing how God is working in my life.

Are you a bible journaler? Is this something you are curious about? Share some of your art in the comments! Or link me up to your creations!

Love and peace my friends!