It's a big day for any mom when she leaves the kids with a sitter and spends an entire day with grown-ups. I had such a day today. The staff at my husband's church (and their spouses!) were invited to visit the Creation Museum for a private tour and an exclusive lunch with its founder: Ken Hamm. (I'll write about all I learned from him in another post.)

Through a $27 million facility that includes a planetarium, multi-sensory theater, 18 videos, thousands of informative signs, and beautiful robotic displays, the museum tells the 7 C's of God's Eternal Plan. These 7 C's are a comprehensive, easy to understand explanation of God's workings from the beginning of the world to its end.

The displays throughout the museum were breath-taking. Below is a picture we took in the Garden of Eden room. In this particular display, Adam is naming all of the animals. It was amazing!

They also had a room dedicated to Noah's Ark where you felt like you were walking into the construction of the ark. Incredible! There was also an entire room dedicated to dinosaurs that was fascinating! Through these displays, visitors come to understand how all of the science confirms the Truth of the Bible.

The museum is designed to be family friendly. There are strollers available for rent and every bathroom has changing stations. I think most, if not all, of the exhibits would be appropriate for gradeschool kids. Some are so dynamic that they might frighten preschoolers. (My 3 year-old would freak out in the multi-sensory theater, but older kids would love it!) To make it easier for younger families, they've provided a "Bypass Route" that takes you past some of the potentially frightening exhibits. In the warmer months, outdoor walking trails through the Botanical Gardens will give little one's some room to run.

The museum is located in Northern Kentucky off I-275, near I-75, only a day's drive for 2/3 of the United States. Adult admission is about $20, kids 5-12 are $10, and kids under 5 are free. The planetarium is an additional $7. Snack bars and a restaurant are available on-site. In my opinion, it's worth the drive and the expense.

Or, better yet, get a sitter and go with your grown-up friends! That's a good day!
Yesterday I was pulling laundry out of the dryer and saw this:

That is a pair of earbud headphones that had apparently been in someone's pockets. Since I found them in the dryer, they had already been through the washer and a complete drying cycle. I was pretty sure this was going to be a tragedy.

Why were these earbud headphones so special? They were the really cool kind that have a microphone in them, so you can plug them into your phone and receive calls while you listen to music playing on your phone. What made this pair of earbud headphones so extraordinary? They had come with my husband's new iPhone, for which he'd been pining for months. The new iPhone he just received three days ago. The new iPhone that he calls his new friend and ranks as one of his top four most important things.

And now I had washed them.

See, I hate doing laundry. I find it one of my most mundane tasks. And it always needs to be done. Ugh. So I'll admit that I don't go the extra mile and do things like check the pockets, turn socks right side out, or iron. I'd prefer to just get the laundry done as quickly as I can, even if I haven't done such a great job.

However, Colossians 3:23-24 says:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
I guess that even means laundry. What a hard lesson to learn!

P.S.: The earbuds still work! Who knew those things were washing machine-proof?
While I was teaching Sunday School today I had a 2nd grade girl flip me the bird.
A few weeks ago I started a new "Get Out of Jail Free" program for Patriot (see here for details). In all honesty, I thought it'd make my life easier: Patriot would say he was sorry and I wouldn't have to dish out corrections -- great! He's gotten pretty good at saying he's sorry -- those apologies come quicker than I can say "go to timeout!" But it hasn't all been easy for me.

It surprised me to find that offering forgiveness instead of correction left me with a strange feeling of guilt. I was afraid of letting him get away with murder and I was filled with doubt about this plan. Would he learn the proper way to behave? Or, would he learn to spit out the words "I'm sorry" with no real meaning behind them?

Last Sunday, our Senior Pastor Chad Hovind taught on the story of Joshua and the Wall of Jericho. This Bible story, which you can read in it's entirety at Joshua 6, tells of God giving His people, the Israelites, the land He had promised them. The land, a city called Jericho, was protected by a great wall. God commanded Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, to march his army around the wall once each day for six days. On the seventh day, they were to march around seven times and blow their trumpets. Then the wall would fall and the army of Israel could enter in and take the city.

The Israelites obeyed every specific direction from God, and the wall did fall. Verse 21 says the Israelites "devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys." If you're like me, that verse is a little hard to understand. God sanctioned the destruction of all living things inside the wall of Jericho. How could that be?

Chad shared some insight that I'd not considered: The city of Jericho was decayed with sin. For generations, the people of Jericho had treated each other in ways we consider only horror movies today. God knew the depth of their sin and the rotted state of their souls. So much so that He knew even the donkeys would be worthless, as their mistreatment had made them mean. Chad offered that, had we been there, we would have been crying out to God to put an end to their cruel ways.

So why would God ask His people to do the whole marching routine? Why couldn't He just deliver the wicked city into His people's hands? I had always thought it was to test the Israelites' obedience, but maybe it wasn't. Chad suggested that God, in His great mercy and love, wanted to offer the wicked people of Jericho another chance (or maybe 7 chances) to turn from their sin and seek forgiveness. In that day, God's reputation proceeded Him and the people of Jericho knew whom the Israelites served. By asking His people to march around the wall, God was making His Presence known and warning the people of Jericho. They may not have known what was going to happen, or when it was going to happen, but they knew something was going to happen.

A deeper look into the story reveals one prostitute, named Rahab, who risks her life to offer aid to the Israelite army. In verses 22 & 23, through Joshua, God saves this prostitute and her entire family before the city was destroyed. He knew her heart was softened; He was giving them another chance to turn to Him.

So, what can we learn from this?

About God: God's love is endless and tireless. He offers chance after chance for us to choose to follow Him, forgiving even our most repetitious sins when we ask it of Him. He truly desires for us to choose to love Him.

About parenting: My forgiveness must be tireless, also. In the years my children live under my roof, their behavior will never mirror that of the people of Jericho. If God can offer forgiveness to them, I can offer forgiveness to my children without guilt or fear.
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and it's impossible to avoid the thought of gift-giving. I've noticed one oddity that I just need to discuss. Has anyone else noticed that you can't walk into a grocery store, gas station, shopping mall, or gift store without seeing Valentine's Day stuffed animals? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 21% of Americans give stuffed animals for Valentine's Day.

Why? This is one tradition that I simply do not understand. I just don't know what a woman is supposed to do with the stuffed animal. No woman over the age of 14 should display stuffed animals as room decor. Is it appropriate to give this toy to your children? I just don't get it. If any of you like getting stuffed animals as gifts and could shed some understanding on the subject, please comment.

Matt says the reason men buy stuffed animals is because they're cheap. I understand living on a budget, but let's find a better way to spend our limited Valentine's Day budget. The same Census Bureau report says that only 11% of Americans give jewelry as gifts, and I think that's a shame. Matt says that's because jewelry is expensive, but most women don't expect diamonds at every gift-giving occasion.

Fun and stylish costume jewelry makes just as great a gift as fine jewelry with a much friendlier price tag. And, since it didn't cost as much, most women feel free to wear it daily instead of only on special occasions.

You can choose a great costume jewelry gift with just five simple steps:
  1. Choose a color. Look through your ladies' closet and see what colors she wears most. What color are most of her shoes? Do you have a favorite outfit of hers'? If so, what color is it? This is the color you are looking for when you go shopping.
  2. Choose a type. What type of jewelry does she tend to wear? Does she like earrings? Bracelets? Necklaces? Maybe a watch? This is the type of costume jewelry you are looking for.
  3. Choose a store. If you have time, go to an antique mall or flea market. You'll find unique vintage pieces at reasonable prices. If you don't have time to wander the booths, go to a large department store. Kohl's and JC Penney will have a variety of different styles to choose from. Target has lots of trendy stuff if your lady likes the latest fashions, and it's usually sorted by color.
  4. Choose an item. Keeping in mind your target color, look at the selection of items in your type. They will often be displayed on racks next to the cases of finer jewelry. Find one that catches your eye and looks like your ladies' style. Do not make the mistake of thinking "she doesn't have anything like this, so I'll get one for her." She doesn't have anything like that because she doesn't want anything like it.
  5. Choose a companion piece. If your budget allows, look for a matching piece to the one you've already selected (i.e.: you've selected a necklace, look for matching earrings or a bracelet). This is advanced because you need to match color and style. It might be wise to ask a salesperson for help.
Now simply drop the items in a gift bag. When she opens it, tell her all of the thought you put into picking out her gift. She will be so impressed you cared enough to take the time to choose the perfect gift.
My friend Jocelyn had this on her blog. It's a group with the mission to reduce the footprint they leave as consumers, both in humanitarian terms and environmentally. Check it out and let me know what you think.