When I was on church staff, I built a GaGa Ball pit for our Children’s Ministry. Unfortunately, I lost the original plans I used so I recreated them the best I could from memory.
Below are the image of the instructions. Here they are in PDF form.
“I will thank the Lord with all my heart; I will declare all your wondrous works. I will rejoice and boast about you; I will sing about your name, Most High.” ~ Psalm 9:1-2
In late 2017 I posted about Thankful Hearts and linked an old VeggieTales song that plays in my head nearly every time I think of being thankful. “A thankful heart is a happy heart” is how the hook of the song begins.
I love the consistent reminders in the psalms to be thankful. In a culture that seems to be pushing me to think more is always better, I want to be marked by a spirit of thanksgiving. In Psalm 9, “I will thank the Lord… I will declare… I will rejoice… [and] I will sing….”
God, help this be the tune of my heart today – being thankful for Your work in my life, declaring all You’ve done and are doing, rejoicing in who You are, and singing Your praise.
From our family to yours…
On Monday, 12/18/17, my 12 year old son and I built a homemade hovercraft. Now it’s just a prototype and we still have many kinks to work out, but when we plugged it in, it worked… so we consider that a win!
I do not claim any origin of this idea. He had to do a science project and the idea and plan came from this site:
The materials and tools used are listed below at the end of this post.
Here is what we built:
The original plans called for a 48″ circle. I wasn’t ready to try to figure out how to do that so we made an octagon from the 48″ square of plywood by cutting the 4 corners off making our plywood disc.
After the initial cut, we went back and rounded out the corners with a jigsaw.
Then we sanded all edges with a sanding block for a relatively smooth top and smooth corners. With the need to wrap the plastic around the board later on, smooth edges are important.
Following the original plan, the next step was to create the hole the leaf blower would go into. We chose which side would be the rear and measured half the distance from the center to that edge, which was 12″ off the side of our plywood disc.
Then we measured the end of the leaf blower opening and used a compass to outline the circle on the marked spot.
To create the hole, we first drilled a hole with the largest drill bit we had then cut the hole with a jigsaw.
With the board part completed, we moved onto the plastic base. The basic idea is for the plastic to extend 12″ beyond the plywood disc on each side.
We set the plywood disc top-side up on top of the plastic. For our project our plywood disc is 48″ across so we measured roughly 15″ off each side and trimmed the plastic to match the octagonal shape.
The original plan called for stapling the plastic to the top of the plywood disc. I felt like the tape would hold better if it was applied first then stapling it. So we began by folding and taping 4 of the edges up to the top of plywood disc leaving about 3″ around the edge. Then we went back and folded up the other 4 edges which were triangular shaped from the first 4 folds.
After taping all the seams of the plastic edges, we went back and put in staples roughly 3-4″ part on all places we taped.
Now we carefully flipped the plywood disc with the plastic attached upside down onto a work table. For this step we needed to find the approximate center of the plastic base AND the plywood disc. So we measured again to find the 24″ mark of the board along with the center of the plastic.
We cut a roughly 6″ circle from the center of a frisbee.
Using 4 1/4″ wood screws, we screwed the plastic circle through the plastic base into the bottom of the plywood disc.
NOTE: our plastic circle was too thin and the screws were going to penetrate the top of the plywood disc so we folded up some scraps from the 6 mil plastic roll to offset the thickness we needed.
Then we used a box knife to cut 6 air holes in the plastic base. Notice the pattern in the pic to the left. Each hole is roughly 2″.
Now it’s time to insert and attach the leaf blower. We used an electric leaf blower because that is what we had available to us. This makes mobility very limited because of the extension cord. We may come back and try it with a gas powered version if we can get our hands on one.
Our hole for the leaf blower nozzle in the plywood base was slightly too large so we had to use quite a bit of duct tape to seal it.
We also needed a small 2″x4″ block to help stabilize the leaf blower in the correct position. The end of the leaf blower needs to be nearly flush with the underside of the plywood base (the part inside the plastic.)
We inserted the leaf blower end so it would blow into the plastic base. Used the wooden block to stabilize it. Then used the duct tape to attach and seal it so no air could escape. We stapled around the duct tape for additional reinforcement because the tape kept coming loose.
We will continue to tweak and work on the project this week, but all in all, this was a fun way to spend time with my son. We had a good time working on this together. As you can see from the videos below, he was psyched that it actually worked.
- 48 square inch piece of 3/8″ plywood
- 1 foot larger than plywood on each side – 6mil roll of plastic
- 4 – 1/4″ #10 wood screws
- 1 plastic disc (I used an old frisbee and cut the center out)
- 6 mil heavy plastic
- Leaf blower (we used an electric one because that’s what we had handy)
- Safety goggles
- Measuring tape
- Yard stick
- Circular saw
- Sanding block
- Compass (for drawing circles not the directional device)
- Electric drill
- Box Knife
- Duct Tape (that will stick well to plywood)
- Staple Gun and staples
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” ~ Psalm 107:1 CSB
The Bible says a lot about being thankful. In fact, it is commanded often.
Even though I know should be thankful and have much to be thankful for, I struggle with having a thankful heart. Nearly everything in this world seems to lead me down a path of seeking my own happiness. A self-inflating culture stands in opposition to true thankfulness.
For years I’ve been told I am always right and I deserve things to be “my way, right away.” There are few attitudes that are as anti-biblical and anti-Christian as these. (For this writing I am speaking from the consumer side, not the customer service side – much could be said of the value of these approaches as a customer service professional.) As followers of Jesus, we are to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than [ourselves]… [looking] out not only for [our] own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) When we are truly looking out for others, it will be hard to be consumed with our own selfish desires. A common side effect of shifting our focus from ourselves to others is a grateful attitude for what we already have.
James 1:17 reminds us that “every good and perfect gift is from above… .” Gifts such as air to breathe, clothes to wear, a roof over my family’s head, healthy kids, a job that provides for my families needs and many of our wants, an incomparable wife whose depth of service to her family is immeasurable, friends and family who encourage and challenge me to follow Jesus and live a holy lifestyle, and so much more.
I have much to be thankful for. So much in fact, I should easily be able to follow Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything.” So what prevents me from having a thankful heart? Discontentment.
Discontentment is the enemy of a thankful heart. With the world around me telling me to pursue my own happiness at all cost, discontentment is always close by, lurking in the shadows. Paul tells the church in Philippi “in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” So what’s the secret? The answer is found in verse 13 – in Christ. Paul’s contentment was the result of a lifestyle of not worrying about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, as the peace of God surpassed all his understanding and guarded his heart and mind in Christ Jesus. He recognized that his life is dependent on Christ, and in Christ, he can do all things. (Philippians 4:6-7,11-13)
One of the prayers I pray with and for myself and my kids is that we will constantly pursue a thankful heart through contentment. Not just during the season of Thanksgiving, but all year ’round. As we follow Jesus, our lives, like Paul’s, should be marked by contentment and a thankful heart.
For a little #ThrowbackThursday fun, check out the VeggieTales video below “The Thankfulness Song”
Looking for something new to add to your family’s Christmas traditions? Checkout theshepherdstreasure.com. I found this resource last year while on church staff, and think it is a fun way to connect with your family during Advent.
Today is my wife’s birthday. A day for celebrating her life and who she is. Three years ago I posted this post about how incredible she is; all of which is still true today.
In his song Made for Me, TobyMac expresses his sentiment for his wife. When the song was released, I quickly became quite fond of it as it expresses my own thankfulness for my wife (lyric video below).
‘Cause she was made for me
You gave her to me
I said I’d hold on loose but I so wanna squeeze you
Just right for me and for the life of me
I can’t believe I get to call her mine
After 17 years of marriage, I still “can’t believe I get to call her mine.” I find it hard to put into words how thankful I am for my beloved bride. While I often fail at being the husband I should be to her, her unwavering commitment to Christ compels her to stand with me, even when I am helplessly broken. Her kindness and compassion, gentleness and hard work, wisdom and servant-heart are markers of her godliness as a mom, wife, and follower of Jesus. I love you, Janna! These traits have been exponentially demonstrated in this last 6 months as you have walked with me into the next chapter of our life together. May God bless you in the most abundant, exciting, and fulfilling ways!! Happy birthday!
…a prudent wife is from the Lord. ~ Proverbs 19:14
Who can find a wife of noble character? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good. ~ Proverbs 31:10-11
“If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ the righteous one… the atoning sacrifice for our sins…” ~ 1 John 2:1-2 CSB
I am often weighed down by my sin. I feel the depth of Paul’s cry in Romans 7. When the weight of my sin presses down on my heart, my spirit is encouraged by this beautiful promise: “Jesus Christ the righteous one [is] the atoning sacrifice for our sins…”
God, thank You that, even when my sinful flesh fights for control, You provide the strength to not give up as You are renewing my inner person day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).
“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” ~ Proverbs 15:1
Let me start with this confession: This is hard for me.
I don’t know if you struggle with being snippy and harsh with your loved ones, but I do.
Not too long ago I confessed that to someone close to me, and their response startled me a little: “I have a hard time believing that. You are always so mild-tempered and never seem frazzled by anything.”
Why did this startle me? Because I know the truth in my heart that controlling my tongue is hard. It was during that conversation I realized something about myself. I intentionally invest and expend a great deal of energy in appearing “in control” at work and, in general, when away from home. What I don’t do often enough is give my family that same level of energy. They are often stuck with the leftovers of my relational energy.
How can this be?!? These are the people I love the most, and yet, they are the ones I treat the worst!
It turns out that James’ caution about the tongue is spot on (James 3), though that really should be no surprise. At times, taming my tongue seems impossible. And it takes an amount of energy and restraint that I struggle to have.
The more important issue I have to deal with, though, is not what comes out of my mouth but my attitude and the condition of my heart. Jesus said that my mouth speaks from the overflow of my heart (Luke 6:45). So when I let my guard down and speak with anything less than a respectful, gentle tone to my family, what is really happening in my heart? It typically boils down selfishness.
Regarding sin, Paul says “whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12) The only “cure” for the real issue is the transforming power of the gospel, that is, the Spirit of God’s renewal of my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2). After all, the fruit of the Spirit is… gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) I must daily… hourly… moment-by-moment submit myself to the Spirt of God and let Him transform my heart.
God, cleanse me from my hidden faults and keep me from willful sins; do not let them rule me… may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:12-14).
Psalm 78 begins with a beautiful picture of what a community of faith should look like as they strive to cross generational boundaries and be faithful to pass on the most important things to future generations. Then the psalmist gives a brief summary and commentary describing the wonders God showed to the Israelites during the Exodus and beyond.
As I read through Psalm 78, my heart swells as I identify with verses like:
“But they continued to sin against him.” (v17)
“Despite all this, they kept sinning…” (v32)
“How often they rebelled against him…and grieved him…” (v40)
Then we get verses 38-39. Oh, what a beautiful verses!! “Yet he was compassionate; he atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them. He often turned his anger aside and did not unleash all his wrath. He remembered that they were only flesh…”
Even in the midst of constant disobedience and disbelief in the wonders He performed for His people, God was compassionate and often turn his anger aside. Amen, and thank you, Lord!
As I read, my heart is moved. Thank you, God, for being patient with me, too. Thank You that You are “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.” (Psalm 103:8) Thank you that you are not finished with me yet. (Philippians 1:6)