Bringing Your Kids Alongside you to Serve Others

Standard

As Clarissa grows, one of my goals is for her to have a heart that wants to serve others and not just herself. At first it seemed hard to find ways for her to serve others since she is only five. But I have found that one of the best ways to do this, is to just bring her alongside when we serve.

Some ways that we do this in everyday life:

  • Meals
    If someone we has a baby or needs surgery or something like that, there is usually some kind of meal train. We sign up and take a meal to that family. Clarissa might help me make the meal. But she always wants to make dessert. So she helps me bake something for the family and also usually comes with me to deliver the meal.
  • Babysitting
    Living in an army community overseas, there are not usually family members around to help. Friends become that family for you while you are here. If a friend has a doctor appointment or a job interview, we can watch their children. Clarissa isn’t old enough to be in charge, but she can play and share her toys with the children at our house.
  • Sunday School
    If I am teaching Sunday School, Clarissa can help me prepare. She helps me choose materials for her class. On Sunday morning, she goes with me to set up the supplies before class starts.
  • Sponsor a Child
    Once a child is three years old, they are eligible to be a sponsored child for Compassion International. On Clarissa’s third birthday, we went on their website and found a list of a three kids who were born on her birthday. I thought for sure she would choose the little girl, but she was adamant that she wanted to choose a boy. She helps me write letters and draw pictures for our sponsored child. We pray for him and his family. We talk about what the money we send does for his family. I think she is still disappointed that we have yet to meet him in person but hopefully we’ll get to do that someday.
  • Responding to Needs
    Facebook can be a helpful tool. A few times we have seen posts on our community pages that describe a specific need. For example, one time there was a woman whose brother’s house burned down and his family lost anything. She was asking for donations of clothes for the children and one was a little girl Clarissa’s size. We have more than enough so Clarissa and I went through her things and found clothes, shoes, books, and toys that we could send for the little girl.

It is getting closer to Christmas so families are often looking for ways to serve. There are plenty of holiday specific things you can do.

  • Operation Christmas Child
    In America, this is one of my favorite things to do. I collect things all year like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and small toys to put in our shoeboxes. There aren’t any drop off points in Korea, so I was sad that we would not be able to participate here. But there is an online option. For $25 per box, we can assemble a shoebox online. Clarissa and I can choose gender, age, and specific items in each category for our shoebox. We can also enclose a family picture and write a note. Then we pray for the child who will receive our shoebox. It is one of Clarissa’s favorite things to do.img_20181025_1140496001063227302204537.jpg

 

  • Angel Tree
    Angel Tree is a program that gives children with incarcerated parents gifts for Christmas. Many churches or community centers participate in this program. You can find a child’s ornament on the tree and buy gifts for that child to bring back to be distributed. Some churches do their own version of this. In Korea, the chapel did something similar with children at a nearby orphanage. Clarissa enjoyed going with me to the px to buy some clothes and toys for the child.
  • Christmas gift for Jesus
    On Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some families do a birthday party for Jesus complete with cake. We also choose some gifts for Jesus. Several ministries send out a gift catalog in the fall. This year, Clarissa looked through the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog and spent several days deciding what we wanted to do. She wanted to give more than our budget so it was hard to choose specific items. She kept wanting to do the feeding people and medical gifts. We ended up choosing a goat since that would feed a family for a long time. She also chose sending winter coats to kids. When she is older and has an allowance, it will be interesting to see if she is willing to pay for these things herself. But for now, she is learning about the needs of others.
  • Soup kitchens
    This is really something that you can do all year, but many people only think about it during the holidays. There are several people in your community who don’t have a place to stay or enough food to eat. You can go as a family to serve them a meal.

Our Favorite Christmas Books for preschool and young elementary

Standard

Clarissa has so many books that they don’t fit all fit on her bookshelf (side effect of your mother being a former reading teacher I suppose). There are certain books we like for each season so I rotate them out. I pull out the Christmas books about Thanksgiving time. But she knows where they are, so sometimes she will go and get them at random times during the year.

We have so many Christmas books that we really enjoy. This is our list of our favorite Christmas books for preschool and young elementary children.

  • Peek A Bible The Christmas Story by Tracy Harrast
    This is a lift the flap book that tells the Christmas story from Gabriel coming to see Mary until the wise men arrive to worship Jesus. Clarissa has always enjoyed lifting the flaps and I like that it is the true Biblical story.
  • Crystal Bowman’s Christmas board books are some of my favorites. I love the rhyme to the stories and the pictures are great. Clarissa really enjoys these as well.
    Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree talks about how every part of your Christmas tree (lights, the star, angels, presents, etc) points you back to Jesus, the real reason for Christmas.
    J is for Jesus talks about how a candy cane tells you Jesus’s story and gives details about the shepherds and angels at Christmas. It also talks about Jesus on the cross. Think Legend of the Candy Cane but for little ones.
    A Star for Jesus talks about how the star appeared in the sky and led the wise men to Jesus.
    My Christmas Stocking talks about St Nicholas and why we put presents in stockings today.
  • A Christmas Prayer by Amy Parker
    This rhyming book talks about being thankful for each part of the nativity set from the angel, to Mary and Joseph, the donkey, shepherds, star, and of course baby Jesus who was the best present of all.
  • God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    We like Little Cub in this house. In this installment, Mama takes Little Cub to go find God and see how He gave us Christmas. Little Cub is very excited that she can go and see God in things like the light, a glacier, and a star. They talk about how Jesus is the real reason for Christmas and the best gift ever.
  • The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
    I think I need to write a blog post specifically for her books. The Pine Tree Parable is about a family who comes to a poor family who comes to a pine tree farm and the little girl wants the biggest tree there. The family who owns the pine tree farm ends up gifting the family the tree, even though she was planning to keep it for their family. A wonderful story about giving.
  • Of course the Berenstain Bears have some fun Christmas books as well
    Trim the Tree is a flap book that watches the Bear family put up their Christmas Tree.
    In The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, the cubs learn that it is better to give than to receive. They also are the camel in the Christmas Play where you can see the Nativity story.
    In The Very First Christmas, Papa Bear reads the cubs the Christmas story from the Bible. It has fun illustrations. Clarissa always thinks its funny that they are bears instead of people though.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas in Virginia by Sue Corbett
    In this story, a brother and sister are supposed to visit their aunt in Virginia but the sister gets hurt so she can’t go. The brother writes his sister every day to tell about his adventures. We’re originally from Virginia so I like that Clarissa can learn a little bit about the state she’s from.
  • Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
    I like this story better than the original Gingerbread Boy because this one isn’t obnoxious. He just wants some friends and goes on an adventure to find them.
  • The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop
    This is a new favorite for me this year. In the beginning of the story, the princess is quite spoiled. So the king and queen come up with a plan. By the end of the story, the princess has given away all of her gifts and become truly gracious and kind. Clarissa is a little unsure because she thinks I am going to make her give away all of her presents though.
  • The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson
    Clarissa was more excited about this new book about giving. Emma and her dog are invited to the king’s palace for his birthday party. Along the way Emma gives away all of her presents for the king. The king explains to her the verse that talks about “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” The end of the book gives some suggestions on how your family can give a birthday present to Jesus. Clarissa immediately was like, “Let’s do that!”
  • Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer
    This book isn’t about Jesus at all. But. It has all of the usual Little Critter antics that we enjoy. He tries to get the ornaments out for mom, but the box was upside down. He wants to give her Christmas cookies but he got hungry. You get the idea…

 

As a side note, I noticed as I was linking these to Amazon, most of these books are on sale right now. They are also not new books, so some are available at your local library.

But the Fruit of the Spirit is… peace

Standard

At church, Clarissa has been learning about the Fruit of the Spirit. I did the lesson on peace and thought I would share since it was already typed anyway…

—–

What do you expect to see when you pass an apple tree? Apples right. And what about a ginko tree? Ginko. So when you are following Jesus, there are certain things or “fruit” that other people should expect to see in your life. These things are called the Fruit of the Spirit. Things like love, joy, and peace. The Bible says,

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

After Jesus went back to Heaven, He told the disciples to hang out until He sent them the Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit living inside of us, and is like our helper. No matter where we go, the Holy Spirit is always with us. Without the Holy Spirit inside of us, following Jesus would be impossible. God wants us to be filled with His power so that we can live for Him.

Choose a volunteer. Give volunteer balloon. Ask them to toss it into the air to see how long it stays up. Then have them inflate the balloon and hold the end tightly (but don’t tie it closed). Toss the balloon in the air and watch as it screams across the room.

Ask: Which balloon stayed up longer? Even when thrown as high as our volunteer could throw it, the balloon didn’t stay up very long without air in it. Without the Holy Spirit, we’re like the empty balloon–we don’t have God’s power inside of us. But when we receive the Holy Spirit, we’re able to do great things for God. The Holy Spirit helps us follow Jesus.

The Bible says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (Pyeongtaek), and in Judea and Samaria (Korea), and to the ends of the earth (all over the world).” Acts 1:8

So once we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, our life should be different. Has everyone asked God for the Holy Spirit in your own life?

As we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, we can live for God everywhere– when we’re at work, with friends, or at home. When we’re living for God, we can learn some characteristics that the Bible calls the Fruit of the Spirit. The kids have been learning about the individual Fruits of the Spirit and I wanted to talk about peace today.

What is peace?

  • Feeling at peace. We don’t have to be afraid of ANYTHING. Jesus is bigger and more powerful. Demons have to leave in Jesus name. You can be healed in Jesus name.
  • We can live in peace with people.

What are some things that you need more peace about in your life? Either in your heart or with other people? What are you afraid of? What are you mad about? You don’t have to tell me about any of it. Write it down.

We’re going to listen to some music and give it all to God. I am providing a link on youtube as well as the lyrics. You can play the music and give it all to God or just sing the words as worship. I have also included some Bible verses about peace if you want to look at those

—–

Tremble by Mosaic

Peace, bringing it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at Your name

Still, call the sea to still
The rage in me to still
Every wave at Your name
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Breathe, then call these bones to live
Call these lungs to sing
Once again, I will praise
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus

Oceans by Hillsong

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David Helser

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone

[2x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again to my family
Your blood flows through my veins

[4x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

I am surrounded
By the arms of the Father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance

We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears are drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
You drowned my fears in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.

Yes, I am
I am a child of God
I am a child of God
Yes, I am
I am a child of God
Full of faith
Yes, I am a child of God
I am a child of God

[3x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

—–

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice: Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:4-7

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock Eternal.”
Isaiah 26:3-4

“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
Isaiah 54:10

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:25-27

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…’If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good”
Romans 12:17-21

What the Book of Daniel can teach kids about character

Standard

I enjoyed so many things about my time in children’s ministry. I spent 2012 writing curriculum for the kids I was teaching. We started with the life of Jesus. Then we moved on to the Holy Spirit. We also learned about Daniel and the Armor of God.

The kids really seemed to enjoy Sunday school. The teachers did too. A few friends who worked with me encouraged me to publish my writing. I wasn’t sure at first. I wanted to bless others and not just make a name for myself. But if I didn’t publish, no one would be able to find the curriculum. Amazon lets me make my book free 5 times every 90 days. So every holiday, I go into my dashboard and make the kindle versions of my books free. (The next free day is my birthday, October 23)

I published 14 Things Kids Should Know about Jesus and Armor isn’t Just for Grown Ups! before Clarissa was born. Then I focused on my blog for a bit. Earlier this year, I finally got around to posting Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the Book of Acts to teach kids about Spiritual Gifts.

Last week, I published What the Book of Daniel can teach kids about character. This is 6 lessons of stories from the Book of Daniel. The children will discuss the famous stories of Daniel in the Lions Den and the Fiery Furnace, among others. Each story presents the character of Daniel and his friends and how their character sets an example for us today.

What Clarissa has been teaching me about seeds

Standard

I think it’s easy to get frustrated with the people around me. Especially when I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time pouring myself into something for someone else and I don’t see much progress. Whether it’s helping a friend or trying to convince my five year old to eat an actual fruit or vegetable instead of a fruit squeeze and seaweed.

A few weeks ago, Tim and I were discussing Clarissa’s behavior. I said that I thought she would obey better when she was saved and actively following Jesus. Tim said, “I thought you said she was saved.” “Well, she says she believes in Jesus but I’m not really sure she understands sin and her need for a Savior.” Cue some interesting conversations with Clarissa that included, “So at gymnastics today one of my friends asked me what I was going to be for Halloween and I told her nothing. We love God.” I stand corrected.

Sometimes getting to church is such a battle on a Sunday morning and Clarissa says she doesn’t want to go. So then we finally get there, late as usual, and I get her all set up with her notebook to draw during worship time. Sometimes during the music time, she will tap me so I can look at her drawings. Sometimes they are polar bears hunting in Antarctica. But this week was different.

img_20180925_1320377562082115889199566.jpg

The first time she tapped me wanted me to see the Earth with all of the islands and that Jesus was in the clouds. The second time, she had added hearts and said that all of the islands love Jesus. At the end, she said, “This is me. I love Jesus. Can you please write at the top of the page: I am happy that Jesus exists.” What?! Little Miss “I don’t want to go to church” is having a real moment with God.

So I just wanted to encourage my reader. You never know what God is going to do with the seeds that you plant. It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like what you are saying or doing isn’t going anywhere. But I was reminded this week that it’s not my job to make fruit happen.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

It’s my job to plant the seeds. It’s just my job to be obedient to do the things He tells me. God is going to do what God is going to do with those seeds. So keep plugging along with your kids, neighbors, and co-workers. We may not see the fruit of what we’re doing now. But God does have a plan for it.

Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the book of Acts to talk about Spiritual Gifts

Standard

Back when I was the children’s ministry coordinator at my church, I wasn’t thrilled with the curriculum choices for Sunday school. There were some interesting things out there but they were either really expensive or didn’t fit the kids at my church. I’m kind of an all or nothing person so I couldn’t commit to spending the church’s money on something I wasn’t in love with. So I decided to write my own curriculum. As I was teaching each week, people were telling me that I should publish my curriculum. I finally got around to publishing Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the book of Acts to talk about Spiritual Gifts in the spring and apparently forgot to write about it on my blog…

Before we studied the book of Acts, we spent 14 weeks learning about Jesus. Naturally, after Easter we talked about Pentecost and then moved into the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This curriculum is just a collection of the lessons that we did that summer. The really cool part about this series was that I found a spiritual gifts test for kids in the book Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts. So at the beginning of the summer, the kids took the test. Then we learned about the different spiritual gifts. By the end of the summer, the elementary school kids in my church were using their gifts by teaching and serving in so many cool ways.

Amazon lets me make my kindle books free for five days every 90 days, so I try to go in to my promotions and make it free on holidays so it’s easier for me to remember. So the next time you can download it for free would be Monday, September 4, 2018 for Labor Day. Now Amazon also has a feature that you can actually order a print copy of the book, so you can order that way if you prefer. But I can’t make that version free because of the cost of printing the book.

Usually, I publish a curriculum version and a family devotion version of each unit. But this one is different because many of the lessons were spent acting out the Bible stories. I felt like it would be harder to do that around a dinner table.

God’s Girl Says Yes

Standard

Wynter Pitts wrote a book with her husband last year about praying for your daughter called She is Yours. I loved it. She also has a new podcast that I have been listening to. So when the opportunity presented itself to be on her book launch team for her latest book, God’s Girl Says Yes, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her last book was for parents, but this one is for girls. There are not any pictures so it will probably be a few years before Clarissa is ready to read it, but I look forward to reading this book with her one day. Wynter also has a magazine for girls that looks great!

Each of the 16 chapters in God’s Girl Says Yes has a specific message for your girl with scriptures, a prayer, and personal stories about either Wynter or a girl in elementary school. I think these stories will really help to build Clarissa’s faith and to show her that you do not have to wait until you are a grown up to do big things for God. She goes through the fruit of the spirit as a whole passage of scripture and then breaks up each individual fruit into its own chapter.

The book is very relatable. It sounds like a conversation between friends. There are several places to answer questions that will really make your girl think. Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “The Israelites’ story shows us how difficult it is to make good choices all the time. Sometimes saying yes day after day can be really hard…God loves His people and wants His people to choose Him. He entered into a relationship with Israel on purpose. He knew what was best for them, and He knows what is best for you.”
  • “As you say yes to the things God asks you to say yes to, you will have to say no to other things – to things that are unhelpful and that He doesn’t want for you. When you say yes to God and walk with Him on the path He has chosen for you, amazing things can happen. “
  • She does a good job of explaining why we have rules and learning self control.
  • “God gave us more than rules-He also gave us a relationship with him… Our life is not about rules. It’s actually about being free to live an amazing adventure with God.”
  • Chapter 15 was probably my favorite. She talks about trusting God to have a plan for your life and using your gifts and talents for him.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading it again with Clarissa soon.