Love Letters from God

love letters--250Everyone loves getting mail from a loved one–especially kids! A hot-off-the-press picture book by my friend Glenys Nellist incorporates that idea in her beautiful new book Love Letters from God.

Written for children ages 4 to 8, Love Letters from God includes 18 of the most popular Bible stories—9 from the Old Testament and 9 from the New Testament. It begins with the story of creation and ends with the story of the resurrection. Each two-page spread includes a Bible story, and Bible verse (God’s Wonderful Words to You), and a love letter from God in a lift-the-flap envelope. The Bible stories are written in rich, kid-friendly language—at times even whimsical—but the author stays true to Scripture as she retells the wonderful stories.
The book is hardcover with a dust jacket and thick glossy pages. The warm, colorful art work by Sophia Allsopp is exceptional! Children will love the excitement of opening the letters. Parents will love how each love letter applies the Bible story to the child’s everyday life. The letters from God are written in first person—from God to the child—making God’s messages personal and real. At the very end of the book is one final letter from God—an invitation to join His family! On the opposite page is a lined note card that gives the child the opportunity to write a love letter back to God.
 Glenys has given us a gift and this gift is a treasure!Be sure to share this gift with anyone who has children in their home. At $16.99, it makes a great birthday or Christmas gift for any child or family on your list. It is published by Zondervan and is available through the publisher as well as amazon.com, christianbook.com, and barnesandnoble.com.
A high quality, biblically sound, beautiful Bible story picture book is ready for us to enjoy.
Thanks Glenys!
Crystal


 

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Is Work a Curse?

Is work part of the original curse in the Garden of Eden? Most people think so. To support their position, they point to God’s pronouncement to Adam:

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return”
(Genesis 3:17-19 NIV).

But while the curse made work more difficult, work itself was always part of God’s original plan for humanity:

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it
and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15 NIV).

As we celebrate Labor Day today, let’s remember that children form their opinions about work by watching and listening to the adults around them. Are we consistent in our words and behavior when it comes to work and responsibility?

Do we complain about our work?

Try to cut corners?

Shirk work altogether?

As in all areas of life, children learn what they see and imitate it. So how can we encourage responsibility in our children and grandchildren?

ChoresHere are a few practical suggestions:

  • Start with age-appropriate chores for even young children.
  • To promote a sense of fairness, ensure every family member – including adults – have assigned chores.
  • Provide children with a sense of autonomy by allowing them to choose chores from a larger list.
  • Establish rewards (e.g. praise, payments, prizes, etc.)
  • Don’t nag. Allow the consequences of uncompleted chores speak for themselves.
  • Make chores fun by including music, sports themes, or competition.

A quick search on Pinterest yields a variety of chore charts for kids.
If your children enjoy using technology, for a small fee smartphone apps can help eliminate the hassle of assigning and monitoring chores.

When God assigned work to Adam and Eve, it was a privilege, not a punishment. Let’s help our children grow into adults who appreciate this privilege today.

How do you teach your children or grandchildren to complete their chores?

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Something to take home #2 – Craft that keeps!

Last week I shared some arguments for limiting the reliance on paper based crafts (including handouts, worksheets, cut and paste etc) in children’s ministry settings. Over my next couple of posts I’m going to explore some alternative ideas.

One of the main reasons children’s ministry leaders tend to rely on paper based craft is the ease at which they can be prepared. Many purchased curricula provide photocopiable hand outs, or workbooks. It’s just so easy to whip up a simple craft and run it on the day. Considering alternative options can take more time and forward planning, but the children in our programs and the content we are passing on is so important, it’s worth the extra effort.

When looking for alternatives to quick paper based crafts I try to find ideas that last. I call it ‘Craft that Keeps’. The basic tactic is to aim for a more complicated craft, one in which the finished product is worth keeping and can reinforce the big idea in the current set of lessons.

To do this you need to know your material. Study your upcoming terms worth of curriculum, locate the key points/story concepts you want the kids to take home and then go searching for a suitable activity that can reinforce what you’re teaching. The brilliant thing about this approach is that you can spread your activity over several sessions, allowing for the glue to dry one week, painting the next etc. This means instead of having to come up with, say five, separate crafts, you prepare for one and make it last five weeks!

Another benefit of this approach is that it allows you to delve into higher level craft activities than you may have otherwise tried. The kids will be enthusiastic because they LOVE trying new things and pushing themselves to achieve something they never thought possible. You’ll need to practice your craft before hand (or trial it on a willing child) to check that it’s suitable for your age-group. You may also need to recruit more helpers. But if the extra helpers know ahead of time that they’re only required for limited time, it should be easy to find volunteers. Teenage helpers are also VERY keen to help with craft as their leaders have generally decided they no longer need craft, which is never true.

The other key to Craft that Keeps is to consider long lasting mementos – ie nothing you’d be tempted to chuck out anytime soon. The longer children keep a craft the more likely they are to make a mental link to the lesson ideas behind it – especially if you’ve worked hard to keep that link strong during the lessons and activity times themselves. And even if the lesson idea is forgotten, there will likely be positive vibes towards your ministry as an example of an encouraging, supportive faith community that believed in the child’s potential.

Here are some ideas of crafts that keep:

  • t-shirt making
  • wall mural painting
  • model making
  • story box making (make all the figures and props required for the child to retell the story at home)
  • sewing projects
  • picture frames
  • clay sculpting
  • nativity set making
  • candle holders
  • recipe books (more about this next time)
  • etc  Remember – think about your lesson’s big ideas and choose your craft around that! If you Google ‘Bible crafts’ you’ll likely find lots of paper based crafts, so be more specific in your search.

I’d love to hear about the lasting crafts you’ve seen or used to remind children about a faith lesson. Please share your ideas and links below!

Penny

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