Crayon colored Bible quilts
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Imagine your child pulling a quilt up to his chin with Bible pictures all over it before going to sleep. He points to one of the pictures on the quilt and says “Mommy, read me this story,” or “Daddy, tell me this story.” That is the goal of my Bible Quilts blog. I am trying to come up with several ways to make Bible quilts, and one day hope to find a way to offer completed Bible quilts on my blog.

Children can help make crayon-colored quilt blocks for Bible quilts so that the quilt can become a family project. The coloring pages can be traced onto cotton fabric with a permanent fabric marking pen, then colored with Crayola crayons. More complete directions can be found on the BibleQuilts.com blog. There are also downloadable coloring pages for a Creation Quilt and for a First Christmas Quilt or Christmas tree skirt. The pictures are squares, so the quilts can be made more simply than the example in this picture. Several layout options are included in the coloring page downloads.

Youth groups can create a crayon colored Bible quilt for a church nursery or Sunday school classroom. They can also be a part of a Bible school program. I am in the process of developing a set of activities to complement a Bible school program on the days of Creation. Click on this link for more information.

I hope to be able to offer more coloring pages in the future. Other Bible story coloring books can be used, but the proportions in the pictures cause some problems in completing the quilts.

I’m continually on the lookout for other kinds of Bible quilts. I hope my readers will be able to share some ideas in the comments below.

Written by Janice D. Green, author of The First Christmas and The Creation

 

Balancing Volunteer and Family Responsibilities

As parents, we lead by example. Knowing Christ has called us to have a servant’s heart (Luke 17:10), we actively seek opportunities where we can put this calling into action.

But when our volunteer responsibilities overwhelm us, are we the best examples?

There was a time when I was loath of saying “no.” Not only did I feel guilty because I could see the need around me, I wondered if I was truly following what God called me to do. I rarely said “no” to any opportunity because of that feeling of guilt. What I couldn’t see is that because I was tired running from this place to the next, I became irritable with my family. Was that what Christ had in mind when he encouraged His followers to be good servants? I don’t think so.

Now, when a new volunteer opportunity arises, I don’t answer right away. I go home and pray about it. Then I consider my current schedule, how much of a time commitment this opportunity will require, and think about what is best for my family. If it requires too much, I say “no,” but also ask them to keep me in mind for the future. Just because I have to say “no” now, doesn’t mean my schedule won’t open up three months later and allow me to help in another way. I also look for opportunities that allow me to involve my children. That way we are spending quality time together for a good cause.

Balancing volunteer responsibilities with your family’s needs will help show your children how to have a servant’s heart, while letting them know they are important too.

Sending ‘Hand’made Hugs

Project Overview:  This project requires paint, paper and yarn or ribbon.  Depending on the ability of your child they may need help cutting out their hand print

If you have young children at home you are no stranger to painting I’m sure.  Recently I started letting them take their watercolors into the bathtub just so they could paint each others faces before getting clean (and I could avoid the unbelievable mess that seems to always accompany 3 little ones armed with paint brushes!)  Yesterday I was looking for a painting project that could double as a service project when I came across the idea of these “hand-print” hugs.  As you can see from the image above, the girls painted their hands and stamped them onto card stock.  We then cut the hands out, measured yarn to the girls’ wingspans and they taped the yarn to the dry hand-prints (tape – another toddler fav!)  Super simple.

But what to do with our hand-print hugs?  I needed look no further than Facebook for a little inspiration.  Sure I look at my friends kids, or follow some of my favorite TV shows, but Facebook can also be a great source to find those in need.  Recently a friend of mine participated in a polar bear plunge to raise funds for a little girl with cancer.  His post contained a link to her website which my girls and I went on.  Through pictures and journal entries, my girls and I started to feel a bond with this sick child and we all agreed that though she never met us, maybe getting a special package in the mail filled with ‘hugs’ would make her smile.   We decided to add some cards and a copy of my book and set off for the post office.

I think this experience highlights one of the keys to developing empathy in your child and having successful service project experiences.  It isn’t all about one major event, but a series a little ones where your children are personally involved.  From each small step in the process – making the hands, looking up the child online, making cards, packing them up, going to the post office – my girls understood a little more that there are other people out there that need help and we can try to do something about it.  In the end you hope that it made an impression on them.  When I heard my 6 year-old telling her friend after school about her “new friend that I sent a present to that has a football size tumor in her tummy” I was pretty sure I had.

www.thelittleheartsproject.blogspot.com

www.hollyskeltonbooks.com

 

Recognizing Jesus’ Voice
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O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.” Luke 10:21 

Our four-year-old granddaughter joined us for the Maundy Thursday service last week and I wondered if she’d last through the entire service. Between playing with her Littlest Pet Shop toys and the discomfort from a noticeably painful sty on her eyelid, I wasn’t sure she’d glean any wisdom. 

The music started and she hopped into my arms, ready to worship. Half-way through the first song she pointed to the inlaid cross above the baptistery and said, “Jesus died on that cross, you know, Grams.” “Yes, he did,” I replied. “That’s why we’re here tonight–to remember him and say ‘thank-you’ for dying on the cross.”

The next morning the swelling and redness caused by her sty dissipated. I mentioned how much better her eye looked and she immediately responded, “Yes, it is better. Last night in church I heard someone whisper, ‘Look at your sty. I’ve made it better.'”

“Who do you think whispered in your ear?” I asked. As any preschool girl with an overactive imagination might respond, she said, “I don’t know. I think it was Hello Kitty.” Hmmm. Now what? Obviously, she wasn’t making this up. Her eye was remarkably better, so I seized this teachable moment and continued the conversation.

“No, sweetheart, Hello Kitty isn’t real or alive. She’s just a cartoon character, but remember you mentioned Jesus died on the cross? Well, he is real and he didn’t stay dead. God raised him from the dead on Easter, made him alive again. He’s alive, with God, in heaven and he talks with us, just like he whispered in your ear last night. That voice? That whisper in your ear? That was Jesus. Jesus made your eye better.”

Throughout the day, I watched her eye for any reoccurring redness or swelling and periodically asked her if it still hurt, but her eye kept improving. When her parents arrived later Friday afternoon, the first thing her mother said was, “Wow! Your eye is all better.” She looked up from her artwork and answered, “Yes, Jesus made it better.”

Although she didn’t recognize Jesus’ voice at first, does not negate the fact that she heard him whisper, “I’ve made it better.” Rather than dismiss a preschooler’s seemingly imaginative comments of a Jesus-encounter, recognize its reality and validity. We say that Jesus is alive. We sing it. We teach it to our children. Then let’s be quick to help them identify those Jesus-whispers in their lives.

Jesus has an irrefutable affection for children because they’re uncomplicated and transparent and possess a stronger, simpler faith than ours. It’s not surprising he still spends time with them, is it? Wasn’t it Jesus who said, ““Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14 NIV)?  

Teaching Little Ones About God

When I was teaching preschool, a mother of a four-year-old boy asked me when she should talk to her son about God. Since I was teaching in a Christian preschool, the question surprised me. And since I was recently married with no children, I couldn’t speak from experience.  I can’t remember exactly what I told her, but I know I assured her that her son was ready to learn simple spiritual truths, and that she could certainly talk to her son about God. Now that I am a mother of three grown children, as well as a grandmother, the answer would roll off my tongue: You begin teaching your children about God from the day they are born.

It begins in the rocking chair—singing Jesus Loves Me while feeding your precious pink bundle, or praying over your infant son as you tuck him into his baby blue swaddle.  It continues with boardbooks and picture books about God, Jesus, and the Bible. As babies grow into toddlers, outdoor walks give many opportunities to talk about nature and our Creator—the sun in God’s big sky, the pretty flowers He makes, and the birds who chirp His praises.

Time spent in the car running errands can include praise songs for little ones to listen to. Mealtime prayers and   bedtime stories are other opportunities for children to learn about God throughout the day.The key to teaching your little ones about God is to be consistent and to incorporate prayer and Bible stories into their daily routines. Children thrive on routine, and once you establish a regular time, your children will not let you skip no matter how tired you may be!

One of my books for little ones is The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers (Tyndale). This small, chunky book contains 366 short devos for little ones. Each daily reading includes a very short, age-appropriate devotional, a Bible verse, and a short rhyming prayer. This book is a part of Tyndale’s  Little Blessings® line, and is illustrated with the adorable art of Elena Kucharik, the creator of the Care Bears. 

I am thrilled when parents tell me how much their children like Devotions for Preschoolers, and how they read it over and over again. But another blessing is that the parents who read the book to their children are also taking in some good reminders for themsevles. When God’s truth is in simple language, it is often the most powerful.

It’s never too early to talk to your children about God, and it’s never too late to begin the discipline of having daily devotions with your children. 

Love your little blessings. Hug and kiss them often. Pray with them every day.

CRYSTAL