How to practice kind words? Chutes and Ladders anyone?

kind, caring word cloud

You’ve heard the old rhyme about sticks and stones, and words not wounding?

Not true!

Our words do matter; to others, and to God!

God really cares about the words that we use and how we use them. How do we talk about this issue with our household? Join us for some discussion!

Start the conversation in the car, or around the family dinner table, or wherever your family is gathered together. Spread the questions out over several sessions. Ask these questions even if you missed the video showing!

Have some family time discussion…

  • Do you find it easy or hard, to use kind words with someone you know well? What about with someone who is a stranger? With someone you dislike? Someone who is giving you a hard time?
  • Have you ever heard the expression: “Kill them with kindness” — what do you suppose it means?
  • Do you feel that there is a difference between acting kindly and true kindness that comes from the heart? How would the two look different?
  • The Bible has lots to say about how we should use our words. Take turns looking up a verse and talking about what it means to you: Luke 6:45, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 16:24, Psalm 19:14, and Ephesians 4:29.
  • Several of these verses were from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book full of short instructions on living wisely. Watch this short video about Proverbs. (If reading this in an email, you can watch this video on YouTube.)
  • The Bible tells us that our words are important to God. Why do you suppose God cares about what we say?
    Jesus taught that “A person’s mouth says everything that is in their heart” (Luke 6:45). God listens to what we say; it tells him what is in our innermost selves. God loves us. So of course God would care about us. And, since God loves everyone, he cares about the effect our words could have on other people.
  • Chutes-and-Ladders game boardIn class on Sunday we played a version of Chutes and Ladders. If your child didn’t bring home a game board, get two here. (This will download a Word doc to your downloads folder.)
  • Play this game at home. Use small items as game pieces and toss a dice to play a round.

    Have fun while practicing using kind words!

     

    This summer, we hope you’ll join us on our movie adventure and also, continue the learning at home.

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    Photo credits:
    A created word cloud by moi. Shared at flickr under a Creative Commons license. I also created the game board.

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    How to help kids learn the language of faith?

    Psalm 78:4b

    The words on this photo say it all. Everyone can be involved — parents, aunts, uncles, caregivers, grandparents… all of the significant adults in the life of a child.

    The language of faith can be taught by your example.

    Start with a simple word:

    Praise.”

     
    As you are outside this summer, express wonder and thanksgiving for the beauty of God’s creation. You are teaching praise! Marvel at the clouds, rain, rocks, sunsets, flowers, you name it! Get into the habit by trying to praise God in this manner, out loud, at least once a day.

    Nature - sunsets, clouds, flowers, rocks

    What are other ways to praise God?

    Clive and Ian in the Wonder-Blimp of KnowledgeThis past Sunday, in our summer video series, with Clive & Ian (in the Wonder-Blimp of Knowledge) our big question was: How do we show respect to God through praise?

    • As you sit down for supper, praise God for good foods. (Try some of these table graces.)
    • When you engage in prayer time, start off my praising God. Tell God how awesome you think that he is. ( “We adore you God!” or “God, you are truly amazing!”)
    • This coming Sunday (July 3) a hymn we will sing in church is America, the Beautiful. Singing is a great way to praise God. Lift your voices in practice! (Sing along?)
    • Look for the ways writers in the Bible praised God. (Psalm 19:1, Psalm 150, or Hebrews 13:15) …Or…
    • On Sunday we watched a second video of a mime troupe showing us physical ways to praise God that are also biblical. Watch the video below. What do you think of their suggestions as ways to praise God? Which ones can you try out? (The table below the video lists the seven ways to praise God.)

    (If reading this in an email, you may need to watch the video at this link.)

    Hebrew word Pronounced Meaning Bible reference
    TOWDAH  to-DA to sacrifice Psalm 50:23
    YADAH yah-DA to lift your hands Psalm 134:2
    BAROUCH BAR-ou to bow Psalm 95:6
    SHABACH Sha-BACH to shout Ezra 3:11
    ZAMAR ZAH-mar to play an instrument 1 Chron. 15:16
    HALAL Ha-LELL to rave and boast Psalm 44:8
    TEHILLAH Te-HEAL-a all of the above! Psalm 34:1 (the word praise here is in Hebrew, Tehillah)
    How will you help your child(re) learn the language of faith?

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    Photo credits:
    I created the collage with a Bible verse from the photo “Sunset meadow hike” by woodleywonderworks, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. (Photo has been cropped and words added.)
    Other photos are from my archives with the exception of the Clive and Ian photo, which is from the producer of our video Clive & Ian’s Wonder-Blimp of Knowledge, under a fair use category.

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    How to tell God he matters to you?

    Here it is — the first official Dinner Table Talk Guide! This is designed to be used in conjunction with our summer movie series, but if your kids missed class this past weekend (or, if you don’t have any kids in your household) don’t let that stop you! Use this guide to help your family cultivate a growing faith — bring love and joy to yourselves and to the world around you.

    Our questions from this week’s lesson centered on showing respect to God, specifically through prayer.

    God is our awesome creator, he is loving and powerful! We want to show him respect, but how?

    By not ignoring God.

    God puts an offer out there to always be available for conversation with us. Prayer is what we call talking and listening to God. When we pray we open ourself to God, sharing the parts of our life that matter most to us. We are saying, God you rank high in my book!

    It is important to note that God lets us choose whether we decide to join in dialogue with him, or not. Getting to know God takes initiative on our part! What are some ways to help us in our prayers?

    a child with a purple balloonIn our lesson we used balloons to pray! What a fun way to “lift” prayers to God.

    We also reviewed a “recipe” to follow when praying. We’ve heard this one before — applying the acronym ACTS.

     
    (I want to stress that a formula for prayer is not a requirement, but it can help one to stay focused. I find using ACTS beneficial, as it is too easy for me to be distracted whenever I pray; utilizing ACTS keeps me on track.)

    What are some other ways to help us talk to God?
    • Invite God to your activities. The next time you are about to start an enjoyable venture, invite God to savor the experience with you. For example, before jumping into the pool, pray: Be with us, Jesus. Come and share this refreshing swim along side of us. We’re so grateful that You created water for us to enjoy!
    • Practice praying in silence. (It’s how most people pray!) Make the amount of time spent in silence appropriate to your kids’ ages. You may want to start out with just 15 seconds of silence.
    • Get out the crayons. Prayers don’t always have to be words. Provide coloring tools and have your child draw a picture of things for which they are thankful.
    What prayer methods can you share?

    See these past discussions on ways to mix up your prayer life:
    https://familyfaithcompanion.org/2010/08/19/why-we-pray-a-friendship-needs-feeding/
    https://familyfaithcompanion.org/2010/08/04/making-prayer-a-part-of-every-day-life/
    https://familyfaithcompanion.org/2010/08/12/more-creative-ways-to-pray/
    What is Breath Prayer

    a blue line


    Photo credits:
    Purple balloon by Thomas Rydberg, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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    How to persist and hold the story in the limelight?

    Our parenting-speak often sounds like a broken record. The phrase I’d say to my kids over and over (that always evoked a groan) was, “Make a different choice.” Either that, or it was when I’d break into song — à la Mr. Rogers: ♫ Let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting… ♫ (Can I get an encore?)

    But that’s the way it should be.

    Repeating keeps your story in the forefront.

    You place a high value in reminding them that what they do/say is important in the world. (After all, they are a child of God!) You want them to be loving, kind, and to remember a few table manners.

    One way to grow disciples of Christ is by keeping a Bible story front and center. It’s why we use the Workshop Rotation Model for Sunday Cool — persistent recurrence! You can use a similar reiterative scheme at home. Here are ideas to use with our just completed Rotation on the miracle of Jesus feeding over 5,000 people.

    fish symbolThe next time you have food remaining after a meal, ask about the 12 baskets of leftovers collected after everyone had eaten their fill. What do you suppose people thought about all the leftovers? What about the disciples, what would they have been talking about? What do the leftovers tell us about Jesus?

    fish symbolHear the story. Over and over. Read it at the dinner table or as a bedtime “book.” Each time you read, ask a couple questions.

    • Let’s put ourselves into the cast of characters that were there: Philip… Would you be annoyed with Jesus when he asked you about where to get food? (I mean, Duh. They were in the middle of nowhere.) Andrew… Would you feel almost silly announcing that fives loaves and two fish were available? The small boy… Would you feel scared? Curious?
    • How would you report this story if you were there and you had modern-day internet capabilities? What sort of Twitter post or text message would you write? What emoticons would you use? What sort of hashtag would you assign to this event?
    • When is it hard for you to share? (Include your own example, adults!)
    • In the beginning of the story it doesn’t seem like Philip and Andrew have much faith in Jesus to handle the problem of so many hungry people. When is a time when you forgot about your faith in Jesus?
    • Jesus could have created bread and fish in the basket of every person there, but he didn’t do it that way. Why do you suppose Jesus deliberately used a method that brought the disciples into the work?

    fish symbolCreate a snack for a neighbor, or a meal for a family in need. Teach your kids to ask: What do they need?

    Feeding the 5000 - cooking workshop

     
    fish symbolput the fish in orderMake a game to put the story in order. Print out some storytelling fish shapes and challenge your household to work together to arrange them in the correct order.

    If you have non-readers in your household, provide them with a sheet of paper divided into sections. Encourage them to draw each part of the story. Cut apart the sections. Can they put them back into story order?

     
    fish symbolWatch together the various renditions of dramas presented on our story. As you view each one, what pops out as a new factoid about this story? What part of the dialogue did the disciples likely not say??

    If reading this in an email, you can watch the 4th & 5th grade video on YouTube.

     

    You can watch the 3rd grade (with few 5th graders) in this video on YouTube.

     

    Or watch the 2nd grade video on YouTube.

     

    (Or watch the 1st grade video on YouTube.)

     

    How will your household grow disciples of Christ?

    a blue line


    Photo credits:
    Photos by Beth Pascoe.

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    How to prepare for Hosanna-ing with a bit of make-believe

    Christ's Entry into Jerusalem Hippolyte Flandrin-1842

    I like this painting that depicts the inaugurating event of Palm Sunday, because it includes children. Look over on the upper, right-hand side. Notice the man holding a baby(!) up over his shoulders? (One can easily miss seeing!)

    Show this picture to your kids and point out the taking-flight toddler.

    Close up of Christ's Entry into Jerusalem - a painting by HippolyteThere are other kids. Can you find them?

    Notice this child in particular… (The one designated with the red arrow in the close-up shot.

    Have your child pretend that they are that kid. Place yourself in the painting!

    You are witnessing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem!

    What do you see?

    What do you smell?

    What do you hear?

    There were of course, lots of people. Some happy and others not. And probably the usual noise a loud crowd makes.

    (“Is he coming yet?” “I can’t see!” “Excuse me, you are stepping on my foot!”)

    palm waving-2The Bible tells us there were loud cries of “Hosanna!” (John 12:13). Which was like saying “Save us!”

    Go ahead and shout some Hosannas!

    Practice for this coming Sunday at FUMC.

    (For the lineup of Palm Sunday events at FUMC, see here. There is a lot going on!)

     
    Do you suppose there were people at this “parade” who wondered what the Hosanna hoopla was all about?

    Why do we celebrate Palm Sunday? (If you’re not sure, go ahead and click on that link to learn more.)

    Why did the people greet Jesus with such enthusiasm?

    How would you greet Jesus today?

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    Photo credits:
    Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin, 1842, from FreeChristImages.org, used under license.
    Palm Sunday photo from my archives.

    Did Jesus storytell to shock his audience?

    Perhaps Jesus hoped that encountering an unexpected twist — something that caused us to gasp in surprise — would lead us on a fresh approach to life? His first century listeners were likely astounded by the telling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but are we?

    Jesus frequently taught with a genre called a parable. His parable storytelling employed examples from everyday life – farming, feasts, and families. Jesus used parables to teach a lesson that had a hidden message. Theologian Barclay tells us that a parable was “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning” [1].

    The “earthly” part: your typical messy family with teenagers who want their own way. So what is the “heavenly meaning” behind our current Rotation story? What is Jesus hoping that we hear?

    Not surprisingly, to extract this unrevealed explanation requires contemplation! So dig right in! Gather your family around and discuss. Reflecting on this parable will likely challenge your thoughts about how God works; the nature of God’s grace!

    A sign with a fist says I want it now!When we hear the story of the Prodigal Son, does any portion of it bring you to a complete stop?

    Does it bother you that the youngest son asks his father for his share of the estate? (After all, it was as if he were saying: “I wish you were dead so I could have my money.”)

    We’ve heard it expressed from our kids (and even from adults?): I want it now!

    Jesus’ first listeners were likely waiting for the father to put this nervy son in his place. But surprisingly, the father generously divides his property between his two sons! What is happening here?

    Does it bother you that this son then leaves home and goes out and spends lavishly and earns the title: Prodigal Son? (A prodigal being a word most frequently associated with reckless and wasteful spending.) He has sinned big time, with underlying transgressions: broken relationships and alienation from his home community (because you can be sure that the whole town heard about his choices).

    Does the father try to stop him? Nope.

    And when he sees the light and comes back home (with his tail between his legs) does the father lecture with “I told you so!”?

    Prodigal Son banner

    No! The father runs to greet his wayward son! He throws a welcome home party! He shows love and compassion rather than judgment and condemnation!

    Ah, here comes a hint of the hidden lesson of this parable – allegory is at work — This father represents God!

    Is this how God works?

    Yep. This surprising story twist helps us see that regardless of the offense, there is always forgiveness and grace from God! Pretty shocking isn’t it?

    a blue line

    Discuss this story at the family dinner table, or wherever your family is gathered. (In the car?) Start off with reading our story in Luke 15:11-32.)

    Ask these questions:

    • What did you think of the way the father reacted when his son came home?
    • Were you surprised? Did you expect him to say “I told you so,” and scold his son for what he did?
    • The son had intended to work his way back into his father’s favor; how does that plan work out?
    • The father doesn’t allow his son to pay him back. No maneuvering or bargaining on the part of the son was required. It’s as if the father is handing him a do-over. Does it surprise you to think that God acts the same way towards us?
    • How do you suppose we can receive this sort of forgiveness from God? (simply by confessing and asking for forgiveness)
    • What shall we do in response to such extravagant love?


    a blue line

    [1] Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Mark.


    Photo credits:
    I want it now! by Denise Krebs, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
    Prodigal Son banner © 2005-2015, SparkleBox Teacher Resources Limited; used with permission.

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    How to portray grace by bending wire

    Child with wire sculpture creationprodigal son art sculpture

    In the Art Workshop for our current Rotation, kids are creating grace poses.

    What??

    After hearing the Parable of the Prodigal Son, they are sculpting with wire or pipe cleaners, a picture of forgiveness and grace in action.

    Because that is what the father offered his wayward son: grace.

    Surprising isn’t it?

    Exhibited behavior by the son has deeply wounded his father.

    The father could have replied with rub-it-in-your-face contempt: I knew you’d amount to nothing. I told you so!
    He could have displayed disgust: You’re back? Don’t expect a handout from me.
    He could have shown a stiff shoulder: Who are you and what do you want?

    But instead, he shows love and forgiveness; he grants grace.

    This Art Workshop lesson gives kids a chance to visualize and express what it is that grace looks like. I saw hugging, arms out-stretched and bended knees.

    What is grace?

    Grace is God’s unconditional love that forgives us even when we mess up.
    We deserve the worst, but we are offered an escape route. A do-over.
    And it’s a free gift!

    Explore this concept further in your family unit. When your child brings home their wire sculpture, ask them if you can play with it. (You may need to remove the staples holding the figures in their current pose.) Reread the story in Luke 15:11-32 with your child and pause to shape the figures…

    • Read Luke 15:11-13. Show the scene of the son leaving home. How do you suppose the father looks? What about the older brother?
    • Read Luke 15:14-19. What would the ah-ha moment look like when the son came to his senses? How do you suppose the presumably waiting and watching father is looking?
    • Read Luke 15:20-24. Shape a scene of grace.
    • Read Luke 15:25-32. How does the angry older brother look?
    • Jesus didn’t provide an ending to this story! Do you suppose the older brother goes to the party? Shape an ending scene to the story the way you think it happened.


    Photo credits: from my archives.

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    Give your family a gift. Will you make a new habit?

    This coming Sunday, Rev. Nancy starts off a new sermon series on Stewardship. The scripture passage will be Matthew 25:14-28, which happens to be our story for our next Rotation!

    Here’s a suggestion for giving your family a gift…

    a couple with coffeeAttend the 9:30 service and then, leave with the kids after the children’s time.

    The kids head to class and you grab some coffee.

    (No, that’s not the gift.)

    It’s a little known factoid that coffee is ready in time for the choir members to imbibe. (You may need to look in the kitchen. Please be sure to make a donation for your coffee during Connections time.)

    Find a quiet place to sit for 40 minutes. Though space on Sunday mornings is at a premium, wander about, you’ll find a spot. Catch up on your reading. (Please keep your chatting to a hush in a space like the Social Hall where a class is being held.) Then at 11:15… (here comes the gift)…

    Attend worship as a family.

    Use these discussion questions to debrief the service:

    • What was your favorite part of worship? Did you have a least favorite part?
    • In the Bible story, how much did the master give to each of his servants? (Answer)
    • What did the story mean by a “talent?” (Ans: In Bible times a talent was a measure of the weight of a precious metal.)
    • What did each servant do with what the master gave him?
    • How did the master feel about each servants choice?
    • Today we use the word “talent” to mean our abilities. Go around the table and identify an ability – a talent – of the person on your left.
    • How do you suppose God feels when we use our skills to help others?
    • How do you suppose God feels if we “hide” our talents?
    • What skill or talent would you like to develop? What do you feel you need to do to start?
    • God gave us our talents. God gave us everything we have! What prayer can we say to thank God for all of our wonderful gifts.

    Perhaps you’ll start a new habit every Sunday during this sermon series.


    Photo credits:
    An edited photo of coffee for two by Nathan Walker, who has released this photo to the Public Domain. Offered at unsplash.com.

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