A Blessing: for awareness

Our story about Mary and Martha encourages us to spend time with God.

Do our kids see us spending time with God?

I distinctly remember an enlightening concept, learned one summer as a teen at camp. There we were, covertly whispering in our bunks after lights out. One girl got asked a question and she didn’t respond the way we all thought she would. She said, “I’ll answer in a minute; I’m saying my prayers.”

Picture yourself using those words with your child.

Have your kids “catch” you talking to God!

Of course that may mean some planning, but what a wondrous way of subtly passing on an important message!

Here’s another way faith can be “caught:” Have them hear you blessing them, using words inspired by our study of Mary and Martha.

Say your child’s name and…

May you find stillness and awareness of God’s presence all around you.

a beautiful sunset with an interesting cloud pattern


Click on a box if you would like to…
A check-box Satisfy your curiosity about why you should bless your child.
A check-box View other suggested blessings.


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The wonders of the sky as captured by Per Ola Wiberg, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

An easy way to spend with God

Thanksgiving is on the horizon; followed by Christmas… yikes! ’Tis the season for parents to be busier than ever, stressed out, worried, and cranky. Unfortunately, this rubs off on our kids. (Hopefully my kids won’t comment with too many past details!)

It is appropriate that this month the Cool Disciples are talking about ways to balance our busy lives so as to make time to be with God. The kids are hearing that Jesus scheduled downtime into his life. He did lots of teaching and healing, but then he took time to pray to God. He also spent time with friends. Our Bible story for this Rotation is about Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha’s house (Luke 10: 38-42) where he taught an important lesson about our priorities. Here is a video of our story. (Created by the sixth graders in the Drama Workshop).

The story of Mary and Martha.

We’ve already talked about listening for God. But how do we make time to listen? How do we spend time with God?

Here’s an easy way: Start a gratitude journal.

Recording thankfuls opens the way to God.

Use this Thanksgiving holiday to start your list of thanks. Gather a notebook and a pen and set aside a time at least once a week to write at least five things the family is thankful for – gifts from God.

Might I suggest that you start off by setting a few family ground rules: Should the entries be numbered? Should the list be signed by whomever is making an entry? Are repeats okay?

Once your family practices daily gratitude you’ll find that it brings benefits such as:

  • Better health
  • Better sleep
  • Less anxiety and depression

Read more about the research in The New York Times.

Best of all: Marking gratitude brings you closer to God.

Is your family keeping a gratitude list?

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Thought you’d like to know about a free app for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android.

Button to access the free app for One Thousand Gifts


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Listening for God?

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Our Cool Disciples (both the Saturday’s Cool and the Sunday’s Cool varieties) are learning this month about Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha’s home. In this story Jesus is teaching us that the best choice is to spend time listening to him. The question becomes: How do we teach our children to spend time listening to Jesus?

A baby wears large headphones while listening to music

The next time you are at the family dinner table (or wherever your family is gathered together) talk about listening. If you’d like to print out this Family Faith Companion discussion guide, click here.

First up, play some listening games:

  • Have everyone remain silent for one minute. When the time is up, ask everyone to say what sounds they heard.
  • Read a well-known Bible story, except change some of the details. See who notices.
  • Tap out a rhythm and see if everyone can repeat it. Make it harder. Can everyone still follow along? Try it again.
  • Have two people sit on the floor back-to-back. Give both people 5 toothpicks. Ask one person to layout the toothpicks in a pattern while describing to the other person what they are doing. (Example: Put one toothpick down so that a pointed end is facing you.) Do the two designs match up?

Debrief and extend the Bible learning:

  • What helped you to listen?
  • What made it hard to listen?
  • Jesus taught Martha something about listening. Let’s read the story to review. Read about it in Luke 10:38-42.
  • What did Jesus mean when he said that Mary had chosen what is better? (She chose to listen to Jesus, to spend time with him.)
  • What can you do in your daily life to make that same sort of choice?
  • What does it mean to listen to Jesus?

    Perhaps listening for Jesus doesn’t only happen with our ears. God made us different kinds of listeners. Some of us hear Jesus speaking to us when we see a pretty sunset. Some of us hear Jesus when we laugh at a funny joke or when we are reading the Bible.

    How were you made to best listen for Jesus?


    Photo credits:
    Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
    Baby wearing large headphones via photopin by Jo Jakeman, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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A blessing: in pursuit

Make sure to remind your child that God is active in his pursuit of them with his goodness and mercy (his loving kindness). What can our response be?

To turn around, and actively pursue his presence!

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Here is a blessing to match these thoughts:

Say your child’s name and…

Jesus does not stop in his job to provide you loving kindness. May you turn right back around and crave friendship with Jesus.


Click on a box if you would like to…
A check-box Satisfy your curiosity about why you should bless your child.
A check-box View other suggested blessings.


Photo credits:
Twirling girl by Karah Levely-Rinaldi, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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What’s happening in November? Here’s the schedule

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On Saturday nights and on Sunday mornings at FUMC our Cool Disciples experience Rotation Model Christian education, as they learn about Bible stories and concepts through kid-friendly multimedia workshops.

November’s Rotation is about two sisters in the Bible, Mary and Martha. These two have different priorities about hospitality – how their house guests should be treated. Things quickly come to a head! Whose priority is a better choice? Read what Jesus has to say about this question in Luke 10:38-42.

Why is this story so important? We all lead busy lives. Boy, do our kids have full schedules! What is one to do when faced with a list of numerous “good” activities? Do we place certain pursuits higher on the to-do list, while others wait in the wings? It’s a tricky process often requiring last minute juggling. The story of Mary and Martha speaks to this balancing act and urges us to be sure to include one critical item: spending time with God. A great topic to discuss with your family! Ask your kids about it.

Jan Vermeer van Delft 004

For Saturdays at the Green Wood location, here is the schedule for November…

Date Workshop Activity
11/5 Video Workshop Watch a video called Martin the Cobbler to see a different sort of hospitality – welcoming God into our lives! Discuss how we invite God.
11/12 Cooking Workshop Discuss hospitality and be hospitable! Make something yummy to give away.
11/19 Drama Workshop Experience the story of Mary and Martha by acting out the story.
11/26 Games Workshop Play a quiz game that has no right or wrong answers but demonstrates listening and choices.

And here is what is happening on Sundays at the downtown location

Date Cooking Games Games Art Drama Video
Social Hall Room 204 Room 211 Room 212 Room 215 Pine Room
11/13 2nd grade 5th grade 3rd grade 6th grade 4th grade 1st grade
11/20 1st grade 4th grade 2nd grade 5th grade 6th grade 3rd grade
11/27 3rd grade 6th grade 1st grade 4th grade 5th grade 2nd grade

What’s happening in each workshop?

  • Art Workshop: Create a symbol from clay, using time-honored “rock art” techniques (carving rock) to remind us to balance our busy lives to include time with God. Display this creation where it will be noticed!
  • Cooking Workshop: Discuss hospitality and be hospitable! Make quick breads to give away to Alpha House and the Ronald McDonald House.
  • Drama Workshop: Experience the story of Mary and Martha by acting out the story.
  • Games Workshop: Play a quiz game that has no right or wrong answers but demonstrates listening and choices. (All groups of kids will be visiting Games this month, one room for 1st-3rd and one room for 4th-6th.)
  • Video Workshop: What would happen if someone famous were coming to your house for lunch? How would you prepare? Watch a Claymation video called Martin the Cobbler to see a different sort of hospitality – welcoming God into our lives! Discuss how we invite God.


If you are in the area please join us for the fun learning at First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor, MI


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Painting by Johannes Vermeer entitled “Christ in the House of Martha and Mary” obtained via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain].