Something in Common: Youth Worship and The Runaway Bunny

This weekend we’ll get to watch our Youth lead us in worship. Youth Worship is a spring tradition! It’s alway lively! How can it not be, when worship is led by gobs of 7th-12th graders!

photos from Youth Worship in 2012

Youth Worship always has a theme to it. This year’s subject is Grace.

Help your kids to get more out of this worship by talking about the concept of grace ahead of time. (And debriefing about it afterwards.) What is grace?

Grace is someone saying: “I love you anyway.”

Ask your child(ren) if they could say “I love you anyway” in response to some of these situations:

  • When someone doesn’t want to play with me.
  • When someone uses something of mine without asking, and then breaks it.
  • When people laugh at me when I make a mistake.
  • When someone gets me in trouble for something I didn’t do.

It is hard isn’t it!

This is what God’s grace is; God saying, “Even though you messed up, I love you anyway. It is a gift from me to you. There is nothing you can do to pay me back.”

Want another way to teach about grace? Use a popular storybook.

Cover of the book The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

This story starts off…

Open quote markOnce there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”

This bunny invents all kinds of scenarios where he runs away from his mother. But, no matter what, his mother assures him that she will run right after him.

It’s just like that with us and God.
How have you noticed God loving you no matter what?

a blue line

Photo credits:
Book shot from Amazon.
Youth group photo collage used with permission.

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A Blessing: Support Your Child’s Character

The cover of the book, The Blessings of a Skinned Knee

The Wow Moms group (Women of Wonder, Moments of Mission) at FUMC, has just started reading and discussing the book The Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by clinical psychologist Dr. Wendy Mogel.

This book chronicles the author’s discovery that her religious roots provided helpful axioms for her doubts and anxieties as a parent. In exploring ancient Jewish texts, including the Talmud and the Torah, she recognized venerable wisdom that could be applied to child-raising situations faced by all parents. She has laid out for us a road map for raising self-reliant, respectful and confident kids.

I have found her book fascinating! There was a lot of meat in chapter one of this book (to which our attention was attuned for this week’s meeting). From Mogel’s story of a return to her Jewish roots…

Something had been stirred in me, but I didn’t know what it could be.

To how we as parents place ourselves in a trap, all in the name of good intentions…

Determined to give their children everything they needed to become ‘winners’ in this highly competitive culture, they missed out on God’s most sacred gift to us: the power and holiness of the present moment and of each child’s individuality.

Quotes from the book.

It was this last point that our discussion focused on: Helping our children realize their God-given, inherent potential. We concluded that recognizing and encouraging our children’s personality, character and temperament, was important. Our leader, Shannan instructed us to take some time to jot down things we notice over the next few weeks. “Every child is so different, and the more we understand who they are, the better we can parent them.”

True words. Might I add to that?

Blessing your child to reinforce their character.

Here are some examples…

  • Is your child naturally exuberant? Give them this blessing: Say their name and… May God lead you to share your enthusiasm for life!
  • Is your child sensitive and quiet? Give them this blessing: Say their name and… God has given you the special job of noticing the good in every situation.
  • Is your child exhibit a “know-it-all” attitude? Give them this blessing: Say their name and… May God lead you to share your knowledge with others.

What other blessings apply to your children? Share your thoughts!

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: For info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email) click here.
Other photo from Amazon. (Clicking on this picture will take you to Amazon. I don’t receive any benefit if you buy the book!)

How to find time to talk about faith?

A dinner place setting

Talking about faith at home is important for your family, but how do you find the time to work this into your busy schedule?

Make family dinner a priority

Here’s a book to help achieve this goal: The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David.

The cover of the book: The Family Dinner

Ann Arbor District Library has this book.
See if it is available!

Paraphrased from the book, here are some “rules” (they call them “simple steps”) that you can implement:

  • Everyone comes to the table, even if they aren’t hungry.
  • No electronics: No TV. No phones. No texting. (This applies to adults as well!)
  • Everyone stays at the table until dinner is over.
  • Everyone tries one bite of each food.
  • Everyone helps clean up.

Another thing they suggest is to play games at the table! (Either while eating or afterwards.) Check out some suggested “dinner table games.” (Clicking on the underlined words takes you to the most recent post in the category “dinner games.” Scroll down to see other options.)

This all sounds hard! Something may have to give in order for this to happen. But it’s important, isn’t it?

How about making it a New Year’s an any time of year Resolution?


Photo credits:
Table setting by Gisela Francisco on Flickr, who licensed this photo under: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.
Other photo – from my archives. (I took a picture of this book when I had it checked out from the library!)

Wednesday’s Weekly Blessing – a resource for getting started

Here is a resource to use, a book to read with your child, to introduce them to the idea of receiving a blessing from you.

Cover of the book "Will You Bless Me?" By Neal Lozano

Why is this such a good book, especially right now, at this time of year?
Because it tells the Christmas story.

It’s not a complete telling and the details aren’t even in order. It’s just the highlights, as told by Mary to her young son, Jesus, who asks his mother to tell him his birth story. I like this part…

Joseph put down his tools… He loved these moments when Mary talked to Jesus about his birth, telling her son all the thoughts and plans God had just for him.

You can do that.

This week, let this be your blessing – your gift – to your child. Tell them about the day they arrived in your household. Tell them how glad you are to be their parent, or how much they are loved, or how they were uniquely created by God, and how God has a specific purpose for them in this life.

Here’s another quote from the book (on a page for parents, grandparents and caregivers). Take this as encouragement to regularly bless your child…

You have all you need to impart to your child the sense of identity and destiny that comes from the heart of God.

Blessings on your acts of blessing your child!

View other blessings here.

Photo credits:
Banner photo (not visible in readers or email) – Pink Sherbert Photography on Flickr, licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Other photo – from my archives: my copy of this great little book.

Have you filled a bucket today?

Updated to reflect newly available publications.

Child at the beach filling a bucket
I learned something new at a family program at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI.

I learned how to be a “bucket filler.”

Even though this interactive presentation on bucket filling was right after the Easter egg hunt, this wasn’t instruction on how to garner the most chocolate eggs in your Easter bucket basket.

No, this event was about something far more important.


Here’s what I took away:

  • Work to keep my bucket full (by filling other people’s buckets)
  • Don’t be a “bucket dipper”
  • And keep my bucket lid close at hand.

So what’s all this talk of buckets?

It’s all based on the concept that everyone carries around an invisible bucket where we store our good thoughts and feelings about ourselves.

When your bucket is full, you feel great.

When your bucket is empty, you feel lousy.

When we are kind and do nice things for someone, we fill their bucket. In the process of doing “bucket-filling, the gratifying side-effect is that our own bucket gets replenished!

This is a great way to teach kids (even young ones) about the importance of being loving and considerate of other people. To keep your own bucket full you need to either receive scoops of love from someone or ladle love upon someone else.

Jesus told us to be a bucket filler: “Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.” (Luke 10:27). I’m all for full buckets!

But, don’t be a bucket dipper!

What is not good is “bucket dipping.” When someone acts mean, in the things they do or say (or even simply ignores us!) they dip into our bucket, hijacking some of our happiness.

For kids, this describes bullies, but it also can describe the daily goings-on in our households. How about: “My bucket is being dipped when you don’t pick up your toys as I’d asked.” Or, “I see that both of your buckets are being dipped when you and your sister are arguing.”

What’s with the bucket lid?

This event turned out to be so much more than just another way of looking at the Golden Rule. The presenter from Bucket Fillers, Inc. empowered us to deal with bucket dippers by putting a lid on our bucket! What a refreshing way to visualize protecting your feelings—for kids of all ages.

As I have thought about this bucket concept, it occurred to me that God wants to fill to overflowing, all of our buckets!

Open quote markFrom the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

God needs us to do the work of filling each other’s buckets. I have just one question…

A bucket full of blessings


Some Bucket-filling Resources:

The book Have You Filled a Bucket Today?This is a great book to introduce bucket filling to your kids; for all ages (even adults!)


The book: Fill a bucketThis one is great for ages birth to 5.


Book - Growing Up with a Bucket Full of HappinessA chapter book for ages 9 and up.


Book - Baby's Bucket BookBoard-book for ages birth to age 2.

Baby’s have buckets too!


To purchase the above books and other products visit Bucket Fillers, Inc.

Photo credits:
Beach photo offered by RJ Bejil, who licensed this photo under a Creative Commons License.

Graphic: “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” – used with permission from Bucket Fillers, Inc.
Book covers – Not affiliate links (I get nothing for pointing you to the organization Bucket Fillers, Inc. Just trying to point you towards resources.) but these covers do link to the publishers’ web site. This, in my mind, keeps this in the category of fair use for educational purposes.