Accept mistakes and celebrate grace

It’s a nasty train of thought that I’ve carried with me for a long time:

But it’s not perfect!

All of my life I’ve been a perfectionist. In the 2nd grade when we were creating self-portraits at school, my mother was mystified by my insistence that I wear the same dress for several days in a row. (I wanted to get the details just right.)

I recall in 8th grade getting a “D” in Art class because I couldn’t finish my projects; I couldn’t get them to be perfect.

It’s a disease and I know that others suffer from it too. (Like the 5th grader I worked with who was afraid to estimate an answer to a mathematical problem because, well, it could be wrong!)

I think perhaps it is something that we teach ourselves to believe?

Here’s the pitch I’m repeating these days: Jesus is bigger than any mistake.

Try this at the family dinner table (or wherever your family is gathered together): Have everyone (adults included) share a mistake that they made that day. Repeat the process on a daily basis.

Child tends broken seedling

Exposing and naming our goof-ups teaches our kids that:

  • Everyone makes mistakes;
  • Home is a safe place to confess our sins;
  • When necessary, forgiveness can be extended;
  • We can all celebrate God’s gift of I-love-you-anyway Grace.

It’s not too late to learn: Jesus is bigger than any mistake. What learning is happening in your family?


Photo credits:
Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
Broken seedling by D. Sharon Pruitt, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

What was Jesus offering? Super water?

It’s obvious. The woman Jesus met at the well is clueless. Jesus has offered her living water and she’s stumped.

You don’t have a rope or a bucket and this well is very deep.
Where would you get this living water?
John 4:11

Let’s imagine what was running through her head…

Living water?
What is he talking about?
He can’t mean water out of this well. He hasn’t got a way of getting anything out of this well!
Does he mean some sort of Super water?
Water that has a special ingredient so that I’ll never need any more water?
That would mean I wouldn’t have to trek to this well every day – and in the hottest part of the day so as to avoid those other women.
Yes, please! I’ll take some of that living water!
Who wouldn’t want some of that?!

Discuss what Jesus meant by “living water. How about playing a game at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.) Call it “Building answers” or “What’s inside her head?” or some other silly title.

Open a Bible to John 4:4 or have this kid-friendly copy of the story available. Tell everyone that Jesus is surprisingly radical in this story. He has offered this woman something that at first she doesn’t understand; it sounds strange to her. (And perhaps to you too!) It would be fun to pretend that we were inside the head of the woman in this story. What do you suppose she was thinking?

Pretend you are at the well and someone, whom you shouldn’t be talking to, asks you for a drink.
What one sentence comes to mind? You’ll probably need to prime the pump on this, so go ahead and start everyone off with: Whoa! Did that guy just talk to me!?
What is the next thought that comes to your mind? Build upon what has been previously thought/said.

Let’s say the progression goes like this:
First person: Who does he think that he is?
Second person: Doesn’t he know he shouldn’t talk to me?
Third response: Maybe I’ll ask him?

Don’t feel as though this has to be a scripted exchange of ideas. It may get silly! And that’s okay. Just have fun and go with what happens. Eventually turn the responses back to speculations about what they think that “living water” is. Allow all responses.

Here’s a way to finish up your game – Say a prayer:
God, who offers us living water; we accept! Fill us full up! We picture ourselves falling back into a calm pool. The living water lifting us, supporting us; we feel very close to you. We thank you that you love us no matter what! Amen.


Photo credits:
Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
Water Splash by Steve Garner, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Games at the dinner table

Who likes to play games? How about playing a game around the family dinner table? (Or wherever your family is gathered together.) After all, dinner table games can lead everyone into dialogue. And what could be better than a family talking!

Want to know how to bring up Biblical topics in your family time?

A game is a great way to have your conversation include faith stories. How about a game of Concentration? Only preparation necessary is to print out the these cards. (Have your kids cut them apart as part of their dinner-prep duties.) At an appropriate time, spread out the cards picture-side down. Everyone takes a turn to see if they can turn over two cards that match. Who ever finds a match, says something about the image on the cards.

Bread and wine Bread and wine

Did you know that playing this game sometime this week can help your child to prepare for the big Cool Disciples review game this coming weekend? On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we’ll be playing a large-group game to review the Bible stories we’ve covered since September. It will be sort of like the old TV game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” This game is always loads of fun.

A group of kids works together to determine an answer
A shot of last years 3rd graders formulating their answer.

Here are the stories we’ve covered since September 2011:

  • The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15, Luke 11:1-4)
  • Psalm 23 (Psalm 23:1-6)
  • Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
  • The Story of Jesus’ Birth (Matthew 1:18-23, Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-20, Matthew 2:1-15)
  • Moses: Bulrushes to Burning Bush (Exodus 1:1 – 4:17)
  • Moses: Plagues and Passover (Exodus 5:1-6:13, 7:1-12:42)
  • The Last Supper (Luke 22:7-20)
  • Nicodemus (John 3:1-17)

Regardless of whether your child can take part this weekend, add an occasional game to your family dinner. Need another suggestion? Check out last years review game idea.

a blue line


Photo credits:
Concentration card images from WPClipart and Open Clip Art Library. (Images are in the Public Domain.)
Photo of playing the “big game” is from my archives.

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Using a salad bowl to spark family stories

“Do this to remember me.”
Love, Jesus

Communion chalice and bread

Remember the time… Jesus told us to remember?

You have it memorized. It was during that dinner that Jesus had with his disciples. You know. The last one. The one where Jesus invented Communion. Now every time we share the bread and the cup we remember what Jesus did for us.

What do you suppose would happen if we stopped telling stories to our children? Pretty soon, they’d forget! When the very first Passover occurred, God instructed Moses to tell the people to not forget this event. Every year on the anniversary of the first Passover, they were to tell their children the story of God’s intervention and their freedom from slavery in Egypt. (Read about this command in Exodus 12:24-27).

Are we finding enough occasions to tell our stories? How about around the family dinner table? Here’s an easy way to make sure that telling our stories happens.

Let’s make a salad!

Zoe made Bunny Salad

Not that kind of salad. But our “recipe” does call for a salad bowl!

Before dinner take some slips of paper and write on them storytelling prompts. Things like…

  • A summer story
  • A school story
  • I was embarrassed when…
  • A celebration or holiday
  • An adventure
  • A food story
  • A family joke
  • My first memory
  • I was afraid when…
  • i knew God was involved when…
  • I trusted God when…
  • A question I’d like to ask God
  • Add your own ideas!

Mix up all the pieces of paper in the salad bowl and place the bowl on the table during dinner. At the appropriate time, have each family member take a turn drawing a slip from the bowl and telling a story.

Jesus was celebrating a remembering-Passover-supper when he gave us new instructions to remember a different sort of event: Jesus’ death for us. May we never forget to tell the whole story!


Photo credits:
Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
Chalice and bread by James Emery and Zoe made bunny salad by Michael Newton, both licensed on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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PandaMania – continue the journey

VBC participants sing in church

Wasn’t it great to have the Vacation Bible Camp (VBC) participants share a bit of VBC love during the worship service?

How can your family continue exploring a relationship with a God that is wild about you? Here are some ideas:

  • Did your kids bring home a pack of “iOpeners?”
    a pack of "iOpeners: Surprising Conversations About God" They are cards with questions for discussion that tie to the Bible. Such as: “If you could invent the best thing ever, what would it be? Describe it…. Believe it or not, God already invented the best thing ever – you! That’s why King David said to God: ‘Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!'”
    There are suggestions for games to play with these cards like “Panda Pick-Up” and “One, Two, Bamboo.” (Or just use them during the family dinner.)
  • Longing for a music video? (I know that you are!) You can view the same ones we watched as we sang. Here are links for Wild About You and Watching Over You. There are more! Click on “Videos” at the top, and then scroll down to “Music Videos.”
  • There are VBC games to play on-line: here. Any one for a little Fez’s Fruit Frenzy?
  • Don’t be a stranger at this web site. Receive new posts by email by entering your address at the box on the top upper right side of this page. (And then clicking the button). Check out a few favorites: On starting a good habit with your kids, or doing a family activity to celebrate a season, or an example of what I call one of my Time Out, Talk About… posts.
  • Add your suggestion by posting a comment. (No signing up for anything, is necessary!)


Photo credits: click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email). Other photos: from my archives.

A family dinner game to prepare for the “big” game?

I have said this before: a way to spark faith conversations with your family is to make family dinner a priority.

But don’t just eat. Play games.

That’s right. To extend your time together as a family, add a “game” to your meal. And the game I have in mind – a variation of Twenty Questions – will surreptitiously help your kids to prepare for this coming Sunday’s Cool Disciples review game – AKA “The Big Game.”

Supplies needed:

  • Slips of paper no larger than someone’s forehead, 3 or 4 per person
  • Writing implements
  • Adhesive tape
  • A Bible (optional, in case someone needs a hint, or an argument needs solving!)

A child wears a game card on her forehead

Distribute the slips of paper and the writing implements and ask everyone to secretly write the name of a character on each slip of paper. The characters should be from the Bible stories that the kids have learned this year.

What were those stories?

The Beatitudes, Adam and Eve in the Garden, Four Friends Carry a Lame Man to Jesus, The Birth of Jesus from the viewpoint of his mother Mary, John the Baptist, The Parable of the Sower, and the story of Easter Week.

Right away you’ll probably not want anyone to write down God or Jesus. Way too easy to guess!

What are some possibilities?

  • Someone at the Sermon on the Mount
  • Adam
  • Eve
  • The snake (why not get creative)
  • The man let down from the roof
  • One of the 4 Friends
  • Angel Gabriel
  • Mary, mother of Jesus
  • Elizabeth
  • Joseph
  • John the Baptist
  • Daniel
  • King Darius
  • A farmer sowing seed (in Bible times)
  • Peter (the disciple)
  • The donkey Jesus rode on Palm Sunday
  • Judas
  • Caiaphas
  • Pilate
  • Herod
  • Joseph of Arimathea
  • Mary Magdalene

(Or you could just write out enough of the above characters ahead of time.)

Have everyone pass their pile of written characters (name-side-down) to the person on their right. Everyone will pick up one of the characters and paste it (name-side-out) on their forehead. (Pass the tape, please!)

Everyone takes turns asking yes or no questions about their character in an effort to determine who they are wearing. Have fun!

We’d love to have you join the fun at this Sunday’s game: “Are You Smarter Than a Sixth Grader” at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI.

a blue line


Photo credits:
Child eating a peach by Bruce Tuten, who licensed his photo under: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic. (Which allows me to re-touch this photo to add the forehead game card!)

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Family dinner games for the Parable of the Sower

The cover of the book: The Family Dinner

So what games have you been playing at the dinner table?

Playing games is what makes eating dinner together fun! (And memorable.) The book The Family Dinner has this to say about the goal of game playing at supper…

To lead everyone to great family stories and good conversations.

And if that conversation tends toward talking about issues of faith… all the better.

Here’s some games you can play that tie in with our current Rotation for the Cool Disciples at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI.

  • What would you plant? Take turns telling what each family member would like to grow if you had a large garden.
  • Take it up a notch… assuming you could grow anything (such as colors of paint, or types of cars) what would each person like to try growing and why?
  • Play “Fortunately/Unfortunately” – one person starts off telling a story with a good or fortunate occurrence. Start off with: “Once upon a time, a farmer had good weather so he decided to plant some seeds.” The next person adds to the story with an unfortunate event, for example: “Unfortunately his bag for the seed had a hole in it.” The next person remedies the situation with another fortunate event, such as: “Fortunately, this farmer had a neighbor who had an extra bag.” Etc., etc. Back and forth with fortunate and unfortunate episodes.
  • Review the four different types of soil in the Parable of the Sower and note what happened to the seed on each soil. Go around the table and have everyone add one line to a modern-day story that conveys the same meaning. (How about a story about learning to ice skate?)

Have fun!

For more on making family dinners a priority, read here.


Photo credits: Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email)
licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Book cover – from my archives. (I took a picture of this book when I had it out of the library!)

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Cultivating the soil

Spring is coming! It will soon be time to plant seeds! I’ve been enthusiastically planning my garden; dreaming of lush lettuce and tasty tomatoes. I love growing veggies and flowers!
Packages of seeds - flowers & herbs

Spring is a great time to talk about sowing seeds, so this month the 1st – 6th graders (the Cool Disciples) at First United Methodist Church (FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI), are studying a Rotation on the Parable of the Sower.
You can read this parable in Mark 4:1-9.

Time Out. Talk about…What is needed for a seed to grow? A speech bubble

Soil, sun, water, love… Did you know that there is something else that needs growing, that takes just as much care and attention?

Cultivating the soil of a thankful heart.

How does one nurture such a garden? Here’s one idea: Keep a list. Take up a notebook and start a list of the things for which your family is grateful. Jot a thankful every day, perhaps at the family dinner table. (Make putting out the journal be a part of setting the table!)

Time Out. Talk about…What are you thankful for today? A speech bubble

Here are a few from my gratitude journal.

590. Chickadees, waiting for the feeder to be filled.
594. Friends, both old and new.
597. Sunshine (after several days of gray.)
601. Drawer dividers for organizing.
605. Textures on tree bark.
607. A husband who is a great cook.
613. Opportunities for my children that allow them to stretch their wings.

How does your garden gratitude grow?

Where did my list making start? Click on this button…

Button to access the web site: A Holy Experience.

Photo credits:
Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
Seed packages by LollyKnit from Flickr, licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Button from A Holy Experience.

A Family Dinner “Game”

A way to talk about faith with your kids is to make family dinner a priority.

But don’t just eat. Play games.

That’s right. To extend your time together as a family, add a “game” to the end of your meal. Here’s a game suggestion that ties to our current Rotation on Daniel and the lions. Make the story come alive! Tell the story dramatically, involving everyone at the table. All you need is a Bible.

Find Daniel 6:3-23. (If you want an easy to read version click here.) One person can be the story teller and everyone else… the characters in the story. To make it easy, there doesn’t have to just be one Daniel and one king – everyone can be Daniel and everyone can be the king. And everyone gets to be lions!

Daniel In the Lions

The reader can create voices for the different story characters. How would the bad guys sound? Sort of whispery? (You do this when reading regular books to your kids; why not apply it to reading the Bible.)

For example, in verse 11 it says…
'
Some of the other royal officials went to where Daniel was staying. They saw him praying and asking God for help.

Ask your family to pretend to be the bad guys. How would they act when they discovered they’d trapped Daniel! Encourage everyone to use their body to tell the story. (The bad guys were probably giving each other high-fives. Yes! We caught him in the act!)

Perhaps she is a lion?
How did Daniel look when he was praying? How did the king react when he heard what he’d done to Daniel? How did the lions look before Daniel was thrown into their den? How did they look when Daniel was among them? (Mouths closed!)

Finish up your “game” with a prayer. (It’s what Daniel probably did.)

-------


Photo credits:
Daniel with lions a photo of a painting by Robert Edward Weaver (c. 1952), is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Kid being a lion by Nathan, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 License.