This Sunday: September 27

Here are the stories for this week. Each segment will include a summary, some follow-up wondering questions for home, a memory verse if you’d like to work on memorizing those and occasional ideas to further the study through the week as a family.

Several of the suggestions are from the curricula’s parent pages. Click Here to order some for your own use at home!

Beulah Land: Elijah
Memory Verse: O, Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 1 Kings 18:36
Summary: This week’s story covers a lot of ground! Your kids will hear events from Elijah’s life such as being fed by ravens, battling prophets of Baal and meeting Elisha. The structure of this lesson is meant to “emphasize the sovereign will of God and inscrutable nature of the  Living God, who, unlike Baal, is not to be tamed, placated or charmed by superstitious rituals, but is interested only in unflinching loyalty and righteous deeds.” Once again, your children will see the desert appear, and witness the recurrent theme of a “holy journey…whose leader and guide  is the Lord of Hosts.”
I Wonder… : why the people grew lazy and careless? why they stopped following God’s laws? why Elijah went out to the desert and holy mountain? if you have ever heard the ‘still, small voice” of God? if this story reminds you of other stories? where you have heard about the desert before?
Additional Follow-up: Once again, I encourage re-reading the story and acting out roles. There are several parts of Elijah’s account that lend themselves to this. Have someone be the raven that brings food to hungry Elijah. Have another child whisper in a “still, small voice” that God is with Elijah.

Godly Play I: The Holy Family
Memory Verse: For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Summary: The Holy Family is a story that the Godly Play Curriculum advises to use at the start of every liturgical season or story type change throughout the year. The story is a simple description of the nativity scene that focuses on Jesus and His incarnation, death and resurrection. Because of the centrality of Jesus to all Scripture, it is important that children are consistently brought back to Him through the yearly spiral. It is the lens through which we Christians observe everything else.
I Wonder…: what you can tell me about the Holy Family? who is the most important family member? why it is important to remember the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus even during Ordinary Time (the green time)? what this has to do with you and me?
Additional Follow-up: Draw a picture of today’s lesson. Have your child tell you about each participant. I encourage you to not quiz the children to make sure they have the right answers, but allow them to talk about their picture and wonder about why we would care to remember something we typically only see at Christmas or Easter.

Godly Play II: The Holy Trinity
Memory Verse: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians13:14
Summary: We’ve got one of those VERY mysterious and full of WONDER synthesis stories this week–the Holy Trinity. Today several lessons are pulled together to emphasize the presence of the Godhead in Creation, life of Jesus. Baptism and Church. The storyteller will help children wonder about a Three-in-One Presence.
I Wonder…: how God can be one, but three? where you have talked about the Trinity before? what it means when we baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Additional Follow-up: There are many ways in which we try to explain the Trinity to children…apples and eggs are two that come to mind. Yet those are not able to really capture what we believe. Instead of trying to figure it out, wonder about it over the week. Pray and ask for understanding as well as the ability to rest in God’s truth.

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Book Recommendations For Talking to Kids about Sex

A friend of mine recently emailed that she is teaching a seminar for parents about talking to kids about sex. She asked for a book recommendations for parents. I thought you guys might want to know of them as well!

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Here’s the first. Hopefully you’ve seen this advertised on social media already! Written by a married duo, this book is geared toward 2-8 year-old children. It’s fantastic! Three things I loved about it:

  1. It starts with dignity. It begins with the question, “Who Made You?”, and the answer, “God.” And it discusses that God made ALL THINGS GOOD. Yes. Perspective. Little ones (and big ones), you are the magnum opus of God’s creation. I hope that makes you cry a little.
  2. It teaches boundaries in both child-friendly language AND in a way that legitimizes a child’s voice. One example they give in the book is that a child can choose not to hug or kiss a relative goodbye. And that is ok! Children don’t owe adults physical affection.
  3. It clarifies the difference between secrets and surprises. I wholeheartedly agree with the authors on this and LOVE how they talk about the two. Children (or adults, for that matter) are not meant to bear secrets. They facilitate shame and guilt.

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The second set is a series I have not read, but heard good things about. It’s called God’s Design for Sex Series. It is also written by a married duo. He is a psychology professor and she has training in biblical and theological studies. It seems that different books from the set appeal to different ages. The first book, The Story of Me, is aimed for 3-5 year olds. However, Facing the Facts, is written for children 11-14. You can order them separately or together. They are meant to be read by both child and parent.

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Girlology is a book I used with a middle school girls’ group way back when I was a counselor in Florida. It isn’t Christian or faith-based. However, it maintains boundaries that I agree with and encourages girls to talk to their mothers throughout puberty. Written by two female doctors, it is quite frank about body parts, romantic relationships and friendship. I’d recommend reading this along with your daughter. It is good fodder for conversations!

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You guys know the author from our community retreat last year. It’s Sharon Hersh and she’s wonderful! This book is one in a three book series about mother-daughter relationships. It is geared toward parents. She gives snippets of practical advice in a book that’s really about hope and longing in the soul of a teenage girl. I think it gives honor to both mother and adolescent.

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Lastly, how about a book for the boys? Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys is written by two male Christian counselors out of Nashville. This book is for parents and addresses development in boys from birth to adulthood. It is not primarily about sex, but includes discussions about subjects that contribute to healthy views of sexuality such as pornography, puberty and masturbation. I love their discussion about rituals and rites of passage for boys. This might have been the book I recommended most to parents during my days as a counselor.

This list is not all-inclusive. There are many, MANY books out there. These are just a few suggestions for your parenting tool belt.

This list is also not meant to be a conversation stopper from RMC’s end. Talking about sexuality can muddle the waters of dignity and depravity in us like no other subjects, especially when we adults broach the topic with children. It causes us to have to turn the mirror in our direction; that has potential for great shame. Please know you are always welcome to talk about this. We want to pray for, support and encourage you as you talk with your children. And we think you can do it.

This Sunday: September 20th

Here are the stories for this week. Each segment will include a summary, some follow-up wondering questions for home, a memory verse if you’d like to work on memorizing those and occasional ideas to further the study through the week as a family.

Several of the suggestions are from the curricula’s parent pages. Click Here to order some for your own use at home!

Beulah Land: David
Memory Verse: David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…” 1 Samuel 17:45a
Summary: Today’s story is about David facing Goliath. The story contrasts the size and power of the boy David and the giant Goliath, with the even bigger strength of God.
I Wonder… : if David was afraid of the giant? if the giant was afraid of David? what it is like to trust in the Lord? if this is like any other story you’ve heard?
Additional Follow-up: Kids process information and learn via play. Stage a battle with toys between the Israelites and Philistines. Act it out. Pretend a tall tree is Goliath. Marvel and wonder together about the Lord, who can equip an average boy to defeat a giant. Find the site of the battle on a map.

Godly Play I & II: Paul’s Discoveries
Memory Verse: Choose a verse from Acts 9!
Summary: Our final New Testament lesson this semester is about Paul and the spread of Christianity. The story discusses the role of Holy Spirit in changing Paul from the inside out, then using him to spread the hope of Christ to early churches. It’s told in 7 stages (Leaving Tarsus, Study at the Temple, Conversion on the way to Damascus, Escape from Damascus, Letters to the New Churches).
I Wonder…: what Paul thought when He met Jesus as he traveled? if Paul was afraid? what is most important about Paul’s life? what part of the story is about you?
Additional Follow-up: Find a map of Paul’s missionary journeys. Wonder together over why Paul was willing to endure hardships to spread the hope of Christ.

This Sunday

Here are the stories for this week. Each segment will include a summary, some follow-up wondering questions for home, a memory verse if you’d like to work on memorizing those and occasional ideas to further the study through the week as a family.

Several of the suggestions are from the curricula’s parent pages. Click Here to order some for your own use at home!

Beulah Land: Samuel
Memory Verse: 1 Samuel 3:10
Summary: Today’s story is about the birth and calling of Samuel to serve in the tabernacle and become a great prophet.
I Wonder… : why Hannah promised to take Samuel to the tent? if she wanted to? if Samuel wanted to? what it was like for Samuel to hear God call his name? if this story reminds you of any other stories.

Godly Play I & II: Mystery of Pentecost
Memory Verse: Acts 2:4
Summary: We are going back to the New Testament in our spiral curriculum since we weren’t able to finish these last Spring. This Sunday’s lesson is about Pentecost. This story begins with the Tower of Babel and shattering of a common language. It ends with the Holy Spirit descending on the early followers of Christ and the spread of Christianity.
I Wonder…: who the Holy Spirit is? what it means to have ‘tongues of fire’? what this story has to do with you? if you have ever come close to something like Pentecost?
Additional Followup: Fun Fact: Red is usually worn and used in decoration for Pentecost. Ask your child what color on the church calendar we use for Pentecost. If they’ve been in Godly Play before, they’ll know! Many denominations have historically viewed Pentecost as the birthday of the church. It’s the first recording we have of new believers in groups together, devoted to “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, breaking of bread and to prayer”. Read Acts 2 with your family and wonder what the early church was like. Give thanks that God sent Holy Spirit to help us.

The Godly Play Spiral

Godly Play refers to its curriculum as a spiral. Children enter the spiral as a three-year-old. Then, like a cone, the spiral’s circles move upward and outward as they ingest Scripture and are able to take in more of its meaning. This happens as children mature and achieve new developmental milestones. The curriculum aims to accomplish the long-term goal of equipping children with the ability to integrate God’s story in their lives. It is based on the Montessori tradition.

Google Images
Google Images

The youngest children (RMC’s 4-5 year olds) begin the Godly Play Spiral with “core stories” that are repeated as the child moves up and down the spiral. The goal for young children is to absorb the stories so they can build upon them as they age. A few examples of core stories are The Great Family (God’s Covenant with Abraham), The Exodus and The Prophets.

Core Story: Noah's Ark From Godly Play Website
Core Story: Noah’s Ark
Photo from Godly Play website

During the second stage (RMC’s  6-8 year olds), both core stories and “extension/ enrichment lessons” are taught. These lessons tend to be more detailed stories about characters from the bible. For example, a core story is The Exodus. Moses is certainly discussed in the story, but not in great detail. During the second stage of the spiral, children will receive a story about Moses, starting with him as a baby in a basket. When they go back through the spiral and hear The Exodus again, they will now have more information to contemplate and enrich what they know about Scripture.

Core Story: The Exodus- From Western Quarter Quakers Website
Core Story: The Exodus
                  Photo from Western Quarter Quakers Website

 

Enrichment Story: Moses- From Godly Play Site
Enrichment Story: Moses
Photo from Godly Play Website

The third stage (technically for 9-12 year olds, but we use some with our 6-9 year olds) includes what Godly Play calls “synthesis lessons”. Along with core stories and enrichment stories, older children begin to link stories from Scripture with one another. In a synthesis lesson, you might witness a child connecting the Parable of the Good Shepherd, with the story The Good Shepherd and Communion. Perhaps you will see a child form a link between the tabernacle, synagogue and church. Often stories are told side-by-side. As the older children circle back down and up the spiral, they will have even more fodder for understanding those core and extension/enrichment stories.

Core Story: The Good Shepherd and World Communion Photo from Godly Play Website
Core Story: The Good Shepherd & Communion Photo from Godly Play Website

 

Core Story: Parable of the Good Shepherd Photo from Youtube
Core Story: Parable of the Good Shepherd
Photo from Youtube

Sometimes parents (and occasionally the children!) will ask why they need to hear the same stories repeatedly. That is a great question! Don’t we adults ask that of our own study? The short answer is because those stories are important, vital even, to us.

The long answer has more to do with our beliefs as Christians about Scripture and how the Holy Spirit works through it to transform us. The goal of Godly Play, or really for any Christian studying Scripture, is not simply to acquire knowledge or become an expert in all things bible. The goal we have is for children to encounter Scripture, and therefore a good, loving God, and be changed more into Christ’s image as they spend a lifetime in study of it (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

This Sunday

Here are the stories for this week. Each segment will include a summary, some follow-up wondering questions for home, a memory verse if you’d like to work on memorizing those and occasional ideas to further the study through the week as a family.

Several of the suggestions are from the curricula’s parent pages. Click Here to order some for your own use at home!

Beulah Land: Ruth
Memory Verse: Ruth 4:14
Summary: Your child will hear the story of God’s faithfulness to two women who were alone, depressed and in need of a kinsman-redeemer. You can find this story in the Old Testament book of Ruth.
I Wonder… : Why Ruth wanted to stay with Naomi instead of going back to her own parents? What it was like for Ruth to be an outsider in her new city? Why Boaz was kind to Ruth? Why this story is important to know?
Additional Followup: This is another great story to re-read and act out! We’ve often been pitched the story of Ruth as a bit of a romantic, damsel-in-distress tale. It’s far from that! Here is a great book for parents who want to learn more.

Godly Play I & II: Jesus and the 12
Memory Verse: Acts 1: 13b-14
Summary: We are going back to the New Testament in our spiral curriculum since we weren’t able to finish these last Spring. This Sunday’s lesson is about the 12 Disciples and how they helped spread the Gospel after Jesus ascended into heaven. This lesson will review each of the disciples, how they met Jesus, how they continued his ministry and how they died.
I Wonder…: Why Jesus called these men to follow him? What they thought of Jesus? How they felt when he died and resurrected? Why they wanted to carry the good news about Jesus to other people? why we sometimes call disciples, “apostles”.
Additional Followup: This lesson uses Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Maybe you could pull up the image at home and ask your child to tell you about the disciples. Try to name all 12. Look together in Scripture for passages that tell you about them. (Here are two to start with: Matthew 10:2-4 and Acts 1:13-14.) Smaller kids might want to draw a picture of the disciples and try to name them.

How was school?

Parents want to know about their child’s day. Like allllllll about it… How was school? What did you learn? Did you eat your lunch? What did you eat? How was the math test? Were you nice to people? Are people being kind to you or does Mama need to bust some chops?

And we all know what the most common responses seem to be: “fine”, “good”, “ok”.

Ahhhhh!!!

It can be frustrating to get those one word answers! Conversations with children, y’all. They can be hard. You’re not alone in that! I looked through a bunch of articles and some of my old presentations about communicating with your child. None of them are magic, rocket science or a cure-all. But they’re ideas. Maybe you’ll find them useful.

  1. Timing: This can be a matter of knowing your child’s personality. Some kids are ripping and raring to talk as soon as they get home. You can hardly get them to stop! Other kids need a little time between leaving school and transitioning into home before they’re ready to share. If this is your child, greet them with a “Hey! I’m so glad to see you!” when they come home, then wait for another time to talk. Here are a few options:
    1. Dinner Time: There are a lot of perks to family dinners. Establish this time each day as when everyone shares about their day. As it becomes routine, kids will be prepared to share. I love what ideas this list provides. This also helps children learn to listen to others.
    2. Bed Time: Chances are your child will want to put off sleepy time anyway. Make use of it by asking about their day! Often children (and adults, not me — a friend) mulling over something tend to get it off their chests around bedtime. Also, I love the Ignatian Prayers of Examen and think they’re wonderful to use with children. As you help your children learn to pray, consider asking about things to pray for from their day.
    3. Side-by-side Time: Here’s a total non-surprise…kids don’t like to sit down and have conversation for hours like we adults. Look for side-by-side time to talk. It can be in the car on an errand, playing, throwing the ball around in the yard or helping set the table for dinner. For little kids, draw a picture of the day or play school together. See what they talk about and instruct you to do! Play is a way that little children provide information.
  2. Get Creative: Here are other ways to open the lines of communication with your child.
    1. Open-Ended Exploring Questions: HERE is a fun list of questions that foster conversation. I bet you’d learn a lot of good information from some of these!
    2. Shared journal for older kids: Sometimes things are easier said in writing. If your child is older and starting to give you more shrugs and eye-rolls, consider a journal that you pass back and forth. Write a question each day on a page and put it on your child’s pillow. They can write a response and you can read it, comment on it, perhaps even say something you enjoyed about it, and put it back for the next night. Preteens and teens might act like this is annoying, but I bet they read every word you write! Keep in mind this journal is NOT for you in the sense that you write about your secrets and life. But it IS for you in the sense that you are learning about, and connecting with, your child.
  3. Listening: Man, this might be the hardest part. It’s so much easier to give advice, judge or highjack conversations. However, listening is crucial to establishing trust and keeping the lines of communication open with your child. Here are two starting points for better listening:
    1. Pauses: Think of pauses in two forms. The first is asking a question, then letting the pause be until someone answers.  The second is if your kid starts talking, let them go and hit the pause button on your own questioning/talking. You might be surprised at some things they mention that you didn’t think to ask!
    2. Reflecting, but not interrupting: As children share, parents want to do things like fix a problem, check cell phones or provide advice. Listening means that those are not our first reactions in conversations with anyone, especially our children. Consider helping them say more by offering reflection statements that show you are listening like, “That sounds boring” or “You sound excited”. Apologize if you interrupt them.

Remember that questions about the day are more than just about gathering information. They’re about building relationship with your child and establishing those all important lines of communication and trust. And that is a lifelong dance. Learning those steps doesn’t happen overnight. Pray for insight and wisdom. Learn your children and what works best for each child.

Lastly, don’t forget that you parents are a gift to each other. Or you can be at least. =) Ask other parents what has worked for them and pray for each other. And leave a comment if you have any ideas to share!