Handheld Prayers: Thanksgiving

What does a jingle bell, click pen, stone, binder clip, paperclip, warm fuzzy, and quarter have to do with quiet prayer?  On Sundays in Lent, Quiet Lent Prayer Practices will return with all new Handheld Prayers.  Our Handheld prayer satchels will contain five small objects that fit in our hands and remind us in a small, everyday way of the many options we have when we open the conversation to God in prayer.

Here is a file containing the information card in each satchel:  https://familygodtime.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/handheld-prayers-explanation-card-2019.pdf

COIN:  Thanksgiving

Another popular way to pray is to offer people, places, and things for which we are thankful to God in prayer.  But how do we get beyond the big, general categories and into everyday thankfulness?  For this type of prayer, you have a quarter.  It is not worth much, and gives us a good reminder that something does not have to be big or particularly precious in order to spark our thankfulness.  Hold it in your hand or transfer it from hand to hand as you tell God about the little things for which you are thankful.  You might choose to start or end with Psalm 107:1 “I give thanks to the Lord, for you are good; your steadfast love endures forever.”  Every time that you hold a coin in your hand this week, practice giving thanks to God for the little things.

Handheld Prayers: Petition

What does a jingle bell, click pen, stone, binder clip, paperclip, warm fuzzy, and quarter have to do with quiet prayer?  On Sundays in Lent, Quiet Lent Prayer Practices will return with all new Handheld Prayers.  Our Handheld prayer satchels will contain five small objects that fit in our hands and remind us in a small, everyday way of the many options we have when we open the conversation to God in prayer.

Here is a file containing the information card in each satchel:  https://familygodtime.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/handheld-prayers-explanation-card-2019.pdf

WARM FUZZY:  Petition
When we pray for ourselves, offering our deepest hopes and fears to God, it is called petition. When I was a kid, we learned that offering someone a compliment was a “warm fuzzy,” while an insult was a “cold prickly.” Because we are asking for the comfort which comes only from God, petition is a warm fuzzy. Hold it in your hand and squeeze it as you tell God about what you need today. You might choose to start or end with Psalm 86:7 “I call on you and you answer me.” Keep your warm fuzzy handy this week, and practice telling God what you need.

Thanksgiving 2017: Psalm 118

Each year at our family Thanksgiving meal, we try to do some kind of activity that reminds us that we give thanks, not just in general, but also specifically to God.  This year, we will do this through an art project for the picture window in dining room.

A few weeks ago, I introduced the idea of giving thanks to my kids with a craft I found at Michael’s:

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We hung them on the inside of our picture window, facing out, along with some leaf stickers on waxed paper.  The kids couldn’t wait to take a picture:

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They have been so excited to share their art installation that I thought we would include our family members who are joining us for Thanksgiving.  Before dinner, each person will get a stack of paper leaves:

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Here is the file to print the leaves out:  Leaves for Thanksgiving 2017
I printed them on card stock in “Spice Market” colors.

Everyone will also get something to write with, and the instructions to write what they are thankful for, one thing on each leaf.  While they work, I will play this song from Psalm 118 for inspiration:

When it is time for the meal, we will take turns going around the table and saying what is on our leaves, with the rest of the family responding “Thanks be to God.”  The kids will use gift wrapping tape to secure the leaves to the window as we pray.  We will conclude our prayers with a “repeat-after-me” version of this prayer:

Thanksgiving Prayer for Harvest Time
Loving God, all that we have
comes from your goodness
and the work of those who love us.
Bless us and the food we share.
Watch over those who care for us.
Open our eyes to the needs of the poor
during this time of
harvest and thanksgiving.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.
(Elizabeth McMahon Jeep, Blessings and Prayers through the Year, Liturgy Training Publications 2004)

May God bless you and your family as we celebrate!  May it be a holy time for you.

God Creates Us:  Genesis 1 & Psalm 139

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**For the next five weeks at Family God Time, we will be reviewing the Bible stories that we learned at Vacation Bible School this summer.  Our curriculum in 2017 was Group’s Maker Fun Factory.

Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for time to feed our faith as a family, and time to learn about our wonderful complexity.  Help our time together to be a holy time.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

**We did the first part of the activity right after our gathering prayer so that the glue had time to dry.

Activity part 1:  Five Senses Photo Booth
Recently, our family went to a party where there was a photo booth.  The girls had so much fun, that I thought it might be a good idea to recreate it at home and tie it into the creation story, since God made us so wonderfully complex.  Here’s how we did it:

Supplies needed:
Five Senses file printed on cardstock:  Five Senses
scissors
coloring utensils
glue
popsicle sticks
a small, dark room (we used my walk-in closet)
a stool
other fun photo booth props
a camera with a flash

Instructions:

  1. Cut out each of the five senses.
  2. Color the parts. As you do, you can interview your children about their favorite part of each sense.  For instance, “What is your favorite thing that God made that you can smell/see/hear/taste/touch?”
  3. Glue the completed parts to the popsicles sticks. Allow to dry while you do the Bible story and song.

Bible Story:  Genesis 1:26-31, Psalm 139
Read the story of the creation of people in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1%3A26-31&version=ERV

We reviewed the video that our parish made during VBS for our Bible story time.  You can find it here:

Now, read Psalm 139:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+139&version=NLT

Discuss as a family:

  1. What does God know about us?
  2. Where does God see us?
  3. How did God make us?

Song:  Hippo Song
During our Bible learning station at VBS, we put our fingerprints on a heart to remember that God’s fingerprints are on our hearts.  It reminded me of a great creation song, and my girls could not wait to sing it over and over again:

Activity part 2:  Five Senses Photo Booth
Once the glue was dry, I cleaned out the floor of my closet and put a tall stool in the open space.  I gave my children some extra options for photo booth fun, like noisemakers, felt hearts, sunglasses, and glow bracelets.  After they each made their selections, I sat them on the stool in the “photo booth,” closed the closet door, and took their pictures.  We had a lot of fun, and, just like a real photo booth, the photos were a bit crazy, cramped, and a bit out of focus.  Here were some of my favorites:

Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith!  I hope that this time was holy time for you.  Join us next week for another VBS-themed Family God Time!

Closing Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for making us so wonderfully complex.  Help us to remember that everything we are comes from you.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Reformation Day Celebration!

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Luther’s Rose

Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for time to feed our faith as a family, and time to learn about the Reformation.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Verse:  Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Our family comes from the Lutheran tradition, and celebrating Reformation Day is kind of a big deal.  This year is the 499th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, so it is even a bigger deal.  On October 31, 1517, a Roman Catholic monk and professor named Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper with 95 things that he thought was wrong with the church on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenburg, Germany.  He meant to start a discussion about how to reform the church.  What he started was a religious revolution.  One of the results of this revolution was the formation of other Christian denominations, called Protestants for their protesting against the Roman Catholic Church, of which the Lutheran church is one.

These days, our call is not to be against Catholics, but rather to always be reforming.  As Lutherans, we look closely at everything that we believe, say, and do, and try to make sure that it both fits the time in which we live and is in accordance with God’s will.  This is not always easy, but it is holy work.

What is your favorite part of church?  Your faith?  What about your church or your faith needs some work?  How does knowing that God alone is the source of our strength help you to do the important work of reform?

Song:  Amazing Grace (jazzy version)
One of the most important things that Martin Luther taught was that God along gives us grace; it is not something that we could ever earn on our own.  What better song to sing to celebrate this than a kicked up version of “Amazing Grace”? https://youtu.be/NNsMtz_Vlf0

Activity:  Luther’s Rose

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Martin Luther was especially interested in helping children and families to understand our Christian faith.  He translated the Bible into German so that regular people could understand it.  He wrote the Small Catechism so that parents could teach it to their children in a simple way.  He also drew a picture which included everything you needed to know about the promises of God.  It is called Luther’s Rose.  Here is what it means:

Black Cross:  We are saved from sin because Jesus died on the cross.

Red Heart:  We live because Jesus shed His blood for us. Our faith in Him has saved us.

White Rose:  Our faith give us joy, comfort, and peace. White is to remind us this is peace like the angels enjoy.

Blue Background:  Reminds us that we will meet Jesus in heaven.

Gold Circle:  Gold is precious; it reminds us of heaven’s endless joys. A circle is an endless shape.

(Thanks to Zion Lutheran Church online for this explanation!  See link below.)

Today, we will assemble our own Luther’s Rose to hang on the refrigerator, in our rooms, or even to wear as a button!

First, print out the cutting guide, which you can find here:

luthers-rose-cutting-guide

Then, you have two choices.  Either you can cut each piece out of colored paper in the colors indicated, or you can color a white piece and then cut them out.

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Assemble them in a stack like this:

  • Yellow circle down first.
  • Blue circle on yellow circle.
  • White rose on blue circle
  • Red heart centered on white rose.

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  • Punch a small hole in the center of the heart and slip a brad through.  Fasten as tightly as you can.

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  • Add a glue dot to the top of the brad.  Stick the black cross to the top of the brad.

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  • If you want to make this into a button to wear, add a safety pin between the white and blue layers and through the blue and yellow layers.
  • If you want to hang it on the refrigerator, attach a small magnet to the back.
  • If you want to hang it on a bulletin board, no further action is needed!

Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith!  I hope that this time was holy time for you.

Closing Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you called Martin Luther to reform the church.  Help us to do our best to always follow you.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bonus Resource:  I developed a children’s bulletin for use with my parish on Reformation Sunday.  If you might find it useful, please access it here:

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I am thankful for tons of great online resources about the Reformation which contributed to the writing of this Family God Time.  Check them out below:

Sojourn Kids Reformation Partyhttp://www.sojournkids.com/blog/2010/10/reformation-day-party-plan

Simplified Explanation of Luther’s Rosehttp://zion-lutheran-online.com/christian-education/sunday-school/62-luthers-seal

Full Explanation of Luther’s Rosehttp://www.goodshepherd.nb.ca/seal/

Majestic God: Psalm 8:1

Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for time to feed our faith as a family, and time to learn about how majestic the Lord truly is.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Verse:  Psalm 8:1
Our house is preparing for Bible School by listening to the songs over and over…and over!  This year, our parish is using Group Publishing’s Cave Quest VBS.  One of my kids’ favorite songs from this disk is “Majestic.”  The words to this song sounded like a psalm to me, and when I looked it up, indeed it was!  Time to make a Family God Time devotion from it!

The first verse of Psalm 8 is this:
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is
your name in all the earth.

Most of the words in this verse are probably familiar to your kids, with the exception of “majestic.”  Ask them if they have ever heard the phrase “Your Majesty” referring to a king or a queen (if they have ever watched Peppa Pig, they will have!).  An easy definition of “majestic” is “king or queen-like.  Therefore, what we are saying in this verse is that God’s name is king-like over all of the earth, or God reigns as king over all the earth.

We made up some motions to go with this verse:
O Lord, our Lord (sign-language “L” from left shoulder to right waist)
How majestic is (pretend to put a crown on your head)
Your name in all the earth. (palms up, hands move down toward the earth)

Discuss as a family:
What does it mean that God reigns over all the earth?

Song:  Majestic
This song is from Group Cave Quest VBS.  You can find it on their CD.  You can also hear a preview of the song here:

https://www.group.com/category/ministry-resources/childrens-ministry/vbs/cave-quest.do#div-Music

If you do not have access to this song, I suggest “Beautiful Savior” as an alternative:

 

Activity:  Majestic Crowns
I found this simple idea on Pinterest:
Paper Plate Crowns

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Lately, my oldest wants to add jewels to everything, so our crowns included jewels at the points.  My middle child is still wearing hers several days after the fact!

Here are a couple of pics of the completed project (pre-jewel treatment):

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Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith!  I hope that this time was holy time for you.

Closing Prayer: (Can be a repeat after me prayer if you have non-readers in your family)
Dear God, we thank you that for holy time together as a family.  Help us to remember that your name is majestic in all the earth.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

The Lord’s My Shepherd: Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd

Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for time to feed our faith as a family, and time to remember that God is in charge.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Psalm 23
This psalm is one of those “back pocket” psalms that everyone should know by heart.  Here is a great way to do this together:

It might take a few times to get it right, but the effort will be worth it.  You will remember that the Lord, your shepherd, is with you, in good times and in bad!

Discuss as a family: (Read these questions out loud, and then read the psalm again.  Then, take time to respond!)
What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this psalm?
What delights me in this psalm or is my favorite part of the story?
What stories or memories does this psalm stir in me? What do I know about sheep or being a shepherd, for example?
What is God up to in this psalm? What is God wanting us to know or to learn from this psalm?

Song:  I Just Wanna Be A Sheep
This is a fun song for the whole family that reminds us that we are part of God’s flock.  Enjoy!

Activity:  Shepherd Sardines
This activity is a twist on the hide and seek game called “Sardines.”  It follows the “Good Shepherd” verse from John 10: 27 “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”

To play, one person gets to be the shepherd, and everyone else are sheep.  He or she finds a place to hide while the rest of the “sheep” close their eyes and baa.  When the shepherd is ready, he or she calls for the sheep.  Any way to call is fine, though I am partial to “Here, sheepy, sheepy, sheepy!”  The sheep then follow the call of their shepherd’s voice until they find him or her.  Then, they get into the hiding place with the shepherd.  This continues until the whole flock is gathered together in the hiding place.  Take turns being shepherds and sheep until everyone has had a chance to be the shepherd.  We are called to listen for the voice of Jesus in the same way.

Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith!  I hope that this time was holy time for you.

Closing Prayer: (Can be a repeat after me prayer if you have non-readers in your family)
Dear God, we thank you that for holy time together as a family.  Help us to remember that you are our shepherd and we are your sheep, in the good times, the bad times, and the in between times.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.