Children Enjoying God’s Company

Shortly after my daughter Louisa turned eight last fall, a friend shared with me a significant rite of passage her mother had initiated for her at 8-years-old. This wise mother had bought her daughter a devotional book and encouraged her to begin her own “quiet times” with God, empowering her to seek God’s presence without an overseeing adult.

I knew that my own daughter, a confident reader and a curious spiritual seeker, was ready to begin her own journey of daily enjoying God’s company. So I waded through a huge selection of devotional guides online and solicited recommendations from other moms, and when I presented Louisa with the book I chose, I found her eager, receptive, and honored to begin this spiritual discipline. I encouraged her to grab her journal, find a restful place, quiet her heart and mind, ask God for wisdom as she handles His Word, read, and listen for His still, small voice.

I’ve rounded up various age-appropriate resources here, and I hope you’ll find them useful in guiding your children into the welcoming presence of God. Your child may or may not be developmentally ready for private devotions. But he is absolutely capable of spending time in God’s company, and is invited into that kind of communion by Jesus Himself, who demonstrates in Matthew 19 that His desire is for children to come to Him. May God bless you as you shepherd your children toward His arms.

BEGINNING READERS

Crystal Bowman’s Devotions for Beginning Readers

Intended for K-3rd graders, this book is written with simple language to make devotional reading accessible for young children.

Crystal Bowman’s Our Daily Bread for Kids

This devotional for kids ages 6-10 follows in the tradition of the well-loved Daily Bread devotionals.

OLDER ELEMENTARY STUDENTS & TWEENS

Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids   -     By: Max Lucado

Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment

Lucado addresses foundational spiritual truths while also offering practical suggestions for living out faith (for example, finding a task you can do around the house to “serve in secret.”)

The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids  -     By: Rick Warren

Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids

Embracing the same themes as the bestselling book, this kids’ devotional gives children an opportunity to think through God’s purposes for their own lives.

For Girls Only! Devotions  -     By: Carolyn Larsen, Leah Sutherland

Carolyn Larsen’s For Girls Only! Devotions

I chose this book for Louisa because it deals with social situations she’s beginning to encounter at school. Written for girls age 8-12, the daily meditations include stories, Bible verses, and little activities like self-assessment quizzes.

90 Devotions for Kids: Life-Changing Values from the Book of Matthew  -

Adventures in Odyssey’s 90 Devotions for Kids: Life-Changing Values from the Book of Matthew

Kids who already enjoy the Adventures in Odyssey series will be excited to explore this book. For ages 8-12, it’s marketed for both family devotions and individual quiet times for kids.

Missions Resources to use with kids

Yesterday at BeFree Dover was Missions Sunday, a chance highlight how God is working around the world, especially through the work of our church supported missionaries.

As you may know, each DIG class has adopted one BeFree supported missionary that they pray for throughout the year. During class yesterday, teachers shared updates about each missionary and children received an info page so that they can pray for them at home (if you need a sheet, there are extras by each DIG classroom doorway).  Children got a chance to create pictures and write letters that will be passed on to the missionaries.

IMG_0385.jpg

Below is a list of resources parents can use to educate and involve kids in global missions.

Children’s Books About Missions

51vWR1QxzqL._SY394_BO1,204,203,200_

From Ameba to Zapotec by June Hathersmith, Alice Roder– This is an alphabet book about “unreached” people groups, peoples who have limited access to the Bible.  Although out of print, it is easy to find used copies online.  A great resource for toddlers and preschoolers. 

http://www.amazon.com/From-Akebu-Zapotec-Bibleless-Peoples/dp/0938978284

51Cj+3vUINL._SX353_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Window on the World by Daphne Spraggett , Jill JohnstoneAn excellent resource about unreached people groups, complete with photographs, anecdotes, and maps (Each DIG classroom has a copy as a resource.) Appropriate for preschool through middle school.

http://www.amazon.com/Window-World-When-Pray-Works/dp/0830857826

39370.jpg

Jerusalum to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker-This exhaustive well researched volume gives an overview of the history of Christian missions.  For elementary aged kids and up, great as a read aloud.

http://www.christianbook.com/jerusalem-biographical-christian-missions-second-edition/ruth-tucker/9780310239376/pd/39370

581454.jpg

Christian Hereos of Then and Now Series-This missionary biography series is put out by the mission board YWAM.  Great for read alouds to elementary aged kids or for middle school independent reading.  

 http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?N=0&Ne=0&Ntk=keywords&Ntt=Christian+Heroes+series+-+YWAM&action=Search&cms=1&event=AFF&nav_search=1&p=1179283

Books for Parents

5723.jpg

Operation World by Jason Mandryk-The adult version of Window on the World but it covers every country, it’s vital statistics, and prayer requests.  Great resource for family devotions.  

http://www.christianbook.com/operation-definitive-prayer-guide-every-nation/jason-mandryk/9780830857241/pd/857241?event=ESRCQ

584521.jpg

Becoming a World Changing Family by Donna Thomas-A helpful guide that outlines how families can be involved in Global Missions.

http://www.christianbook.com/becoming-a-world-changing-family/donna-thomas/9781576584521/pd/584521?event=AFF&item_code=WW&netp_id=512838&p=1179283&view=details

51Y5iatdT+L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

The Mission Minded Child by Ann Dunagan-Another book that gives parents guidance in how to give their children a heart for Global Missions.  

 http://www.amazon.com/The-Mission-Minded-Child-Raising-Generation/dp/1932805885

Online Resources

*Wycliffe’s kids-Lots of cool activities to share with kids about Wycliffe’s bible translation. https://www.wycliffe.org/resources/kids-activities

*In Their Shoes-Free resources to use with kids about poverty around the world.   http://stepintomyshoes.org/

*Joshua Project-Information about unreached people groups.  http://joshuaproject.net/

*Operation World-http://www.operationworld.org/

More Ways to Prepare for Easter and Beyond

My husband came across our four year old this morning retelling the Nativity story.  She had commandeered some (unused) toilet paper to act as the road and her My Little Ponies as the characters. Pinky Pie lay on her side as baby Jesus with two other ponies as Mary and Joseph surrounding the Son of God.  Her large Elsa like baby Doll was high over her head, watching everything from above as the angel.

I think children have so much to teach us about inhabiting the story of God.  I would never have envisioned Jesus’ birth quite the way Addie did this morning but I love how resourceful she was in using what she had to process and re-enter the ultimate story.  How often to I view my time reading God’s word as a time to step in and really hear from God and replay and replay over in my mind and heart what he is saying to me, teaching me?

The stories leading to Easter are ones we need to retell ourselves and our children over and over again.  Somehow it feels easy to retell the nativity, the story of a precious baby.  It feels harder to retell the harsh and raw stories of the Holy Week.  But without the pain, how can we really know the joy of Easter morning? How can we really grasp what Christ truly accomplished without re-entering the Last Supper and Good Friday stories?

Here are just a couple more resources to help us stop and consider as families the pain and beauty of Easter:

946577.jpg

Mission Accomplished by Scott James

The devotion is to be used a week prior and after Easter and includes scripture, questions, prayers, hymns to sing, and family activities.  For elementary aged children. I have a church copy, email me if you’d like to borrow it!

http://www.christianbook.com/mission-accomplished-week-family-easter-devotional/scott-james/9781939946577/pd/946577?dv=c&en=google-pla&event=SHOP&kw=books-0-20&p=1179710&gclid=Cj0KEQjw3M6oBRDnnIywo5i287ABEiQAXRm7S9UTfWMJ0-T45oHSbpR-GH3Cw-hsgY_T6EarlppQsR4aAmTc8P8HAQ

51gT7jGxE+L._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni E. Tada

A great resource for introducing kids to Lent and Easter hymns.

https://www.crossway.org/books/passion-hymns-for-a-kids-heart-hccd/

2 more Easter activities to do with kids:

Egg Carton Story of Easter– With a few basic supplies, you can retell the Easter story with simple symbols held inside a dozen plastic eggs.

The Jesus Story Easter Eggs – Fun for Kids!

06515x.jpg

715054.jpg

…Or you can save time and buy a set with a companion book, Benjamin’s Box.  

http://www.christianbook.com/resurrection-eggs-20th-anniversary-edition/9781602006515/pd/06515X?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=seasonal&utm_term=resurrection%20eggs%20family%20life&event=PPCSRC&p=1020037

Grace GardenAnn Voskamp has this great idea to make a planter with kids and add the open tomb as a way to celebrate and talk about Jesus’ resurrection.

A Family Christian Activity for Easter ……. Make a Grace Garden {A Visual Parable}

This week in DIG 3/13

March’s Memory Verse

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17, Mighty to Save, Seeds of Praise, Track 8

Toddlers

This month toddlers will explore the story of Easter.

455763.jpg

Possible activities and questions to ask with your toddler:

*Act out the story with your child, using dolls and toys to represent the characters.

*Read the accounts of the story from Sally Lloyd Jones’ Tiny Bear’s Bible, Jesus Storybook Bible, or Jesus Calling Bible.

*Some wondering questions:

-I wonder what it felt like when Jesus died?

-I wonder what it was like to see Jesus on Easter morning?

Preschool-Jesus and Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10

Preschoolers will spend March following Jesus to the cross.

*I wonder what it is like to be so short that you can’t see what you want to see?

*I wonder how Zacchaeus felt when Jesus called him by name?

*I wonder what Jesus and Zacchaeus said to each other as they walked together?

*I wonder what Jesus meant when he said he was coming to find the lost?

Grades K-1-A Dark Night in the Garden (Jesus Storybook), from Luke 22

Younger Elementary children are exploring stories of Jesus’ last week.

IMG_0378.jpg
By James
IMG_0379.jpg
By Ephraim

*I wonder why Jesus’s friends kept falling asleep? I wonder how that made Jesus feel?

*I wonder why Jesus has to take on all the “brokenness of everyone’s hearts” (294)?

*I wonder why Jesus would have to lose his Father?

*I wonder why Peter cut off the guard’s ear?

Grades 2-4, Matthew 26:36-56

In preparation for Easter, the older Elementary children will explore stories of Jesus’ life and death.  This week they examined Jesus in Gethsemane and his trial.

IMG_0376.jpg

IMG_0377.jpg
By William

*I wonder how it felt for Jesus to accept “the cup” that God had for him in dying for everyone?

*I wonder how it felt for Jesus to be arrested when he had done nothing wrong?

*I wonder if anyone understood what Jesus meant when he said “this is all taken place so that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled” (v 56)?

*I wonder how Jesus felt when all his friends ran away?

Grades 5-6, What did Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplish?: Why did he have to die?

The younger middler schoolers began a month long study of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

*Reread John 19:1-16a.

*What does it mean that Jesus is our atonement?  How does this matter to you?

IMG_0375.jpg

Grade 7-8

*Reread Mark 9.  What do you notice about Jesus here?  How does it connect with your life?

IMG_5343.jpg

IMG_0379.jpg

This week in DIG 3/6

March’s Memory Verse

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17, Mighty to Save, Seeds of Praise, Track 8

Infants

IMG_0353IMG_0356

Toddlers

This month toddlers will explore the story of Easter.

455763.jpg

Possible activities and questions to ask with your toddler:

*Act out the story with your child, using dolls and toys to represent the characters.

*Read the accounts of the story from Sally Lloyd Jones’ Tiny Bear’s Bible, Jesus Storybook Bible, or Jesus Calling Bible.

*Some wondering questions:

-I wonder what it felt like when Jesus died?

-I wonder what it was like to see Jesus on Easter morning?

Preschool-Jesus and the Children, Matthew 19:13-15

Preschoolers will spend March following Jesus to the cross.

IMG_0370IMG_0371

*I wonder how the children felt on their way to see Jesus?

*I wonder how the children felt when the disciples said “no”?

*I wonder what Jesus said to the children?

*I wonder what it was like to be close to Jesus?

Grades K-1-The Servant King (Jesus Storybook), from Mark 14

Younger Elementary children are exploring stories of Jesus’ last week.

IMG_0361IMG_0362

*I wonder why Jesus would want to wash everyone’s stinky feet?

*I wonder why Judas would leave and want to help the Leaders capture Jesus?

*I wonder what Jesus meant when he said his “body is like this bread.  It will break” (292)?

Grades 2-4, Matthew 26:1-35

In preperation for Easter, the older Elementary children will explore stories of Jesus’ life and death.  This week they examined The Last Supper and Judas’ betrayal.

IMG_0364IMG_0367

*I wonder how Jesus knew Judas would betray him?

*I wonder what it was like to be there for that last dinner with Jesus?

*I wonder what Jesus meant when he talked about his blood being “poured out for the forgiveness of sins?” (vs 28).

*I wonder how Jesus felt knowing Peter would betray him ?

Grades 5-6, Who is the Holy Spirit?

The younger middler schoolers finished their month long study of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

*Reread Galatians 5:22-26.

*What does a life filled with the Holy Spirit look like? Why is He important for my life?

Grade 7-8

*Reread Mark 9.  What do you notice about Jesus here?  How does it connect with your life?

IMG_5343.jpg

This Week in DIG, 2/28

February’s Memory Verse

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

-1 Chronicles 16:9-10, “Sing Praise to Him” from Seeds of Praise album, track 7

Toddlers

This month toddlers have been exploring the stories of Jesus’ Miracles including Feeding the 5000, and Calming the Storm.

454252.jpg

Possible activities and questions to ask with your toddler:

*Act out the story with your child, using bath toys to retell Jesus and the storm and pretend food to retell The feeding of the 5000.

*Read the accounts of these 2 stories from Sally Lloyd Jones’ Tiny Bear’s Bible or Jesus Storybook Bible.

*Some wondering questions:

-I wonder how the people felt having a meal with Jesus?

-I wonder what it was like to be in the boat with Jesus in the storm?

Preschool-Jesus and the Storm, Mark 4:35-41

Preschoolers will spend February exploring the stories of Jesus’s ministry.

IMG_0339
This is a rainbow.  Jesus is going up it!-Rasul
IMG_0338
I wonder if  he wanted to stay with Jesus when he could walk?-Millie

*I wonder what it was like to be in such a great storm?

*I wonder how Jesus was able to sleep during the storm?

*I wonder why the wind and the sea did what Jesus said?

*I wonder what the disciples were thinking and feeling?  

Grades K-1-Friend of the Little children

Younger Elementary children are exploring stories of Jesus’ life and ministry.

IMG_0341

*I wonder why the disciples didn’t want the children near?

*I wonder why Jesus had the children come close to him?

*I wonder what it felt like to be close to him?

Grades 2-4, Matthew 25

In preperation for Easter, the older Elementary children will explore stories of Jesus’ life and death.  This week they examined some of his parables including the parable of the talents.

IMG_0344
Why did the people who had a lot get more?-Louisa

IMG_0343

*I wonder why it was so important for the women to be waiting for the bridegroom?

*I wonder why the servant who buried his talent was punished?

*I wonder why some people knew to give to the poorest and love the outside while others didn’t?

*I wonder what it looks like for us to love the least of these as if they are Christ?

Grades 5-6, Off

 

 

Grade 7-8

*Reread Mark 8.  What do you notice about Jesus here?  How does it connect with your life?

IMG_5343.jpg