The best way to teach your kids to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled people is to model it for them. The way you live and act will be the megaphone in their life. You can read them all the right words, teach them all the right quotes and verses, pray all the right prayers- but those will be the background music. Your life is the loud, blaring siren bringing them in. Your children are your closest disciples, following you as you follow Christ. They will receive the overflowing abundance of God as your cup overflows onto them. Make sure you’re filling your cup with things of God. Make sure the song your life is screaming points to Him. Their little eyes are on you, like it or not. Your walk with God will either help or hinder them. Want them to be loving? Show them love. Want them to be joyful? Let your joy overflow to them. Want them to be peaceful? Sow peace with your own life first. Want them to be patient? Be a shining example of patience. Want them to be kind? Be kind. Want them to be good? Shower them with goodness. Want them to be faithful? Be their example of faithfulness. Want them to be gentle? Shown them gentleness. Want them to have self-control? Show them your self-control. It’d certainly be easier to just have them memorize 9 verses and tell them what they should do. I pray our Lord will give you strength for this tough parenting gig. Let your children follow you right to the foot of the cross.
Read Galations 5:22-23 at least once during the week. Read it daily if you’d like! We’re wanting the kids to memorize The Fruit of The Spirit.
1 Corinthians 9:25 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)
Day One: Self-Control is Hard!
It is so easy to loose your temper, to give into temptation, to not fight the urge to eat all the Oreos. Self-control is hard, not doubt about that. What is easy is not always best. Sometimes we just have to do hard things. It is hard work to control yourself, your temper, your frustrations, your wants, your passions. But God calls us to do just that. He wants us to be free. If you’re always just reacting and doing the easy thing, you’re never really free. Remember that self-control is a gift from the Holy Spirit, ask God for it.
Day Two: When I Wake Up
“First, upon awakening in the morning, turn your thoughts to God present everywhere; place your heart and your entire being in his hands. Then think briefly on the good you will be able to accomplish that day and the evil you can avoid, especially by controlling your predominant fault.” -St. Jane Frances de Chantal
When you wake up, start your day out right with prayer. Pray for all the good God will do through you that day. Pray for strength to stay away from evil. You get a clean slate every morning. Today, you can control yourself. Pray for God’s help. Just be prepared! When we pray for self-control, God will give us every opportunity to do so. The best way to GAIN self control is to practice it.
“When we once begin to form good resolutions, God give us every opportunity of carrying them out.”- St. John Chrysostom
Activity: It can be hard learning a new habit. So, let’s make signs to remind us to pray when we wake up! Grab canvas, canvas board, poster, paper- whatever you want to use to make your sign. Write “pray” on each sign in bold letters. Even kids who cannot read will remember what you said the sign says. Let the kids decorate their signs to hang in their room near the bed (or even on the ceiling above their bed) to remind them to pray!
Day Three: The Will of God
Sometimes we get so caught up in how things should go and how we want things done. We get so focused on what we want, we forget about what God wants. God wants you to have a heart as big as the universe. He wants you to have the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Sometimes we have to learn to let go of our plan, practice self-control, and let God’s plan happen in our life. “The goal of all our undertakings should not be so much a task perfectly completed as the accomplishment of the will of God.”- St. Therese of Lisieux. You may not be able to control everything, but you can control how you act.
Activity: Game! This game is like Simon says, only everyone gets to be Simon. Take turns going around the circle and saying, “If I had self-control, I would tell myself to ….” each person will add what they would do. Hop, yell, dance, spin, clap, stomp, whatever. And everyone else does whatever that person says.
Day Four: Stop!
The best thing you can learn to help you with self-control is to learn to Stop and Think. Instead of responding right away, stop. Think about what you want to do, not just what you feel like doing. Think about what God wants you to do. Your brother knocks over the Lego house you just spent forever building. Instead of reacting, stop and think. Would it be better to hurt your brother over a toy? Or would it be better to just tell your brother that they upset you? You don’t have to say it is okay, sometimes it isn’t. You can be upset and you can be mad- but you can also control yourself and tell them with your words that you are mad and upset. You are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel.
Activity: Game! This game is like Red Light, Green Light. Only we’ll call it “Stop! Think!” Line everyone up. Explain that when you yell “Stop!” They stop and yell, “Think!” and do their very best thinking pose. Instead of simply saying “go” again, tell them what to do next. (Crawl! Hop! Skip! Walk backwards! Hop on one foot!)
Day Five: Let Go
Sometimes we can’t control everything, and that makes us feel out of control. But we’ll be better people and learn self-control if we learn what we cannot control. We cannot stop the rain. But we can grab an umbrella. Sometimes another kid is mean to us. We can’t discipline them or hurt them back. But we can let a teacher or parent know and let them deal with it. We can’t change the hearts of other people. but we can pray that God will help us and them in the situation. “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you, and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you.”- Will Smith
Activity: What can I do, game? In this game, you make up a scenario and then ask the kids, “What can I do?” and let them come up with the solutions. If they come up with things you really cannot do or would not be best, play that out and help them come up with better solutions. They can be as ridiculous or common as you’d like. (See examples.)
“I am an alien and my ship is malfunctioning around the third planet called Earth. What can I do?” (Work to fix the ship. Crash land on earth. Call for back up.)
“I am playing at the playground and another kid keeps jumping in line for the slide in front of me without waiting! What can I do?” (Say, “I was in line.” Wait a little longer. Play with something else.)
“I want to play with the Batman toy, but someone else already has him. What can I do?” (Ask to play when the other person is done. Play with something else. Find the other Batman toy.)
“I am a farmer and my cows have all started dancing the conga! What can I do?” (Join them! Grab my camera. Move so they don’t step on my feet.)
Activity 2: Did you learn your memory verse? Share it!
Read Galations 5:22-23 at least once during the week. Read it daily if you’d like! We’re wanting the kids to memorize The Fruit of The Spirit.
Psalm 18:35 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)
Day One: Jesus is Our Example
Read Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus says that he is gentle. Gentleness is not weakness. In fact, James Dean said, “Only the gentle are ever really strong.” Gentleness is responding to others in a kind, understanding manner. Think about how Jesus interacted with people. When the paralyzed man is brought to him in Matthew 9, Jesus doesn’t huff and puff about time. He doesn’t get upset that they are interrupting his plans. He forgives the man of his sins and makes him walk again. In Matthew 9:36, it says Jesus had compassion for the people. Jesus patiently teaches his disciples the same lesson over and over. When he meets the woman at the well, he deals with her kindly and compassionately. We need to learn to see people as Jesus does- with compassion and love. When we see people the way Jesus does, we can then treat people as Jesus did- gently. “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” – Van Goethe.
“This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized, and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle sand humble of heart.” -St. John Bosco
Activity: Coloring Page.
Day Two: Seeing God In All
When we see God in everything and every person we meet, it isn’t hard to be gentle with them. Read this prayer excerpt by St. Patrick. (For an added activity, have the kids quietly “act” out the prayer as you read it with hand motions.)
“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ below me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left, Christ in lying down, Christ in sitting, Christ in rising up, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.”
Prayer: God, help us to see you in others. Help others see You in us. Give us the strength to be gentle with others and ourselves. Amen.
Activity: Coloring Page.
Optional Activity 2: Listen to the song “Allah, Allah, Allah” by mewithoutyou. (If the title of the song bothers you, please skip it. It would only be beneficial in hearts open to hearing it.)
Day Three: Gentle Gardeners
“Just as he gives the gardener the skill to tend rare and delicate plants while fertilizing them himself, so he wishes to use others in his cultivation of souls.” – Sure thing.. Therese of Lisieux
Read Matthew 13:1-9
Jesus compares our work in the lives of others to being a farmer or gardener. Have you ever planted a flower? Can you be rough and throw the flower to the dirt and stomp some dirt on top? No? Oh my! That flower would certainly not make it. We must plant flowers gently, using soft hands, sometimes even singing to our flowers to make them grow. God wants us to be this way with others. He is planting things in their life right now and he needs you to be gentle with those flowers in other people and not stomp on them and crush them. Walk gently. Speak gently. Work gently.
Activity: Plant a flower! Grab a few pots, some soil, and some flowers. Practice gentleness in planting and caring for your flowers. (We usually pray over our newly planted plants and sing a song to them.)
Activity 2: Coloring Page.
Day Four: Gentle Servant Stephen
Read Matthew 10:16. Read Acts 7:54-60 ab0ut Stephen.
Even as Stephen was being stoned to death, he prayed for those killing him. That would take great strength! And great gentleness. Jesus said he was sending the disciples out as lambs to wolves. I don’t think the disciples had exactly this in mind. Many of those that followed Jesus in those early days died for telling others about Christ. Many today die because of their faith in Christ. And in dying, they are praying for those killing them, that they may still find Christ.
Jim Elliot was a missionary to tribal people in Equador. He went into the jungle to bring Jesus to the people. He and 4 of his friends were killed by tribal warriors in 1956. Though Jim and his friends had weapons, they did not use them. They did not want to see people die not knowing Christ. Instead, the missionaries died themselves. The children and wives of the missionaries killed continued their work and won the tribe to Christ.
“It is easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind.” -Unknown
Activity: Coloring page.
Activity 2: Let the kids choose a story, Stephen or Jim Elliot, and have them act it out. Please don’t let them throw actual rocks or spear one another.
Day 5: Make My Heart Gentle
St. Francis Cabrini prayed, “Give me a heart as big as the universe!” Take some time today to pray that the Lord would make your heart as big as the universe! That He would help you see Him in others and give you the strength and courage to be gentle. We must remember that gentleness isn’t what we say or do, but how we say or do those things.
Activity: Coloring page.
Activity 2: Game! Egg race. Grab some eggs (raw if you’re brave, boiled if you’re not) and spoons. Line everyone up and race!
Activity 3: Did you learn your memory verse this week? If so, share it!
Read Galations 5:22-23 at least once during the week. Read it daily if you’d like! We’re wanting the kids to memorize The Fruit of The Spirit.
Luke 16:10 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)
Day One: What is faithfulness?
True. Trustworthy. Believable. Loyal. Accurate. When we talk about faithfulness, we’re talking about someone sticking by our side, being on our team, staying loyal to us. Someone who is faithful is someone you can count on. You know they won’t tell you things that aren’t true or try to hurt you. They are on your side. On your team. In your corner. Faithfulness is belief and trust and loyalty all rolled into one ball of comfort and strength.
Activity: Walking By Faith: You’ll need a blindfold. One child is blindfolded and the other child is the faithful guide. Have them walk about and have the guide help the blindfolded overcome minor obstacles. Was the guide faithful or did the guide try to trip the blindfolded child up?
Day Two: The God Who Has Been Faithful
In the Old Testament (the first half of the Bible written before Jesus was born), the writer’s were constantly pointing us toward what God had done. Whenever the people faced a new dilemma, they’d list all the ways God had been there for them in the past. They’d tell of God who was a friend of Abraham, a God who rescued his people again and again, a God who gave the people what they needed. They’d talk about how God cared for the people in the desert with Moses. God had shown the people that he was their friend. He was looking out for them. And he could be trusted. “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” -Lamentations 3:22-23
Activity: Make a list of all the ways, big and small, that God has been faithful to you and your family. Go back as far as you need to. Make the list long or short. Use pictures, use words. How has God shown you that he is on your side?
Day Three: The God Who Is Faithful
Keep Calm because Great is His Faithfulness! The God who was faithful IS faithful. He has always been on your side. Do you recall some of the things you listed God did for you in the past? Guess what? God is going to continue to walk right with you and will be faithful. How can we know that? Because he is faithful! Imagine you found a lizard. Imagine this lizard would bit you anytime you put your finger within a few inches of him. Imagine you invite a friend over and they meet your lizard. You’d likely say, “Be careful! He bites.” Why? Because he always bites. You know him to be a biting lizard, so you expect him to bite. We know God is a faithful God and we can trust and rely on His faithfulness.
Activity: Silly Animal Game- Each person needs to think of an animal. Just one animal. Going around the circle, each person acts like their chosen animal. Take turns guessing what animal they are acting out. Thinking of the same animal, go back around and ask each child to act their animal out again. This time, the guessing isn’t much, because everyone already knows what that person will do. Verbally relate to the children that we know God will be faithful because he has been faithful, just like we knew x child was x animal because they previously acted it out.
Day Four: Faithful to Others
“Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa
We need to be faithful to others. You need to be someone others can trust, believe, and count on. Can you think of some ways to do that? (Answers will vary. You may want to prompt “keeping promises” and “telling the truth”.) Everywhere you go, you say something about the God your serve. Let’s show one another God’s faithfulness along with His love.
Activity: Duck, Duck, Truth?! Sit in a circle. Every close your eyes. The child tapped will tell a lie. Everyone else will tell something true. Then all the kids can guess who is being faithful and who is being unfaithful. You can switch it up and have multiple children lie. You can also have no one lie. It is up to you. For younger kids, you may have to give a prompt: “Everyone tell me what color socks you are wearing!” “Everyone tell me your favorite animal!” “Everyone tell me your name!” It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just learning what truth is and what it is not.
Day Five: Faithful to God
There were two children walking together along a road. One child said to the other, “I am so thirsty! I need a drink.” The friend offered a drink. The child then said, “I am so hungry! I need a snack.” The friend gave of their own snack. The child said, “I am so tired! I need you to carry me.” The friend graciously gave a much-needed piggy back ride. The friend then turns to the child and says, “I need somewhere to sleep.” The child replies, “Well, I hope you find somewhere nice.” And turns to leave.
The friend had been so faithful. Everything the child needed was supplied. But the favor was not returned. It is much the same in our relationship with God. He gives us all He has. He gave us life, His Son, health, friends, family, food. He protects us, guides us, and makes our paths straight. He asks to come live in your heart. Will you be a faithful friend of God? Or will you tell Him to go sleep somewhere else?
Activity: Pray. Pray for the Lord to soften the hearts of your family, to let them live faithful lives to God. To help us be faithful to one another. Thank Him for his faithfulness in the past and future.
Activity 2: Draw a picture of the story.
Activity 3: Did you learn your memory verse? Share it!
Psalm 23:6 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)
Day One: Goodness Today
Everyday may not be good, but there is something good in each day. Even on our worst days, we can find something good in that day. Think about your day. Was today the very best day of your life so far? Chances are, it wasn’t. What good has happened today? If you woke up, that is the first grace given to you today- and very good thing! Every cloud has a silver lining. And rain is not all bad, in fact, it can be very good.
Activity: On a paper plate, glue cotton balls and make clouds. Clouds often represent trouble in our lives. Add some silver glitter to your clouds to remind you that there is good, even on our cloudy days.
Activity 2: Make a list of all the good things that have been in your life today. When the bad days come, it helps to remember the good around you, too.
Day Two: Be the Good
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some people hear today.” – St. Francis of Assisi
When someone does something good for you, it makes you feel bright and hopeful. It makes you think, not necessarily of that person, but of the goodness that exists. These things can point us and others to God. We can do good for others and give them light and hope. In the first Willy Wonka movie (the old one, with Gene Wilder), Charlie Bucket gives back his everlasting gobstopper, refusing to sell Willy Wonka out to Slugworth, despite seeing that Wonka isn’t the man Charlie thought he was. Willy Wonka says, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” Charlie did something good, despite the circumstances. Willy Wonka saw hope for the future of his life’s work. Good deeds never go unnoticed, even if not rewarded now. So, be the good for someone else.
Activity: Think of something good you can do for someone today. Now do it! Be the good!
Image to print if you’d like.
Day Three: Good People
Good people bring out the good in people. Have you ever encountered someone who was mean and nasty? Have you ever done a good deed, or shown kindness to that person? Sometimes mean people just needed to be reminded of the good in the world. You want to be a friend who makes your friends better people, not worse. You want to be the sister or brother who makes their brothers and sisters better. You want to be the partner that makes the other person better. So be good to people, remind them of the goodness of God, and help them become good people themselves. Read Proverbs 12:25.
Activity: Copy me! Make someone “it” and everyone else has to copy what they do. Take turns being “it”. Talk about how you can copy good deeds.
Day Four: Why Be Good?
So why should I pursue goodness? What makes something good? Books could be written answering those questions, and they have been, but to answer simply, we pursue goodness because God is good. We were created to be like Him. Remember back in the garden, when God made man in His image and then breathed His life in them and called them good? Then remember that pesky snake coming along and Eve taking that forbidden fruit and sin entering the world? Things just haven’t been the same since. Our world is a bent and twisted place, and we’re in in trying to live straight like God. We’re letting God transform us into those people He created us to be, when He breathed His life in us and said we were good. He’s bringing us back there. Back to being like Him. He is good, so we strive for goodness. But what if I’m not good enough? C.S. Lewis said, “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good, because He loves us.”
Day Five: The Lord is My Shepherd
Read Psalm 23. Listen to “The House of God Forever” by Jon Foreman
Activity: Did you learn your memory verse? Share it! What did you learn about Goodness?
Proverbs 21:21 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)
Day One: Recalling Kindness
Do you remember a time someone was particularly kind to you? Go ahead and take turns sharing those stories now. Those memories of kindness usually stick with us for a long time. People remember the kindness you show them. You remember the kindness shown to you. When you share your toys, that person you shared with remembers and will share their toys in the future, offering the same kindness to someone else. Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
Activity: We like to play the “3 Nice Things” game in our house. We pick a person, and we go around the table, each saying 3 kind things about that person. The little ones beam with pride and love as they are edified and the grown people often have their hearts melt at the sweet things the little people say. This is a good activity not just for today, but for any day in your family. Sometimes when the littles are having a hard time getting along, we’ll play the “3 Nice Things” game and bring the smiles and full hearts back.
Day Two: Mephibosheth
Read 2 Samuel 9. This is the story of King David and Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth is the son of David’s friend, Jonathan. Usually, when a new king took over, the old king’s family was killed. (Less uprisings, you know?) But David, who loved his friend Jonathan, did not seek to destroy Saul’s family. (Jonathan is Saul’s son.) Instead, David begins searching for members of Saul’s family to show kindness to. Mephibosheth, I’m sure, was frightened at the king’s request to see him. I’m sure he was expecting David to kill him. But David was planning no such thing. David showed great kindness to Mephibosheth. He gave Mephibosheth land and gave him an unlimited dining pass at the king’s table. David treated Mephibosheth like he was of his own family. Mephibosheth was granted the life of a prince!
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James
Activity: Coloring Page
Day Three: Smiling’s My Favorite!
“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”- Buddy the Elf. Smile. Do it. Smile. Isn’t it nice to have someone smile at you? (Oh! And aren’t baby smiles the best?!) It doesn’t take much effort to smile, does it? But that one little thing can really impact someone else’s day. There are days when you are in a bad mood and someone just smiles at you and your day gets a little brighter. Brighten someone else’s day and smile. Mother Teresa said, “Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
Activity: Making smiles! Grab some paper bags, construction paper, glue, googly eyes, glitter, markers, etc. and get to work making smiling paper bag puppets! Make the smiles as big and goofy as possible! (You can also print some smiling mouths off the computer and add them to your puppet.)
Day Four: Leave People Better
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” – Mother Teresa
There are no neutral interactions. Your interactions with people will either leave them better or worse. What kind of things would make someone better and happier? (Take a moment to name things and talk about kind interactions.) Let’s focus on showing others the kindness of God. What is the kindness of God? (Take a moment to answer. Grab a pad of paper and compile a list. List your blessings.) God has shown us great kindness, kindness we don’t deserve. And that makes us better. Let’s take that kindness and show it to others.
Activity: Be Kind Grapevine! Play the game Grapevine (or Telephone). Pick a beginning person, and an end person. The beginning person says something kind about the end person to the person next to him, who turns and shares with the next person, who turns and shares with the next person, until the message (or something like it) end up with the end person.
Alternate Activity: Be Kind Tag On Game- pick a person you’re going to say kind things about. Now, take turns saying something kind. But each new person has to say the kind things from the previous people and add their own. Keep going as long as possible! (Example: Mom says, “Emery is a good friend.” Aidan then says, “Emery is a good friend. Emery is good at building Legos.” Imogene then says, “Emery is a good friend. Emery is good at building Legos. I like to hear Emery tell stories.” Etc.)
Day 5: Good Samaritan
Read Luke 10: 30-35 (if you want the whole context, read verses 25-37). Who showed the robbed, beaten man kindness? Of all the men he encountered that day, which man do you suppose the beaten man will remember the most? I read a quote once, no clue who to credit, that said, “An act of kindness can cause ripples of healing.” And in the story of the Good Samaritan, this is certainly true. The beaten man would have likely been very angry, had no one stopped to help him. (That is, if he lived at all.) But because one man stopped and showed him kindness, he will, instead, marvel at the kindness of a stranger, instead of the wickedness of the robbers. Kindness has a lot of power, doesn’t it?
Activity: Think & Pray. How can you show more kindness to others? Pray for God to send you opportunities to be kind, and to give you the wisdom to both see and take advantage of those opportunities.
Alternate Activity: (Or Bonus Activity) Coloring Page.
Don’t forget you’re memory verse! Did you learn it? Share!
Romans 8:25 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)
Day One: We Wait
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle
Waiting is hard work. Not very many people wait well. It seems we are all born wanting what we want right now. No waiting. Waiting is hard work. But when we wait, we get more in the end. If you are making a cake, and you don’t wait long enough, you just end up with a hot mess. But if you wait, you get a wonderful cake! Patience isn’t simply waiting. It is waiting without getting angry or upset. It isn’t really patience to wait while tapping your foot. Take a deep breath, and wait with patience, in peace.
Activity: Let’s play a game! Red light, green light is a great game to practice patience.
Day Two: The Farmer
In James 5:7, the Bible tells us to be patient like a farmer. Have you ever planted seeds? Did they sprout immediately? You had to wait to see the seed sprout. And then, you had to wait even longer to see the flower. And then, if it was a vegetable, you had to wait even longer to see the vegetables. You don’t get angry at the plant for not growing fast enough. You don’t try to rush it along saying, “Hurry, plant! Hurry!!!” You just wait. And when the plant produces the vegetable, you pick it and you’re thankful that it grew. If we tried to apply the same calm waiting, or patience, in our lives a little more, we’d see more fruit and be a little more thankful.
Activity: Coloring page.
Optional Activity: Grab some small pots and plant some seeds. Clover and beans tend to grow fairly quickly and pretty well. Plant them with the kids, say a prayer asking God to help them grow, and then wait. You’ll need to water them, of course, but mostly you just wait. You could make a show of yelling at the plant and trying to make it grow right now this instance to show that you really do just have to wait.
Day Three: What I Had In Mind
“Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.” – Teresa of Avila
Sometimes patience means letting things work out how they are going to work out. It is hard for us not to get our way sometimes. We wanted to go to the zoo, but it rained. We wanted to go to the park, but it was too cold. And sometimes we want things to work out a certain way. We want things in a particular order. We pray and ask God for things. What happens if He answers us in a way we did not expect? Well, usually, we either get upset or we don’t even recognize He answered. Let us pray, and wait with patience for God to answer us. Let us keep our mind open to His working, it may not be what we expected, but God is working and He does answer us.
Activity: Play charades. Everyone put a word into a hat. Think about how YOU would act out the word you put in. Take turns drawing a word out of the hat. If you get your own, put it back and draw again. After the word has been guessed, ask who put the word in and ask if that was EXACTLY what they had in mind.
Day Four: Praise Him In The Hallway
Have you ever heard the phrase, “When one door closes, another one opens.”? What do you think that means? Sometimes in life, we sit in front of a door, praying God will open that door. It might be that the door is the door to a new job, a new school, a new friend. Sometimes the door is the door to healing, getting something we think we need, or help in a hard time. Those doors don’t always open right away. And sometimes we sit in front of the door we think will open, and miss the wide open door down the hall. If we don’t have patience, we don’t sit in front of the door at all. We pray that God will open the door, then we walk off to something else. How would you ever know if the door opened if you walked off? But while we’re waiting for God to open doors, we can praise Him in the hallway. While we’re waiting for Him to answer prayers, we can thank Him for what He is doing in our life today.
Activity: What big things are we praying for? They can be family prayers (a new home, a new baby, a new job) or individual prayers (a new friend, healing, individual opportunities). What are you thankful for right now?
Grab a piece of paper and some construction paper. Cut out a door with the construction paper. (Just a rectangle you can glue one strip down so it opens and closes like a door.) Draw one of those big things on the paper, glue the door on top, and then draw something you’re thankful for right now outside the door. Thank God for the thing outside the door and pray for the door to open, too.
Day Five: No Hurry
“Without peace, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.” – Mother Teresa
If we hurry through life, we’ll miss most of it. Let’s take a walk, watch a movie as a family, read a book together, something to slow down and not hurry through life. Take the time to listen and see the world around us. Take the time to listen and enjoy each other. Memories are made today.
Activity: Go on a walk, watch a movie, read a book- slow down and spend some time as a family. Try to take in as much as your senses can handle.
Activity 2: Did you learn your memory verse? Share it!
Hebrews 12:14 is our memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use this verse in our handwriting lessons for the week to really get it to sink in. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)
Day One: At Peace with Everyone
In Hebrews 12:14, we read that we should strive for peace with everyone. But what is peace? Peace is freedom from war and violence. Peace is also freedom from disturbance. Peace is quiet and tranquil. How can we strive to be at peace with everyone? We can avoid violence; don’t hit, bite, push, etc. We can avoid disturbing others; not provoking or aggravating them, not yelling at them, etc. Peace isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to not hit when we are frustrated. It isn’t easy to not yell when we are angry. It is something we have to work on. It is something we need God’s help in doing. Pray for God to help you strive for peace. Mother Teresa said, “Peace begins with a smile.”
Activity: Smiling faces coloring page. And pray for peace.
Day Two: Peace In My Heart
Read John 14:27. What kind of peace is this? Peace in my heart? St. Francis said, “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it more fully in your heart.” But what does that mean? How can I have peace in my heart? Peace in your heart means that even when you are faced with trouble, you can still find quiet in your heart. When we have Jesus, we have peace in our innermost parts because we know He is for us and with us. With Jesus in our hearts, we need not be afraid of the troubles that surround us, He is our comfort. Our hearts can be at rest in Him. Do you feel quiet in your soul? Think about the love Jesus has for you, now sit quietly and feel His peace inside you. When trouble surrounds you, you can close your eyes and feel this peace no matter where you are.
Activity: Make a calm jar! Grab a jar for each family member. Fill it with water. Add some glitter glue (or glitter and glue) and some food coloring. Put the lid on the jar very tightly! Now, you can shake the jar and watch the glitter fall. Encourage your kids to use this time to feel the peace inside them- to calm their minds and center their souls. You’d be amazed at how wonderfully this works for finding some inner peace. Make one for yourself, too, and try it out. Watch the glitter fall and let go of the weights and worries in your mind, calm your mind, center your soul, and feel the peace of Christ in your heart.
Day Three: Jesus Overcomes!
“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” – Victor Hugo. Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the bad things around you? Do you ever feel scared and sad? Jesus told his disciples in John 16:32-33 that they could be at peace, because He overcame the world. The disciples were about to face the worst things they’d ever faced in their lives. Their Savior, Jesus, would be crucified. A time of persecution would begin. But Jesus said, have peace in your heart, I’ve already overcome the world. Whatever you face, know that Jesus has overcome. You can go to sleep at night in peace, for He is awake.
Activity: Coloring mandalas. Mandalas are repetitive, circular images that are peaceful to color. You can look up free ones on the internet like this, this, or this. Or you can create your own. Listen to music while coloring for an even more peaceful experience.
Day Four: We Belong to Each Other
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa
Colossian 3:15 tells us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which we were called in one body. There is something about unity, about being a team, that makes us act kinder toward one another. When we remember that as a family, we’re in this life together, it makes it easier for us to get along with one another. When we remember that we as humans are all here for one another, it makes striving for peace a little easier. Mother Teresa also said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” If we, as a family, were to love one another and deal peacefully with one another, we’d find it easier to be peaceful people beyond our family. Let’s strive to be a peaceful family- to bear with one another, to be thankful together, and to strive for peace with those around us. Let’s make peace a priority. Instead of fighting, let us show love and peace.
Activity: Play a game! Grab two squares of cardboard (big enough to stand on with one foot). Your goal is to get our entire family from one location in your house to another (kitchen to couch; dining room chairs to couch; living room to kitchen) without stepping on the floor. All you have is each other and two squares of cardboard. Make sure each member of the family is working to get everyone to the safe spot!
Day Five: At All Times, In Every Way
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16
This week, we talked a lot about peace. We talked about what peace is and how we can have peace in our hearts. We talked about loving one another and having peace as a family. Today, we’re going to pray a simple prayer by St. Francis of Assissi. “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” The world is full of troubles and strife. Let’s take the love and peace of Jesus out to our world and make it a little brighter of a place to live at all times and in every way we can.
Activity: Coloring page. Pray as a family. And be sure to review your memory verse!
Romans 15:13 is our memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. We’ll also be using the memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just make an effort to put this verse up in your house somewhere. (Image is sized to be printed 5×7)
Day One: What is joy?
Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to describe. If we look the word “joy” up in the dictionary, we’ll find the following definition: a feeling of great pleasure or happiness. If you’ve felt joy, you know that it is just more than that. Is joy happiness? Can you feel joy inside yourself even when you aren’t very happy. Well, yes, you can. Joy is about more than happiness. Anne Frank wrote in her diary, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” She is hiding in a small house with her family, under immense persecution. You could hardly say that would be a happy time. Yet, she had joy. She had something inside of her that sang out for beauty, even when her circumstances were dire. That is being filled with joy.
Day Two: Joy In Music
Read Psalm 5, taking a special note of verse 11. The Psalms are a collection of songs. The beginning of this song doesn’t song particularly joyful. The psalmist is groaning, crying, and preparing a sacrifice. Sounds like a pretty sad beginning of a song. But the psalmist has joy. Why? Because the Lord is directing his path. Because the Lord will bless him and protect him. The psalmist has joy deep inside, and so he sings. Does music make you feel joyful inside? Do you have a song of joy to sing yourself?
Activity: Sing a joyful song! Pick a favorite of your own or see my list for ideas. Sing together to the Lord. Even if you aren’t very musical, sing along. If you have older kids, take a few minutes for them to write their own Psalm of joy. They can read it, sing it, lyrically act it out- however they want to express their joy! If your kids are younger, you may want to have them give you their reasons to be joyful and you can put a family Psalm together. You can read it, sing it, shout it- however it needs to be expressed.
Day Three: Inexpressible Joy
What reasons do you have to rejoice? In 1 Peter 1:8-9 we read that we can rejoice and have joy in a Savior we’ve never seen. Though we do not see Jesus, we believe He came and died for each of us, so we rejoice! Why? Because Jesus has rescued us from the place of the dead. We have hope. We have a future. We have a reason to be joyful. Even on the bad days, when we spill our milk, loose our shoe, can’t play because of the rain- we still have something to rejoice about. We are blessed people. Bad days do not take our blessings away, so let’s not let them steal our joy, either. J.R.R. Tolkien said, “Fairy tales do not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat…”
Activity: Image to look at. Think about something that brings you great joy or a time you felt great joy. Draw a picture of that. Use crayons, markers, pencils, paint- whatever you wish to create your artwork.
Day Four: Joy Comes In The Morning
There is a song I used to sing over and over when I was younger. It was a song by the Insyderz (okay, parents, you can laugh at me. Yes, I was a ska/punk youth.) called Mourning Into Dancing. It was a great song and I recommend you look it up on Spotify right now. Your kids will love it. (What kid doesn’t love ska?) That song could always give me a joyful feeling. Why? Because God can turn our mourning into dancing! The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 31:13 that the young women will rejoice and dance and the young men and old will be merry. Why? Because He will turn their mourning into joy! Why? Because He has ransomed and rescued us! He paid the ransom for us to be set free! So rejoice! Sing! Dance! Be Merry!
Activity: Turning mourning into joy! Gather paper plates, paint stirs, and tape or glue. Everyone gets two plates. On one plate, create a mourning face. (Use crayons, markers, paint, yarn, googly eyes, whatever you have handy.) On the other, create a face of joy. Glue/tape one plate to one side of the stir, one to the other. Now, turn mourning into joy!
Day Five: Joyful Hearts
Proverbs 17: 22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” There have been many studies done on how laughter is good for us. Some studies even claim laughter can help people with inflammatory diseases sleep better at night. Laughter reduces the stress hormones in your body. Laughter helps increase blood flow to your heart. So laughter is really a good medicine. You tell a joke, and if it is a good joke, you improve the bodies and spirits of those around you. You have the power to share joy! Mark Twain said, “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” Just as you have the opportunity to share your joy, you also have the ability to crush someone’s spirit. Mean words, harsh actions- they can crush someone. You’ll leave a mark on every person you meet- choose to share your joy.
Activity: Did you learn your memory verse? Share it! Take turns telling jokes and funny stories. Increase the health of your family- laugh together!
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is the memory verse this week. These verses are also know as the Shema Yisrael. Read these verses at the beginning of each devotion time. The goal is to have each member of the family memorize these verses this week. You can print out the image above or make your own with the verse on it to place somewhere in your house. (Image is sized to be printed 5×7.)
Day One: What is Love?
What is love? It is easy to say what love is not. But what is it? Is it simply intense affection? Is it liking someone a lot? The Bible teaches us the God is love. In 1 John 4, we’re told that not only is love from God, but God Himself is Love. In a great act of love shown to man, God sent His only Son to become one of us. He loved us so much, He died for us. He died for you. That is bigger than affection. That is bigger than just liking you. He loves you. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ” Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Jesus came in love to drive sin away. He came for you. He came for me. He came for each man because of His love.
Activity: Coloring Page
Day Two: Love My Neighbor
Read Matthew 22:34-40.
Who is your neighbor? Your neighbor is the person in front of you and the next person you see. Your mom is your neighbor. Your sister is your neighbor. Your friend is your neighbor. The kid down the street is your neighbor. Your neighbor is any person you see or talk to. Jesus said we should love our neighbor as ourselves. How can you do that? How could you show the person in front of you the love of Jesus? St. Francis of Assissi said, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” Let’s practice showing one another the love of Jesus this week, and all the weeks that follow. Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Activity: Show some love! Think of something to do for those in your house to show them love. Make your brother’s bed. Help your Mom with laundry. Pick up someone else’s mess. Do small things with great love.
Day Three: The Greatest is Love
Read 1 Corinthians 13.
Why is love so great? How does it feel to be loved? It is nice, isn’t it? Knowing someone loves you. Knowing your Mom or your Dad care deeply for you. You always know you can turn to them. You always know you can count on them to be there. Why? They love you. Mother Teresa said, “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, “How many good things have you done in your life?” rather He will ask, “How much love did you put into what you did?” Do you remember a time when someone did something for you with love? Do that for others!
Activity: Making cards. Today, let’s make a card for someone who lives far from us that we want to show some love.
Day Four: Heart and Soul
Read Joshua 22:5.
What does it mean to walk in the way of the Lord? If God is love, then I should walk in love. One way we know how to walk in the way of the Lord, is to look at the life of Jesus. When Jesus encountered Zacchaeus (in Luke 19), a man the rest of the world hated, did Jesus do what everyone else did and ignore and push Zacchaeus to the side? Nope. Jesus showed Zacchaeus love and friendship. When they came to Jesus with the woman they were going to stone in John 8, did Jesus throw a stone? Nope. Jesus offered forgiveness for the wrong she had done. Let’s walk like Jesus and cling to Him. Let’s show the world the love He has shown to us. You may be the only Jesus the world sees.
Activity: Coloring page.
Activity 2: Raining Hearts. Get a dowel/stick, various paper (wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, colored paper), string/yarn, scissors, and glue. Cut little hearts of all size from the paper. Glue each heart onto the string, gluing multiple hearts along the length of the string. Tie each string to the stick. It is now raining love!
Day 5: In Love
Read 1 Corinthians 16:14
Everyday you do things. You see people. You talk to people. You do your school work. You play on the playground. You go to dance class or baseball practice. Everyday you have the chance to show those around you love. How could you show the love of Jesus in the things you do? Should you do different things? Should you just do the things you do with more love? You make a mark on every person you meet- make a mark of love.
Activity: Memory verse day! Who learned their memory verse this week? What did you learn about love?