Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Activities for Children

“Let every heart prepare Him room…”

Last week, I introduced our Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room series, posts dedicated to Christmas reflections.  Starting today, and continuing on each Monday through Christmas, we’ll look at different ways that you can make room for Jesus this Christmas.  Today’s guest post is written by Jeanna Bruce-Wilson, owner of Splendid Events Project by Jeanna.  You can visit her website here.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Inn,

Not a baby was crying, not even a grin.

As baby Jesus’ parents arrived after long travel,

Little do they know all that was to unravel.

The Inn Keeper explained there was no more room.

What were Mary and Joseph going to do with the baby in her womb?

A stable in the back was available with hay.

The excited parents were grateful as they began to pray.

Three wise men followed a star that led them to the Prince of Peace.

All night they walked with gifts and walked far without cease.

Just as they showed up, our Savior Jesus Christ the Lord was here on earth.

For many years to come we recognize Christmas as the reason we celebrate his birth.

Isn’t it amazing how children retell the story of Jesus’ birth? It wasn’t until this year that my 5 year-old daughter thought that our Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ, was forever a baby. Little did she know that He grew into a man who performed many miracles, forgave many (and still forgives to this day), showed remarkable acts of kindness and gave His life on our behalf so that one day we can join Him in heaven. This time of year is about so much more then bringing and receiving gifts; it’s a time to reflect on the most blessed time that started our journey with experiencing Jesus in every area of our lives.

As an event creator, I desire to use my God-given talents, gifts and spiritual gifts to bring glory to His name.  I’d like to share three great ideas that you can do at home with your children ages 4-18.  These ideas can also be used in your church or school classroom to enhance their knowledge of Jesus’ Birthday. Get ready—it’s time to celebrate!

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Pin the Baby in the Manger (For children ages 4 to 8)

This game is modeled after a popular game played at most children’s birthday parties.  Does “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” sound familiar?  Well how about “Pin the Baby in the Manger”? Here’s how you play:

  1. Create a manger out of poster board.  (You can draw hay or get extra creative by cutting strips of colored construction paper and gluing it onto the poster board).
  2. Next take large popsicle sticks and place them strategically in the shape of a feeding trough to represent Jesus’ bed.
  3. Don’t forget about the baby Jesus! Locate a black and white picture on the internet. Print off the number of copies needed for each child and have them color and cut out baby Jesus. This allows for each child to use his or her imagination about what they believe He looked like and also makes it easy for each picture to be differentiated once pinned to the board!
  4. Break out the blind fold and see who can get baby Jesus closest to his bed!

12 Days of Birthday Gifts (For children ages 9-13)

Throughout your child’s Sunday school years and also what has been reinforced at home, many stories told throughout the bible tell of Jesus healing the sick, helping the poor and befriending the friendless. Each night at dinner or bedtime, have your child recount a story in the bible and ask them what gift they would give to God to aid him in accomplishing his many great deeds.

For example, in the story about Jesus healing the blind man, ask your child what gift they would give God to aid him in making that possible, knowing the things that are available today. Your child might respond by saying medicine or even eye glasses. Help your child mentally visualize a place where they are giving for 12 days and not only looking or talking about receiving. By doing so, you’ll strengthen their bible knowledge as well as their relationship with you.

Journal Joys (ages 13+)

Keeping a journal in high school is almost a must! How cool would it be for your teen to keep a journal filled with things that keep them in good spirits around the Christmas holiday and reminds them of how much God loves them? This is an activity that actually can be carried into their adult years because it never gets old. As you read back from year to year of what they were thankful for about that particular Christmas, you’ll see how much your child has grown emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You, too, can take part in this activity by writing a few lines in the morning while they are in school so they can read it when they arrive home. It’s a great way of constant connection and to re-emphasize how much their walk with the Lord brings you so much joy.

We here at Splendid Events Project by Jeanna want you to have the most wonderful Christmas experience yet. Open up doors for those both in and out of your life that have a hurting heart or spirit, just as God has opened His arms to us to receive His precious Son who was born to be our Savior.

Merry Christmas and have an awesome New Year!

Free Christmas Music

Looking for great music to play during your upcoming family, volunteer or staff Christmas party?  Download this free (yes I said FREE) CD sampler from amazon.com.

Christmas sampler cd

The Beauty of Partnering With Parents

“Partnering with parents” is a very popular phrase for those in children’s ministry and student ministry.  We realize that (or we should realize) that this is one of the key relationships that we should foster as ministry leaders.

I have always struggled somewhat with what it means to truly partner with parents.  Sure, we can send home a take-home page that reviews what was taught in class, knowing very well that these pages will either be left behind on Sunday mornings or serve as mats in the car.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s very important to put resources into the hands of parents.  But we can’t stop there.

As I continue to wrap my brain around this concept, I am convinced more and more that true partnership is (1) each partner knowing what the common goals are, (2) knowing what role each partner plays in moving toward the common goals and (3) communicating effectively and regularly about the progress being made.

This weekend, I’ll wrap up teaching our three-week Communion class for 2nd-5th graders and their parents.  Having the parents attend with their child is great because they are able to not only hear what we’re teaching their child but it allows them to engage in dialogue about their own spiritual walk right on the spot.  (Parents are also provided a tool to use in continuing the conversation at home about what was provided in class.)

In my opinion, true partnership between the church and parents happens when there is conversation between them as well as resources being put into the hands of the parents.  There is also a responsibility for ministries to encourage and provide venues for conversation between parents and children.

For the past two weeks, I have witnessed parents and children talking at the tables and parents helping their children understand what it means to be loved by Christ, forgiven and welcomed at The Lord’s Table.  Parents were happy to share and children sat in awe of hearing their parents share with them.  It was  priceless exchange.  No take home page could replace that.

What are your thoughts?  How do you partner with parents in your ministry?  If you’re a parent, what ways does your church help you to be a better parent and spiritual leader?

{Book Review} and Free Book Giveaway: “The One Year Be-Tween You and God”

My thirteen-year-old daughter, Kennedy, and I recently reviewed Sandra Byrd’s recently released “The One Year Be-Tween You & God”, a devotional for girls ages 9-14.

About the Book

You have questions, some very personal and deep, others lighter and funny.  In this devotional, bestselling teen and tween author Sandra Byrd tackles 365 of those questions with scripturally based answers designed just for today’s girl.  

This devotional is like a personal diary between you and God.  Your questions and God’s answers from Scripture will lead you to a solid faith and deeper relationship with him.

Kennedy’s Thoughts

The outside cover of the book had a really cool design.  I think that is a big hit for girls my age.  Each devotional began with a “Dear God” question that is relevant and age-appropriate for preteen and teen girls like me.  I liked that each devotional had a corresponding scripture and an application prayer at the end.

I felt that the devotional lacked color and was kind of dull in appearance in the inside.  That part is not appealing for girls my age.  I like that while the book has a scripture index, I think that a topical index would help girls find devotions around a topic that they are going through at a given time.

Overall, I think the content is great and would help many girls my age answer questions about God and life in general.

Kathie’s Thoughts

I was thrilled to receive a copy of “The One Year Be-Tween You and God” devotional book for girls.  As a mom of a teenage daughter, I am always on the lookout for great resources to help her grow in her relationship with Christ.

The book contains 365 devotions, one for each day of the year.  Each devotional contains a “Dear God” question (written from the prospective of a “tween”); a “Consider This” devotional thought written by the author; a follow-up question; and a passage of Scripture. The scripture passages were taken from the New Living Translation, which I think makes God’s Word easily understood by preteens and teens.

I think that the majority of “Dear God” questions were age-appropriate.  They covered friendship, self-worth, popularity, fashion/beauty, school, following God and family relationships.  Some, in my opinion, seemed geared towards older teens.  For example, “Dear God, I still feel embarrassed about some stuff I did in the past.  How can I stop thinking about it?”  I’m not sure how much of a past a nine-year-old would have.

I agree with my daughter that it would have been more appealing if the pages were in color instead of black, white and gray.  I also agree that a topical index would allow for more personal application.  Finally, it would have been great if the book included a space for the girls to journal some of their thoughts.

Overall, I think the book is a great option for preteen and early teen girls.  I think it will help girls grapple with their faith and other issues they face during these impressionable years.

I am giving away a free copy of this resource!  You’ll be automatically entered to win when you leave a “Pick Me!” comment along with your name below.  The opportunity to enter ends at 5:00 pm EST on October 31, 2012.  

Tyndale House Publishers provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.