A sea creature called Joshua

This week Daniel came home from school with a sea creature he had made. He had named his sea creature Joshua so that his brother would love it. It brought back memories of when he made a sock puppet called Joshua at pre-school. It’s also raised the question of how much of his arts and crafts we can keep. I have a file in the filing cabinet of some of his pictures, and some are displayed in our Articulate frames, but it’s impossible to keep everything. I know that Daniel wishes we could though…

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Questions about Daddy 2015

As usual, I’ve enjoyed asking the children questions about Daddy this Father’s Day.  It’s been fun hearing their thoughts!

1. What makes Daddy happy?

D – Giving him food.

J – Building something.

2. How does Daddy make you laugh?

D – Tickling me.

J – Tickles me.

3. What was Daddy like as a child?

D – Good behaviour.

J – A scarecrow.

4. How old is Daddy?

D – 32.

J – 5.

5. How tall is Daddy?

D – Really tall.

J – Bigger.

6. What is Daddy’s favourite thing to do?

D – Play games.

J – Work.

7. What does Daddy do when you’re not around?

D – Look for me.

J – Go on a train.

8. What is Daddy really good at?

D – Driving our car.

J – Being in a castle.

9. What is Daddy not very good at?

D – Flushing the toilet.

J – Squirting me.

10. What is Daddy’s favourite food?

D – Meatballs with chicken nuggets.

J – Chicken.

11. What do you and Daddy do together?

D – Play games.

J – Puzzles and games.

12. Where is Daddy’s favourite place to go?

D – Portsmouth.

J – The park.

13. What does Daddy like most about Mummy?

D – Going in her bed.

J – He loves her.

14. What does Daddy do for a job?

D – Work at church.

J – Opens the shed.

15. How are you and Daddy the same?

D – We’ve got the same hair.

J – We’re both boys.

16. How are you and Daddy different?

D – We’ve got different colour t-shirts.

J – Because I’ve got white hair and he’s got brown hair.

17. How do you know Daddy loves you?

D – When he gives me cuddles.

J – Because he tickles me.

18. What makes Daddy sad?

D – When there’s not enough room in your bed.

J – Writing.

19. What makes you proud of Daddy?

D – When he’s good at playing football.

J – Swimming.

Father’s Day Cards

We’ve had fun getting crafty to make our Father’s Day cards this year.  Josh has even become a tie designer for Grandad and Gramp!

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Sticky Faith

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to go to a Sticky Faith training evening that our church was hosting.  Sticky Faith pulls together research conducted by the Fuller Youth Institute in the USA which looked at why it is that so many young people give up on their Christian faith.  As a result of their research, they have put together a range of resources to support children’s and youth leaders and parents to help young people stick at their faith so it lasts through into adulthood.  I had really been looking forward to the evening and hoped that it would give me a lot of inspiration and food for thought.  Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

The evening started with a ‘Setting the Scene’ session where some of the findings of the Fuller Youth Institute’s research were shared.  Crucially, although the vast majority of adult believers first came to faith in their teenage years, 40-50% of older teens who went into further/higher education failed to stick at their faith.  Many young people don’t seem sure of what being a Christian actually means.  Two thirds of US teenagers thought it was about doing good works rather than having a relationship with God.

After the ‘Setting the Scene’ session, participants were then given a choice of two different workshops looking at how to develop Sticky Faith in young people in different contexts, Church and Community or Home and School.  I opted for the Home and School stream.

In the Home and School workshop we were told that the research showed that 83% of parents don’t talk about faith with their children.  Perhaps not surprisingly, children whose parents talk about faith tend to have more sticky faith.  They also found that parents who talk about their doubts help their children’s faith to stick and that children with lasting faith have parents who encourage individual thought.  This really makes sense to me – the more we allow our children to think for themselves and form their own opinions, the more likely they are to make their faith their own.

For much of the session, participants talked in groups, sharing ideas for providing space and time for discussion about faith.  Suggestions ranged from having no devices at a family mealtime to help aid discussion to using books written from a Christian perspective to help tackle some of the issues parents sometimes find it harder to talk about with their children e.g. sex.

Another finding that came out of the Sticky Faith research was that, for every one child, there should be five older people committed to investing in them.  Intergenerational relationships were key – being in a church youth group was not enough to develop lasting faith.  We were encouraged to think about who these key figures were or could be for our own children.

In the closing session of the evening, we were given the opportunity to meet and talk with others from our own church to think about how what we had learnt might impact on the children’s and youth work in our setting.  This was a valuable time to talk, share and pray.

The Sticky Faith training event was really excellent but there was so much to try and fit in to just a few hours.  I really want to go over some of the key findings again to fully process what it means in my own church and family situations.  I am definitely planning to try and read The Sticky Faith Guide for your Family: Over 100 practical and tested ideas to build lasting faith in kids.

Duck World

For his fifth birthday, back in February, Daniel asked if we could go to Duck World to feed the ducks.  Well I checked and could find no place called Duck World, at least not in the UK.  In Daniel’s young mind, however, there should be such a place as Duck World (and I’m inclined to agree!) and so I set about finding a suitable location that would live up to his expectations.  We settled on Arundel Wetland Centre and booked to go with the wider family in February half term.  Unfortunately, chicken pox struck and the birthday outing had to be postponed.  On Monday, however, we finally made it to Duck World!

Arundel Wetland Centre certainly lived up to Daniel’s high expectations and he announced to us that it was his best birthday ever.  The Wetland Centre is home to a vast array of ducks and other waterfowl.  We were spoilt with many sightings of goslings and ducklings including some really tiny baby moorhens.  As we arrived we purchased three scoops of food for the ducks but to be honest we could have made do with much less than that.  Many of the ducks did not seem overly hungry.  Despite this, we did find a few who were interested, some even keen enough to eat out of Daniel’s hand.

One of the highlights of the day was our trip on the boat safari.  The guide who took us on our boat safari was fantastic with the boys and pointed out things that would be of interest to them as well as the adults on the boat.  The boys also enjoyed visiting various hides around the site and seeing what they could spot through the binoculars that Gramp had lent them.

We spent the whole day at Arundel Wetland Centre and there was still more that we could have done e.g. pond dipping.  It was a fantastic day out and one that really catered for a wide spread of ages.  The paths around the site were good and it would easily be manageable with a pushchair or a wheelchair.  It’s not the cheapest day out but I would say that it represents good value for money (particularly if you take advantage of the 10% discount when buying your tickets online in advance).  Given that it is not too far away from family in Chichester, I can certainly see us visiting again in the future.

Our Lent Prayer Adventure

You may recall that I posted a few weeks ago about how we were planning to use the GodVenture prayer cards throughout Lent.  We have really enjoyed getting creative with our prayers over the last few weeks and it has been a really great experience.  Throughout Lent we have used sweets, play doh, dried pasta, fridge magnets and candles as part of our prayers – the list could go on and on!  Another favourite that has been repeated numerous times is coming up with our own verses for the song ‘Thank you, Lord, for this fine day.’  One of the things I really like about the GodVenture prayer cards is that they include prayer ideas for saying thank you, sorry and please as well as just general chatting with God.  I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who wants to think of new and creative ways of praying with their children.  I have also used the GodVenture ideas with my 5-8 year old’s Sunday school group and they went down really well with them as well.

Alongside the GodVenture prayer cards, our March edition of the Treasure Box People’s resource was linked to the Lord’s prayer.  This included a prayer dice which the boys have really enjoyed using, as well as a balloon with the Earth painted on which we have been able to use to support our praying for people we know in other parts of the world.  It’s been great to have this to reinforce some of what we were doing through the GodVenture cards.

I am very conscious that the prayers our children hear us praying for them can have a profound effect.  One of the things that struck me when I read Praying Circles Around Your Children earlier this year was that my children don’t often hear me praying Bible verses over them.  I therefore loved the Everyday Prayers posters that CPO sell.  I saw these at the Children’s and Family Ministry Conference and bought one which I have put up in the boys’ room.  It lists a different Bible verse for each day of the month and each night I pray the Bible verse for that day over the boys.  This has led to some great discussion about some of the verses and what they mean.

The last few weeks have been great as the boys and I have tried to immerse ourselves more in prayer together.  We will definitely be continuing to use the ideas in the coming weeks and months.

Holy Week Boxes

Recently I read about Linda LeBron’s fabulous idea of Holy Week boxes.  These simple boxes contain a few simple items that can help you share the Easter story with your children.

I was a bit late putting together my own Holy Week box but managed to find all of the items I needed from around the house.  The box itself is an old jewellery box and I have used a board game figure to represent Jesus.  All you need beyond that is a small piece of white fabric and some green paper.  However, a number of people have developed the original idea further and so you may choose to add some pipe cleaners or twist ties and three chocolate coins as I have done.

Victoria Beech has produced a set of instructions to go with the Holy Week boxes and you can find these on the GodVenture website.  She includes suggestions for developing the story further each day during Holy Week including Bible references and a discussion question.

The boys and I started looking at the first few events from Holy Week today using the box as a prop to help us.  It is really good to have an engaging way of sharing the Easter story with young children and I am looking forward to continuing to explore the story with them as the week goes on.

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