Communion, Children, and Concentration

Communion, Children, and Concentration

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

Generally, when one has a kid, there is an understanding that worship will be different. You may not be able to listen to the sermon as well (at all?). You may miss some of the songs (discipline issues? Poopsplosion?). You may only get to hear the first half (or third?) of a prayer.

But, following the wise advice of an older mom, I have found that one area has improved for me. I have been better able to focus during communion.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I have stood and bounced, rocked, nursed, cuddled, and cajoled a fussy baby. We have our days. We have our weeks sometimes. Sickness, stubbornness, and silliness can all be a challenge on occasion.

But stay with me.

Communion might even get better after you have kids. Here is what my friend shared with me.

You might think of the Lord’s Supper as another high pressure point–after all, it should be at least somewhat quiet, just like in the sermon, which of course means that your kid is much more likely to cry, talk, giggle, etc. Toss goldfish, puzzles, and books in their direction until they find something to occupy them, right?

Maybe not.

What my friend did was something a little different. And of course, not every Sunday worked out like this. But the ones that did were amazing.

First, she would hold her two little girls in her lap. In an intimate whisper, she would tell them the best story ever told. She would tell them of Jesus. Of his life, of his great love, of his sacrifice, of his undeserved pain, and of the wonder of his resurrection. She would tell of the Last Supper. Of what the bread and grape juice symbolized.

And she told them how very special this was–and that some day, they too would participate in these special moments focused on the Savior. They too would get to take part in Communion. That they too would be a part of the greatest, blood-bought family there is: the church.

And in telling them that precious story, she herself absolutely focused on the most important subject there ever could be: Christ and his sacrifice. She was focused, not just in bringing herself closer to Christ but teaching her children to do so as well.

Today, her kids are grown. These beautiful, Christ-like women each have talents they use for God. And now, they each participate in the best supper there is–the Lord’s Supper. They give me hope and renewed energy. Their very lives and examples encourage me to keep on doing this tough but rewarding job of motherhood.

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May you be encouraged to do likewise.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2

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October: A Time for your Family to Shine Christ’s Love

October: A Time for your Family to Shine Christ’s Love

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

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I love the tradition of lighting the jack-o-lantern. It’s one we don’t do much anymore for safety concerns, but thankfully there are some really great battery-operated lights to use in their place. The glow from the pumpkins in the dark night is just really cool! There are many negative connotations with Halloween so it’s a holiday I tread lightly upon, but one idea I can get behind is being a light. It’s a topic we can talk about year-round, but I especially love to use this time of year to think about ways to shine God’s love.

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Here are some fun ideas to help your family focus on shining God’s light this October:

Learn a lesson from a pumpkin. 

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we read: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 

If you think about the message in this verse, it’s quite like the light that we shine in our jack-o-lanterns. Liz Curtis Higgs has a wonderful children’s book titled “The Pumpkin Patch Parable.” This story compares a carefully selected pumpkin, cleaned up and transformed by its farmer, to what happens when we let Jesus take over our lives. It is a great story to read with your children in anticipation of a trip to the pumpkin patch!

Take a family glow walk. 

With the cooler weather and the sun setting earlier, now is a great time to take a walk in the dark with your kids. Grab a flashlight and maybe some fun glow sticks. On your walk, talk about how the light allows you to see where you are going. Use this a bridge to discuss God’s word being a light for us.

Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Say a special pumpkin prayer together. 

Here is a simple prayer you can say together as you carve your family pumpkin this year. There is a different line to say for each step of the process. Click Here:  Pumpkin Prayer

Along those lines, here is another great version of the pumpkin prayer in the form of a printable book (from Christian Preschool Printables) that you can use to say the prayer over and over again! Click Here: Pumpkin Carving Prayer 

Participate in a family glow worship night. 

Give everyone a fun light stick to use while you sing songs that praise Jesus. Don’t forget to sing “This Little Light of Mine!” One of my favorite parts of the pumpkin prayer is said as the eyes are carved: “Lord, open my eyes to see all of the beautiful things you have made.” Take some time to pass around a special light (or candle, if your kids are mature enough) and let each person share something beautiful in their lives that they are thankful for.

Shine your light through family service projects. 

Matthew 5:16 says,

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

A great way to put this verse into practice is by doing a special service project together. It could be something simple such as baking pumpkin muffins for a new mom or an elderly neighbor. If your children are older, try volunteering at your local food bank or help someone with their yard work. Brainstorm together one night around the dinner table ways to shine the light of Christ and put a plan into action!

Place reminders in your home! 

At this stage in my life, I’m not a huge craft person. However, I do enjoy coloring sheets because they are EASY and my daughter loves them! These coloring sheets from Christian Preschool Printables focus on Christ and shining your light. After your kids have colored them, display them around your house. Each time you see one, your family will be reminded to shine the light of Jesus this season! Click Here: Free Coloring Pages 

I hope you’ve found some ideas to keep Christ at the center of your home through the month of October! Have a wonderful season shining for Christ!

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A Letter to My Toddler

A Letter to My Toddler

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

I love…

  • the way your hair looks when you first wake up. Poking out, bed head, carelessly askew.
  • how you yawn, bleary-eyed and sweet. It’s contagious, did you know? Even to me.
  • the way you eat. Somehow you’re always hungry. Your excitement, your expressions, and  your great love (still!) for milk.
  • the way you sing, lustily and clear, or when you drowsily hum right before you sleep.
  • the way you never walk–you’re too energetic for that! You tiptoe, run and hop and jump. And that is only the start!
  • the way you fold your hands right before we pray. They’re so small and innocent and I love them just that way.

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And I love…

  • how much you love to read. You never tire of it, even when it’s been an hour and I am ready to quit!
  • how much you love little dogs, bunnies, cats, and armadillos. Anything that’s your size is such a fascination.
  • the way you hug me with chubby arms around my neck, or when you throw your whole body at my knees, or when you just give a side peck.
  • your wet sloppy kisses, how you don’t know how to kiss. I love that sweet milky breath and I don’t care that I get wet.
  • to watch you puzzle out how things work. I love to watch you every day with something new to learn.
  • your awe and surprise because the whole world is new. I see God’s creation in a different way, all because of you.
  • how much you grow each day, or sometimes, it seems, each hour. I’m not exactly sure where time’s gone; I just know that it’s expired.

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Sweet child, I love you oh so much–more than you know. But not more than your Heavenly Father, who I pray you learn to know.

You see, it’s God who gave you to your daddy and to me. Every good thing comes from Him–and you are one of those things!

I pray your faith begins to sprout and blossom, bloom and grow. I pray that hope will ever spring even when you’re feeling low.

I pray so many things for you, my dear, but most importantly, I pray for you to love our God–to know him eternally.

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Create a Fall to Remember!

Create a Fall to Remember!

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Each season brings it’s own cravings and fun activities.  It also brings many opportunities to do some soul searching, encourage each other and reach out to others!  You’ll love these ideas to use either in your own family or gift them to others. We’ve gathered a great list of activities, crafts, recipes, printables, decor and more for you to create a fall to remember!

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creating-a-fall-to-remember-pinterestSoul Food

Let’s start by feeding our soul with a little of God’s fall flavor. McKenzie’s way of digging into Scripture through Bible Journaling is inspiring and definitely brings a new perspective to God’s word.

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Sharing God’s love with others is a wonderful way to kick off the fall! Go on a Scavenger Hunt with friends, family or church group. Head out to your neighborhood or one that could use some tender loving care and love on the people there by doing different mini-service projects.

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As we look forward to the changes of fall and all the things that we can create, we can pray for the Lord to create a pure heart in us as well!

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Food

Kick the Morning off Right!

The first thing you reach for in the morning is coffee, right?  Well, that’s my husband. I prefer hot chocolate or a protein drink.  But as soon as I saw this deliciously, healthy version of a pumpkin spice coffee creamer I thought of him.

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These gluten-free apple cinnamon protein pancakes are so good you won’t even need to drown them in syrup!

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These Apple Harvest Muffins are perfect for mornings on the go.

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Fall Inspired Desserts

Ever since I was a child, desserts were what I enjoyed creating in the kitchen the most. As an adult, I still enjoy them but so enjoy finding recipes like this healthier apple crisp that chooses to not use refined white sugar, but instead adds an wonderful fall flavor by using maple syrup.

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These frosted maple cookies have me licking my lips.  I can’t believe I’ve never had these before.  Have you?

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It truly wouldn’t be fall unless homemade pumpkin pie is included!

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Fashion & Home Decor

I’m not one that enjoys shopping for clothes.  I do, however, enjoy shopping with friends who enjoy shopping and finding cute things for me to wear.  Now that I’ve moved into a warmer climate, I found this post about dressing for fall in a warmer climate to be helpful.

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Weclome guest with fall before they even enter your home with this adorable Hoop Fall Wreath.

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There are several fall themed signs for welcoming fall into your house.

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If you prefer to just add subtle hints that fall has arrived consider adding these 3 accessories

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Arts & Crafts

It would not be truly fall without crafts!  Craft fairs and festivals are some of my favorite places to visit in the fall.  I love seeing all the creativity and finding pieces that are draw in the season!

Engage all the senses with the most amazing apple cinnamon no cook playdough.

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This Autumn Hand Print Tree is such a cute way to capture our children’s hand prints and this could totally be made into a card to send off to the first person that pops to mind.

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Get the modge podge out and create a peppier fall look by mixing up the bright colors with your pumpkins!

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Get inspired by nature to create fun art like this digi-leaf art project!

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Activities

There are so many wonderful activities to do during the fall.  Visiting pumpkin patches is probably the first thing that pops to mind but don’t miss enjoying these other activities:

Visiting an apple orchard and picking your own apples!

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Interact with our feathered friends by creating an apple bird feeder for them!

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Fall & football go hand in hand.  Find budget friendly ways to decorate when you cheer on your favorite team.

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Explore nature with the fun fall scavenger hunt.

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Make art out of pressed leaves and flowers by making your own DIY Nature Press!

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Winding Down

There is something about fall that makes me want to gather with friends around my favorite drinks. Of course, Hot Chocolate will always be my favorite but since this is a fall round up post, I’ll share some others that are tempting me as well.

My Mother’s Quick and Delicious Apple Cider is one people always as about when they come over. It also makes a perfect gift for your neighbors!

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One of my favorite fall treats is a caramel covered apple and this Caramel Apple Cider recipe seems to be the drinkable version of that treat!

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And if you still need more ideas to dive into fall, check out these posts:

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50-ideas-best-fall-ever-1024x691

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What are some of your favorite fall activities?  

What is a new fall activity you are looking forward to enjoying? 

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

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Hanging on to Dollar Bills: a Mini Guide to Big Saving and Less Spending

Hanging on to Dollar Bills: a Mini Guide to Big Saving and Less Spending

I’m a natural saver. I blame it on my dad. From the age of thirteen (and my first official job), my dad taught me to save. His method for my paycheck savings involved putting 50% in a bank account to be “saved” and the rest I could spend however I wanted.  I later figured out the purpose to my “saving” was so he could “borrow” (and not necessarily return) the money for family expenses that he and my mom couldn’t afford (or didn’t budget for).  Sometimes that meant 50% of my paycheck went toward groceries, school supplies, or gas for the car.  While this is not an example I would encourage parents to follow, it did get me into a habit of saving.

With Dollar Bills Come Great Responsibility

Over the years, I’ve read books and blogs, watched videos, and taught courses on how to save and spend wisely.  That by no means makes me an expert, but I have learned a thing or two about making the money that comes in last as long as possible. (I attribute this newfound interest in learning to my husband, who is an excellent teacher of good methods of handling money and all things finance-related.)
Every dollar is important (of great worth), and we have a God-inherent responsibility to be a great steward of each dollar we get.

(Insert song: She works hard for the money!)  We work hard for our money, don’t we, friends? Since we work hard to earn it, we need to learn to work hard to save it and spend it.

Today’s post is about spending!  It’s a little bit about saving too–frugal ways that allow us to hold onto those dollars so they last a little longer.

Couponing Done Easier

Ok, I’ve tried the whole Extreme Couponing thing. It doesn’t work for me!  To those of you who do it well, I commend you!  I’m not going to teach you anything extreme.  Instead, I’ll show you slow, diligent moderation.  If you want extreme, check out some of the Queen C’s (C for Coupons!) online like: Krazy Koupon Lady.

Frugal Couponing:  Guidelines I use when couponing

1.  Only coupon what you normally buy anyway.

I used to get caught up in all the coupons: “Buy 2, get 1 free.” “Buy 2, save 50 cents.” “Save $ on over-priced items that wouldn’t normally end up in the shopping cart and are a more expensive alternative even with the coupon.”

Don’t fall for these marketing techniques unless it’s:

a) something you need,
b) something you’re buying anyway,
c) something you need that quantity of, or
d) the best alternative, price-quality wise–if there’s a cheaper alternative you and your family can live with “this time,” then save and go for the cheaper alternative.

Side Note about “This Time”:  Part of being frugal (and a good steward of resources) is to keep a “this time” attitude.  It puts into perspective the short life of each purchase. When comparing brands and prices, think about the life of the product.  How long will it last? One week? A month?  Will my family survive with (cheaper toilet paper or generic ketchup) for just this month?  What about every other month?  Can they handle a cheaper, generic brand just this one time?  You might argue that the difference in price is only a dollar, or even only few cents.  

Remember our goal: to hang onto each dollar a little bit longer. That includes those few cents of savings on each item in the cart. It’s the small things. In order to be more frugal, we have to learn to make small changes now. Small changes now will turn into big changes later.  Every penny counts.  Don’t spend it “just because you have a coupon.”

2.  Use coupon apps.

There are so many money-saving apps out there. Depending on your city, some work better than others.  It might take some trial and error to find the apps that work best for you and your region, but if you want to save money, it’s worth the time to figure out.

Personally, I only use apps that give me real cash savings or cash back, not the ones that work on a points system.  There are some good points systems, but right now, I focus on real, immediate cash.

My favorite apps are:

  • Walmart Savings Catcher – download your receipt after each purchase and watch the real cash grow.  Transfer to PayPal or a Walmart gift card.  They also have an online version: https://savingscatcher.walmart.com/.
  • Kroger and Whole Foods coupon apps–because I don’t have to print anything.
  • I check the Krazy Coupon Lady app just for things I’m going to be buying anyway, so I don’t get caught up in the hype of spending gas, printer ink, and time running all over town to get free things or ‘money-maker’ things that I don’t need.  Time is worth spending frugally too!
  • Ibotta has become another favorite app.  I look for items I plan to buy, and then scan the item and receipt for cash back via PayPal or gift cards.
  • This app doesn’t usually have many items that I normally buy, but for the little time it takes to scroll through and upload receipts, I still consider Checkout 51 worthwhile.

Even if you average 25-50 cents per shopping trip (like me), that small change quickly adds up.  I’m currently at $5, but hey, that’s a free coffee!  Who doesn’t like free coffee? With Checkout 51, I can cash out when it reaches $20, in which case, who doesn’t like a free movie?  Or one hour of free babysitting? Compliments of a grocery app–yay!

3. Stay on Budget and Just Say No.

Have you noticed we live in an extremely high-consumption society?  The rest of the world calls us consumerists and gluttons.  Why do we let ourselves get caught up in the hype?

Part of frugal living is just saying no.  No to things we don’t need.  Delaying ‘wants’ until we’ve saved up to pay cash for them, which means saying ‘no’ for right now.  There is a time to spend.  Our culture is REALLY good at it.  Admit it, so are you!  I definitely am!

First, though, we need to learn to save.  Save for future needs, for emergencies, for wants.  Save just to save.  If you’re wondering why we learn to be frugal, it’s for those reasons just listed.

A Side Note on Saving:

Saving is the foundation to Big Giving.  Do you ever wish you had enough money to support a missionary for an entire year or build a hospital in a small village? Do you ever think about what it would be like to fund an entire non-profit event?  Or sponsor your kids’ sports team or band trip?

People who give big first had to learn to save big. I recently read that somewhere.  They learned to say no to things they didn’t need so that later, they could enjoy (and appreciate) the things they wanted.  To learn to save big, start small. Start with small, frugal decisions.  Talk it through with your spouse, kids, and friends.  Get them on board and excited.  They’ll hold you accountable and learn along the way!  Who knows? Maybe they’ll do this with you!  It’s so much more fun together!

Being frugal doesn’t have to mean turning into a skimpy cheapskate, but if we learn how to be thoughtful and conscientious about our spending–and saving–we will be on a good path to better things in the future.

Have any other easy couponing tips or apps to share?

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Who’s in God’s House?

Who’s in God’s House?

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Who’s in God’s house?

The Church!  But who or what is the church? And how do you get in? These are all questions that are answered in this month’s Family Time Training Activity called God’s House.  (Download it for free during the month of June or sign up for unlimited access to all their materials.)

You have probably heard someone say, “I’m going to church!”

Although not a bad thing to say because we know what they mean, my husband and I have chosen to reiterate with our kids that we don’t go to church because we are the church.  Instead we say, “We are going to worship.” or “We are going to the church building.”

We chose to do this for two different reasons:

  1.  I did not realize growing up that the church in the Bible was actually referring to those who believed and followed Christ!
  2. One of my husband’s favorite a Capella groups called AVB  had a song called “U Can’t Go to Church.”  He almost always starts singing this song when our children say, “Let’s go to church.” It’s really funny, but it’s a good way to remember that we are the church.

God’s House Activity

Our family has 5 kids ages 9 years old to newborn.  As we sat down to do this activity, I wondered how each of them would process it.  I wondered if they would grasp the main concepts of

  1. How we become part of God’s house &
  2. Who all is a part of God’s house

Using the model of a house was a brilliant way to help explain these two concepts.  A paper template is included with this activity that your older children can fill in as you discuss these concepts with them and your younger children can color and cut while you are talking.

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Becoming Part of God’s House

God in his infinite mercy uses the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) when it comes to salvation and this Family Time Training activity reinforces that idea.

I was excited how this activity explained that Jesus is the “door/gate” and we enter the house of God only through him.  I made all my children find the door and explained that the only way to enter God’s house is through Jesus.

So Jesus said again, “I am telling you the truth: I am the gate for the sheep.  All others who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Those who come in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness. – John 10:7-10

Question: But how do we go through Jesus to enter the house?

Answer: We must believe that Jesus is the son of God and choose to obey him!

Obeying and disobeying is something children understand.  We are constantly teaching them this.  Explaining that Jesus is the only way into the house and we have to obey him to get in, makes crystal clear sense even to our 3 year old.

Who is a Part of God’s House?

This honestly is probably my favorite part of this activity.  Why?  Because I love Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

In this passage, we see that those who believed and obeyed God in the past are cheering us on in the present.  So there is a clear representation of the body of Christ (God’s House) past and present together.

By writing out the apostles, the prophets, christian leaders from the past to present, our family, friends and future Christians, we start to see God’s House as more than just what we see sitting in the worship service. We see God’s House as an eternal legacy of Christ, one that is filled with people from the past, present, and the future.  It reminds us that our calling is not just to enter into God’s House through Jesus Christ but to call others to joyfully enter it as well!  We can be praying for our friends, family, and those who don’t know Christ yet but will be our brothers and sisters in Christ one day.

It’s a great way to help our children see that God’s House is filled with people we’ve read about as Bible heroes and reminds us that we can become present day heroes for Christ, too!  

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Taking this Idea a step further!

There are just so many great ways to use this house template to encourage our kids in their faith. Here are a few extras I thought about:

1.  Grab a Cardboard Box

My kids have been playing with cardboard boxes all week, making rocket ships and other contraptions.  You could easily use this small template and turn it into a cardboard box sized template that allowed them to walk into the house and write on the walls and roof.  Keep this in the house or on the porch for a week or so.  Every so often stop, gather around the house and pray.  Pray over your kids, their current church family, their brothers and sisters around the world, and those who will become their brothers and sisters in God’s House.

2. Learn more about Christian Leaders from 100 AD – 2,000 AD

Watch the great animated Torch Lighters Series and learn about St. Augustine, Corrie Ten Boom, and many others who are considered heroes of the faith! Or grab a kid friendly biography about them and make family reading time a time to bolster their faith and courage.

3. Read about Bible Leaders and Prophets

Let each child pick their favorite Bible leaders or prophet and read about them over dinner.  Talk about why they like them so much.  What characteristics would be good to imitate or foster in their own lives?  What draws them to that particular Bible character?  Remind them that these people are in God’s House, too!

How have you explained God’s House or who makes us the church to others?  

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