Fostering Friendships

I remember as a child being painfully shy. I wanted to make friends, but I wasn’t sure how and I wasn’t sure anyone would like me. I remember my mom, who has always been a friendly person, saying, “Just be friendly. Ask what their name is and tell them your name.” It made sense, yet for some reason I just couldn’t do it. I did take some of her advice though and I did try to join in games or activities that others were doing. Still to talk to someone I didn’t know was very hard, so most of the time I just listened. Now listening isn’t a bad skill, still, just how do those of us on the shyer side learn to make friends? I am happy to say, I’e come a long ways since those shy days. I don’t consider myself shy any more. I am really more outgoing and I’m loving it. How did I get there and how can we help our kids make friends?

I prayed about it. My best friend Jesus heard a small girl’s prayers and little by little, He answered. He nudged me out of my comfort zone to introduce myself to others and to be the first one to say my name. I still mostly listen during conversations, but I find that people love to talk to someone who listens to them and who tries to understand how they feel. I also learned to smile and ask questions. When you give someone a genuine smile, they usually smile back and when you ask about their day or wish them a good day, it lets them know that you care. As I listen, I try to really listen and remember what someone has told me. When we listen only with the intent of thinking of what we are going to say, we often miss what the other person is really talking about, but when we listen to understand and then respond with genuine interest, we’ve gained a friend.

I also learned that most people are not trying to judge you. Yes, I suppose we all make snap judgements at times. I know I’ve met someone and thought, “Oh they must be a teacher.” because of something they said only to find out that they worked in a doctor’s office or I’ve thought that someone was rich because they dressed very nicely and later found out that they weren’t any richer than I was, but they knew how to shop the sales. Still most people aren’t automatically trying to judge you as a person or judge what you say unless you are responding in an unkind manner. Most people are happy to smile back at you and are glad that there are some friendly people in the world.

If you are in a group where you don’t know anyone and feel kind of alone, you can be sure that there is at least one other person feeling the same way. So just introduce yourself. Ask their name and then ask where they are from, where they grew up, what their job is or even about the weather. Just introduce yourself! You might make their day.(Did you know that you can find lists of “getting-to-know-you” questions on line if you need something to get you started?)

Ok, so I’m still not the life of the party and I sometimes wonder if I will ever have a friendship quite like David had with his friend Jonathan, but I’m happy to say, I have friends – lots of friends and I am definitely not shy!!! In fact, I belong to a Toastmaster’s group and I actually enjoy public speaking. I didn’t get there overnight, but little by little, with God’s help, I faced my fears. I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and I realized that there were a lot of other people, just like me who were little apprehensive about introducing themselves. I’m still growing in my quest to be braver and more outgoing. My next goal is to get enough courage to share my ideas in group meetings even if I’m afraid that everyone is smarter and has better ideas than I do, even if I come across as ridiculous. The only ridiculous idea or question is the one not asked or shared.

How can we ever hope to have a friend like David had in Jonathan? Perhaps the best answer is to genuinely love and care about others. When we can get our eyes off of ourselves and our fears, focusing on the other person instead, then we can be a friend. The best way to make friends is to simply be a friend to someone else.

PRAYER: Father God,
Thank you for being my friend and thank you for sending Jesus to the world. He lived among us and experienced what we experience. He knew loneliness, pain, hunger and thirst. He endured ridicule, misunderstanding and rejection. he also experienced love and companionship and through it all, He loved and served. He healed and helped. He lived selflessly and He called us to follow Him. He died so that we might live in relationship with our Father God. Thank you Jesus, for being my friend. Help me, Lord, to let go of my selfish fears and be a friend to others. I know that I can be a friend because you are my friend and you are always with me. Amen

SHARE A STORY: Good Friends – David & Jonathan – 1 Samuel 20:12-42
David and Jonathan were very good friends. They loved each other. (Give self a hug.) But Jonathan’s dad was the king and he didn’t like David. (Make sad, mean face.) He was jealous and wanted to hurt David. Jonathan promised David that he would find out if his dad really was mad, (Show mad face.) then he would let David know so that he could go away where it was safe.

Jonathan talked to his dad and King Saul was still very angry. He thought people liked David better than him. Jonathan was sad because his dad was mad. (Show sad face.) But He had promised to let David know and good friends keep their promises. Good friends help each other.

Jonathan went out to the field where David was hiding. He shot some arrows to let David know that his dad was still mad and that David needed to get away. Afterwards Jonathan sent the boy who was with him back to town so he could see his friend, David, one last time. David came out from where he was hiding to say good bye to his friend. They cried together, (Say, “Boo hoo!”) and they promised to be friends forever. (Say and clap, “Friends forever.”) They promised to be kind to each other.

David and Jonathan were very good friends.They loved God (Point up.) and they loved each other. (Give self a hug.)You can be a good friend too. Ask God to help you be a good friend and show kindness just like Jonathan did. Do you know who wants to be your good friend? Jesus! He really loves you. You can be a good friend to others because Jesus lis a good, good friend to you.

Dear God,
Thank you for my friends. Help me to be a good friend and be kind to others.
Help me remember to share. Thank you God for being my friend too. I love you! Amen

MEMORIZE: Proverbs 17:17 – (Hold hands open as though holding a book.)
A friend – (Hook pointer fingers together.)
Loves – (Give self a hug.)
At all – (Throw hands out to sides.)
Times – (Point to clock.)

VERSE SONG: (To the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)
A friend loves at all times,
All times, all times.
A friend loves at all times,
And Jesus is a friend of mine.
(2nd time through replace last line with Proverbs 17:17)

With young children, getting together with other families with young children is a good start. Young children begin to understand friendship as they simply play alongside one another. Playing with your child as he/she plays alongside others helps too – as well as having toys that can be shared – 2 trucks, 2 dolls, blocks, etc.

  • Teach your preschooler what to say when meeting someone new. “Hi! My name is …. What’s your name?”
  • Invite someone over to play one on one. with your child. It’s a little less intimidating one on one than in a whole group..

  • Introduce kids to each other. Have some of the friendlier, less shy kids be greeters to welcome other kids. Assign someone to be a new child’s special buddy the first day in class.
  • Play a name game in circle time by clapping different names or singing the names around the circle.
  • Include activities where more than one child is included – art activities done as a group or building together, doing a puzzle together, etc.
  • Model and role play how to introduce yourself and some get-to-know you types of questions.
  • With older kids, encourage friendships amongst kids who have like interests, but also amongst kids who are different.
  • Celebrate each child’s uniqueness.

Simply Pray

My mom is a woman of prayer. She lives on a small farm in Eastern Washington – although this picture is from when she went on an Amish tour.

I come from a heritage of prayer. Sometimes I forget that and yet I am very thankful for that heritage. My great grandmother was a woman of prayer and my mom too was and still is a woman of prayer. Growing up my mom took us to church shortly after we were born. I remember her saying that Sunday, after countless Sundays spent in the Nursery, she asked God, “Why do I even come to church?” She said His answer was very clear to her, “You are training little ones to be in my house.” You see she lived in a small town. The church she attended had classes for beginners or what we would call preschoolers today and on up but no one to staff the Nursery. The Nursery was open to moms to take their crying or busy babies to if needed, otherwise the babies were in the service with the moms and dads. My mom faithfully took the four of us to church every Sunday, by herself. My dad, who was a farmer, never wanted to come with us.

Life was not easy for my mom. Raising four kids on a farm with chores, three meals a day to cook and long hours during harvest time was not easy, plus she had other challenges that she dealt with daily. When she was overwhelmed, she prayed. She took everything to God in prayer. Many times I remember hearing my mom pray. She prayed for her kids. She prayed when she didn’t know what to do. She prayed for the challenges she faced and God gave her the strength to persevere. It wasn’t easy, but perhaps those challenges helped her lean into God more.

Today she is 90 and she is still praying for her kids, grandkids and great grandkids. Sometimes I think, now that she is a little older, that she forgets to pray and perhaps worries a little more than she used to, but then I guess she has earned her right to do this. One thing I do believe is that she still is trusting God every step of the way.

My great grandmother was a prayer warrior. She believed that when you prayed God answered. She prayed for people to be healed, for breakthroughs, for her family – always for her family, every one of them by name and although at the time of her death, not all of them were yet following Jesus, she prayed and believed that they all would come into the kingdom of God. Her daughter, my Aunt Zola, was also a prayer warrior. She lived to be 107 ministering in prayer at the care facility she lived in the last years of her life.

I am thankful for the heritage I received and for the faith of those who went before me. I am thankful for their prayer example. I admit, I still have a ways to go to become the prayer warriors that these women were. I often find myself praying in my car on my way somewhere or praying one-sentence prayers in between various commitments. Lately though, I have been taking time in the mornings to simply breathe in the presence of God and ask Him to guide and guard my day. Guess what, it does make a difference. Prayer changes our hearts and moves the hand of God.

Much like a loving Father, God wants us, His children, to come to Him in prayer bringing our love, devotion and needs to Him. Prayer doesn’t have to be long or difficult. It’s simply a conversation with a loving heavenly Father.

This weekend, I attended a ministry conference. One of the things I heard about at the conference was a movement called “Try praying”. It encourages people to simply try praying for a week and gives them a seven day prayer guide to use as they do so. It actually is for people who don’t normally go to church, but can be used by anyone. The idea intrigued me. I wonder if non church attenders can try praying for a week, what about those of us who are church attendees? What about the body of Christ taking time to pray? What would happen if we band together and pray for our nation, our children and our concerns? What would happen if we simply kneel at Jesus’ feet and thank Him for who He is, asking Him to guide our lives? Prayer is powerful! Need some wisdom and guidance? Need to fall in love with Jesus again? I challenge myself and you – try praying!

Father God,
Thank you that I can talk to you everyday. I can talk to you anywhere and any time. I can talk to you about everything that concerns me or I can sit quietly in your presence just simply basking in your love and grace for me. Prayer isn’t hard Lord. You didn’t make it difficult. We don’t have to come to you with flowery phrases and many words. We don’t even have to completely understand what we are asking or talking to you about, you simply invite us to come to you much like a child comes to their daddy. Lord, I want to come to you like that. I want to sit in your presence. I want to hear your voice and I want to bring you my concerns, questions and need for wisdom. Lord, like my mom and my great grandmother did, I want to bring my family to you and believe that you are working in their lives. Give us a greater love for you. Teach us to pray in your name. Give us faith to believe and know that you will answer those prayers. Abraham’s servant Eliezer believed that you would hear his prayer and you did. You answered him and gave him wisdom to do what Abraham asked him to do. I know that you will give me wisdom as I continue to come to you too. Thank you for hearing my prayer. I love you God. Amen


  • Prayer doesn’t have to be long or difficult. It is a simple conversation with a God who loves us more than we will ever know. In fact, conversing with God throughout the day is a great way to pray.
  • How can you get started in prayer? Invite God’s presence into your prayer time and into your day. Ask Him to help you be aware of His presence. Welcome His presence, just like you would welcome a friend into your home.
    • Be honest with God when praying. He knows how you are feeling, when you are distracted, that half truth you told. He knows everything about you anyway.
  • Listen. When you are conversing with someone, you usually don’t do all the talking. You also take time to listen. Ask God what He is trying to say to you. He may bring a verse of the Bible to mind or remind you of something that is important.
  • Journal your prayers. It’s fun to go back later and reread them to see what you were thinking, how God answered and the growth you’ve experienced.
  • Prayer though the Bible by taking a favorite verse and inserting your name or the name of a family member you are praying for into that verse.


  • If you are in a classroom, invite your children to pray. We learn by doing and you may be surprised about who will volunteer.
  • For younger age kids, one sentence prayers are great.
  • Rote prayers are fun and a great way to start kids on their journey of prayer. The Johnny Appleseed prayer for snack is a favorite of mine. “Oh the Lord’s been goon to me and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the appleseed. The Lord’s been good to me.”
    • The Lord’s Prayer can be simplified or explained one line at a time to use with kids too. EX: “Father God in heaven, we honor your name. Your kingdom come – be king of my heart and your will be done – do what you want to do God here on earth. Give us our daily bread – our food, what we need today. Forgive us and help us to forgive others. ….”
      • Pray throughout the day. When your child falls down, at meals, to say thank you, to share a story with God even though He already knows. Talk to God about anything and everything.

Kid’s Section

STORY: A Wife For Isaac – Genesis 24
When baby Isaac grew up, he wanted a family of his own. Abraham thought, “Isaac needs a wife to love so he won’t be all alone.” Abraham sent his servant, Eliezer back to the country he had moved from to find a wife for Isaac. Eliezer packed the camels and set off. (Pretend to pack.)

It was a long, long trip! (Walk around.)When Eliezer arrived at the town where Abraham had lived long ago, he was hot, tired and thirsty. (Sit down.) The camels were tired and thirsty too. He stopped by the well – a well is where people go to get water. Eliezer didn’t know what to do. How was he going to find a wife for Isaac? He didn’t know, but God did! (Fold hands to pray.) Eliezer prayed, “God, let the woman who gives me a drink of water and waters my camels too be the one that you have for Isaac.” (Show water pitcher.) Camels drink a lot of water and Eliezer had ten camels! It would be a big job to water ten camels, still Eliezer trusted God to answer his prayer. (Praying hands again.) Eliezer knew the woman that was kind enough to give him a drink and water his ten camels would be a very special person.

Guess what? God did answer his prayer. (Praying hands again.) A woman named Rebekah came to the well with her water jug. (Show water pitcher again.) When Eliezer asked her for a drink, she said, “I will give you a drink and I will water your camels too.” (Pretend to water camels.) Eliezer thanked God for showing him what to do. He thanked God for finding a wife for Isaac.

God answers your prayers too and He shows you what He wants you to do, just like He did for Eliezer. Even though you are little, God wants you to talk to Him. You can talk to God about everything and know that He hears you. You can talk to Him about your pets, your owies, your family or your favorite TV show. You can ask Him for help, because He wants to help you. You can talk to God when you’re happy, sad or mad. When God answers your prayers, don’t forget to say, “Thank you!” God loves you and He will always do what He says He will do. You are very special to Him.

Dear God,
Thank you for loving and caring for me. I know that you listen when I pray and that you will help me know what to do. I love you. Amen

MEMORIZE: Proverbs 3:5 – (Hands like holding a book.)
Trust – (Make a fist & pull in.)
In the Lord – (Point upwards.)
With all – (Extend arms outward.)
Your heart – (Hands on heart.

KNOW: God hears me when I pray. He will show me what to do.
TALK ABOUT: Talking to God.
ASK: Who loves you? God loves me.
AND DO… Talk to God any time and anywhere. Trust Him to answer your prayer..


  • Play a “Good Choices” game. Give your child various scenarios such as, what could you do when your   baby sister is crying or when someone takes away your toy. Act out the answers and remind your   child that he/she can always talk to God.
    • Take a trip to the library and check out some books about camels to read together or look up facts about camels online.
      • Found this idea on “Focus On The Family” and really liked it. Give your kids a sentence to finish to  encourage them to pray.EX: God, Thank you for ….