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.

Sharing the Bible With Your Kids

Climbing to new heights with the Bible

* Reading and sharing the Bible with your kids is important. By that I mean not only reading, but also sharing your thoughts and feelings about what you read. As you read a story, ask, “What is God saying to us? What can we learn from this story?” Remember the Bible is a living book. It is God’s voice talking to us.

* Act out the story with your kids. Put yourself in the story. What did the people in the story feel like? What was the weather like – wind blowing, cold, hot? What were they hearing, seeing or tasting?

* Pray with your child and talk about ways to do what the Bible says. How can we love God and others? How can your preschooler give and share? What are some practical ways to put these things into action.

* Memorize a verse together – complete with exuberant motions.

* Keep a Children’s Bible in your classroom preferably one with lots of pictures for the kids to look at on their own.

* Encourage the kids to tell about their favorite Bible story. Act out different Bible stories. Make it come alive – how did the people in the story feel? What was it like when Jesus talked to the people by the sea? What did the bread and fish taste like when Jesus fed 5000? If you were in the story, who would you be and why?

* Remember the Bible is God’s active, living Word. It is a book that speaks to us no matter our age or the circumstances we are going through. It’s more than just a book to read and enjoy. Talk about simple ways that the Bible has helped you in your life. Tell your faith stories.

Recently I blogged about reading God’s Word, the Bible, so how is sharing the Bible any different from reading it? It really isn’t much different, but I think sharing the Bible, takes it one step further. Sharing begins when we meditate on what we read, making it a part of who we are and what we do and then we share by helping others to see the good things that we have found in the Bible.

The Bible is not just a book. It is the living, breathing word of God. What that means to me is that God speaks to me personally through what He says in the Bible. It’s a conversation. He knows me intimately and as I pray and read His Word, He shows me answers to what I am praying about, encourages my heart and assures me that I am deeply loved by Him. In the pages of God’s Word, I find wisdom for every problem and every circumstance I encounter. Money problems? The Bible says a lot about money. Relationship problems? God says a lot about relationships in His Word too. Work, time, love, sharing, purpose – it’s all there. So how can we share what the Bible says with our kids?One way is to let them know how God speaks to us. Share your stories – age-appropriate of course. Talk to your kids about verses or stories that have meant something to you. Let them know which stories are your favorites and why.

Sharing the Bible may begin with reading together, but it can also be shared as we talk about stories and principles from God’s Word. EX: When you see a rainbow, talk about God’s promises and about how God took care of Noah in the midst of the worst storm ever.

Sharing the Bible is fun! It’s okay to get a little wild and crazy by acting out the stories with your kids or incorporate a game into your Bible reading. Of course, prayer is important as you read and share. Those prayers can be sparked in response to a concern that your child has, something that you have read in the Bible or something that you are thankful for. You can also ask God to help you and your child understand and apply His Word to your life.

God loves you immensely and desires to speak to you as you read and share His Word. Listen carefully because He wants you to know that He has a plan for you and your child. You are wonderfully made and you are greatly loved.

PS – You can also share by getting creative. When my daughter was a preschooler she used to wake up with night terrors and nothing seemed to soothe her – at least nothing I said. So this frustrated, concerned, sleep deprived mom prayed about what in the world I should do. God led me to a verse – Psalm 56 :3 “What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.” KJV I started singing that verse to her when she would wake up afraid and it helped. (I used the KJV version because I liked the way it sounded when we sang it.) Sharing God’s Word is simply living it out in your life by allowing it to be a part of all you do throughout the day.

I know your Word is important. I know that you speak to me personally through your Word. It is your voice guiding me, showing me how to love you and love others. It is your voice calling me by name and telling me that I am your child. I want the kids in my life to understand and listen for your voice through your Word too. Give me opportunities to share what you have shown me in your Word. Give me opportunities to help kids learn to listen to your voice and grow in their relationship with you. I commit my kids to you. Amen

Jesus Is A Good Teacher – Matthew 5:1, 14-16, 43-45, 6:26-33
Watch the Bible Ap for Kids video, “The King & The Kingdom” on your phone. It’s a free ap.

One time a large crowd of people came to see Jesus. Jesus wanted to teach the people. He wanted them to know that God loved them. (Give yourself a hug) He wanted them to know how to live for God. So He climbed (Pretend to climb) up the side of the mountain and sat (Sit down) down to teach the people.

Can you guess what Jesus told the people that day? He said that we should love everyone. (Give yourself a hug) and that we should pray (Fold hands) for people, even when someone hurts us. It’s not easy to pray for someone who takes a toy away from you or calls you a name, but Jesus can help you. Jesus said that God loves everyone (Give yourself a hug) and gives sunshine (Make a big round sun with your arms) to everyone.

Jesus said, “Do not worry because God will take care of you just like He takes care of the birds” (Make a bird with your hands and wave hands to make it flutter)“and the flowers.” (Pretend to smell a flower) “God knows what you need and He will take care of you.”

Jesus is a good friend and a good teacher. He wants to be your friend forever and help you learn about God. He wants you to learn to love God with all your heart and love people too.

Dear Jesus,
I want you to be my forever friend. Help me to listen and learn about you from God’s Word, the Bible. I want to learn to love God and love others. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

KNOW: The Bible tells me about God and Jesus.
TALK ABOUT: Learning from Jesus.
ASK: Who wants to be your forever friend? Jesus wants to be my forever friend.
AND DO: Love God and love others.

MEMORIZE: PS. 119:105 NIRV – (Hold hands open as though holding a book.)

Your Word is like a lamp –  (Clap hands.)
That shows me the way. –  (Walk in place.)

Take a flashlight walk with your child as you say the verse together. ASK: How is God’s Word like a lamp? What does a lamp or a flashlight do? (Helps us see in the dark so we don’t get lost or trip and fall over something. Helps us see things more clearly.) How can the God’s Word/the Bible show us the way? (Helps us know what to do. Reminds us of how much God loves us …)

* Try something new with your child. Talk about learning new things. How can we learn about God?

* What are some of the things that Jesus said in our story? Ask your child what he/she thinks Jesus says in the Bible or what Jesus would do in various situations? EX: Would Jesus share his crayons at preschool? Would He always be the first in line?

* Last thought – Be creative! We share so many, many things any more – on social media and beyond. We share pictures, birthdays, thoughts, complaints and announcements. Why not make sharing God’s Word a priority?