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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

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH YOUR CHILD?
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.

PRAYER:
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)

FOSTERING OUR KID’S FRIENDSHIPS (Parents)
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..

    FRIENDSHIP IN CLASS (Teachers)
  • 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.

Rainbows & Promises Kept

No rainbows – with a hose and sunshine though, maybe I could make my own.

I love rainbows.  Rainbows are beautiful and fascinating. When I see a rainbow, it reminds me of God’s promise that He would never again destroy the whole world with a flood. Thousands of years later, God is still keeping that promise and He always will. We can trust Him wholly because He is faithful. He keeps His promises.

When I see a rainbow, I also marvel at the beauty that God created.  Rainbows are created by the sun’s rays shining through droplets of water during or after the rain. The raindrops separate and bend the light into a spectrum of beautiful colors. The colors are in the sunlight all along, but it takes the droplets of rain to bend and separate the light so that we can see the beautiful colors. 

How like God to take the raindrops from the storms in our life to create something so beautiful! As we give our storms, our tears, our drops of rain to God, as we bend our knees in the light of His presence; He shines through us with the sunshine of His love and creates beauty. He creates a rainbow of colors, displaying to the world around us the amazing love of a God who keeps His promises. He cares for us.  He loves us and He will never ever leave us. He is our faithful helper. We can weather our storms with confidence because God is with us.

Are you going through a storm right now? Rainbows are God’s forever promise to you that He will be with you through every storm. Thank Him for His faithfulness and look up, through your tears, because a beautiful rainbow is about to appear.

Oh, and by the way, perhaps when the rain falls in your life, you can be a reflection and refraction of His light and His faithfulness. As you reflect and refract God’s perfect light, to someone else who is going through a storm, you are a beautiful rainbow, a reminder of God’s love and faithfulness and you are helping redirect their gaze to God. So let the rain fall for God is faithful! He is making something beautiful out of the storm!

PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER:

God,
I need to be reminded frequently of your promises. I know you are with me and I trust you, yet in the midst of everyday life, I lose my sense of peace. It’s not the big storms that get my eyes off of you, it’s the little things that call my attention away from you and away from the purpose you have for my life. It’s the little things that frustrate me and cause me to question who I am in you. Forgive me Lord, for letting little things frustrate me. Like Noah, I want to trust you wholly. I want to walk with you and live life joyously, obeying you, saying, “Yes!” to you everyday. No matter what those around me may do, I want to live for you. Whether I am in the midst of building, riding out life’s storms or basking in the sunshine of your love, I trust you. Thank you for your promises.
Lord, show me ways of leaning into you more and remind me to look up in the midst of my storms. I want to help my kids learn to look to you in the midst of their storms too. Show me ways of encouraging my children as they weather their storms. Teach me to live with gratefulness, even in the midst of life’s storms. I wonder if after the rain stopped and Noah and his family were still waiting on the Ark for the water to recede, did they get tired? Were they tempted to complain and ask, “How long God? When can we get on with life?” or were they incredibly thankful that you were with them and had saved them? I can imagine that there were days that Noah’s wife probably wanted to get off the boat. She might have thought, “If I have to spend one more day on this barge with all these stinky animals, I’m going to go stir-crazy!” I know Noah and his family trusted. I know they celebrated and worshipped you after they were able to get off the Ark. That’s what I want to do. I want to live life grateful instead of frustrated with my ‘storms’. Teach me to remember, Lord, that because of you I can weather life’s storms and win instead of being under the weather and whining. Thank you God for your faithful help and answers to my prayer. Amen

VERSES ABOUT GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

  • “God is faithful, by  whom you were called  into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our  Lord” (1Cor.  1:9). Jesus is our forever friend.He is always with us.
  • “If we confess our sins, He is  faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1John 1:9).  He forgives us.
  • “But the Lord is faithful, who will   establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2Thes.   3:3). He protects us.
  • “God is faithful, who will not allow you to   be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also   make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13) He helps us.

BOOK TO READ:
“What Is A Rainbow?” by Chris Arvetis and Carole Palmer
Illustrted by James Buckley

Kid’s Section

STORY: A Rainbow & a Celebration – Genesis 9:1-17
God loved Noah and Noah loved God. – (Give self a hug.)
One day God said, “Noah, I’m sending a flood,
So build an Ark out of gopher wood.” – (Pretend to hammer.)
Noah did exactly what God asked him to do.
He obeyed God and God was faithful and true.

Noah and his sons worked hard for days and days. – (Pound fists)
Sawing and hammering and building away, – (Pretend to saw.)
Until at last, that BIG Ark was finally done. – (Show Ark box.)
Now, how would Noah get the animals to come?

Well, God brought the animals two by two, – (Show two fingers.)
Those animals just walked right onto Noah’s Ark zoo. – (Pretend to walk animals onto Ark.)
Then Noah and his family all got on board,
And at last, God shut the big Ark door, – (Clap hands.)
Just as the rain began to pour. – (Wiggle fingers for rain.)

Pitter, patter, it rained for days! Would it ever stop? – (Pat knees.)
Water covered everything even the mountaintops. – (Make peaks.)
Finally the rain did stop one beautiful, sunny day, – (Circle for sun.)
Then God sent a wind to blow the water away. – (Say whoo for wind.)

They waited for a while before getting off the Ark,
But at last Noah and all were able to disembark.
God had kept them safe just as He said He would. – (Point up for God.)
God keeps His promises; He is kind and good.
God put a rainbow in the clouds to remind us of His love,
‘Cause He will never again cover the whole earth with a flood.

God kept His promise to Noah and cared for Him during the flood. God will keep His promises to you and care for you too. He loves you, gives you good rules to follow and will help you to do all that He asks you to do. You can be thankful that God loves you so much.

MEMORIZE: Heb. 13:6 ERV – (Hold hands like holding a book.)
The Lord – (Point up.)
Is my helper – (Point to self.)
I will not – (Hands open, down, move away from each other.)
Be afraid – (Put hands by face and make scared face.)

PRAYER: Dear God,
Thank you for your love. I know that you love me and that you will take care of me just like you did Noah. I know I can trust you. Thank you for beautiful colors too. Amen

KNOW: I can trust God to do what He ways. To keep His promises.
TALK ABOUT: Rainbows & God’s Promises – What exactly does God promise us?
ASK: Who loves you? God loves me.
AND DO: Thank God for His promises, His help and His care.

FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK

Look for rainbows or make your own rainbow inside by placing a glass jar full of water on the windowsill where the sun can shine through it. Place a piece of white paper on the floor directly in front of the glass jar.
 
Name the colors of the rainbow and think of something that you are thankful for that is the same color.