This time of year is such a fun time of year, but whether you celebrate Halloween or try to ignore it, let’s face it, for little ones, it can be scary.
I remember when my daughter was 3 years old, our neighbors decorated their house in full-on, scary Halloween fashion, complete with sound effects. My daughter was very frightened by their house. I did take her Trick or Treating, but we did not go to their house.
Another time I was in a store with my granddaughter when she also was about 3 years old. A store employee dressed like a witch with fake blood on her face approached my granddaughter just trying to be friendly and she was scared. She would have no part in greeting her at all. I think she might have offered her candy too, but that didn’t help.
For little ones and sometimes for grown-ups, the sights and sounds of Halloween can be scary. I admit I’m not a fan of scary movies. Some people do fine with scary movies, but not me. I don’t sleep well if I’ve watched a scary movie so I don’t watch them.
Not all scary things happen at Halloween. There are scary things happening all around us, just watch the news. There are school shootings, devastating storms, car accidents, wars, diseases and many other things. We live in a scary world! The good news is we don’t need to be afraid because God is with us and while our world may seem to be spinning out of control and full of fear, God is still very much in control. He knows everything you will face this next week and this next year. He knows what scary things you might be facing right now. He is with us whether we are three years old or ninety and He is still the master of every storm.
How can you and I face scary things and scary times? Though this may sound overly simplistic, it starts by renewing our trust in a loving Father, God. It’s giving to Him those things that are absolutely out of your control and allowing Him to fill your heart with peace.
How can we help the kids in our lives to navigate things they are afraid of? Even if their fears are unrealistic, understand that those fears are very real to them. Your presence or the presence of a loving adult when you can’t be there will definitely help alleviate some of their fear. Children know that they can’t fix or control everything. They know that they need someone bigger than they are to help them. Having someone they can depend on gives them security.
When my daughter was quite young, we took a family camping trip. Sleeping in a tent in an unfamiliar place was scary to her. I couldn’t get her settled down to go to sleep. Finally she said, “I want to sleep by daddy because he’s big.” She felt safe by her daddy because she knew he was big enough to handle most of her fears. Isn’t that a picture of our God? We are safe in His care. He can handle every fear that we might have, every situation that is out of our control, He can handle. I don’t know about you, but I want to remain close to my “daddy,” my father God, during scary times too.
So go ahead, be scary if you like, watch scary movies if you so desire and celebrate or don’t celebrate Halloween. It’s really your choice, but whatever you do and whatever comes your way, remember God is with you. And because God is with you, you can let your light shine in the darkness bringing comfort and hope to someone else who is going through a scary time. God made you, God loves you and God is with you. Blessings!
PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER:
Thank you God, that you are with me every single moment of every day. Whether I am reading, praying, working, driving, doing laundry or stewing over a problem, you are there. Teach me Lord, to walk in an awareness of your presence. Oh God, you know that’s what I want for my children and grandchildren too; that’s what I want for this next generation. And as I become more and more aware of your presence, show me how I can let my light shine in the darkness. The darkness can’t overpower me if I am walking in the light of your love. Teach me, teach us Lord, how to let our light shine so that we can be a beacon of hope to those we come in contact with every day. I don’t want to live in fear when scary things come my way, I want to live in faith and walk with you. Amen
COURAGE DURING SCARY TIMES
* Psalms 56:3 “What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.” KJV
I used to sing this verse to my daughter when she would wake up with nightmares.
* Yes, there are scary things and scary times that come to all of us, but we don’t have to have a steady diet of scary things. Take some time to focus on the good things too. Philippians 4:8 “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”
* Face fear with faith. That might simply be taking a moment to rephrase your fears into a prayer or remembering God’s faithfulness to you in the past.
HELPING KIDS FACE THEIR FEARS
* Encourage your child to talk about what is frightening them. If they can’t talk about it, then still let them know that you are there for them and God is there for them too.
* For young children, having a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or other comfort item can help them be more courageous. If it’s mostly at night that they are afraid, then a bedtime routine and a nightlight might help.
* For a young child who has separation anxiety, realize that it’s normal. Parents can help by having a good-by routine and sticking with it. A special sign for “I love you!” and a hug are a good start. Caregivers can help by encouraging the child to wave good-by, then distracting the child with a toy, music or something interesting. Offering the child a snack can help too.
* Listen and pray with your child. Affirm your child when they do show courage. Another favorite verse of mine is Joshua 1:9 “Remember, I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ERV (I once rephrased another child’s frequent statement of, “I’m scared!”, by saying, “You are not afraid, God made you brave and courageous.” The results were that the child at least stopped for a moment to think about what was said.)
* Read some fun stories about brave people or animals. These stories can be fictional or real. Stories can help kids identify their fears and realize that others have fears too. It also helps them to find fun ways of handling their fears.
SHARE A STORY: Is. 66:2, Jer. 17:10, 2 Cor. 3:18, 4:6
PLEASE NOTE: The story today goes along with the book, “The Pumpkin Patch Parable” by Liz Curtis Higgs. You can read the story and talk about shining with the light of God’s love as you carve a pumpkin.
Let’s look and see what’s inside our pumpkin. (Pull out pumpkin.) Do you know where pumpkins come from? They come from a farm. God gives farmers seeds to plant (Show seeds.) and those seeds grow into all different kinds of pumpkins. No two pumpkins are alike. There are bumpy pumpkins and smooth pumpkins, orange and white pumpkins, big fat pumpkins and skinny pumpkins. (Show pictures or different pumpkins.) Just like no two pumpkins are alike, God made you in a very special way too. There is no one else exactly like you. You are amazing and wonderful. God’s very own masterpiece.
Let’s read a story about a farmer and his pumpkins. It’s about God’s love for us. God loves you, He made you, He chose you to be in His family. He can help you love too. (Read the story.)
Just like the farmer, picked a pumpkin to clean up and put his light in for all to see, God does that for us too. He will clean the sin or bad stuff out of our hearts and put His light inside so that we can shine with the light of His love.
MEMORIZE: Isaiah 43:5 – (Hold hands like reading a book.)
Do not be afraid – (Show scared face.)
For I am – (Point upwards.)
With you – (Point to self.)
Dear God, Thank you that you made me and you love me. I want to love you and have your love shining in my heart so others will know that you love them too. Show me how I can let your light shine. Amen
KNOW: God made me to shine with the light of His love.
TALK ABOUT: God made me, God loves me, God is with me.
ASK: Who made you? God made me. God made me for a reason. Who is with you? God is with me.
DO: What can you do? I shine and love others because God loves me.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK:
* Read ”The Pumpkin Patch Parable” by Liz Curtis Higgs. Take a trip to the library and read some other fun pumpkin books too.
* Take a trip to the pumpkin patch and learn all about pumpkins. Share God’s love by inviting a friend to go along.