Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Faithful Families Resources 26 Feb 2017



No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure."
~ Emma Goldman

Family Closeness
Game:
Five House
One family member makes a list of five things to be found in your house. For example: something fluffy, something you can balance on your head, something that makes a sound, something hard, something blue, something used for cleaning. The rest of the family must then go and find five things that match the list. The first person back whose collection matches the list according to the list maker wins.

Sharing:
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family.
  • If I could become a colour, I would be … because
  • Something I’d like to do in the future is . . .
  • Of my five senses, the one I would most hate to lose is . . . because  . . .

 Story
With your family read: Matthew 17.1-9
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look athttp://www.sermons4kids.com/count_the_cost.html

 Questions for Discussion:
  • Why do you think Jesus was changed on the mountain top?
  • What do you think of the disciples reaction?
  • What does this story tell us about Jesus?

 Prayer and Celebration
Praying in the car
Driving children to schools can be stressful but it could also be an opportunity to stop and pray and bring a moment of peace before a hectic day. Encourage your  children to name some of the things they will do or confront in the day and pray for them.

Family Time
Family Walk
Going for a walk with your family is not only a great way to get exercise but provides an ideal opportunity to talk and enjoy one another’s company. 

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison & Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Helping you and your family in 2017!


This blog has been running for about six years now, and has been found helpful by thousands of readers. Thank you for taking an interest!  For 2017, we'll try to inject a few innovations, while still keeping the weekly features which regular readers have found so useful.

For new readers, perhaps it would be useful to begin by explaining why this blog was created.

Many parents (and grandparents) wish that helping their children to find faith was as simple as flicking a switch. Unfortunately there are no simple solutions and no guarantees. Parents will not be judged on whether their children have faith but whether they have been faithful with them. But what might it mean for you to be faithful with your children?

Family faithfulness is measured more by what we do rather than by what we say. Worldwide research shows that children who experience the Christian faith lived out in the home are much more likely to grow into faith-filled adults.

So what things can you do to be faithful with your children and nurture their faith life at home?

There are four areas of importance:

1.       Story
This includes reading and discussing scripture, sharing personal faith stories, and hearing about the faith lives of those who have gone before. Story is more than just hearing it: it is the reality of living it, sharing it and celebrating it.

2.       Prayer and Celebration
Essentially this means living out the Christian life and story overtly in the home and includes learning about and experiencing prayer, celebrating the story of salvation throughout the year  and integrating the disciplines of the Christian faith into your family life.

3.       Service
Often the deepest learning comes about through practical, hands-on experience. A wonderful way for your family to grow and learn is through serving the church and community together.

4.       Family Closeness
Close and caring families do not just happen; they are created intentionally. Building family closeness mean setting aside time and energy to work and play at being family together.

None of these things is hard to do, but they do need someone to make them happen. Maybe that person is you! But where to begin?

Right here!

Each week, this Faithful Families blog will provide resources to help you to do these four things in your home and to be more faithful with your family. There will also be other bits of helpful info along the way.

We hope these resources are a blessing to you and your family this year.  Feel free to post feedback.

JK (This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Faithful Families Resources December 26 2016


I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the apostles, but a good deal about their acts.
~ Og Mandino

Family Closeness
Game:
The Edge
Get a small coin of some sort. Each family member takes turns sliding their coin along the top of the table from one end to the next The goal is to get it the closest to the edge without it sliding off.

Sharing
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family.
  •  What was the hardest thing about this year?
  • What is something that you achieved this year?
  • What is something you want to give thanks for this last year?
  • What are your hopes for next year?
  • What do you hope to do, experience, discover or be next year?

 Story
With your family read Matthew 2.13-23
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:
  • What are your feelings about this reading?
  • Have you ever thought about Jesus being a refugee?
  • Why do you think Herod did what he did? 

Prayer and Celebration
People like to celebrate New Year’s Day in many different ways. Some people like to stay up until the clock strikes midnight – others like to go to bed so they can be up fresh for the first day of the year. Whatever you like to do, may you be encouraged this New Years to think about how God might be honoured, remembered and shared in your family. Pray together, either at midnight or on getting up on the first of January. Give thanks for the year ahead. Ask God to guide you and your family in all you do…and dedicate yourselves to serving Christ in the year to come.

Service
As a family discuss how you might service your community and world in 2017. Talk about some of the things happening in the world you would like to change and decide how to make a difference. Make a commitment to give a certain amount of money to a charity or cause. Work out how your family might raise money or give time or talents to help a local charity.

Family Time
Big Dreams 2014

One day an expert was speaking to a group of students and on time management and he used this illustration. Firstly he took out a wide mouthed jar, then he produced about a dozen large rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.        
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes."
Then he said, "Really?"  He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel.  Then he dumped some gravel in and shook  the jar  causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was onto him.  "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!"  he replied.  And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand.  He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.  Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"
"No!"  the class shouted.  Once again he said, "Good!"   Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.  Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!"
"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point.  The truth this illustration teaches is this: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

I wonder…what are the big rocks you wish to fit into your family life next year. Sit down with your family and dreams some dreams and make some plans for 2017. What things would you like to do? What places would you like to see? What habits would you like to make together?

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Faithful Families Resources December 18 2016



This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ.
- Frank McKibben

I pray that all who read this blog may have a blessed and holy Christmas as we celebrate the coming of Christ our saviour into the world and human history. I hope these resources might help you to enjoy the time with your family and tell the story of Jesus birth really well.

Family Closeness
Game:
Christmas Card Toss
Simply gather together a collection of old Christmas cards and carefully cut off the backs. Avoid glittery cards.

Now set up a "course" by placing a large box or bin on the floor and marking a place to stand some feet away from it, depending on the age of the children. If you are playing with mixed ages, older children should stand further away than younger children. Each family member takes turns tossing a stack of cards (like a frisbee) into the box. Count up and the family member with the most cards in the box wins.

Sharing:
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family. 
  • What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
  • What does it mean to be thankful?
  • What do you find special about the story of Jesus birth?
  • What can we learn about God at Christmas? 

Story
With your family read Luke 2.1-20

Questions for Discussion:
  • How do you think Mary and Joseph felt about having a baby in a place where they didn’t live?
  • Why do you think the shepherds were the first to be told about Jesus birth?
  • What effect did seeing the baby Jesus have on the shepherds?
  • What amazes or intrigues you about this story? 

Prayer and Celebration
Each day choose a Christmas card you received. Put it in a central location such as your dining room table. Pray for the people who sent the card.

Service
Make a special Christmas recipe to share with your neighbours. Include a card with pictures that tell about Jesus birth. (One easy recipe is for Rocky Road. Ingredients. 375g chocolate, 100g mini marshmallows, 200g red & green glace cherries chopped. Slowly melt the choc. in the microwave on medium stirring every minute. Mix in mallows and cherries. Pour onto a paper lined baking tray. Refrigerate until firm.)

Family Time
Story of St Nicholas
With your family discover the real story of Santa Claus – or St Nicholas. Think about his story and let it transform the way you do Christmas. Below are some links to websites with information about St Nicholas.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Faithful Families Resources December 11 2016


Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit but for the benefit of others, just as other people were given gifts for your benefit.
~ Rick Warren

We are now in the season of Advent, a time that is focussed on waiting with anticipation. We wait with anticipation for the return of Christ, we relive in our own lives the expectation of the birth of Christ and his birth in our own heart everyday. We wait with anticipation for the kingdom of God to be fulfilled on earth. Over the these  four weeks the material will be shaped around four themes that are relevant to this time: promise, waiting, journey and gift.

In addition to the weekly resources have a look at the special Advent  page for some ideas and resources on how to celebrate the season well in your home.

Family Closeness
Game:
Pass the Parcel
This old game still get played at parties but could be a fun game to play at home around the table. It would also be a great way to unveil a gift for your family. Put something nice in the middle for the whole family – like a family move pass or a note saying you are all going to your favourite restaurant. Wrap it up. Now put multiple layers of wrapping on with small prizes in between such as chocolate bars or sweets.   Blind fold a family member. Their job is to say when to stop passing the parcel. Pass the parcel and when it is stopped someone gets to take off a layer. You might even like to play music or sing a song while the parcel is passed around.

Sharing:
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family. 
  • What is the best gift you have ever received?
  • What is the best gift you have ever given?
  • What is the most precious gift in the world?

Story
With your family read Matthew 1.18-25
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:
  • What was Joseph going to do when he found out Mary was pregnant?
  • What changed his mind?
  • What did the angel tell Joseph to name the baby?

 Prayer and Celebration

A prayer for candle lighting during Advent:

O God,
as light comes from this candle,
may the blessing of Jesus Christ come to us,
warming our hearts and
brightening our way.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of this world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming.


Family Time
Song Stories

A great way to explore the story of Christmas would be to listen to some Christmas Carols or hymns with your family. One option would be to listen and sing together and just enjoy the music and your family. Alternatively, listen very carefully to the words and to the feel of the song. Discuss what this particular carol is saying about the birth of Jesus. Are there any words or phrases that children don’t understand? Discuss what these might mean.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Faithful Families Resources December 4 2016


Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home."
- C.S.Lewis

We are now in the season of Advent, a time that is focussed on waiting with anticipation. We wait with anticipation for the return of Christ, we relive in our own lives the expectation of the birth of Christ and his birth in our own heart everyday. We wait with anticipation for the kingdom of God to be fulfilled on earth. Over the these  four weeks the material will be shaped around four themes that are relevant to this time: promise, waiting, journey and gift.

In addition to the weekly resources have a look at the special Advent  page for some ideas and resources on how to celebrate the season well in your home.

In addition to the weekly resources have a look at the special Advent  page for some ideas and resources on how to celebrate the season well in your home.

Family Closeness
Game:
Alphabet Car Game
Since the theme this week is journey here is a game you can play next time you are in the car. It is a simple game that requires players to find all the letters of the alphabet in order on car number plates. A letter on a number plate can only be claimed by one player, the first to call it out. Multiple letters on the one number plate can be claimed and by different players. Whoever gets to z first is the winner. Find some more travel games for the car at the bottom of the blog.
  
Sharing:
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family.

  • What are the best and worst things about long journeys?
  • What is your favourite thing to do on a journey?
  • Where is your favourite place to journey to?
Story
 With your family read Matthew 11.2-11
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:

  • Who was it that John’s disciples were waiting for?
  • What evidence did Jesus give that he was the one?
  • How did John prepare the way for Jesus?

Prayer and Celebration
A prayer for Advent
We thank you, Lord God, for the prophets and leaders who looked forward to the coming of Jesus the Saviour.
We thank you for those who prepared the way for him, like John the Baptist.
We thank you for the angels you sent with the message about Jesus.
and we thank you for Mary, who believed the message and was willing to do your will.
we thank you most of all for Jesus, who was born to save us.

In this Advent time, when we get ready for Christmas, help us to hear your message, to be excited that you want to be with us, and help us to an tto be part of your plan for this world you care so much about.
Amen.

http://www.lunt.org.uk/resources/pages/liturgy/prayers_school.htm
  
Service
Here are some more Advent Service Ideas
Get a group together to sing at a nursing home.
Go through your cupboard and give some clothes to a charity.
Encourage your children to think of what toys they have that are still in good condition that they might give to a charity.
With your family choose a way to give a gift to a needy family. This may be best done through a registered charity or church. If you can make food donations take your children shopping to buy the food so they can actually see what it is they are giving. Some charities have schemes where people give gift-wrapped presents for children from needy families.


Family Time
Are trips in the car a nightmare? Why not turn them into a family adventure. Here are a few ideas.
Semi Search
All you need is a sheet of paper to keep score, one person to be scorekeeper and a writing utensil. Each player chooses a colour. Each player's name and chosen colour is then written down on the score card by the score keeper, who will announce when there is a winner. Each player announces each semitrailer on the road that is his chosen colour. One mark, or point, is given for each semi the person identifies as his colour. The game can be played until one person reaches a certain number of points. Most people play Semi Search until one person reaches 50 points, but a longer game can be played for older children.

Traveling Bingo
 Bingo cards will need to be made prior to the trip, but only take a few minutes to make. Be sure to make several sets to allow for more then one game of Car Bingo to be played, especially if travelling a long distance. To make the Bingo cards, draw five columns of five boxes centered on the paper. You can use coloured or white paper, whichever is more convenient. Over the top of each column, one letter per column, print the letters B-I-N-G-O. Next, draw or place stickers of various items that may be encountered along the trip. Some popular suggestions are cows, tractors, umbrellas, dogs, horses, sheep, barns, lawn furniture, radio or television towers, different colours and types of cars (such as a red truck or blue station wagon), police cars, ambulances or fire trucks. You want the children, and/or adults, playing to have to search for the objects. Each player is given one card and a writing utensil to mark their boxes. When an object on the card is identified, an "X" is marked on the box for the object. When a person completes a row (up, down, across or diagonal), he wins. The game can be played until one person wins two games, or if fewer people are playing, the first to win three out of five.

The State Game
To prepare to play the State Game takes a little more effort than the other car games. However, if travelling a long distance, especially across country, the effort is well worth it. To play the State Game, make a list of all the Australian states on a sheet of paper. Make as many copies of this list as may be needed while travelling. Each player is given one list of the states and one writing utensil. The object is to find as many different states on the license plates of other vehicles as possible. The game can be played once or again played until one person wins two games. Be sure to make plenty of copies of the state lists, as this game becomes popular fairly quickly. 

Guess Mobile
Name a guess master -- the person who poses a guessing challenge. He or she could ask passengers to guess the color of the next passing car, or how long before you get to the next town. Or, with three clues, what it is that someone else sees.

Car Scavenger Hunt

Hand your kids a pack of index cards and ask them to write or draw pictures of 50 things they might see on a trip. Keep the cards for scavenger hunts when players vie to match what they see with the cards.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Faithful Families Resources November 27 2016


Wait for the LORD; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14

We are now in the season of Advent, a time that is focussed on waiting with anticipation. We wait with anticipation for the return of Christ; we relive in our own lives the expectation of the birth of Christ and his birth in our own heart every day. We wait with anticipation for the kingdom of God to be fulfilled on earth. Over these four weeks the material will be shaped around four themes that are relevant to this time: promise, waiting, journey and gift.

Family Closeness
Game:
Everyone closes their eyes and must guess how long a minute is, by opening their eyes when they think a minute is up. Try playing this game using a piece of music. Did players guess a longer or shorter time for a minute? Another way to play is to get everyone to walk between two walls trying to move slowly or quickly enough that they will reach the wall just as a minute is up. If you reach the wall before time you are out.
 (Inspired by Christine Gapes. New Games for Community)

Sharing:
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family.

What do you hate waiting for?
When do you find waiting most difficult?
What do you do to make waiting easier?
What can’t you wait for?

Story
  
With your family read Matthew 3.1-12
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion:
  • What was the message John the Baptist had?
  • Why do you think John dressed and lived as he did?
  • What do you think it means to be baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire?

Prayer and Celebration
Advent Prayer Pattern
This pattern may be used this week to begin meal times or to begin a family sharing time.
It may begin by asking everyone to quieten down and to think about what it means to wait and to think of one word to describe that feeling. During the prayer the leader is going to say: “Waiting feels like…” and each person will be free to speak her word aloud. Parents might need to help little ones with a word that describes the feeling of waiting.

1.        Music. Choose a piece of gentle music to listen to. Try some different pieces each time to try and find one that expresses a feeling of waiting.

2.        Prayer: All of us wait. Each day brings its own dose of waiting. We wait in the dentist’s office, at sports practice, at school, for parents and children, for brothers and sisters. We wait for dinner to be ready, for the refund, for the letter from a friend. We wait to be big enough to ride the roller coaster, old enough to stay up late, secure enough to be on our own. Our waiting feels like…(give people a chance to voice their feeling) Advent calls us to celebrate waiting. Each time we wait, help us to remember how the world waited for a saviour. Help us to remember we are always waiting for your return. Help us find and recognise you in each other. As we wait. We are Advent people.

3.        Lord, the N…family is waiting for you.
All: Come, Lord Jesus.

(Rituals and Icebreakers. Kathleen O’Connel Chesto.Ligouri)

Service

Now is a great time of year as we move towards Christmas to begin think about how you may serve those in need. Christmas can be a sad and lonely time of year for many people. How might your family serve Christ the King this Advent and Christmas, and make a different in people’s lives at the same time. Here are a few quick ideas.
Instead of or as well, buying gifts for each other buy an animal for a family overseas.
Serve in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

Family Time
Nativity Exploration

In this period as we move towards Christmas why not use art work to explore the story a Jesus birth. Apart from the many Christmas cards that you may receive the internet also provides a wealth of resources. If you go to http://www.textweek.com/art/nativity.htm you will find links to many depictions of the birth of Christ through the ages. Invite your family to choose their favourite picture and to describe what they like about it? Discuss the different pictures and what you find interesting in them. Get each member to draw their own nativity picture and explain it.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning