Why the long weekend?

presidents-abraham-lincoln-left-and-george-washington-knew-a-little-k7SFUX-clipart

As you enjoy your extended weekend, don’t forget to let your children know why it is happening.

Presidents’ Day is intended to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln whose birthdays are both in February.  Their birthdays were observed separately until 1971 when Congress decided the two would be combined into one national holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February.

This is a great time to teach your children about the godly character of these two men. God tells us to remember how He dealt with our ancestors: 1 Cor. 10:1 Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea.

Tell them about the truthfulness of George Washington even as a young boy in the story of the cherry tree.  Here is a site that tells the story and has printable coloring pictures: 

George Washington, sometime before the age of 16, transcribed “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation.” These are good rules to teach your children. This site depicts them in cartoons.

Read at this site and then share with excitement in your own words about how God divinely protected George Washington during the French and Indian War.  You can read the entire account of this in the book  The Bulletproof George Washington

Tell your children why Abraham Lincoln became known as ‘Honest Abe’.  Read about it here and get printable coloring sheets as well.

Read this article about the faith of Abraham Lincoln.  This is what he said before the Battle of Gettysburg” . . . oppressed by the gravity of our affairs, I went to my room one day and locked the door and got down on my knees before almighty God and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg. I told Him that this war was His, and our cause His cause . . . Then and there I made a solemn vow to almighty God that if He would stand by our boys at Gettysburg, I would stand by Him. And after that, I don’t know how it was, and I cannot explain it, soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul. The feeling came that God had taken the whole business into His own hands, and that things would go right at Gettysburg . . .” from Abraham Lincoln: The Man & His Faith

We can use this day to pray for our current president and leaders as well.  They have been placed in their position by God: Daniel 2:21 He changes times and periods of history. He removes kings and establishes them. He gives wisdom to those who are wise and knowledge to those who have insight. Download this coloring sheet that gives suggestions of what to pray for our leaders.

Enjoy your long weekend and have fun teaching your children as you go!!!

 

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History of St. Valentine’s Day

As always, we want our children to know the reason for any celebration and see how it might relate to Christ.  Here’s what my research found:

Historical Information:

Valentine was a priest near Rome in about 270 AD.  At that time the Roman Emperor Claudius felt that married men made poor soldiers so he abolished marriage.  Valentine  invited young lovers to come to him in secret where he joined them in marriage.  When the emperor heard of this ‘friend of lovers’, he was impressed with his conviction and attempted to convert him to the Roman gods while Valentine attempted to convert the emperor to Christianity.  When Valentine would not renounce Christianity, he was imprisoned.

While in prison, he witnessed to the guards.  One of the guards had adopted a blind girl and asked Valentine if his God could help the daughter see again.  Valentine prayed and the girl was given her sight.  The guard and his whole family believed in Jesus and were baptized.  Valentine fell in love with the girl.  When the emperor heard about Valentine making converts in prison, he was furious and had Valentine beheaded.

Before Valentine died, he signed a farewell message to his love and signed it ‘from your Valentine’, a phrase that has lived long after its author died.  Thus began the sending of  Valentines.

Because of Valentine’s dedication to the Lord, he was made a saint by the Catholic church.   The church was seeking to usurp the popularity of the Roman god Lupercus.  At the Lupercusian festival each year around the middle of February, a young man was assigned a woman companion for his ‘pleasure’ until the next year at the festival when he would get a different woman.  The Catholic church was determined to put an end to this 800 year old immoral practice and Valentine seemed to be the ideal candidate to become a ‘lovers’ saint.

How to Share This with Children:

The ruler of Rome, Emperor Claudius, thought there were many gods, but a man named Valentine loved God with all his heart and told people that Jesus is the one true God.  This made the Emperor Claudius very angry so he had Valentine put in jail.  But even in jail, Valentine kept telling people about Jesus.  The guard in the prison had a blind daughter and he asked Valentine if God could heal her.  Valentine prayed for her and God caused her to see again.  The guard and his whole family believed in Jesus after that and loved God with all their hearts.

The emperor was so upset when he heard that Valentine was still telling people about Jesus, that he had him killed.  Before Valentine died on February 14, he sent a message to the jailer’s daughter whom he had fallen in love with.  He signed the message ‘from your Valentine’ and this is where the sending of ‘Valentines’ began.

Because Valentine loved Jesus so much, the Catholic church named him a ‘saint’ which is what someone is called that loves Jesus and cares about others.  Each year we think about those we love and send them Valentines.  Let’s remember that the first Valentine was sent by a man who loved God with all his heart.

On Valentine’s Day we may get flowers, cards, candy, or other things from friends who love us,  but the very best gift that was sent to show love to us was sent a very long time ago.  It was Jesus who was born to one day die on the cross for the wrong things we have done.  The Bible says “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Click on the picture to order this illustrated book about Valentine:

Activities:

  • Emphasize God’s love for them, their love for God, and love for others as you help your children make Valentines for their friends, include any of the following verses on the cards:

1 John 4:9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into this wicked world to bring to us eternal  life through his death.
1 John 4:16b:  God is love.
1 John 4:19:  We love because he [God] first loved us
1 John 5:3:  This is love for GOD:  to obey his commands.
John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
1 John 4:11  Dear friends, since God loved us as much as that, we surely ought to love each other too.

  • Make a giant heart out of red poster board (see above picture.  Write Luke 10:27 or Matthew 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” on the heart.   Cut it into age-appropriate puzzle pieces.  As you put each piece together say, “that’s not all my heart” until the puzzle is finished.  Then read the verse and encourage the child to say, “God, I love you with all my heart”.  If you have several children you can make two heart puzzles and race to see who can give God all their heart first.
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Jesus’ Parents Took Him to Church on Groundhog Day :-)

Well, maybe not exactly😄

February 2nd (40 days after Christmas) can be celebrated as the day that Jesus first went to church?   In Luke 2:22-35 it is recorded that 40 days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph took infant Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for the ritual purification of Mary after childbirth and  to present their first born which was required by the Law of Moses. As they presented Jesus to Simeon, he prophesied:

According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 30-35)

We are familiar with February 2nd being called Groundhog Day. But did you know it is also called Candlemas?

Celebration of Candlemas Day began by Roman Catholics with lighting candles and parading through the streets as a commemoration of the presentation of Jesus and the prophesy of Simeon.  German immigrants known as Pennsylvania Dutch brought the tradition to America in the 18th century.

But where does Groundhog Day come in?  Candlemas occurs half way between the first day of winter and the first day of spring.   Ancient thought was that hibernating creatures were able to predict the arrival of springtime on this day.  Traditionally, it was believed that if Candlemas was sunny, the remaining six weeks of winter would be stormy and cold. But if it rained or snowed on Candlemas, the rest of the winter would be mild. If an animal “sees its shadow,” it must be sunny, so more wintry weather is predicted.

So now you know and can tell your children.  Be sure and read Luke 2:22-35 and tell in your own words about Jesus going to ‘church’ for the first time.  Then just have some fun with groundhog crafts:

http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/mgroundhog.html

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/groundhogday/popuphog/ (my personal favorite!) Sing this song Mr.-Groundhog when you finish this craft.

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/groundhogday/

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Teaching Preschoolers the Message of Hope in Zechariah

I just taught one of the hardest Bible lessons I have ever taught to preschoolers! I have to brag on those 4 year olds who sat quietly and listened intently –  they now know things about God’s Word that many adults never study 🙂  The lesson is from Zechariah 1-14 about the 8 visions that God gave the prophet.

Zechariah was sent by God to encourage the people of Israel as they began to rebuild the city of Jerusalem after returning from 70 years of captivity.  They were facing adversity as they attempted this difficult task.  Zechariah had 8 visions which were special messages from God to bring encouragement to continue their work.

Visuals are so helpful to interest the children in a story.  I put 8 objects, representing each of the visions, into my purple bag I use each week for visuals. As we began our story time, the children were very intrigued by my bag which was obviously much fuller than usual.   I pulled one object out at a time as I talked about each vision and its message of hope to the people of Israel.  The children were such great listeners that after the lesson, they were able to tell me about the visions as I pointed to each object! Oh the power of visuals 🙂

Screenshot 2014-09-14 17.02.171.   A man on a horse (1:7-17)
Meaning:  A messenger bringing the message that God still loves Israel and will restore their land

url2.  A deer antler to represent the 4 horns (1:18-21)
Meaning:  God will defeat 4 enemies of Israel – Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Persia

images-13.  A rope to represent a surveyor who was measuring the city (2:1-13)
Meaning:  Jerusalem will measure larger and safer than before it was destroyed

etwog424.  A Bible character figure to represent Joshua the high priest  whose filthy clothes were exchanged for clean (3:1-10)
Meaning:  God will send the Great High Priest, the King of Kings, to cleanse us from our sins.

images5.  A candle holder to represent the golden lamp stand which was used in the Temple for worship (4:1-14)
Meaning:  The Temple will be rebuilt and God will dwell among them.

Scroll6.  A scroll made out of paper and sticks – the flying scroll (5:1-4)
Meaning: Those who were disobeying God’s law and stopping God’s work would be punished

Screenshot 2014-09-14 17.08.437.  A small basket with a lid to represent the woman in basket (5:5-11)
Meaning: Sin will be carried away

Carthaginian_chariot8.  A horse-drawn chariot to represent the 4 chariots (6:1-8)
Meaning:   God will overcome evil in the 4 corners of the world and bring rest

If you notice, all the visions spoke of hope.  The main take-away or actual life application was that God always gives us hope in our difficult times.  At this point we talked about some difficult things that we might face and that God gives us hope in the midst of them.Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem

My final visual was a picture of Jesus.  The ultimate hope for us all was predicted by Zechariah (this book has more predictions of Christ than any of the other minor prophets). In Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah predicted 500 years before it happened, that Jesus would come riding on a donkey into the very town the returning exiles were rebuilding at the time.  God sent Jesus to us all to take away sin and give hope!!!

 

If you are struggling with discouragement, read Zechariah. It is full of verses to give you hope.  Here are two of our favorite verses from the book that brought much encourage to us during some difficult times:

Zech. 4:6  Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.

 Zech. 9:12 Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you. 

 

For background info on Zechariah check out these sites:

http://www.insight.org/resources/bible/zechariah.html

http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/zechariah-lbw.htm

 

Here’s a great pattern for making a booklet of the 8 visions:

http://www.ellenjmchenry.com/homeschool-freedownloads/bible-games/documents/ZechariahBooklet.pdf

 

(Appreciation goes to http://www.gospelproject.com/kids/ for challenging us to go deeper in God’s Word with our children)

 

 

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Keeping Christ in Christmas

The excitement of Christmas has already begun at our house – the tree is decorated, the Christmas lists are made out, and soon the baking, shopping, and parties will be in full swing.  It is so easy in all this activity to let the real meaning of Christmas go unmentioned.  We adults know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday but how are our children going to know unless we tell them.  They may see this only as a time when all the relatives get together or there’s lots of goodies to eat or everyone gives them gifts.

Enjoy the traditional practices of Christmas.  Don’t be so different from the world that the world wouldn’t want what you have. An old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was on his way to England to do missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to keep some of their traditional practices, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan ‘devils’.

Today we as Christians should hear what Pope Gregory said and enjoy the traditions of the world, but be sure to give them Spiritual meaning for our families. Make every effort to teach the real meaning of Christmas through everything you do:

  • While decorating the tree share that the evergreen tree reminds us of the everlasting love Jesus has for us.  The tree is like a big birthday cake for Jesus and the lights are the candles.  The lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world and that “God lights our darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29)
  • While wrapping gifts share “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) Point out that because it is Jesus’ birthday we give gifts.  Jesus said when we give to one another it is the same as giving to him. (And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40) Share “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).   Make sure your children are involved in making or purchasing gifts to give so they are not just on the receiving end of the gifts.  Also point out that giving is not only things, but he can give love, friendship, help, and joy.
  • Make the manger scene central in your decorations. Be sure your children hear the Christmas story from the Bible often. It’s fine to tell them the pretend stories of Santa and elves, Rudolph and Frosty, but be sure to tell the true story of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angels, Shepherds, etc.  Also help them understand the true story of Santa.  He loved Jesus so much that he wanted to give to others.  A good book about Santa is “Santa, Are You for Real? “ by Harold Myra.

Check Train Up The Child for ways to relate the real Reason for the Season to traditional seasonal objects.  Just search on the site for ‘Christmas’, ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’,  or for a traditional object (ex. Santa, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, etc.)

 

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