Celebrating Our Freedom

In the midst of all the fun, fireworks, and food, let’s all take time as families to pray for our country.

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While we may not agree with everything happening in our country right now, we still need to celebrate with our children the fact God has allowed us to live in a free country and that many brave soldiers have fought physical and spiritual battles to ensure we have freedom.

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Remember on Memorial Day

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 Let’s not forget what this long weekend is about.  Many have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.  God made a decree many years ago that we set up memorials to help our children know about the things that happened in the past:

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We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask, “What do these stones mean to you?”  Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s covenant went across.” These stones will stand as a permanent memorial among the people of Israel.”

Memorial Day originally began in 1868 as a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. In more recent years our government passed a resolution that Memorial Day be observed on the last Monday of May as an occasion to remember and honor the men and women who died in all wars.

During this Memorial Day weekend be sure to talk to your children about the reason for the holiday.  Here are some suggestions:

As children, our boys loved to pretend to be soldiers, dressing in full camouflage.  When they got older they made this short film to illustrate one of their father’s sermons:

St. Patrick’s Day – Why the Celebration?

Did you or your children ever wonder why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?    I’m not sure what lies behind some of the traditions associated with the day, but the man that the holiday is named for has a story children need to hear.

About 385 years after Jesus lived, a boy named Patrick was born in England. When he was 16 years old, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave where he worked as a shepherd.  During this time he was lonely and afraid; this caused him to turn to God and he began to experience the love of Jesus.  After about 6 years as a slave, Patrick escaped, went back to England, and began studying to be a priest.

However, he did not forget Ireland; he had a desire to go back one day and tell them about Jesus.  He did eventually return there as a missionary.  Isn’t that amazing that he would want to go back to the place where he had been enslaved and tell them of God’s love?  What an act of forgiveness! Eventually Patrick was called a saint by the Catholic Church because of his love and kindness to the people of Ireland.

So because Jesus loved Patrick, Patrick was able to forgive the people of Ireland and then he spent his life telling them about Jesus. Patrick died on March 17, 461 and now we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day each March 17.  Please make your children aware in the midst of the stories of leprechauns and the various ways of observing the holiday, that the reason for the activities this week is because Jesus loved and cared for Patrick and then Patrick loved and care for the people who had wronged him.

It is believed that Patrick brought the shamrock plant to Ireland and used the three-leafed plant to illustrate the message of the Trinity. This would be a good time to teach about the Trinity.  Click here for help in sharing the concept with your children.  A good children’s book to illustrate the Trinity is 3 in 1: A Picture of God.

Go outside and look for clover and then pretend to be St. Patrick using a clover to teach the Irish about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Get a shamrock craft at Apples for the Teacher.

You can download a St. Patrick’s Day coloring page at Ministry-to-Children.com

Click here to check out a very informative article about Saint Patrick. 

So as you wear green and celebrate St. Patrick Day, make it a celebration of love and forgiveness from our Triune God.

Ephesians 4:32  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. 
John 15:12  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

 

Why the long weekend?

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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

Here’s an excellent interactive site for both presidents.

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!!!


Origin of Valentine’s Day and Resources for Celebrating with Your Children

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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 on February 14th, 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 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)

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.  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.

 

Here are other sites to glean from to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children:

http://ministry-to-children.com/?s=valentine

http://ministry-to-children.com/love-resources/