"The whole trouble is that -- literally -- we do not know what is good for us; and what makes the trouble still worse is that we think we do. We have our own plans for our happiness, and too often we merely regard God as somebody who will help us to accomplish them. The true state of affairs is just the opposite. God has His plans for our happiness, and He is waiting for us to help Him to accomplish them. And let us be quite clear about it: We cannot improve on God's plans." This Tremendous Lover, M. Eugene Boylan, O.C.R.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Prayer in our Life: Thanksgiving

This past Sunday we had a lot of fun thanking God for all He gives us! Here is the plans we went with:

9:15 Prayers in the Church

9:20 Introduction to Thanksgiving:

Everything that we have, have had, will have is from God! Today we are going to talk about the third type of prayer from ACTS…lets recap what we’ve learned already…. (discuss with children previous lessons about adoration and confession)

God gives us everything and we need to tell him how grateful we are! Have you ever been to a birthday party where the person receiving the gifts wasn’t thanking everyone or didn't even seem to like a gift? How does that make you feel? God has given us so many gifts and we often forget to thank Him.

The Bible has a Psalm about thanking God, we’re going to listen to it rigt now. (Psalm 91:1-9) (Select student volunteers to read verse by verse.)

Now that we've heard what the Bible has to say about thanking God, we're going to talk about what we should be thankful for. We’re going to play a little game to think about how many gifts God has given us!

9:30 Pull children up 4 at a time, blindfold, place object in their hand, then have them guess what it is, discuss the items and all the things we can be thankful for. We had dirt, water, a prayer rope, an apple, shoes, a shirt, and I even put one of the parent's hands in their child's hands. After the children had guessed the item, we expounded on the idea. For example, we're not just thankful for an apple, but all our food, and those who prepare it for us, etc.

9:45 Thankful tree activity, found HERE. The artwork is beautiful!

We ran a bit over from our normal end time of 10am, but the kids all had a great time. Homework was to make a thankful poster. Instructions for that can be found HERE.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Help with the little ones in church

One of the things that brings me great joy is when people tell me that my girls were so well-behaved during church. While, for the most part, this is the case now, it was not always so! When we switched to the Melkite Church, my youngest was 2 and gave me a real run for my money! Every week for almost 3 months I dealt with melt downs and temper tantrums. Eventually though, we figured it out!

Now, I enjoy going to church with my girls and am able to pray and help them to pray as well. I found this article this week that shares a lot of great tips that I also have used with my girls. While the blogger is not Catholic, the ideas apply just as well to our church experience. Of course, every family has to figure this out for themselves, but these pointers are a great place to start!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Prayer in our Life: Adoration

There are four main types of prayer that we will learn about with the children this year. We can think of them by the word “ACTS.” Each of the letters of ACTS stands for a different type of prayer. A stands for Adoration. Adoration means praising God for His amazing holiness and for his wonderful creation. C stands for Confess. When we confess to God, we tell Him we are sorry for our sins. T stands for Thanksgiving, which is when we thank God for all He has done for us. S stands for Supplication, or asking God for what we need. We might ask God to protect us or heal someone who is sick. We will take the next few weeks to learn about each one.

To help reinforce the definitions, we’ll play a game to see some examples of each of the words. We will divide the children into two teams. Each team takes turns drawing a phrase from a bowl. The team has 30 seconds to decide which category of prayer (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, or supplication) it goes under. The team will tape the item under the correct category. Correct answer is one point. If they get it wrong, the other team can try to put it in the right category for the point. For the list of phrases, you can print them here. I also printed pictures the represent each of the types of prayer for my pre-readers, which you can get here.

After the game, we'll move into teaching the children about adoration. I am using the lesson plan directly from the Prayer in our Life book. The lesson plan focuses on the holiness of God and the amazing things that He has created. We praise God for who He is...no one is like Him.

Just as God created many beautiful things, he gave us the ability to also create with Him. To wrap up the day, we are going to create something beautiful from clay. I will give the children a variety of colors of simple salt clay with the instructions, "Maybe you want to make a small bowl, or something for your icon corner. Maybe you want to make an animal or plant. You can create whatever you want. When you take it home, it can remind you of God’s creation and how awesome He is."

Happy lesson planning! Here are a few photos of some of the kiddos and their creations!