“Prayer Chicken”

~By Julie Chatfield, Peace Children’s Ministry Director
One of the best ways to connect with God is through prayer.  It is fascinating that in spite of this, prayer is one of the hardest things to encourage children to do.  During our 45s pre-youth group, we have a long standing tradition of praying while holding a rubber chicken, because sometimes we feel “chicken” to pray.  The hope is that while holding this silly thing, kids will find the courage to lift up a prayer.  Prayers don’t have have to be long winded.  There are not “right” words.  They don’t even have to be inspirational.  Prayers are simply an expression of the heart. 
We have recently started a new prayer tradition during our Kids’ Own Worship during the 9:30 a.m. service.  At the end of class, one at at time each child is encouraged to look into a mirror.  As they gaze at themselves, I pronounce their names and state they are a special child of God.  The group at large then in unison repeats the said child’s name, speaking the blessing again.  In this scenario, children relish the opportunity to gaze into the mirror, hear their names, and be reminded they are special.  
Affirming your children is a simple and easy way to build their confidence and remind them of their worth.  It may seem hard at first, but there is no need to feel ‘chicken.” Your words don’t have to be long winded, and they don’t even have to be inspirational.  They simply need to be an expression of your heart.   Spend a moment this week,  look your children in the eyes and say one or two things about them you find special. 
1 Thessalonians 5:11  So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already. 

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“Is it Safe?”

~By Julie Chatfield, Peace Children’s Ministry Director
Every morning I wake at 5:00 a.m.  Without fail, my eyes pop open and I wrestle with the idea of going back to sleep, but only for a moment.  When I’m awake, I’m up so I reach for my phone, check my bank accounts and then peruse Facebook for anything exciting.  I am amazed at the amount of friends on Facebook also awake, hopeful of good will among friends.  I finally roll from the bed, dress for the gym, feed the cats, pour a cup of coffee, and leash our dog Rio for his morning walk.  The morning of Thursday August 8th was just the same, until I saw it.  
I was out the door for the dog walk.  It was dawn, the sun barely up, it smelled like “back to school,”  and the frogs and crickets were chiming in to the air conditioners working to keep our neighborhood cool.  I was noticing the weight of the air, my head down, trying not to step on the pooch, who in his old age walks slowly these days.   And then I saw it, an amazing site.  Billows of glittering, white, pink and golden smoke filled the deep blue sky as the rocket engine dropped back to earth.   It was spectacular and I nearly spilled my coffee to snap the photo.
There was a moment though, where I questioned the view.  Was this sight evidence of hate and power? Was it the start of a news story filled with danger, one to enable the media to infiltrate our minds with more anxiety and stress?  A filter exists now, and expands past billowing smoke in the sky.  I wonder, is it safe?  
Don’t fear, because I am with you;  don’t be afraid, for I am your God.  Isaiah 41:10. 
In spite of the wicked ways of the world, stop and remember God is near.  Stay safe out there everyone.  And might I add, know your exits.

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“A Season”

~By Julie Chatfield, Peace Children’s Ministry Director

My daughters back to school photo in 2008. Jessica is on the right and Savannah on the left.

A season.  Spring, summer, autumn, and winter.  Times of the year marked by weather patterns and daylight hours.  A season.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.  Marked by seasonal decorations, delicious food and emotional family get togethers.  A season.  Back to school.  Sitting in a cramped dressing room with your kiddos who are convincing you of the newest clothing trends.  Purchasing brand new Crayola markers and crayons, glue sticks, pencils and tons of notebook paper.  Blindsided by the Meet Your Teacher on the same day every year but still always a surprise.  Seeing parents of your kid’s friends, whom you sadly see less and less as they grow.  Finally, a slumber party that’s loud and where no-one sleeps. 
 Then the first day of school arrives.  It’s the only day of the year everyone is awake without argue, probably because no-one could sleep and they are excited and nervous all at once.   Dressed, lunches packed, breakfast served, nerves high, an annoying photo, a kiss if you’re lucky, then out the door.  Back to school.  A season.  Experienced once as a child and then again as a parent.  Two different perspectives.  Back to school.  A season.  Bringing stress, yet provides a comfortable routine.  Back to School.  A season.  One you wish will end and then it does. 


“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) 

Enjoy and embrace this back to school season, because seasons change and the back to school season will end before you know it. 

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