Mindfulness Monday {A Place Where You Belong}

I don’t know where the idea originated, but recently one member of our sunday school class told us about some research. The researchers found that adults had a few communities they were a part of. Typically the two main communities were home/family and work. What they found was that most people seem to search for a third place where they belong. As our friend was sharing this with us, we knew that we finally had a name for our group. We call ourselves The Third Place. Because, for us, that sunday school community is a place where we belong. Not only do we study together on a weekly basis, we share about the highs and the lows in our life. And we gather together outside of church to share in fun and fellowship.

There is one thing I know to be true…not only have we adults found a community, but our children have as well. They now have a group of friends just as we do. But perhaps even more important, they see us gathering together with our friends from church. They see who we choose to share our lives with, the kind of people they are, and the support we give one another. They may not think about those things consciously…but someday when they are searching out their own “third place” they will remember.

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A Playful Spirit

When I was a kid my parents were always saying to me, “Why don’t you go outside and play?”  And we did!  My sister and I would climb on our jungle gym, swing, ride bikes, and do gymnastics in the yard.  Even in the winter we would play.  We regularly turned our basement into a scene from “The Little House on the Prairie” complete with blankets wrapped around our waists to simulate the long skirts.  I know that I watched TV daily, but play was also a central part of my life.

We live in a time that offers very few opportunities for free, imaginative play.  When my students used to write about what they did over the weekend, most of the time their answers include playing video games, or watching TV shows and movies.  Even when I would probe to see if they were just forgetting about the other things they did, I often found no time in their day where they simply played.  This is certainly true in schools.  With high stakes testing, and competition among schools and districts, play is definitely being pushed to the side.

Yet brain research tells us that play is not only good for us, but many play-oriented movements have the capacity to improve cognition. Eric Jensen, author of Teaching with the Brain in Mind, says that

dance, puzzles, stretching, building with blocks, make-believe, drama and even walking are just a few examples of play. There are many reasons why play and physical activity are essential for the brain. It allows children to make mistakes without “lethal” consequences (with far less embarrassment and more fun than in a traditional classroom setting).  It improves the ability to handle stress by “training” the body to recover faster from the quick surges of adrenaline associated with demanding physical activity…and classroom environments.  It triggers the release of BDNK, which is natural substance enhances cognition by boosting the neurons’ ability to communicate with one another.  It can enhance social skills, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution ability.

One of my professors used to say that play is essential to the development of the frontal lobe, which is our decision making center.  The frontal lobe continues to develop until around age 20, and yet play is often frowned upon after early childhood.  So remember that some time today, you all have my permission to PLAY! No matter how old you are!

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Mindfulness Monday {Share a Hobby}

I’ve noticed recently that my oldest is taking an interest in two things I love to do…photography and scrapbooking. He sees me involved with something I love and wants to participate. When he asks to join me it would be easy to say go find something else to do. And honestly, I do say that sometimes. I need my time too. But I also make sure to schedule time with him. We scrap together and we have fun going on photo shoots together.

I love sharing this time with him! And I never would have realized his interest in my hobbies if I hadn’t been paying attention. What does your child want to share with you?

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Practice Makes a Perfect Time for God

Does your child have a skill that they are learning which requires practice? Do they play the piano or another instrument? Paint? Dance? Play sports? Teach your child that each time they get ready to practice their talent to think of that practice time as personal time with God. Help them understand that they celebrate their talent by sharing every aspect of it with God. Model for your child how to talk to God about how they are feeling. Whether they are excited, frustrated, happy, sad, or even bored. Let them know they can tell God all about it. Teach them to think of their practice time as time with God. God is with us in all things!

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Mindfulness Monday {Just Play}

Life gets so crazy and busy sometimes. And it’s easy to forget the simple joys in life. The other day during my oldest’s basketball game I noticed my youngest playing away. I took a few minutes to just watch him, listen to him, and enjoy his playful spirit. It reminded me that I need to play more. I need to stop the rush of daily life and take a few minutes to play. Even if there is no child in sight. So humor me…take a second and vroom a car, build with legos, dress up a baby doll…play. I bet it will bring a smile to your face!

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Using a Labyrinth

Ever heard of a labyrinth? A labyrinth is similar to a maze except that there is only one path that leads to the center (no dead ends). Labyrinths are often full size so that you can physically walk through them. The process is extremely calming and peaceful.

I’ve been considering creating a labyrinth in the corner of our yard. I have even pinned some ideas on Pinterest. (You can follow my pinterest board here if you’d like) But that is an in the future project. Yet, I wanted a labyrinth for my boys. So for Christmas I bought one for my boys. The finger labyrinth pictured above is designed for two people, which is perfect for two kids.

I often find my boys sitting and tracing the labyrinth path, which is awesome! But that’s not why I bought it. I wanted to teach my boys ways to manage their anger. My oldest especially has trouble with tantrums when he’s in trouble. Recently, in one of those moments, I took him the labyrinth and asked him to think about what happened and what he could do differently as he traced the labyrinth two times. He calmed down almost immediately. Afterwards when we were talking through the problem he told me that he after he finished the labyrinth twice he still didn’t have an answer to my two questions so he did it a third time and then he was ready to talk. I asked him if he thought that using the labyrinth helped him when he was mad. He said that it did and agreed that he would like to use it again. Now, when he is in time out I quietly bring him the labyrinth and simply hand it to him. Will it always work? Probably not…but for now it is a helpful tool for him. And that’s what I hoped for.

If you are interested in other labyrinth options click on the My Favorites tab above and choose spirituality to see what else I own.

What do you do with your children to help them calm down? I’d love to hear what works for your family!

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Here I Am Lord

Don’t forget to check out the additional resources at the end of the post for less than $1! You get  a PDF with the lesson plan, 2 additional activities, and a handout. A preview of the resources and the purchase button are at the bottom of this post!

Tell me if this sounds familiar… “(in a parent voice) Jim…Jim…JIM…I have been calling and calling your name, why didn’t you answer me? (in another voice) I didn’t hear you Mom/Dad” Has that ever happened at your house? Someone calls your name and you don’t answer? In my house it’s usually because my boys are choosing not to answer me, not because they actually didn’t hear me.

Today we are going to read a story in the bible about a boy named Samuel. Read 1 Samuel 3:1-10. I would use My First Bible by Pat Alexander. Read pages 176-179. What would you think if you heard someone calling your name while you were sleeping? I’m not surprised that Samuel thought it was Eli calling his name! Eventually Eli realized that it must be God speaking to Samuel and told Samuel what to say the next time he hear God calling.

Share the chorus to “Here I Am Lord.” If you can, sing it to the children without setting it up first. “Here I am Lord. Is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” 

When God speaks to us it’s usually not in a loud voice calling our name. For me, it’s more like feeling a nudge, or a little push, inside to do one thing or another. When I listen carefully I can hear God leading me to do the right thing. Leading me to be kind and helpful to others.

Sing again. Here I am Lord. Is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

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Every Wednesday I share a lesson based on the lectionary. These lessons are meant to be used for a children’s moment (aka children’s sermon, children’s liturgy, children’s church, etc), sunday school, or even as a family devotion in your own home.

I have taken the lesson above and written it into a lesson plan format. I have also added a Respond and Extend section to the downloadable lesson. These are additional ideas for the children to respond to the main lesson and then an extension activity for them to do at a later time. The extension activity includes a handout to send home with directions.

All of this can be yours for less than a dollar!! Just click the Add to Cart button to download your copy today! Payments can be made with Paypal, Google Checkout, or you can enter your credit card as a Paypal guest (no account required). Once you have made your purchase an email will be sent to you with download directions.

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Please note: all images and PDF files are my creation. You may use them in your home and with your church family. Please give credit to ChildhoodSpirituality.com. You may not sell these items in part or in full, or in any way claim them as your own. Thank you!

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Mindfulness Monday {Setting an Intention}

It’s the time of year that many people set (and break) resolutions. I’ve never been much of a resolution kind of gal. But last year I came across something different. The idea is to choose one word, rather than setting a goal based resolution. I know this idea is out there in many different variations but what I do, called One Little Word, is by a woman named Ali Edwards. You can read more about the One Little Word project here.

Last year I chose the word present. I worked very hard to be more in the moment (as you may have noticed from my other Mindfulness Monday posts). I was amazed with the change and growth my word brought me in 2011. So I knew I was going to continue with One Little Word in 2012.

This year I have chosen TRUST as my word…or maybe I should say it chose me. Trust that things will happen in the right time. Trust in my abilities. Trust in other people and allow them to be in control (that one is hard for me). Trust that God is working in my life even when I can’t see where we are going. TRUST. To me, choosing a word is like setting an intention for your life. I am deciding to work on trust.

What do you hope for in 2012?

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Let’s Be Grateful Together

A new year begins and we all start thinking about what we want for our lives. One thing I plan to continue in 2012 is documenting my gratitude. Some of you may know that I run another blog called Scrap Inspired. Over there I share posts about all things scrappy, crafty, and photography. But once a week I take time to share a moment of Gratitude. I call it Thankful Thursday. Then last fall I decided to turn my process into a class. I shared that class at my congregational retreat. Knowing that I would have a wide range of participants I made sure the class would share ideas applicable for everyone (crafty or otherwise). I got such an overwhelmingly positive response that I decided to turn that class into a self paced online course.

I have loved the process of noticing the little moments that bring me joy in my everyday life. But, for me, documenting those moments has been life changing. I have found that, through documenting, I am even more aware of my gratitude. And it has changed how I look at my day to day life.

Want to make documenting your gratitude a part of your life? In my class “Gratitude Documented” I share many ideas for how you can quickly and easily document your gratitude (some crafty and some not at all). You can buy this class now for only $10 or read more about it here.
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What’s more is that you can teach your children to document their gratitude as well! I’ve done this activity with children as young as 3 (who needed adult help for sure) up to kids around 10. I’ll say that listening to a child describe their gratitude is even more powerful than noticing your own.

Gratitude Documented for Kids is also only $10. It includes a video tutorial aimed directly at your child as well as step by step PDF directions. Read more about it here or buy it now!
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And if you want both classes you can buy them packaged together for only $15! That’s the same as buying one and getting the second for 50% off!
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Come on, take a journey with me! Let’s document our gratitude together!

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