I remember playing the fortune teller game as a kid. We would take a piece of paper, write dreamy messages and fortunes on it, then fold it origami-style to predict our future—you will be rich, you will be famous.
Now I try to bless the children in my life with words that picture a future filled with hope.
It’s different from predicting their future, but it can transform the way the future unfolds for the child. Dr. John Trent writes, “With words of a bright future they can begin to work on a particular talent, have the confidence to try out for a school office, or even help guide others into the full potential God has in store for them.” They begin to believe in the positive, hopeful future you paint for them.
Anticipating a hope-filled future is not the same as choosing a child’s future.
Our intent is to encourage children to be the best they can be, not to force them into paths that we followed or wish we had followed. (Not, for example, “You’ll be a wonderful engineer someday!”) Adults who put that kind of pressure on children miss giving them a blessing. To bless a child, encourage the child by noticing intentions and actions. Then follow it up to help the children achieve whatever they decide to be or do.
Isn’t a hope-filled future for children just a pipe dream for some?
No. Over and over in sacred writings, we see God’s offer of blessings toward humankind. These blessings are not directed at making us wealthy, healthy or even happy all the time. There are many different kinds of hope-filled futures.
Regardless of life circumstances God offers inner, spiritual blessings: peace, contentment, fulfillment, wisdom, love, forgiveness, mercy, or an ability to see the holy come bursting through the everyday.
What words are you using to predict a bright future for the children you love? Next week, I will share your ideas and mine as well.
Note: The concept of the blessing, along with some of the ideas here, are taken from John Trent’s book The Blessing.
Tweetable: Anticipating #hope-filled future not the same as choosing a child’s future. Food for thought offered here. Click to Tweet
As we approach the 3rd anniversary of our blog, I give thanks for the trust many of you have placed in us as we offer wisdom for the most important children in your life. I can’t express enough my gratitude for our incredible Child-Centered Spirituality team and the joy every member takes in making the posts and articles happen at a high standard.
- Tara Miller
- Alisha Ule
- Annette Schalk
- Michelle Coe
Our imperative is to clarify why the health of a child’s soul and spirit is worth your engagement, fitting it with their emotional, mental and physical development.
Our aim is not answers but growth in spiritual development.
We seek to inspire you through a relatable story, to make you laugh or think, and to add value to your interactions with children. We hope any of our ideas that you choose to try make it easier for you to respond confidently when kids bring up life’s intangibles such as morality, conscience, God, character, purpose and more.
As we begin Year 4, together we will allow ourselves to be open to spiritual explorations and the directions they will take us. We’re figuring it out as we go, stumbling along, celebrating our progress, and loving the children in our lives the best we can.
Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.
Tweetable: Happy 3rd Anniversary, Child-Centered Spirituality. Making room for persons of all faiths and of no faith. Click to Tweet
Rohatsu, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Yule. Most of us have some big plans brewing to make happy December holidays for the kids we love.
What makes a holiday experience thrilling?
Its impact on the human spirit or soul.
Because the memories of “giving experiences” remain vivid long after toys break or fade away.
Because, as Bono said, “love needs to find form, intimacy needs to be whispered. It’s actually logical. Essence has to manifest itself. Love has to become an action or something concrete.”
One family’s story:
When my daughter passed away at the age of 7 her brothers wanted to do something to help other children who are ill and stuck in the hospital or in bed at home, so we gathered books together and took them to the office of the Palliative care team that took such good care of my daughter and our family.
This became what is now “Cheyenne’s Lending library” it is full of books and blankets, toys and craft items for kids and even parents who stay with their children. The idea is to take their mind off of their illness for a little while.
Each year we drop off new books on Cheyenne’s birthday and at Christmas. Sometimes in between. We have been doing this since 2004.
Plan ahead to make giving this season’s highlight.
When you do an Internet search you will find a range of giving opportunities that children can see and experience. And because the season is notoriously stressful, you may find the best ideas are low-key and low energy, such as:
- Check with your local SPCA and purchase their approved items such as cat litter, cat food, and dog food. Obviously, the more engagement the children have in purchasing and delivering donations, the more memorable it will be for them.
- Contact your local food bank for ideas of their needs.Take the kids with you to the store and let them pick out items from the list so it becomes the child’s achievement.
- Ask a hospital for approval to have kids gather books and deliver them to the office. A hospital in my city allows the children to see where in the hospital their donations will be used, enhancing their feeling of accomplishment.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu
- Looking for low-key, low energy ways for kids to give and do something good this season? Go here. Click to Tweet
- Lao Tzu: “Kindness in giving creates love.” Show kids how to have fun giving this holiday season. Go here. Click to Tweet
Recently I was with a friend and her grandchildren for lunch at an open-air market, followed by a visit to a museum. The girls knew they were going to get a souvenir of our adventure together.
At the market, 8-year-old Sasha wanted a package of stars that glow in the dark. Her grandmother reminded her that she could get one souvenir, and that the museum had a great gift shop. Sasha insisted on getting the stars.
Of course, later at the museum store I walked with Sasha who began choosing from the array of wonderful items to buy, disappointed that she already had her souvenir. “That’s difficult,” I said, “what would have helped you make a better choice?” And we chatted about what she plans to do next time.
The right kind of trouble teaches how to handle frustration when the world doesn’t go your way.
Trouble helps children develop endurance. Endurance develops strength of character. Character strengthens our confident hope and this hope will not lead to disappointment. So it is exactly these teachable moments in which we want to be fully present with children.
Remain mindful—so that we stay connected. Be clear–so that we are spiritual navigators, teaching and modeling right speech, good intention, right action.
Notice and label when you are having trouble.
Brooke Brogle shares her experience:
She said to her young children: “I am having trouble! I have tried three times to fix the vacuum and it is just not working! I am going to take a break. I will come back and try when I am feeling calmer.”
Guide young children through their frustrations.
“You seem so frustrated! I see that you have been trying to build that tower and it keeps falling down! Let’s have a snack and then try again together.”
At 19, a young woman completing her high school education had these wise words.
“I am thankful for every bad choice I ever made and every person put in my path to give me a hard time. I made many mistakes, but those same mistakes have made the person I am today. Life isn’t easy but it is worth fighting for.”
Tweetable: The right kind of trouble helps children develop endurance and endurance leads to strength of character. Click to Tweet
Is performing arts a passion for one of the kids in your life? Here’s an idea that may make sense to them as they continue to develop their spiritual life.
Be God’s understudy.
God’s understudy–learning, listening, practicing so we can stand in for God in the world around us. Say yes to continually learning your part and be ready at a moment’s notice to stand in for God.
What does that look like in daily life?
That might mean protecting someone being bullied at school, helping an elderly neighbor with yard work, or being careful to throw trash away rather than on the ground. It is living out two of the general moral rules we learn:
Amid the diversity and magnificence of nature, we have work to do, and that is to take care of the oceans, of plants and animals, and of people, as we have opportunity.
What similarities do you see to being a theatre understudy?
- Rehearsal does not exist. “You are responsible to know the role whether or not you get to do it on its feet. You have no other option than to live in the moment,” says Broadway understudy Bret Shuford.
- It feels a bit like skydiving. Shuford continues, “Especially the first performance you go on, it’s a rush like nothing you’ve ever experienced. The scariest part is taking the first leap, but remember a beautiful, loving, cast and crew will always be there support you. You will surprise some people at what you’re able to accomplish in the role, and you may even surprise yourself.”
- Imitation is the highest form of flattery–sort of. An understudy has to replicate what the original star is doing, to a degree. “You have to honor the performance of the actor you’re covering,” explains Merwin Foard, who has covered 30 actors in 16 Broadway shows. “You don’t want to mimic… but you want to bring your own version of [the role] to life.”
Challenging things, bad things, happen to the people around us.
Trouble and hardship are part of living. But faith means trusting that the God of heaven and earth loves us, walks with us, and sustains us through troubles. As God’s understudies, we hang in there with other people to make life more bearable, more livable and more joyful.
Tweetable: Our world could use more people who, like theatre understudies, stand in for God, in everyday life. Read more. Click to Tweet
Know any performing arts students who are spiritual? They may like the metaphor of being God’s understudy. Click to Tweet