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Adventure Calling – Volume 2

Adventure Calling ©, Vol. 2—the ULTIMATE guide to Advent—is an interactive booklet that walks through the four weeks of December to help children and families understand what the season truly means. Packed with resources such as devotionals (journal entries), stories, games, family activities and scripture, Adventure Calling is designed to teach and entertain your child and your family.

Adventure Calling follows the story of four characters as they are find JOY when times are tough, discover HOPE in the darkest places, trust God to provide PEACE, and have their eyes opened to a LOVE that’s been with them all along.

Don’t think we forgot about you, parents! We’ve written some devotionals that we hope will challenge and encourage you during this season, in addition to giving you some tools for conversation and interaction based on the book’s content. Advent can be a bit crazy; take time to look for joy, hope, peace and love in the midst of the busyness.

Let this be a new adventure for you, your family and God! And may hope, love, joy and peace fill your hearts and overflow into the world around you. Merry Christmas! And, as always…ADVENTURE ON!

Adventure Calling ©, Vol. 2, booklets will be available for purchase soon!


PARENT DEVOTIONALS

 

Week one—HOPE

Years ago, some friends of mine took a cross-country motorcycle ride. What I remember about that trip was that they had a breakdown in a town called Hope, Arkansas. (Seemed a bit ironic.)

Since then, I’ve wondered what prompted westward travelers to name a place Hope. We might guess that those hearty travelers found some features of that area that promised increased odds of survival—or that at least gave them some future expectations that they wanted to somehow “encourage” through a positive name.

That’s the cool thing about hope. It isn’t about today—it’s about tomorrow, about the future.

We don’t have hope that our breakfast was good — it’s already happened. But we might have hope that we’ll have food for dinner, or that a job will open up, or that a loved one will get well.

And it’s not just wishful thinking. Hope is based on one of two things: positive past experiences or reasonable expectations for what might happen in the future.

Here’s what the writer of Hebrews tells us about hope:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19)
The hope that is being referred to here is the promises of God (first to our Old Testament “parents” and then to us). Seems like we have a good basis for the hope we have!

And there’s another cool thing.

Romans 15:13 encourages us that God, through the Holy Spirit, wants to fill us to overflowing with hope by giving us more of the other virtues we’re exploring in this book with your children (joy and peace).

So, ask God to fill you to overflowing with hope!

Talk about this:
Did you kids ask you to go couch-diving this week? Ask them why.

If your kids are older, you might engage them in conversation about a time when they gave up hoping for something (such as making the team or getting something extravagant that they wanted). How did it feel? Did they eventually just forget it, or do they still wish it had happened? Talk about how hope can fade. Then ask about hopes they have that are still vibrant—and why that is so. Encourage having hope in God’s promises for them.

Try this:
Kids are generally great at hoping this time of year—especially because they usually have some expectations about gifts they might receive! If they make wish lists for “Santa,” ask them to make two other lists: (1) a list of things children might ask for if their parents don’t have money; (2) a list of good things they hope people will say about them (like that they are generous or happy or helpful). Encourage them to be thankful for the things on the first list that they already have, and to ask God to help them be like the things they put on the second list.


 

WEEK TWO – LOVE

God is love. You’ve heard that, right? Have you ever stopped to think about what that means? We don’t say God is hope, or peace or joy – but we do affirm that God is love. And we affirm that, in sending Jesus to the world as a baby, God was sending us love in human form.

Make a quick mental list (or write it down) of all the things that culture, advertising, music, etc., tell us we do or should love. Look at the list. What kinds of things are on the list?

Now think about the attributes of Jesus—who is love—and make another mental list. What do you notice about the two lists?

Unlike the English language—where we have only one word for love—the Bible uses multiple different words to express various facets of this phenomenon. In scripture there is a word for brotherly love, for “married love,” and, most importantly, for the kind of love God has for us, and that we can have for others – love that puts others’ needs above our own; that wants the best for them, regardless of what it means for us.
One of the things we’re saying to your child this week is that that last kind of love—that kind of care and concern that prompted God to send Jesus to Earth for us.

Talk about this:
Your kids may have made a list of things they love as part of their workbook interaction. If they did, and will share it, compare it with the things you loved at their age. What are the differences? What are the similarities? (You’ll probably have to explain some of the things on your list – especially the toys or other possessions you might have felt strongly about!) Be sure to emphasize the things you both love that aren’t things.

Try this:
Have you heard the saying, “Love isn’t love ‘til you give it away”? Especially at Christmas, there are lots of opportunities to express our love in gifts and tangible acts of service. To spread the love beyond December, make a list of individuals or groups of people (grandparents, teachers, police officers, pastors, cashiers, etc.) that you might want to bless with a gift or an act of love. Be sure there are at least 11 items on the list and then put the list away. Starting in January, work your way down the list, giving a gift or doing an act of love for the people on the list, one each month.


 

WEEK THREE – JOY

One of the best sermons I ever heard was about joy. Actually it was a series about the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control) … but the one I remember most was about joy. And the key point to this particular message was simple: “Choose Joy.”

I’m not a particularly joyful person. (I’m probably more Eyeore than Winnie the Pooh.) But the point is … joy can be a choice. Even if our circumstances don’t warrant it.

When the angels appeared to the shepherds in the field outside of Bethlehem, they claimed that the news they shared about the birth of a baby would make everyone happy (joyful).

I’ll wager that nothing substantive changed in the lives of those shepherds that night. They didn’t stop spending their days tending smelly, unruly sheep. But I’ll also bet that their lives were different after coming face to face with angels. And it might have been hard to wipe the smiles of remembrance off their faces.

Just as God invites us to combat worry by praying about everything, God also invites us to give joy a chance … and a choice.

Talk about this:
The kids were asked this week to think about a time when they were kind of scared about something that turned out to be really great. See if they will share that memory with you. Tell them about a similar experience you’ve had.

Try this:
Find an opportunity this week to share a story with your child about a time when you lost joy. Maybe you experienced a time of sadness or loss, or something didn’t work out the way you expected. Tell how you were able to trust God with that situation and recover a sense of joy in following God.

Look for Christmas decorations, advertisements, songs, etc., that use the word JOY. (They are everywhere!) Point them out. Let your child take pictures of them on your phone, and/or print out examples and make a collage. Talk about where joy really comes from (God) and discuss whether the example you are looking at actually brings you joy. If so, thank God! If not, talk a moment to concentrate on what makes you really joyful and choose to express that feeling (dancing, smiling, laughing) right then and there!

Your child might have made a list of people to share Christmas joy with. If they did, help them figure out how they can do that.


 

WEEK FOUR – PEACE

Raising children can be anything but peaceful. Even if you don’t have multiple children, the noise level alone can be rattling.

When my first child was born, a doctor-friend said to me, “The baby is a barometer of you. If you aren’t calm, the baby won’t be calm.”

He didn’t say that to frighten me; far from it. He said that to encourage me to relax. The more I was able to remain calm and steady, the happier and more relaxed my baby was.

Are you anxious? Are there things in life that are stressing you out?

Scripture gives us this advice:
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and don’t forget to thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6, nlt).

Another version of this same verse says, “Don’t be anxious about anything.” That word may convey this idea even more strongly. We’re often OK with worry. (We may even pride ourselves on being worriers — as if people who don’t worry probably just don’t care enough.) But worry — anxiety — happens when we can’t let go of our cares and give them to God.

And our kids can sense it.

This week, as your kids focus on the idea of peace, practice giving God your worry, your anxiety — and ask him to help you to exhibit peace in your home.

Talk about this:
This week your kids were encouraged to think about things that made them feel peaceful, and write them down. See if they will share the list with you.

Whether or not they tell you when they feel peace, watch for those moments when they display a calm, peaceful attitude. Remark on it. (Say, for example, “Wow! You really handled that calmly!” or “This is really a peaceful time in the day, isn’t it?”)

Try this:
The Mister Rogers spin-off on PBS called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood uses a very simple method to help children respond more calmly when they are excited or upset. It’s simply raising an arm and then counting aloud to four, slowly, while lowering their arm a bit with each number. (It’s a child-appropriate version of counting to ten before saying something you might regret.) Encourage your child to try this technique sometime this week. Be sure to comment on how much more peaceful we feel when we take time to calm down.

When you pray with your child this week, specifically thank God for moments of calm and peacefulness, and ask God to give you both peace throughout the day.


Adventure Calling © was dreamed and created by multiple ministries and volunteers of University Carillon United Methodist Church. The booklet was creatively designed for children to learn exciting, new things about the Advent season.

Adventure Calling © Team: Jesse Bachman, Bobby Brooks, Candice DeNucci, Eli Enot, Holly Fohr, Taylor Fohr, Bev Greek, Terri Hall, Tori Haun, Jeff Hill, Kris Holguin, April Lattimer, Rachel Lattimer, Holly Mass, Carolyn Smith, Jeninne Van Sickle, Lilly Van Sickle, Jen Welch, Ruth Zeman