One of the things that we all know from watching our children is that walking takes a lot of practice. Toddlers get up, take a step, and fall down over and over, and preschoolers also take their share of tumbles as they master the skills of running, jumping and walking. Why should it be any different for us? We often think that we should be able to “walk in love” instantly and forget to notice the ways that we do. We also miss many opportunities to live out the love of God, because we are “too busy” to see them.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how to help myself and the children be more intentional in our own walking in love and more noticing of others’ acts of love towards us. We been talking about “cold cups of water” and I made a few visuals to help us all remember to refresh one another.
We’ve been singing We are one in the Spirit, and two versions of 1 John 4:7-8 quite a bit and the other day we had a little discussion about it. I asked them what a cold cup of water felt like when they had been outside playing in the heat? They said that it was cold and cooled them down so they could play some more. I explained that another word for that was ‘refreshing’, that a cold cups of water ‘refreshed’ them, made them stronger and more able to go on with what they were doing. F said that ‘drinking water made him healthy’ so I figured they were getting at least some of the point.
I then explained that sometimes what people needed to be refreshed wasn’t an actual cup of water but a kind word, some help with a project and so on…we then went around the room and I asked them to come up with three things that could be “cups of cold water” to various family members.
Here are some of the things they came up with:
“reading” to W
helping each other with chores
bringing W to me if he fell down
getting Papa a cup of water when he gets home (S bikes a least part of the way to and from work)
doing jobs quickly and cheerfully (that one was for me, since we’ve been struggling with dawdling here)
I was really pleased with how little prompting they needed to come up with kind acts for others.
I then drew a set of water glasses on the whiteboard,
and explained that I would keep track of the “cups of cold water” they did for others and see how quickly they could fill their glasses. I also told them that they could come and tell me what someone else did for them, or what was done for/by W since he’s not talking much but they weren’t allowed to tell me what they did for others themselves, (not wanting to encourage bragging).
I found that although the whiteboard was a good visual it didn’t give me any way of measuring kindness from week to week, which meant that I didn’t have a good way of thinking about ares where individual children (or myself) needed to improve. So I did these little books:
Which enables me to fill in a glass while keeping track of what the kind deed was.
Next week I want to try giving them a set of cards:
cut from this sheet to use like these cards that my mother made when we were young:
We each had some of these and left them behind when we did anonymous things for one another. I’d like to cut out the cups of water and give some to each child so that they can do something similar (although I’m not sure if they’re old enough to understand the concept yet).
Anyway I’m seeing some results from this focus on kindness and refreshment. I’m noticing what they do more and am happier about their relationships with each other, which leads me to encourage them which leads them to do more.
I am reminded of Hebrews 10:24-25 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)
I am encouraged to see how far a little encouragement goes.
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