Friday, April 22, 2022

Hand Down the Faith with Mystery Bags - God Made You Unique & Oh, So Valuable


The month of May is National Mental Health Month, so with May just around the corner I want to write today about something very, very important. Suicide. I was shocked to learn suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States for children, youth and young adults ages ten - 34. Yes, this statistic included children as young as ten. I have a grandson who is ten.

This has my attention; and I assume it has your attention as well.

The world in which we, and our grandchildren live is filled with stress. So many things in their young lives cause trauma leaving children, teens, and young adults dealing with serious issues with which they may not know how to deal or talk to others about the things weighing them down.

These are serious issues without simple answers, but there are things we are able to do to help the ones we love grow up with a strong, healthy mind and with the ability to cope. The first is to educate ourselves as to the warning signs - know what you should be looking for and keep an eye out. Do not think this is something which is not possibly going to happen in your family. It is possible; know what to watch for and then watch for those things.

Next pray for God to protect the hearts and minds of those you love. The Bible presents Satan as a "roaring lion" and says he is looking for people to "devour" in 1 Peter 5:8. Pray for them and model what it looks like to "keep a firm grip on the faith" 

As difficult situations arise where you and the ones you love live - COVID-19, severe weather, violence, illnesses, bullying, school pressures, divorce, being over scheduled, moving, death, etc, pray about these things and be proactive - talk with your family. Carefully monitor what your grandchildren hear/see as far as news on the television - it is often frightening and confusing. Be careful as well about the conversations you have in their presence. Remember; "Little pitchers have big ears."

Be proactive and intentional. Plan opportunities to talk about and engage your grandchildren in activities which help them understand how very, very valuable they are to you and to God. Help them see themselves the way God sees them. Consider trying the following Mystery Bag Project with the children you love - gather the supplies and send them to your grandchildren. You will need . . .

  • Paper lunch bags - one per child
  • Sticky notes - at least six per child
  • Markers/crayons
  • Paper
  • Fingerprint ink pad - one is enough as your grandchildren are able to share this.
  • A small zippy of sand.
Arrange to connect with your grandchildren to work together on this project. Read Psalms 139:1-18 together. Ask your grandchildren to write words which stand out to them - or draw pictures of them if they are not able to write the words. For example; they may draw eyes for how God searches and knows them, a head, bed, and mouth for how God knows what they think and talk about as well as when they go to bed, - or write, "God knows me", "God knows what I think about", "God is with me always", etc . . .

Talk about how it is so comforting to know we are not alone, even if we may feel alone. God is with us, always.

Ask your grandchildren about what they think is the most amazing thing in creation. Affirm what they share - all of God's creation is amazing! Then talk about how God said people are His most amazing creation - and this includes them. Talk about how God not only knew when they were created, He is the One who created them and He believes they were created as amazing and wonderful people. He thinks about them, yes them, all the time - He has more thoughts about how wonderful they are than the number of grains of sand in the world! 

Have your grandchildren try to count the sand in their little zippy bags - they will quickly discover they are not able to do so. Talk about how if God only had as many thoughts about them as the grains of sand in their little zippy bags, He would still be thinking A LOT about them! Read Psalms 139:17, 18 again - consider using another version/translation . . .
  • How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sandwhen I awake, I am still with you. (NCV)
  • How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! (NLT)
  • Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them—  any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! (MSG)
Take the ink pad and get a fingerprint of your own - put it on a sticky note. Have your grandchildren do the same - with all their sticky notes. - and draw a picture or write words about how God knows, created, and is with you around your fingerprints - have your grandchildren do the same - a couple for each sticky note. 

Then, share with each grandchild something amazing you have noticed about them - their smile, kind heart, funny sense of humor, generous spirit, etc. You add those words/drawings to their sticky notes (have a parent do it for the grandchildren who live far - or write it on the sticky notes before you send them . . . and add your fingerprint to the sample one as well).

Ask your grandchildren to put the sticky notes at their eye level where they will see them throughout their day - on the wall by their bed, on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, computer, etc. Tell them whenever they see their fingerprint and the words/drawings, you want them to remember how very precious they are to you - and, most important of all, to God. Tell them you love them and always will. If they EVER feel sad, confused, overwhelmed about ANYTHING, ask them to promise to talk to you. Tell them there is NOTHING they will ever tell you which would EVER cause you to stop loving them.

Pray together and ask God to protect their hearts and minds and help them see and remember every day how very much He loves them.

Do not stop communicating, in as many ways as possible, how much you love them; pray and watch, carefully. Life has a way of becoming difficult. Suicide is able to touch your family. Pray, love them, talk, and watch.

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