3 Reasons Why Ministry Kids Can Benefit from a Pen Pal

Every ministry kid needs a friend!  Did you ever have a pen pal? I had lots through the years when I was a kid and teenager. I even have a pen pal I have written for the past 3 years and I still love it.

I would encourage you to help your child find a child who is also in ministry or another Christian kid of like faith and practice. Ministry kids need to know there are other ministry children who are doing similar things they do in their family and in their church. I believe the common factor of similar beliefs alone will help establish a good friendship (but Ministry Mamas, we may have to help the kids be faithful to writing… more on that below!) Missionary children can also benefit from pen pals because it helps them be able to express themselves about their life and experiences on the mission field.

The truth of it is, they wouldn’t have to write a child but maybe a trusted Christian you know. A godly person with wisdom who would encourage and cultivate a good relationship with them that points them to Christ. Other people to keep in touch with might be: A Christian soldier who is deployed, a Bible College student, a youth pastor and/or his wife, a young adult on the mission field, or any other godly influence with time enough to sit and write.

 

3 Reasons Why Ministry Kids Can Benefit from a Pen Pal

  1. Writing to people keeps children connected to a broader world. There are lots of ministry kids who are lonely because they go to a church with very few children their age or missionary kids are in a foreign country surrounded by a different culture. Having a pen pal can connect a ministry kid with another child who lives like they do, serving God with their family.  Another lesson under this umbrella is that writing a person who is different lets your child understand variations in personalities and family preferences are common and that’s a good thing! When our children learn people can be different and still love and serve God the way they do then it helps them understand we do not have to be exactly alike to enjoy the company of one another.
  2. It teaches children about the joy of giving and receiving. To keep a pen pal relationship going there has to be reciprocation between letters — I send one, I receive one, etc. (This principle applies in so many aspects of life.) Receiving real mail is exciting! Letters have a mysterious element to them because you do not know its contents until you read it. Ministry kids who may be seeing or experiencing trials or personal struggles can benefit from the blessing of the letters from a friend and giving back. It can also help them look outside themselves by asking about the other person and being interested in their life.
  3. Having a pen pal teaches how to converse and encourage others. Reading letters can help your child learn to read tone and understand the feelings and heart of the other person. This practice of learning about the heart of another person can generate the qualities of empathy, compassion, and kindness. Children may open up to each other about their experiences and it can allow them to be able to have an opportunity to be a prayer partner with their pen pal and encourage them in life’s joys and struggles.

 

Helping Your Child Succeed as a Pen Pal

  1. Create a basket or kit that will have the necessary supplies they need to be able to write to their pen pal. Paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps are the very basics — add in stickers, gel pens, and stamps for more fun. There are great ideas for pen pal kits to send to your pen pal all over Pinterest, check this one out. It does not have to cost a lot of moolah, dollar stores have cheap supplies and cards. You can also teach your children to invest in buying the supplies for writing with money they earn.
  2. Help them with their writing skills. Teach them to write a letter and then teach them how to read a letter and respond with care. Teach them that writing a good letter can contain stories, descriptions, and questions. Writing without “I” as the main subject can be a challenge and should be attempted. Note: Boys may only have a factual type of letter exchange while girls may tend to share anything and everything going on in their lives and that’s okay! Help them spark their creativity with ideas and examples if they need it.
  3. Remind them to write when they receive a letter. There’s nothing worse than being a pen pal waiting desperately for a letter to arrive only to find out that you have been forgotten. It would be better for your child to write to their pen pal explaining why they will not be writing than no explanation at all. Before committing to a pen pal relationship consider the amount of time your child has. If they will be too busy to write it may be best to postpone having a pen pal until a better time.
  4. Be knowledgeable of the content of the letters if you can. Help them navigate even a pen pal relationship if they need help. Your job is to protect and nurture a good relationship. If the relationship goes south because of inappropriate content or the two pen pals are not a good match, then be willing to let that pen pal go. Be there for your child when and if those disappointments come. It is understandable people do change over time and so do their interests and not all pen pals are a good fit with each other.
  5. Spark their creativity! Help them keep the pen pal relationship interesting by being promoting thoughtfulness. Encourage your child to praying for their friend, include drawings, poems, whatever creative medium your child is good at doing. Or teach them to stretch themselves on the behalf of someone else just to be a blessing. You know your child best and can help them use their talents and gifts to be a blessing to their pal.

Hand writing letters is not for everybody so maybe pen pals won’t be for your kid– but what about Skype pals? or e-mail buds? Or phone calls? Or writing cards to missionary or church planter’s kids for their birthdays? There are other ways to “pen pal” and have our kids connect to kids in ministry (and others!) who may not be local.

Encouraging godly relationships is always good for us because we never know how God will use those things in our lives later on down the road! Just recently my husband was reunited with an old acquaintance he attended church camp with in junior high, and it seems they will be working on some upcoming projects together. God’s paths often intertwine in the most unusual ways.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article about how I’m involving our oldest boys in pen pals and for a free printable with themes for boys to write about or gifts/exchanges to make with their pen pal!

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20 Writing Prompts for a Pastor Appreciation Card

October is the month when so many church members and church staff search for ideas to be able to shower their pastor and his family with love during Pastor Appreciation Month. As a writer, I would encourage you to put a good letter or a very nice message in a card. Write down your heart’s feelings, take that time to really put them on paper and share them with your pastor’s family. People will use a gift and may eventually give it away but many ministry families will keep cards in a file or a box to read in times of discouragement or reflection.

Not every pastor is discouraged or going through a trial but eventually they will.  A well written card or letter can be meat to a hurting pastor’s heart, they can revive a tired mind, and help a man on a mountaintop continue to press forward. Never underestimate the power of your written words to help God’s servant keep serving faithfully. What you say may be exactly what the Holy Spirit will use to speak to their heart on any number of matters.

Some people are intimidated by writing meaningful messages in a card or taking on the challenge of writing a full-blown letter. It doesn’t have to be hard. Be yourself when you write and ask God to guide your hand and your heart. He will help you fashion a meaningful (to both you and the pastor) note that can be an encouragement.

20 Writing Prompts for a Pastor Appreciation Card

  • Simply give thanks to him and his family for their leadership and work in the church.
  • Give details on how he has influenced you or helped you spiritually.
  • Write about the usefulness of his messages and their specific effect on your life.
  • Explain how the Holy Spirit used something he said to change your life.
  • Write about your perspective of his testimony and how it blesses you.
  • Elaborate on specific character qualities that make him a unique man of God.
  • Write about an event that sticks out in your memory where his wisdom helped alter a specific trial in your life or the ministry of the church.
  • Recognize his time and investment into the church and its members.
  • Highlight the fruitfulness of his ministry and how through the years the ministry has changed for the glory of God.
  • Describe the power of God through his preaching.
  • Give an example of how his marriage and/or parenting skills have been a particular blessing to you.
  • Explain how souls have been saved during the years he has led the ministry of the church and its impact on eternity.
  • Acknowledge his struggles and trials and encourage him to continue to serve and live faithfully.
  • Impart a message of blessing, similar to the blessings in the Old Testament given by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • Disclose your thoughts of how he and his family are a good example to the church and the community.
  • Make a list of prayers that have been answered in the last year and show him how God has worked in the lives of the members of the church.
  • Compliment his family for loving other people, serving, and teaching others truths of the Bible.
  • Tell him that you pray for him regularly.
  • Explain what his friendship means to you and your family.
  • Compliment his dedication to Bible doctrine and his faithful study of God’s Word.

This is an article that can help you all year round to be a blessing when you notice your pastor and his family need it. Please never discount the effect you can have one someone’s ministry just by taking time to express your thoughts in honest gratitude and genuine care. Happy Pastor Appreciation Month y’all!

The Alphabet for Marriage

The fundamentals of maintaining a caring marriage are easily summed up in The Alphabet for Marriage. Read through each letter and it will help you think of some ways to improve your marriage. God’s name isn’t mentioned in this list but I guarantee you can see there are spiritual principles to back up this practical advice.

Ladies, don’t let the ministry (of house, children, and church work) get too busy that you neglect your husband. Your purpose of ministering is to do it together, as a married couple because marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. This list came from a special sermon I found (more on that at the end of the post) and hope it will bless your heart too.

The Alphabet for Marriage

Adaptability – Cultivate a liking for the other’s tastes.

Belief – Trust one another.

Children – Be of the same mind on the subject, whether boys or girls, or money. Agree on their training.

Devotion – Not only feel love but show it.

Entertainment – Keep each other amused and interested.

Finesse – Handle each other with love and tact.

Generosity – Don’t be stingy with love, money, or praise.

Health – Keep well as long as you can.

Interests – Enter into everything the other does. Play the same games, read the same books, like the same people.

Jokes – Learn to make ’em and take ’em.

Kindness – Never fail to share with each other tenderness and sympathy.

Love – Never let your supply of that run low.

Money – Is for both and should be for the mutual happiness and well-being of each other.

Need of each other. – Make yourself necessary to your husband or wife’s happiness.

Observation – See what each other needs and supply it. Notice when your husband or wife looks nice.

Politeness – Show as much courtesy of each other as you would to strangers.

Quiet – Don’t argue, keep a peaceful home.

Respect – Show deference for each other’s opinions and intelligence.

Sportsmanship – Take marriage on the chin, don’t complain of hardships you may have to endure.

Tenderness – Whatever you are to other people, be all heart to your husband or wife.

Understanding – Enter into thoughts or feelings of your mate so you will know when each other is low.

Virtue – No philandering around on either side.

Willingness – Both husband and wife must be willing to help each other pull weight in the boat.

X-tra Attention – especially when down-hearted or sick.

Yes Them – Be agreeable as you can as often as you can.

Zero – Your marriage will never be a zero if you follow these rules.

~Author Unknown*

This was found in my great-grandfather’s sermon notes. My husband inherited his books and many files when he passed away and a yellow legal sized paper appeared after recently going through our personal library. I just loved reading it and truly believed it was his own outline until I saw just under the letter “z” that it was copied. *If you know the author of The Alphabet for Marriage please let me know and I will gladly update it on this post.

Ideas: This would be a great help to use at a couples retreat, banquet, or even marriage counseling. This could also be used as a fun wedding shower devotional or as a thoughtful thing to read in a married Sunday School class.