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Coming Soon

Individuality, Week 1

Image of God

Genesis 1:26-28

God made me in His image.

Sasha Stapleton was having a Hideous, Odious, Awful, Very Vile Day. To start with, she overslept.

“Aren’t you up already?” her mom asked as she flung open Sasha’s door.

Sasha sat bolt upright in bed. “What? Oh no! It’s school picture day!”

“Bus gets here in 12 minutes,” her mom warned.

Sasha leapt out of bed and pulled on her favorite pink and teal sweater. But as she fumbled to fix her tangled hair with her favorite rainbow barrette, it broke.

Usually when Sasha looked in her mirror, the first thing she saw was the card from her small group leader that read: “MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE.” But on the Hideous, Odious, Awful, Very Vile Day, all she saw was her frizzy hair.

“Ugh,” she moaned. “I look awful!”

From downstairs, her mom shouted, “Breakfast! NOW!” Sasha scowled at herself in the mirror and hurried out. She arrived at the breakfast table to discover her cereal was a soggy mess.

“Why did you pour the milk already?” she grumbled.

Sasha’s baby brother, Edmund, happily gurgled in his high chair as he smacked his spoon against a bowl of orange mush.

Sasha wrinkled her nose. “What’s he eating?”

“Carrots,” her mom replied.

“For breakfast?” Sasha exclaimed. “That’s so gross—”

Just then, Edmund gleefully hurled his spoon, sending bright orange carrots flying all over the kitchen. A big spatter landed right in the middle of Sasha’s sweater.

“Ew!” she cried, tugging it over her head. “I have to wash this.”

Her mom sighed. “I’m sorry, but there is zero time.” She grabbed a plain, gray shirt from a basket of unfolded clean laundry and handed it to Sasha. “Here. Put this on.”

“I hate that shirt!” Sasha protested. “It’s clean. Just put it on, hon.”

Outside, the school bus horn honked. Sasha dragged the gray shirt over her head and stomped out the door, backpack hanging halfway open.

“This is awful,” she groused. “You’re awful!”

“Excuse me, young lady?!” her mom called after her.

Sasha’s Hideous, Odious, Awful, Very Vile Day didn’t improve at school. They took photos first thing. As soon as the photographer took Sasha’s picture, she made a beeline for her friend Laurin, who had been positioned to see the screen.

“How did I look?” Sasha demanded.

Laurin hesitated, and then pointed. “Well . . . your hair is a little wonky right there . . .” “Oh, great!” Sasha huffed. “That’s helpful. Why didn’t you tell me before?”

At lunchtime, Sasha was the first of her friends to sit at their usual lunch table. She spotted the awkward new girl, Trina, standing nearby with her lunch tray— desperately searching for a place to sit.

“Don’t look here . . . don’t look here . . .” Sasha murmured under her breath.

Just then, Trina gave Sasha a tentative smile. She knew she ought to offer a seat, but she just didn’t feel like it today. So she looked away, and Trina sat down alone in a corner. Sasha felt like a terrible person.

To make the Hideous, Odious, Awful, Very Vile Day even worse, Sasha snapped at the elderly bus driver when he dropped her off in the drizzling rain. “You stopped right in a puddle!” she complained, even though she knew he’d done his best to keep her dry.

Sasha hurried up onto the porch, eager to get inside where it was warm and dry. Once a week, her mom took Edmund to a therapy appointment, and Sasha let herself into the house. But as she searched through her backpack for the house key, gusts of wind spattered rain onto her papers.

“My key isn’t in here anywhere!” she groaned.

Just then, she heard a voice calling her name. “Sasha!”

Sasha turned to see their neighbor, Bess Gray, waving from her porch. “Come warm up!” Bess invited. “I just made cookies!”

Bess’ kitchen was cozy and colorful, just like Bess, whose bright orange hair showed white roots.

“Rough day, kiddo?” Bess asked as she offered a plate of warm monster cookies.

Sasha felt another sarcastic retort forming on her tongue—but as she surveyed Bess’ kind face, she stopped. “It was awful!” she admitted as tears formed in her eyes. “No, worse than that. HIDEOUS. Just like my school picture. And every single thing I’ve said all day. I’m a horrible person.”

Bess shook her head. “Sweetie, you may have done some things you’re not proud of today. But that’s not who you are.”

“It’s what I feel like,” said Sasha.

“Well sometimes feelings lie,” Bess pointed out. “And so does the mirror. In fact, there’s only one place to look for the truth about you.”

Sasha smiled ruefully and took a bite of cookie. “I know where you’re going with this.” Bess smiled. “God made you. Which makes you a work of art.”

Sasha sighed and took a drink of milk. “Yup. I’ve got something about that posted on my mirror. But . . . I forget.”

“Don’t we all?” Bess picked up a tattered Bible from its place between the butter dish and honey jar and slid it across the table.

Sasha flipped to the first chapter and read: “So God created human beings in his own likeness. He created them to be like himself.” She stared outside at the now pouring rain. “I messed that up big time today.”

Bess held up one of her chocolate chip cookies. “That’s the point, darling. These cookies are cookies because I made them that way. Even if they get broken or mushed. And because God made us to reflect Him, we’ve always got value. No matter what we do or how we feel.”

Sasha slowly chewed on her cookie. “I’m not a very good cookie today.”

“Doesn’t change how God sees you,” Bess assured. “He can help you reflect Him better tomorrow. Right now, even.”

Sasha nodded as she finished her cookie. Through the window, she could see her mom’s van pull into their driveway. “The cookies were great,” she said. “Thank you. Now . . . I need to go work on my image. The real one.”

It was true Sasha had had a Hideous, Odious, Awful, Very Vile Day so far. But that didn’t mean it had to end that way.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What are some things that you often say or think about yourself, good or bad?

Parents, if a kid has trouble identifying these things, help reflect some of the things you hear them say about themselves. We often don’t see ourselves clearly. Sometimes we only see the awesome things about ourselves and ignore the wrong things we say and do. Other times, we can’t see the good, and only focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves. But no matter how we feel, the truth is that each of us is made in God’s image, to reflect Who God is! Because God made you, the Bible says that these things (and many more) are true of you:

✓ You are God’s child.

✓ You are accepted.

✓ You are greatly loved.

✓ You can be completely forgiven.

✓ You are God’s messenger to the world.

✓ You are God’s work of art, made to do special work God has made ready for you.

Each of you pick one or two of these things to focus on for the week. Pray for each other, that even when you’re having a tough time, God will remind you these truths about yourself!

Coming Soon

Individuality, Week 2

The Lost Sheep

Luke 15:1-7

God wants to have a relationship with me.

Everyone came to see Jesus:
Religious leaders and scholars.
Merchants and beggars.
Fisherman and farmers.

The religious leaders and those who taught the law probably expected special treatment from Jesus.

“Jesus must come to my house for some roasted pheasant and conversation that’s pleasant,” suggested one leader, surveying the masses of people crowding close to Jesus.

“Away from all these, like, peasants,” added a second leader with a sniff.

But even though Jesus sometimes ate with the leaders, He more often sat down for dinner with the outcasts:

People who collected taxes for the Roman government.

People who had dirty jobs or sicknesses that caused others to stay away. People who had made terrible choices over and over.

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them,” grumbled the religious leaders. “Doesn’t He know how pathetic they are?”

Jesus knew exactly what the religious leaders were thinking. So He told them a story. If Jesus shared the story with us today, it might sound something like this. . .

There once was a shepherd. Let’s call him what the sheep called him: Maaaaaa-x.

Max had just downloaded the latest ShepApp, version 23.1, to his phone. Now he could track the location of every one of his one hundred sheep. In fact, ShepApp would send a lost sheep alert any time a sheep strayed.

“Uh oh,” he murmured, checking his phone when it dinged. “Number 58 is on the lam again!”

Max raced over the hill with his shepherd’s crook at the ready. He was just in time to haul the wayward Number 58 back from the edge of a steep, rocky ravine.

“Can’t you stay with the flock for once?” he sighed. “Bah!” said Number 58.

The ShepApp also kept everyone on schedule, letting the sheep know when to eat, and when it was time to head home for the night.

“Bedtime!” called Max. “All ewes get back to the fold.”

Max herded the whole flock down the hill, across a grassy field, through the orchard, and back to their cozy sheep pen. When the sheep were safely inside the fence, Max closed the gate and announced, “Time to hit the hay. ShepApp, lock the gate.”

Instantly, a warning sounded. “Lost sheep alert!” the app announced.

“Wait, what?” gasped Max. “Who’s missing?”

“Number 58,” the app stated. “He’s in sector 73.”

Max checked the map and discovered a numbered black dot several miles away. “Show me other wildlife in the area,” Max requested.

Instantly, a dozen red dots appeared on the screen! “What are those?” asked Max.

“Lions . . . and tigers . . . and bears,” said the app. “Oh my!” declared Max.

Max didn’t even bother to open the gate, but leapt right over. “Lock the gate, ShepApp,” he ordered. “I’ve gotta find 58!”

Max raced back through the orchard, across the grassy field, and up the hill. He quickly located the red dot at the edge of the ravine. But it was only Number 58’s tracking bracelet, which had been chewed off.

In the distance, he heard the roar of a lion. “Don’t worry, 58. I’ll still find you,” cried Max.

Max scrambled down the side of the ravine, clinging to rocks and vines. He could hardly see anything in the gloom—but he heard a faint, “Bah!”

“I’m coming! I’m coming!” shouted Max, even as he heard the lion roar again, closer this time.

Max climbed faster. Sharp rocks cut his hands and legs, but he didn’t even notice. At last, shining his light, Max discovered Number 58 wedged tight between two large stones.

“It’s okay,” Max soothed the agitated sheep. “I got ya.”

Max freed the panicked sheep. Then he draped Number 58 across his shoulders for the long, hard journey back: up the ravine, down the hill, across the field, and through the orchard.

The other sheep all “maaa-ed” with joy to see their lost companion.

“ShepApp, unlock the gate,” instructed Max. “Order three cases of clover sorbet and carrot cakes for immediate drone delivery. Invite all my friends and neighbors for a party!”

“Consider it done,” the app told him. “They will flock right here.”

Max was so excited to find Number 58 safe and sound that he hosted a huge celebration. The party lasted late into the night.

“Be joyful with me,” cried Max. “I have found my lost sheep!”

As Jesus finished telling the story, He turned back to the religious leaders and scholars. “I tell you,” He said, “it will be the same in heaven. There will be great joy when one sinner turns away from sin. Yes, there will be more joy than for 99 godly people who do not need to turn away from their sins.”

The religious leaders simply could not respond. They wanted Jesus to hang out with the people who seemed to have it all together. But Jesus knew His mission was to bring hope to everyone—especially those who knew they needed His help.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Who do you think the lost sheep in Jesus’ story is supposed to be?

Take a few minutes and share with each other. Actually, the lost sheep could be any one of us! No matter how “good” we are, we’ve all made mistakes and turned away from God. None of us gets it right all the time. But no matter what you’ve done or how far you stray, God is always quick to find you. He is always ready to take you back. He made you, and He loves you no matter what. He wants to be your friend. That’s not an excuse to make unwise choices or do wrong things—but it does mean that you don’t have to beat yourself up for mistakes. It means that God is always right there when you turn to Him. He will forgive anything the moment you ask. Pray for each other, that you will remember each day that God loves you so much He wants to talk with you and spend time with you—no matter how you feel or what you’ve done.

Coming Soon

Individuality, Week 3

Timothy

1 Timothy 4:12

God made me to make a difference.

Timothy was one of the strongest teachers and leaders in the early church. He was also one of the apostle Paul’s closest friends. But even though they were friends, Paul was much older than Timothy.

In fact, he wrote about Timothy to the Philippians: He has served with me like a son with his father in spreading the good news.

Paul knew that Timothy didn’t need to wait until he was older to make a difference. In a letter, he encouraged Timothy: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Set an example for the believers in what you say and in how you live. Also set an example in how you love and in what you believe. Show the believers how to be pure.

Even though Timothy was young, Paul had left him in charge of the church at Ephesus. It was a big job, but Paul knew Timothy could handle the work— because he knew Timothy’s story.

Timothy had grown up in the small market town of Lystra. His mother Eunice was Jewish and taught him the Scriptures. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” she reminded him. Timothy repeated God’s words until he knew them by heart.

Timothy’s father, however, was a Greek man who likely believed and cared about different things. Timothy may have felt awkward and out of place, since he didn’t quite fit in with the Jews or the Greeks.

But when Timothy was a teenager, Paul and Barnabas arrived in Lystra, bringing something brand new. Paul spoke to a lame man in the market square: “Stand up on your feet!” he ordered.

The man leapt up. He could walk!

The crowds in Lystra were so impressed they wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods. But Paul warned them: “We are only human, just like you. We are bringing you good news. Turn away from these worthless things. Turn to the living God. He is the one who made the heavens and the earth and the sea. . . . He fills your hearts with joy.”

Timothy and his mother and grandmother Lois heard Paul’s teaching. They soon became followers of Jesus, building on the Truth of the scriptures they had already taken to heart. And even when Paul and Barnabas were chased out of town, Timothy, Eunice, and Lois continued to meet with the brand-new church in Lystra.

Timothy was eager to learn about his new faith. “So it seems that Jesus answers all the things the prophet Isaiah wrote,” he may have pointed out.

“Wait,” Eunice said. “You should explain this to the whole church.”

“But I’m just a kid,” Timothy protested. “And I don’t really like to talk in front ofpeople…”

“God has given you something to say. On with you now!” his grandmother Lois encouraged.

Every day, Timothy grew in confidence as he tried to reflect Jesus in what he said and did. When Paul returned several years later, the believers at Lystra were quick to point out Timothy.

“You see that young ’un? He’s real solid. Knows the Word a God better than his morning oatmeal. Bit timid sometimes, but he can relate to anyone since his mama is Jewish and his daddy is Greek. Always ready to help, that one.”

Paul was so impressed with what the believers told him about Timothy, that he invited the young man to join him on his journey.

“Who, me?” Timothy wondered. “I’m just a small town boy.”

“God has used you in this town,” Paul told him. “I believe He will give you the power to share the news of Jesus in many towns and cities.”

Timothy took a deep breath. “Well . . . okay.”

Before Paul left town with Timothy, the believers surrounded the young man and placed their hands on him. “God has given you a gift to serve Him through the power of His Holy Spirit!” said Paul.

Over the following years, Timothy continued to travel with Paul, sharing the good news about Jesus in every city and town they visited. Paul trusted Timothy so much that he started sending the young man to towns where the church was in trouble.

“The Corinthians can’t stop arguing with each other,” said Paul as he rolled up the latest letter he had received. “I want you to go to them! Remind them of my example. Tell them, don’t stop believing!”

Timothy smiled ruefully. “Sounds like you’re sending me into a hornets’ nest.”

“I’ll tell them they better treat you well,” Paul said.

Later, Paul sent Timothy to take charge of the church in the Ephesus. “These people aren’t from a Jewish background,” Paul explained. “They have a lot of difficult things to work through. I want you to help them stay on the right path.”

“Just tell me it’s young people. Who might actually listen to me,” said Timothy.

Paul grinned. “Nope. Seasoned leaders. Set in their ways. Probably cranky.”

Timothy did have a difficult time in Ephesus. But the power of the Holy Spirit was with him. And Paul never stopped encouraging his young friend. As he reminded Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Set an example for the believers in what you say and in how you live.”

Timothy didn’t wait until he felt old enough or confident enough to share the good news about Jesus. He chose to let God use him to make a difference while he was young. And he continued for the rest of his life.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What do you think it means to “make a difference” to people or the world around you?

Take a few minutes and share with each other. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing you can do to make a difference. After all, people are always telling you what to do. But God created you to make a difference now, not just when you’re older. You may not preach to a thousand people or feed all the hungry people in your city. But you can start by making someone smile. By showing how you can be patient and joyful when things don’t go your way. By making a lunch for one hungry person. Together, brainstorm some ways that you could each make a difference this week. Pick one thing, and pray for each other, that God would help you follow through as you focus on making a difference now.

Coming Soon

Individuality, Week 4

Samuel and David

1 Samuel 16:7

God wants me to see what really matters.

Over many generations, God had provided for His people, starting with Abraham. “I will make you into a great nation. And I will bless you,” God promised.

God had cared for the Israelites over and over, leading them out of slavery, providing them a new land, and sending judges and prophets to guide them. But that didn’t keep them from taking a look at the nations around them. They saw these nations had kings to look impressive and lead them into battle.

The Israelites were so envious of their neighbors that they pleaded with the prophet Samuel to give them a king. Though it saddened God’s heart, He allowed His people to choose a ruler. Their new leader, King Saul, certainly looked the part of a handsome war hero king. But though Saul was tall and good-looking, he didn’t listen to God. Over and over, he chose to go his own way.

So God spoke to Samuel. “I am sending you to Jesse in Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

Samuel was understandably nervous about this new task. After all, Saul was still king. And he wouldn’t welcome word of a new king. “How can I go?” wondered Samuel. “Suppose Saul hears about it. Then he’ll kill me.”

God answered: “Take a young cow with you. Tell the elders of Bethlehem, ‘I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice. Then I will show you what to do. You must anoint for me the one I point out to you.”

Samuel traveled to the small town of Bethlehem. When he arrived, he invited Jesse and his sons to join him in honoring God.

“My sons and I are at your service!” said Jesse as he presented his family.

Samuel took a look at the impressive group of young men surrounding the gray-haired Jesse. “I’d like to meet them all. Can you introduce me?” he asked.

Jesse pointed to the tallest young man. “Here’s my eldest, Eliab. Best swordsman in the land.”

Eliab casually adjusted his belt as he came forward and unsheathed his shining sword. “Just a little blade I crafted myself. It glows blue if Amalekites are nearby.”

Eliab certainly looked the part of a king. Samuel thought to himself: “This has to be the one the Lord wants me to anoint for him.”

But God spoke directly to Samuel’s heart. “Do not consider how handsome or tall he is. I have not chosen him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outside of a person. But the Lord looks at what is in the heart.”

Samuel tried to process this amazing thought as he stared up at Eliab. He found his voice. “A fine young man. But let’s meet the rest of them.”

As Eliab stepped aside, a young man with wavy locks sauntered up, flexing his muscles. “Abinadab!” announced Jesse. “He can wrestle two bears while fending off a wolf at the same time.”

In his heart, Samuel asked God: “Surely this one could take on anything!” But God’s reply was, “No.”

So Samuel said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen him either.”

Jesse nodded and offered, “My third son: Shammah! Fastest runner in all of Judea.”

Samuel saw only a blur. He blinked, and suddenly, a red-haired young man was standing before him.

“I just took a quick sprint over to the Dead Sea and back,” Shammah explained.

Samuel smiled, but noted, “The Lord hasn’t chosen him either.” Four more of Jesse’s sons stepped forward, each as talented as the last. Perhaps they were a master chef, a scribe of epics, an accomplished hunter, and a talented comedian.

As God had instructed, Samuel looked past the outside traits of these young men. “The Lord has not chosen any of them,” he said. “Are these the only sons you have?”

Jesse raised an eyebrow and scratched his beard. “There’s still the youngest. But he’s tending the sheep.”

Samuel instructed, “Send for him. We won’t sit down to eat until he arrives.”

“David?” Eliab said, raising an eyebrow. “All he does is hang out with the sheep. And sing to them. Who sings to sheep?”

Even so, Jesse sent for his youngest son. When David arrived, Samuel took a good look at the boy. David was good looking, but just a sunburnt kid. His clothing was weathered and, well, he smelled like he hung out with the sheep. But Samuel tried to look—and smell—past the outside. He listened carefully in his heart.

“Get up and anoint him,” God said, “This is the one.”

“The Lord has chosen this one!” Samuel announced, as Jesse’s entire family gasped in surprise.

Samuel took oil and poured it over David’s head as a sign that God had chosen him. From then on, the Spirit of the Lord was with David. And in time, the shepherd kid became a king.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What do you think it means to look at someone’s heart?

Take a few minutes and share with each other. When you meet someone, it’s definitely easiest to look at the outside—their appearance, their skills, whether they’re popular or funny. But God says what matters most is what’s on the inside. That’s harder to see. It takes spending time with someone and asking God to show you how He sees that person. God made you to look on the inside. Share with each other about people or situations when you’re tempted to look at just what’s on the outside. Pray for each other, that God would help you see what truly matters about the people around you.

Coming Soon

Individuality, Week 5

Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22:34-40

God made me to love others.

In the Book of Matthew, some religious leaders tried to trick Jesus with a tough question. They asked, “Which is the most important commandment in the Law?”

But Jesus didn’t get tripped up. He told them: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.’ This is the first and most important commandment. And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ Everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets is based on these two commandments.”

Let’s see how this truth might play out in someone’s life today.

+++++++

Solomon Sunday hated his name. After all, his Grammy Tatum had called him after the wisest man to ever live.

“Which means I’ve failed before I even start!” he grumbled.

To make it worse, all his friends knew exactly what they would study in college . . . while he had no clue. So Solomon decided to start a podcast and interview wise people to find out. He invited Grammy Tatum as his first guest.

“Here,” said Solomon, handing Grammy a plate of giant, chip-studded cookies. “Have one of these before we record.”

“You used my caramel chocolate chip recipe?” Grammy wondered. “Yeah,” said Solomon, “but I adapted it a bit—”

Grammy took a crunchy, chewy bite and exclaimed, “Great googly moogly, if this isn’t the best cookie I ever tasted!”

“We’d better get started,” said Solomon, clicking record. “Here goes.”

He spoke into his microphone, “Welcome to The Wise and the Dumb of Solomon!”

“That’s a terrible name,” said Grammy. “Plus, I’m still chewing.”

“I’m here on the podcast with my Grammy Tatum—” Solomon began.

“What’s a podcast?” asked Grammy.

Solomon sighed. “It’s like radio. But on the web.”

“The web? I don’t like spiders,” Grammy said with a frown.

“No, the internet,” explained Solomon.

Grammy nodded. “You mean like where I dial up for The Email?”

“Just email, Grammy. Not THE email.”

“Ha!” said Grammy. “Just pulling your leg. I got my own podcast.”

Solomon blinked. “What?”

“It’s called Gram’s Racket. Tennis tips. My site gets 7,000 hits a day.”

“Oh.” They were less than a minute into the podcast, and Solomon was already lost.

“So, what do you want to know?” Grammy asked. “Launch episode is a big deal. You only get one chance to make a first impression, Solly.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“I hope you’re gonna fix this in post,” said Grammy, shaking her head.

“Okay, okay,” Solomon said. “Here it is: What am I meant to do?”

“Well, that’s an easy serve. You were made to love God, and love others.” “That’s it?”

“That’s it,” declared Grammy, leaning back in her seat. “Game, set, match.”

Solomon was disappointed. He’d planned to launch his show with a big splash, but as far as he was concerned, Grammy’s performance was a dud.

“I know what I’m supposed to do is more complicated than that!” he said, frowning.

For his next guest, Solomon invited a famous wise man who wore organic linen robes and ate only mung beans.

“What am I meant to do?” Solomon inquired. “Go higher,” instructed the wise man. “Higher?” Solomon wondered.

“First, climb the stairs,” said the wise man. “And after that a small mountain. And then a rather large mountain. And then the tallest mountain on the face of the Earth! No one will bother you up there, so you can be calm and peaceful all your days.”

“What if I want a pizza?” Solomon asked.

“You know how annoying those delivery guys are?” snorted the wise man.

“Good point,” said Solomon, and handed over his plate of cookies. “Here, have one of these.”

Next, Solomon Sunday invited a financial genius, the Gazillions Gal, onto his show.

“What am I meant to do?” asked Solomon.

“Get money!” replied the Gazillions Gal. “All the money you can! Money money money!”

“What then?” wondered Solomon.

“You can play with it!” exclaimed the Gazillions Gal. “Toss it around! Party with it! Sleep in it!”

Solomon shifted uncomfortably. “Won’t that get crinkly? And clanky?”

“Just buy a better mattress,” the Gazillions Gal told him.

“Um, thank you? I think?” said Solomon, and handed over the cookie plate. “Just try one of these. For free.”

At last, Solomon invited a well-known psychiatrist to appear on his show. “Dr. Emotijan, what am I meant to do?” Solomon asked.

“Be happy!” said Dr. Emotijan, beaming.

“But…how do I do that?”

“Think happy thoughts!” he exclaimed. “Text lots of smiley faces! You need more smilies! Grins! LOLs! ROTFLs! Hahahahahahahahaha!”

“H-A-C,” suggested Solomon.

“What?” asked Dr. Emotijan, surprised by an acronym he didn’t know.

“Have A Cookie,” explained Solomon, handing over his platter of delectable cookies.

By the time Solomon was finished with his round of interviews, he definitely wasn’t LOL-ing. In fact, he had lost his voice and was downright cranky.

“I’m never gonna find out what I was meant to do!” he moaned.

Grammy served him up a bowl of her famous tuna noodle soup and showed him all the memes people had created about her tennis playing. The memes were funny—especially since Grammy was a terrible tennis player.

“Wow,” Solomon commented. “No offense, but . . . you’re not very good at tennis.”

“Can’t ace a serve to save my life,” Grammy agreed. “But I have fun. And I make people laugh. At themselves too.”

“Is that what you were meant to do?” asked Solomon.

“Well, it’s my way of loving others,” said Grammy. “And one way to love God is to love others. So . . . yes. I’d say it is.”

“But what about me?” Solomon sighed. “What about you?” asked Grammy.

“Am I supposed to host a tennis podcast too?” “You like tennis?”

“Only the table kind,” Solomon admitted, and passed the cookie plate. “Here, have another cookie.”

Grammy munched thoughtfully on her fourth cookie. “God made you to love Him and love others in your own special way. And at least one of those appears to be baking.”

“Really?” asked Solomon in surprise. “I mean, that’s so easy. I think I actually baked up a lemon pound cake in my sleep the other night.”

“Just think about,” Grammy told him. “You’ve been handing out chocolate chip happiness all day. And if you ask, God will show you all the other unique ways He’s made you to love Him and love others.”

Solomon considered this for a moment. “Hey Grammy? Can I get you back on the podcast?” he asked.

“Only if you bribe me with another batch of cookies,” she said.

Grammy’s advice might not be the most dramatic, but Solomon was pretty sure that her wisdom was the best way to launch his podcast after all.

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What are some things you think God has made you to do?

Help each other brainstorm some ideas. Here’s the amazing thing: while God has made each of us unique, He’s also made us for the same purpose—to love God and love others. And since one of the best ways to show God love is to love others, well, you were made to love others! Grades and athletics and activities are all great, but unless you are loving in your words and actions to other people, none of those things matter. Together, brainstorm some things you could do using your unique talents to show love to others in your family and community this week. Pray together and make plans to follow through.