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Creativity, Week 1

Creation

Genesis 1-2:3

There's no limit to God's creativity.

Imagine nothing.

Imagine deep, dark, formless emptiness without a single star to cut the void.

In the beginning . . . the very beginning . . . that’s all there was—except for God.

But in the blackness, something was brewing! God’s Spirit hovered there, waiting. Until God called out: “Let there be light!”

Just like that, by the power of God’s voice, light streamed forth. Dazzling. Blinding. Radiant!

And it was good.

God created a separation between the darkness and the light. He called that beautiful, bright light “day.” And He called the cool darkness: “night.” Day and night together made the very first day.

On the second day, God spoke again: “Let there be a huge space between the waters!”

And deep, blue sky appeared, arching high above the earth. But God was just getting started. On day three, He called out: “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place. Let dry ground appear!”

Just like that, islands popped up through the waters and great continents shouldered their way to the surface. The waters burst into creeks and rivers and raced downstream to feed vast oceans.

And what God had made was good. “Let the land produce plants!” He directed.

A veil of green crept across the land as grass and vines took root. Great oaks and redwoods shot up tall, while the branches of orange trees hung heavy with juicy fruit. And what God had made was good.

On day four God’s imagination glowed bright. “Let there be lights in the huge space of the sky!” He instructed.

That’s when a line of flame appeared on the very edge of the ocean. Then, in moments, a fiery, blazing sun swept up into the sky! But while the sun ruled the daytime, God made the polished, silvery moon to watch over the night. Then He flung a thousand points of light into the nighttime sky. Countless stars burned, layer on layer, deeper into space than anyone but God can imagine.

And God saw that what He had made was good.

On day five, the action really kicked off when God called, “Let the seas be filled with living things.”

With those simple words, the oceans bubbled with fish! Dolphins leapt, and eels slithered along the sandy ocean floor. Tadpoles chased each other in streams, and lazy carp circled the depths of still lakes.

“Let birds fly above the earth across the huge space of the sky!” God declared.

Before you could blink, flocks of geese were winging their way south. Doves cooed and gathered twigs to build their nests. And high on a craggy mountaintop, a majestic eagle surveyed it all with bright eyes.

And God saw that what He had created was good.

On day six, God lifted His voice and unleashed the zoo! “Let the land produce every kind of living creature. Let there be livestock, and creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals.”

Zebras and chipmunks and dogs, oh my! It was like the circus came to town. Lions threw back their shaggy heads and roared to claim their new land. Colts dashed about on long, wobbly legs, and beetles scuttled through the tall grasses.

And God saw that what He had made was good.

The whole bright, beautiful, wild, new earth displayed God’s incredible imagination. But there was nothing yet that was created in the image of God Himself. So God said, “Let us make human beings so they are like us.”

God reached down into the dust and shaped and formed and molded that dusty soil into a person. God breathed His very own breath into the muddy form . . . and it became a living, breathing man: Adam!

“Whoa,” Adam spoke, trying out his voice. He stretched out his arms and legs, wiggled his fingers and toes, marveling at what God had made.

Later, God took one of Adam’s ribs as he slept and formed the very first woman, Eve.

Both Adam and Eve were fashioned in God’s image, able to love and give. To serve and trust and create.

“Have children so that there will be many of you,” God told them. “Fill the earth and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the seas and the birds of the air. Rule over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

When God was finished instructing Adam and Eve, He took a long look at everything He made, from pebbles and beetles to mountain and giraffes—and people. And He saw that it was very good.

Evening turned to night turned to morning, and the sixth day of creation came to a close.

On the seventh day, God rested from all His work. He blessed the seventh day and set it apart from the others.

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Look around you. Name three things you see in the room or out the window.

Every single thing you see is made by God—or made out of something made by God. Here’s the mind-blowing thing: God made everything from nothing. God’s voice and imagination and being are so powerful that He simply thought up every single thing that exists and spoke it into being. Pray for each other, that you will remember to stop throughout the week to really see the incredible things that God has made. Then thank God for His amazing creation!

Coming Soon

Creativity, Week 2

We are God's Creation

Ephesians 2:10

God created you, so you can be creative.

When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the believers in Ephesus, he told them:

We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works. Long ago God prepared these works for us to do.

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

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Nora Gray followed her older cousin Sadie around the pottery studio. Clay dust danced in the sunbeams from high up windows.

“So I just . . . stay at the desk?” wondered Nora.

Working at the Earth & Fire Studio was Nora’s first real job, and she wanted to get it right. Sadie grinned and pushed back her hair with a clay-flecked hand.

“Mostly,” she agreed. “A bunch of artists have memberships here, so they can use all the equipment and materials. You’ll answer questions, take calls, make orders when supplies run out, things like that.”

Nora pointed to an open door near the back of the studio. “What’s in there?’ she asked. “Oh, yes. The Closet,” Sadie sighed as she led the way over.

Sadie peered inside. The narrow room was lined on both sides with high shelves. Every shelf and every inch of floor space was crammed with a jumble of tools, containers of clay, cans of glazes, cleaning supplies, and pieces of pottery—finished and unfinished.

“How do you find anything?” Nora exclaimed.

“So many people use The Closet. Everyone just kind of has their own system,” Sadie explained.

Nora didn’t think the disaster in The Closet qualified as a system. But before she could say anything, Sadie’s phone rang, and Sadie answered, scrambling to find a pen in one of her pockets.

“Where did I put…?”

Nora quickly pulled a pen and notepad out of her neatly organized backpack. “Would this work?” she asked.

Sadie snatched the pen and paper, mouthing, “Thank you!” and headed for the desk. Nora surveyed the room. There were at least a dozen artists at work.

“Are you a potter, too?” asked a voice behind her. Nora turned to see an older gentleman with a streak of clay in his curly white hair. His long frame bent nearly double over the nearest pottery wheel.

“Me? No,” said Nora, shaking her head.

“Oh, I think everyone’s an artist of some kind,” mused the man.

“I can’t even draw a stick figure. Sadie’s just letting me work here ’til I go to college in the fall,” Nora explained.

The man centered a lump of clay on his wheel. “You’ll see me here most every morning,” he said. “I’m Nelson.”

“Nora.”

“Real nice to have you here,” Nelson continued. “I’m working on a coffee mug if you’d like to watch.”

Nora watched, mesmerized, as the spinning clay morphed from a stodgy lump to a smooth cylinder under Nelson’s practiced hands.

“I wish I could make beautiful things like that,” she said. “You want to take a turn?” Nelson asked.

“Sadie tried to teach me. It was a disaster.”

Nelson smiled, hands still working the clay. “I happen to believe God made each of us to create beautiful things that matter. You’ll find your spot.”

Nora nodded. But she didn’t think she’d ever create a piece of art that could make someone smile.

Sadie reappeared then, and Nora spent the rest of the day learning the ropes of her new job. By early evening, the studio had cleared out.

“You go home,” Nora suggested to Sadie. “I can lock up at six like you showed me. And I can order more blue glaze like you said.”

“If you think you got this . . . that would be great!” Sadie exclaimed. “I can get home early for dinner with the kids.”

“I’m good,” said Nora. “Go! Shoo!”

With a wave, Sadie hurried out. Nora opened the supplier’s web page and started an order for glaze. But then she paused, frowning. “I bet there’s still blue glaze in The Closet,” she said. “Somewhere.”

Nora opened the door and clicked on the light. The mess looked even worse than it had that morning. “Is this glaze?” she wondered, checking out a small container. Then her eyes moved along the shelf. “Oh, it’s those cans. And there’s some over here. And up there . . . ”

Nora edged her way around, collecting cans. “There’s no way to know what’s really here unless I can get it all together. I should clear a space,” she decided. “And I could stack those crates to group the colors . . .”

Every time Nora moved one can or tool, she discovered six more that needed a place to go. “All the cleaning supplies can go down here,” she murmured. “Modeling tools and loops over there by the door . . . That’s definitely trash . . . Oh, and there should be a spot for each artist to put their pieces that still need to be glazed . . . ”

One thing led to another, and another, and another. Nora finally realized she was hungry and checked the time on her phone. “9:30?!” she exclaimed.

Nora had been so focused on organizing The Closet, she’d completely lost track of time. She glanced with satisfaction at the crate containing five cans of blue glaze.

“At least I don’t need to order more glaze!” she announced.

The next morning, Nora arrived a few minutes late. She rushed in, apologetic. “I’m so sorry, Sadie!” she began, but broke off as she saw Sadie, Nelson, and several of the other artists grouped around The Closet door.

Sadie turned to stare at her. “Nora, did you do this?” she asked. Nora swallowed. “Um, yeah. I should have checked . . . ”

“Nora!” Sadie beamed. “This is amazing!”

Nora took a step forward to take a good look at what she’d done. Glazes, clay, tools, and supplies—everything had its own spot in an orderly rhythm. With the morning light streaming in, it did look pretty cool.

Nelson grinned. “It’s beautiful, Nora,” he said. “A real work of art.”

A younger woman with hair knotted on top of her head chimed in. “Plus, we can find stuff now. I thought I’d lost this set of mugs!”

“You’ve made our work a lot easier,” Nelson agreed.

“I guess . . . I thought anyone could do this,” said Nora.

“No way!” declared Sadie. “You have a real gift.”

“Can I organize the front desk?” asked Nora with a grin.

“Please!” begged Sadie. “I’m raising your pay!”

Nora happily tackled her next project—a well-organized desk. She was grateful to discover the truth of Ephesians 2:10 in her own life:

We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works. Long ago God prepared these works for us to do.

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Do you think of yourself as creative? In what ways?

Share with each other. We often think of creativity as art or music or performing on stage. But the truth is, God made each one of us to reflect a little bit of who He is—including His creativity! So maybe you can draw or sing or dance. But maybe your creative gift is making people laugh. Or solving difficult problems. Or cooking really tasty food. Or helping your friends get along with each other. Tell each other what you think is the other person’s most creative gift. Then pray for each other, that God will show you ways to use your creativity every day.

Coming Soon

Creativity, Week 3

Esther

Esther

God created you for a purpose.

Esther was queen of Persia—but she didn’t become queen in the usual way. Her father wasn’t a king, and she wasn’t from a noble family. In fact, Esther was Jewish. Many of God’s people had been captured and brought to Babylon when their home, Judah, was conquered. Then Babylon was taken over by Persia. So Esther grew up in a land that wasn’t her own. When Esther’s parents died, her cousin Mordecai raised her as his own daughter.

“Always remember what our scriptures say,” he would remind her. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength.’”

One day, a new king named Xerxes came to power in Persia. He was so impulsive that he actually fired his queen, Vashti, simply for refusing to show up a wild party.

When Xerxes finally calmed down, he realized he now had no queen. So the king decided to hold a contest. He ordered his officials to gather the most beautiful young women in the land and put them through an entire year of beauty treatments. Esther was one of the girls chosen. She actually won the contest and became the new queen of the entire land!

Just as Xerxes had so impulsively switched queens, he also promoted a royal official named Haman higher than all the other nobles of the kingdom. Haman was delighted when all the officials outside the palace bowed low before him. But when he discovered that Mordecai refused to bow, he was enraged. He became so angry, in fact, that he made a plan to destroy not only Mordecai, but all the Jews in the land!

Haman lied as he laid it out for the king. “Your majesty, [the Jewish people] keep themselves separate from everyone else,” he explained. “They don’t obey your laws. It really isn’t good for you to put up with them. If it pleases you, give the order to destroy them.”

Xerxes agreed to the terrible decree. Messengers took a letter all over the kingdom announcing that on the 13th day of the 12th month, all Jews were to be killed!

When Mordecai and the other Jews discovered the horrible news, they dressed in rough clothing and wept bitterly. Mordecai sent a message to Esther in the palace, telling her what Haman had done.

“You must ask the king to save our people!” he told her.

Esther was devastated. She sent a response to her cousin. “No one can come before the king unless he sends for them,” she explained. “If I do it, I’ll die . . . unless he reaches out his gold scepter to me.”

Mordecai sent his answer right back. “You may not escape, even though you are queen,” he pointed out. “Who knows? It’s possible that you became queen for a time just like this.”

Esther knew her cousin was right. She sent another message telling him, “Gather all the Jews. Don’t eat anything for three days. I and my servants will

fast, too. Then I’ll go to the king’s throne room.”

Esther faced an impossible dilemma. But she took three days to prepare her heart and mind.

Then, heart racing, Esther entered the throne room.

Across the long hall, she saw the king seated high on this throne. Breathless, she waited for him to see her.

The king looked up. His dark eyes locked on Esther’s face.

And then . . . he smiled.

King Xerxes reached out his golden scepter. “What is it, Queen Esther?” he asked. “I’ll give you anything, up to half of the entire kingdom!”

Esther could have made her request right away. But she knew she’d have

a better chance if she made the king curious. “King Xerxes,” she said, “if it pleases you, come to a feast today. I’ve prepared it for you. Oh . . . and bring Haman.”

Esther created an elaborate feast for the king and his Number One official. At the meal, King Xerxes once again tried to discover what Esther wanted. “I’ll give you anything—up to half of the entire kingdom if you want it!” he declared.

Once again, Esther held her ground, waiting for the perfect moment. “I’d like you and Haman to come to another feast tomorrow,” she said. “Then I’ll answer your question.”

The king agreed—and Haman spent the whole evening bragging to all his friends.

But the second feast was a different story. As before, Esther creatively prepared an incredible meal. Both Haman and the king were quick to dig in. “What do you want me to do for you?” asked the king. “I’ll even give you up to half of my kingdom.”

Esther took a deep breath. Something told her this was the right moment.

“Your Majesty . . . let me live!” she pleaded. “Please spare my people. That’s my appeal to you. [We] have been sold to be destroyed!”

Haman paled and choked on his filet, but the king’s face flushed red with rage. “Who is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” he demanded.

Esther turned her gaze on Haman. “Haman is the one!” she cried.

In panic, Haman threw himself at the Queen, begging for his life. “You dare attack the Queen?” snarled King Xerxes. “Take him away!”

That very night, Haman was killed. And the king created a new order that would allow the Jews to be saved. God had given Esther a surprising position in a foreign nation. And when the time was right, she used all she’d been given to save her people.

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Let’s be real: you probably won’t discover you’re the queen of a powerful foreign nation any time soon.

(Unless you’re on a Netflix special, that is.) But God has created you for a purpose. He’s created you to do things that no one else on this entire planet can do in the same way as you! Maybe you’re the absolute best person to teach your little sister to read. Maybe there are kids in your town who don’t have winter coats—and you create a plan to collect jackets for them. Maybe there are lonely people in a nearby retirement community who need someone to visit and cheer them up. It might be just about anything! Share with each other if you have any ideas what some of your purpose might be. Parents, you can encourage your kids with what you see in them. Pray for each other, that God will show you both something new about your purpose this week.

Coming Soon

Creativity, Week 4

Four Friends Who Helped

Mark 2:1-12

God created you to work with others.

When Jesus began to travel in Galilee, preaching and healing, news got out fast. Crowds gathered quickly. Some were farmers and fisherman and townspeople. But many Jewish leaders and teachers of the law had journeyed to hear Jesus too.

The crowd crammed tightly into the main room of the home where Jesus was teaching. There were so many people that they overflowed outside into the hot sun! They packed a dozen deep around the doors and windows, all straining to hear the words of Jesus and hoping to witness something miraculous.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now,” said Jesus. “You will be satisfied . . .”

It was at this point that a paralyzed man—let’s call him Bo—arrived. Now you may wonder how Bo showed up if he couldn’t walk. You see, Bo had four good friends. Let’s call them Fred, Merry, Pip, and Sam. They believed that Jesus could heal their friend. They believed it so much they dropped everything they were doing and carried Bo on a mat to see Jesus.

Bo could see the crowd as they neared the house. “Uh, guys?” he wondered.

“Where’s Jesus?” asked Fred.

“There are so many folks, I can’t even see the door to the house!” said Merry.

“How will we get inside?” Pip asked.

“Friends, we gotta think outside the box,” declared Sam.

So they did. Instead of trying to elbow their way through the crowd, they carried Bo up the stairs along the side of the house and onto the broad, flat roof.

Fred threw himself down flat on the roof tiles and listened. “Jesus is right below us.”

“We’ll go through the roof!” said Sam. “Let’s move it.” So the four friends started pulling off the roof tiles!

Bo watched, a bit nervous. “Uh, guys? I’m really glad you’re doing all this for me,but…”

“We’ll fix it later,” assured Merry.

Soon, Bo’s friends had created a gap in the roof large enough for Bo. Commotion erupted below, and one of the Pharisees sneezed. “All this dust! Stop it at once!” he commanded.

“Sorry!” Pip called down. “Almost done.”

“Hey, Jesus?” asked Merry. “Our friend can’t walk.”

The friends whipped off their belts and knotted them on the corners of the mat. Then they lowered Bo down through the hole in the roof!

“Look out below!” called Sam.

The crowd scuffled and shoved to get out of the way and moments later, Bo landed on his mat in the only empty spot in the whole room: right in front of Jesus.

The entire room fell silent as everyone watched to see what Jesus would do.

Jesus glanced up at the four determined faces staring through the hole in the roof. And then He smiled down at Bo, His eyes filled with compassion.

“Son,” He said, “your sins are forgiven.”

The room erupted with gasps and murmurs. The Pharisees were practically screaming inside their heads, “Why is this fellow talking like that? He’s saying a very evil thing! Only God can forgive sins!”

In forgiving sin, Jesus had just claimed to be God Himself! It was outrageous—unless He actually is God.

“Why are you thinking these things?” Jesus asked. “Is it easier to say to this man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’? Or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?”

The teachers of the law and religious leaders narrowed their eyes and nodded. On the roof above, Bo’s friends held their breaths, waiting . . .

“Jesus will heal him. I know it,” whispered Fred.

Then Jesus spoke. “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He smiled down at Bo again. “Get up. Take your mat and go home.”

Bo’s eyes popped open wide. He reached down to touch his legs. “Jesus,I…I…”

Slowly, Bo sat up. Bracing himself, he struggled to his feet.

“I can stand!”

People in the crowd gaped in amazement.

Bo took a short step, and then a hop.

“I can walk.”

He sprang straight into the air.

“I can leap! Thank You, Jesus. Thank You!”

Bo waved to his four friends above. “Guys! Thanks!” “Show us some moves, man!” called Sam.

Bo grabbed his mat and danced right out of the house, the crowd parting to make a path.

“Remarkable!” people cried out. “Praise God!”

On the roof, the four friends high-fived and began replacing the roof tiles. They knew that by working together, with God’s help, they’d forever changed their friend’s life.

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Have you ever worked on a group project at school or work? Share what it was like.

It can be frustrating trying to work with other people sometimes, because they don’t think and act like you do! But that’s the beautiful thing too. God created each of those other people with unique talents and abilities, so that when you all work together, you can do bigger things than you ever could alone. Whether it’s working together with kids at school, friends at church, or even your own family, you can show the world more of who God is than you can on your own. Brainstorm ways that you could work together as a family this week—even if it’s as simple as baking chocolate chip cookies for a neighbor. Then pray for each other, that you’d find joy in working together.

Coming Soon

Creativity, Week 5

Salt & Light

Matthew 5:13-16

God created you to share His story.

Keisha Jones tied the strings of a large, white apron carefully behind her back. She glanced in awe at the gleaming silver countertops and appliances in the kitchen of the Cupcakery, where her brother Robert worked.

“This is amazing!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah,” agreed Robert. “Pretty great Mia’s letting us use the mixer and stove.” “Pretty great you’re helping me,” added Keisha.

Keisha had offered to bake cookies to raise funds for new marching band uniforms. Even better, she’d convinced Robert to help her. He clipped a smudged recipe page over the counter.

“Brown butter and toffee chocolate chip cookies?” read Keisha. “Sounds . . . weird.” “Trust me. They’re the bomb,” declared Robert.

Robert had been working evenings in a bakery for three years, so Keisha had to admit he probably did know.

She looked over the recipe. “Two cups of flour, one teaspoon baking soda . . . one teaspoon of salt?!”

“Actually, we’re quadrupling the recipe,” noted Robert. “So that’s four teaspoons of salt.”

Robert tossed Keisha a set of measuring spoons. “Cookies are supposed to be sweet,” she protested. “Won’t the salt ruin them?”

“Nope,” said Robert. “Salt actually brings out the flavors.”

Keisha shook her head. “What does that even mean?” she wondered.

“You want to test it out? Fine. I’ll make a batch with salt and you make one without,” challenged Robert.

“You’re on!” said Keisha.

The siblings worked quickly as Robert showed Keisha how to mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately. “Now add the dry ingredients into the wet mix,” Robert instructed. “On low speed, or you’ll make a flour storm all over the kitchen!”

“I know that,” huffed Keisha as she turned on the mixer and began adding in the flour mixture. As she worked, though, she began to hear another sound over the mixer.

“Wow! Rain’s really coming down!” she noted.

“Yeah, and this is such an old building that every time it storms—” began Robert. He was interrupted by a crack of thunder. There was a loud boom—lights fizzled and the mixer stopped suddenly, leaving them in darkness.

“Every time it storms, the power goes out,” Robert finished. He fumbled with his phone until the flashlight came on. “It always comes back on pretty fast. We can wait it out.”

Robert settled down on the floor, back to the cabinets.

Keisha sighed and sat down too. She checked her phone. “My battery’s dying. Entertain me.”

“What, you can’t live without your phone?” teased Robert. “I don’t know, tell me a story,” said Keisha.

“I was just thinking of one. About salt.”

“Really?”

“One that Jesus told.”

Keisha nodded. “Oooh. That one. Sermon on the Mount.” “Well, it fits,” Robert pointed out. “You know—the cookies.” “Fine. Read it to me, preacher man,” said Keisha.

“It’s in Matthew.” Robert settled in with his Bible app. “‘Jesus saw the crowds. So he went up on a mountain side and sat down….Then he began to teach…’”And pretty quickly He gets to this part: “‘You are the salt of the earth.’”

After a moment, Keisha asked, “That’s it?”

“Well, no. I mean, then Jesus talks about throwing out the salt if it loses its saltiness,” said Robert.

Keisha laughed. “How do you even know if you’re salty?”

“I think it’s like the cookies,” said Robert, considering. “Salt makes things taste

better. And people who follow Jesus can make life taste better.”

“Mmm. Like chocolate chip cookies,” teased Keisha.

Robert punched her lightly in the shoulder. “You know what I mean. When we share God’s story, we bring hope to others. We help to fill their lives with kindness and joy and peace . . . all that good stuff.”

“Okay, okay I get it,” agreed Keisha. “Salt equals good. There’s something about light too, right?”

“Yup,” said Robert. “Jesus says: “‘You are the light of the world. . . . People do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine so others can see it. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will bring glory to your Father who is in heaven.’”

Keisha shifted, trying to get comfortable on the hard floor. “So when we follow Jesus—”

“By showing God’s love to others,” added Robert.

“Right, when we do that, others can see God better. And what to do.”

“Like a bright light,” agreed Robert.

Just then, the lights blazed back on and the mixer began cranking.

“Yikes!” Robert leapt up to stop the mixer. Keisha stood and stretched, blinking. “Like a bright light. You planned that, huh?”

“Of course,” said Robert.

“Well played,” congratulated Keisha. “Hey. I’m gonna put salt in my batch of cookies, after all.”

“Well played,” said Robert.

As Keisha measured out the salt, she smiled. The cookies would be great, but she had some thinking to do—about ways she could be salt and light herself.

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Sometimes showing God’s love and sharing His story requires a little imagination—a little creativity!

Talk about what you think being a light means. Then, think of people in your lives or in your community who may need a little light right now. What are some creative ways you could do good and show them God’s love? Together, ask God to show you the places where He wants you to shine His light. Thank Him for first loving us so we’re able to show others that love too!