Due Date: 06/01/2016
In the midst of the complex problems of our world, simply encouraging someone may seem insignificant. But haven’t we all been helped through difficult times by encouraging words or gestures? Often we are so absorbed in our own problems or so consumed by the negative messages around us that we simply don’t think to encourage others. Or perhaps we don’t see how powerful our encouraging words and actions can be. We want to help children see what it means to “encourage one another and build up each other” (1 Thess. 5:11 NRSV) and how doing so may make a difference in someone else’s life. We don’t want to suggest that a child can “fix” someone else’s problems. Instead we want to affirm that encouraging words and actions are among the ways that each of us can show God’s love to those around us every day.
Due Date: 08/01/2016
Children have a strong sense of what is and is not “fair.” That can make forgiving someone who has wronged them difficult (as it often is for adults!). Admitting fault and asking for forgiveness is often equally challenging. In ways that are relevant to children’s everyday lives, this issue should explore what it means to forgive, to be forgiven, and to be reconciled. Why do we need to forgive? How do we forgive? What does it mean to forgive “seventy-seven times” (Matthew18:22 NRSV)? Many of us have been taught that we should “forgive and forget,” but that advice is rarely helpful. We want to reflect the genuine struggle involved in forgiving and in asking for forgiveness. (Caution: Stories that deal with children being harmed should never suggest that forgiving means tolerating abuse.)
Due Date: 09/01/2016
By the time most children reach middle-school age, they will have experienced some significant loss: a move that leaves old friends behind, the death of a beloved pet or perhaps a grandparent, a divorce in the family or some other disruptive event. The good news of Easter—Christ is alive!—is that out of sadness, disappointment, and brokenness God can bring new life. We never want to gloss over or trivialize the real pain that children experience with loss. But we want to help them recognize that even in loss and endings there is opportunity for growth and new direction. We also want children to understand that God’s will for all of creation is shalom, the well-being of all. (Please note that this theme tends to generate a flurry of stories about the death of a grandparent. This is certainly relevant, and we may use one such story in the issue. But we will need stories that deal with other kinds of loss as well.)
Family-In This Together
Due Date: 10/01/2016
This theme was inspired by an observation from one of our former Kids’ Advisory Board members’ that while friends are great, “Friends won’t always be there like your family.” In this issue we hope to celebrate the family as a place of love and constancy. We’re not talking about perfect families here (we don’t know any of those!) but about the family as a place where people love and nurture one another. This love is one of the primary ways we come to understand God’s love and care for us. This issue should give children a sense of their own families (whatever their imperfections may be) as places where they can experience God’s abiding love through the abiding love of those with whom they share their lives.
Due Date: 11/01/2016
“How do I know God is listening?” “Why doesn’t God speak to me?” “I don’t know how to talk to God.” As we receive these and other comments and questions from children, we are reminded that children are serious about prayer. They want to know how to have conversation with God. This issue is not about prescribing a “right way” to pray but rather to help our readers realize there are many avenues of prayer in which to deepen their relationship with God. We want children to understand that God can be a part of every moment of every day. Quiet time, journaling, breath prayers, music, movement, the beauty of creation, everything and everyone they encounter in a day can point to God. We hope this issue will help children understand that living each day can draw them close to God.
Due Date: 12/01/2016
Technology has changed our lives in such significant ways and has become so omnipresent that it’s hard to even comprehend its impact. The positive effects are many, as are the negative. We hope this issue will look at the role of technology in children’s lives in a balanced way. This is not about nostalgia for “the good old days! What are the ways technology can help us have positive, healthy relationships with others? And what are the pitfalls? What role does technology play in a healthy family life? How does the way we use it help or hinder our efforts to love God and neighbor? How do we use technology in ways that are consistent with our faith?
Due Date: 01/01/2017
It is a rare (or perhaps nonexistent) person today who makes it to adolescence without experiencing some anxiety about the “flaws” of his or her body. Size-zero models and actresses and steroid-enhanced athletes are offered up as ideal body types. At the same time, all kinds of unhealthy foods are marketed to children, who often get far less physical activity than they should. This issue is not about being the “food police” or convincing children to give up the technology they love. This is about the central idea that human beings are made in the image of God and that our bodies are a gift from our Creator. With this knowledge, we try to treat our bodies with respect and the appropriate care. It should also help children understand that no matter how they feel about their bodies, they are wholly loved and accepted by God. And just as we respect our own bodies, we respect other people—whatever the size, shape, or ability of their bodies—because they too are created in the image of God.
Due Date: 02/01/2017
We know that school is difficult for some children, whether for academic or social reasons or some combination of the two. But we want to encourage our readers to find and build on the positive aspects of school. (We also want to acknowledge that there are different forms of school. Many of our readers are home-schooled and enjoy seeing that experience represented in some Pockets stories.) What does it mean to live out our faith at school? How do we live as Christians in the context of schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, relationships with teachers and classmates? How can our faith help us when school does become a struggle?
Due Date: 03/01/2017
What constitutes a hero in the eyes of a child? A superstar entertainer? An elite athlete? A world leader or historical figure? True heroes often seem hard to find, but perhaps we should look around our own neighborhoods, communities, churches, schools, and even homes. Maybe we would find an abundance of heroes among those we see every day. This issue should help children recognize and appreciate those everyday heroes—people who quietly work to help others, people whose efforts are often taken for granted, people who try to live the way Jesus taught us to live. We also want this issue to help children to recognize their own potential to be everyday heroes.
Due Date: 04/01/2017
Gratitude is (or should be) a hallmark of our lives as Christians every day, not just on the fourth Thursday of November. But at times we may focus more on what we don’t have that we wish we did or feel we should. How do we help our children cultivate gratitude in their everyday lives? How do our lives reflect the gratitude that we say we feel? If we truly are grateful, what kind of actions flow from that gratitude?
Waiting and Welcoming
Due Date: 12/01/2017
The December issue of Pockets takes on a life of its own as we prepare to welcome Jesus once again. We turn to Advent themes such as waiting, hoping, preparing our hearts; and Christmas themes such as sharing love, joy, and peace. This issue should help children begin to understand how Jesus’ birth, God’s incarnation, is made new for them each Advent and Christmas and how this sense of Emmanuel, God with us, guides our lives throughout the year.
- Articles about real children involved in environmental efforts, peacemaking, and helping others. Please send photos of these children with your manuscript and indicate the name and address of the photographer. We prefer photos of the children actively involved in their project. Digital photos must be 300-dpi for clear print resolution. Please include parents‘ permission to use photos.
- Interviews with well-known people, relating how their faith in God is important to them in their daily lives
For More Information About Writing For Pockets
Refer to our Writer’s Guidelines on-line or by mail with an SASE.
SEND ALL MANUSCRIPTS WITH SASE TO:
Lynn W. Gilliam, Editor
P. O. Box 340004
Nashville TN 37203-0004
Please do NOT send submissions via FAX or e-mail. POCKETS is a publication of THE UPPER ROOM. POCKETS, THE UPPER ROOM, and design logos are trademarks owned by THE UPPER ROOM, Nashville, TN. All rights reserved.