Due Date: 06/01/2015
The new year offers a good opportunity to evaluate what is really important. What does the way we live say about what we truly value? What may be getting crowded out? How does what we see and hear in the world around us confuse our priorities? These may seem like adult questions, but advertising has invaded practically every area of our lives and continually tells us what is important. Popular culture inundates us with images that we’re told we should aspire to. Children are at least as susceptible to these influences as we are! How can we help children understand that God’s priorities are different than the world’s priorities? Some areas this issue might touch on include use of time, care of our bodies, attention to important relationships, and, of course, nurturing our spiritual lives.
Love Your Enemies
Due Date: 08/01/2015
Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies has always been challenging, and it certainly remains so as we are confronted daily with news reports of violence and terrorism. While we can’t really tackle complex global issues, we hope to help children find alternatives to seeing people in their daily lives as enemies and to find peaceful and constructive ways to deal with people who treat them unkindly. How do children respond when they are the victims of bullying? How do they respond when they see others being bullied? How do they respond to those who are, for whatever reason, difficult to love? How do the ways we respond to such people make our world a better or a worse place? (Note: This issue will include some special Lenten features, but since Easter falls in March this year we’ll also be leaning into the Easter season with this issue.)
Due Date: 09/01/2015
“By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Children have a strong sense of what is and isn’t fair, what they do and don’t deserve. But the Christian life is not about what we (or others) deserve. Paul’s words to the Ephesians guide us as we consider God’s grace shown to us in the salvation offered through Christ’s resurrection. What are the ways we experience God’s grace on a daily basis? And how do we respond to that gift of grace by extending grace to family members, friends, classmates, strangers, and the world?
Due Date: 10/01/2015
We live in impatient times. We are frustrated when we have to wait in line. A web page that take a few seconds to load is “slow.” Even in church, we may become impatient if the service lasts “too long.” We expect virtually everything to be instant. Children, who are perhaps a bit more impatient anyway, absorb our sense of impatience and frustration. Yet patience is one of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and, therefore, an important part of our life in Christ. And, of course, being on the receiving end of patience is a great blessing! This issue should help children begin to recognize the many ways in which God is patient with us. We also want to encourage them to cultivate an attitude of patience with themselves and others.
Due Date: 11/01/2015
True friends are one of God’s great gifts. Yet making and keeping friends can be difficult at times. How do we choose friends? What qualities are and aren’t important in friends? What does it mean to be a faithful friend? How do friends hold each other accountable? What happens when friends disagree? How do we welcome new friends while remaining loyal to longtime friends? Do we have the courage to stick by a friend when others are making fun of him/her? How do we hold firm to our own beliefs and at the same time be open to friendships with those whose beliefs are different? This issue will explore a variety of ways in which our faith can shape our friendships.
Due Date: 12/01/2015
Paul urged the Christians in Rome to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10 nrsv); another translation reads, “be eager to show respect for one another” (tev). Respect for all persons as created and beloved by God is basic to our faith, as is respect for all of God’s creation. Yet we live in a time when mean-spirited sarcasm and contempt are often more in evidence than respect. This issue should help children discover what it means to have respect for others, how we show respect for people and to all of creation, and how it is possible to respect someone while disagreeing with him or her. It should also give children a sense of themselves as persons worthy of respect.
Due Date: 01/01/2016
God is a part of every aspect of our lives (though we often act as if some parts have nothing to do with God). Our routine, daily activities are just as much a part of our relationship to God as our involvement in church and church-related activities. The attitude with which we do our chores, the priority we give our homework, the attention and care we give our pets, our commitment to clubs, our dedication to practicing a new skill—all are aspects of being a responsible disciple. We want to help children see that their daily responsibilities are part of being faithful to God.
Due Date: 02/01/2016
Honesty is essential to every healthy, trusting relationship. Yet dishonesty seems to be all around us. Elite athletes use performance-enhancing drugs and lie about it. Students plagiarize papers from on-line sources. Educators alter student answers on standardized tests to make their schools look better (and score bonuses for themselves). Politicians rail against behavior in others that they themselves are engaging in. Indeed, dishonesty is so pervasive that it’s big news when someone does something honest (say, return money they found). In this atmosphere, we shouldn’t be surprised if our children, no matter what we’ve taught them, wonder if telling a lie or cheating on an assignment is really a big deal. We hope this issue will help children understand the importance of being trustworthy. We also hope to help them learn to distinguish between being honest and being unnecessarily hurtful.
Due Date: 03/01/2016
In Acts 10:34 Paul says, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.” Our God does not have favorites but loves us all equally! And we who love God and try to do as Jesus taught know that we are called to love all people. That love goes beyond mere tolerance to respecting and honoring the uniqueness of God’s people. Our differences may take many forms—physical traits and abilities, interests, gender, culture, language, where and how we live, the material possessions we have, to name a few. While we know that these differences are of no consequence to God, they often challenge us as we struggle to overcome our suspicions and prejudices. How can we help children to see others as God sees them and to celebrate the diversity that enlivens our world?
Due Date: 04/01/2016
When we asked the members of our Kids’ Advisory Board what themes they would like to see covered in Pockets, “helping others,” “missions,” helping the poor,” and “helping the elderly” were among the most common suggestions. Children want to serve! And, of course, being a servant was at the very core of who Jesus was and what Jesus taught. We hope this issue will present serving others to children in a positive, realistic, and attainable light. We want to give children of a sense of what serving means in relation to the decisions they make each day, as well as when they participate in particular service projects. We want help children recognize that Christ lives in each of us and that each of us has a role to play in being Christ’s “hands and feet.”
The Gift of God’s Love
Due Date: 05/01/2016
The season of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, calls us to prepare to receive again the gift of God’s love in the person of Jesus Christ. While everything around us seems chaotic, as we frantically prepare for all that Christmas has come to mean in our culture, it’s worth asking ourselves if our preparation has anything to do with the birth of Jesus. This issue will definitely include many elements of the celebrative fun of Christmas and Epiphany, but we also want to help children remember that Advent is about preparing to receive the gift of God’s son. It is this gift that we hope children receive over and over again each year to shape their lives.
- 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.