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A surprisingly simple way to have fun with your kids

My wife and I recently had the privilege of attending an open house at our daughter's school. It was fun looking at the art work and special projects in Laura's classroom. But what struck me most was one bulletin board.

Each child had written and drawn a picture to answer a thought-provoking question: "What do I like doing best with my father?" (There was another bulletin board for moms, but I noticed the "dad" board first.)

Twenty-three children gave their answers. Nine kids, including Laura, picked the same "favorite" activity with their fathers: "I like reading a book with my dad."

I know there's nothing scientific about that single bulletin board. But I also know there are few things that cost so little in terms of time and money, yet bring so much closeness and connection as reading with our children.

If you don't think of yourself as the story-telling type, take heart. It's much easier than it sounds. Sit your child right next to you, or on your lap if he's small, and read this folk tale about two pots. Then talk to your child about the story using the questions at the end. You'll both be glad you did.

The Tale of Two Pots

It seems there once were two pots. They were carried by the King's Water Bearer on opposite ends of a long pole. One pot was perfect: well-decorated, beautiful, flawless. The other pot was very pretty, too, made of the same good clay and bright colors, nearly perfect?except for a single crack.

Each day, the King's Water Bearer would make the trek down from the palace to the river below and fill up each pot. While both started out full of water, the cracked pot left a trail of droplets along the path.

As the years passed, the cracked pot came to dread the day's journey. It was always the same: watching the perfect pot pour out his contents into the King's cistern without having lost a single drop, then pouring out his own offering, which seemed so much less. Which was why, at last, the cracked pot spoke up.

"Oh, Water Bearer," said the pot. "Please replace me. I have tried my hardest, but I know I've failed to be what you want me to be."

"That is not so," said the Water Bearer.

"It is!" said the cracked pot. "Just look at my offering next to the perfect pot's. It's so little. I'm ashamed of what I bring before the King."

"Enough!" said the Water Bearer, his face as dark as a storm cloud. "The perfect pot fulfills his purpose, that is true. But it was the King himself who picked you. And you have fulfilled his plan."

"I have?" said the cracked pot, full of confusion.

"Have you not noticed the hill we walk up every day?" asked the Water Bearer.

"No," said the pot quietly. "I've been so busy looking at the crack and watching the water dripping out."

"Look now," said the Water Bearer. The pot looked and saw that all along one side of the path grew beautiful flowers.

"Have you not seen me spreading seeds as I walked up the hill?" asked the Water Bearer. And then he said in a kinder voice, "Those flowers grow from your loss, little pot, and they please the King."

And at last the cracked pot saw that?crack and all?he did fulfill his Master's purpose.

Once you finish telling this story, ask your child these questions:

  1. What did you like best about the story?

  2. Do you feel more like the perfect pot, or the pot with a little crack?

  3. What can God do with the "cracks" in our lives?

Finally, read this verse and pray that your child knows that God has made her wonderful and special?little cracks and all.

"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand" (Isaiah 64:8).

John Trent, Ph.D., is a marriage and family counselor and president of Encouraging Words. He is the author of numerous books, including Life Mapping and Choosing to Live the Blessing (both published by WaterBrook). You can contact John at www.encouragingwords.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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