"I sat surrounded by my church friends eating my stale animal crackers dipped in Dixie cups of water in front of a blank page. Our leader had introduced the idea of journaling our thoughts about God and asking for God to give us things to write and draw sometime earlier. Sometimes, the blank page would taunt me as I struggled to find what God was showing me, but, on this particular day, my journaling brought me right back to camp the previous week. The scene that played in my memory was a vision of walking into the main worship room and being completely surrounded by true worship. That night I, a fourth grade student, had stepped into a room filled with high school and middle school students who were smiling, hugging, and shouting praises in unison. There was so much energy in that room and all of it was directed towards God. Never before had I been so captured by the God’s glory. “I saw God in there” I told my mom that night. Thus, when I sat with my Pebbles and Stones journal in front of me, I quickly started sketching my adolescent stick figures complete with music notes and smiling faces. This is one of the many memories I have of Pebbles and Stones. Learning to discern the voice of God and to see how God was moving around me at a young age has been so influential on how I live my life now that I am not sure how to summarize. My decisions about careers, going to college, getting married, and which jobs I should take have been influenced by my journals and asking God what He wants. I even learned something as small as my gift for harmonization when I wrote a song in my journal as a child and knew what notes to put with the music to make it sound how I wanted. As I have grown, I’ve learned to measure what I hear with Scripture, tradition, and other’s wisdom. I have wrestled with God through difficult questions and doubts. I struggled to discern what was God’s voice and what was my own or the influence of culture. I even got to the point of wondering if I could really be right and all other religions wrong. In the end, I kept my faith in part because God reminded me of my relationship with Him and all the conversations we had together. Because I had lived life with Him guiding me, I couldn’t believe in anything else. As Peter so accurately stated in John 6:68, my response became “Lord, to whom shall [I] go? You have the words of eternal life.” To be able to hear those life-giving words by listening to Spirit-led thoughts is a gift I would never give away for anything the world had to offer." - Khary
"We met Kathleen Trock-Molhoek when she came to rural Illinois and presented the Pebbles and Stones concept through a local mission group over 15 years ago. Our boys, aged 3 and 5, were so excited to be a part of what she was doing with the children. They loved to sing new songs and draw and tell what they had heard God say. We were amazed to see their response. And, as adults, we learned a lesson, about how powerful it is to teach children that they can hear God’s voice even at that young age. That lesson changed and shaped the way we parented and worked with families in the church. It was so simple, without the usual multiple visuals and programs. We have often talked about how grateful we are for that gift and the way God helped us use it. As parents if we help our children know that they can hear God’s voice we benefit from often having God speak to us through them. Some of the games our boys loved to play as children were Hide and Seek and going on treasure hunts. They each liked being the one to find the treasure or the other person who was hiding. They also loved to chase each other and wrestle. One day I came across Proverbs 25:2 which says “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” What if we could make spending time with God as much fun for them as chasing each other, finding each other, or hunting treasures? What if we could teach them that God has many hidden treasures and he wants us to be the kings who search them out? So, we modeled what we called Chasing After God Time, after Kathleen’s Pebbles and Stones concept.
We would sing and dance and pretend to chase God, (who loves to let us catch him) and we would talk about a Bible verse or concept about God. Then we spent time listening for the treasure that He wanted to give us. We would all end singing new songs, journaling, drawing, and sharing. These became very rich family times out of which everything else in our family flowed. It is still hard for me to write about the fruit of these family times with God without tears of thanksgiving and joy flowing from my eyes. Through these times, our family switched from operating by rules to operating by values set during a listening time – a huge, positive shift in how we practiced discipline as parents. We could not have envisioned it on our own. We felt led to set goals for ourselves for each school year – something which ended sibling rivalry with our two sons and brought a deeper level of cooperation throughout the family. We engaged in local mission and figured out how to distribute our tithe together. Mark changed his preaching style for the better from a word Andrew heard: “Daddy, I think God wants your sermon to be like a present to people.” Later, our children shared in both of us hearing a call to change careers. Our children were hearing from God as much or more than the adults.
I loved the things that they would hear from God. One of our family values was “discernment,” as in “discerning the Word of God.” One of the boys changed it to “do-cernment” so that we don’t just listen to God’s voice, but we should act on what God tells us. As they grew up and issues would arise we would challenge each other about how that action fit, or didn’t fit, with our family values and what would God want us to know about that. We did Chase After God with the boys until they left for college, modifying it as they got older. We continue to be amazed at the discipline that they have about listening, and learn from what God speaks to them. Andrew was stressed over a test and he felt he needed to study more so he got up extra early to spend his time with God and then study only to hear God say to him to go back to sleep because he needed rest. God assured him that he would be with him on the test. It went well. Colin told me that God spoke to him that instead of the breathing in God and breathing out the world which someone had recommended, that God wanted him to be so full of the Holy Spirit that he was to take in the world around him and give back to it God’s spirit that is in him.
Today, we text or call each other to report what we are hearing from God or ask for others to listen with us about a concern. And still, when we are all together, we often set aside a time to chase after God together. We will always be thankful for the influence that Kathleen has had on our family, and the impact that the simple Pebbles and Stones concept has to shape lives!"
- Mark and Sheila Thomas
Using the Pebbles and Stones Ministry Model in a Church Setting
Jessica Stokes says, “I have only been familiar with Pebbles and Stones for about six months, but I love it! We are using it for our Children’s Ministry. One of the best things about it is that it teaches and equips kids to get quiet before the Lord and listen for Him to speak. From there, the kids get hands on experience each week by sharing what God spoke to them and praying for each other. What a gift this program is -- teaching our children at such a young age how to listen for God’s voice and then giving them an opportunity to act on it is priceless! Not only do I recommend the Pebbles and Stones program, but I also was extremely blessed during the training Kathleen led. Her heart for children is so contagious! The training really helped me grasp onto the values of the program. It not only teaches you how to implement a Pebbles and Stones meeting, but it also encourages you as you hear the testimonies of lives being changed by simply listening for God’s voice. I highly recommend both the curriculum and the training.”
Jessica is a mother of three and has a degree in Elementary Education. She is the head of Children’s Ministry at Downtown Christian Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Building Relationship through Pebbles and Stones
Lin Johnson hosts and leads a group for high-school aged girls in her Hudsonville, Michigan home. She began when the girls were in middle school and has continued building relationship over the years through both weekly meetings and special events. “The main idea I've gleaned from Kathleen is that I can go with my gut: kids don't need to be entertained, they need to be fed a portion of the Word and they need to meet together with Papa God for transformation,” Lin says.
This past winter, Lin organized a fancy dinner for the girls in her group complete with a limo ride, salon-worthy hairstyles and donated formal dresses. The verse for the evening was from The Message’s translation of 2 Corinthians 5:5, "The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead; He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less."
Lin Johnson (right) with her Pebbles & Stones group for girls.
Pebbles and Stones in Nairobi, Kenya
“I could not believe the impact! They did not want to stop writing or listening for God's words. One 5-year-old girl drew a picture of two people. 'They are trying to find Jesus. They are building a mountain to try to find Jesus. But an angel is coming to tell them about who Jesus really is. We need to pray for them.' Another older boy drew a picture of rain saying that God wanted it to rain on Africa but also wanted to rain His Holy Spirit on Africa. My own son drew a beautiful picture of multitudes all over the world lifting up their hands in praise to Jesus. (He'd had a dream about this when he was 5 years old - at that time he said it made him so happy that he cried; he’d not mentioned this since, but brought it up during our sharing time). Joseph also drew a map of the entire African continent and wrote, "People in Africa will be saved and healed of sickness."
~ Dr. Terry Andrew, Founder of "Children In Christ" Nairobi, Kenya
Pebbles and Stones in a Christian School
“God has been working through Pebbles and Stones at Byron Center Christian this year. The kids have come to realize that God will meet them when they quiet themselves and listen to His voice. God has shown the kids that He is to be praised during our singing time while we incorporate Psalms. Our lessons focused on the Psalms this year and the children took the verses that we studied into quiet time so they could reflect and listen for God to speak more to them about that verse."
"On a prayer walk [with the students] God revealed that everything is part of His keeping and care - even the boiler room and kitchen! We walked and stopped by each door and prayed over what happened there during a school day. The kids knew more what to pray for than I did, so our prayers were led by them. Teachers working after school came out and joined us in prayer, and this touched the kids to see God using them. We left each spot with a note saying that we had been there praying. God was blessed and so were we!”
~ Byron Center Christian School Byron Center, Michigan
Creating a Bonding Time for Mothers and Children
“Children and their mothers living at our rescue mission have been involved with Pebbles and Stones during the past year. They have met weekly and have enjoyed the activities so much! I believe this group has helped to improve relationships between mothers and their children. They have loved the attention and have grown from the focus on the Lord and His Word. Pebbles and Stones has given our children and moms a much-needed outlet to express their thoughts, fears, and dreams. It's wonderful to see this fit into the Christian perspective."
~ Mel Trotter Ministries Grand Rapids, MI
Pebbles and Stones at an Inner-City Youth Center
“Pebbles and Stones has brought positive changes to the lives of SVYC kids and contributed to an increased sense of family in our community."
~ Sun Valley Youth Center Denver, CO.
Rejuvenating Sunday School Programs
“Pebbles and Stones has influenced the children at Sunshine in a variety of ways. For the past two years we have prayed weekly for our church's Mexico Mission Trip; both the children and the mission team members have been blessed in incredible ways. This year we also focused on a missionary family, and they are amazed at all that God is doing on their mission field, certainly influenced by the prayers of the children. Many children have written their own songs or poems, painted beautiful pictures and journaled about God's actions in their lives. They are learning that God speaks to His people and to listen to Him. They are learning that their prayers make a difference. They are learning to worship Him in all that that do. One mom shared that her child had an argument with her one day. When mom wouldn't listen to her side of the story, this little girl went to her bedroom to tell God all about it in a loud voice, because He would always listen to her. Mom said that her child's response came from what she had learned at Pebbles and Stones."
"Pebbles and Stones has also influenced my own life and the lives of our family. I continue to grow in my walk with my Lord as I share His work in my life with the children. My children are quick to bring their needs to their Heavenly Father. We use a family prayer journal to track our requests and His answers, and they even sing their prayers sometimes. My oldest child has been called to be an intercessor for leaders, while my youngest has a heart for those who don't know Jesus yet. My husband has learned that he can be a teacher to children and have compassion for them (even those who aren't his own). Teaching, guiding, encouraging the Pebbles and Stones approach at Sunshine has not been easy. There are certainly many obstacles often in the way, sometimes from unexpected directions. I have been tempted more than once to quit and give up. I don't foresee it becoming easier in the future, and yet I believe it really embraces the active work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our children and it really encourages them to listen to God at work and then to follow. That is the kind of "program" that I want for my own kids as well as all the others who need a personal relationship with Him.”
~ Sunshine Community Church Grand Rapids, MI