Free Baptism Gifts: Going “Shareware” with Pocketcards

My husband Steve works in the information technology business. (You think I created this website by myself!)

Taking a page from his industry, we thought it would be a good idea to make the faith formation resources that I originally designed 10-plus years ago available via “shareware.”

Among other things, the genius behind the shareware approach is its recognition that the global “we” is smarter than any individual “me.”

In other words, I may have a good idea, but when I make it available to other people by sharing it at no charge – and with the internet, that means everyone in the world who can get access to a browser connected to the web – then my good idea has the potential to bloom into one or many more really great ideas – pretty exciting!

So, with that in mind, we henceforth make available to anyone that would like to use them, the following Pocketcard designs. Just click on each of the pictures below and you should get prompted for a zip file to “Open” or “Save” that contains the printable pages for each year.

A few caveats before you begin downloading:

First, it’s been a number of years since we produced our first designs, so we had a hard time finding some of the files, especially for the baptism day card through 3 year olds.  And, even for the complete 4-8 year old cards, the original designs were for an 5 3/8″ x 8 3/8″, or 16 1/8″ x 8 3/8″ when all three panels are unfolded.  

It’s okay to print smaller sizes on your home computer on regular or legal-size paper, but to print the original size you’ll need to go to FedEx Kinko’s or some other professional copier/printer shop.  

Second, when you click on the photos to begin the download, you may want to look at the “Downloading Instructions” that I asked Steve to post.  It’s a pretty straightforward process, but if you have any questions or are unsure,  then hopefully they will provide some reassurance.

Third, once you have downloaded the files, you can use any number of publishing or photoviewing software products to look at them and print them.  There are a mix of files, so you will need to use something that reads Postscript (both PSD and PDF) files.  Steve favors Google’s Picasa, because it is free to download and has lots of features, but other software works just as well.

And fourth, by downloading and printing these files, you agree to use them under the Creative Commons license (…yep, my husband Steve’s idea again).  What this license mainly means is that you agree to share credit for the Pocketcards with Faithkeepers, even if you alter the images, add your own to them, excerpt parts of them, etc.

This is true whether you use them for private use, as well as if you use them, for example, as part of a Sunday school class or church fundraiser.  Here are the license details.  (Don’t worry, you’re not signing over your firstborn puppies!)  

Creative Commons License
Pocketcards by Faithkeepers are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.  Based on work at the Faithkeepers blog on WordPress.com.

Okay, enough with the caveats!  Here are the Pocketcards, along with descriptions for each.  Have fun and blessings to you and your godchildren! 

“Go then to all people everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…”

The Baptism Day gift card (we call them Pocketcards at Faithkeepers) is ideal for the newly born child, providing ample space for written thoughts to be recorded from parents, sponsors, and others about the special occasion.

A “to do” list is included of activities for faith development of the newborn child during its first year. And a water drop charm (we call the charms “Keepers”) – symbolizing the “swirling of water and God’s Word at baptism” – is recommended to go with the Pocketcard.

We recommend sterling silver for the Keepers, because they look good and last.

“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God…”

The First Year Baptism Anniversary Gift Packet is intended for children ages 1 to 2 years old. Parents and sponsors have ample space to record memories of the child’s baptism, special prayers, and a story about their own baptism or faith experience to be read by the child in years ahead.

A list of suggested activities for faith development is included, along with a simple cut-out game for the parent/sponsor and child to share.

A sea shell Keeper – an oft-used Christian symbol for baptism – is recommended to be included with the Pocketcard.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life…”

The Second Year Baptism Anniversary Gift Packet is intended for children ages 2 to 3 years old. Space is provided on the cards for parents and sponsors to pass on favorite songs, poems, verses, in memory of the child’s baptism anniversary, and special stories they want to share about Jesus’ love for the child to read in years ahead.

A list of suggested activities for faith development is included, along with a fun, cut-out game and photo spot for the parent/sponsor and child to share.

A heart Keeper – the spiritual “center” of our bodies and symbol of love – is recommended for the gift packet.

“Holy God, Mighty Lord, Gracious Father, we give you thanks, for in the beginning your spirit moved over the waters…”

The Third Year Baptism Anniversary Gift Packet is intended for children ages 3 to 4 years old.

Also included are faith development exercises and several activities, such as:

  • do-it-yourself play dough recipe 
  • stickers to create different people 
  • flower seeds to plant and marvel at God’s creation, in the garden or kitchen flowerpot 
  • “puttin’ leaves on the tree” – a cut-out game for the child and parent/sponsor to play

Space is provided on the cards for parents and sponsors to write about favorite things God has created and reflect on special gifts God has given them that they want to share with the child.

A mirror Keeper is recommended for the Pocketcard, symbolizing the reflection of God that we can see inside each of us.

“When the bow is in the clouds, I will remember the promise between God and every living creature…”

The Fourth Year Baptism Anniversary Gift Packet is intended for children ages 4 to 5 years old.

Included are faith development exercises and several activities, including:

  • a colorful rainbow chain to construct and use for games and wearing 
  • mini, paper cut-out figurines of Noah and his family 
  • a paper animation of the story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood

Space is provided on the cards for parents and sponsors to write about times they felt God’s love, as well as their special prayers for the child and words for future encouragement…captured forever.

A rainbow Keeper is recommended, symbolizing the truth that God’s promises are forever.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out!”

The Fifth Year Baptism Anniversary Gift Packet is intended for children ages 5 to 6 years old.

This is also the first year in the Faithkeepers series that the child is invited to write his or her own memories, answering questions such as: “when are times you have been scared?” “did you know that God is always with you?”

Additional exercises for faith development and interactive features include:

  • “trading cards” – numbered 1-12 – telling the story of Joseph with original art, reinforcing the message: Trust in God
  • a carbon paper drawing pad for children to trace the cross and draw pictures 
  • a baptism certificate, suitable for framing, that the child can personalize and seal with a gold label

Space is provided on the cards for parents and sponsors to write about times that God took care of them when they felt scared and share their memories of special people that helped their faith grow when they were young.

A candle Keeper is recommended, symbolizing the call to “trust in Jesus.”

“The sheep hear his voice as he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out…”

The Sixth Year Baptism Anniversary Gift Packet is intended for children ages 6 to 7 years old.

Ideas for faith development and several activities are included:

  • a mini-booklet for the child to cut-out and make, telling an original story about a lost sheep and its youthful rescuer 
  • a “talking lamb” puppet, made of paper, that children can make and play with to tell stories 
  • a maze, that children can work to help the lost sheep find its master

Space is provided on the cards for parents and sponsors to share with the child ways they think God speaks to them and a favorite image about Jesus being the Good Shepherd.

There is also a place for the child to write down their impressions about Jesus: “what does his voice sound like?” “when was a time Jesus took care of you?”

A lamb Keeper – symbolizing that Jesus is our Good Shepherd – is recommended to go with the Pocketcard.

“For us a child is born; to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The Seventh Year Baptism Anniversary Gift Packet is intended for children ages 7 to 8 years old.

Ideas for faith development and several activities with the Pocketcard include:

  • a unique drawing of Jesus’ face with hidden symbols, and a “mad lib” story of the creation, for children to exercise their imagination
  • a “cause & effect” activity that shows how the actions we take have an impact on others every day
  • instructions for hand-made paper boxes, that symbolize new birth because of the unique way that they fit inside of each other

Space is provided on the cards for parents and sponsors to share with the child their favorite stories, especially emphasizing Christmas memories and hymns.

There is also a place for the child to write down their thoughts, including: “favorite parts of the story of Jesus’ birth” and “favorite Christmas traditions.”

A manger Keeper – symbolizing the humble, human birth of Jesus the world’s savior – is recommended for the gift packet.

“You must put on a new self, which is created in God’s likeness, and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy. Be kind and tender hearted to on another and forgive one another.”

The Eighth Year Baptism Anniversary Gift Packet is intended for children ages 8 to 9 years old.

Ideas for faith development and several activities include:

  • a fun drawing activity that let’s your child re-imagine the last supper, using a fun window flap technique in several spots
  • a fascinating, shutter image activity that combines a picture of your child and Jesus in a one-of-a-kind, interactive piece
  • recipes for healthy living to go with a recipe for a healthy bread rolls that you can bake with your child

Space is provided on the cards for parents and sponsors to share with the child their favorite stories about friendship and forgiveness.

There is also a place for the child to write down their thoughts on subjects such as “what they think about people who are different from them” and “what they can do to encourage others.”

A bread-and-wine Keeper – symbolizing the last supper – is recommended to go with the Pocketcard.

* * *

So, that’s it.  That’s as far as we got.  We have doodles for what to design for those “tween” years, beginning with 9 years old through middle school, and beyond.  But, let’s do it together.  Post your ideas or send us your thoughts.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Free Baptism Gifts: Pocketcard Download Instructions

You and I both know it would be a whole lot easier if we could just send you a disk with the Pocketcard digital files on it.  However, that would cost something and take a whole bunch more time.

Instead, you have to put up with being a bit more of a computer user than you probably wished for.  But hopefully, the following screenshots will give you a guide that makes the process a little less painful. 

1.  So, here goes…

When you first click on the photo of the Pocketcard you want, you will get a screen that looks like the one to the left. 

This is the home screen of the free-of-charge file storage website – 4Shared.com –  that we chose to store the Pocketcard files.

Please note:  You can click on the screenshots to the left to view a larger image of each one, if needed.

2.  After you click on the download link in the 1st screen, you’ll get a “thank you” message that looks something like the next screen to the left.

Ignore all of the flashing and other moving items that might distract your eyes from the line that says “Click here…” 

Those are all ways that the good people at 4Shared make a living, by attempting to get your attention long enough to click on one of these other pieces of eye candy.

If you accidentally or unintentionally click on one, don’t worry – they are harmless for the most part, mainly there in hopes of 4Shared earning themselves a little online ad revenue from your click.  Doesn’t cost you anything.

3.  After you click on the “…down load this file” line on the prior screen, you should get a dialog box somewhat like the one shown in the screen to the left. 

Please note that we used Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for these screens; if you are using a different browser, like Mozilla’s Firefox or Apple’s Safari, your dialog box may look a little different.

In any case, we recommend that you select the option to “Save” the zip file, rather than “Open” it, so you have it for later.

4.  When you choose to “Save” the Pocketcard file, you should get a couple of last dialog boxes that look like the ones in the screen to the left. 

As you can see in the example, we already set up a sub-folder called “Faithkeeper files” in a main folder called “Downloads” where we chose to save all of the files we download for this example.

More than likely, you will have a differently named folder / sub-folder that appears as the default in this screen.  You can save the file to whatever folder appears, select a different folder, or even set up a new one just for Faithkeepers files, like we did.

5.  In any case, after you have selected the location to store the zip file and saved it, the last thing you need to use the files is to “unzip” them. 

To do this, you simply double-click on the file in the folder where you saved it and you should be presented a screen that looks like the one to the left. 

What this shows you is the viewable and printable files that you downloaded for each respective Pocketcard.  To actually save them as individual files, you need to click on the “Extract all files” link in the left-hand column with the blue background.

Success?  We hope so…  If not, and you run into problems, then do like I do and have one of your teenage daughters or sons (or your neighbors’ kids) do it for you!  Good luck and happy printing!!

Bumping into a Sliver of Church History

This past weekend, we had the great pleasure of joining family and friends – new and old – at the wedding of my niece Leah and her fiancé (now husband) Perek.

It was a joyous, festive ceremony in Decorah, Iowa, at a lovely little Lutheran country church just outside of town. But, of the many great memories that I know I’ll cherish, one that was entirely unexpected was from the informal, noon-time lunch preceding the wedding.

As it turns out, we were joined by the church’s Pastor and, in conversation, he began telling us the story of the church’s unique relationship with a 19th century artist, Herbjorn Gausta.

Before we knew it, we were on brief field trip to the parsonage where the Pastor said he had something special to show us, concerning an extended stay-over by Gausta in the early days of the church. Up to the second floor our wide-eyed guest party climbed, making our way to the guest room of the parsonage where the artist had stayed over 100 years ago.

As it turns out, Gausta had used the original plaster walls of the room as his personal study canvas in preparation for a major work. These original drawings were on all four walls of the tiny room and had been covered up by at least four layers of wallpaper, through the years. It wasn’t until the parsonage received a major remodeling job in recent years that the Gausta sketches, long since forgotten, were discovered in the guest room.

As we all slowly circled the room, there was something of an aura of calm and timelessness. Standing within inches of these drawings, it was easy to imagine the artist alone in the room at the turn of the last century. You could feel his spirit…creating, dreaming, meditating on the serene pastureland he would have seen then, just as we did now, rolling for miles outside the second-story window.

It was a real treat and ever a reminder to keep one’s self open to life’s little surprises each and every day!

Reflecting on Our 1st Ten Years

The best I can recollect, the year was 1996 – shortly after we moved to Austin, Texas – when I began to nurture the idea for Faithkeepers. I bounced the idea around in my head for a couple of years and then finally began putting pen to paper around 1998.

Many, many people helped me in those early days. But special thanks in particular go to Susan Rueue, Cathy Cordes, Beth Marie Halvorsen, and Sandy Wikelius for providing inspiration, encouragement, and elbow grease to make the ideas come into being.

In 2000, we introduced our first PocketCards and gift sets, promoting them primarily online.

For the next four years or so, I learned so much driving across the far reaches of the Texas Hill Country to visit with pastors, book store managers, and lay people about the story of baptism and its importance to the Christian faith.

During these driving journeys, I guess you might say I was on a spiritual journey as well. Through the process, I discerned that another step in my education was necessary. So, around 2004, we decided to put Faithkeepers on hold while I returned to college for my Master’s of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministry at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest.

Over nights and weekends for the next five years, I plowed through the class work, to receive my degree in mid-2008. Graduation opened up a new door, as I accepted the invitation to serve as the interim director of Spiritual Life & Growth at my home congregation, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran, in late 2008.

Which brings us up to a couple of months ago, when I began to reflect on all of the experiences and conversations I’d had for more than a year in my role at Shepherd of the Hills. It’s been a wonderful opportunity: enriching, challenging, and rewarding.

And while I’ve learned much, one of the strongest, most repeated lessons for me has been how much the “body of believers” continues to change. That lesson has led me to bring back Faithkeepers, out of hibernation, as an alternative form of outreach.

I believe we need more alternatives, because we live in a society that “mashes up” aspects of work, family, belief, hobbies, community, career, politics, learning, and wellness, into a 24×7 stream of activity. At every moment, every member of this society, from young to old, is presented options on where to focus their time and attention.

With Faithkeepers, we hope to have a conversation with you and, hopefully, produce some good, new options for igniting and growing faith for the children of this new society. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing the conversation into the next 10 years!

In the meantime, please take advantage of our gift offer, marking our anniversary and celebrating Pentecost 2010.

Get your FREE treasure box & cross

Wow – how time flies! This year marks the ten year anniversary since we first decided to produce a series of original, interactive cards for parents and godparents to give their children in celebration of their baptism.

To celebrate that anniversary – and to commemorate the upcoming birthday of the Christian church, marked by Pentecost – we’re giving away free Faithkeepers treasure boxes, crosses, and baptism day cards, while supplies last.

Just click through to our shopping website, to take advantage of this offer! (Full-disclosure: there is a modest shipping/handling charge.)

Culturally Christian

There was an interesting article that ran in the Toronto Globe & Mail recently, summarizing the current dialogue around the subject of “neurotheology” and the notion of a biological predisposition that we humans have to belief in God or a high spirit. In other words, faith is literally in our DNA. But, while that subject is a fascinating one, the part of the article that caught my attention for the purpose of this article, was the following section, about Dr. Phil Zuckerman’s research on populations in Sweden and Denmark.

He observes both countries are: “…affluent places where non-believers count for 80 per cent of the population. His research found that, rather than being hostile to religion, non-believers in those countries tended to express indifference or to call themselves ‘cultural Christians’ because they still participated in many rites – baptism, marriages, funerals and holidays – linked to the national church.” You can read more about these research findings in Zuckerman’s book Society without God.

To some extent, I think the United States is another example of a society where there is a large population that is culturally Christian. The rising, post-WW II affluence that we have gained, further guaranteed by the Great Society mandates of the 1960s, have made values taught by Christ and the church part of our country’s heritage and social operating system, so to speak.

It wasn’t always that way. And, it’s interesting to hear from voices that lived during the times when the United States’ prosperity and leadership place in the world wasn’t always so obvious. This week (and month), we are very pleased to offer the comments of Pastor Merle Franke, who was born in the shadow of WW I and lived through the Great Depression.

Pastor Merle’s comments offer us all a bridge for understanding how much our current and future generations owe to the generations before us. They built their lives, and ultimately much of our country’s governance, based upon “an assurance of things hoped for; a conviction of things unseen” – in other words, a personal and shared faith in a higher power, on which we should base all aspects of society.

We hope you enjoy Merle’s reflections. And, in a quick end-note, I want to thank my son Andrew (in the picture with me, enjoying a recent birthday brunch) for his work on the video series we’ve been bringing to you so far this year.

We couldn’t have done it without his film editing wizardy!