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.

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.)

Creative Ideas for the “Tweenager:” Tips for Talking to Adolescents

The early adolescent years, which we call being a “tweenager” (roughly from age 11 to 14), can be a challenging but also delightful time to create a stronger connection with a young person.

As always, connecting with them on things that matter for them is a great place to start. Here’s a few tips to consider for parents and baptismal sponsors:

1. Create fun rituals – while tweenagers are beginning to grow away from the home, they often also have a strong, inner security-driven desire to maintain a connection to rituals. One good ritual for families is rotating different table prayers. There are lots of them…encourage the kids to make up their own.

2. Be a role model of faith – baptismal sponsors can be especially important at this age as youth seek role models in addition to their parents. If you live near enough to a godchild, sponsors can plan a service project with their youth once a quarter.

Service projects can range from helping to deliver meals with a “Meals on Wheels” project or serve meals at a homeless food kitchen to building a house at a “Habitat for Humanity” project (NOTE: Habitat has minimum age requirements for its projects, so check with them first).

3. Tweenager boys and girls have especially quick minds that are great for puzzles, trivia, and other problem solving. In a long distance relationship, you can e-mail or mail them word games that they can solve. You can make your own cross word and word search puzzles at the Discovery magazine web site: http://puzzlemaker.school.discovery.com/.

Another word puzzle could be to send a message in a foreign language and have the youth try to translate it. If you are like us and not fluent in another language, you can create your message by using a web-based translator like Altavista’s Babelfish web site: http://babelfish.altavista.com/.

Es una idea muy buena!

For the Little Ones: Decorating Your Faithkeepers Box

The Faithkeepers treasure box is more than a place to put things once a year and let them collect dust the rest of the year.  The treasure box is meant to be displayed where youth can be constantly reminded of their baptism and their connection to their faith.

One thing you can do to encourage your youth to make their Faithkeepers set special is to have them personalize the box. Think of it as a “canvas” to be decorated by the child, in his or her own way.  The photo shows an example that has been decorated with string, cloth, and other decorations.

While the result may not be what others consider a “work of art,” to your child it is a masterpiece that will get used over and over again.