As we are all going to be spending more time at home, and not going to church services and groups, it seems like a good time to plan how we can grow in our faith at home.
How can I support others when I feel anxious?
One thing I’m thinking about it how I can stoke the flames of my own faith to help me be the person I need to be, and specifically how my faith practises can help me not to be anxious and to bring peace to those I’m with, both physically and virtually.
Here are some ideas of how we can feed our own souls, and those of our family:
1 Be thankful
This is a practise many people do, and I started a couple of years ago. As early in the day as I can, I try to think of three things which are good in my life. Sometimes I’ve sketched them, or filled segments in a page, and this month I’m currently writing a numbered list. I find this practise changes my mind set for the day, and leads me to give thanks to God for all His blessings in my life.
If you’d like a template there’s one here.
This is something you can also do as a family, but it’s good to start by doing it ourselves because it changes us.
Here’s more ideas for thanks prayers you can do together at home.
2 Be mindful
There’s some brilliant resources out there for this. One that I love is Sarah’s Bessey’s breath prayers for anxious times, which uses a simple breathing prayer and a line of Scripture to help us focus on God and His care for us.
Again, this would be fab to do together at home, but also great for us as parents. I find once I’ve done it in the morning, I can repeat it fairly easily when I need to during the day.
I’ve adapted this and used with my children to help them connect with God and feel peaceful, and you can download my family guided meditation script here 🙂
3 Keep in touch – let others know you care
I have a few friends who often find anxiety creeps up on them, and, to be honest, it would hard to find someone who isn’t worried at the moment.
Personally, I find speaking with friends, either on the phone or messaging, is a great way to let them know I’m thinking of them and that they are loved. While this is a crisis, often speaking our fears out loud rather than keeping them in our heads can make them slightly smaller. Fresh air seems to shrink them. Or maybe a problem shared is a problem halved? I don’t know. I just know that friendship and caring, personal communication really helps me and is something we can all offer to others.
Maybe as a family you could record a video message to send to people in isolation to cheer them up. It’s great for children to be given responsibility to are for others, just as we are doing. It’s the gospel, after all, to love God and love our neighbours as we love ourselves (that’s why selfcare comes first on my list!).
4 Plan something for Easter
As I write this, Easter is about four weeks away. That gives plenty of time for plans to do something to celebrate Jesus as a family that week.
You might like to create a Holy Week Box, with simple items inside and a simple set of readings and prayers to use each day in Holy Week (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday). You should be able to make one using things you have at home, and you’ll find a FREE DOWNLOAD with all the instruction you need to plan this here.
You might want to consider celebrating Passover this year, which falls in the week before Easter. I’ve got lots of material to help you, including these articles, this FREE seder (like a service sheet), and an Online Workshop with 39 page download with loads of things to help you explore and celebrate Passover as a family.
You might like to get some new books for Easter. Here’s some I’ve reviewed.
Other ideas you might like to consider are making an Easter Garden, Easter Egg Hunt Prayers, Easter Story puppets, Make your Own Easter Eggs and put the story inside in the form of sweets (!) and the ever popular Mini Egg Prayer. For more Easter loveliness, follow GodVenture on Facebook.
5 Do something each day (but don’t feel guilty if you miss a few!)
If you don’t do so already, you might like to use this change to start a regular daily habit of coming close to God. You can do this through prayer and exploring Bible, in a way which works well for you.
To find something which suits you, ask your friends what they use and why, and try some different things.
You could also do this as a family. Try reading a short Bible passage then asking questions like: I wonder what part you like best. I wonder what you think is the most important part. I wonder which part might be for you.
You can make this more fun using a Questions Dice. I’ve made a set of templates with different questions, and one blank for you to add your own. You just need to download, print and cut out to make your own dice.
Another way we like to explore the Bible is to listen to it on YouVersion the Bible app and draw, paint or play Lego while we are listening. It helps us listen for longer, as well as giving us creative, rather than just verbal ways we can respond to the text and to God. See here for some more ideas on simple, creative ideas to respond to Bible stories together.
6 Make a faith at home challenge or goal
I find that planning things helps me to do the things I want to do. So, what do you want to do? What faith at home goals could you make for this extended time at home together?
Here are some ideas, but you can create your own:
- Read a whole book of the Bible together (here’s a list of the times each book takes)
- Listen to a whole big Bible story (e.g. Esther, Joseph, a whole gospel) using an audio Bible (there’s loads on the YouBible app. We like David Suchet reading the NIVUK)
- Pray together each day
- Learn a new verse or passage of the Bible of by heart (here’s some creative ways you could use)
- Research a particular story using reference books and the internet to get more information about the cultural, geographic and social context and share your findings together
- Choose a significant verse to meditate on
7 Look at ways you can reach out to your community
I’m sure you’ve seen the various posts with note cards you can download and personalise and put through neighbours’ doors to offer comfort and help if they need it. This was be a difficult time for many people, so, as you can, look for ways you can be a blessing to your community.
8 Start a weekly Shabbat meal together
If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you’ll have heard me talk about Shabbat, our weekly Sabbath meal. We find this is the spiritual centre of our week, and you might be surprised at the richness it could bring to your faith at home. You can learn more about it here and download a FREE copy of our family ‘service sheet’ here.
This is not a complete list, so what else would you add? Please comment with your own suggestions!