Stay at home
Like me, I’m sure you’ve been doing some breakneck-speed life changes over the last few weeks. As we are all spending more time at home, and not going to church services and groups, it seems like a good time to grow in our faith at home!
You might be asking yourself: “How can I support others when I feel anxious?” One thing I’m actively working on is fanning the flames of my own faith to help me be the person I need to be; specifically how my faith practices can help me not 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:
This is a practice 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 that are good in my life. Sometimes I’ve sketched them, or filled segments in a page which I mark out in advance. This month I’m writing a numbered list: I wrote the numbers in advance so I can keep track of where I’m up to. I find this practice changes my mindset for the day and leads me to give thanks to God for all his blessings in my life.
This is something you can also do as a family, but it’s good to start by doing it ourselves because it changes us.
There are some brilliant resources out there for this. One that I love is Sarah’s Bessey’s 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. I love using this myself, so I’ve adapted it into a guided meditation which I use with my children to help them connect with God and find peace and calm.
Below is a script I’ve made. You can find a downloadable version here or by searching ‘GodVenture breath prayer’. Settle in a comfy spot then start, speaking slowly and calmly:
Imagine yourself in your own personal sanctuary. It can be anywhere you choose, real or imaginary, indoors or outside, somewhere you feel safe and loved, somewhere peaceful where you can meet with God.
Breathe deeply and slowly, in through your nose then gently out through your mouth. Fill your whole self with breath, feel air in your lungs.
Can you imagine yourself there? What can you see? Can you hear anything? What smells are there?
Continue to breathe deeply, slowly in through your nose then gently out through your mouth.
Now breathe in, then say: “Your perfect love”, and breathe out and say: “Drives out all fear”. Breathe in and out yourself and say the words together. Repeat so you say the lines ten times in total.
Now imagine yourself getting up and leaving your sanctuary and slowly coming back. God is still with you. His peace stays with you.
Again, this would be fabulous 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.
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 be 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.
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 care 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 self-care comes first on my list!).
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 the Bible, in a way which works well for you.
Personally, I like the Celtic Daily Prayer Book and also the Lectio365 app, both of which combine Bible and prayer. Ask your friends what they use and why, and you’re sure to find something which works for you.
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”.
I’ve created a questions dice to make it like a game, which you can download here or by searching ‘GodVenture questions dice’.
Another way we like to explore the Bible is to listen to it on the YouBible 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.
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.
- Listen to a whole big Bible story (eg Esther, Joseph, a whole Gospel) using an audio Bible. (There are lots on the YouBible app. We like David Suchet reading the NIVUK.)
- Pray together each day.
- Learn a new verse or passage of the Bible off by heart each week or month.
- 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.
Mark the Sabbath
This is a perfect time to develop some home habits to mark the Sabbath. Personally, I don’t do any washing on the Sabbath, and aim to get it all away by then so I don’t even have to see it! (This doesn’t always happen, obviously!) I also give away my daily jobs of getting the children’s breakfast and clearing up the kitchen.
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 (or by searching ‘GodVenture Shabbat sheet’) and download a copy of our family ‘service sheet’.