Caring for creation during lockdown

IMG_20200329_113851905

It should I suppose come as no surprise that because God the creator of the world also made us we have an innate close bond with his creation. The Bible reminds us that everything in creation reveals God’s glory to us – points us to God.

Every little part of his creation is a testimony of his character and his heart.

psalm 104 v 24

Scientists will tell us that gardening boosts good mental health, anything creative and focused helps us become grounded and mindful of the present which reduces anxiety and regulates emotion. It has all the health benefits of getting outside in the sunshine and fresh air, and physical exercise to help us stay healthy and sleep better.

Animals too are well recognized for their therapeutic benefits. Again, potentially reducing anxiety and regulating emotion.

None of this is any surprise to God, who made us and placed us in a garden to live in harmony with his creation and himself. Caring for creation is a part of what makes us tick.

So how on earth can we stay connected, keep caring for creation during lock-down?

Easy enough I suppose if you happen to have a private garden, all that’s needed is the motivation to get everyone out there and taking part! A scavenger hunt, or a personal little patch of soil and some seeds; a mud kitchen; or a fairy garden or dinosaur landscape to play with.

But what about caring for creation if you are inside, without a garden? 

I was reading today that in Spain at the moment children are not permitted to leave their houses at all. That does require a lot of outside the box thinking in order to care for creation (and ourselves!). Here are 5 ideas for connecting with nature during lockdown that don’t need a garden!

  • Grow caterpillars – We sent off for a kit that included a butterfly (zipped and netted) enclosure, and a pot with 5 tiny caterpillars in containing all the food they needed. Simple! It has been amazing to watch them eat, and grow – shed their skin, eat, poo and grow some more. (They became huge!) The sealed pot has made it so easy to keep them safe and well as we have enjoyed watching them change. Today they have all turned into chrysalises and we have moved them to the butterfly enclosure to wait for butterflies.

 

  •  Window watching – make time to bird, bee or butterfly watch out of the window. RSPB are hosting a bird watching breakfast between 8-9am in the UK during the lockdown. The Big Butterfly Count(which happens between July – Aug in the UK) has a good printable guide to UK butterflies. Now is a good time to start getting in some spotting practice. There is also an app and ID guide to help with spotting bees from Friends of the Earth.
  • Share the care for pets – if you have a pet, get everyone who’s in lockdown with you involved in their care. Invent new toys for them, study their behaviours, find out more about them, take photos, enjoy more cuddles than usual.
  • Watch a nature documentary – yes it’s not the same as getting out there, but it’s good. Be amazed at God’s creation. Get up close to animals or places you wouldn’t be able to normally in the great outdoors and be inspired to marvel at the God who made and sustains it all.
  • Fruit and Vegetables – spend some time really noticing and enjoying the fruit or vegetables in your kitchen. Make some pictures using vegetable prints and be amazed at the patterns they make. Do a blind smell or taste test and find out who can guess all of the fruit and veg correctly. Find out where they grew, and what their plant looks like. Hold a seed from a fruit in your hand and think about how it contains all that is needed to grow into a new plant which will produce new fruits. God is an astonishing designer.

 

 

 

Praying for the world together: Covid 19

IMG_20200325_072003559

There have been two global calls to prayer in the last few days, but it has not been easy for us as a family to join in at the right time or in the same way.

But we do want to pray!

Here are some creative ways to pray together as a family for this world as it struggles with Covid-19 on top of all the other urgent and devastating needs for prayer – war-torn, cholera, malaria, malnutrition, slavery, child-marriage, trauma, displaced people…

IMG_20200325_071528248

  • Play a board game and ‘travel’ around the world. But pause to pray for each place you go through and arrive in. We have this game sitting on our shelf.

IMG_20200325_071758784

  • We happen to have an inflatable globe, but if you have a balloon you could use that and simply write countries on it with a marker pen. Throw and catch – pray for the place which is nearest your thumbs when its your turn to catch.

IMG_20200325_072223135

  • Lovely ideas from GodVenture – make a pile of stones together, each stone a prayer – blow bubbles to visualize asking for God’s blessing to fall and spread around the world, our family, our community. You could draw places and people and then lay out the pictures and blow bubbles over them.
  • Get crafty together – a collage using recycling materials in the house, or painting with water/chalk outside. Talk and pray together for the places you add to your creations. Remember God made the whole world and it is his!

IMG_20200325_074727607

  • Prayer doodle alongside each other. We printed off a simple map of the world to use.

 

However we manage to bring our families together to pray, whether it’s a way that works for sensory seekers, those who can’t sit still, or who wouldn’t join in with words our prayers are powerful because the God we bring our prayers to is mighty!

 

Need help to keep bedtime calm tonight? 5 hope filled Bible stories to listen to

 

2016-04-09 20.34.39

 You’re tired, they’re tired. Nothing is how it should be – we’ve had another day with many of us at home rather than school, college or work – anxieties are running high for everyone. You’re frazzled and yet you all need and want a calm snuggly, safe bedtime – don’t know about you but I’m not the best story teller on days like this!

 Here are some great places to find hope-filled stories told by other (calmer!) people to get you all ready for bedtime…..

Sally Lloyd Jones  – author of ‘The Jesus Storyteller Bible’ and many other books, is going to be reading some stories on Instagram while there are a lot of us stuck in at home.

The Bible Society has an animation ‘Super Cool Jesus’ which tells the story of why Jesus came, and how he loves us.

Saddleback Kids quirky animation of Matthew 6 is all about how much God cares for each of us – especially when there’s lots to worry about!

Bob Hartman has a wonderful story song all about God’s good world.

Bible App has loads to choose from, and activities to download and print that follow up on a story if you want to.

At-home-church: worship resources ‘when I am afraid’

Hi again – so the resources begin!

T & I had a chat this morning about this crazy idea and she was excited. So we thought about how we could help ourselves to worship this morning. She came up with all of these activities this time – enjoy. And do share pics, T will be very encouraged.

“What Bible story can you think of where people were scared like we feel today?”

“I know, the one with the Giant…”

David and Goliath – God is bigger!

Read: 1 Sam 17.

We read from T’s Adventure Bible, but this is a story found in most children’s Bibles too.

We chatted about how big and scary Goliath was, and how amazing and unexpected it was that David was so brave.

“What made David braver than his brothers and the other soldiers?”

“He knew God was with him!”

I was particularly struck by the repetition of the phrase ‘the Living God’ as I read the story out loud. The God we worship is not just a concept, or idea but real and living – powerful and active in this world and in our lives. He is bigger and stronger than the things that make us afraid.

Respond: paper crosses

T had a great idea to cut out cross shapes, and write our big worries on them. Then she wanted to fold them up (bringing the outside parts into the middle) and pop them in water to watch them open up and remind us our big worries can be given to God.

I wasn’t absolutely sure this was going to work – but we went with it…

It works!! We had a lovely quiet moment watching them and giving our worries to God.

Sing:

Every Giant will fall (Rend Collective)

God I look to you, Our God reigns (Hillsong)

Pray for others: Praying for our neighbours and town with lego

We had fun building houses, shops, and a park and thought about who was living where. What might be a big worry for them right now, and asked Jesus to help them.

We pray you find these ideas helpful and easy to use.

Saul to David: “Go and the Lord be with you!”

And David went out to face Goliath!

We can’t go to church tomorrow: Being church differently during Coronavirus

Andrew and I, like most of us, have had a week trying to get our heads around the impact government advice about Coronavirus and covid-19 is going to have on everything. From the food in our cupboards, access to education, concern for the vulnerable it is going to affect the whole of life for at least the next weeks and months. As I write this T & B are finally asleep, it has been an anxious evening with repeated checking of temperatures being needed for reassurance, and many many questions. Andrew & I are self isolating until Tuesday having been in close contact with someone who has been told they have the virus. It has brought it all into sharp focus.

2016-10-14-20-27-06

Church is going to have to look and feel a bit different as we follow the ever changing advice, and as Andrew particularly works on those adaptations it is even harder knowing we cannot be there tomorrow to be in community and to give and receive reassurance of God’s presence with us and his love & peace for us.

How painful, at a time where anxiety is high not to be able to go into the heart of the family, the community where we find support. How odd to have to do so many things differently at a time when for so many of us the familiarity of routine would be so comforting.

In Andrew’s letter to our church family he has reminded us of the connections we can have through phone and social media, through care for each other – even if it can only be food or a message left on the doorstep. He also reminded us that there are resources on the church website – sermons to listen to, and online devotions.

As we go through these next few weeks I will also be linking to resources that we find useful as we seek to be church differently.

Do follow on Facebook, Twitter and here where I will post resources and printables that we can use at home to help create opportunities for worship, reflection serving others and finding peace in God’s presence together in our homes.