Families Together...

Welcome to this series of five devotions for families and households. These sessions are designed for all ages, and are simple to use. They don’t require lots of set up or materials, just you and your family. This series is specifically written for families confined to their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2019-2020.

Each session includes: - To do: a simple fun activity (no materials required)
- To talk about: a question to get the conversation started
- To explore: A short Bible passage to read, and an optional video clip to view
- To think about: something for the family to ponder
- To respond: choose from a few options (prayer ideas, a song to sing, an action)
- To pray: finish by praying a simple blessing together
This series is structured around the choices we can make during this time. Click on the titles below to view each session, or click here for the full file of all five sessions.
Introduction to the series
Anxiety v peace
Boredom v purpose
Looking after number one v caring for …

Help! Easter is on the way and I am stuck at home with this lot!

Greetings from my bubble to yours! 

Easter is fast approaching, and it will be a year like no other. And because it's been an intense and worrying time for many of us, I suggest that we don't get overwhelmed by trying to accomplish too much. I have put together five tips for preparing for this season - so that we can worship God, find joy in each other's company and not collapse with stress. 

1. Lower your expectations: While we might want Easter to be a super-spiritual amazing time, the chances are our housemates (young and old) may have other ideas. God made families, God understands the craziness. Celebrate the small wins.  

2. Raise your expectations: I shall now contradict myself! Now is the time to be surprised by what God can do in and through our families. God is creative, and works in unexpected ways. I am all too often taken by surprise by children and their ability to cut right to the heart of the things of God. I shouldn't be surprised, Jesus did say they were…

From my bubble to yours

These are strange and overwhelming times. We are under stress, collectively as a nation. We are also under stress in our little bubbles. It is easy to be pulled apart by the pressure of home-school a class of ungrateful students, or working in a church role where you are expected to collate all manner of online resources in a short space of time. Or the anxiety producing loneliness of isolation. Let me offer into this space one practice I have used for a year or so now and have found very helpful. It will work on your kids too! You could use this on a walk outside or around your house. 

Notice 5...4...3...2...1

5. Notice five things that you can see. *Describe them out loud if you like (e.g. green spiky leaf, black hairy spider) 

4. Notice five things that you can hear. * (e.g. the screech of a seagull, my heartbeat)

3. Notice five things you can feel. (e.g. the carpet under my feet, the breeze on my face)

2. Notice five things you can smell. (e.g. the sweet smell of a pine tree, my shampo…

Kia tau te rangimārie

Kia tau te rangimārie Peace be with you 
We live in anxious times. The spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus is causing the whole world to become an unsettled and unpredictable place. This has an effect on our children. I recently heard of a school that has had to ban the children from playing 'Coronavirus Tag', which is as it sounds. If you get tagged, you have the virus and you will die. Needless to say, this was rather anxiety inducing for all concerned. 

We can be proactive in addressing this anxiety, especially as some children will carry their concerns close to their heart without verbalising it. Here are a couple of tips and resources that you might find helpful:

1. Slow down: This link will lead you to a series of colouring pages produced by Strandz for Advent this year. Download the 'rangimārie' or 'peace' page and photocopy off enough for one each. During your Sunday morning programme or after-school club give the children time in silence to colour in this p…

In the Footsteps of Jesus

Understanding the daily life of Jesus helps us to discover who he really was. Context puts flesh on bones, and breathes life into the gospels. There are many great resources out there to help us to dig into the context of 1st Century Palestine. Here are some of our favourite free resources:

Modern Photos of Israel/Palestine Annette took these photos during her visit in 2011. Free to download and use in PowerPoint or printed out to show small groups of children. We would be grateful if you could acknowledge Scripture Union New Zealand. 

Links to great websites: A virtual tour of Israel Bible Places Great images of reconstructions of the temple in the time of Jesus Free photos of modern Israel A basic interactive map of Israel with photos
A free app which gives you a virtual tour of Jerusalem and the temple. Works offline! 
A couple of great Youtube clips of the Temple in Jerusalem:

The Journey to Jerusalem

The season of Lent may not be familiar to all of us. It was certainly not a tradition I grew up with. But in the past couple of years I have grown to appreciate the journey that leads to Jerusalem. It gives me time to process and reflect. Take the opportunity to explore Lent with the children in your church and community. It might be one simple practice that you pick up. 

Our blog has a variety of resources for the Lent and Easter season:
- Intergenerational services 
- An Easter story to share as a family or children's programme 
- Links to resources, articles and images 

You can find them all here!

We will also be posting about great resources and ideas via our Facebook page so make sure you follow us.

We also recommend you check out these websites for a whole library of great resources and links. Look no further:

These stones...

Reminders of God’s Faithfulness
In Joshua we read that God saved the Hebrew people by leading them through the Jordan River. They found themselves safely on the other side. The LORD then told their leader Joshua to instruct the leaders of the twelve tribes to pick up a stone each and carry it back to camp. Joshua used these twelve stones to create a memorial. We read, 

“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 
tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant  of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”  Joshua 4:6-7
These stones were a physical reminder of a spiritual moment. Every time their children saw them it acted like a prompt. The pile of stones created an opportunity for their family to talk together about the past and God’s faithfulness. 
What are your ‘stones’?
What is in your house, church or community that remind…