Lindsay Wright loves spending time with her children in her favourite time of the year
Day-to-day faith conversations at home with our children can be hard. The concept can be quite daunting, nerve-wracking (especially when we feel like we don’t know the answers ourselves) and often it feels like it needs to be resource and time heavy. It doesn’t need to be. For me, I began by asking the question: “What it is that you love?” What do you find yourself getting excited about? If these are the things you enjoy doing regularly, how can you fit God conversations into them?
Autumn is my favourite season, above all others. I despise summer – it’s too hot, it’s sticky, it causes everyone to complain because it’s either too hot or it’s too wet. As for winter, having to wear heavy jumpers is dreary. Autumn, however, is the seasonal repose, a joyful transitional, where you can witness sunrises brushed with soft fog gently sitting among the orange glows of that first break of light, the changing of the leaves, the crisp walks and the return of snuggling down with a blanket in the evening. It’s just beautiful, and it’s the easiest season for me to talk about what it is that I love, being in nature. It’s spending time in nature that I find allows me to instinctively talk about God, it’s where I connect most with him. Many of my walks with my children these days are the routine ones, those that merely take you from one task to another, such as the school run, yet even in those there’s opportunity to spot the changes in nature and talk about faith. I thought I would share one of the more recent conversations as inspiration for you to find your own special opportunities.
Activity: Seed spotting
You will need: an activity sheet (such as this one from the Woodland Trust) or just your eyes!
Go on your walk, it can be one you’re doing on purpose for this activity or one you do every day, such as the school run.
Use the activity sheet, or a plant identifying app on your phone, or simply your eyes to spot the different seeds around. You’ll notice berries, hard seeds and flying seeds.
Talk about what you notice about the seeds. Are they all the same or different? They are all different, some are within soft fruits, others are hard, some are big, others are light and have special adaptations to give them wings to fly off and away.
In Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23 we hear Jesus sharing the parable of the sower. It talks about God sowing his word and invites us to ask ourselves whether we are like the good soil, are we creating that good environment to listen to God, for the seeds to produce a good crop.
Each of these seeds that you see has the potential to grow into a substantial and beneficial plant, but did you know some seeds need more than good soil? Some seeds won’t germinate (when a seed begins to grow and puts out shoots) in good soil alone, they have to go through something to break down, or strip away the testa (the tough seed coat which surrounds the whole seed structure) so the water and nutrients from the soil can get into the seed, and so begin the germination process.
Many seeds in England need to go through a period of cold first (that’s why our winter is so important), some need to go through a fire (you’ll find many of these plants where there are bush fires like South Africa and Australia), some need to be soaked in water for a long time, and others need to go through the digestive system of an animal (eaten and then pooped out again!). Only once the seeds have experienced these conditions can they grow in that good soil.
Ask yourselves if there is anything you need to do as a family or individually to strip away your own testa, the things that make it harder to hear God so then you can plant in good soil and produces a crop. Maybe it’s praying more, maybe it’s playing on the Switch less to make more time to be with God, maybe it’s beginning a new group with church.
You may read this and still feel as if that’s too much for you, and that’s OK. Look at what it is you already do, look at what you find interesting and ask yourself: “What does this tell me about God?” Then talk about it with your children. If, like the parable, God is always sowing his word, then we can find God wherever we look, not just in church on a Sunday.
Other ideas for autumn
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God endures for ever” Isaiah 40:8.
We can witness the flowers fading, many already gone, but the word of God does stand for ever. Discuss how that makes you feel and ask your children how it makes them feel.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” Romans 5:3-5.
If you’re watching Strictly Come Dancing, you will notice how the dancers and the celebrities must keep going. Even when things are tough, they continue. Sometimes they make a mistake during the routine, do they stop and fall apart? No, they must keep going. Reminds us of the Romans verse. Share times in your life you found challenging, but you kept going.