August 2020 Newsletter
Give All Your Worries to God
Summer is typically a time to “de-stress” and enjoy less-hectic schedules, fun outings, and time with extended family. The summer of 2020—along with so much else—has been upended by the pandemic, however. Social distancing, shutdowns, layoffs, and uncertainty about the upcoming school year are combining to cast a shadow over what are typically considered “bright” months.
In a study from April, more than one in four U.S. adults met criteria for diagnosing serious mental distress—a 700% increase from 2018. Children are affected, too. In another study, also from April, 89% of parents said the pandemic has added overall stress and anxiety to their kids’ lives.
While the sources of stress vary from family to family, the results often include sleep and behavioral changes, such as moodiness. Younger children may become clingy and lose impulse control, while older kids may appear unmotivated, combative, or withdrawn.
Now more than ever, parents need to be proactive about recognizing signs of distress and helping children de-stress. Experts recommend showing kids how to identify their emotions, encouraging honesty about tough feelings, limiting media and news exposure, modeling positive coping skills, conducting age-appropriate devotions about God’s protection and sovereignty, and seeking professional help when needed. Use the ideas on the next page to help kids find calm—and find Jesus—during turbulent times.
Transform Fear into Resilience
Disappointments, worries, and tough times can have “upsides,” experts say. These include opportunities to practice coping skills, build resilience, and put faith into action. Children who feel stressed can discover the support systems available to them and also learn how to assist others. Families who face struggles can rely on God, seek outside help, and eventually be bolstered by their endurance. Through their loving actions, parents can be an extension of Jesus, displaying patience, grace, and unconditional love to kids—no matter what’s happening in their world.
- Worry Whirl Have two family members pair up and link arms back to back. Blindfold one. Say: “Think about your worries while you race across the room (or lawn) and back—while spinning in circles. The ‘seeing’ partner must keep the other person safe. Ready? Whirl!” After everyone has a turn, discuss how the game is like real life. Read Jeremiah 29:11. Say: “When we feel like we’re spinning around with worries, God wants us to trust him. God has good plans for us!”
- Praises & Petitions Have regular chats about day-to-day ups and downs. Set aside time before bed to share praises and thanks as well as needs and worries. Pray about them and keep a prayer journal to see how God responds.
- Squirts of Courage Draw a large candle on paper. Read Matthew 5:16. Say: “Sometimes it’s easy to shine God’s light; other times it’s tough. Let’s play a game that shows how to keep shining!” Give two people (Squirters) filled water guns. Have them stand 8 feet apart facing each other. Put everyone else (Savers) in the middle and give one the candle. Say: “Squirters try to put out the candle. Savers try to protect it. When the candle gets squirted three times, we’ll switch.” Discuss how to help people “shine,” even on bad days.
- Faith Over Fear Set out paper, markers, craft sticks, glue, and tape. Say: “Let’s create a ‘monster’ and pretend it’s our fears. Choose something you’re afraid of and color your monster to look that way.” Share your creations. Read Psalm 27:1. Have each person write that reference on a paper slip and tape it around their monster. Say: “Whenever you’re afraid, remember that God is always with you and protects you. Wrapped in God’s Word, let’s fight our fears!”
- Don’t Snap! Set out scissors and rubber bands. In five minutes, make the longest, stretchiest band possible. Talk about pressures that “stretch” us thin. Read Philippians 4:6-7 and then pray, thanking God for peace and protection.
- Shelter in Jesus Together, wad up scrap paper and brainstorm things people fear or worry about. Say: “The Bible says we have nothing to fear.” Read Psalm 91:1-2. Choose someone to be It. Have half the people use their bodies to make a shelter to protect It while others throw paper wads at It. Switch roles. Then ask: “How did It feel in the shelter? Was protecting It easy or tough? How did your shelter compare to God’s?” Say: “You are precious to God, who always protects you!”
|Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear; for your God is…coming to save you.”|