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How to Bible

Prayers

Grab a habit

Books

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Mindfulness Playlist

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Youth Resources

Stuff for your spiritual backpack

How to Bible

It’s the defining document of our faith, but can be seriously confusing and even contradictory. In order to understand the Bible, we’ve got to be reading it. These resources take the Bible day-by-day, in digestible, theologically-sound chunks.

Prayers

A conversation with God. Sure, it may feel one-sided, but when we’re still and in the presence of God, we can have deeply meaningful moments. Here are some places to start.

Grab a Habit

Read through these simple ideas and see what resonates with you. Consider incorporating it into your daily flow so that no matter what else is going on, your day includes something good.

Identify 3-5 core commitments:

Honest. Hard-Working. Family-Centered. Empathetic. Environmental Justice. Social Justice. Responsibility. Mindfulness. Generosity. Service/Outreach. Contentment. Joy. Patience. Loyalty.

Keep your Core Commitments and revisit them daily.

Who gets most of your time? Where does your time go? What needs to change if anything?

Write a letter every month to someone from your family, your friends and those that are important to you. Begin to identify members of your faith family.  Connect with them through a card, letter, or send a picture of the two of you. Thank them for the gift they are in your life. Be specific. 

Quality Time: Every week, find 15 minutes to give to someone in your family or a good friend and spend time with them. Invite them to be the center of attention. Listen. Buy their favorite coffee or drink and just be present. Stretch goal: Invite someone new to meet for coffee, ice cream or to go for a walk.  Text them to ask but call to confirm details.

Reflection Time: Who is on your Board of Directors for your Life? Who gives you guidance, support, or mentors you? Can you identify 5 adults that serve this role for you of different ages? Do they know they play this role? Let them know!

Identify the 5 most important people in your life. This may be different than your board of directors.

It’s widely believed that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with?

Who gets most of your time? Where does your time go? What needs to change if anything?

Gratitude is the acknowledgment that each moment of life is enough. We have enough and what we experience is enough. I invite you to stop for a minute today and just take notice of all that God has given you. It is enough.

Reflect daily on three things for which you are grateful. Train your mind to look for things that for which you are grateful. Find small holy moments in the ordinary things of life. 

Want to dive deeper? Great. Let’s go.

Gratitude is a natural response to life but it does take practice and intentionality. When we practice gratitude, we cultivate the ability to see wonder, awe, and possibility in each moment of our lives. You will be surprised what begins to happen. Time opens up and rushing around becomes less of a pattern. Bitterness is replaced with contentment. Daily routines become defining moments. The ordinary becomes holy.

Gratitude researchers have also seen changes in brain development when gratitude is practiced consistently. It increases resilience, reduces stress and depression. The research shows that those practicing gratitude have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and sleep better. They are more alert and more generous, compassionate, and happier. Grateful people also have a greater capacity for joy and positive emotions.

So how do we enter into the faith practice of gratitude? Reflect on 3-5 things for which you are grateful for daily. Do this for a month.

  • Keep track in a journal with your family at dinner.
  • Use the App: 5 Minutes of Gratitude
  • Use the gratitude calendar. Do it during your last school break.
  • Pass a notebook around your family and everyone write in it your list of 5 things you are grateful for every day. Put on a table by a chair everyone sits in daily. Share at dinner daily.
  • Post a photo every day on social media of something for which you are grateful. Something simple.

Meditation doesn’t have to be hard. Start with practicing deep, intentional breathing daily. Try to spend 5-10 minutes in silence.  Pray daily through meditation apps or breathing practices.

Apps: Insight timer, Head Space, Calm

Books

Settle in with stories and spiritual memoirs from interesting people.

Mindfulness

Playlist

Mindfulness is a powerful way to handle stress and live life more fully. Mindfulness is all about living fully in the present moment, without judgment, and with an attitude of kindness and curiosity towards oneself and others. It’s about breathing, noticing what’s happening right here and now.

Even in the midst of a crazy year, difficult times, and uncertainty, it helps us be present.

Being present takes some practice.

Even breathing takes practice. I know we do it every day but breathing is the first step to praying. As a person of faith, I find that with each breath, I am breathing in the breath of God. Life abundant. It is a space to listen to God. So let’s start here:

Remember your Baptism: Wash your hands and remember your baptism. As water washes over your hands remember the story of Jesus being baptized by his cousin John in the Jordan River. Remember the words God spoke at Jesus baptism, saying “You are my child.” Continue washing your hands and remember that baptism is the symbol that you are loved by God. Imagine your faith family that surrounded you at your baptism and feel that love that continues to surround you.

Every time you wash your hands, feel that love surrounding you as you remember your baptism.

Mindful practice:

Meditation of Loving-Kindness:

Find a comfortable place. One of the aims of this meditation is to feel good, so make your posture relaxed and comfortable. Begin to focus on your heart. Breathe in and out deeply. Breathe 3 deep breaths. As you breathe, begin by generating this kind of feeling toward yourself. Feel any areas of numbness or self-judgment. Then drop beneath that to the place where we care for ourselves, where we want more.

Continuing to breathe in and out, acknowledging that God gives you each breath. Say or think these phrases several times.

May I be safe
May I know peace
May I be
May I have the greatest happiness
May I know peace

Next, move to a person who most invites the feeling of pure unconditional loving kindness, the love that does not depend on getting anything back. There is no right or wrong person. Consider the faces and names that enter your mind. Consider the person toward whom it takes no effort to feel respect and reverence, someone who immediately brings the feeling of care. Repeat the phrases for this person: “May they be safe…”

After feeling strong unconditional love for a person close to you, move to a person you know to be a friend. Settle on just one person and offer the prayer above for your friend. May they be safe, May they know peace….

Continue with the prayer but breathe deeper. Now move to a neutral person, someone for whom you have just met this week, someone you see often in your group but do not have strong feelings about. You feel neither strong like nor dislike. As you repeat the prayer meditation, allow yourself to feel compassion and loving care for their day ahead.

Now move to someone you have difficulty with – someone who is hard to be with or you have past resentments. Repeat the phrases for this person. If you have difficulty doing this, you can say before the phrases, “To the best of my ability I wish that you be….”

If you begin to feel anger or resentment building inside, return to your first-person and let the loving kindness arise again before return to pray for the harder person in your life. We have the ability to love because we experience love.

Let the phrases spread through your whole body, mind, and heart.

After the difficult person, radiate love and kindness out to all beings. Stay in touch with the love at the center of your being, and begin to know love for all people. The traditional phrases are these:

May all people be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…
May all living beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…
May all individuals be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…

Allow the phrases to be simply a way for you to know love and offer love. Empower your imagination through the phrases to touch the hearts of all forms of life. Breathe deep and thank God for the gift of love that allows you to love. Breathe deeply 3 times before ending your time of meditation and prayer.

Mindfulness is not essentially prayer, but it helps us to present in this world so that I can be more aware of God’s presence in my life.

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