The Bible describes Lydia in Acts 16 as a woman who “the Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said..” We don’t have a long story about this strong, financially independent dealer of purple cloth, but that she was the head of her household. We know that she was not a Jew but a Gentile who became a God-Fearer meaning that she gave up the worship of many gods to serve the one true God. Upon hearing the Good News, she took action by having her whole household baptized and offering Paul and Timothy a place to stay in her home. Her story grabbed my attention as I am in a study focusing on practices and postures that would encourage an Open Heart. God created each of us with an Open Heart, so I began my exploration of practices with the children in my children’s ministry program.
Today, I will explore 4 ways for children to become more like Lydia!
1- Let’s Get our Body Ready!
Before we engage the mind, I asked the children to connect to their bodies. We began in various yoga postures that “open the heart” or more specifically shine our chest to the sky! As we awaken our bodies to the heart opening postures, we initiate a process of welcoming new ideas…..and we get our wiggles out!!
Here is the series I led the children through although there are many Heart Opening postures to explore. Always remind them to breathe!
—Standing side bends (3 to each side, looking up to the sky) 3x’s to each side
Begin with the feet together and inhale as you lift your hands up to the sky. With Palms touching, begin to activate the muscles on one side while stretching the other side of the body. You can say, “pretend your body is a tea cup and pour the tea up and over!”
Begin by laying flat on your belly, inhale your head and chest up and place your forearms palms down at a 90 degree angle. Keep your legs flat to the ground. Relax and bring your head down to the ground looking to one side, then repeat 3x’s
—Cat to Cow Pose
On all fours, bring your body into table top position. As you exhale, bring in your stomach and round your body like a cat. If you can, bring your gaze to your belly button. As you exhale, let your belly relax and stick your bottom out and bring your gaze high! 3 times each
Lying on your back, put your feet flat on the floor drawing them as close to your bottom as you can. Stretch your arms to touch the back of your feet, then place them palms down on the floor. Use your legs to push your bottom, back and chest up off the ground making sure to keep your chin to your chest. Relax and repeat 3x’s
—Bow Pose–this should be a last pose since it is the most strenuous and deepest backbend but we are doing this to open the chest and expose the heart to the sky!
Begin on your belly, bend your knees (have the kids try to kick their own bottom!) then reach both hands back to your ankles or feet and grab. Now use your legs to pull your head, chest, belly off the floor or mat. Look forward!
–Corpse pose (which will be there favorite!) I had complete silence for 5 min!!!
Lying on your back, extend your legs out to the corner of your mat and relax. Extend your hands out by your side, palms up and relax. Close your eyes!
I took the children outside to our prayer garden for a listening session. They could choose to sit on a bend, lay on a blanket or whatever posture they felt most comfortable and could remain still for 5 min. As we all settled in, I explained that we were just going to listen and see what we can hear!
I had a great question before this activity began. “Can I pray?” This opened up a beautiful discussion about how most of the time, we use words and talk to God. Listening for God is also a form of prayer but a very different one where we try to quiet the mind and body so that we can hear what God might want to say to us!
To practice this kind of prayer, I gave them these words to help keep them focused for 5 min, “What else am I hearing?” They could also focus on saying thanks to God for whatever they heard like, “Thank you, God, for that bird!”
After 5 min, we practiced listening to each other with our whole bodies. Each child shared what they heard and even one child felt God tell them something very special!
3- Meditation on Love
Jesus said that we are to love others as we love ourselves. Lydia loved others greatly by bringing her whole household to follow Jesus and by offering her home to Paul and Timothy. She must have loved herself enough to be able to share this love!
You can find this meditation by Deepak Chopra at http://www.sonima.com/videos/kids-to-love
Close your eyes:
I am a lovely person (3 x’s)
I am a beautiful person (3 x’s)
I love myself exactly as I am (3 x’s)
Keep your eyes closed and give a BIG SMILE.
Eyes closed…imagine your toes smiling, ankles smiling, knees smiling, tummy smiling, heart smiling, lips smiling, forehead smiling.
Now I am going to count backwards from 30 to give you 30 seconds to feel that smile all over your body.
4- Give Generously to Others
Pick a service project! We made a video for one of our students who is in the hospital to let them know how much we miss them and that we are praying for them!