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How to Focus on Compassion as a Family in the Month of January

I hope you had a great time voting for a Compassion Focus.  I hope there was easy laughter and secret sweetness as you watched you family’s hearts grow toward something new.  Let’s review what you’ve already done to start a Family Compassion Focus:

1.  Brainstormed ideas for a Family Compassion Focus (tips here)

2.  Voted for a Family Compassion Focus (tips here)

3.  Celebrated your family’s choice (pictures of my family celebrating here)

Now you are ready for the next step.  In January you and your family can:

4.  Begin asking questions and researching

Asking Questions 

Continue making your home a safe place to ask lots of questions.  No shushing or shaming.   Write your family’s Compassion Focus on the top of a blank piece of paper.  Stick it up somewhere (ours is on the cabinet above the fridge, easy to view from the counter where we eat breakfast).  Tell your family, “If you hear anything about Haiti/Hunger/Cancer put it on here.  If you have any questions, we’ll add those too.”  Here is ours:

January Haiti Questions

My family’s guiding verse about compassion has been on that cabinet for more than 3 years. The Haiti one has been up 4 days.

I bet you already know people who know all about your family’s new Compassion Focus.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel.  Ask around.  Ask colleagues at work.  Ask the parents at school pick-up.  Ask your community on Facebook.  I have found so many great connections through the magic of Facebook.  Here is the kind of post I put out each year:

january fb ask

The post also has a picture of my daughter holding up her “Help Haiti” drawing.

 Begin Researching

This is the opportunity for everyone to begin to take responsibility.  Think of this month being like an extra credit 4th grade research project.  Assign different research tasks to different family members.  Use the basic tools at hand.

Disclaimer: In the past I have been Chief Researcher.  I type fast and can cut and paste stuff into documents and research very quickly.  This year I will not.  I will relinquish control and divvy these things up.  This will be stretching for me.  Feel free to ask me how it’s going.  Eeek.

Google – Be specific.  If you chose Clean Water you can do so many different searches.  Clean Water, Clean Water Organizations.  Clean Water Christian, Clean Water Africa, Clean Water Mexico, etc.  I set up a tab on my bookmarks bar and save all the links I like in there.

Wikipedia – We don’t use the Encyclopedia Brittanica anymore, sadly.  Last year when Homelessness was our focus I was impacted by the historical photos on wikipedia of people in breadlines, living on trains, and sleeping on street grates.  It helped me narrow my focus when I realized I wanted more details about what was happening currently close to my home.

Amazon – I think Amazon is a great reference tool.  I searched for “Haiti” this morning and got a long list of books that piqued my interest.   I will put some on a wish list and look for others at the library.

Library – Go to the library and look for books about your Family Compassion Focus.  Ask the librarian in the children’s department to help you find age-appropriate books.

Dictionary & Thesaurus – This is especially helpful when your Focus in a concept, like Hunger, Homelessness, or Orphans.  I ask the kids write out the definitions (practice that cursive!) on paper and put it in the binder.  I like to teach the kids how to use a real paper dictionary and thesaurus.  But it’s more practical to use an online one like and 

Concordance – If you are into the Bible or curious about it, please consider using a concordance.  It’s a great research exercise for your kids.  Again, this is easier when the Focus is a concept like Slavery, Poverty, or Sickness.  “Haiti” and “Soccer Ministry” are not in the Bible.  So coach your kids to think about what the Big Picture might be behind your Focus.  I love Bible Gateway.  Type keywords right in the search field.  If you find a verse you like look it up in one of the dozens of translations they offer.  The New Living Translation (NLT) and Contemporary English Version (CEV) are more accessible for kids.  The Message (MSG) is my current favorite modern translation.

Note:  I am not a homeschooler.  Our family does not do stuff like this every day.  

Gather the Information in One Place

I’ve mentioned before that I love to use binders.   It’s easy to keep on a shelf and add to when new information is gathered.   You can get a pack of 2 binders at Costco for the price of one at Target.  I do splurge and get the page protectors at Costco, too.  There are 500 to a box.  If you have a friend doing a Family Compassion Focus, too, maybe you guys can split it.

haiti binder

Our fresh new 2015 binder for Haiti. I recommend getting one with clear sleeves on the cover for your kids’ artwork. And pockets inside the covers.

A quick list of what is in our 2014 Homelessness Binder: Words of the Year, artwork about the Focus, Bible verses, list of school supplies Zoë wanted to collect for homeless classmates, encouraging notes, 5k registration sheets for two races, list of items Greta wanted to get a homeless family for Christmas, list of crafts Greta wanted to make for her fundraiser, thank you notes from people who bought crafts, and cards the kids made Jesus for his Birthday.

Of course you don’t need a binder.  A big shipping envelope, a cute basket, a shoe box, and rubbermaid bin could all work.  Do what works for you and what pleases you.

Guiding Principle for January:

He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you,

but to do justice,

and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

What does the Lord require us to do this January with our family?

Not five trips to the library, exasperated how-to-use-the-internet lessons, and bible verses down our throats.  Not more burdens and extra tasks. He requires (let’s see our handy thesaurus for insight on that: requires = expects/compels/demands/requests/involves) us to do Justice, love Kindness, and walk Humbly.  We are doing this! We are starting a Family Compassion Focus in our homes.  We are asking questions about justice and injustice, we are learning how to show kindness and mercy, we are in the posture of humble learners.

Please remember that I offer lots of tips to be >helpful<.  If these are not helpful, please do not do them.  Do it your own way and share with us.  There is always room for improvement and new ideas.

Team Fritz hasn’t started this yet.  When we do I will post ideas to make things easier and encourage us all.

You are loved.


Colour field 2010 25cm x 25cm acrylic on canvas

Georgia Gray – Colour Field – 2010 25cm x 25cm acrylic on canvas

This post fleshes out the 3rd row on the Family Compassion Focus Calendar, the month of January.  Of course this can be done at any time.  It’s the next step after choosing and celebrating your Focus.

© Aimee Fritz and Family Compassion Focus, 2014-2015


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