Copy of “When You Get Up” – Rethinking Your Morning Routine to Bless Your Children

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We’ve come to the final command, rounding out the four specific opportunities God tells us to use to pass the faith along to our children. Interestingly, this is actually the first thing I would have put on the list… I would have started at the beginning of the day and then worked by way through “along the road” to “when you sit at home” then “when you lie down.” Isn’t that interesting? Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to be a linear thinker. So what do you think God intends by putting this last in the list?

I don’t really have a great guess. But here’s my logic. You’ve surely heard the expression that you can “wake up on the wrong side of the bed.” Some days we wake up and feel like we’re ready to conquer the day. Other days we’d rather pull the blankets up over our heads and just stay put! The Lord know and he understands.

Mornings can make or break our day. And maybe that’s why this is last on the list. Yes, the others are important, but don’t forget moms and dads… make it a priority to build your child up in the things of the Lord FIRST THING before the day gets away from you. When someone probably woke up on the wrong side of the bed, you can put the focus right back where it belongs: on the hope we have in Jesus and the wonderful Gospel.

Here are the ## ways you can incorporate spiritual teaching “when you get up:”

1)     Have God’s Word at the breakfast table. I think this is the best setting for a quick devotional or Scripture reading. Chances are you’re having to move fast for parents to get to work or kids to get to school. But taking a few minutes to acknowledge that you need to put God first will set a positive tone for the rest of your day.

2)     Consider posting encouraging scripture verses on the bathroom mirror so that everyone can see them as they are getting ready for their day.

3)     Play energizing Christian music or praise and worship to set the tone – there is nothing better than praising God and remembering His goodness as a family in the morning hours.

4)     Pray a special blessing out-loud over your children. You may choose a special prayer that you will pray each and every day, but touch them, hug them, and look them in the eye so they know you are blessing them through the power of God as you all go about your day.

Mornings have gotten a bad rap. Commercials and pop culture want us to buy into caffeine or highly sugared breakfast treats being the answer to our sluggish behavior or bad mood, but I sure believe that God can transform us as we create intentional space to honor him with our morning routines… with or without coffee! 😉

Copy of “When You Lie Down” – How Night Time Routines Build Faith

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I. Love. Bedtime. I always have since I was a little girl. I cherished it when my children were small. I long for it many nights now that they are teenagers. Night time routines have probably witnessed the biggest evolution in our home from the time our children were born until now.

When kids are babies, we must do everything for them from bath time to putting on a fresh diaper, dressing them, nursing them or bottle feeding them, singing them a lullaby or reading them a short picture book until, Lord willing, they drift peacefully to sleep. (Or lay in their crib screaming for 30 minutes… you know… it could go either way!)

As our kids get older, they are more responsible for their night time routines. We may still sit with them while they take a bath, but they are sitting up and playing with their rubber ducky. They begin to dress themselves, pick out THE SAME BOOK to read every night, refuse to go to the bathroom when you know they will be up in the middle of the night if they don’t go right now, and wiggle in your lap instead of sitting still to pray. Ah, those were the days!

Now that I’m a mom of teens, I can tell you that late nights are the norm once again. Laying in a crib crying has morphed into laying in my bed telling me all of the drama of the day (which I’ll admit is WAY better than the crying). We aren’t doing read-alouds anymore. I’m not tucking them in and praying for them, they are now praying independently. They are reading their Bible or using a Bible study… this is the goal… that they would love the Lord and desire the things of the Lord without my prompting.

So if you are a parent of young children, I’d say 8 years old and younger, here are a few strategies to make the most of your bedtime routines:

1)     Read from an age-appropriate Bible.

2)     Pray for and with your child AND let them pray for you, others, and circumstances they care about.

3)     If your child has trouble falling asleep, consider allowing them to listen to character-building Bible stories such as Adventures In Odyssey as they doze off.

If your children are older than 8, they are probably ready for these ideas:

1)     Read a story out loud together such as the Chronicles of Narnia. (By 8 years old, most kids have required nightly reading goals and this is a great way to satisfy that while building in spiritual teaching.)

2)     Sing together. Pick out some worship music and either play it as everyone is brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, packing up school work, etc. OR musical families may enjoy using voices and instruments to praise God for a few minutes before lights out.

3)     Meditation. Teach your children how to calm their mind, body and spirit before the Lord. Sadly, many children in our culture struggle with stress, anxiety and depression from an early age. Teaching them that God is near and we can quiet ourselves before him and listen for his voice is a very critical tool that they can carry with them into adulthood.

If bedtime has been a struggle in your home, I hope that one or more of these suggestions is helpful. “When you lie down” as a family is a wonderful time to draw near to the Lord together.

 

“When You Walk Along the Way” – Travel Time as Discipleship

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We live in the age of the Fit Bit, so the idea of walking is not just for those that can’t run anymore… many of us are counting our steps and choosing to walk when we might otherwise have taken the elevator or hopped in the car for an ultrashort trip. So as I mentioned in this post {link}, the family walk is truly an excellent interpretation of this home discipleship mandate.

When our children were babies, my husband and I enjoyed walks after dinner when we could share with each other about what God was doing in our lives (and catch up on much needed connection time too) while enjoying fresh air and exercise. As your children get older, it’s a wonderful opportunity to give them your undivided attention as well and to pour God’s Truth into their hearts and minds. After all, they want your attention and most every child I know loves to go for a walk (or a ride in the wagon) while exploring the outdoors.

But I would be remiss to leave this statement to only this one application. Because the idea of “walk along the way” is really about traveling from places to place. In Biblical times, you walked. Period. Or rode a donkey, I suppose. But we travel in cars primarily. And in those cars we have sound systems. AND in those cars we have a captive audience! So here are ## ways to disciple your child’s heart as you travel:

1)     Listen to praise and worship music. It doesn’t get much easier than this. You can listen to the local Christian radio station, or if you or a child is so inclined, build a Spotify station that the whole family can contribute to and then as you play the songs allow family members to explain why they picked the song and how they hear God in it.

2)     Work on Scripture memory. There are more tools than I can name for this opportunity. Go old school and tape an index card with a verse onto your dashboard! Or choose a scripture memory tool that incorporates music. Or use an app that challenges your kids with individual scripture memory. But if you have even a 5-minute car ride, you can begin using that time to memorize scripture as a family.

3)     God-focused discussion. Especially with older kids, car time is a great time to talk. Ask them to put their phone away and tell you about their day. Be ready to ask good questions and even pray with them. Younger kids benefit from travel time discussion too. Have you ever noticed how they are really thinking in that back seat? They are observing things happening out the window and their gears in their little brains seem to be working overtime to process all of the information they’ve taken in since they woke up that morning (a book they read, a commercial they heard, a comment you made or the sound of a siren passing by). Be patient with your kids in the car whether they are toddlers or teens and God will guide your discussions to point all of you back to him.

“When You Sit at Home” – Discipling Your Child’s Heart in Daily Moments

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The first opportunity for home discipleship is the command to teach your children “when you sit at home.” Although it seems incredibly obvious, I do want to take a moment to iterate that this is clearly a mandate for families. Not for a children’s or youth pastor. God’s design is for parents and grandparents to intentionally pass the faith to their children using everyday moments. Your children’s pastor is no doubt NOT sitting at home with your child (although I would encourage you to invite them to your home as an act of hospitality and thankfulness for their ministry to your children!).

When do you sit at home as a family? I have three guesses: dinner time, screen time, and family time.

Dinner time might be the easiest one of all to implement some discipleship opportunities. You are talking about your day, hopefully laughing and encouraging one another. Get our your Bibles and read together. Take a few minutes before you get up from the table to pray for specific prayer requests for family members or other people and situations.

Like it or not, we are usually gathered around screens, large or small, at the same time in the evening or maybe on a Saturday afternoon. This is a “when you sit at home time” for families to talk about the Lord and learn more about Him. You can actually use the screen to accomplish this by watching a Bible story or movie together (think Veggie Tales or I Can Only Imagine depending on the ages of your kids). Or turn that screen time into screen-free time and explore how you can learn and grow in the Lord together.

Lastly, you probably have family time even if that’s not what you call it. Maybe you call it family movie night or family game night. If you have already created space to just enjoy being together as a family, ask God how you can make the most of this time. It should shock you that Family Time is a big proponent of “family time!” I’d encourage you to check out our free activity archive and see how our family Bible activities can make your normal family time into something extraordinary.

Sitting at home sure sounds a lot more interesting now, doesn’t it? Let God guide your family and please share a comment on ideas you have for “when you sit at home.”

Making the Most of Every Opportunity (Deuteronomy 6 Moments)

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Are you ever just amazing by God’s Word? Deuteronomy 6 is one of those passages that blows me away. In just a few verses, our wise Heavenly Father gives us incredibly practical steps for passing our faith to the next generation.

Whether your child is still in diapers or you’ve launched them into adulthood (and perhaps even been blessed with grandbabies!) you can apply these Biblical principles to your relationship with your child. God desires for us to make the most of every opportunity for the sake of the Gospel. Deuteronomy 6 gives us four natural areas where we can even create opportunities for spiritual growth moments.

Over the next four days, I’m going to unpack each of these four key opportunities in more detail, but first I want to case the vision for why you should and why it makes so much sense to use these opportunities as part of God’s perfect design for passing the faith.

The Deuteronomy 6 command is to “talk about these things,” meaning the things of God: the Word of God, His promises, and the things He has done. The first opportunity to talk about is “when you sit at home.” Let’s translate this to: times when the family is at home together. (I don’t think the sitting part is required… which is good because young parents don’t tend to sit much!) When you are at home together, hopefully you’re talking already so make this a time to intentionally talk about the Lord.

The second opportunity is when you “walk along the way.” Modern translation? When you’re in the car. When you’re going from grovery store to soccer practice to grandma’s house to the school carpool lane. Being together during these times is a perfect opportunity to talk about that Lord. Of course there is nothing wrong with an actual family walk! These were some of our family’s favorite times to talk about the Lord.

“When you lie down” is the third opportunity to talk about the Lord. These are our night time routines. Bible reading, listening to audio Bible stories, singing songs about God, praying together… these are all wonderful ways to end your day together before going to bed.

Our morning routines are the fourth opportunity outlined in Deuteronomy 6. We’re instructed to talk about the Lord “when you get up.” If you’re able to have breakfast as a family, this is a great time for a devotional reading. Or consider using this time to pray together, practice memorizing scripture or sing a song together.

If you have children at home (or have your grandchildren in your home from time to time), I hope you can see how these specific times are wonderful opportunities for talking about God as a family. But you may be wondering what I mean for those who have adult children. I want to highlight a few ideas:

1)     Invite them for dinner and talk with them about what God is doing in your life and theirs

2)     Consider taking a short trip or vacation once a year with your adult child(ren) and use it as an opportunity to talk about the Lord

3)     Pray for your adult children at night

4)     Call or text your adult child at least one morning each week

I hope you’ll join us for the next few days to explore each of these opportunities and that God would use it to help you to make the most of each moment with your children!