I had a prayer last week. It went something like this…”Lord, I am so thankful for the endurance to set aside time for you in the mornings as a family. My desire is to continue to do this through the summer. You show me how.” No sooner had I uttered this request to our small group on Wednesday night, did a plan unfold in my mind two days later – binders… new ones. Our binders we currently borrowed/reused from previous purposes, found around the house, makeshift dividers and free-downloaded print-offs, were both full and falling apart. Perhaps we needed a fresh start – time to go shopping!
After looking at several items available at our local Lifeway store, we decided upon this resource pictured above. Within the pages we found a two-page layout of a shortened summary of a character or event, and a picture to correspond. Each picture asks the question, “What is missing?” So, after discussing the story, the kids talk about the missing items, may draw them in and even color as well. At the bottom of each page there are three short items: Say it, Pray it, Explore it. There is a focus verse (memorization purposes), a prayer, and questions for application. We (the kids and I) decided to include a section in our binders for the story, a section for journaling (explore it), a section for our prayers (both “Pray It” and our own), and perhaps a verse section as well. We also included a section for our Sunday morning papers to review. My son also requested a “free writing” section as well – absolutely. Very simple, very appropriate, very flexible for our youngest who is a non-reader. We also take time to explore, open, locate, and read the passages right from our individual bibles, learning to use the resources and indexes included as well.
Jesus Time. This is what we call it in our house. Have we always made time for Jesus? Sadly, nope. Did I have great intentions about doing it? You bet ya. For us, it just came time where I knew it was time to follow through with my intentions. I must admit that I had a few questions before this devotional time began. Our desire was never to make it about a cram-it-in-you-face session, didn’t want to put the kids on a guilt trip, didn’t want it to be do-it-or-face-the consequences concept. We wanted it to be fun, short in nature, meaningful, life-applicable. We wanted to be intentional about our task as parents to train up our children, to treat them as the gifts that they are, to share, learn, and grow together.
That being said, I must tell you that it has changed our family. My doubts have completely dissipated as the children have never once complained, are in fact most days very engaged, and our mornings as been much more calm and focused. Go figure, when we put our Heavenly Father first 🙂 My purpose in sharing today is simply to encourage you and perhaps guide you in thinking and praying about what the Lord would have in store for you and/or your family.
My first suggestion would be to choose a time that works for you. The key to successful consistency is to set yourself up to success. Be creative. No one way is the right way. If a morning time would work every Monday and every other Thursday, and evenings on the others, go with that. If you can find a similar time each day, go with that. Even if you have 5 minutes, a prayer time is great to prioritize. If you have more one day and less another, great too. Your ultimate purpose is what? To demonstrate and live a life that puts God first, above any other item that could be accomplished at that time. God desires and delight in our time spent with Him. You set this aside, and watch Him work, it’s amazing!
Secondly, don’t get discouraged. If your time together didn’t quite go according to plan, if your children (or you) just weren’t engaged at the time, take heart. You simply do it again the next day. Reading, talking, writing, drawing, however you chose to set aside time with Him, you’re leading the next generation to Him. Pretty amazing isn’t it.
Thirdly, after choosing a time, and being armed with a purpose to prioritize God, think about, pray about the “hows”. There are such a variety of ways, again, it will evolve as time goes on. Obviously, for a family, the age of your children is important. You want to create time that suits their abilities and learning styles. If you have a variety of ages, this lends itself well to reading aloud to one another. My suggestion is to simply visit your local Christian Bookstore, either live or on-line. Lifeway is an excellent store if you like to physically touch and see the materials before purchase. An excellent web resource to checkout is here. Simply browse, lots to be inspired as to ideas.
Our newest plan has unfolded in this way – each child chose a binder (as large as you feel you need), dividers, lined paper, and special decorations to add to the front. This can be purchased for an inexpensive cost and can even teach the kids great organizational skills. Additionally, they take personal ownership as they shop, compile, and take pride viewing their work over time. We range from having 20 minutes, to maybe only 5, again the point being, we make it a priority, even if another task needs to be accomplished at another time. Have fun with it, include dramas with props from around the house, use building blocks or even clay, play music, have a performance. The more involved your child is in their learning, the more memorable it becomes. They will begin to hide His precious words in their hearts, nothing could be sweeter to His ears.
Feel free to ask questions or leave a comment as to what works for you. The best ideas are the ones that are shared. Have a great week in Him!