Sharing about God and faith with our kids can sometimes feel like a daunting task. I think this is mostly because as mamas we are still working out our own faith. We are all still on the journey of understanding God and seeking that personal relationship with Him. I feel this strong conviction that I must be intentional about teaching my three daughters, but then I have to work out the practical of how to do that.
I had the gift of growing up in a Christian home. My parents were diligent about taking us to church on Sundays. My mom was bound and determined for us to read the bible as a family sometime during the week. We gathered regularly – my mom, my dad, my brother and me – to read a devotional book and look up something in the Bible, but truth be told those family times would often end in yelling and gnashing of teeth. My brother was rambunctious. He and I would fight. My dad wasn’t always engaged. Bottom line: it wasn’t always pretty.
One thing I do appreciate about my mom’s efforts in mandating “family nights” is she taught me the principle of “showing up.” Sometimes as parents we just need to show up and make it happen. We need to set aside perfect expectations and embrace the chaos.
My husband was raised in a family of missionaries. His mama and grandma were amazing storytellers. They had a way of taking stories from the Bible and making them come alive. My husband was a teacher by trade and had a deep desire to teach our girls what he had learned. We would have Sunday family time where he would have the girls act out bible stories or make bible quiz games and pass out quarters for correct answers. I would often watch him in awe and just let him lead. The kids loved it.
Don’t be deceived: those family times were far from perfect. Typically, one of our children would be walking along the ledge of our bed like a balance beam, while another was likely doing cartwheels across the bedroom floor. Someone would be fighting for a costume, someone else melting down. Sometimes it was me. Somehow in the midst of it all, our girls have grown a love for God’s word and just being together.
I have learned that we need to be intentional about creating a space where our kids can learn about the Bible, ask honest questions and journey with us. We need to give ourselves freedom to define that in a way that makes sense for our individual families. Maybe you can find that space in the car on the way to school, at the breakfast table, before bed or another time.
Now that my husband is in heaven I shoulder the responsibility of teaching my girls about God. I felt paralyzed at first. Then I gave myself permission to do two things: keep it simple and use my resources. We don’t have those long extended devotional family times on Sundays like we used to with daddy. Instead we read his favorite devotional book on nights we are home together at dinner. I found a kid version of Streams in the Desert. My girls whined and complained about reading it at first. Then I enlisted my oldest (age 8) to read it aloud. She found new purpose and responsibility in being the reader. She reminds me now when it’s time to read.
We take time to discuss the one-page lesson or principle. My 6-year-old daughter is often picking at something on the table or coloring but somehow she’s still listening and has something insightful to share. There’s a short prayer at the end and we decided to have someone read a few words at a time so my 3-year-old could join us and repeat the words. I love to hear her little voice try to follow along like her big sisters. We all have a part.
The other night my soul soared as I listened to my 8-year-old explain to her siblings (and her mama!) that after hearing the story of David from this devotional that she believed her dad’s death was something God was going to use for good in our lives. She made the connection herself that our grief and hard year was going to be redeemed for God’s glory. Only the Holy Spirit could have done that kind of work in her heart. My job as a mama: showing up.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore is the Coordinator of the Bridge MOPS group. She is a mama to 3 girls, ages 3, 6 and 8. She is published children’s book writer and teacher. She loves encouraging women and sharing about finding hope in adversity.
Fave resources for sharing faith with kids:
*The Jesus StorybookBible by Sally Lloyd-Jones –In a poetic and easy-to-understand way, Lloyd-Jones unfolds key Bible stories and how they point to Jesus and salvation. The beautiful illustrations cast the stories in a new and colorful light. This picture book bible is unique because it appeals to all ages from toddlers to adults.
*Streams in the Desert for Kids by L.B.E. Cowman – This daily devotional is based off the timeless devotional for adults but gives a one-page dose with kids in mind that includes a bible verse, story or anecdote and one-line prayer to share as a family. Good for elementary-aged kids and older.
*Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn and Linda Washington – This book is great for elementary school and middle school students. It’s written for kids with short chapters and lots of references to the Narnia series to engage kids in questions about faith and heaven.
Image credit: Travis Seitler, Creative Commons