Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

The Most Important Thing to Do with Your Kids

38 Comments

The Most Important Thing to Do with Your Kids

My Guitar Man made his way into the delivery room kicking and screaming, a real extrovert in every sense of the word. At 20 months, he charmed us by strumming a cheap toy guitar and lisping his favorite praise song. Except for his guitar, that boy never went in for toys. He preferred to follow me around and talk. Chef Girl made a gentler entrance into the world. Introverted and quiet, she played with the toys while Guitar Man talked. And talked.

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

Gretchen Rubin said it, but I didn’t believe it. While those two kids stayed busy filling our house with chaos, I followed behind mopping up the messes. My days never ended. But now, before I could catch my breath, Guitar Man is gone. Off to college.

Suddenly the house is quieter again. Some days we call that Guitar Man up on the telephone for more of his talking. Now I want to take advantage of the time with Chef Girl, mindful of the fact that in two short years, she might also leave home.

I miss my son, but I’m filled with thanks for happy, laughing, joyous times. Time spent playing gin rummy and belting out “Like a Rolling Stone” along with Bob Dylan. Doing the Macarena together before home school. Holidays and family vacations.

What I’m most thankful for is no big regrets. Don’t get me wrong. As parents, my husband and I made mistakes, but one thing we did eases the regret of smaller failings:

We had family devotional times.

You might be thinking your crazy busy life makes family devotionals next to impossible. I get that. Night shifts at work. Sports. Church activities. We were busy too. We weren’t perfect. Sometimes we missed it, but most days we read God’s Word and prayed together.

When we started, we wondered if our toddlers got anything out of it. 

Years later our teens wowed us with their insight into God’s Word.

 Repeat them again and again scripture

When Moses recorded the most important commandment for the Israelites, he immediately entreated them to teach it to their children. God wanted his people to repeat his commandments again and again to their sons and daughters as a way of passing on their faith.

My husband and I wanted to pass on our faith, so here’s what we did:

Toddler Years

By the end of the day, the kids would be wound up and we’d be exhausted. We kept it short. Four sentence Bible stories and one minute prayers.

School Age

Life sped up as our family got involved in more activities. Most nights we’d read Bible stories and everyone would pray; other times we said quick prayers over kids falling asleep.

High School

The time warp went even faster, but we kept at it. We read Bible passages, and everyone answered a simple question, “What’s your favorite verse?” When my son started night classes, we changed it up. Everyone read the same passage individually in the morning, and we discussed our favorite verses over breakfast.

Family Devotional Time, one of the most important things you can do to pass on your faith to your kids. How to do it at different stages of childhood.

Our devotional times weren’t picture perfect; we’ll never be on a Christian magazine cover. Some nights I was so exhausted I could hardly wait for the kids to go to bed. Other nights they giggled and hit each other. We wondered if our family Bible reading made any difference, but it did. Over the years, God’s Word wove itself into the fabric of our family. And that’s something to treasure.

Now it’s your turn. What do you enjoy most about family devotionals? What’s your biggest challenge?

If you don’t have a regular family devotional time, try it once a week first? Advent is an easy time to start. Check out this post, “Best Ever Family Tradition that Rescues Christmas” for encouragement.

Join the Faith Spilling Over Facebook Community for 30 Days of Thanks and Praise.  Look for a daily word of encouragement.

Linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony TuesdayKelly Balarie’s RaRaLinkupJennifer Dukes Lee’s Tell His Story,  Holley Gerth’s Coffee for your Heart, and Grace and Truth. Check out these communities for more encouragement.

 

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Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

38 thoughts on “The Most Important Thing to Do with Your Kids

  1. Funny … my daughter and her family were with us this weekend, and she pulled one of her old childhood devotionals off the shelf to read to her little ones right before bed. And tucked in the pages were little notes she had written as a child …

    We smiled. I gave thanks.

    Devotional times matter. Living out our faith in front of our kids, day in and day out? Devotional times at work.

    Loved this piece, Betsy … lots of memories here. And what a terrific picture of your gang!

  2. I have to confess this is an area that has fallen by the wayside in our home. We still pray before meals (and Jonathan “coaches” me about what to pray for/about), but we don’t have devotional time as such.

  3. Bless your heart, Jeannie. I can see how it would be a special challenge with Jonathan. Praying before meals is precious. Do you know, if not for my family, I’d forget to do that.

  4. Loved this, Betsy! It reminds me to savour time with my kids before the time flies by too quickly. Even if it doesn’t seem so now, I know that some of God’s truth will stay with them if we stick with it. Sending you blessings, friend!

  5. Love this post, Betsy! My heart always smiles when I see parents that commit to instilling THE WORD of GOD into the hearts of their children. That is so vital and as they grow and mature it could literally be the difference between LIFE and death. Thank you so much for sharing this! GOD bless you, beautiful friend! 🙂

  6. Love these ideas! My son used to want the Bible read as his last book of the night – and he had the book practically memorized. Now he’s found the library and a treasure trove of other books to read, so time to look for other ways to incorporate scripture and devotion into our lives and not let these precious moments pass us by.

    • I know what you mean, Kathryn. We bought a different Bible storybook each year when they were littler, to maintain some freshness. Otherwise it got boring! We must have used 5 or 6 different ones before just using the regular Bible by the time they were older Jr. High Age, I guess.

  7. Betsy, I love how you have raised your kids. They have a strong foundation to build on. And it is painful when they leave but until they get married they will keep coming back for extended stays. Enjoy the rest of those mom years. Yes, after they are gone, the years do seem really short!
    Blessings friend.

  8. Those families on the Christian magazine covers are caught in a moment of time. You guys have the long-haul in your favor, and that’s what counts, but I do think you all would look great on a magazine! We used a certain devotional book with our kids from the time the oldest was two-ish, and he especially loved it, so when a new baby came along and got to be about two, we’d get it out again. It had lots of wear and tear, for sure. When grand-boy came along, we bought our son and his wife a copy of that same devo. book to use with their family. Deuteronomy 6 is such an encouraging passage because it doesn’t say anything about perfect, and our devo. times were pretty rowdy with four boys. I guess the key is just to show up broken, and let God fix us everyday.

    • I bet you did have rowdy devotional times with 4 boys, Michele. What a treasure that devotional book must be. Because of our overseas life, we’ve had to let go of lots of momentos like that. But I had one I liked too. A Toddler’s Bible. Four pages for each story. ONE SHORT SENTENCE on each page.

  9. I love how you have instilled God into your kids lives since they were toddlers. It is a beautiful example to parents how to grow children in faith. I feel I did not do so well because even though there were nightly prayers it was not the same and became more rote than full of meaning. I know now that God works in us even when we don’t feel we are being intentional or when we don’t feel His presence. He is a good, good father who is teaching us and loving us all along the way.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Mary. I’m sure God used you in the lives of your kids through those prayers. God is still working today, in your adult children’s lives. I’m sure of it!

  10. Betsy, such wise words here. I’ve read devotionals to them at breakfast time, for years. We haven’t been as good at getting in the word together as a family. But we’ve always, always prayed with them. I keep hoping the lessons we model and talk about are going to “stick.”

    And that saying, “The days are long, but the years are short.”? SO true. I’m seeing it as our boys near the teen years. I’m trying to live in every moment with them.

    • Enjoy those teenagers, Jeanne! I’m enjoying mine. I think having that mindset takes some of the angst out of the teen years. Glad you read devotionals together. That works too. 🙂 And the prayer? Priceless. I’m sure it’ll “stick.” 🙂

  11. Betsy, I always love reading your insights. Devotional time is something we’ve done in the past but stopped, and I’d like to get back into it. You’re right- I do often wonder if it’s making a difference but God has shown me in many ways that it does. Often it’s simply planting a seed and giving it time to grow. Thank you for this!

    • I hope you can get back to it too, Abby. It’s never too late to start again. We missed out sometimes too. Family live is so crazy these days, but now I’m SO GLAD I did it. Unique opportunity to shape our kids’ lives. Blessings on your family, sweet Abby!

      Now my son is studying Christian Scriptures at school and hates the class. The professor and book are liberal. They say the book of Esther never happened, for instance. Say what? I’m glad my son is grounded, kinda sorta at least! 🙂

  12. Loved this, Betsy! You’re so right, we have to lower our standards and accept what we get. There is no “magical age” where devotions with kids gets easier. I love your practical tips here – sharing this!
    And your whole guitar man story? He sounds JUST LIKE my violin girl. She never played with toys – only musical ones. Drew on everything. Talked incessantly. That one needed music in her life. I can soooo relate!!
    Blessings to you, sweet friend!

    • Thanks, Ruthie! i love hearing about your violin girl! I miss the music around here. In fact, my girl and I have started putting on music before homeschool again to bop around like we used to do with her brother. Today it was “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.” (Disney)

      And yes, we gotta keep it real with the family devotional time!

  13. Your family is beautiful, Betsy. It makes my heart hurt to think on truly how fast the days go. Some of my favorite moments are at bedtime when I snuggle up with my son and we read Jesus Calling together. Some nights he nods and rolls over, but others he asks question after question about Jesus and the passage we’ve just read. They are lovely seeds to be planting and I’m grateful that at 12, he still lets me squeeze him. 🙂

    • Tiffany, my son still liked for me to come pray for him at bedtime. But around his senior year in high school, he started staying up later than I did! So I just hugged on his neck and said a prayer over him each night before I WENT TO BED. Do that with my daughter now. Enjoy those times with your son!

  14. Beautiful words, Betsy. I understand where you are coming from and how you may be feeling. Our nest must feel a little like yours. But it’s okay and it’s still good. God is in it all. I’m rejoicing with you for your devotional time you all shared together. What a gift. Those seeds are planted deep, for sure. Bless you, sweet friend!

  15. Yes and yes! While there was a lot I got wrong and some things I missed altogether, our family Bible times were the ONE investment that we got right. Never too late to start and so many ways to do Bible time with kids. I so affirm that this will be one activity every parent can look back on with such warm memories. Thank you, Betsy!

    • I love your idea of never too late to start, Lisa. From comments and feedback, I think I might do a follow-up in February or January, more how too’s and real life scenarios! We got some things wrong too, but it feels so good to rejoice in something at least kinda right. 🙂

  16. Preciousness both the memories of your dear ones and the times of worship together! My son is 18 on Sunday, so I hold on to every moment with him. Our worship has changed in his teen years, always Goodnight God Bless (several times) and finding ways to bring scriptural lessons into everyday life teachings. I realize though, all the years of sharing scripture, church, prayer etc. are stepping stones for their lives. Lovely post! Visiting from #raralinkup today!

    • Thanks for stopping by from #RaRaLinkup! Enjoy your son’s birthday, Kathy. 18 is a special one. We had a party for Andres last June. Glad you’re finding ways to share truth and worship with your son still.

  17. This is probably my greatest mommy regret, not doing a devotional time when my daughter was growing up. I was not a believer back then. I do one every morning with my son now, but my daughter has already moved out. Luckily she comes to visit me every night so I can still try to slip a few things in with her :). It has to be more in casual conversation with her though, which can still be wonderful. I love the way you blessed your children with this over the years, Betsy. Beautiful job!

    • I’m saying a brief prayer for your daughter now, Candace! May the Lord make you a light and a reflection of his love for her. That’s wonderful what you’re doing with your son now. Blessings to your family.

  18. Hi Betsy,
    I’m your neighbor at Holley’s today and I love this post! I had to laugh about your story of family devotions because as a child my parents had them with us and my sister and I HATED them! But we turned out okay despite our resistance!!! Your family is beautiful and I can see why you’re so proud of them!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Valerie. I want to think our kids haven’t hated it through the years! 🙂 We tried to keep it light and gave them lots of opportunity to talk, which they love! 🙂 On the other hand, I just asked my daughter, and she said remembered hating it one year!

  19. Betsy,

    Loved this post! Great encouragement since it is something I have struggled to consistently implement. Loved the ideas and stories of how you all have implemented them over the years. You have a beautiful family!

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