As we flew to Colombia to meet our girls for the first time, I (Ginny) sat in the airplane, nervously holding my husband’s hand, dreaming about my family’s future. I dreamed of dance classes, trips to the zoo, and of their weddings. But I also dreamed about the women they would grow up to be. And I wanted most of all for them to grow up to be women earnestly seeking the Lord with all of their hearts. But how could I foster that passion for the Lord in them?
To be honest, the first couple of years, I did a poor job of this. I was in survival mode, shocked by how HARD the post-adoption process was, and desperately trying to navigate the road of being a parent of children with special needs. The last thought, unfortunately, on my mind, was what I needed to do most – spending DAILY quality time in God’s Word WITH my children. I made it less of a priority than it should have been.
Recently, I attended a Women Living Well conference, and there, I was challenged by one of the speakers, Angela Perritt, to invite my children into my daily time with the Lord. (A lot of the ideas I will be sharing are from what I learned from her and the other speakers that day) Yes, it is important to have my own time to meditate on the word, but how would my children grow up making time with God a priority if I didn’t spend time teaching them NOW to do that? I needed to be a role model as well as extend the invitation to study God’s Word.
Soon after returning from the conference, I started small by reading a Bible story to my children from their toddler Bible at breakfast time. Soon, they began to remind me, when I forgot, to read them a story. It became a positive time for them that we all looked forward to.
I still felt convicted to take a step further, and I added my own personal Bible time to the busy mornings. At breakfast, I read them a story from their Bible, but in addition, I opened up my own Bible and read a portion of Scripture to them. I had them repeat some of the words in the verses. I then talked out loud about my thoughts about the verse and its application to my life. Even though they cannot understand everything I read or say, I know that they can see this is a special time that is important to me.
After we talk, I open my journal and write about applications, favorite verses, prayers on my heart, and even simple entries about what happened the day before. The girls often leave the table around this time. As we progress though, I plan to make that a time where they journal by coloring in a Bible picture that goes with what we read, drawing their own pictures, and eventually writing out their thoughts.
My next step is to incorporate a prayer time into our morning where we pray as a family for the day, for worries or fears we have, etc.
I encourage you, dear friends, to find a way to model your walk with the Lord with your own children. If you don’t have a daily walk, start there. Open your Bible in the mornings. If your children walk in while you are having your study time, invite them to sit with you, talk with them about things you are learning. Share a verse with them. By investing this time with them, you will be investing in their spiritual futures. This time will be a natural part of their day. And by making it a positive experience, it will be something they will want to continue even when they part from your home.
If you are having trouble with where to get started or what to do, I have created a small list of ideas to help you:
· In the mornings, to set the mood, play Christian praise music as you get ready for the day and prepare breakfast. It is difficult to be negative when God’s promises are streaming through the air!
· Set your Bible in a place where you can’t miss it in the morning. My children know where I keep my Bible and journal, and they will even bring it to me if I forget!
· With my children, I don’t have a specific Bible study book I go through yet. I love reading their toddler Bible to them (or an age appropriate Bible). Just a story or two is all they need. Be prepared though. Sometimes my children will keep asking for more, and we end up reading half of their toddler Bible in one sitting! You can also find wonderful children studies on the web. One that has recently caught my attention is The Dig for Kids: www.thedigforkids.com.
· Good Morning Girls has a wonderful method of study to teach your children. It is called the SOAP method, and you can read more about it here: http://www.goodmorninggirls.org/2012/09/how-to-soap-your-quiet-time/. They also have fantastic studies you can follow by yourself or with a small group.
· If you would like to incorporate Scripture memory to your time, remember to pick verses that are appropriate in length and content for your child’s age. Pick a verse for the week, write it on index cards, and recite it each day with your kids. Talk with them about what it means. Make up a song to go with it and sing it in the car, on the playground, or even while brushing teeth.
· Talk out loud about your thoughts about your Scripture reading. Do my children always understand what I am saying? No – but I am MODELING for them how I think about Scripture, how I respond to Scripture.
· Include them in your prayers. Ask them what they are worried about. Have them prayer for people close to your family. Have them pray for their country. If they are really small, like my children, teach them simple prayers they can say at meal times or bedtimes. Yes, I eventually want them to personalize their prayers more, but it is a start!
Today, make a plan. Start small and build from there. If you want your children to grow up in love with the Lord, they need to see YOUR love for the Lord. They need to see you model what a relationship with Him looks like. I know I was amazed at how much they love this time in the Word with me each morning. Just the other morning, I was so wrapped up in the craziness of life the other day, that I didn’t make time for this special morning ritual with my girls, but my oldest showed me it was important to her. She went to our island, grabbed my Bible and journal, and brought it to me. She then asked me to read her the Bible. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I knew that no matter how insane life can be, this time was not only important to me – but also to my girls. I pray that I can continue to foster this love for the Lord that has already begun as they grow older through these special morning times.