“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9
A new friend of mine, who is also a mom of an 11-month-old son, called me from across the country the other day to ask my advice about getting her little one to go to sleep at night. My mind quickly went back to 19 years ago (wow!) when Reed was 13 months old. This little rambunctious blonde-haired, blue-eyed ball of energy found it difficult to wind down sometimes (a lot of times!) at the end of the day. I also was beginning to realize just how much this tiny human being was understanding about the world around him. Maybe because he was talking in complete sentences with his daddy and me! But that’s a-whole-nother story. So, I decided to start a new routine. Each night after his bath, I would pick out a children’s Bible storybook from his bookshelf, gather him up in my lap in the rocking chair in his room and read him an Old-Testament story. We read about Adam and Eve and that mean old snake. We read about Samson and his big muscles and long hair. We read about David and Goliath and how God helped little David win the battle against the Philistines with just one small stone. There are lots of adventures to read about to a child that will keep his attention, and they’re right out of the Bible. After we would read, I would sing a few songs, say a prayer and put him in his bed with no fuss at all. It became such a sweet time for the two of us. After a few nights of this, Reed began running down the hall to pick out his book, telling me which songs to sing and then helping me pray with his little hands folded and ready. At 15-months old, he had memorized his favorite Bible storybook about Daniel and the lions’ den. All I had to do was turn the page, and he would recite it word for word! Jase even recorded it on a video camera one night so we would have it forever.
When Cole came along, we just continue this routine with both boys. And when Mia arrived, nothing changed, even with all the issues surrounding her physical care. We still made time each night for our family devotional time. This continued until the boys were in middle school, and nighttime activities outside our home became the new phase of life. Jase and I had to be more creative in our family devotional times, sometimes calling them “Come to Jesus” meetings when we saw certain teen and pre-teen attitudes that needed adjusting in our home. But we would always do it with a Bible in our hand. Still, to this day, I still have that nighttime devotional with Mia, we read a Bible story and we pray for certain people that we love dearly who are going through hard times.
While we go through periods where I am more consistent than others, and while I believe that being in a routine helps you focus on your goals, sometimes it is just not possible, like when Mia was going through surgeries and recoveries. And while Jase and I are not perfect in how we have raised and are raising our children, we both believe whole-heartedly that keeping our eyes on Jesus and our life focused on our Father in heaven is the only way to make it in this life. We have tried to have that become the main focus of our life, not just a section of the day. That’s what the above scripture means when it talks about instilling the Word in your children. It should become your way of life. Then your children will know how important it is to you and that you are living what you’re saying.
No matter how old your child is, you can start this in your home. Bedtime is the perfect time to try it. Ask your child to pick out a book you can read together. There are millions of children’s bible storybooks out there to choose from. Start a new routine this week. If you make the effort, your child will be richly rewarded, and so will you!
Have a blessed week!