My house is THE house in the neighborhood. You know…the one where all of the kids hang out, help themselves in the kitchen, walk in the door without knocking. When I get home from work, I am typically greeted by about five teenage boys shooting hoops in the driveway. I’ve walked in my kitchen expecting to find one of my children only to be greeted by, “Hi Miss Dena!”
I am not really sure why they like my house. I don’t buy junk food (so they bring their own). I don’t have a swimming pool (like the neighbor). Our basketball goal is the oldest in the neighborhood (it was a hand-me-down from friends about 10 years ago). I don’t have the latest and greatest electronic gadgets (I didn’t even have wi-fi until recently and I actually canceled our subscription television…nothing but antenna around here).
Although I don’t understand why the kids like our house, I am so very thankful that they do! I love hearing the laughter. It’s great to know where my kids are and what they are doing. I am thankful that I know my kids’ friends. I want everyone to feel welcome and at home when they are in my house. I want to be an active part of my kids’ lives every moment of every day.
Recently, some of the boys were telling my oldest son how lucky he is to have me as a mom. They were talking about my willingness to take them all to do things—whether it’s hauling them to basketball camp or the gym or the fireworks stand or dressing them all like cows for Chick-Fil-A’s cow appreciation day and getting them free food. Blake’s response was, “Yeah, but she will go all biblical on you about ANYTHING!”
I laughed…and began quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to him.
God, our God! God the one and only!
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
I guess it’s true. Although I make sure that praying with my children is a very important part of our daily lives, I’ve found that it is difficult for us to sit down together on a regular basis and have devotionals. Rather than a formal time of studying scripture together, I try to find opportunities to fit life lessons into our hectic everyday schedule.
Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home…
When my middle child was four years old, we were putting up the Christmas tree. As we worked together on making our tree beautiful, I began talking about how we use a tree as a reminder of the cross upon which Christ died. We discussed how the lights remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. We held up a candy cane and talked about the shape reminding us of the “J” in Jesus and the colors representing the blood of Christ and that he washes us white as snow. As we topped the tree with our star, I reminded the kids about the star that led the shepherds and wise men to the baby Jesus. As we discussed the symbolism, I told them that Jesus offers us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. In an instant, my son stopped, bowed his head, and asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins and live in his heart.
It doesn’t matter what we are doing, I try to find biblical lessons and share those with my kids. While doing yardwork, I talk about Jesus being the vine and we are to be the branches. In the kitchen as we prepare dinner, we talk about Jesus being the Bread of Life. When my kids are out of line, I use scripture to lovingly correct them. Our lives are filled with opportunities to discuss biblical principles; God is faithful to show them to you if you ask.
Talk about them … walking in the street…
I love to travel with my kids. Even though I hate being in the car, I have found that I have a captive audience. As our Christian music plays softly in the background, the kids seem to open up about their lives. I learn more about their fears and their insecurities. We share our hopes and dreams with one another. I often find the opportunity to turn our conversation to spiritual matters.
We recently went to a movie for my daughter’s birthday. As we drove to the theater, my oldest son said, “I guess you are going to have a spiritual lesson about this movie. You could probably find a Bible lesson in every movie I’ve ever seen.” Was that a challenge? I certainly took it that way! As he began to spout off movie titles, I began to find a message in each one. We went through a number of movies before he finally quit in exasperation. We all laughed.
talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.
Each morning before I drop the kids off at school, I take a few minutes to pray individually with each child. We pray about tests at school, aches and pains, hopes and dreams. I always ask God to help my kids love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
In the evening before we fall into bed, I take a few moments to pray with each child individually. We review our days and pray about those big things that we think about—asking God to provide our needs, to give us wisdom about decisions, for friends who need our prayers. We spend time thanking God for all of His blessings that we find in our lives.
These times have become precious to my children. In the evenings, I often want to fall into bed without praying. But, my kids come to my room and wake me up if I fail to pray with them! It is such a precious time to be alone with each child and lift them to the Father. They often turn the tables and pray for me as well.
inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates
Even our home reminds the kids each and every day about our priorities. Every decoration hanging in our home has a Christian saying, cross, or some other Christian symbol. Every room has a scripture inscribed somewhere in the room. The boys have a copy of “The Resolution” (from the movie Courageous) in their rooms. Christian music plays quietly in the background 24 hours per day. I want our home to be a sanctuary, a temple where the Holy Spirit is welcome at all times.
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.
Although Blake gets a little tired of me “going all biblical” on him, he recognizes that he is benefitting from this method of parenting. He claims that he shuts me out when I begin giving life-lessons, but I’ve seen that he hears most of what I say. But, I don’t believe he hears me only because of what I say.
Scripture is very clear that the words must be written on my heart, that the words must be inside of me before I can get them inside of my children. Each morning, I offer my day to God in prayer, asking Him to live through me. I then open my Bible and read my devotional. As I run, I listen to sermons and praise music. Throughout my day, I listen to praise music. I set alarms on my phone throughout my day to remind me to pray for my children and my future husband. I do my best to get scripture in my heart so that I can transfer it to my kids.
When the words are deeply embedded in my life, I must then be cautious to live my life with integrity—to make sure that my life matches with what I claim to believe. I know that my kids watch the way I live. And, they are not shy about pointing out those times when I fall short. It might be as “insignificant” as claiming my 11-year-old is only ten so I can get a discount. Maybe it’s failing to point out that the waiter didn’t charge me for a drink we ordered. It doesn’t matter to my kids. They are evaluating everything I say, comparing it to my actions. When I choose to compromise, I lose credibility with my kids. I lose my right to go Biblical on them.
I am thankful that my kids recognize my desire to guide them into a deeper walk with their Savior. I hope that my attempts to find God in the everyday, ordinary situations rub off on them. I pray that they learn to see the world around them through a Biblical perspective. I pray that one day their kids accuse them of going Biblical all the time. I pray that they Love God, [their] God, with [their] whole heart[s]: love him with all that’s in [them], love him with all [they’ve] got!
Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder…
And, when my kids tell me they are tired of me “going Biblical” on them, I remind them that I have yet to force them to tie scriptures to their hands or foreheads…but I can!