Giving Your Kids Jesus Part VI: Live With Purpose

Have you ever heard the phrase “Cleaning the house with a toddler present is like shoveling the driveway in a snow storm.” Can anyone relate? (And all the hands go up!)

There have been times in my life that I have felt the “Why bother?” or “Does it even matter?” Here I am spending all this energy and effort pouring myself into something, and I just start to wonder if it’s really worth it.

I want to end the series today with this encouragement – what you do matters.

The choices we make and the way we spend our time and energy…it all matters. Over the last three weeks, I have gained a renewed sense of vision and purpose for my children and have been challenged, yet again, with my level of intentionality.

Intentional means: “done on purpose, deliberate.” That’s how I want to parent my daughters. I don’t want to just drift through and let life happen to us and around us.

Parenting shouldn’t be like relaxing in a float while enjoying a ride down the lazy river. It’s much more like learning to stand on a surf board and take the waves as they come. Every action done on purpose and for a purpose.

In Judges 2:10-12 we read, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. THEN the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forgot the Lord, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt.”

When a generation of parents stop recounting the acts of the Lord to their children…when they neglect to pass it on…that’s when another generation grows up and knows nothing of the Lord or what He has done. That’s when they serve other gods. “They forget the Lord…the God of their fathers.” 

If we aren’t intentionally leading our children, imparting truth to their hearts, and telling them what He has done in our lives, they will forget the Lord.

This is why what we do matters.

We can, all too easily, slip into the mundane, repetitive, monotonous routines of our lives and forget that these are the days we should be living with intention and purpose. We have an opportunity to turn the monotonous mundane into miraculous moments.

We can let the day happen to us…or WE can happen to the day.

Parent on purpose. Live with intention.

Yes, that’s a lot harder to do than treating life like a ride down the lazy river, but it’s worth it.  It is so worth it.

Don’t get caught up in the glitter of what this world offers…it’s fleeting. Redefine what success looks like in your home. Cultivate your own personal relationship with Christ because that’s where your life ultimately comes from. Bring your children along with you, and teach them how to find Jesus for themselves. Be intentional…day-by-day and moment-by-moment. Live with purpose while never neglecting to tell your children about the Lord and all He’s done in your lives.

We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Rom. 12:11). You have a story and a testimony, and your children need to hear it. Your victories will impact their lives. Your children will walk in victory because of the battles you fought long before they were even born, but they will never know about it if you don’t tell them.

What’s your vision for your family? What kind of relationship do you want your children to have with Jesus? Write it down. Read it every day. Take purpose filled steps toward making it a reality.

3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

That is the truth. We end where we began…It doesn’t matter if they grow up to be world renown surgeons, astronauts, professional athletes, dedicated school teachers, or millionaires…if they don’t have Jesus, they have nothing. 

Give your children Jesus, and You will have given them everything they could ever need.

Giving Your Kids Jesus Part V: Be Intentional With the Word

I love reading. I always have, and I always will! I cannot remember a time in my life that I haven’t loved reading. I love the feel of a book in my hands, the sound of cracking open a new book, the smell of it’s pages…I love libraries full of books. I have laughed and cried my way through a good many books in my lifetime. But no book has had the power to change, challenge, and shape my life more than the Word of God.

Today we’re finishing up with our look into Deuteronomy 6:5-9.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

I love this verse! It beautifully sums up what we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks!

  1. It puts first thing first — Love the Lord your God. (Redefine success.)
  2. Who’s heart should these commands be upon? Yours! (You can’t give what you don’t have.)
  3. Impress them upon you children. (Bring them to Him.)
  4. This verse gives us some ideas of how and when to do this. (Be intentional.)

Today we’re looking into verses 8 and 9 when it says: “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” The Words does not literally mean to pull out the sharpies and start marking up our arms, foreheads, and walls! (However, I have some thoughts about this!)

In Biblical times, there were few written copies of the whole law, and people had it read out loud to them only at certain times throughout the year. It became a common practice for select sentences of the law to be written on their gates and walls as you entered the home: either literally on the door frames or on a parchment placed in a box by the door. They would also write the law on slips of parchment to be worn around their wrists or foreheads; this was called the Tephillin.

The intention of this command was that God’s people keep His word before them–that they do whatever it took to remember His word.

As the Benson Commentary states, “The spirit of the command, however, and the chief thing intended, undoubtedly was, that they should give all diligence and use all means to keep God’s laws always in remembrance, as men frequently bind something upon their hands, or put something before their eyes, to prevent forgetfulness of a thing which they much desire to remember.”

When you can’t even remember what you went into the store to buy, I think it’s safe to say we could use any helpful tip we can get that would help us remember the Word of God!

Even though sharpie tattoos aren’t what Moses had in mind when he wrote these words – it is something we do in our home! I cannot tell you the number of times simply writing one word or a phrase from a scripture on my kiddos wrist for the day has helped them! Are they struggling with peace? “He is our Peace.” Are they struggling with grumbling and complaining? “Do everything without grumbling.” Are they struggling with joy? “The Joy of the LORD is our strength.”

If we are not teaching and speaking the Truth of God’s Word into our children’s lives, we are not utilizing the greatest parenting resource ever! His Word is living and active, and it will produce fruit in the hearts of our children.

We have to know the Word in order to sow the Word! Again, this goes back to “you can’t give what you don’t have.”

We are a house of girls so we love jewelry! Not just any jewelry, we love what I like to call “meaningful jewelry” — bracelets or necklaces that symbolize a greater meaning. After coming through a season of talking about being “made new” and “transformed in Christ,” we found bracelets that had butterflies on them. We wear them as a reminder. A necklace that says “hope” encourages us to never forget where our hope comes from. These act as reminders of the Truth we are sowing into their hearts.

We need these gentle reminders throughout the day. It’s easy for them to look down and see those words and instantly be reminded of His truth!

I’m also a HUGE fan of posting the Word of God all over your home! Print it and hang it on the wall or write it on chalkboards or marker boards – have His word and truth where you can see it! Verily Designs makes beautiful reminders of God’s word and truth that you can put in your home!

In these verses in Deuteronomy, we see God’s people doing whatever it took to remember the Word of God, and we should be doing the same today.

His Word is a lamp for our feet and light for our path! (Psalm 119:105) We will be stumbling along in the dark if we aren’t using His Word in our lives.

If we want to see where we’re going and if we want to guide our children on the right path, we must make His Word a priority in our hearts and homes.

 

 

 

 

Giving Your Kids Jesus Part IV: Be Intentional

 

We have talked about the importance of redefining what success looks like in our homes. We talked about how we can’t give what we don’t have — the journey of giving our kids Jesus begins with us! And, we’ve talked about the importance of bringing them along with us.

The next couple of posts will be super practical! When and how do we do this?

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (I know what you’re thinking, “Wait, I thought you said ‘practical’?!” It will be, I promise! Hang in there.)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy is clear about when we should be teaching our children about the Lord, and when we should impress the truth of His Word on their hearts.

  • When you sit at home.
  • When you walk along the road.
  • When you lie down.
  • When you get up.

See, I told you it gets practical! We are going to look at each of these a little more closely, but first I want to offer a simple encouragement.

Don’t give up.

As it says in Zechariah, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”

You might sit down for family devotional one night and have grand plans to discuss the theology of spiritual warfare, but instead your kid asks what’s for breakfast tomorrow or why do some grapes not have seeds?  How do I know this might happen? Because it’s happened in our home.

Just when you think you’re having a great spiritual discussion, your kid responds with the most off-the-wall, random come back! You’re left wondering if anything got through,  or are you just wasting your breath?

Any time spent sowing the Word, speaking truth, worshipping, and praying together is NEVER a waste. It will bear fruit. Patience, dear parents. Hang in there. Keep plowing, and keep planting.

When you sit at home.

-Meal times are such an important time! Whether you’re sitting at home or at Salsaritas, (we love Salsaritas) this is a time to connect with the heart of your children. In our family, we like to share “Best part, Worst Part.” Everyone takes a turn sharing the highs and lows about their day. We also sometimes ask, “How did you see God at work today?” or “What’s something you did super great day?” and “What’s something you could have done better today?”

We have some friends who do “Rose, Thorn, Bud.” They share something great about their day (rose), something hard about their day (thorn), and something they are looking forward to about the next day (bud).

The point isn’t that you use these exact questions, the point is that you make the most of your time around the table together and start some dialogue with your children.

 

Meal times are about more than scarfing down food. They are about nourishing our family – body and soul.

– Did you have a family movie night? Spend some time afterwards discussing the message of the movie. Use it as an opportunity to dig deeper. Ask questions: What challenge did the main character overcome? Do you ever feel like you face similar challenges? What character traits did you see that we should emulate? What attitudes or behaviors did you see that bothered you?

Again, it’s not about these specific questions, it’s about getting the conversation going. We have had so many great discussions and lessons based on movies we have seen.

— Attitude issues throughout the day? We will have multiple opportunities throughout a day to teach our children truth, whether we take them or not is up to us. Pick a struggle or challenge your child is facing and come up with some creative ways to help them grow through it.

When you walk along the road.

– It’s more like driving down the road these days! Car time equals talk time! Take the opportunity to have conversations.

Car time is great for worship time too! Take turns picking what songs you’re listening to. Ask your child why they chose that song and what God is doing in their hearts when they listen to it?

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– Taking actual walks is also a great time to connect with your children! Going for a walk
with your child is a wonderful opportunity to let them share with you. Sure, it may be random and silly, but sometimes, if we will just be quiet long enough, eventually something deep and precious will come from their heart to ours.

 

When you lie down.

– We like to do a family devotional before bed. Don’t over complicate this. There are so many great devotional books available. Pick one and start going through it each night. Or, just pick scriptures that focus on concepts you’re working on in your family. If you’re dealing with attitudes of dishonor, pick several scriptures about honor and study those for a few weeks. Read them, talk about them, and apply them.

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– Pray over your children as you tuck them into bed. They need to hear you talking to Jesus about them. Pray over their hearts. How beautiful to fall asleep with those words in
your ear!

 

When you get up.

– Keep a Bible near the table so you can start your day together in the Word. While the kids are having breakfast, read a Psalm or Proverb to them. It’s such a great way to start the day! Feed the body; feed the soul. Or if you have littles, grab a picture Bible and read a story from it while they have breakfast!

– I know mornings can be hurried and crazy, and everyone’s schedule and days look different; but if it’s at all possible for you to carve out quiet time in the mornings, I recommend it. Help your children create this habit in their own lives.

– If you’re a homeschool family there’s a little more flexibility in the morning schedule.  After breakfast, our girls start their day with their own Jesus Time. The first thing we do in school is have share time. They share what they were reading, something they journaled, a scripture God gave them, or a picture they drew. It’s a great way to start the school day!

 


 

Sometimes we just need to think creatively and intentionally! It’s the simple things and the quiet moments that will have lasting impact in our children’s lives.

We have to be intentional with this! We have to look for the opportunities.  Once we start looking for them, we’re going to find them everywhere!

 

 

 

Giving Your Kids Jesus Series Part III: Bring Them With You

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.” Mathew 19:13-15

If you or I had been alive in these times, would we have been among those parents?

I certainly hope so!

Can you imagine being there? Standing, with your children at your side, among the crowd. Seeing Jesus sitting just a few feet away – the one who preformed amazing miracles right there in front of you!

If I could have been there, you better believe I would have wanted to get close…I would have wanted my girls to meet Him!

Friends, we get the honor of bringing our children to Jesus every day. 

There are a couple of definitions of “bring.”

  1. Cause (someone or something) to come to a place. Make (someone or something) move in a particular direction or way.
  2. Come to a place with (someone or something). To lead, carry, or cause to come along with one towards a place.

The first definition – “cause to come to a place…make someone move in a particular direction…” makes me think of something forceful…dragging, pulling, or pushing “making” them go somewhere.

But did you notice the difference? The second definition says, “Come to a place WITH …Lead, carry, cause to come along WITH.” IMG_4422.jpeg

So often, if we’re honest, we operate in the first definition: we want to make our children love Jesus. We want to make them find Jesus. We want to make them move in a particular direction.

We can make our children love Jesus just about as successfully as we can make the sun come up tomorrow.

But, what we can do is Love the Lord with all of OUR heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then show our children how to do the same by brining them along WITH us.

This looks a lot more like walking hand in hand together towards the same place…Jesus. 

The parents, in Matthew 19, who brought their children to Jesus had something going for them. Where were they? They were in proximity to HIM.

They positioned themselves and their families to be near Him. It doesn’t say the parent’s “sent” their children to Jesus…they were there; they were near; they brought their children along WITH them to see Jesus.

We need to position ourselves near Christ and bring our children along with us to see HIM….day after day after day.

The Passion Translation of Matthew 19 says, “Then they brought little children to Jesus so that he would lay his hands on them, bless, them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded those who brought the children, saying, ‘Don’t bother him with this now!’ Jesus overheard them and said, ‘I want little children to come to me, so never interfere with them when they want to come, for heaven’s kingdom realm is composed of beloved ones like these! Listen to this truth: no one will enter the kingdom realm of heaven unless he becomes like one of thee!’ Then he laid his hands on each of them and went on his way.”

Our days are full of opportunities to bring our children to Him, but sometimes I think we’re like the disciples. Only instead of “Don’t bother Him with this now,” it’s more like “Don’t bother ME with this now.”

Jesus is there and ready to welcome our children, but how many times are we unwilling to stop and make the most of the opportunity?

There are mornings when I know what the day holds, and I’m feeling rushed and pressured…we need to get our morning things in, get school done, run errands, get to gymnastics or dance…and I’m hollering, “Girls, come on! We need to get started with school. HURRY up and finish your Jesus time!”

 

 

I’m sorry, what?!  My children are cultivating their relationship with JESUS, and I’m saying “HURRY UP!”

That’s like the day I told Ellie that she couldn’t have more carrot sticks until she finished her chips?! (facepalm!)

There are many moments throughout any given day that I’m busy doing my thing, working on my tasks, thinking about my agenda and something comes up with the girls. They come running…maybe it’s a conflict between the two of them or maybe something one of them is personally struggling with. Before I realize it, the words “not now” or “we don’t have time for this” come out of my mouth.

These are teachable moments. These are moments to savor. These are moments to slow down. Take your children by the hand and walk with them towards Jesus. These are opportunities to bring peace where there is conflict, to demonstrate repentance and forgiveness, and to sow the Word of God into their hearts.

“Don’t bother me with this now.”

Whenever we have this thought as a parent, it should be like a warning siren going off in our heads! Warning! Warning! Red Flag! Stop. Slow down. Evaluate the situation. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see things from His perspective.

All of a sudden, you may find that the most inconvenient moments becomes the most impactful moments.

Jesus said, “I want little children to come to me, so never interfere with them when they want to come…” IMG_2520

Let us never stand in the way and interfere with the opportunities we have to bring our children to Jesus.

Matthew 18:5-6 says, “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

So, there’s that. (gulp!)

We get the awesome privilege, honor, and responsibility of bringing our children to Jesus. Daily. And when we do this…they will be welcomed. “And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”

If we will be intentional in brining our children to Jesus, He will not disappoint. He loves our children more than we can imagine.

I am at the place that I know, that I know, that I know, at the end of the day I want to have brought my children to Jesus.  No matter what else you do with your children today…bring them WITH you to meet with Him.

 

Giving Your Kids Jesus Part II: You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have

“We are not perfect but being perfected.”

“Life’s not all about you, and what you want, when you want it.”

“More is caught than taught.”

“You can’t give what you don’t have.”

“Throw your snack wrapper away!”

These are just a few quotes Casey and I often find ourselves saying…either to each other, as we are sharing with others, or to our children!

The quote for toady is –

“You can’t give what you don’t have!”

If we hope to see our children walking in a vibrant, consistent, personal relationship with Jesus, we need to be growing in our own relationship with Him.

We get to be the example! (yay, right?!)

The truth is, if we don’t have an active, growing, maturing relationship with Christ, it’s going to be hard to help our children have one.

Our children need to see us value the Word of God and use the Word in our lives. They need to see us in worship. They need to see and hear us in prayer. And not just at church- (though, that’s good) this should be happening in our homes.

Let’s not simply describe the living water to our children while we stand in front of them holding an empty cup feeling parched ourselves. I pray that my cup would be full of the living water so that it can spill over into theirs!

I want to take a long drink and give my children a drink! I want to let them taste and see how good it is, and I want to SHOW them how to get it for themselves.


“People don’t light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let YOUR light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that YOU do and praise your Father in heaven.”             Matthew 5:15-16


 

“Let your light shine in front of people.” Friends, our children are people!

Let US be the light in our homes. Let OUR light shine in front of our children so that they will see the good that WE do. The result? They will praise the Father in heaven!

It has to start with us.

This is where it can get tricky. We think parenting is about our children, but all of a sudden, like a smack in the face, it gets personal.

It is personal.

Christ will use our children, and the journey of raising them, to draw us closer to Him and to make us more like Him. Parenting is just as much about what God wants to do in us as it is about what He wants to do in our children.

The first priority is to be with Him yourself. We must cultivate our own personal relationship with Christ.

I have sat across from people who, as soon as you bring up spending time with Jesus, shut down…they feel guilty. They start beating themselves up because they didn’t read their Bibles this week, this month, or maybe they can’t even remember the last time they opened it. Anybody been there?

This isn’t about that. This is about finding life, freedom, and grace in Jesus!

This, actually, isn’t even about checking “quiet time” off your to-do list for the day. This is about cultivating a very real and very personal relationship with your creator! It is about abundant life in Christ.

We get to find our life in Him everyday; we get to receive His new mercies every morning.

Will that mean spending time in His word? Yes! Will that mean working on some self-discipline? Probably.

The only way to build a relationship with someone is to spend time with them.

But, I’m here to gently and lovingly say, “Take the pressure off.”

Your “be with Jesus” could look many different ways. In fact, it’s not only okay for it to look different ways, depending on the season of life you’re in, it will be necessary for it to evolve and change accordingly.

There is freedom for your time with Him to look anyway it needs to…from the time of day, to the length of time, to what you do during that time. There is no “cookie-cutter” answer or “right” way.

The “right” way is the way that connects your heart to His. The “right” way is the way the creates growth, change, and maturity in you. 

Maybe it is sitting in the quiet early morning hours with your Bible and journal. Maybe it’s going for a walk in the middle of the afternoon while listening to worship music. Maybe it’s late at night when the rest of the house is asleep. Maybe it’s mowing the yard while you listen to a sermon podcast.

Being with Him is about being in His presence. It’s about being aware that He is near and present. It’s about being still and listening. This can happen anywhere at anytime.

Find out what it looks like for you to meet with Him in this season, and do that! 

Now, while I have said that this isn’t about checking “quiet time” off your to-do list, I am well aware that there are self-discipline strategies we can put into practice to help us get, and stay, on track.

For some people, that means making a list and checking it twice! I am actually a big fan of list making, and I love checking things off my lists. (Yes, I am one of those who writes things down that I have already done, just so I can check it off!)

I’m simply suggesting that if all we’re getting out of our time with Jesus is the ability to put a check by a task on our to-do list, we’re missing the fullness of life in Him!

We cannot have abundant life without Christ. We could never, on our own, make enough right choices. We can’t, in our own strength, become all that He created us to be.

If you feel like you’ve tried it all…if you feel like you’ve tried to be dedicated and read your Bible but you never “felt” anything… Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Don’t let discouragement set in.

I believe that He will be faithful. He wants to meet with you.

We cannot give the best of who we are to our family, to our ministry, or to our jobs if we haven’t made the choice to be with Jesus.

Your precious children need a mama who knows Jesus. They need a father who knows The Father.

You will parent with greater grace, patience, wisdom, and discernment if you will parent out of the life you find from being with Jesus. You will serve, bless, and love more deeply if you have been filled with the life that only Jesus can give.

Friend, there is nothing you can do that will change your life, your heart, your marriage, or your family more than being with Jesus.

If we’re going to start looking like Him, we need to know what He looks like. We can rest assured that if we posture ourselves at His feet, the revelation and transformation that comes from His Word will have a lasting impact on our lives.

We will always leave changed. We will always leave looking a little more like Him.

If I want my children to look like Him, it starts with me.