Day 31 Family Devotions

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. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

I remember my mother taking this to heart. When I was little, she read from the big family Bible and the Upper Room devotional before we went to bed. The words in the devotional were not written for a child to understand. At the end of the reading, Mom would lead us in the Lord’s prayer. I liked the words, but didn’t understand a lot of them. My little sister Lola didn’t either. This became really obvious one night when she got upset at the end of the prayer.”

“What’s wrong?” Mom asked.

“You said something about Halloween.”

“What do you mean?” Mom asked. I didn’t say anything about Halloween.”

I think my sister thought she had missed out on candy or something. Who knows? Mom finally figured it out. The Lord’s prayer starts like this: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

Lola heard the word hallowed and thought Mom said Halloween. Mom explained the meaning of the word and how hallo-wed sounded a bit like Halloween.

That story stayed with me as I grew up and became a mom. I knew spending a couple of hours in church every week was not enough to teach my children about the Lord, so my husband and I planned regular family devotions. We knew it was important to use age-appropriate language, so over the years we collected kids’ devotional books and Bibles to use.

A collection of devotionals and children's Bibles

A collection of devotionals and children’s Bibles

I remembered a picture Bible we had when I was a child. The stories were laid out in comic-book style. I found something similar and bought it for my family. My son especially liked reading the stories in the book. We used it for so many years the cover started to tear and I had to tape it.

The Picture Bible

The Picture Bible

Well-worn cover

Well-worn cover

Besides reading stories for family devotions, we liked to play Bible charades. Once the kids knew enough Bible stories, they could play the game. They went off in another room for a few minutes to choose a story and practice. Then they came back to act out the story. As soon as we guessed the story, it was Mom and Dad’s turn.

We also played Bible Trivia, a game we got at a yard sale. We used the easy questions with the kids or made up our own. Playing with kids whose ages spanned seven years was sometimes a challenge. When our youngest, Sarah was old enough to play, we made the questions very simple., such as: “What was King David’s name?”

“Moses?” she tried.

We would all laugh as we explained the answer was in the question.

“Win, Lose, or Draw” was a popular TV game show when our kids were young, so we adapted the idea for family devotions. We propped up a dry-erase board on a table and put the names of Bible characters or stories on three by five cards. The person who’s “it” chooses a random card and has to draw the scene or character. We were not allowed to talk while drawing. The team has to guess by looking at the picture. (This is similar to the game Pictionary.) This was so much fun. My drawings didn’t look much better than the five-year-old’s, but nobody cared.

The One Year Book of Bible Trivia For Kids

The One Year Book of Bible Trivia For Kids

Now that I’m a grandmother, I still keep kids’ Bibles and devotionals in my house. I am happy to say there are plenty of materials available now to help parents and grandparents with family devotions.

One of my writer friends, Kathy Cassel, has written several devotionals for Tyndale. Her newest one is The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids. Kathy has written 365 devotionals with a trivia question and answer for each day. They are quick to read and a fun way to teach children about the Bible. You can find this and other books on Kathy’s blog, at:  http://just4christiangirls.blogspot.com/.

Whatever you choose to do for family devotions, the important thing is to spend time together with the Bible. Make it age appropriate, and throw in a few games once in a while. Not only will you make lasting memories, but you will be obeying the command of the Lord to teach God’s word to your children.

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Day 26 I Go to Prepare a Place For You

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:1-2

Our lives were interrupted this week by news of the untimely death of our great niece, Savannah. When we heard about the car accident that took her life, we were all in shock. This beautiful girl had just celebrated her twentieth birthday, and now we would be attending her funeral.

Today’s post was delayed because of the service and time spent with the family, but I wanted to honor Savannah’s memory by posting something even late in the day.

I thought the pastor did a wonderful job comforting the family with Scripture and words spoken from his own heart. His comments focused on the love of God, and he said even though we can’t answer all the tough questions about why this happened, we can look to God for strength and comfort. He is with us and will be with us every day as we continue to live our lives.

Although our hearts are saddened at this great loss, I am thankful that Jesus is an ever present help in time of trouble. He is our peace that passes understanding.

Rest in Peace, Savannah

Rest in Peace, Savannah

Day 6 Sunday Go to Meeting

Old Easter family pic

I grew up in a home where Sundays were set aside for church attendance and other family activities. Sunday mornings began with Mom playing her organ music or Dad practicing for a solo. Mom always left early for choir practice. Dad had the job of getting four kids ready for church, no small task considering we only had one bathroom. Back then ladies dressed up with hats and gloves, and men wore suits to church.

Once we were ready for church, we piled into Dad’s car. It was only a two-mile trip into town, but Dad drove slowly so he could look at the fields. No matter how hard we tried, it seemed we were always ten minutes late to Sunday School. We would go to our respective classes while Dad slipped into his choir robe and managed to practice a few notes of the day’s music.

After Sunday School we joined grandma in her favorite pew, two rows back from the front on the left side. I loved the smell of her perfume as I stood next to her and sang out of the church hymnal. I watched the choir come down the aisle and take their place in the choir loft.  After the special music, Mom would come and sit with us, too. I savored the moments when she would drape her choir-robed arm around me.

Although both my parents worked, they faithfully served in church every Sunday their whole lives. Their faithfulness planted a seed that grew tall and strong in me. My own family ended up doing much the same thing my parents did, taking two vehicles to church so my husband could do his job at the sound board. I dressed the kids and arrived later. I served in the nursery and followed the kids through the different ages of children’s ministry.

Now my grandchildren are coming up through the ranks. I’m still serving in Kids’ Church, my favorite age being the first through fourth graders. As technology changed and our church grew, my husband started serving in the video department, using his expertise in television engineering. He still goes to church before me and sits in the master control room ready to troubleshoot a camera or switcher issue.

One Sunday when our grandson was over he asked, “Which work are you going to, Grandpa? The regular one or the church one?”

I’m so thankful that my parents and grandparents went to church and modeled a life of service. I have followed their path, and pray that my children and grandchildren will keep it going.

Day 2 A Firm Foundation

This is Day 2 of 31 Days of Family Joy. I’m linking to http://www.thenester.com and her 31 Day Blogging event.

Family begins when two become one, and the house is built on a firm foundation of faith. As a young woman just out of high school, I made a decision to let God lead me to my husband. I was only 18, but I meant it the day I told the Lord, “I trust you to make me happy.” A month later I met my future husband in a little Pentecostal church. When he shook my hand and looked into my eyes, I felt instant attraction. I was smart enough to pray about it though, because I definitely did not want to get ahead of God.

Mic was a former hippie, Vietnam vet, radically saved young man who wanted to serve the Lord. I told him about the evangelistic team I had just been on, and he signed up to lead a team of teenagers to do a mission project in Honduras. We dated only six months, and in a spur-of-the-moment decision, we planned our wedding in only three days. In fact, I bought my wedding gown four hours before I walked down the aisle. Who does that? I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are standing on a firm foundation, listening to God as He leads you. A month later the two of us were leading that mission trip to Honduras, and the adventures kept on coming.

Scan 9

Our wedding happened so fast we didn’t have time to print invitations, but Mom and I had looked at some earlier. She knew the one I liked. It had a portion of a Bible verse on the front.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15

Mom ordered announcements instead of invitations. She used the one I chose, and I was so surprised when I received one in the mail. She sent them out to all our relatives, letting them know I was already married. Then she had a plaque made with one of our wedding photos and the front of the announcement. Another surprise for me.

Our wedding plaque

Our wedding plaque

We declared Joshua 24:15 over our family almost forty years ago. We’re still going strong because we built our house on a firm foundation. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect or that we never had any trials in our lives, but it does mean our house remains. Just as I built on the foundation of faith established by my great grandparents down to my parents, my children and grandchildren can do the same.

How about you? What is your family’s firm foundation?

An updated picture of us.

An updated picture of us.