QUESTION: I am the mother of two small children. I work part time as well. One of my life's goals is to raise my children in the Lord. However, there are some days-many days-when life is so crazy I don't have a regular devotional time with my children. I feel so guilty about this at times. My heart is in the right place, but I feel like I'm in a tornado most of the time. Do you have any tips on how I can be more spiritual with my children?
ANSWER: I am reminded of the Scripture found in Deuteronomy 6:4-8, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 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 on 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 doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” This passage is such an inspiration to me as a mother because it's a prime example of integrating our faith into the daily lives of our children: sitting at home, walking through life, lying down, and getting up.
When my children were young, I so wanted to start every day with a structured devotion time. But life with small children is usually more scrambled than structured. Therefore, I learned to integrate the Bible, teaching, and prayer throughout the day-especially on those days when a formal devotional time didn't happen. I took opportunities to spontaneously pray with my kids during the day when crises arose or they just needed to feel loved. I also looked for situations that presented a teaching moment.
I am reminded particularly of one of those days. We had a big tom cat that went wild and started running the streets. His name was Big Ol' Fat Daddy Cat. No matter how hard I tried to catch him in order to have him neutered, I could not nab him. Eventually, he got older and became ill. But no matter how I persisted or tried to manipulate him closer, I could not get near enough to catch that cat. Finally, we went out of town for a few days. When we came back, we spotted Big Ol' Fat Daddy Cat lying dead outside my bedroom window.
At the time my kids were seven and nine. I took both of them to the window and said, “Just look at Big Ol' Fat Daddy Cat. He did not have Jesus in his heart. He lived a wild life on the streets. He chased girls, and now he's dead!”
My son said, “Cats can't have Jesus in their hearts!”
I said, “No, but you can, and you do, and you don't need to be chasing girls.” I went on to explain that when people forget Jesus and start living a wild life, it leads to destruction, just like running the streets destroyed Big Ol' Fat Daddy Cat.
Today, my kids are 16 and 18, and neither one of them is running wild. I'd like to think the moment with Big Ol' Fat Daddy cat and hundreds of other daily moments just like that one have contributed to their spiritual stability.
If you will ask the Lord to help you get creative, you can weave your faith into the lives of your kids, integrating prayer and Scripture, lessons and songs, as part of the fabric of their daily existence. While having a structured devotional time does have its merit and value, don't underestimate the power of fulfilling Deuteronomy 6:4-8.
The author of 54 books, Debra White Smith holds an M.A. from U.T. and is the featured relationship specialist on the Fox News Radio Show, “Plain Jane Wisdom.” She and her husband, Daniel, co-pastor Palestine Church of the Nazarene. For more information, visit www.debrawhitesmith.com. Got a problem? E-mail Debra at firstname.lastname@example.org