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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Family Devotions and School Bells

The topics of fall are rearing their heads. My friends are discussing such issues as fall schedules, how kids have a daily devotion before they leave for school and, of course, football. After all, this is Texas.

As I posted about last year, the main place God has been redeeming time in my life is in the car. This is probably because I am spending more and more time in it!

Last year, I started using the carpool to school as a time to teach them Scripture, discuss some applications and pray.
"And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:5-9

This year, I am going to give Julia an alarm clock and a routine. She will get up a little earlier than the others and begin forming some great independent habits. I, of course, will be by her side guiding her in this.

We will continue our summer study by Francine Rivers because we are not finished with the book. I like to spend several days on each lesson. One day reading the book and discussing the story. The next couple of days reading the story in a couple of different versions of the Bible and then, finally, choosing the verse that impacts us the most and answering the discussion questions. There is also a couple of things to pray that God will do in your life as you study each particular person and I like to gain some life experiences in reference to the particular issues each lesson introduces.

Alyssa is a more independent studier. I will simply wake her up and tell her to read in her daily Bible and she will...or there will be no cartoons...Works beautifully!

I will still use the car ride to school for a quick devotional but will gear this more toward Hunter. Some days I will let Julia and Alyssa teach this verse and give examples of how God has used it in their lives. This is usually an Awana's verse that they are currently memorizing.

One thing we have begun doing this summer is before we get out of the car, reviewing the rules we will be following, the purpose of what we are doing and praying that the Holy Spirit will remind us of what we need to be about at all times. I will certainly continue doing this into the school year. I see this as a really great opportunity to remind the kids that they are supposed to be a light in a dark place.
I will also add some Bible reading and discussion to our evening routine this year. This will include completing any morning study that we didn't have time to finish and daily time on Awana's verses. This way, if we oversleep (no!) the kids can get into the habit of doing their own extended Bible reading at night.
We also try to discuss how God gave us opportunities to apply our morning car devotional verse to our lives that day at the dinner table. We will certainly continue that.
Starting out this school year, I want our focus to be the character of God. We will focus on verses that praise Him for who He is. We will spend some time using our eyes to seek out ways that He if faithful to be who He says He is. I want my children (and myself) to seek God for a fresh revelation of who He is not just what He can do with the move of His hand.
I am entering a transition time where I do not have the extended morning time that I used to have. When the kids were all young and at home and I was nursing babies, I could sit and spend anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour (sometimes two!) reading the Bible each morning. Now, I really only have 20 to 30 minutes even if I get up before 6:00. That is cra-zy to me. I am much more alert staying up until 2 AM than rising at 5 AM. So, I have learned to make time in the Word a priority each morning. This is usually meditation on a verse or passage that God is impressing upon me in my deeper time of Bible study and praise and prayer to set my mind, heart and eyes on Him for the day.
I have learned to use my calendar to schedule time for important relationships in my life. Time with God, time with my husband and time with my children all get written on my calendar and blocked out as uninterrupted time to go deeper. With God this is extended periods reading the Word, journaling and entering into contemplative prayer. I even go through times that I get up in the middle of the night to go deeper. I want to become much more disciplined in this area. If God wakes me up, there is usually something He is wanting to show me and my house is quiet in the middle of the night!
It seems that the above verse says we should use every single minute we can to teach our children about the awesome God we serve. If we miss one morning, praise God we have the afternoon and evening. If we don't have an original lesson, praise God we can repeat them again and again. And, it seems to me it all begins with us loving Him and committing to lead others to Him starting with our own children.
So, use all the time you have to lead them. If you feel awkward or inadequate, sing songs, listen to Cd's of Bible stories, read picture books and then look up the Scripture together. Be creative and ask others what they do. Ask other moms to pray for you. Pray together as a couple for your children. Above all, don't give up!

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