Guest Post by Laurie Green.
Becoming a mom brought new challenges that I’d never considered before. One of those challenges is teaching my kids to live life for Christ; especially because I’ve been less than perfect in my own relationship with Christ. But Jesus saved me and I yearn for my kids to know the Jesus who saved me. My husband and I began a time for family worship. At first, it was really only praying at meal times and bed time. We felt awkward going any further with a toddler. Pastor Tony and his wife Danielle have been great mentors for us. They gifted our daughter Hannah a children’s Bible for her second birthday so Chris and I began reading from it along with prayers at meal time. When Hannah got older and could talk more we encouraged her to pray for our meals and any other time she wanted to. She loves being able to do that, being involved with family worship. Even Mark who won’t be two for another week will shout out a hearty “AMEN!!” and sings along to our VBS CD. Because Mark is so young still this article mostly focuses on my talks with Hannah (who will be four in February). Not that we don’t include Mark in family worship, but at this point he mostly listens.
When we read from the children’s Bible, Hannah tends to find a favorite story and then we read it constantly for a few weeks. We started with the story of Creation and for awhile Hannah was obsessed with the snake in the Garden of Eden. I’m not sure if it was because of its colors or the fact that the snake was the bad guy, or what. She hasn’t really been able to express why she was so interested. But that’s ok, because every time we read it we just continued discussing sin, how the world used to be perfect, and that God didn’t want to, but needed to discipline His children because they sinned. After awhile she became fascinated with Jesus’ birth story. She asked what his parents’ names were and when His birthday is. I think she could relate to “baby Jesus” because she was only about 2.5 years at the time. Her eyes lit up every time we read about the angels announcing His birth and the song of joy they sang (Hannah loves to sing). This is not to say we haven’t read other parts of the Bible, but the stories specifically about Jesus are the ones we tend to stick to right now, and the ones she asks to hear. Around Easter this year we began teaching the kids about Jesus’ death. Hannah seemed to process this very deeply. I even got slightly concerned because she was asking to read about His death and resurrection as her bedtime story. That’s great until 3 am and she wakes up because of bad dreams! But seriously, it was amazing to watch her process the information. She wanted to know why Jesus died, so we talked about how God gave Him to us to wipe away all our sins so that one day we could all live in Heaven with Him. Hannah wanted to know why there were people that didn’t like Jesus and why they wanted to kill Him; so we discussed how some people thought He was a liar or not a real Savior and that’s why they decided to crucify Him. Pretty deep stuff for a three year old. As we’ve become more and more active in family worship we’ve added the Catechism and memory verses, as well as a worship song at dinner time. Hannah and Mark love singing/humming the Doxology song and usually ask to listen to it twice. When we do memory verses we talk about what that verse means so that she understands the context. I find that doing the Catechism (when we remember) gives her an opportunity to ask more questions. One in particular that caught me slightly off guard was when we went over 1 Cor 8:6 (there is only one God…). Hannah asked me why there’s only one God and I had no idea how to explain that so I went to Pastor Tony and Danielle for guidance. Pastor Tony suggested what I’ll call “The Peanut Butter Analogy” (trademark?) Anyways, he suggested I show Hannah a full jar of peanut butter and ask her if another jar could fit inside. We had to go out a buy a brand new jar because peanut butter goes fast in our house. Hannah didn’t quite get it so we gave her another can so she could see if it would fit in the jar (no). We then explained how God fills up EVERYTHING, not just a jar. And because He fills up the entire world, there’s just no room for another god. I think she understood that.
Recently we were talking about how once we ask Jesus into our hearts that He’ll wash away our sins and eventually we’ll get to live forever in Heaven with Him. She knows (I think) that God loves her even more than her mommy and daddy love her and wants to live in her heart. I briefly told her about when I accepted Christ and then she asked me why I did that. I explained that I wanted to live my life for God and with God, and that I wanted Him to always be with me and asking Him to be in my heart meant that He’d always be here for me. It meant that I’d get to meet Jesus in Heaven eventually. She didn’t respond or ask any further questions but I’m sure she’s thought about our conversation.
I enjoy getting to teach my kids about God. It’s not always easy, sometimes it’s awkward, other times it’s a downright disaster. But I know they’re learning when I see Hannah’s eyes light up after she’s memorized a verse from the Bible. I know they’re learning because Mark was a late talker but one of his first 15 words was “amen”. They both keep me humbled and accountable. As much as keeping routines is good for all of us, sometimes we fall out. There’s days that we’ve been sick and don’t do anything, there’s been days when I’m too exhausted to try and read a Bible story over all the bickering. But then Hannah reminds me to pray. Or Mark points to my phone and starts swaying because he wants the Doxology song. But the longing for our kids to know Jesus outweighs the awkwardness, the frustration. God chose me to be their mother; and when they’re ready I want them to choose God as their Heavenly Father. Hi