Thursday, April 17, 2008

Noel and I Have a Heart to Heart

When Braelyn came into our lives, I remember getting the wind knocked out of me by a few powerful realizations:

1. I love this little girl in a way that I've never loved anyone before.
2. The deepest desire of my heart is that Braelyn comes to know and love Jesus.
3. As her parents, everything we say and do will teach her something about God.

Never have I felt my inadequacy so profoundly, never have I been so humbled, never have I been so honestly dependent on my Teacher, My Counselor, My Father.

Casey and I had been walking with the Lord for quite some time before we had Braelyn, but there's something about having a child that ignited in us a sense of urgent intentionality to make God's presence unmistakable in our home. Granted, we had spent a lot of time praying and preparing to be parents, but never could we have grasped the weight of the task. For me, it took holding that new life in my arms, the life that the Almighty had entrusted to me.

While Casey and I have been mindful and prayerful about our job as parents, there has been some level of uncertainty. Are we doing enough? Are the things we are saying and doing giving Braelyn an accurate picture of Christ? Will Braelyn grow up knowing that Christ is the King of our lives and our home? As you may know, I am reading Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper, and she has done an amazing job of addressing these issues and casting a vision for what a Christ-centered home can look like. What has been most encouraging to me so far, is how she urges parents to use the daily routines of our life to focus our attention on God.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which The Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.

Noel has been so helpful in giving the most precious examples from her life, both as a child and as a parent. A few of them include:

~ Family Bible Time: Her family would gather together to read a passage of Scripture (I believe they just read through the Bible), her father may have pointed out something to consider and talk about and then they would pray together.

~ Teaching your child to have a quiet time with God: After breakfast her daughter will read from her story Bible and then spend time in prayer. She also mentioned that before her kids could read they would listen to the Bible stories on CD.

~ Training your children to sit through worship service together: She began this when her children would turn 3. I instantly put my nose up at this suggestion, but this quote caught my attention:

"Mom's and Dad's worship is pretty distracted for a while. But that's what parents do: We live a less-than-ideal (by some standards) life for a few years so we can bring our children up to be adults with us."

What has been heavy on my heart is that I don't want Braelyn to be 16 years old when we finally stop and think, "Gosh, we really need to get serious about teaching her about God and His Word." I think it's important to have a plan, to think through how you are going to train your child up in the faith, otherwise, those crucial disciplines and traditions get pushed aside and choked out by more worldly demands.

Casey and I are doing our best how to train Braelyn up in the faith. We have our little routines in place. We pray at meals time (most of the time), we pray with her before bed, and I have just recently started reading to her from The Rhyme Bible. (I LOVE this story Bible. The stories are told in short poems...perfect for squirmy toddlers!) However, we are eager to continue learning.

I would love to have a little online discussion about these things. If there's a daily routine or tradition that has been a blessing to your family, please share. Especially regarding family worship time. This is something that I feel is important, but honestly, it seems sort of awkward in my mind. If you have a daily worship time with your family, I would love to know what that looks like. Also, please share any books, resources, children's books, etc. that you have found helpful. I am still reading this book, and I'm sure I'll continue to share what I'm learning.


carahinojosa said...

We have Family Bible Time in the morning before school. We have been doing this since our 4th child was in the womb. Freddy prays and reads every day except for Wednesdays. I don't know exactly how that happened, but Wednesdays became 'Mom's Day to Pray' and 'Mom's Day to Read'. I don't really like praying out loud, but I know it's important for my kids to see/hear that. Every time we have read through the Bible the kids have written the date in the back cover of their Bible.

Anyways, most days are lovely. But there are those days/weeks/months where it just seems so ritualistic and dry that I want to scream. But in my heart I know that we are being obedient through those times. And to obey is better than sacrifice.

**NOTE** For those of you who don't know me, we have 4 kids ages 18, almost 16, 11, and 9. And, yes, even our 18 year old butthead (did I just say that?!?) gets up and participates. I love that kid, but oh my! :/

Abbie said...

I would love love love to nab that book! I'll have to go on the hunt for it...
I have been thinking about this EXACT thing lately!! I SO desperately want Livies relationship with our awesome God to be just completely natural and like second nature to her. Just a part of her life.
At this point the only structured thing we are during is of course church on Sundays but also praying with her when we tuck her in at night. All three of us take turns thanking God for the day. We also sing songs during the day (jesus loves me, this little light of mine, jesus loves the little children...). A big thing is when she wakes up from a nightmare in the middle of the night we tell her Jesus is always with her and keeping her safe.
So cool that you brought this stuff up, parenting is such an awesome thing, but SO stressful at the same time! :)

The Kramer Family said...

I love your heart! We've been in the process of letting the Lord re-shape how we worship Him in our home. Mainly because we weren't very mindful of this in past years. It is sad to look back on our almost 4 year old's life and be discouraged at those 'wasted' years where mommy and daddy didn't have their relationship with the Lord together. So sad!

I've been reading 'Family Driven Faith' by Vodie Baucham and it talks about family worship as well. I LOVE this book and highly recommend it. It goes into great depth creating an atmosphere in your home that will help your children fall in love with the Lord daily. And when the day comes that they leave your home, the hope is that they won't stray from that like so many teens tend to do.

The statistics the book states are SCARY in a major way.

On a more personal note, since reading through this and also the passage in Deuteronomy that you've mentioned, we've started doing bible study with Kaylyn at breakfast (more times than not, but still not as often as daily which is the goal).

It has been an incredible thing to watch her bring me her bible throughout the day and ask me to read where we left off. She has a thirst for God's word already at such a young age. Praise the Lord!

It has also made such an impact on our day and during those moments of discipline. I'm less angry and use discipline motivated by love and her heart is softened towards obedience.

I'm no where near wise on this subject and consider myself still in the trenches of raising a toddler. She very well could turn out to be a juvenile delinquent for all we know (just teasing). And we might see small glimpses of the fruit of this right now, but our prayer is that we will see huge fruit in her life as she matures and begins to develop her own relationship with the Father.

Great topic! I can't wait to read about what the Lord is showing you. I would love to read this book. A very dear friend of mine lives with the Pipers (she and her husband) in their basement apartment! Talk about 'wow'! I live vicariously through this girl when the Pipers come up. I love the Pipers.


p.s. It also seems that we have yet another couple of mutual friends.....the Dutys. I didn't know if you knew Kendra, but she said Allen and Casey are/were in seminary together. Kendra came to visit me on Thursday. How fun!

Melissa said...

This is something that's been on my mind a lot lately too and we practice some of the same things others have mentioned. I started singing "Jesus loves me" to Gregory when he was still in the womb. I hoped that he'd recognize it when he was a newborn and that it would comfort him and for the most part, it does seem to.

One thing that has stayed with me from my own childhood is how my mom would worship. It was pretty common to hear my mom singing worship songs (with or without a tape playing along) while working around the house or to be in prayer. When something was worrying me or I had a prayer request, she never said, "I'll pray for you." She always said, "well, let's just pray right now and trust God for ___."

monique said...

I LOVE this post! Knowing you and Casey, I'm sure you are trying your darndest to show Braelyn and accurate picture of Christ and are doing an amazing job at it. But it seems to Chris and I that with every little bit of growth for Annelise (emotionally or mentally) we must step it up. It has been amazing to see her understand Christ in a new way as her mind grows. But this creates a constant challange for us as parents to continue to present the message of the gospel on their ever changing level. Our FAVORITE Bible is the Jesus story book bible. It is great for a preschooler/grade schooler who can sit through a longer story. We love that EVERY story points to Jesus. The language is amazing - refering to Jesus again and again as the "rescuer" - she can understand that word very well.
Lately, I have been reading a book by Brazo called "No ordinary Home" and have been challenged on how to create a home/traditions centered on Christ. Particularly, I have loved what she has to say about the sabbath/holidays and am trying to put these things in practice in our home. This has been really heavy on my heart lately.

Next time you're in SL, some of us moms should get together for coffee and chat about this amazing challenge!

Steph said...

Thanks everybody for posting your comments! Great suggestions and great encouragement! It's such a blessing that we don't have to figure it out on our own. I think I am going to do another post (and hopefully even more after that) listing some of your book suggestions, etc.

I love that we can connect and discuss important things via the's not ideal, I suppose, but nonetheless, it blesses me everyday. Thanks again. I hope the conversation will continue.

Lyns~Yes, the Duty's. I have not met them yet, unfortunately, but Casey, of course knows Allen. Our little worlds are just colliding all over the place :) Very cool!

Ashlee Liddell said...

Some must get CD's for young children include Steven Green's Hide them in your heart scripture memory CDs (the songs on these cd's are actual scriptures, not merely paraphrases)
Also, 'reach up high' is a CD that willow creek produces, and it has some really wonderful songs with biblical truth in them.
If you have trouble finding the Steve Green CDs let me know, I would love to help other people get their hands on them!

Steph said...

Oooh...thanks Ashlee!