Tuesday, June 4, 2013


From Susan:

I love the well-known words of John Piper, "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him." I love the fact that he and his wife adopted! 
And I love what he says about healthy teeth and healthy souls. During one of his talks, John said that when your child is old enough to push Play on the CD player, your child is old enough to have time with God. (Maybe now he would replace the CD player with a cell phone or ipad!) He went on to say that we feel great comfort in, and even a moral obligation to expect our children to brush their teeth every morning and every night, starting at about age 2 (or even younger!) Well, having a healthy soul is much more important than having healthy teeth -- souls last forever, you know!! So we teach our children, starting at a young age, how to spend time with the Lord every day. This helps set them on a life-long path of taking good care of their souls. Moses was writing about this when he said, 
And these words that I comand you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. (Deut 6:6-7).

Making a Place for the Lord

Many of us endeavor to fullly incorporate the Lord's presence and influence and love in more of an "as you walk and sit and drive and walk and rise and live" kind of way -- and that is wonderful. There are others who may have some dedicated time as a family together with the Lord -- and this too is wonderful. There is full freedom in how we may walk out the principles of this passage, practically. 
In our family, we chose to have some time set aside for family devotions. Our habit on most evenings has been to gather everyone together for 10 to 20 minutes before bedtime. More important than this corporate time, though, has been our encouragement to every one in the family to have their own individual time with the Lord (drawing, praying, dancing, journaling, sculpting, walking in nature....) Even when everyone had sports and homework and social life and urgent demands, we encouraged each other to put first things first - keeping our souls nourished in the love of God. I would tell our kids, "Remember these numbers -- 12345! But instead 13245! This means Psalm 132:45, 
I determined not to allow sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids until I had made a place for the Lord! 
So what Mommy does is not turn off her light until I have had some time with the Lord. Let's all live this way! It is a wonderfully healthy way to live!  We feel the love and help of God!"

Since I am more inspired by principles than activities, and even find myself resistant towards lists of activities -- like the one below! -- let me say right out that the principles were to make the time together meaningful, engaging, authentic, and age-appropriate.   I was always looking for ideas. What we did when everyone was young was quite different than when we did when they were older.  Basically, we looked for what they enjoyed doing and often tried to make our family devo approach match that.  Here is a list of some ideas.

Family Devotions Ideas

  • Drawing something in response to a one paragraph reading from a kid's devo book - and a question.  Questions may be like these:                                     What is something you are thankful for today?            What can you do to help someone this week?            What has God done for you that makes you feel loved?  What makes you feel like Jesus is your friend?          What problem has the Holy Spirit helped you with?        Who is the person that most reminds you of Jesus?   Then we would try to guess what each other's pictures were. I draw like a 6 year old, so this put me on a very level playing field! 
  • Going on a walk and picking some leaf or flower or rock or weed or something that reminds us of God's attention to planning details or creation or beauty or some such thing - and then talking about examples of how He plans the details of our lives.
  • Laying in the front yard on a quilt and looking up at the stars and thanking God for one of them, after reading the Psalm 147:4 about how He numbers the stars and calls them all by name.
  • Climbing up on the roof and sitting up there to pray goodnight together.
  •  Breaking up into 3 or 4 small groups for prayer and letting a different kid lead their group and pick their 2 other group members from among the siblings - then Brian and I would divide up to be in the group full of the silly ones who may not otherwise get around to praying. And we encouraged them to "pick one thing to thank God for" or "pick one thing to ask God for, for someone else" or "pick one thing you need God to help you with." Note the "one thing" -- we didn't want the time to go on and on and on for the ones with short attention spans.
  • Having kids play instruments they were learning - or us play a song on the guitar and singing it.
  • Family read alouds - we did tons of this when they were older - Cross and the Switchblade, The Heavenly Man,  Castaway Kid, just to name a few.  Our kids loved this!  We also read a lot of illustrated children's books by Max Lucado and other authors.
  • Listening to a worship song together and then praying.
  • The most common and most obvious -- reading a passage of Scripture and praying about it. We often chose the passage based on something the Lord was using in our own lives, or at times to address an area of family life that could benefit from revelation and transformation, like perhaps faith or hope or kindness or forgiveness or submission to authority.   
  • Asking who had something to share from their own times with the Lord that week - and leaving it open.
  • Making play dough sculptures of something God cared about....could be any of a number of ideas.
  • Painting with water colors or acrylics or drawing with pastels - or doing a nature study type of drawing....of anything we wanted to praise God for or pray about.
  • Getting a pan and filling it with water, sitting around it on the floor, and dropping a huge rock into it and watching the water spill everywhere -- and asking what lessons we can learn. The one I like is "the water is like God's life of love inside of us - and the Holy Spirit drops inside of us - like this huge rock (Jesus is like a rock you know - strong!) and God's love overflows and comes out to touch everyone around us!" I looked for the Lord to give me ideas like this -- engaging and fun!
And for the sake of honesty let me say, yes, there were times when we would be reading about kindness and kids would be hitting each other; we would be reading about forgiveness and there would be such a thick atmosphere of bitterness that you could almost see it. Or the trials of life would seem so big that we would feel overwhelmed, or that we would feel we were in a storm and overcome, shipwrecked. It was not that we had a pollyanna existence - in fact I think we had more problems than most people - but we have a God who always has shown Himself bigger than our problems.

A Final Story

What we really are longing to do is this: "strengthen our children's hand in God." (I Sam 23:16)
In other words, we want our children to know that we will always be there for them, ready to take their hand literally and figuratively, but even more importantly, THE God who created them and us and the world and the universe and time and space is right there, wanting to hold their hand. God's hand is stronger and wiser and even more loving than their mommy or daddy's hand. He will never let go of them.

It's like this picture. The big hand is God's and the litte one is mine - or theirs.

At the very youngest ages, they begin to experience this.  Like when Cristi was 4 and asked me to buy her a piano, when our income was so modest that I could not afford to use the dryer and could save 10 dollars a month by hanging clothes on the clothesline stead. "Honey, we don't have money for a piano, but God can give us a piano if he wants us to have one. Let's pray." So we do and the next week at church I ask Frank the piano tuner if he happens to know of anyone wanting to give away a piano and he says, "YES, I DO! I just tuned a piano for a 65 year old couple who don't play it anymore and they told me they are wanting to give their piano away. I am sure I could put it in my truck and bring it over this week if you want."  
And our little daughter experienced the LAVISH LOVE of God - the God who holds her hand and taught those little hands to play that piano in preparation for the bigger hands that would play the harp! It was consistent with her life verse from Isaiah  "thanksgiving and joy will be found in her, and the voice of a melody." 

Within the year we would be with our neighbor Denise at a hosital after our son Jonny quit breathing at home one day, due to his heart problems. The ambulance delayed so our neighbor rushed us in her car to the hospital, only minutes away. I am back in the ER with Jonny while Cristi, knowing God cares about pianos, knew all the more that God cared about her little brother -- so right there in that emergency room she says to our kind neighbor, "Denise," in her little girl voice, "Denise, let's pray." And that child's faith influenced that grown woman, renewing her own faith towards the God of heaven.

Participants in God's Great Story

And we all are participating in God's great story! Our children are participating in God's great story. And we have the privilege of strengthening their hands in God, and then they pass this on....strengthening others' hands in God. And this little girl is a young woman, a delightful mother (see the picture below for yourself!), who is believing God that there will be a World Without Orphans, a movement to which she has been called.  

And I never knew. I never knew the treasure that God was preparing, even then, as we sought to nourish her soul, the treasure that He was allowing our family to influence. For the World. For a World Without Orphans. For a World With Sons and Daughters.

Amen and Amen.

Would you take a moment to share something(s) you have done in family devotionals? Or ways you have been able to encourage your children to enjoy the Lord on their own? Thanks-- it's a help to us all!


  1. i love this susan!
    i love that you recall the stories of what He has done for you and have taught them to your children over & over. i love that about you.!
    (especially love that image of cristi & elyse...sweetness!!!)

  2. Dearest treasure Paige....and I adore you and those aammmaazzziiingg daughters of yours!!!! Praying still....xoxo

  3. Dearest treasure Paige....and I adore you and those aammmaazzziiingg daughters of yours!!!! Praying still....xoxo

  4. So inspired with your story. May the Lord always bless you with a happy life, a healthy body and a happy family. Continue sharing your inspirational stories. My dentists in austin tx were also inspired with the stories you've shared.

  5. As a parent, you can start the healthy teeth on your kids by taking care of it during at young ages.

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  6. I really loved reading through this article..! Thanks you so much for sharing this amazing post with us...

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