By Aileen Hamilton
“One of Dad’s dirty socks, a toenail clipper, a can of beets, a roll of toilet paper, the remote control, a bath towel-wait a minute, what is this list for?” My oldest giggled while viewing her list. It was dark out, we switched out the lights and handed her a flashlight. We challenged, “You have ten minutes to find everything, try not to trip over anything! On your mark, get set, go!” We listened to her steps as she quickly made her way through pitch-black halls to find our laundry pile. “Yuck!” she shrieked. We heard doors open, drawers shutting, pantry items shuffling.
After her scavenger hunt was completed she exclaimed, “I’m done!” She made her way toward the living room where Craig flipped the lights on. “Yes!” She cheered when she glanced at the time, “I beat the clock!” With a proud, accomplished look on her face as she showed us her collection. “Nice!” We praised, “Now what can we learn from this?” “That Dad’s socks stink!” She joked. We began to explain to her that during those times when we feel alone, sad, scared, or ‘in the dark’, God’s love and truth (represented here by the flashlight) will shine through, lighting up the dark path for us so that we can find our way out of these trying times and overcome any obstacle we face.
One of the items on her search list was her Bible. We asked her to turn to Psalm 119:105 and asked her to share it with us, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” She looked at her flashlight and said, “I get it! When I feel discouraged, I can turn to God’s word and find truth and encouragement in His promises.” Thankful for evenings not wasted on t.v. such as these, but enjoying quality time with our child(ren) while being able to share His truth with them. This activity came from a kit called ‘Just Add Family: Easy Recipes for Faith-Filled Fun’ by Kurt Bruner.
Craig and I agree that faith values shouldn’t be limited to Sunday Mornings. Especially since our children leave church with so many questions of their own. Daily we’re challenged with questions such as, “What is Heaven like?” “Who goes to Heaven?” “What is God’s nickname?” “Why does He love me so much?” Even though we may know the answer, we often bring the bible out so the children will grow accustomed to using it to find their answers. What’s even more rewarding to us is when we get to listen in on our children telling others what they know about our Creator and how amazing God is.
Other resources we like to use include family devotionals at dinnertime. I recommend Ruth Graham’s ‘Step into the Bible: 100 Bible Stories for Family Devotions.’ In the end of each Bible story is a list of discussion questions and a memory verse. One tip I’ve learned is that it makes it easier for children to memorize Bible verses if we sing it to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” (You try it, in the tune of Happy Birthday sing with me, “In the beginning…. God created the Heavens and the Earth, In the beginning…..God created the Heavens and the Earth.” and to the tune of “And many More…” try,”Genesis 1:1”) We’ve learned that our children can actually think back and remember these verses in times they need to be reminded of it. Also, during dinner, we share a tradition we absolutely love, taught by my friend Sue McRoberts. She introduced us to ‘PowWows’. After our dinner prayer, my kids would squeal in unison, “PowWows!” Each of us would take turns as we go around the table sharing them. A ‘Pow’ is something that upset us today. A ‘Wow’ is something that made us happy today. My four year old recently shared, “My ‘Pow’ is that I got into poison ivy.” My two year old shared, “My ‘Wow’ is that I got to blow bubbles!” This teaches our children how we can pray for one another. By bedtime we would remember to pray for my son’s Poison Ivy rash and remember to thank God for bubbles.
Around the house I like to decorate with framed Scripture art. One of my favorites hangs near the kitchen so we see it every morning-it’s a vintage framed piece that reads, “God is Good ALL THE TIME”. This and other art I have around the house share a daily reminder of how much God loves us, and often sets the pace for the rest of our day.
Finally, Craig and I carefully choose what we listen to on the road. I remember when Craig’s, an avid Country Music lover, favorite station was on the radio. As I was rubbing my pregnant belly in hopes to feel another ‘kick’ from my growing baby boy, I couldn’t help but cringe at the lyrics that were filling my ears, something about, “Got it goin’ on like Donkey Kong, and ooo wee shut my mouth, slap your Grandma, There oughtta be a law, get the Sherrif on the phone, Lord have mercy, how’d she even get them britches on? That Honky Tonk, Badonkydonk…” Even though I find that song somewhat amusing, I couldn’t imagine my four year old singing it on the playground at recess. I knew that the music we choose to listen to has got to change. Knowing that my kiddos love Veggie Tales (and as much as I love singing along to ‘Your His Cheeseburger’ and ‘The song of the Cebu’ was super excited to find out that they’ve come out with a Worship CD. In the car the children enjoy hearing their favorite characters, Bob and Larry, singing songs of praise. As soon as I turn the engine on, I’d hear them be, “Jesus Veggie Tales!” I’d turn my radio station off and pop in their CD and they’d exclaim, “Turn it up!” In the back seat I’d get a little teary eyed as I hear them singing loud and proud, “Great is your love and justice, God! You use the weak to lead the strong! You lead us in the song of Your salvation, And all Your people sing along, Your Grace is enough! Heaven reaching down to us! Your Grace is enough for meeeee!”
Children are so impressionable at this age, why not go ‘beyond the pew’ and show them how much God loves them not only on Sunday mornings, but every day of the week? Try to remind them daily how wonderful it is to be princes and princesses of God’s Kingdom.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.
Recently my little girl was holding her Grandma’s hand and Craig and I were following behind them holding my son’s. While walking, my little girl stopped in her tracks and kind of hopped around to look back behind her, exclaiming, “I see God!” “What?” Grandma asked, unsure if she might’ve heard her properly. “I see God!” My little one repeated. We looked around, not a picture or a statue or anything to explain what she was seeing. Papaw says, “She may well have.” Whether my little girl saw God in something beautiful as a blooming flower or a butterfly or even if she DID she God reveal Himself to her, it was just so amazing seeing her so excited, full of awe and wonder as she focused for a moment on what she believes was His very existence; her facial expression was filled with admiration- I couldn’t help but feel so blessed that my children have a heart for Christ! Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.” Amen.
Contributing Writer, B.L.O.G. Magazine
Aileen is a stay-at-home-mom to three rambunctious children and the lucky housewife to her doting husband, Craig. She has the perspective of having lived a lot of unique lives, e.g. a military daughter in a non-Christian family, a life overseas as an American-born child in the Philippines, an unequally yoked wife and young mother, a struggling single mom working multiple jobs, and her present day life as a stay-at-home married mom and wife of a God-fearing man. She is also writing and sharing her experiences for the first time as a contributing writer for BLOG magazine. You can find her on Facebook or you can email her email@example.com.