“You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 1:18-19)
First Ask Why by Shelly Wildman.
Though not an actual “devotional,” this book pushes parents to create a framework for how they can engage in faith growing experiences with their children. In the first pages, she describes her own beginning attempts to nurture her daughters’ faith. Some of those attempts went according to plan. Others ended in the frustration familiar to many parents who encounter the reality of intentional teaching among restless bodies. The story drew me in as I resonated deeply with her desire to reconcile God’s commands for parents and the reality of trying to implement a plan. Wildman proposes that asking “Why” we do what we do as families will lead to organic opportunities to for discipleship. It does not mean intentionality is forgotten but asking “why” pushes us to prioritize the ways a family uses their time, energy, and resources. There are a lot of “how to books” but families have different shapes and no one model can adequately help. As a parent myself, I found the information, grounded in scripture, practical. It felt as if a friend was sharing wisdom gained from experience. The questions at the end of each chapter challenge reflection and implementation.
Pray A to Z by Amelia Rhodes
This book transforms the way you see others in your community. If you are familiar with a prayer walk, this book takes that concept to the next level. Arranged in alphabetical order, each page offer a brief introduction to a topic of prayer including: alcoholism, cancer, divorce, depression, estranged relationships, law enforcement, Jehovah-Jireh, Truth, and Wisdom. Our family uses each topic as our weekly them of prayer. Something holy happens when you pray for those you randomly see in your daily interactions. God opens up our eyes and the Holy Spirit puts a nudge in our hearts as we encounter those for whom we pray.
No More Fear for Kids by Johanna Reardon
Finding a family devotional book that speaks in a language that draws kids in is challenging. “Fear” is a common issues children face. The stories that introduce each lesson contain elements of situations that children will most likely have experienced. Bullying, staying overnight away from home, and fears of earthly disasters are common sources of children’s fears. Rather than dismissing them with a scriptural platitude, the author confronts them head on. Questions are offered at the end of each lesson which help the family members engage with one another and gives them a chance to listen to one another. In addition, the scriptural support and prayer places hope in their hearts. In addition, a characteristic of God becomes the theme woven through the whole lesson. I wish I would have had this book when my children were younger. It’s aimed towards the 8-12 year age group.
The Teenage Prayer Experiment Notebook by Miranda abd Noah Threlfall-Holmes.
I picked up this little gem at a writing conference. The book stands out from traditional devotional books for kids/teens for two reasons: 1) It is written by a mom and her teen son. 2) Hands on application involves some really creative and culturally relevant methods of prayer. The introduction sets the premise: “This is not a book to teach teenagers about prayer. It is a book to encourage teenagers to try out prayer for themselves.” Each experiment includes an introduction (including its, the experiment itself, space for notes, and comments from other experimenters (including Noah). Ideas include creating a prayer space in a virtual world, bedroom door prayers, coloring the Bible, modelling a Bible passage using legos, and Nerf gun confession. Although this book is intended as an individual devotional book,it can easily be used as a family or youth group resource. http://teenageprayerexperiment.blogspot.com/p/running-prayer-experiment-workshop.html
The Bible Project https://thebibleproject.com/
The digital age is reality so it makes sense to incorporate Bible teaching venues into it. Founded in 2014 by friends Timothy Mackie and Jonathan Collins, “The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. ” The videos fall under five categories: series, themes, word study, old testament and new testament. Compelling story telling and creative animation draws the audience to watch these short clips (most are under five minutes). My family has found this resource to provide a springboard for discussions that normally are challenging to initiate with your kids. (ie: hey, what do you think about praying the Shema? How about those Covenants?). You can watch these videos on the site as well as youtube. I guarantee your kids won’t be the only ones gaining Biblical knowledge.
The soft, comforting sensation of my fleece sheets protect me from the sting of the chill in the air. These winter days beckon sleep at anytime. The darkness tricks my mind. The warmth found in the cocoon of my blanket entices me to escape the drama of the day. So many voices calling my attention in so many directions.
Is it time for bed yet?
I jump into my refuge with abandon. Hoping to rest me brain with the silence and the recharge necessary to restore my cognitive functioning.
Quickly, I drift off to the sounds of my dog and my husband snoring. Sounds of familiarity and routinely marking the beat to the rhythm of silence.
But suddenly I awake. I squint at the numbers on the clock. Like “clockwork”, the red digits glow as they do quite often around this time: 3:30 (or 3:15, 3:10….) I am startled awake by nothing that produces audible sound.
Yet, I am unable to fall back asleep. Instead, I tune my mind to God’s voice.
Who needs prayer?
What are you leading me to write? or speak?
How can I serve you when the sun rises?
Though no one else is privy to these conversations, they exist. In the silence of the middle of the night.
(This post is part of Five Minute Friday. See www.katemotaung.com for more information or to join)
(This post was written a few years ago. It’s amazing to look back and see that God’s hand was indeed at work through that season.)
It’s been a season of waiting. I’m accustomed to living simply but it seems that any source of Earthly comfort is being taken away. Medical concerns have drained us financially and emotionally. Not gonna lie. It’s hard.
As the feelings of despair and worry began to grow, the oven broke. Oh, yes it did. I preheated the oven for dinner and as I opened the door, I felt no heat greeting me. Are you kidding me? My panic began but stopped when I remembered my husband’s handyman gifts and ability to fix most things. My mind focused on him coming home. Of course, I look forward to seeing him but this was urgent!
Scott can fix it. Scott can fix it.
Except he couldn’t. It meant ordering a part that would take a week to come in. Well, then.
What do we do now? Eat out? Nope. Well…..we have a microwave and a Crockpot.
Hmm. quick flashback. I remember those early days of adulthood. Living by myself and filling my stomach with microwave meals or soup mix made with boiling water. The “make-do” lifestyle of a college student and or early twenty-something seemed OK at the time. But now, married and three kids later, not so much. The novelty and the humor of it has worn off.
Ironically the annual church soup supper was coming up in a few days so I had planned on making corn chowder in the Crockpot. I decided to make enough to have leftovers for meals for the coming week.
And then it happened.
In an attempt to carry things out to the car after the soup supper, the pot seemed to slip out of my hands. Glass shattered everywhere; including in the soup. Really?!.
Do you ever have a moment when you honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry?
And then it occurred to me…
If God can raise a man from the dead, why can’t He keep my Crockpot from falling? It’s a legitimate question. I realize, of course, that there are others in much more dire circumstances who plea for God’s interaction and rightly so. However, I also am aware that God knows what’s going on in my life. At this moment, it seems as if every comfort (not lavish) is being removed. And the stress of a sick child, the needs of the whole family, financial distress and worry make living bare bones a challenge.
Fast forward a few months:
I resolved to fight the spiritual battle that surrounds me (us) on a daily basis. With that in mind, I try to be conscious of keeping that as a priority in prayer as well as be discerning in the moments and routine of daily life. Last week (well, every week actually), that routine included running to the grocery store. Off I went.
Within minutes of arriving, I received a call from my daughter screaming in pain. My mind began racing: appendicitis? No more health problems! is what came to mind along with the urgent desire to relieve her pain.
Quickly, I headed home, drove in the driveway and proceeded to take the groceries out of the car. With my desire to fight away any attacks from evil, I declared “Satan you will not win!” and with that said, I found myself flat on the ground, face first, slipping on ice that was not apparent. I am not kidding. Thinking I broke my nose and knocked out my teeth, I left the groceries and tumbled in the house.
If God can raise a man from the dead, why couldn’t He keep my Crockpot (and me) from falling?
Reluctantly, I looked in the mirror and found my nose a bit bruised and my teeth intact. Could I have been kept from falling? I believe so. Could I have been hurt worse? I know so. I will claim an unseen victory.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.“ Ephesians 6:12
I may not always have control over my situations. I may even become frustrated and even angry over my circumstances. But hope is found in keeping my eyes on the One who knows everything about me and has promised to fight for me.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)
God, your Creator, the One who knows the number of hairs on your head, has your back. You have spiritual weapons at your ready. Refuse to go down the path of discouragement and hopelessness. That’s where Satan wants you. Fight! You Got This!