As Kidology folks know, I’m passionate about the topic of “Intentional Parenting” – its the theme of my Online Training Lab “Partnering with Parents” (Kidology Members can watch the training video for free) – and something I have preached and “teached” about…
But, of course, it starts in your own home. Early on when we first became parents we got excited about starting a family learning time, and inspired by a family in one of our first ministries (the Camarenas) who did a “Praise the Lord Time” every evening, we started that with Luke when he was around two. It was a complete disaster. LOL. We quickly had to surrender that we were starting the family devotional thing too soon, and settled for bedtime Bible stories and prayers, of course prayers at meals, Christian entertainment, and learning moments throughout the day – and engaging with the materials from church, but set aside any formal home devotional time for the time being. My over-eagerness to be a good dad and start this with a two year old would have made for some good candid camera moments.
Since I actually write and publish family devotional guides for a publisher (download a sample) I can’t wait until Luke is much older to be able to use those as a family – but we probably let a little too much time slip by before restarting an intentional strategy again.
But the time has come for me to give myself a kick in my own rear to be more intentional as a parent in being a Deuteronomy 6 Dad and start doing some formal (but fun) spiritual training in my own home – and not just encouraging others to be doing it in theirs via the materials I write for churches.
I’m blogging about it for a few reasons:
1) To hold myself accountable – by telling others we are doing it, there is some public accountability! People can ask me how it’s going. (gulp!)
2) To get feedback, suggestions, ideas and questions to improve what we are doing.
3) To maybe inspire others to be more intentional in their spiritual parenting.
My first challenge was to come up with a name for our intentional family time. I wanted something that would last for years – not sound too “spiritual” – and not overly define what we were going to do, as I want to be flexible. I was writing all kinds of words on a paper as Sara and I brain stormed. It had to be simple enough for a four year old to understand, and yet have some meaning that would still make sense when he is ten. (Yes, I pray we are still doing it years from now!) We had Bible Learning Time, God Time, Family Zone, Prayer Circle, Family Huddle – and lots of key words – and then it hit me: my boy LOVES cars, and race cars need to pull out of the race to refuel and get repaired and stop racing for a bit so they can get back in the race. Everyone knows what happened to Lightening McQueen when he thought he didn’t need a pit stop at the beginning of the Disney Cars movie!
So I explained to Luke that every night after supper we are going to have a Family Pit Stop. We are going to pull out of the family race and daddy is going to plan a little something to focus us on God. We might watch a video and talk about it, we might read a book, we might play a game, we might do a craft, we might watch a toybox tale, but we will always just take some time to focus on God. We’ll read something out of the Bible and pray. They don’t have to be long. Pit Stops are using fast anyway. But the point is to always make one.
Of course, I know there will be days we can’t make one – but I really want that to be the exception. I want my boy to grow up knowing that our family had a Family Pit Stop in the evening, even if it was short, we always pulled over to talk about God, read some scripture and pray. Some days I can get really creative (After all, after twenty plus years as a children’s pastor, I have an entire children’s ministry in my basement!) but other days it will just be a kids devotional book and prayer – but the point will be stopping and focusing on God as a family.
I think it will be fun to even do a Family Pit Stop by iChat when I’m on the road someday!
Tonight, since Halloween is coming, and Luke is starting to notice scary stuff around the neighborhood and in stores – I decided to show him what a skeleton really is. I got this cool books at Costco awhile back, one of a Car Body and one of the Human Body, where as you page through them you get to see the “parts” unfold and see the insides. We did the car first and talked about the insides of a car and how you can’t see the insides normally, but that is how a car works, and then we did the human and talked about how people have insides too, and he learned a lot about how his body works, and then we just talked about how that’s what a skeleton is. So when he sees skeletons, he doesn’t need to be scared, they are just pictures of people like in this book showing how God made us. He was fascinated and said that he wasn’t scared of skeletons at all and it was silly to make them walk and talk, people can’t do that with no skin on!
Then we did a devotional book with the story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus, and how he disappeared, and then when he appeared to the disciples they thought he was a ghost, but he proved he wasn’t by eating, and talked about how the only real ghost was Jesus – and he wasn’t even a ghost, and he proved it by eating. So all the ghosts and skeletons are just things people put out for fun.
At the very end Luke said he loved the Pit Stop and said, “This was fun, now can we get back to racing and run around the house?” Reminding me that kids are quite literal, so he took the pit stop explanation quite literal!
I plan to wear the racing jacket for Pit Stop time for awhile, until my NASCAR hat arrives. Then, when it is Family Pit Stop time, I will just put on the hat and announce, “It’s time for Family Pit Stop!” Pray for me that I will be faithful to keep up this commitment.
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