Tonight I realized again just how little time I actually have with my kids each night. After getting home from work the amount of actual face to face time can be less than an hour with each. Things that I say are important to me (like family devotions) have to really be important, and whatever I think is a good reason to not do them are really just stupid selfish reasons that I am ashamed of.
Tonight at the dinner table we had some typical battles over who got to drink out of the pink sippy cup. I originally gave it to Pax just because he’s younger and I don’t really feel confident sitting next to him at the dinner table when he’s got a regular grown up cup. But Ella wanted to switch with Pax and while we were in the middle of discussing why this couldn’t happen, Pax simply picked up his cup and slid it over to his sister without saying a word.
So Pax could share with Ella, but after Ella took her drink she didn’t want to share it back with Pax and this eventually led her to be sent to time out. Everyone else was pretty much done with dinner by now, and Erica asked if we were going to read the Bible. “No, I’m just going to start reading it to them in bed.” Well, Erica shared with me that she wanted to be a part of family devotions and asked me why we didn’t just do it after dinner instead, all I could say didn’t really make any sense. They were just stupid selfish reasons. We called Ella back and read the story of David showing kindness to his friend Jonathan’s family and worked on memorizing Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and loving to each other.”
That night as I lay down with Ella to read her some books I talked with her about her favorite part of the day. “Playing Mario with mommy!” …no surprise to me there. Then I asked her what part she didn’t like. She made a frowning face and said, “Fighting.” Hmmm, “Did you fight today?” She shook her head back and forth and what followed was a memory I want to keep for always, to motivate me to capitalize on these types of moments. I asked her about our memory verse and if fighting was kind and loving and connected the dots for her that fighting was not being kind. Then we brainstormed together about ways she could be kind to Pax tomorrow. “Hug him” she said first. “How else can you be kind?” “Kisses”
I gave her some other actions like sharing her toys or taking things from Pax and asked her if they were kind or not to check her understanding of what being kind really means. We also brainstormed about how she could be kind to mommy. “Tell her what a great mom she is! Clean up your room. If mommy says no, don’t stomp your feet but say OK mommy.” She asked me to tell her more ways to be kind to mommy before I prayed with her. It’s been a while since we’ve [rayed together at night, I usually pray with Pax and he chimes in with a whispered “Amen” at the end. But as I started to pray she interrupted me and said she wanted to pray, too. Her prayer was so sweet. She thanked God for mommy, daddy, Pax, “and me” and then asked God to help her be kind and loving.
I’m glad my wife helped push me tonight to lead our family in devotions. It made my short time with my kids tonight extraordinary. I wish I had a devotional book that wasn’t just Bible stories though, but stories or Bible passages that were focused on different virtues. What do you use for family devotions? When do you find is the best time to do them?