A Gentle [and much needed] Nudge

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?

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4 Replies to “A Gentle [and much needed] Nudge”

  1. Hi, I stumbled upon your blog yesterday, and I honestly can’t even remember what I was doing to get there. I have enjoyed browsing your posts, though…you have a beautiful family! Our oldest is “Ella” too, and from what I can tell they are about the same age. 🙂

    With intros out of the way, I want to tell you I found this particular post very poignant. I suppose it’s mostly the timing of it, but it definitely finds me reading with tears brimming in my eyes. My gentle, kind, husband works so many hours to support us, many nights he doesn’t see his children at all before they are in bed. He works for UPS, so this time of year he is gone before I get up, and home after I would normally be asleep (I wait up for him). While I enjoy reading the beautiful stories you share about your family’s happy moments, it makes me so sad that the father of my children has to spend more time supporting them from a distance than doing things like reading to them, getting them into bed, and having play time. I’m not sure why I’m sharing this…maybe I just need to reach out…maybe I’m asking for prayers…maybe all three. I guess I’ll conclude by saying this: be so grateful every minute for the time you have with them. I know you know that, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it again. We are not in a financial situation to make any changes right now, so this is our cross to bear. We understand that, but the emotions still run high for me, and sometimes my heart breaks for him, for my girls, and for their lost time together.

    God bless, keep doing what you’re doing for that precious family of yours.

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    1. Hi Anna,
      I really appreciate your comments, they’re a great reminder to me to be grateful for every moment I get with my family. I used to work for UPS as a part time supervisor, and I know how crazy this time of the year is for them, even with holiday helpers, they are in so early and gone all day long. I often wondered how they coped with the schedules. As a husband and father, one of the things we struggle with is feeling like we are providing enough for our family, the sacrifices we make are all for the ones we love. Let your husband know that you appreciate his sacrifices even though you wish he could be there. I know those kind words from you will help him get through these difficult days as well. And let your children know their daddy is working hard because he loves them so much. I will pray for you, that your family grows stronger and closer even through these trials and that God will still give your husband some precious moments with his daughters. Thanks again for sharing that with me, it really is a powerful reminder.

      Lee

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      1. Thanks Lee, your advice is sound, and I try to do all those things. What an interesting coincidence – that you also know the UPS environment. It’s a unique one, and I think only those intimately familiar with it really understand. Ben started there as a package loader, and has worked his way up through part and full time supervisor, drove a package truck for 5 years, managed the primary, and is now a delivery supervisor. UPS is certainly a challenging company to work for, but they really are a blessing for us!

        Thanks again for your advice and prayers, take care!
        Anna

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