Devotional Lives for Families
So you’ve had a baby, maybe you have a couple of children. You and your husband are wondering what happened to late night dancing and long strolls on the beach. Well, they are just around the corner…when you retire. However, greeting your new season with joy and deep satisfaction is entirely possible. There is something amazing about having children, something God designed. And when you embrace this very differently structured season, you will soon find a sweet peace, hearty character growth, and a whole lot of love and laughter.
Here are some ways to make this your family’s reality:
- Let Go
A key part to living a Spirit filled life is embracing what is right before you. To fully transition to your new life as a unit of 3 or 4 or 5 or 6… and no longer a single agent, you will find letting go of the old season and looking at what you have today is paramount to discovering the joys of family life.
Make a list of all the things you miss (jogging without strollers, uninterrupted showers, long quiet times with God, enjoying media during the day, eating out, sleeping when you want to, working full time, etc). Commit to pray over those things before the Lord, giving Him thanks for the season in which you used to enjoy them and asking him kindly to hold them for you, if it be His will, for your future. Ask your spouse, family, and friends to pray for you to let go of specific times/experiences/freedoms from the season you are no longer in.
Make a list of all the things you have now that bring you joy (early morning feedings with a smiling infant, park dates with your friends and their children, soccer Saturdays, early bedtimes, never feeling lonely, etc). Commit to pray over these things, thanking God for these beautiful gifts and asking him kindly to help you not miss the hidden gifts of your beautiful season of family life. Ask you spouse, family, and friends to pray for more joy, thankfulness, and contentment for your current season.
Psalms 37:4 “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
2. Embrace Today
If there is one thing that every new parent hears, it is: “Enjoy this time, it passes so quickly”. And though part of you wants to throttle that smiling person with grown children while you recount your 1 am, 3 am, and 5 am feedings, or the difficulty you are having with your 18 month old’s realization that they have a will, or the incredible mountain of laundry you seemed to have inherited; it is very important for you listen. Make it your daily mantra if you have to. You only have today with these children: it passes quickly.
Slow down to see your children and to go at their pace. Let go of any activities or things that keep you from enjoying each moment in your day at the pace of your children (including fancy meal prep or perfect house keeping). You can not live at the pace of a single adult and be a family. Families move slower.
Practice presence of mind in each moment, be attentive to what God is doing. Make it a regular habit when you are annoyed, upset, exhausted, loosing it, to look to God and pray, “Where are you in this moment God? Please reveal yourself” . Then, look for Him. Notice Him in your child’s simple laughter, or the beauty of a breeze as you and your children play in the park. Go outside with your children, sit with them on the floor and stack blocks, talk with them, listen to them, respond to them. Don’t miss it.
Imagine yourself him when he says he is just as spiritual peeling potatoes, cooking, washing dishes for God as when he is in the chapel praying. Find your daily chores (changing diapers, consistently setting boundaries, reading books, making meals) and put his mentality of serving Christ into your day. See how much it changes your heart toward the work of domestic life and child rearing.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men Colossians 3:23
3. Do With
Now that you are a unit, you can no longer go without thinking of others. Selfishness is out the window. But that is good, because there are all these fruits of the Spirit you have been meaning to work on, and now you have no choice. (But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Ephesians 5:22-23).
As you do life with your children, the need for God’s Spirit is so much higher. You can not afford to be impatient or lack gentleness or live without joy. As you pray for God’s Spirit in each moment, you will begin to find yourself a person filled with the fruit of the Spirit.
Parenting is character building. The iron sharpening you is your limited freedoms and your children’s needs, your spouse’s hopes for love and attention. This is good. Tell yourself so!
Remember how Jesus was always trying to get away to a quiet place and his disciples always sought him out and found him. How did he greet them? He was welcoming, inviting, instructing, and correcting. Remember how Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus teach us to pray? They watched Jesus life, they saw how powerfully connect to the Father he was, they wanted that. They asked him, “teach us to pray”. They knew him as a trusted source for their soul to follow.
So it will be with your children. They are your disciples now. You will too find them wandering into your devotional hour, with requests. Invite them in. Sit them on your lap and read the verse aloud to them, ask them what they know from the verse. Pray the verse with them, or just memorize the verse quietly while you rock them in your lap.
You are to do life with. Every moment with them, talk to them, listen to them, hear their hearts, correct their errors, enjoy their delights. Avoid the temptation to have others, have experts, have hired hands raise your children for you. God gave these children to you, not to others. They are yours to raise, to rear, to teach, to love, and to guard.
Pray all the time. You can pray while changing a diaper or recite a verse that is written above the changing table. When you are together at night, eat a meal slowly, talk about the day, enjoy each moment together, pray thanksgiving for the moments He gave you that day or the difficulties you faced.
When you put them to bed, include in your nightly ritual prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of repentance, the Lord’s prayer or another verse. These are key moments to find God in your mind and hearts, to right your thinking and align your heart to His. Bring your children with you in your spirituality and devotional life.
Impress them [the Lord’s laws/ways] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:7