Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Really Impress Them (when you lie down) continued

Welcome (or welcome back) to my How I Really Impress them series. I've been sharing how I've attempted to live out Deuteronomy 6's command to impress God's Word on the hearts of my children by teaching them diligently. My goal is to encourage and challenge you in this area and to hopefully get some wisdom and advice from you to encourage and challenge me. If you haven't read any of the rest of the series, you can start here.

In my last post, I started sharing How I Really Impress Them (when you lie down) and covered my family's bedtime routine for Bible story reading as well as how I've taught my girls to pray. The last thing I want to share as I continue to discuss the times while they lie down is how I'm establishing their habit of personal quiet time with God.

Even apart from diligently teaching your children the Bible, plain old quiet time in and of itself is a treasure. Everyone needs a little time for peace and quiet by themselves. And in today's hustle and bustle - if YOU don't schedule quiet time into your family's day, its not going to happen. Can I get an amen?

I find that the best time for my oldest two daughters to have quiet time is very late in the afternoon leading up to dinner time. By this time, everyone has spent the day working and playing hard and needs a break from each other. Babies start getting cranky. Kids get droopy, bored or hyper. Mom's patience has about dwindled. (Sound familiar?) The T.V. has often been a reprieve during this "bewitching hour" but its a second rate solution at best. Everyone NEEDS to be alone, to rest, to think. And more importantly than all of that, everyone NEEDS daily quiet time to speak to and hear from God. I now feel convicted if my kids are zoning out consuming media when they haven't consumed and meditated on God's Word.

Do you spend quiet time each day reading and meditating on God's Word, praying, and quietly listening to his Holy Spirit? That same Holy Spirit wants to, can, and will speak to your children, but they need you to diligently teach them how to be quiet and listen.

I probably spent about a week teaching my kids what the Bible says about the importance of stillness and quiet time our relationship with God.  Here are some good scripture references on the topic:
Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God."
Job 37:14 "O Job: stand still and consider the wondrous works of God."
Isaiah 30:15 "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."
Mark 6:30-32 "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

Also read Genesis 3:8, Genesis 24:63, Psalm 63:6, Habakkuk 2:20, Luke 6:12 and Acts 16:13 for examples of where to find quiet rest with God. Adam spent time with God in the garden in the cool of the day. David spent time with God on his bed at night. Jesus went to the mountainside with his disciples. Sometimes we'll spend our daily quiet time at a picnic table at the park or on a blanket in the yard.

Usually though, when we have quiet time at home, each child retreats to a bed - hence why this is part of the, "when you lie down" post.  Because my oldest two share a room, they take turns in their bed or in my bed or a couch on the porch so they are truly alone.

They are still young so I help them prepare instead of just sending them off to do their thing. I help them get settled and cozy where they are and assist them in gathering up any resources they'll be using. Then, I remind them that this is their special quiet time to talk to and listen to the God that created all things and loves them and listens to them. Finally I say a short prayer for God to bless their time and I give them a kiss good bye (and remind them not to rush because if they come out before 20 minutes is over they will be sent back in!).

My seven year old keeps a pencil, her ESV Grow! Bible (that we gave her this past Christmas), and her Quiet Time Journal on her night stand.

Christmas morning 2012

Her Quiet Time Journal, published by Word of Life Ministries (which holds a special place in my heart for 100 reasons), is created specifically for her age group.

Really, its intended to be used by kids in Word of Life Clubs in churches, but anyone an order one from their website. They have something similar for all ages. In the Journal, there are 365 daily devotions that each reference a verse to read that day. Thanks to her AWANA club (mentioned here) she has memorized all the books of the Bible in order so she has no trouble finding the verses on her own. (Kids can also learn to use a Table of Contents!)  After reading the verse, there is a question or little activity each day to help understand and reinforce the verse(s) she read.

There is also a prayer section of the journal with a place to list things to pray for every day as well as sections specifically for each day of the week. Each day includes categories of people to pray for that day and she can write in their names. For example, she chose to pray for her Pastor and Sunday School teacher on Sundays, her Bible Study teacher on Wednesdays, and her home school co-op friends on Fridays. I made it to the "Everyday" list. :) Here is her prayer list so far for Mondays (the night we've been meeting with a small group from church for study and fellowship).

I chose Word of Life's Quiet Time Journal to help her with her quiet time because I used something similar when I was younger. But my first experience with personal quiet time was not until Junior High. My youth group was a Word of Life Club and being a "club member" meant using a Word of Life daily Quiet Time Diary. I still call it a diary and so my daughter calls her journal a diary too. It helps her reinforce the private nature of her entries for her younger sister's sake. Little does she know I'm posting a picture from her "diary" on the world wide web! Anyhoo....back to my Quiet Time Diary.... Each day, my small spiral-bound book had a few verses from the Bible to read and two open ended questions to answer, along the lines of: 1) What is the author saying?  2) What does this mean for you?

My Quiet Time Diary was supposed to have me reading and applying God's Word each day. But I have vivid memories of often being at my best friend's house a few hours before youth group and the two of us sitting on her bedroom floor cramming to finish the last few days of our Quiet Time Diary together so we could get credit at youth group for doing it. We so missed the point!  (Crap - are any of my then youth group leaders reading this???) :)

I really never did get into a great daily quiet time habit until college. But I want better for my kids. Why should they waste their childhood without this important experience growing in their personal relationship with God? It's our job as parents to help them develop this lifelong habit! Otherwise, when do you suppose your kids will take it upon themselves to establish this habit on their own?  It is a crucial foundation to lay early on. Are you laying it? It's never too late to start.

It doesn't take my seven year old that long to finish her Quiet Time Journal and personal prayer so I encourage her to pick one or two other Christian book to read during quiet time as well.  Some of her favorites to read are The Three WeaversThe True Princess, The Princess and the KissThe Prince's Poison Cup, The Priest with Dirty Clothes, I'll Love You Anyway & Always and Proverbs for Kids from The Book. I could go on and on recommending amazing Christian children's books but these are her to go-to's for her quiet time.

Now, the quiet time experience for my four year old is a little different because she is only beginning to learn to read. For her, its all about Bible and Christian picture books, and prayer. She gets to pick out a handful of books she wants to "read" during quiet time. I make an effort to read these books in our library to her often enough at other times that they are very familiar to her. That way, when she is looking through them on her own during quiet time, she can be prompted by the pictures to remember what has been read to her often. The words and truths can still come to mind even if she can't read the books independently yet. Some of her favorite books to look at during quiet time are the Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers: The Trinity (I want to get the rest of that series), The Story of Jonah: An Alice in Bibleland Storybook (I want to get the rest of that series), My Little Golden Book About God, The Angel's Christmas Story, Good Morning God, and God's Great Big Love for Me.

One special book has turned into a regular favorite for this middle child of mine. Shortly before our third daughter was born, my hubby and I took a weekend getaway to Maine.  The girls stayed with my in-laws and we left them a special surprise to open that first night we were away - this recordable book called Bedtime Prayers & Promises.
 Every page has a poem, a scripture verse, and a prayer written with cute little pictures. The book has the ability for you to record your voice for each page. So my hubby and I took turns recording ourselves reading every other page. When our kids "read" it, every time they turn a page, our recording of that page's poem, verse, and prayer automatically plays. So the kids can essentially have this book read to them by us when we are not there. Dayspring publishes other recordable story books such as All Day Long Jesus, I Love You Head to Toe, and God's Christmas Promise too.
I have another idea for my middle girl's quiet time that I haven't yet implemented because I'm still doing a little research. Until she can read the Bible for her self, I'd like her to listen to the Bible on CD during quiet time. My hubby and I own a few sets including The Word of Promise Audio Bible. These dramatic readings of scripture (mixed with background sounds effects) are done by over 120 famous actors. Its a great resource for long commutes! There are also kids audio Bibles that I'm looking into as well. Got any recommendations?
I stumbled across this scene the other day and it gave me the idea to give her a stack of the chunky cardboard baby books for her quiet time. If she can "read" them to her little sissy than she can "read" them to herself. :)
Now, I'll be honest (not that I'm usually deceitful, but you know what I mean) - I don't schedule quiet time for my kids every day. I want to. I think its SO important for them to do every day. I can (and do) model for them how important it is by how I prioritize it in our day. We do it several times a week. Some days are busier than others and it slips through the cracks. Its unacceptable, really. It's more important than any of their school subjects. Its more important than playing outside.  Its more important than other places we need to go and things we need to do. I'm not where I want to be with this yet so I pray that God will help me to prioritize establishing this habit for them (and maintaining this habit for myself).
How about you? How have you taught your kids to spend quiet, still time alone with God? Do you or they have any favorite places for doing this? What Bible story, picture books, or books with Biblical themes do your kids love to look at or read by themselves? Do you have any advice to share on how you make quiet time with God a priority in your children's day? What things have prevented you from doing this and how have you worked to overcome them? Please share!  I would love to learn from you and better impress upon my children the habit and desire of daily quiet time with God and his Word. :)
This brings me to the end of How to Really Impress Them (when you lie down). Next, and finally, in this series is How to Really Impress Them (when you get up).  Stay tuned.
And then I've got a couple weekends of yard sale loot to share after that! (So psyched!!)


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