Friday, January 1, 2010

New Routines

The New Year is a time of evaluating the past and focusing on the future. I'm not big on making New Year's resolutions but do appreciate the time of reflection and recommitment to certain goals or priorities. It's in that spirit that I started thinking about some of our family routines from the last year: some treasured and steadfast, some forgotten. One of those rather forgotten routines is our family devotions. Since the boys' birthdays in September, we've been terribly inconsistent.

Let me back up a bit. We started family devotions after reading a great book, Family Driven Faith, nearly 2 years ago. We've always done bedtime bible stories with Boo but wanted to begin the routine of family worship together. We were really consistent with them until The Noodle approached one year old. He'd quickly be ready for bath and then bed after dinner, leaving little time for devotions. Not to mention how squirmy he was (and is!) by that time of day. Getting him to sit through them wasn't always pleasant.

But now's the time to start anew. Every night since Christmas day, Boo has asked to do our Jesse Tree. Doing those Advent devotions together for 25 days in a row sure did re-establish our routine. Kids love routine, don't they? Ours seem to thrive on structure. We started thinking about how since their birthdays in September, we'd really fallen out of our family worship routine until Advent rolled around. What better time than now to jump back in. Boo is clearly used to the routine of devotion before bedtime. It's an easy transition from the Jesse Tree to regular family worship.
So, that's what we're going to do. Hopefully we can maintain consistency with The Good Doctor's ever-changing schedule and the unavoidable interferences that sometimes enter our days.
What about you? If you did Advent devotionals or the Jesse Tree, have your kids since been eager to continue that routine? Did they enjoy it?
If you're curious about family worship, I recommend the book we read (see above) as a start. Our time together is simple: we pray, read a Psalm and several verses from Proverbs and a chapter from the New Testament {we just work our way through over time, reading consecutively each night}, then we go through a kid-friendly catechism. We also sometimes sing a song.

This is the catechism we use. I can't recommend a catechism enough. Boo has learned from a very young age the fundamentals of what we believe. And I love this one because it is simple, straightforward, and uses scripture as the answers. So as he learns the answers to these foundational questions, he's also memorizing God's word. What a blessing! He always looks forward to the catechism part of our worship. He knows more than half of the question/answers so far. I suggest starting small. Only ask one or two questions to begin. Be sure to talk about them and help your child understand. As they master the understanding of each question, you can add more questions to your catechism time. These questions are a great jumping off point for more discussion and questions or thoughts your toddler might have. It's been fun to watch Boo's understanding of who God is grow through our time doing this.
We put our printed out copy of the catechism in a little plastic folder. We also added The Reformed Reader catechism to it and plan to use some of it as the children get older. It's a little wordy and advanced for toddlers.

I haven't found a specific guide or book for family devotions geared towards young children. Although, something a friend introduced me to recently is Family Time. We've done one of their bible activities during our family worship and the kids loved how hands on it was. If you have any recommendations, please share!


Jennifer said...

What great routines. We work on the catechism during our homeschooling time and also on specific Bible stories. At night before bed my hubby reads from the Bible. We read one chapter at a time and have now gone through the Bible several times since we've had kids. It is a wonderful time for all of us, though the babe does get pretty squirmy some times. I've heard good things about Family Driven Faith, perhaps it's time I track down a copy.

Amy Blogs @ River Rock Cottage said...

We've been doing family devotions for several years with our girls and including the catechisms - I think you are on the right track! I've heard of people who NEVER, EVER miss a night even if they are traveling and this is way too much pressure. It robs the joy of meeting face to face with God by making it legalistic. If you miss a few nights (or a month), don't beat yourself up, just jump back in. Kids will grow up remembering all the nights you did devotions and will have very little memory of the ones you missed! (Selective memory - the remember what they like).

In our family, I usually research a good source and then present it to my husband for his consideration. We have used a wide variety of resources from story books that teach a lesson to the Bible alone.(Variety keeps it exciting). Sometimes we concentrate on something that we know our girls need to work on in their character. After we read, there is always good discussion (because of their age we can extend this) and prayer.

This year all the girls are easily reading on their own, so we bought everyone a Bible just for the dinner table. We want them in the Word and reading it themselves as much as possible in 2010.

Hope your own devotions are rich in God's truth and draw your family's heart closer to the Savior as well as each other!

The Alexanders said...

what a good reminder to get back in the habit in 2010. Avery and I (and Bailey when she's being good) have been having "bible time" each morning after breakfast for a few months now. We use this time to work on memorizing scripture (she's doing so awesome!!) and read some bible stories. I also just got "The Little Girl's Bible Storybook for Mothers and Daughters" and it has a bible story then some discussion questions afterwards so that helps us do something with the story. We do however need to get back into the habit of family devotions with Daddy after dinner. It is so hard, though, when the little one needs a bath and her bed!! We do need to try harder, though!

Heather said...

I will check out the Reformed Reader ;) Thanks girl! Happy New year - I am so excited for you guys ;)

La Dolce Vita said...

We too need to start a nightly devotional time. Our girl has asked about the Jesse Tree every night since we finished. It was SUCH a great beginning to family worship!

Jenna said...

I read a book this year called "Raising a Modern-Day Joseph" by Larry Fowler which was an excellent read and quite helpful and challenging! Along the lines of what you are saying, this quote keeps coming back to me, "Perkins has a fascinating conclusion regarding Bible reading and family devotions: Students in families who do not read the Bible together but only engage in family devotions reported significantly lower worldview (he was talking about having a Christian worldview) scores than other groups - even the group in which no formal discipleship occurs in the home. Only when families engage routinely in both Bible reading and family devotions were student worldview scores higher than those who do not have routine discipleship activities in the home." Wow! It was a great reminder to me to keep putting Christ and His Word in the center of everything! I am so grateful that my husband has made this such a priority for our family. On a side note, we have an 18 month old, and there are some nights where he is just grouchy and we pray and put him to bed and then do the longer Bible reading with my older little guy. It works for us!

Monica said...

We recently decided to do our family "Bible Time" after the children are in bed. My boys are young (almost 7 months and just over 2 years) and they were just too squirmy before bedtime for it to be enjoyable. So, my husband and I started reading a devotional together and then chatting on our couch after putting the boys to bed. I would like to include the kids more, but it's also really nice to have adult time together as a couple.

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