I always feel sad after Christmas.
I linger in packing up the boxes of decorations, just wanting to hold onto Christmas a bit longer. I think some of it is that I am sad to go back to “reality.” School and activities start up again. A routine and discipline is needed.
But mainly, I am sad that the Jesse Tree is over…the cuddles, the conversations, and the meaningful moments that were created all throughout the month are getting put in a box with the rest of the tinsel.
Not really true though.
Intentional time with our family in God’s Word is a day to day, year round opportunity.
It doesn’t stop after Christmas but begins with Christmas. The birth of Jesus is the beginning of the redemption story.
We have laid the foundation with our families, now we have the privilege to finish it.
So now what?
When my husband and I first did the Jesse Tree, that was our first experience together reading and studying God’s Word as a family.
It’s what kickstarted our “family devotion” times together and continues to be a time every year for us to refocus, remember, and reengage with the purpose God has given us as parents.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them 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.
There are MANY creative and wonderful ways to “do” family devotional times. We actually don’t even call it “family devotional times” in our house, it more of “Let’s Eat.” (We usually read and discuss during a meal).
We keep it real simple in our home. We read through the Bible again and again.
And it doesn’t happen every day. But when all things line up: like everyone is in the same room at the same time, some sort of meal is prepared and on the table, and manners are reasonable, we pull out our Bible and talk.
I love it when our time together turns into an “after meal” event–like it reminds us of a song we want to sing…or a question prompts us to figure something out…or we are led to the map to find an area in Bible times…or it spurs us to create or play…those times are sweet.
Most often though our time looks like opening up the Bible, reading a passage, and discussing.
That’s really it.
No “pomp and circumstance.” Just us obeying and trusting the Lord to work in the hearts of our children.
Notice that Deuteronomy says first, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on YOUR hearts.”
For me, we, to lead our children, we must go to the source–and KNOW Him and His ways.
The Chronological One-Year Bible has been my favorite way to spend time daily with God.
Now is the perfect time to get started. It’s starts January 1st!
Each day is about a 15 minute reading, and will help you to see the Bible as a story.
When reading as a family, we have found that reading “Storybook” Bibles while the children were young were great for their own understanding but also easy for us to pick up and do at a moment’s notice.
**I think it is very important to read from the Bible with your children when you can, and let them see you read from the Bible–it is the Scripture, “authority from God.”
Here are our favorites:
The Read Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall. Great simple stories, simple pictures, and simple questions for the very little ones. (My kids still love these. I’ll catch them looking through them often and reading them.)
FOR AGES 4+:
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and The Children’s Illustrated Bible by Selina Hastings. I can’t recommend these enough. The Jesus Storybook Bible is a wonderful way to tell the gospel. The Children’s Illustrated Bible gives your children more facts and real life pictures to provide context.
FOR GRADE SCHOOL AGES:
The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos. We are currently reading this Bible and I read this Story Bible to my students prior to having children of my own. I love the way this Bible relays the stories that are easy for children to understand but also full of rich language and details. My personal favorite, and it has provided great conversations with my kids.
FOR FIRST BIBLE:
The Adventure Bible. A great first version is the New Reader’s NIrV for easy to understand language for children. I especially love the questions and applications all throughout the Bible that give you further discussion help.
I hope you all have a wonderful start to the New Year. No matter what has been accomplished in the past, we are given today.