Being a More Faithful Family

I would not say that Cortney and I have been excellent role models of what faithful families should look like. In fact, I recently joked with a few people that it seemed like we had given up church for Lent. We had a string of weekends with sick kids, other plans, or both that kept us from our regular Sunday 10am worship, and in turn kept the kids away from their Sunday morning Children in Worship centers.

We are usually regulars on Sunday, and if I am being truthful, I’ve left most of the “teaching” about our Christian faith to church: our pastors, the Children in Worship leaders, and the children’s message during church. I know that is not enough. That if we truly have this faith we say we have, it isn’t just on Sundays.

While I firmly believe our actions and how we treat the earth and who and what are in it are really the mark of our Christianity, talking about it is important too, especially with our kids so they know why we do what we do. As I do with most things, I turned to a book given to me by a close friend: Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments At Home by Traci Smith.

faithful families

The book is divided into three categories: Traditions, Ceremonies, and Spiritual Practices. I went through the entire book in two sittings and put post-it notes on everything I thought would be a good fit for our family. As you can see above, I used a LOT of post-it notes!

I marked the most practices in the Traditions section because I’m looking for ways to make our faith more a part of our every day lives. I like the way each practice is not just explained with a short narrative, but also is laid out in easy to follow steps. Then in the notes part, suggestions are given for making it more or less complex depending on the age of your children.

One thing we have always struggled with is consistently praying as a family. At dinner the boys are pretty good at leading our family prayers, but at night we tend to read books and then just go to sleep. I didn’t want to start the kids reciting memorized rhymes for prayers because I remember just flying through them as a kid and not really thinking about what they meant. I also tried it with Ed when he was little and he got hung up on the “if I die before I wake” and was freaked out for quite some time.

The first thing practice in the book suggests saying a blessing at bedtime. These can be as long as saying, “Eddie, may the peace of God, which is bigger than anything we understand, fill your heart and your mind, and may you know God’s love always. Amen.”  Or it can be as short and simple as “God Bless Alice. Amen.” It can even be part of the bedtime routine for kids to say “God Bless (family member).”

Practices in the book range from simple like a blessing, to more complex and deep ceremonies for things like pet loss, moving, and traumatic events in the news. There are small and large traditions for holidays such as Lent, Pentecost, Christmas, and even birthdays.

Another practice I want to put in place is to somehow mark the changing of the colors of the church calendar. We talk about this a lot in church and I would like to carry that into our lives as well: green for Common Time, purple for Advent and Lent, white for Christmas and Easter, and red for Pentecost. I could just be a small area–a shelf or table–but I think it would help us remember growing/learning, waiting, and celebrating. That there is a time and season for everything.

faithful families

I am really looking forward to putting some of these suggestions into practice to help our kids know why we give and take care of others–that it’s part of our faith to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That our number one reason for being is to love.

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This is not a sponsored post. The link is not an affiliate one. The book was a gift and I loved it, so I wrote about it.

Preparing For The Arrival

Since September, we have been making a concerted effort to make it to church since Eddie is now three and able to go to Sunday School.

Up until now, it has been Cort going to church with Eddie, and I have been staying home since our church starts at 10am and that is smack in the middle of Charlie’s morning nap; and we all know…you DON’T mess with nap.

But lately, Charlie has been sleeping in on the weekends and taking his morning nap late.

Because today was the first Sunday of Advent, and I had been craving to be in church for Advent, I decided Charlie and I would join the other boys today.

Advent.

The preparation of the arrival of Christ.

It’s so exciting this year.

I think it’s because Eddie is old enough now that we can talk about what Christmas is and what it means and I can share with him why it makes me so happy.

I have been absolutely bursting to share stories of my childhood and giving and sharing with others and Jesus’ birth and God’s love for us with my son.

Saturday Eddie and I went Christmas shopping together for the first time ever.  We started with donuts at the bakery and then we window shopped and discussed what Grandma and Grandpa and Granny and Grandpa Ray and Charlie would love.

We stopped at the library and saw the train show.

We bought gifts for people we love and I asked him why we give presents.  He said, “when it’s someone’s birthday.”

So I asked him, “well how come we all get presents on Christmas?  It’s not OUR birthday.”

“I don’t know, Mom. Why?”

“Well, it’s Jesus’ birthday.”

“But Jesus can’t get presents. He’s in heaven with my Papa and God and Louis.”

“I know. Jesus WAS the present.  God gave him to us.  So to remember, we give everyone we love presents.  What do you think of that?”

“I like it because I like trains and presents.”

Later I told him we were going to pick out two presents for a boy and a girl who otherwise wouldn’t get presents at Christmas (we donate to Toys for Tots…I wasn’t going to try to explain that some people don’t celebrate Christmas. I’ll leave that for another year. I can’t do ALL the teaching in one year, ya know. Raising enlightened children takes time, yo).

“Why won’t they get any presents?  Were thems naughty?”

“No, bud. They were good.  But there are some parents who don’t have money, so even though their kids were good, they can’t get any presents.”

“But we have money.”

“We have some.  Enough to buy two presents.”

“I will pick them.  For a boy and a girl.  We will get thems presents for Christmas. And Santa will bring them. And then God will give us Jesus, right mom?”

“Right, bud.”

We bought an Advent calendar this year.

While I think they are cute, I really didn’t want one that involved the boys (ok, Eddie since Charlie is too little) getting something each day.  To me, that is not what Advent is about. It just becomes a countdown to Christmas when they get the big gifts.

I wanted something that reminded us of what we are celebrating.  What Advent is…preparing for the coming of Christ.

(And for those of you who are wondering, Cort had that kind growing up, but we didn’t do one at all.  We didn’t have much of a discussion over the Advent calendar other than I said I wanted to start the tradition and he was like, “do it up, Babe.” and so I did).

So we bought one with cards and verses.

It is 28 cards and the verses align with what I am reading for my Advent Devotional Plan with #SheReadsTruth. The first six days we read about the fall of mankind…the reason we need Jesus in the first place.

I decided that since Eddie is only three, instead of reading all 15 verses on night, we would read verses 1-3 the first night, and two more verses each night until we get through all 15.  You know, break it up.

Honestly, I had no idea how it would go.

The first night we sat together before dinner, I took the first card down and read these words:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”

I asked Eddie if he knew what a “serpent” was.  He did not. So I told him it was a snake. And I read it again with the word “snake”.

I asked him if he thought the snake was a good friend.  He said no and then he asked me why the snake was so “crafty”.

He had noticed that word!  He had been listening!

We talked about people who try to trick us and how that is being “crafty”. It was decided that people who try to trick us are not good friends.

Tonight at dinner I asked him if he remembered what we read last night. And he said a snake was trying to trick a girl.

Yes! He remembered!

So then I read,

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

I asked Eddie if the snake was right or if the lady should listen to God.  He said she should listen to God. I asked why. He said because the snake is naughty.

We talked about why it’s important to listen to our dad’s and mom’s.  Why obeying is important.

Then I asked him to guess what would happen next in the story (yes, I am an English teacher, why do you ask?).

He said she would NOT eat it because the snake is naughty.

So tomorrow he will be let down, but we will keep talking about it.

Because we are preparing for Jesus.  For the miracle that is God’s Grace and God’s Love.

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