In our home, we use passages like Deuteronomy 6:5-7 to help aid in our parenting and daily rhythms.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
We certainly aren't perfect (far from!) but are frequently evaluating and adding ways to keep our home Gospel-centered.
Here are ten practices that help us.
1. The first is simple, and it's to let them see us reading our Bibles. I can tell them until I'm blue in the face that I value God's words, but they'll only really understand it when they see me physically choosing my Bible over other activities. Often times, I'll re-read what I've read in my quiet time (which takes place before they wake up) while they're awake so they can see me using my Bible in everyday life. Bonus: It also helps my reading sink in when I see the same words more than once.
This is the Bible I use, but I recommend most Study Bibles. The ESV is my favorite translation.
2. We try to start our mornings off with a time of praise and devotion to to God. Right now, we're working our way through Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, and have really enjoyed the simple thoughts that provoke good conversation. I read over breakfast, they ask questions, I try to give everyday examples.
Then I lead them in a prayer that relates to what we've just read so they can practice talking to God and sharing their hearts with Him.
Lastly, we sing a hymn together. Mostly, it's me singing and them acting crazy (real life), but they're seeing how to worship God and this practice helps to start our day off right. No matter what, we've worshipped together and that's a beautiful day.
3. We usually read a Bible story every night before bed, but we may move this to our morning devotion time when we're done with the above book. Regardless, The Jesus Storybook Bible is a favorite, but we've also used The Big Picture Bible and hope to use The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible this year to intentionally teach our children more about the Holy Spirit. We read one story at a time and point out characteristics about God.
As you choose a children's Bible, look for one that keeps God the main focus and not ourselves. After all, the Bible is a book about God!
4. We try to play scripture-to-song music at least once a day (usually during lunch). We love Seeds Family Worship & Sing the Bible. Often times, we find ourselves humming + memorizing scripture without even thinking about it. I still remember some of the scripture songs I learned as a child, and hope some of these will stick with our children, too. God says His words never go out void, and I pray the scripture they're hearing softens their hearts to God's truths.
Having your favorite worship music on in the background is a great idea, too.
5. An older & wiser friend once told me that she used the Fruits of the Spirit to parent and something clicked in my mind. I didn't have to overcomplicate it or come up with our family values; they were already there for me to use! So now we talk about each one, point out when someone is acting in that way vs not, and pray for the Spirit to lead us towards these characteristics through His power. It's simple & helpful as we learn to love one another.
I made this art print for Dear Mushka, really for my own self, and have it framed in our house where I see it frequently.
6. At dinner, we're working towards reading a Psalm together and then talking about it. We open up our "adult" Bibles and let them listen in as Robert and I talk about what we just read.
If you haven't caught on, mealtimes are are an excellent time for us to re-focus our thoughts towards Christ. They're expected and predictable, which helps all of us establish good patterns and habits. Do we do it 3 x day, 7 days a week? Of course not. But when we've worked 21 times into our week, we're much more likely to do it 10 or 15 times than if we'd casually tried to do it when we thought about it.
We have a Psalm only Bible that stays at the table. I also love this guide to the Psalms to spark conversation or help me understand a specific Psalm.
7. Beyond our Bibles, we're growing quite the collection of Gospel-themed books to read throughout our days. Reading is a skill & passion I want our boys to develop, and I think it's important to put high quality, engaging, beautiful books in their path. Here are some of the ones we read over and over (and over) again!
8. Scripture Memory is an area I want to grow in (for myself and my children!) this year. Last year, we started with Psalm 23, one verse at a time, until my four year old memorized the whole thing. We practice it a few times a month, but this year we're starting to use The Child Pack-- a scripture memory pack I created for Dear Mushka, just for children :) I tried to a year ago and we weren't ready, but now feels more right.
One verse every two weeks. That's doable! And then I'm going to create them one of these boxes so we're constantly reviewing. I think I'll add this to our morning time together; it will only take a few minutes.
9. We'd also like to grow in the area of serving others together. James 2 tells us that faith without works is dead, which really means that we can talk the talk all we want, but the proof of our faith and love for Jesus will come when we walk the walk. I want my boys to see that this world is full of need, and that God has equipped us to help one another through our actions.
One intentional act of service a month is my goal, but truthfully I pray it becomes a way of life for our family-- constantly looking for ways to serve and love our neighbors.
Ideas: Taking meals to new mothers, visiting our elderly next door neighbors or local nursing homes, donating money to adoption fundraisers, volunteering at various organizations around town, putting together care packages for those in need, sponsoring more children though places like Compassion International, etc.
10. Lastly, we want to be a family who prays together, always. We want to see a need and drop to our knees before our Father right away. Sometimes, this looks like praying when an ambulance zooms by. Other times, it means we ask for God's help as we learn to love our siblings instead of kicking them.
We also want to be quick to give God all the glory when we have a fun day, see a beautiful sunset, eat a good meal, etc.
Of course (of course!) we don't do all of these things all the time. And the good news is that it's totally okay. We can rest assured that it is God who draws hearts to Himself, not our good actions. These are all ways we aim to intentionally plant seeds in our children's lives and set them up with lifelong habits to draw them close to God. But it is HIM who does the watering and growing.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. -1 Corinthians 3:7