Thursday, January 12, 2012

Live it Out. Pass it On.

Family devotions are hard. Wiggly children, ringing phones, tight schedules, bored teens—they all keep us from having family devotions. Besides that, what are you supposed to do?
Illustration of Jim and Daniel during Family Devotions 2003 edition

There’s no definitive answer.

I want to encourage you to have devotions with your family. Whatever you do, do something. If one idea falls flat, try another. Keep trying things. Nothing will work for all the years you have kids at home, but some things will work at certain times. And the important thing is that you model the importance of being in the Word and praying on a regular basis to your children.

But not only that, I want to encourage you (and me!) to live a life of devotion to God in front of and along with your children. Devotions take, what? Five to fifteen minutes? Does what you read and do there go along with what you do and say and watch the other 23 ¼ hours a day?

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

--Steve Green      

Throughout my childhood, my parents had four Bibles near the table that we read from after dinner. We took turns reading through a chapter every night. Chapter by chapter we went through the Bible books—not in the order they are in the Bible, but one Old Testament, one New Testament, perhaps the book that was being preached through on Sundays.

That’s not all they did. When we were little, they read Bible story books. When we were older we sometimes read simple commentaries along with the Bible. There was probably more variety than I remember, but the point is we read the Bible together almost every day.

But the rest of the day, I watched my parents live out their faith:

  • Dad has loved mom (and vice versa) faithfully for 56 years now. He used to care for her when she periodically was bedridden with dizzy spells, now she takes care of all the details of life as his memory fails. 
  • Sundays (and Wednesday nights and just about anytime the doors were open) were for going to church. It was a privilege, a joy, and a place to serve. 
  • Dad taught adult Sunday School classes and served as an elder for almost 30 years.
  • Mom fixed meals and made up beds for many guests over the years—missionaries, friends, and people they didn't know until they stayed at our house, as well as leading Girls’ Club for many years.
  • Dad’s brain calculated totals faster than cash registers and he always told them when something had come out wrong in our favor.
  • When Mom didn’t want to talk to someone on the phone, she never told us to say, "She's not here right now."
  • They gave away so much money to the church and missionaries that the IRS audited them every year until Dad started sending photocopies of his giving checks in with his tax returns.
  • If Mom overheard some juicy news about someone, I didn’t hear it from her and neither did anyone else.
  • We weren’t allowed to watch certain TV shows—and that was back in the day. 
  • Mom and Dad were always up before us and we could find them reading their Bibles or praying. 
  • I have never heard either of my parents swear.

When Mom reads this, she'll be embarrassed. But that’s the way we pass along our life’s devotion: We help our children learn what the Bible teaches and we live it out.


  1. As someone who spent a fair amount of time "growing up" inside your home, I can attest to the truth of what you say about your parents here. They were both great examples (even though, back then, I didn't realize it) of how to parent ... what special people!

  2. Thanks, Bill! I'll tell Mom to read your comment. I think you realize these things so much more as you get older and are parents yourself! I'm glad they've lived long enough for me to realize it and tell them!

  3. I love this post, Sharon! It's a wonderful tribute to your parents, but also a reminder to take a good hard look at what our own children will remember about us when they reach adulthood. A sobering thought. I have enjoyed visiting your blog today and will be back to read more!

    So excited to see the "reach" of your blog and your book grow. I am praying with you that it will encourage more and more parents to actively involve in this kind of ministry to their children!

    1. Thanks so much, Linda. It is a good reminder to all of us. And thank you for praying for this. It's fun to dream about growing big, but in my heart of hearts I just want to serve God by helping families.

  4. We have used the "five finger" prayer guide, and the kids, at all different ages, really seemed to have benefited from that. Tracy your hand print on a slip of paper, add on the thumb: Friends and Family, Index finger: Instructors and teachers, Long finger: Leaders and administrators, Ring finger: weak, troubled and hurting people, and on the little finger: yourself.

    1. That's a good way to remember to pray for a variety of people, Karen.



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