Because He First Loved Us

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After the boys were born we found our natural rhythms temporarily thrown into chaos. The past few months, I’ve focused on rebuilding and redefining our routines. (Which we often break!) We also just returned from a week visiting family, so daily rhythms and expectations must be reestablished yet again.

*Some* mornings while the boys are content playing on their own, Rebekah and I get quality time together to read, play, craft, bake together, or do a learning activity. One of the things I am trying to bring back during the morning hours–either before, during, or after breakfast–is Bible time. In the evenings the kids (and sometimes parents) get too cranky and tired. Mitch is often gone for work before the kids get up. So I am trying to do Bible time with Rebekah in the morning. Plus, it is good mother-daughter time. 🙂

I like to use the DIY Baby Bible Box I created when she was young with the boys, but she frequently nabs out the little Bible to “read” or hijacks all the animals to play with in the bathtub. Still, I am trying to do more with the boys since they genuinely get excited about books, songs, rhymes, and holding (chewing on) toys. I often have some time either with all three kids in the morning or with the boys while Rebekah naps before the boys take their nap.

Rebekah loves any chance she gets to climb into my lap and read. So I decided to put together a Bible book box just for her. Lately, we’ve been reading a daily short selection from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. It is by the same author, Sally Lloyd Jones, who wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name (our favorite) and the same illustrator, Jago. I think I get more out of it than Rebekah does some days. Sally Lloyd Jones designed it for older kids who are able to do their Bible time on their own. I think it is perfect for elementary-aged children. I am struggling to find a toddler devotional that I really like, so it is the next best option. (I am still looking and open to suggestions.)

Even though I am picky about Bibles and devotional books, we have tons of Christian children’s books that we adore. (I will share a more exhaustive list in the future.) I filled Rebekah’s box up with these story books, and I let her pick out a different one every day.

At her age, I want her to know and really begin to internalize that God loves her. God created the world and created her. God wants us to love and serve others. I am trying to start with these basic, but integral-to-internalize truths. What will the world try to strip from her as she grows? The truth that God made her wonderful just as she is and that God loves her deeply, passionately, no matter what.

Don’t get me wrong, we are taking as many opportunities as we can to help build her character and teach her manners, good habits and behavior. But sadly, too many children’s devotionals seem to get hung up on behavior. It all feels so outward and externally focused. At least unbalanced. Our world puts enough pressure on us to look and act a certain way. Even as Christians we so often “appear” a certain way while our hearts are in turmoil or filled internally with filth.

We love because he first loved us. A heart that truly knows and believes that God loves them and went to incredibly lengths to make things right and offer them life eternal and forgiveness–that individual overflows with love for others. They begin to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (those traits we so desperately seek to instill in our children).

A Few of Our Favorite Bible Time Books:

When God Made You is probably my favorite book to read with Rebekah right now. This book has brought Mitch and I both to tears because it affirms in us what the world tries to destroy and rip away. It reads like spoken word poetry, and it speaks truths that we all need to internalize. It also doesn’t hurt that the illustrations are colorful, fun, vivid, and engaging. Rebekah used to take it to nap time with her to look at the pictures and “recite it” to herself. She actually had part of it memorized.

Found: Psalm 23 is a beautiful board book and rewriting/interpretation of the 23rd Psalm. My only problem with it is that I think it may send a little bit too much of the message that “God will give us what we want.” However, it is beautifully written and illustrated. Our boys love to do tummy time and look at the pictures. I love that it reiterates that God loves us and is always with us.

My Mama and Me: Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Child was a lot of fun to go through with Rebekah. It is age appropriate, cute, and hits on many of the truths about God that I want her to learn. Plus, it includes some fun application activities. Some of the activities we liked, some we skipped. We have already gone through it a few times; so it is currently on loan to some friends.

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies is a book I will talk more about later because it addresses an important topic. It takes scripture and a family discussion to teach the truth that God made you and you are good. It also teaches about private parts, why secrets are bad and unsafe, and setting healthy physical boundaries when it comes to touch with children. I think it is a powerful discussion starter and tool to help prevent sexual abuse. I would recommend it for ages 2 and up.

God and Me! for Little Ones: My First Devotional for Toddler Girls Ages 2-3 (God and Me! and Gotta Have God Series) seemed promising. And Rebekah likes the pictures and stories. However, it is all behavior based. And there are not many devotionals in there. I didn’t think it was worth the money. But I wanted to include it because I like that it has a story, application, and discussion questions. And it tries to be applicable to toddler girls.

Rebekah is also very much into songs. So each week I am trying to pick out a song to listen to and sing with her that connects to what we are talking about that week. Last week was This is My Father’s World. I never get tired of listening to her praise Jesus!

There are so many ways–both planned and organic–to talk to our children about God. This is an area we are continuing to grow in as a family, and we are finding that there are so many excellent resources available. As always, when we try out new things, I will review them and share them with you.

What are your favorites books, activities, and methods for doing Bible time with your kids? Rebekah loves to read, but I would love to learn about some more interactive ideas that I can use to draw the boys in too when they are toddlers!

Also, after writing this post, I read this great post by Sally Clarkson on the same topic! So I wanted to share it as well for further reading. 😉