“I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” – Psalm 119.93
We have all had those days when you feel like nothing is happening; nothing is changing. You are at a standstill. There is simply no spark. In the middle of this dessert your teen walks in with a crisis that needs fixing or a problem they can’t think through. And all you’ve got to offer are the fumes you’re running on. For me, days like this come most often when it didn’t get start right. When I didn’t stop to connect with God.
As parents, when we let the calendar dictates our lives instead of the heart of God, that’s when things start going haywire. The only way for us to stay on course is make time each day to hear from God in his word. Those few minutes you spend in solitude not only helps focus you for what God has in store but also becomes a testimony to your family of what is most important.
Caught In the Action
“Your statutes are my heritage forever. I will not forget them.” – Psalm 119.111
Several years ago when our children were little they would come jump in our bed in the morning. One particular morning our son sprinted in, did his usual Tigger pounce, and landed on the bed. He crawled up to the pillows then started looking around like he had just lost his favorite toy. He sat straight up and asked, “Dad, what happened to Mom? Where did she disappear?” His sister, who had already beaten him to the bed, sprouted from underneath the blanket and said, “Bailey, don’t you know. She’s outside spending time with God.” She hadn’t actually seen her that morning but in her little mind she reasoned that if she couldn’t find her mother then she must be spending time with God.
It is not enough that I tell our children to listen to God, to read His word, or to pray. It is more important that they catch me doing it. They need to see that spiritual growth and connectedness are important to me. As my kids have seen that foundation of God’s word in my own life, it is becoming a part of what they desire as well.
A great way to make spending time with God a family affair is to invite your teen into your own spiritual walk. Share with them what God has been showing you. Write down a verse you’ve read that reminds you of your teen. Put the note in their lunch bag or in their car so they’ll see it sometime later in the day. Take some time at dinner to share what God did that day. When your family is going through a time of transition find a verse to memorize together to keep you all on the same path.
All In the Family
“I seek you with my whole heart. Do not let me stray from your commands.” – Psalm 119.10
The easiest way to keep yourself focused on God’s word is to make it a normal part of your family experience. Start the day together reading God’s word around the breakfast table. Even though most of the members of our family are not “morning people,” we still commit ourselves to reading God’s word and praying together. I want our family to have common memories of being together with God and sharing together what he is doing. But mostly it’s about me needing it.
I notice that the days we let school or work responsibilities monopolize our morning and we skip out on our family time together, those are the days that I forget to pray for them throughout the day. Those are the days that I try to fix my own brokenness instead of seeing God as my healer. And it’s the days that craziness runs our home. It’s those few minutes with God together that help us keep things in perspective.
There are some great resources available in print (7 Minutes with God: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Relationship) and on the internet (www.lifeway.com/heartconnex) for your family time together.
Seeing God All Around
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” – Psalm 119.17
For some families an everyday sit down at the kitchen table is impractical. Keep in mind that it’s not so much about you performing a ritual. It’s about you being connected to God throughout the day. And as you see God at work, you get to help your teen see God at work all around them.
Maybe keep a journal of God’s activity in the life of your family. You can use your scrapbooking hobby to be more than just a library of family pictures but also a visual representation of what God has done. Why not use that family blog you’ve start to share with the world God sightings in your life. The more you train yourself to recognize God’s work in your life, the easier it is to see it when He is at work in your teen.
Before you jump into all you have to deal with as Mom or Dad set aside a few minutes for your own heart. Go outside to see God’s creation. Right down a prayer of what is burdening you today. Read a proverb and let that be your focus. Read a chapter from a spiritual biography. Listen to a song of worship that helps you see the bigness of God.
That you know the latest trends in teen dating, what websites your teen is looking at, or who is at the top of the music charts is certainly a good thing. But don’t let it stop there. If there is only one thing today that you can say you know let it be that you know the heart of God because of the time you have spent with him.
Stuck In A Rut?
Here are a few practical ideas of ways to use the Bible today with your teen.
» Include verses on scrapbook pages that mark your teen’s milestones.
» Consider selecting a “life verse” to pray for your family or your teen.
» Post an encouraging verse on the desktop of your family computer.
» During a tough time, choose a verse you both can memorize together.
» Use a dry erase marker to write an encouraging verse and note on their bathroom mirror.
» Send a text message to your teen’s phone before they take tests.
» At the dinner table ask each family member to share where they saw God today. Share with them a time God used a verse in your life to help you through a difficult time.
» Teach your student how to do a word study or use a Bible concordance to find answers to their questions.
» Tell your teen when a passage you’ve been reading reminds you of them.