My daughter is currently on a campaign to move mealtime prayers to the end of meals. She actually has a very valid point. In her opinion, no one really pays attention to the prayer before a meal because they are so hungry or are worried about the food getting cold (ouch!). We have had several light-hearted discussions on the pros and cons of her campaign.
In reality, I am just glad she thinks about prayer. We have family prayer times, but I have always tried to encourage our daughter to have her own private conversations with God. I don’t force her to pray out loud in front of us (and never have) any more than I would listen in on one of her private telephone conversations. I often wonder how she talks to God and I am happy when she occasionally gives me glimpses into her prayer life.
My husband and I have taught Sunday School numerous times during our marriage. We love trying to make the Bible stories come alive for the children. No matter how hands-on and interactive our lessons are, we always seem to have one or two children that are basically falling asleep on the table. It always concerned us that these children were getting nothing from one of the valuable hours of Bible study in their young lives.
Then one quarter, we stumbled across the answer by accident. We had written a fun unit on the Jewish holidays and how they connect to the New Testament and Jesus. As a part of each lesson, I would bring in a traditional food that was eaten when celebrating the holiday. Suddenly, my two sleepy heads perked up and participated better than almost anyone else. We had taught these two before, so we knew the difference was the food.
Children love to hear family stories. They are fascinated to hear about your life as a child or stories about colorful relatives they may have never met. Even at my age (nearly as old as dirt!), I still ask my dad to retell my favorite stories from his very colorful family.
Recently, I have tried to add some of our family’s faith stories to my repertoire. One of my favorite stories is how my grandmother found the church. She was pushing my infant mother in her carriage and stopped to rest in front of the church building. Someone came out to invite her in and she became a Christian shortly thereafter. Some stories are more humorous, although I won’t retell them here for fear my parents might be reading this. (What is the statute of limitations on parental punishment anyway?)
When I try to analyze Hannah’s decision to leave Samuel at the temple, I always wonder if she thought about who would train her child as he grew. She could have been tempted to dedicate Samuel to God without leaving him at such a young age. Even though we know Eli wasn’t exactly a great parent (at least if you judge him by his children), I have to think Hannah was comforted that Eli would encourage Samuel to follow God’s ways. Perhaps she thought Eli would mentor her young son. The one time we see Samuel turning to Eli for advice as a boy, Eli tells him to listen to God. I am sure that was what Hannah wanted Eli to do for her precious son.
When my daughter was born, I decided to make sure I had some influence on the adults she might turn to for advice or counsel. From infancy, she has had several “aunties”. They are friends of mine who I know love God and won’t undermine what we are trying to teach at home. These “aunties” have all been wonderful about giving our daughter special times and attention. Most of then have probably even put on a few pounds from all of the Girl Scout cookies they have bought from her over the years.
A few years ago, I decided to walk the Avon 3-day for breast cancer. The 3-day part involves walking sixty miles over a three day period. If you are familiar with the Atlanta area, we started at Lake Lanier and ended up in Piedmont Park! The organization gives you a very useful training schedule. That ten month training period was the most intense exercise period of my life. Motivated primarily by fear, I walked from when my daughter left for school until she returned home almost every day.
I would love to say that every year, I get up almost every morning and do my strength training and an hour of cardio. The truth is that a lot of the time life gets in the way. I am gradually learning that it is okay to drop the ball once in awhile. The trick is to remember to pick it up again as soon as you can.