Finding Peace Through Morning Time


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I’ve been hearing about Morning Time for a couple of years now. While I’ve tried my own version of it last year, we got sidetracked about 8 months in due to some allergy issues Finn was having. Luckily, all of those issues were cured through diet, but his chronic asthma/allergies interrupted any consistency we had going in Circle Time last year.

After hearing about Morning Time again on a recent podcast featuring Cindy Rollins (a pioneer in the Morning Time movement), I decided I’d read her book, A Handbook to Morning Time, and really understand the purpose behind each component of the habit. I was also looking for something that would bring a little more peace to the start of each day.

Needless to say, the book was an easy read but had tons of valuable information for starting your own Morning Time at home. With fresh resolve and excitement, I’ve started Morning Time again and it’s been going great.

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Scripture Talk, Farmer Boy, The Five Little Peppers and their Friends, & Peter and the Wolf

Here’s a look at how we do Morning Time:

  • As soon as breakfast concludes, the kids play for a few minutes while I clean up the kitchen. After that, I settle down on the couch with Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder and say, “I’m going to read Farmer Boy and you can listen while you play.” (They usually just glance at me and then go back to playing.) I start reading.

 

  • But… it only takes a minute or so before they’ve deserted their toys, wandered over to the couch and are comfortably snuggled in around me, trying to see the few pictures in the book.

 

  • I read until they start wiggling too much for me to hold the book or until they’ve wandered back to their toys.
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Block time!

  • After their morning snack (if they are hungry), I’ll read a chapter or so of The Five Little Peppers and their Friends by Margaret Sidney. Sometimes, I’ll read this one while they snack, while they’re playing after snack, or during lunch (if they don’t snack). Some days, we don’t read this one at all.

 

  • While I will eventually add Hymn Study and Art, the only music we are “studying” right now for Morning Time is Peter and the Wolf. This was a favorite of mine as a child and due to the subject matter (I’m pretty sure wolves are Finn’s spirit animal) and playful nature of the composition, it has become a favorite to Finn and Lydia as well. It took a few listening sessions for them to distinguish each character’s instrument, but no joke, Finn will now hum the wolf’s “part” with perfect accuracy while he’s playing. He’s also been drawing pictures of Ivan the Cat from the Disney version of Peter and the Wolf I’ve shown him.

And that’s really it for Morning Time…

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Having recently adopted a more minimalist approach to curriculum, I’ve found that this is the perfect amount of Scripture, read-alouds, and music study for my energetic and curious preschoolers.

It’s made me look forward to the mornings (I’m naturally more of a night owl) and made the start of each day so much more peaceful.

Whether you’re looking for a simple way to start homeschooling with your toddlers/preschoolers or have been searching for a way to gently start each day of your current homeschooling schedule, I’d encourage you to give Morning Time a try for yourself.

If you’ve already been using Morning Time as part of your homeschool, I’d love to hear what’s in your morning basket. Comment below if this is something you’ve already been doing with your kiddos.

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Here’s what’s in Our Morning Basket.

 

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Superbook: Biblically-based Entertainment You Can Feel Good About. 


All Superbook images are courtesy of The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. and used with permission. All opinions are my own and based on our family’s personal experience with Superbook. This is not a sponsored post.

As you could tell from my post on Bible resources I shared awhile back, I’m always on the lookout for ways to incorporate more of God’s Word and the stories of His People into our day.

I stumbled upon Superbook on Amazon Prime one day after searching for Bible stories. I saved it in my Watch Next list, but I kept putting off watching it because I’ve just never been super impressed with the faith-based entertainment I’ve seen available for children. There were either major quality issues with the animation or huge discrepancies within the Bible story itself that always turned me off of other popular series.

Then, I heard a blogger mention that she used Superbook for her son’s Bible curriculum. The next day, I decided to give it a try and watched the first episode “In the Beginning” with the kids.

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From episode 1 “In the Beginning”

I was blown away. The animation was top quality (reminds me a bit of “Ready Jet Go” in animation style). The format of the show is very engaging, intriguing, and allows for great discussions as you watch with your children. It’s also quite funny and the writers seem to know how to inject each episode with appropriate amounts of humor to lighten any of the heavier storylines.

The show revolves around two friends, Chris and Joy, and their robotic pal Gizmo. Any time a problem arises, Superbook (a digitized version of the Bible) appears and transports them into a Bible story related to what they’re going through in real life.

I should mention here that this show has existed since the 80’s but the animation was quite different. It continues to be used today to spread the Word of God to children and their parents in countries all around the world, but they’ve updated the look of the animation.

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Gizmo, Chris, and Joy

After we finished, “In the Beginning”, we immediately watched “The Test” (Abraham and Isaac) and “Jacob and Esau”. We honestly could’ve kept watching more episodes because all three of us loved it so much, but I decided to start pacing them to tie in with the Bible stories we are reading at night with Ryan.

For instance, after reading about Moses, I showed them the episodes “Let My People Go” and “The Ten Commandments”.

Having a visual retelling of a story they’ve just heard has really helped them retain the stories and remember the life lesson we can learn from each of the Bible heroes.

It has also allowed for deeper discussion of the details of each story. Many times, Chris and Joy explain the parallels of what they’re going through in real life with those happening in the Bible around them so that the kids can better understand what they’re watching. These explanations help you as the parent know how to better explain what’s happening to your children as well.

Another thing I love about this show, is that they’re not afraid to include details not typically found in other children’s Bible movies. For instance, in episode 1 “In the Beginning”, they included Lucifer being cast out of Heaven. This is an important detail to the overall message of the Gospel in my opinion, so I’m glad it was included in a way kids could understand.

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from “The First Christmas”

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from the episode “Miracles of Jesus”

I also love that they don’t just include the typical Bible stories about Creation, Noah, Moses, etc. They also feature episodes highlighting lesser told Bible stories or accounts that might be hard for kids to understand like “Peter and Cornelius”, “Elijah and the Prophets of Baal” or “Revelation: The Final Battle” and make them really accessible for even toddlers and preschoolers to understand.

At the end of each episode, there’s a song called “The Salvation Poem” that plays over a video recap of that episode. The song presents the Gospel in a nutshell for kids. It’s very catchy and we find ourselves singing it around the house. Ok, I’m singing it and they tell me to stop, but whatever. We haven’t gotten to the episode about having patience with your tone-deaf mother yet (You can see the song in the middle box below).

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Salvation Poem

**A brief word of caution to parents.** Many of the episodes of Superbook contain violence or stories that might be too scary for some children. That’s only because they want to give accurate accounts from the Bible. Nothing is graphic or encourages violence, but it may frighten some children. My children have been taught from an early age that some things on television are real and some are make-believe.

I always make sure that they know that Chris, Joy, and Gizmo weren’t in these real Biblical happenings, but that everything else that takes places really happened. I watch every episode with them so I can answer questions they have or gauge if something is too scary. I would highly recommend you do the same, even if you have older children. There are also parents’ guides available on Superbook’s website and a ton of information for commonly asked questions about God, Jesus, and many other aspects of Christianity on the Superbook app.

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Parents’ Guide

 

We have access to the first season of Superbook through Amazon Prime, but we’ve loved it so much that we joined the Superbook DVD Club. We want to see the other episodes and to support this wonderful ministry that has been such a blessing to our family.

Essentially, you pay $25 dollars a month and get each new episode, plus two copies to share with friends or family, every time a new episode comes out. Currently, they are running a promotion called “Summer of Champions” where you get three additional episodes for signing up for the DVD Club. They include “Gideon”, “Esther: For Such a Time as This” and “Joseph and Pharaoh’s Dream”. You also receive free access to stream all three seasons of the show from three separate devices.

I look at it as I’m contributing to more episodes being made by my monthly donation, but I’m getting a ton in return—family-friendly entertainment we all enjoy watching, Bible curriculum for my kids, and quality resources to help me continue to build a foundation of faith for my children.

Visit Superbook’s website or Facebook page to find out more. Our family has been so blessed by this ministry and want everyone who’s interested to have access to it, so feel free to share this post with friends or family who may be interested. The DVD club would make an excellent gift subscription or would be great in a Sunday school setting as well.

I’ll make a separate Youtube video of the subscription once it arrives so that you can see what is included, but I cannot recommend this resource enough. It’s amazing!

Let me know in the comments below if you used to watch Superbook in the 80’s or enjoy it now.

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Shaping Little Hearts, part 6


Today I’m sharing the final installment of the “Shaping Little Hearts” series. I’ll leave links at the end of this post if you want to read any of the posts you missed or read from the beginning.

Praying Specific Prayers for Your Children 

I once heard an interview with Ruth Graham where she stated that sometimes she was so tired after a long day, all she had the energy to pray was, “Lord, be with the children,” before she collapsed into bed and fell asleep each night.

Many times in the exhaustion that parenting small children (or any children for that matter) can bring, I find myself struggling to know what to pray for my children as well.

A couple of years ago, I started keeping a list of specific things I could pray for my children to give me a starting point for days when I simply didn’t have any brain power left. I’ve gathered these from many sources over the years and will continue to add to my list as the years go on. Today, I simply wanted to share a few ideas with you that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful when I’m not sure what to pray. Now, these aren’t worded super-fancy or anything. Just simply a list to help me (and you) start the conversation.

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Sweet summer days! 

  • That they would have a heart of obedience toward us.
  • That they would make wise choices even when tempted to do something wrong.
  • That they would have a strong conscience.
  • That they would have a heart of obedience toward the Lord.
  • They would accept Christ at an early age (and have assurance of their salvation as they grow up).
  • That we would have the assurance that they’ve truly accepted Christ if they do and know how to disciple them as they mature in their faith.
  • Once they accept Christ, that they would not have any periods of rebellion, but that they remain steadfast in their faith all the years of their lives.
  • That they would never struggle with sexual sin in any form and would remain pure until marriage.
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The world’s first doctor’s office/salon combo. 

  • That the Lord would make His will known to them for their careers.
  • That they would seek after what He would have them become instead of chasing after money or success.
  • That their future spouses (if they decide to marry) be believers and that they not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.
  • That their future spouses would be seeking first after the Lord and as a result be a great partner for them to do His will together with.
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Blowing Rock, NC 

  • That they are best friends growing up and remain close all their life.
  • That they have compassion and patience for one another when playing together or having to share.
  • That they be willing to share without resentment.
  • That they be kind to one another even when they are irritating each other.
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Grandfather Mountain, NC 

  • That we have a heart of compassion and patience towards them, even when they’re disobedient.
  • That we remember to react without anger, but instead remember to use disobedience to teach and train them in the way they should’ve gone.
  • That we always forgive any offense and don’t rehash it every time they repeat it.

I hope this list gives you some ideas of your own. I’d love to hear how you pray for your children in specific ways. If you have a similar list or specific things you consistently pray for your children, leave them in a comment below. I’m always looking for ways to cover them in prayer as they are growing up.

Thanks for following along with the “Shaping Little Hearts” series the past few weeks. If you need to catch up on any of the posts, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

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The Shaping Little Hearts series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

Shaping Little Hearts, part 5


If you’re just joining us, this is a six-part series on the blog. You can catch up on posts one, two, three, and four. Next week, I’ll be wrapping up the series by talking about how to specifically pray for your children in their day-to-day and for their future.

Today, I wanted to touch on something that seems pretty small in the big scheme of the day, but can make a huge impact on little hearts.

Hymns & Praise with Little Ones

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“Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18b-19 (NIV) 

One of the easiest ways to help your children remember something is to make up a song about it, right?. They learn their ABCs that way and goodness knows, they can pick up every annoying Disney song within 5 seconds of hearing it (seriously, Elsa, let it go already!). So, why not let songs help our children better understand the character of God and the meaning behind Jesus’ death and resurrection as well.

Right around the time Finn was about a year and a half old, I stumbled upon Listener Kids on Youtube and taught him that version of Jesus Loves Me (If you follow me on Instagram, you can see a video of him “singing” it on the Oct. 4, 2014 post).

Shortly after that, we also taught him the first stanza of “Amazing Grace”. We kept it very simple, but we felt it was important to get those two truths in early—Jesus loves us and God has grace and mercy towards us, even though we’re sinners.

As the years have gone on and I’ve noticed how easily the kids pick up what we play on the radio, I’ve been really convicted that we should be listening to more songs about God—songs about His promises to us, His faithfulness, our need for a savior, how our sins are covered by His blood.

I feel like it must be stated that we are pretty laid back about what our kids listen to. We like all kinds of music in our house and obviously don’t play anything inappropriate around the kids, but they listen to a wide variety of music.

I don’t want anyone to dismiss what I’m saying here by thinking we’re only playing old-fashioned hymns as a way to be more spiritual. Under God’s grace we are free to listen to anything we want. However, I do find it to be really helpful in times of distress or when I want to bring peace into the house to have songs playing in the background that remind us of God’s truths. It just tends to make everyone calmer and reminds me that any strife or difficulty we’re having in the day is only temporary.

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The other day, I caught Finn singing “O Come to the Altar” to himself while he was playing. Ryan has only played that around the kids a couple of times but Finn had learned the chorus. That provided more evidence to me that we need to be even more  intentional about the songs we play around the house or while running errands. 

Like I mentioned, we enjoy a wide variety of song styles, but here are a few of my kids’ favorites that they ask for at nap time, bedtime, or in the car:

  • Feel It by TobyMac (This is on repeat in the car most of the time)
  • Softly and Tenderly performed by Joey and Rory (this plays at naptime/bedtime)
  • Come Thou Fount performed by Hillary Scott (I often rock Lydia to this one for her nap.)img_2095
  • Trust and Obey, I Stand Amazed, & What a Friend we have in Jesus all performed by Chelsea Moon and the Franz Brothers (I typically play this while I’m doing things around the house and they are playing).
  • How Great Thou Art performed by Carrie Underwood (because c’mon, she rocks it!)
  • Anything by Jeremy Camp

I would love to hear from you all on this subject. What are some of your favorite hymns, psalms, or worship songs? Comment below and share your most cherished songs from when you were a child or that you shared with your children.

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The Shaping Little Hearts series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

 

Novel on Sale! 


Hey Everyone! 

Wanted to share a quick post to let you know my novel Finding Grace is on sale right now until July 4th at midnight. 

It’s normally $17.99 on Amazon but will be just $7.50 (plus shipping) during the sale. 

It likely won’t be this cheap again for a long time, so grab a copy (or two) while you can. 

Click here to purchase

Happy 4th of July! 

Shaping Little Hearts, part 4 


Welcome back! If you’re just joining us in the “Shaping Little Hearts” series, you might want to catch up on posts 1, 2, and 3 before reading today’s installment. Today I wanted to share with you how we use regular, everyday situations as opportunities to share the gospel with our children.

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“helping” me with the grocery list.

Gospel Conversations

If you’re reading this and thinking they are those kind of parents who have a Bible verse for every situation or always have the exact right response to their children’s questions about God, Jesus, and the world, you’ve barked up the wrong tree.

We have to be very intentional with our time with our kids and make it a point in our heart and a matter of prayer to even be able to recognize opportunities for us to share little glimpses into the gospel.

Let’s face it, the demands of small children can be very distracting. They often ask questions that we’re not prepared to answer. Or questions that we haven’t yet discovered an answer for ourselves.

I’d encourage you not to let either of the above situations deter you from attempting to, “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Today, I’ll share two examples from our recent experiences just to show you that  conversations about God don’t have to be contrived or even planned out. There are so many instances that lend themselves to these type of conversations, we just have to be paying attention.

The following is an actual conversation I had with Finn (4) at the dinner table one day. It was around Easter, so the cross was fresh on his mind. Ryan was running late from work, so it was just me and the kids eating dinner until he arrived.

Let me preface this conversation by saying Finn is the type of child who wants brutal honesty. If you try to sugarcoat things, he’ll continue to ask questions until he gets an answer that makes sense to him or until he’s tired of thinking about the topic. The approach below may not work for you and your child. I’m just sharing a personal experience.

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Finn: Why were those men hanging next to Jesus on the cross?

Me: They were thieves, remember? (I knew they’d just read this story in his Sunday school and we’d been reading about it at home.)

Finn: What’s a thief?

Me: It’s someone who steals something that’s not theirs, which is wrong. Back in Jesus’ time, they used to hang thieves on a cross as punishment. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong, though. He had to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.

Finn: (in between bites of mashed potatoes) How come the one thief went to heaven with Jesus’ and the other one didn’t?

Me: (Let me add here that I just blurted all this out without really thinking it over, but the Lord gave me the words Finn could understand. You’ll see what I mean in a sec) Remember, the thief asked Jesus to remember him when He went to heaven? He meant that he believed Jesus was the Son of God, so Jesus said that the thief would be with him in paradise or heaven when he died because he believed. The one thief believed in Jesus so he joined Him in heaven when he died. The other thief chose to reject Jesus and God, so he had to spend an eternity separated from them in hell.

Finn: (ponders all this for 2 seconds) What’s hell?

Me: Well, hell is an awful place. It’s hot as fire and there are people crying and screaming and gnashing their teeth. That’s kinda like hissing.

Finn: (still eating and still pondering) Why are they hissing?

Me: Because they’re miserable. Not only are they in a terrible place, but they’re not with God and Jesus.

Finn: gives a little satisfied nod, which means he’s tired of the topic, and finishes his meal. He’s excused from the table and goes off to play while the rest of us finish our meal.

After he left the table, I thought to myself, Well, that’s not a conversation I expected to have at the dinner table. Thank you Lord for a child that can handle blunt conversations.

The only reason I share this conversation is that I wasn’t expecting it, yet the Lord gave me the words to say that made sense to my four year old. I’m convinced that happened only because I’m always praying to have the answers to Finn’s abundance of daily questions about life.

We don’t ever want to shy away from hard or uncomfortable questions from either of our kids. We want them to come to us any time they have questions and not fear that we will reject them or make them feel stupid. Apparently those hard questions have begun at four years old. Yikes!

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Now, before any of you freak out, not all gospel conversations have to be so heavy. I’ll share another example of how being intentional in conversation can allow for an opportunity to share God with your kids.

My kids love the movie Trolls. And, if I’m being honest, so do I. Singing, dancing, hugging—sign us up! 

Anyway, I picked up a couple of those blind bags that have a little troll doll in them at Target one day. Both kids were with me, so I really hoped I grabbed some trolls they’d like. I sort of felt around the bag to make sure I could feel a troll face and some hair, but there’s no way to know what you’re getting in those bags. We checked out and I loaded the kids into the car before I opened the bags.

I let Finn pick which bag to open first and handed Lydia the other. He opened his and it was Branch (his favorite). I opened Lydia’s for her and thought, please be Poppy, please be Poppy. It was…Poppy!

Both kids were super happy and excited. If I’m being honest, my first thought was “Thank you, God. It’ll be such a pleasant ride home now.”

I walked around the car and climbed back in my seat and I was struck by how sweet it was of God to allow me to find the exact ones the kids wanted. It’d been a really long, rough week at our house with the usual drama created by a toddler, a preschooler, and an exhausted mama.

So I just simply said, “Wasn’t that so sweet of God to help Mama pick up the exact trolls you wanted. He knew you wanted Branch, Finn. And He knew Lydia wanted Poppy. Wasn’t that great?!”

Finn gave me an enthusiastic, “Yeah!” and then went on admiring his new toy. Gotta love him for humoring Mama for just a second there.

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God has helped me see that sharing Him with my kids doesn’t have to be difficult, awkward, or orchestrated in any way by me. He will provide plenty of organic opportunities for us as parents. We just have to be ready and willing to see them and take advantage of them.

My hope with this post today and the “Shaping Little Hearts” series in general is to help you discover, like God has shown me, that we don’t have to worry about how we present things to our children. We don’t have to stress about what questions they’ll ask or how to bring up the gospel to them while they’re little.

We just have to trust Him. Wake up every morning, grab Jesus by the hand, and say, “Prepare me for whatever comes today.” I truly believe God will honor that when we ask. He will equip us to do the work He has called us to in raising little ones. He is always faithful.

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The “Shaping Little Hearts” series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

 

 

Shaping Little Hearts, Part 3 


If you’re just joining us in the “Shaping Little Hearts” Series, you can catch up on the first two posts here & here. You can also see an inside peek into the Child Training Bible we use.

Praying with Your Children

I really think there’s no right or wrong way to teach children to pray, but I know it’s always been helpful for me to hear how others do things, so I thought I’d share with you today how we incorporate prayer into discipling our kids.

First of all, let me say that I realize that praying out loud is not everyone’s cup of tea. When I was younger, I used to be so self conscious about praying in front of a group that I almost couldn’t do it without bursting into tears. As I began to become more mature in my faith, I realized that it’s not really important how articulate I sound or even how spiritual because God knows what I mean and it’s not my responsibility to impress others with my prayers. I hope that realization is as liberating to you as it is to me.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to, “Pray without ceasing.” And Matthew 6:6 instructs, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

We’re also given The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, so I think it’s safe to say even the disciples struggled with knowing the right words to say sometimes.

Our main goal in showing our children how to pray is to teach them how to communicate with their Heavenly Father. How not only to ask for what they need, but to listen to what God is telling their hearts as well.

Here are a few simple ways we model this:

  • Mealtime prayers — Three opportunities each day that allow us to show gratitude for the food we’re eating. Any time Ryan says the mealtime prayer, he also thanks God for the sacrifice of His son for our sins and salvation. This makes for a nice moment to reflect on the implications of the gospel, even for just a few seconds. Finn likes to say the mealtime prayer sometimes, so we just ask who wants to pray. Lydia prefers to repeat after whoever is praying so there’s usually a tiny echo accompanying our mealtime prayers.
  • Bedtime prayers — We want our children to drift off to sleep each night with a sense of security and peace, so before bed we all get down on our knees and pray:

Now I lay me, down to sleep

I Pray the Lord my soul to keep,

Guard and keep me through the night,

And wake me with the morning light. Amen.

We’ve done this since Finn was around 2 years old, so both kids have memorized this prayer. We’ve also explained to them how important it is to be respectful when we pray, so no mumbling or speeding through the prayer to be silly.

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  • Spur of the moment prayers — Any time one of the kids doesn’t feel well, is acting in a way they know they shouldn’t, or we hear of someone in need of prayer, we try to stop what we’re doing and pray in that moment. This can be something as simple as, “Dear God, we’re having a rough day. Please help us to be patient with one another and have the self control we need to make good decisions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” The kids usually just sit and listen to me say it. I don’t make them join in unless they ask to, but boy, do I notice a difference in everyone’s attitudes and moods when we take a couple seconds to ask God to help us.

We feel so grateful for the many opportunities we have to pray with our children throughout the day, so I hope this post has been helpful. The most beautiful thing about praying with your children is that you’re showing them what a rich and meaningful relationship with Christ is all about. Communicating with our Creator and Savior is a wonderful privilege afforded to us all.

Thanks for stopping by to read the third installment of the “Shaping Little Hearts” series. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be talking about filtering conversations with your little ones through the gospel, the importance of hymns and praise, and specific ways we can be praying not just with our children, but FOR them.

Have a fantastic week!

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The “Shaping Little Hearts” series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.