I often feel like such a completely useless mother. In my mind I should be beatifically teaching my angelic children from a variety of devotions, all age appropriate, all leading sequentially from one to the other and all working like a dream.
The truth is of course that it’s haphazard at best. My boys are in the tween and teen years: too old for some kiddy stuff like craft and drawing pictures, but not yet old enough for more dense material. Also, they are boys, so are far more likely to start annoying each other than paying attention to a structured gospel activity.
I’ve tried a few things that have worked for a while: Zonderkidz Devotions to Take You Deeper series from the age of 10 through to tween. There’s also a really good series of short books by Chris Morphew published by The Good Book Company: How Do We Know Christianity is True? Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen? And What Happens When You Die?
But a lot of the time, the simplest is actually best: just reading through a Gospel a little chunk at a time and then discussing what they thought of it and what God might be wanting us to learn from it. The beauty of using Scripture is that it is always age appropriate. You don’t have to find new resources all the time; you can just work through one of the Gospels and our conversation or our response to the passage will be shaped by their age.
This was brought home to me by my minister and his wife who invited me and my boys to dinner one night. As a single mum, just being part of another family can be a great encouragement for us. At the dinner table, they raised the next passage in the book they were working through. I can’t remember which one it was but it was an Old Testament book—too brave for me! But I noticed how easily it became part of the dinner conversation.
Also, a friend of mind, who attends St Barnabas Church Fairfield and Bossley Park, has put me on to ‘St Barnabas Daily Devotions’, which are published on Spotify and Apple Podcasts They are 1-3 minutes and include a short Bible reading and a couple of questions to think about or a spur to conversation. These are perfect for the car or to kick off a conversation over snacks.
The good thing about these is that the pressure is taken off me to a large extent. I work full time and am a single parent. That means that time is often in short supply with nobody to pick up the slack if I am too tired or too busy doing cooking and laundry and so on. I suspect it will be the same for stay-at-home-mums also, as time always seems to be filled with all the stuff that needs to be done!
But God’s word is always there. I don’t have to scrabble around on the shelves for the latest devotional or search through online bookstores and blogs for the latest resource: the Bible is enough. And it is always good, nourishing and life-giving—no need to check the star ratings! All I need to do is read or listen to a short passage and ask my boys:
What don’t you understand that I can clarify for you?
What do you think Jesus is saying?
What does that mean for us today?