Living the Theme

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Our family has a tradition of picking a "theme," and a related verse, for different periods of the year. This has evolved into one for January - May, one for the summer, and one for September - December, which is announced at our Back to School Feast.

Coming out of the gift-giving season, our January theme was easy for me to pick:

We all need to work on gratitude, saying thank you, and feeling thankful for what we have. Many of you have asked me how this works in our daily lives. It is all well and good to write a verse on the kitchen chalkboard, but when your children cannot read (yet), and your lives get busy (again), how do you keep it from being forgotten?

Well, did you notice the finger mark towards the bottom of the chalkboard? It is from Big Guy, when he eagerly stood on the chair to point at the new verse as we read it for the first time. I didn't fix it, because it reminds me to keep them involved.

Every morning at breakfast, we read from The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers while the boys eat. This usually reminds me to say, "And who can remember our theme?" and then, "Let's say the verse." The boys get excited when they have the verse memorized and can say it all by themselves. They still remember many of our "old" verses because of simple repetition.

When we start the day this way, opportunities naturally arise to reinforce the theme throughout the day. If we see something beautiful in nature, I will mention how we should "give thanks" for it. If something good happens to our family, we will "give thanks" to the Lord for taking care of us. When we have trouble sharing a new toy, I will remind the boys that we need to be thankful for having so many toys. It is easier to share when you see the abundance.

Give Thanks
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Psalm 107:1

I'll admit, I felt like a dork when I first started doing this. Was I pressuring my children with all this Biblical talk? Was I trying too hard? What if people think I'm weird? What if my kids think I'm weird? (Actually, I'm pretty sure they already do.)

Then I remembered: A couple years ago, I was at the park, and I heard a little boy fussing about something. His father came over to him and started talking to him about his heart - right there in the park, right where I could hear him. He said many wise things to his child, but the part I remember so clearly was towards the end, "God wants you to have a happy heart. So let's try to do that, okay?"

It wasn't guilt-tripy. It wasn't over the top. It was loving, and it worked. I thought, "I want to talk to my kids that way."

So, I did. I simply started talking to them about the ways God wants us to live, on a regular basis. I felt goofy at first, referencing God so frequently, but now I feel silly admitting that. God changed me in that regard, and He gives me little gifts of reassurance now and then. Those gifts often come in the form of the boys talking to one another.

For example, if one takes a toy from the other, I may hear, "Hey! You're not being helpful and kind!" I have to laugh. On the flip side, when the play is going well, one sometimes says to the other, "Thanks. That was helpful and kind." I smile, then.

After setting the table for me, a little face will look up and say, "Am I being helpful and kind, Mama?"

It doesn't get much better than that.

I am hoping that by May, my boys will have a better understanding of Give Thanks. I pray that they will see opportunities to say "Thank you," without my prompting, and that we all will have more gracious hearts.

How do you teach your children life lessons or verses from the Bible?

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3 Responses to “Living the Theme”

  1. What sweet, sweet memories you are making...

  2. We try to teach our children by example (and hopefully we are setting a good one), but I need to add God into the equation. I love that story about the dad in the park. What a gentle reminder to his son.

  3. Yes, it was a powerful moment for me to witness what he said.