By Katie Helmreich
Great family devotion time was a unicorn I hunted for a long time. We’ve managed to get to Advent devotions a couple years, but we never really stuck with anything else. By the time the kids finished eating enough dinner to survive ’til breakfast we mostly just wanted to flee the table. Sitting still and listening is a struggle for all of us, and more than one devotion opening Bible verse was read through gritted teeth in a Batman voice…
Great spiritual discussions seem to take off so easily in some families, but not here; at least, not yet. Family devotion time just wasn’t working.
So for a while I focused on my own personal devotion time. I gradually came to realize that it was hard for me to just sit there and think spiritually deep thoughts, too!
I discovered it wasn’t about finding the perfect time of day, scripture passage, or devotional material. What mattered was how I processed and responded to it.
Writing down a verse, my thoughts, and my prayers has been valuable. Using images and color to emphasize or illustrate a key point has been life changing! Even the most simple or poorly drawn picture reminds me of what I learned in my time spent in the Word and in prayer. Paging through my Bible and notebooks and seeing glimpses of all of these times blesses my heart all over again!
We’ve been Sheltering in Place and doing school at home for weeks now (or has it been years?). It’s taken some getting used to…
My favorite thing about this, though, is that it’s undeniably time for us to make family devotions a priority! Every morning we grab ten minutes and the jar of colored pencils. We read a short devotion together and then we talk about it for a few seconds while I hand out index cards. Deep spiritual conversations may not have been our family thing, but every one of us has enjoyed recording what we learned on these little 3 x 5 bits of card stock!
Results vary greatly from day to day. Some family devotions inspire thoughtful and elaborate pictures; some dissolve into a mini comic strip with a random character learning a bizarre lesson only loosely connected to the day’s verse.
It’s easier for all of us to talk while we work on our cards. We’ve had some great conversations! Everyone, even my 3 year old, is able to talk a little about what we learned as they share their finished card.
Our growing collection of well over a hundred illustrated index cards gives us glimpses at all that God is doing here in our home! He was already working here, even in those painful devotions we did in the past. To be honest, a couple of the family devotions in the past few weeks have involved tears and yelling, too.
Still, each was time well spent. The physical reminders in these cards are such an encouragement. Our shared memories of favorite devotions crop up often in our conversation. The days are far from perfect, but these devotions have made a world of difference!
Every family is different. Some may find drawing or writing together helpful. Some might get more out of singing! Some may really dig into complex texts and share deep conversation. Some might process things more internally. We all have seasons where the schedule gets crazy and routines change for a while.
But the Word of God is alive and active. These seeds really do take root and the Holy Spirit blesses God’s children with growth, even when we can’t quite see it. May God bless you and your family’s time in His Word!