Kids Bedtime Reads for Lent

Great bedtime reads for little kids during Lent. // ohAmanda.com

Lent begins this week. Lent is the Easter equivalent of Advent. It’s a time of waiting and preparing for the Big Day. Just as a bride prepares for her wedding day, we get to prepare our hearts and minds to think about and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday!

Most people give up chocolate or meat or social media during the forty days of Lent so they can focus more clearly on Jesus and his gift to us. It’s a simple sacrifice to remember the very real sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Like December, Lent somehow gives us the excuse we need to be more purposeful with our discipleship of our kids. We make time for crafts and Bible stories and activities we can’t normally fit into our everyday life. I’m excited to do A Sense of the Resurrection  with the kids this season–it’s only 12 lessons and we will easily be able to fit them into the next 40 days.

Doing something every single day for 40 days is tough. Even Advent is only 24! You might not have the time to or even want to try getting your kids to do a daily devotion during this Lenten season. So, my suggestion? Simply change up your bedtime story! (And if you think you’ve outgrown bedtime stories, try again!) Here are some of my favorite books that fit perfectly into forty days of focusing on God:

I got a new book for a review entitled I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God by Diane Stortz. It is safe to say that I am madly in love with it.

First of all, it is gorgeous–the pictures have a little bit of a Prince of Egypt-feel to them but a little softer and more beautiful.  Each chapter tells a Bible story that focuses on a name of God. Not just a description but an actual name: Elohim, Jehovah Jireh, El Emeth, Jehovah Shammah and when we get to the New Testament: the Bread of Life and Savior.

It ends with a quick applicable devotion, a short prayer, another reference to a Bible story that shows God’s name again and a short paragraph that fills in the blanks until the next story begins.

We are eight days into the book and my kids love it. Each night, we read it after dinner while we are still around the table. After reading, I usually have the kids repeat the prayer, regardless of if they are silly or serious. Then, we pull out a piece of paper and markers and make a mini-poster about what we read. I usually write God’s Name and the meaning. Then the kids draw a picture of something from the story.

When they are willing and it’s not too long, we read the extra story mentioned or listen to a song that I happen to remember (Jehovah Jireh, anyone?).

You don’t have to do all that, but you can still read it before bed–what wonderful thoughts to fall asleep to!

Of course, my favorite Bible Storybook, Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones also happens to be a great Lenten read—there are just enough stories in the book to read through the forty days! They’ve got a free printable on their site right now of a reading schedule (plus a fun giveaway).

Last year, the kids and I also read Amon’s Adventure by Arnold Ytreeide. It’s a fictional story of a little boy who is in Jerusalem during the days leading up to the crucifixion. Each chapter leaves you on a total cliff-hanger and the story is super exciting. It’s not a perfect book and focuses a bit more on the main character than on Jesus, but it’s still a great bed-time read for your elementary aged kiddos.

Just as you change over all your regular activities into Christmasy stuff in December, why not change all your normal life into Easter-y things during Lent this year?

Put away your normal bedtime reads and take these up instead! They will only enhance the Sense of the Resurrection activities–which you are totally going to be doing with us, right?! 

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Phil Vischer says Easter should be the church’s Super Bowl. Let’s celebrate it big and strong this year, ok? Don’t get bogged down in doing All The Things for doing-sake. Let’s celebrate deep and wide because we want our kids to know the story, nay, the person of Jesus this Easter season!

 

 

 

We Got To Pray Just To Make It Today

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We’re one month into a new year. How are those New Year’s resolutions coming? Anything you’ve stuck with? Did you pick one word? Or maybe a Scripture for the year?

Every year I say I’m not going to do resolutions and the like and then every year I get all introspective and start thinking of All The Things I want to do and well, this year was no different. I sat down with my journal and began to just write what popped in my head. I made lists of things I wanted to do, things I knew were going to happen, even lists of things I wanted to quit.

I even asked God for a word for the year. I thought about it for a few days and the word that kept coming to me wasn’t flowery or like a big life-change. In fact, it kinda had foreboding behind it. The word?

PRAY.

I mean, how’s that for a word of the year? A banner year of PRAYER? Does that mean I’m going to be in situations where I NEED lots of prayer? Is something bad going to happen?

Well, the more I thought about it and the more I felt like it wasn’t a get-me-out-of-this prayer but more of an enveloping, protecting prayer. I’ve been feeling the need to surround myself with prayer. To keep prayer on my lips. To pray without ceasing.

pray without ceasing

It is so easy to go day by day and just say, “Well, this is how life is. This is what happens. It is what it is.” and never take troubles and problems to the Lord in prayer. It’s easy to let time and days slip through our fingers without asking God to keep His finger on us.

So, I’m praying. Not on my knees for hours a day. Instead…

  • I’m spending the fifteen minutes it takes to drive home after I drop the kids off at school to pray instead of listening to a podcast. I name each of the kids’ teachers, pray for their friends and lift up my husband’s appointments in prayer.
  • I’m making sure I go to the Moms In Prayer group each week at school. I will never get over or stop appreciating what it feels like to have other women pour out prayers and words to God about my problems.
  • I’ve also been hanging prayer reminders around the house. I decided to keep all our Christmas cards up on the wall (with wash tape!) and we try to pray for one of them once a week or so.
  • I’ve got a mom-prayer printable up on my refrigerator and read one or two daily.
  • I’ve got a calendar on my counter that has been really helpful. It came with an advanced reader’s copy of Raising Uncommon Kids: 12 Biblical Traits You Need to Raise Selfless Kids by my friend and super-amazing-woman Sami Cone. It’s just a simple calendar with one of the 12 traits from the book printed on each month. I can’t tell you how many times the simple phrase on the calendar has prompted me to pray a one sentence prayer for my kids!

I knew Sami’s book was coming out at the beginning of January and had really been looking forward to it. She and I have similar hearts and even tried to get our crazy schedules together to do some monthly mission type stuff at one point!) Raising Uncommon Kids was the first non-fiction book I read this year and ended up being exactly what my heart needed. It fell in line with PRAY even though the book isn’t really about prayer at all.  The emphasis of the book is on traits I need as a parent–not the outward appearance of how my kids should act, but the way I should think and believe and live.

I’ve had some hard days of parenting lately and this reminder–that parenting isn’t about how my kids behave but it’s about me modeling and leading them to Jesus is just so important. I need to hear it day after day!

Bear-With_RaisingUncommomKids

 

So, as I am doing the dishes and see “bear with” on the January calendar, I simply pray, “God, help Lydia and Asa bear with one another in love.” And I usually add on, “Lord, help me to bear with them in love.” Learning to love and bear with other people even when you don’t feel like it is hard. As a mom, I don’t always want to love my own children when they’ve complained about dinner for the 12th night in a row. I don’t want to love my husband when he’s worked late for 4 days and I’ve juggled the kids by myself that whole time. Much less the other crazies and situations that surround my life. How do I learn to bear with them all in love?

Sami writes, “God never promised love would be easy. He never promised loved would be consistent, without ebbs and flows…What God did promise is:

  • He loved us first (1 John 4:19)
  • He will love us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • He will never give us more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13)

And though we may never fully comprehend the how, why, or what of the word love, we can rest assured that nothing we are facing is outside of the reach of our almighty, all-knowing, all-seeing heavenly Father.

When we don’t know, we trust.

When we don’t feel, we pray.”

Pray. My word of the year! Prayer helps me bear with pain and problems, aggravations and annoyances even (and especially?) when I don’t feel like it. 

So, as I am praying for my children to bear with each other, I’m praying I could bear with—well, all of it with love. I’m praying I can be the example of surrounding myself with God’s Word, enveloping my day in prayer and depending on His mighty power!

The rest of the traits mentioned in the book are just as powerful–harmony, gentleness, forgiveness, wisdom, patience, kindness, gratitude, peace, humility and compassion! I dog-eared this book all up and feel like it is a perfect small group or year-long-pray-through-these-ideas kinda book. In fact, that’s what I’m going to do as I see that calendar, I’m flipping back through the book to remind myself what it means for me to have and live with that character trait—and then I’ll pray I can model it for my children. There are so many other fun practical ideas inside, too—like this prayer shield and prayer calendar. (That prayer shield is on my to-do list for this year, too! LOVE.)

The longer I’m a parent, the more I realize how terrible of a parent I am! Ha! I need God’s Word surrounding me every day. I need the constant reminder (through printables and calendars and books or whatever) to remind me to take all of it–from the stress of a math test to the worry of having a tween—to Him in prayer as often as possible.

And hey–put Sami’s book on your Amazon wishlist! It was a great way to start off the year no matter what your word-of-the-year is!

uncommon kids book

 

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