Let's see--31 divided by 4 is....7 and 3/4, right? Something like that. How about the subtitle, "7 Ways to Bless Your Kids for Today?" We'll make up the rest at the end. When you finish all four parts of "31 Ways to Bless Your Kids," you'll have a suggested blessing to give them for every day of the month (and on the months with just 28 or 30 days, you can double up! And for now, you'll have a way to bless your kids at least once a day (to add to the ways you already bless them!).
1. REALLY listen to them.
I've noticed that, when I take a few minutes to sit down--like, in the car, at the breakfast table (rare; usually I eat standing up, while I make lunches or something. Forgive me, LORD, for being selfish!), or at night before (or after) we kneel by her bed to pray, my 10-year-old daughter starts talking about stuff that SEEMS to not apply. But I've discovered that, to her, everything applies. She wants to continue that sweet communication, and LORD forgive me; I have not deliberately taken more time for tete-a-tete's, or "face time" with her. And, after my personal ministry to Jesus, then my husband, my daughter IS my main ministry!
And, from the time my daughter was very small, and especially the almost seven years while I was a single mom, those conversations very often turned into teaching sessions! A 'normal' conversation would be transformed by the LORD into a spiritual truth or truths that would make us both all excited about the wonders and power of His Kingdom all over again! I love the way God works! And, those times are often when the most precious spiritual seeds are planted. Don't be surprised if you harvest a delightful repetition from your kids from wisdom taught them during those special times!
(I've also taught many, many classes of children, and worked in a daycare, and it's a bit harder to listen to more than one child at a time, but God gives grace!)
2. Make up silly songs with them.
My daughter wrinkles her nose when I sing a certain song, ("It's so fun to be clean, clean, clean!"--one day, we'll finish the song, maybe) after she's taken her bath, but I know she loves it. In fact, she loves it so much that she makes a point to TELL me, "and please don't sing that song!" and of course I do and she wrinkles her nose and we giggle and it's all good.
3. Have tickle sessions.
Maybe some kids under the age of 10 would prefer not to be tickled. I know a lot of kids, and, although I have not tried to tickle all of them, I bet they love it. Anyway, mine does. She used to be a tiny baby in the middle of the bed. Now, she's a tall 10, and she stretches the length of it. (It's not a king, but in Christ, we are.)
Although our tickles now are wilder and sometimes we put blankets on the floor and push the furniture back so we'll have more leg room (literally!), she still loves it. I take off all jewelry (including my wedding rings. That and cleaning them or protecting them from chemicals are the ONLY times they are off!) and we pull our hair back and have fun. It's great, even though it may last only a few minutes, and sometimes it turns into dramas (which often involve her dolls or stuffed animals or figures she's created out of clay or something) or even patty-cake sessions (the lyrics are more sophisticated these days.....I've had to gently point out that a few of them were not the wisest things to repeat. And my daughter has listened to me because we were face to face. She also has listened because I have always told her the truth. Which brings me to the next big point....).
4.Always tell them the truth.
Although the LORD knows the age and time when little souls can handle certain heavy truths, the spirit is ageless and unhindered. That is why children can understand the Gospel at such early ages. For instance, Kenneth Copeland's son, John, was saved at age 3 1/2, after hearing his father preach to him for an hour and a half, in their home*. My daughter Victoria was saved at age 5 in Tulsa, as she and I sat at the dinner table, just the two of us, and talked about Jesus. But many, many spiritual Truth-seeds had been planted in her since she was in my womb, and the beginning of the major harvest from all those seeds happened that night!
Pray first, of course, for God to give you the timing and the words whenever you believe the need comes up to talk about serious subjects. After being angry at being deceived for years about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, I vowed years before I became pregnant that I would never pretend to my daughter that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny existed (besides as a Christian who truly loves God, I believe there is far too much emphasis on these worldly things than the glorious truths of Jesus' birth and resurrection!), and I never have. This has not pleased the ex-husband, who is the father of my child, nor grandparents and such. I respect them and honor them unless their opinions go against the truth I know, live, and am determined to pass on.
I have checked often with the LORD to see if I was "being too real" with my daughter. Guess what? Although He's convicted me about much over the years, He's never convicted me that I have or intend to tell her too much truth! . I know that, when it's all over, no one (not even the husband I married 18 months ago that God truly sent) will be standing with me to answer to the LORD for how I have raised my daughter. So, when it comes down to it, the opinions of others don't matter.
What matters is the world is not getting any better and our kids must be equipped with the truth. There is enough deception in this world and my daughter will hear only the truth from me. This involves everything from the dangers of magic, to dressing modestly, to understanding the relationship between husband and wife (I asked the LORD a couple years ago for perfect timing and words for this special moment and it was beautiful the way He worked it out! Just trust Him!) to not gossiping or judging, to the importance of praying, to......Am I preaching again?? (You get the point.)
5. Ask them to read Scriptures and other faith-building material to you.
Young readers usually love to hear themselves read and are eager for others to listen. Or maybe it's just my daughter that loves to read to me. Regardless (as opposed to the non-word irregardless!), I often ask my darling girl to read me something. Of course, she volunteers as often. I love it. And I almost always learn something!
Being a lover of the Truth, of course, I usually pick something such as Psalm 34 (she's read it to me a few times and I've almost got it memorized) or articles from a true Christian website and ask her to read them to me. Just last night on the way to our "girls' night out (cause my husband is at worship practice), I asked her to read an article about the power of blessing the Name of the LORD, and although she asked at the beginning if she could just read the first page (yes), she liked it so much that she read the other page too. And we were both blessed! (just another unapparent way of planting more spiritual seeds in my little one. I love the witty ideas God gives me!)
6. Ask them to help YOU memorize verses.
Almost every day, we take one of our Scripture cards (you don't have to buy some--get in the Word and write them out on notecards or scraps of paper) and learn it together. We've been doing this at least a couple years. We go over the verse together in the morning, and I put the card in her lunch. (We go over verses every day, even during the summer. Just because it's summer and schoolwork stops never means learning the Word should stop!)
At school, Victoria would look at the verse and sometimes share it with friends, which was very important, especially because she went to public school till just last year. Then at the end of the day, we'd go over the verse again. And we still work that way. If she knows the verse, she gets a star and when she gets 12 stars, she gets a small gift from me from the dollar store or something (We have a bigger chart for outstanding behavior, that is above the usual obedience and sweet attitude we expect. More on that next time.) didn't have it all memorized, we'd go over it the next day and so on until she really knew it. I make a point to truly learn with her, so we've both lengthened the blade of our Swords!
7. Ask them to teach you something they know how to do--or think they know how to do.
Last year at her Christian Academy, my daughter started learning to play the recorder and speak Latin. Although I can play the piano, I'd never played the recorder. I just bragged on my little one after she played the first song she'd learned, and this gleam came into her eyes, and she said, "Mama! Let me teach you to play this!" So we grabbed the other recorder my husband (a former band director and now multi-talented worship leader) had purchased, and sat on the bed. In just five minutes, my darling girl had actually taught me to play! And it was fascinating to hear her voice and face change (She actually looked and sounded more mature, as she took on the "teacher" role!) as she delighted in creating new channels of learning in my brain!
So we've done the same with Latin. Praise the LORD, my multi-talented husband has studied several languages and was eager to help her learn, cause it took me time to get into it. But I've actually learned several words while helping Victoria review! And, since she'll continue her study of the language (Latin is NOT dead--it lives on in many English words!) the next eight years of school (unless God has other plans!), I will continue to learn with her. Currently, we're learning The LORD's Prayer in Latin. Totally cool!
May you find great joy and satisfaction as you utilize any or all of these ways to bless your children. Look for at least 7 3/4 more ways to do that in Part Two.
*from "The Spirit of Faith" CD set by Kenneth Copeland, www.kcm.org