Sharing faith with our children (Part 12)Routines

I never thought I’d envision routine as good, but sharing faith with our children involves a lot of routine, and this is important to their family and spiritual formation.

First, each night of the week is reserved for a certain activity with a name. Monday is “Game Night,” and lately we’ve been playing Nurtz, but our oldest always wants to play Spoons. Tuesday is “Lot of Books” night, and we read aloud a running book or series with each or sometimes read at once to all. Will share in another post some of the books and series we read.

Jacob, listening as I spoke with Susan Butler at church about “Guess who’s coming to dinner,” said, “No, that’s ‘Movie Night’!” Since these are weekly routines, they often change, so we’ll forgo the movie night. Saturday night is “Invite Night” and we invite friends and often throw people together who might have something in common but may not know each other.

Our children love this routine because it allows them to know what’s coming yet there is mystery and excitement in what game or book or visitor is next.

Second, we have routines for each evening at supper and bedtime. Some of these are songs, others prayers, stories. We often sing a song at dinner that we learned from Tim and Becky Talley in Malindi, Kenya. It goes like this, but I can’t find the author. If someone can tell me, I would like to give attribution and can add that later.

As our family gathers round this table
where this meal has been prepared
let all our hearts be grateful
as we offer up this prayer
Our Father in Heaven
for this meal you have given
we want to say thank you from our hearts
bless the one who prepared it
and Lord as we share it
won’t you stay with us and be our guest of honor?
won’t you stay with us and be our guest of honor?

And we all say Amen and dig in.

Third, at bedtime, routines have morphed as the children get older but they still love them and crave them. Recently Anna has taken to wanting ten hugs and one special one and ten kisses and one special one. We often read a chapter in a book, and here is one prayer I say over them. Alternately we ask them to pray on different nights.

Dear Lord: Like Jesus, I pray that your child and ours, [Ashley, Anna, Jacob], will grow in wisdom, body and stature, and in favor with you and favor with all people. Teach her to love you with all her heart, mind, and strength, and love her neighbor–mostly her sister this week–as herself. In Jesus name, Amen

Routine is not a highly valued American ideal–it’s more often called a rut, but if the rut is pointed in the right direction, I’d rather be in that rut than meandering. And when kept fresh by our own creativity and joy, these routines will be rich in meaning and heart.

Recently I was on the phone with Ross Cochran about joining him at Camp Tahkodah. He said for two weeks the campers enjoy life without the aid of electronics. Sometimes, he said, everyone is just laughing, enjoying stories and fun they are making up. Ross asked Jacob to get on the phone and asked him did he like to swing on a rope over the water? Yes came Jacob’s reply. Did he like basketball? Yes. Horses? Yes. Hiking? Yes. Sleeping in a cabin? Yes. Frisbee? Yes. Girls? Noooo!

I suppose that when we go to Camp Tahkodah this summer, it will be full of routine, yet with creative and joyful hearts people come together and have a blast. That’s what can happen in family.

In another post I’ll talk more about prayers for children and will also talk about what we plan for Lent. I’ll give you a hint: I’m an old Neil Postman fan.