As I am taking a break, traveling with my sweet girls, I am struck with their sense of purpose, their grasp of the meaning of their lives and how to invest them as young adults, and their love for God.
Of course, each of our children must respond to God from their own heart, but I think that my children were drawn to Him through the understanding of the opportunity we each have to play our part in the story of God. Unless we attach our children to the sense of God's call in their lives, their lives will not be drawn to the eternal, the kingdom principles God wants us to live for, the citizenship that we have in heaven with Him. We cannot focus our children's eyes on this world and its values, but we must look beyond to God's purposes.
Join Holly as she leads our discussion and podcast today and be encouraged in your own journey on the story-formed life.
As mothers, we all desire for our children to see themselves as unique humans who have a story to live and tell in God’s great narrative. As we read them great stories with a clear good vs evil theme, we’re helping them to see how they might choose good in their world.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil 4:8
How do we help our children to be drawn into a beautiful story rather than being lured away into a private world of screens, which are so prevalent in our society? It’s easy to give them a lecture and explain the benefits of reading over watching a screen or playing a video game, but as we might imagine it comes back to modeling.
If we desire our children to love reading, we must love it first, and allow them to see us reading consistently. No amount of telling them the wonders and riches that come from great books will matter to them if they don’t see us loving the process of learning and growing. What we are excited about, talking about, and living out will be what they will also be excited about! As we prepare a feast of great literature before them in our homes, they will grow to love books. How could they not?
As Jesus asked his disciples to follow Him, so we are asking the same of our children every day. We want them to follow us we pray, as we learn to love one another, and as we discover the traces of the Great Story in books.
In developing a daily habit of reading aloud to your kids, even if it's just ten minutes a day, you’re leading them to know reading as a normal part of life. Even if your children are small, asking them one or a few questions about the picture book you just read, is causing their mind to expand and grow. Their minds are like spongy fertile soil in which you have the opportunity to plant, water, and cultivate every day.
So, how do we know what a great story is? We want to give them the very best stories written just as we want to feed them the most nutritious food.
Here is some criteria in determining a great story:
- it includes an intriguing and well-written narrative with complex characters who come alive;
- it stimulates the imaginations, minds, and hearts of both children and adults;
- it is often a timeless classic, fairy tale, or chapter book;
- it includes characters worth emulating or ones that lead a child to explore the tensions and complexities lying in the human heart;
- it presents good as good and evil as evil;
- it hints in some way at the Great Story of God's redemption in Christ.
Beautifully-written stories can shape the imaginations of our children. A good story is a gift to our children— a gift that enables them to see the mystery and magic of our world now, and a preparation for what is to come.
You know your children better than anyone, and you are the one God is holding responsible to shepherd their hearts. Young children don’t have a filter to decipher what is good for their eyes to see and their ears to hear.
I wish I could say I never had any more regrets about what I've allowed my children to listen to or watch. A terrible mom-moment for me came when we allowed our eight year old daughter to listen to an audio version of this book. Sadly for me and terrifying for her, she woke up that night and ran through the halls in her sleep with her eyes bulging from her head and screaming in terror. I was quite distraught, to say the least, by this sight and felt horrible for allowing her to listen. Hindsight is 20 /20!
But making some regrettable decisions has caused me to be more prayerful. Sometimes what a booklist might say is age appropriate for a child, may not be true for your particular child. Don't ignore what you sense the Lord is leading you to or away from for your children. Pray that the Lord will give you as their mother, a sense of what you should put before them to be part of the process of shaping and molding them in this season.
Books and links from today’s show - Storyformed Episode #2 - What MAKES a Great Story