In This Episode:
In this episode we look at some great Family Devotions. Below I’ve included some additional information about how to choose a devotional book for your children and some recommendations.
Remember the drawing on July 31st. Be sure to download the Parental Guidance Requested course and comment on the first episode of Books that Spark to be entered in the drawing.
Books Discussed in This Episode:
Choosing a Devotional for Your Kids: What to Consider
1. Bible translation used
Many English translations of the Bible are available, and then there are paraphrases too. For children, we usually want to go with a good translation that is easy to understand. We will be covering this in more detail on a podcast in August, but my favorite translation is the New Living Translation (NLT). The most common in Children’s Bibles is the International Children’s Bible (ICB), and the other one that we think is really a good translation for kids is the Easy Reader Version (ERV). Some devotionals offer choices for translations which is nice. But it is definitely something you want to consider.
2. Perspective of the writer
I recommend checking out the author. Devotionals are one person’s take on the verses being discussed. If the person is from a far different belief system from your own, it can be troubling. One of the most popular devotionals on the market today was originally written with “automatic writing.” This is a mystical, trance-like state that many are not comfortable with and feel it is not from God. Yet, it has become very popular, and now there is a children’s version. Of course, most of us are concerned with whether the writer is charismatic or non-charismatic or anti-charismatic in their theology.
3. Focus of the devotional
This is one of my pet peeves. I know we want the devotional to connect with our children, but I always want to make sure the central focus is on God and not on the child. We want the child’s faith and understanding of God to grow, not just read ego-boosting nice thoughts. Yes, God loves us so much and knew us before we were born. But if that’s all the devotional teaches, we may want to keep shopping. Think about: Do the devotionals lead to a response of worshiping and honoring God? Do they suggest affirmations about self? Are the scriptures used in context and chosen to glorify God or the child?
4. Need of your child
Some devotionals are geared toward a certain topic and are usually shorter (not a full year). If your child is dealing with fear, you may want to get one that is specific to that issue. As an adult, I loved getting Champagne for the Soul when I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil. It was just what I needed, and it was recommended by a friend who thought it would bless me during that time.
5. Time per devotional reading
Most children’s devotionals state clearly what age child they are written for. Some even state the time for each day’s devotional such as the 3-Minute Devotional for Boys. We need to consider our children’s attention spans and abilities to read so that their Quiet Time becomes a cherished time, not an obligation they need to finish.
6. Personal devotional or family devotional
The devotionals I covered in this podcast are for family devotionals done together with the parents and kids. However, many devotionals are for children to read on their own.
A Few Recommended Individual Devotionals for Kids:
Doodle Devotions for Kids by Nancy Taylor– for your artistic child who enjoys reading. Each devotional suggests reading about one-three chapters of scripture, and children use their own Bibles. Each devotional has a drawing suggestion. It’s good for both girls and boys. She also has one that is specifically for girls. 60 devotions.
Indescribable by Louie Giglio – This devotional combines science and the Bible. This one is also good for boys or girls, but it only has minimal scripture for each devotional. I like that it inspires awe for God and His creation, and it would be good for a child who is resistant to reading. He also has one called How Great Is Our God along the same lines. Plus, he offers lunchbox cards that are based on each of the devotions. 100 devotions.
Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado – This devotional is dated for each day of the year. Lucado uses a lot of paraphrased verses, and each devotional is based on one verse, but he does have a section for reading the Bible and talks about the importance of reading the Bible. Each day’s devotion ends with a suggestion of a response to the verse and devotional thought. He also has a version that is meant to be used for family devotions. 365 devotions.
Gratitude Journal and Devotional for Kids: A daily journal for kids that includes gratitude prompts, Bible verses and a prayer journal ALL IN ONE! by Jessica Lewis – The title pretty much says it all. It’s mostly a journal with prompts for journaling and prayer in response to a Bible verse. I would recommend this one for a child who is a thinker and enjoys writing. I love that it focuses on gratitude and teaches kids the habit of reading the Bible, journaling, and prayer.
Amazing Stories for Young Believers by Dave Strehler – This devotional is for boys or girls ages 8-12. Each day has a verse but also suggests a longer Bible reading. It takes your child through the whole Bible in a year. It focuses on the people of the Bible and then applies the lesson to the child’s life. Very practical for helping young believers grow in their faith. 366 devotions.
Welcome to Books that Spark, a podcast for parents and caregivers where we review books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and conversations leading to teachable moments with our kids. Thank you for joining me today.
I’m really excited. I’ve been able to interview two wonderful authors who have books debuting in August. The first writer we’re going to talk to is Deb Gruelle, and we’ll be introducing her newest book coming out in August. Second is Jennifer Grant who also has a book coming out. We are going to have her interview on the day her book debuts which is August 17th, so you won’t want to miss Books that Spark in August when we have two very special guests share their books with us. Don’t forget about our drawing for July. Remember our podcast comes out each Tuesday morning. And I’m so excited to tell you that if you sign up for my mailing list you get some freebies. I’ve created three different books of phonemes that you can you can choose from. One is a coloring book, and the other two are just picture books. And you can learn and practice and go through the phonemes of the English language with your children. I have a list when you sign up for free as well that is of over 100 picture books and board books that are excellent to read to your kids, really good stories with excellent illustrations that either are Christian in nature or do not go against the Christian worldview. I was very picky to create this list for you. I also tried to go with writers maybe you haven’t heard of before. I hope this can be a resource that is beneficial for you and your family as your shopping for books in building your child’s library. In addition to that, if you go to my new website, terriehellardbrown.com, you’ll see that I have quite a few free things you can download there. I’m adding new things all the time. I’ve developed in one of the classes I did in Parental Guidance Requested and that I teach in my workshops I have a freebie that is a passport that you can download and make for your children and read different books from different countries, stories, fairy tales, and legends from different countries and learning to count in different languages and these kinds of things. So, I have that resource that will be available soon on my website. I’m also developing some other materials, some cost, some are free, but those are all available on my website. Please go take a look and download what you can use. And just send me a little note. Let me know if you do use the different items with your church or with your homeschooling group or whatever, and let me know how you used it. That would mean a lot to me. My goal is to help equip parents, teachers, and caregivers with the ability to have materials and have resources that will help us as we’re discipling and teaching our children and helping them to grow in their understanding of God and His purpose for their lives. And in addition to that, I also try to speak into your life. Because we need to be discipled too. So that is what I try to do with my website, my podcast, and my blog is to encourage you and help equip you so that you can help equip your children.
Today I want to present a book to you. Actually, I have the Kindle version of it. It is a devotional book. It is The Very Best, Hands-On, Kind of Dangerous Family Devotions Book. It’s for the family that is a more adventurous that wants to incorporate maybe some science experiments with their devotionals. It’s very much a hands-on type of devotional. You might want to use it with your youth group, you might want to use it if you do a daily devotional with your family, then use this one once a week. If you only do devotionals with your family once a week as kind of family worship time, this would definitely put life into your devotional time. It’s kind of object lesion meets devotional meets science project. So, it’s that kind of a thing.
The intro to the book says, “Discipling, mentoring, and guiding our children toward a trusting, thriving, and loving relationship with God is a monumental, incredible, and essential task for Christian parents.” Tim Shumaker is the writer of this. It says, “Tim’s passion for seeing God’s word passed on to future generations comes through as he provides parents with practical, hands-on, engaging, and easy-to-use family devotions. Who wouldn’t like to have fire, food, money, darkrooms, flashlights, and light sticks while learning about what God I telling us in Scripture? This is a must-have for a parent’s devotional library.”
And I kind of agree.
“This has 52 activities in it that your kids will never forget.”
And I agree with that as well.
They do tell you if they are a little bit dangerous and how to make them safe, which I appreciate very much, as you go through the different devotionals. So, that helps you a lot.
So, the first one is kind of funny because we are right now when this is being recorded, we are still on lockdown with the COVID-19 situation. And the first lesson is an object lesson using a TP blaster. So, you may not want to do this one right now while you’re low on toilet paper, but you use a leaf blower and toilet paper to prove a point in this devotional.
They have one called elctro-pickle, Frankenstein factor. The names of these devotionals are very interesting. They give you the synopsis of each devotional in the table of contents. So, it’s not just a list. It tells you a little bit about each devotional and what the theme is and what it’s about so that you can see what would best fit with where you are in your discussions with your kids. And they have an exclamation point warning triangle when it’s a little bit dangerous so you know up front what you’re getting yourself into, and then you can go to the page number to actually read the devotionals. So, there’s lots of different activities. And there is also one here called “House of the Dead” which is for 12 years and up. So that also helps you know that some are appropriate for the whole family and some you need to have older kids because you’re dealing with a touchy subject. And this one in particular is dealing with the dangers of pornography.
Okay, so, let’s take a look at lesson 13 “Catching Fire.” This is one of those with the danger warning exclamation point sign. The theme is “burning for God with passion vs being passive in our faith.” So, we’re going to go to that page, and it says, “This lesson is designed to be done outdoors away from anything flammable.” Then it lists all that you’ll need for this project like a tube of toothpaste, a tube of diaper rash paste, and they use Desitin brand original formula, a tube of fire paste “You can pick this up online or in stores that have a decent camping department. The brand I used is Coghlan’s. This stuff is amazing it squeezes out like petroleum jelly, and when you put a flame up to it, it catches fire and burns. It was designed to start campfires and fires in fireplaces. Aluminum foil to wrap each tube of paste so the kids cannot identify them. You need a 5-gallon bucket filled with water, 3 pieces of wood (he used 6X6 scrap plywood but other sizes work as long that will fit easily in the bucket), some kind of lighter, ideally some kind of fireproof gloves (they are often stocked in hardware stores by the grilling gear).” You can use an oven mitt as well but you won’t have a lot of dexterity. Then it tells you what you need to prepare ahead of time. It is a very thorough book, and I appreciated that. Because you need to know what you need and what you need to prep ahead of time, so when you’re ready to share the devotional, not only have you read the scriptures and read the story and devotional ahead of time showing your kids you value this time you have with them; you’re not just winging it, that you know what you need to do and how much time it’s going to take. So, he’s done a great job. It’s like a lesson plan. It’s all outlined very well telling you exactly what you’re going to be doing and how much time you need to prepare.
Then, you’re going to squirt a dab of each of the pastes on a piece of wood and apply the flame to see if it burns. And only the fire paste should truly ignite. “When you’re done, dunk the pieces of wood in the 5-gallon bucket of water and let them soak there long enough to be sure you’ve extinguished any smoldering flame. And then clean off all the pastes and leave the wood outside to dry. And you’re all set.”
So, then, running the activity: “Be sure the bucket is filled with water and is in close proximity.” He says he keeps it right by his feet. “Have the kids make a 3 inch X on the each of the 3 pieces of wood, using a different paste each time, and keep the tube of paste by each wood sample so you can identify which paste had been used. Tell the kids you want to light the paste and you’re looking to see which ignites and burns best.” You put on your gloves and do this. Then you’re teaching the lesson.
“The three pastes represent different kinds of Christians and how well they burn for Jesus. How intense they are for God. Some Christians never seem to ignite. Others sputter and spark but never really catch fire. And others catch fire and keep burning strong.”
And then he reads the scripture from Matthew 13:3-9 and 18-23, the parable of the sower and the seed. “And Jesus talked about how some people never seem to grow and mature as Christians. They are distracted and lose focus. And then others like with the toothpaste and diaper rash paste wouldn’t ignite. Was the problem with the flame or with the paste? And of course, the problem is with the paste. The fire, like the seed in the parable, is a constant. The paste, like the soil in Jesus’ example, was the thing that changed.”
Then they look at the other parts of the scripture, and then it ends with questions. “What kind of Christian do you want to be? How do you think you’ll get there? Let’s look at some starting points for being the type of Christian who burns with a steady dedication to God.” So, I love that. He doesn’t just leave it at, “Well, what do you want to do?” “Oh, I want to burn bright for Jesus.” Or “I want to be a great strong Christian.” Well, then let’s talk about how to help our kids do that. We do such a disservice when we don’t take that next step and say how do we do that. So, he does that. He talks David and the Psalms. He talks about our choice and the choices we make. When we ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and when we know the right thing to do but we don’t do it, we’re quenching the impact of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And when we quench the Spirit, we quench our own fire. Then he sums up with an ending part to the devotional.
He says, “If you choose to be a Christian who burns hot for God, I believe you’ll never regret that. It’s my prayer that you will have a heart that burns strong and steady for God, that you’ll be passionate for God, not passive. It’s my prayer that you’ll ask God to give you a heart that desires Him enough to say no to compromise. I pray you’ll choose to obey God and His word from your heart, not because you have to. I pray you’ll never forget that He’s chosen you; He’s chosen to rescue you. And for that we should forever be grateful and dedicated to Him. May you always burn for Him.”
I just feel like this is such a well-written little devotional book, and it has some great, fun ideas. If you have very active children who are more kinesthetic learners, maybe visual learners that want to do the hands-on and need to see something to really remember the lessons. These should do it. So, this is a great book for family devotionals if you want that kind of active participation and good object lessons for your kids. And then of course, with the STEM emphasis in our culture in our culture right now and how important that is, how awesome to bring that into our devotional time as well. So that’s kind of cool when we’re leading devotions. I highly recommend this devotional book.
Now for family devotions, if you’re not into such an adventurous endeaver, I’ve also written a devotional book that is a hands-on, family, active devotional book on the life of David. It’s the beginning of a series on Heroes of the Faith. And it involves like a home school curriculum if you choose to use it that way for your Bible class. Or you can use it just as a family devotional. It will be available on my website to download. You can find it there. And it is very reasonably price. You can print it out on your printer.
We use a lot of cooking, a lot of activities and games and puzzles. Not so much blowing things up or catching things on fire. But we still try to keep it kinesthetic, visual, and auditory all in one to really encourage and challenge our kids in their walk with God. For instance, the first lesson is about David’s friendship with Jonathan. And in that one we talk a lot about what it means to be a friend, and we make friendship cookies. In the lesson where Samuel is anointing David, and God teaches him it is important to look at the heart—that God looks at the heart, man looks at the outside appearance, but God looks at the heart. Well, in that lesson, we make homemade pizza pockets, or if you choose you can make empanadas. If you know that recipe, that’s even better. So, we do some cooking. We do some art. We do puzzles. I do try to include some active activities as well in each lesson. So, each lesson has several choices. It is not meant for you to do every single thing in the lesson unless you want it to be a home school lesson, then you might have time for that. You would pick and choose what is most appropriate for your family. With one lesson you may choose to do a cooking lesson, and the next one you may decide to do the team sport activity. In another, you may choose the do the community outreach activity. So, each one gives you that choice for what works best with your family. And then each lesson also has a family worship time, so you may just choose to do the family worship time where you talk about the lessons from the Scripture, and share them together as a family and have communion together as a family, kind of a Shabbat sort of Sabbath celebration. So, that’s what I’ve written in my devotional book.
And then we also have some great devotional books for those who are even more mellow and want to just read together and pray together. And I will put the links for some of those below the podcast here. We have the Family Bible Devotional. And there are some others that are really helpful if you want to teach your kids the importance of a quiet time, of taking time each day to read God’s word together, to pray together, and you don’t want to make it anything fancy or anything big. You just want to share the Word of God and prayer with your kids each day. What I would recommend is really praying about what is best for you kids. Because you want it be captivating, and you want God’s word to really get into their hearts and minds. I would highly recommend that you include memorization of Scripture in whatever devotional program you choose, and that you would use that to help hide God’s word in their hearts because they will never leave them for the rest of their lives. We all know the scriptures we memorized as children, they’re still there. I memorized some Scriptures in Spanish, and I still remember those. It’s just fun when you’ve truly memorized Scripture, how it stays with you and God can bring it back to your memory. So, I would include that and include reading Scripture or a Bible story depending on the age of your children, and prayer. Find a creative way to keep a prayer list together as a family. It might be a special book that you have for your family. It might be something on the wall. It might be a visual prayer request list, especially if you have pre-readers in your family. So, you might have a picture to represent what you’re praying for. Maybe it’s Grandma or Grandpa or whomever, and so you put their picture on the prayer list or on the prayer board or whatever you decide to do, or your prayer book. So those are things you can do.
One of the things that we’ve done as a family as well, and you’ll see this in the David Bible study because we include them, is we’ve written songs together. We have a lot of very easy, simple, sing-able songs you can teach your kids. If you’re not musically inclined, they are easy to pick up. And they’re free with the Bible study; you’ll get the MP3’s to go with those. We had a great time making up songs together. My daughter dealt a lot of fear. As I said, after she turned four and became autistic, she would deal with fear all the time. So, we made up a song, “I will never be afraid, God is by my side.” We sang that all the time. We’d sing it loud; we’d sing I soft; we’d sing it in silly voices—but just to get those words into her mind that God is always with her; she is never alone.
I used to rock my kids and sing a version of “Rock-a-bye Baby” to them instead of the traditional words, I would say, “Rock-a-bye baby in Mommy’s lap…” oh, now I can’t remember. But anyway, it was special to them, and it would have their name in it. I would rock them, and they would just grin as they were falling asleep because they would hear that song that had a special meaning for them.
[I couldn’t remember the words while recording, but here’s what we used to sing: Rock-a-bye name, in Mommy’s lap. When we get tired, we’ll take a nap. We love to laugh, and we love to sing, but rocking with Mommy’s our favorite thing].
We can have so much fun making up songs together. They don’t have to be professional and wonderful. They’re just special to our family, and we’re creating memories with our family. Cooking together, camping together, writing songs together, praying together, reading God’s word together, all of these things build memories, build relationships with our kids, and keep the doors open for communication and questioning and answering those questions and wrestling sometimes with those questions together. As my kids have gotten older, the questions have gotten harder to answer, and we’ve struggled through some of them sometimes, but we’ve struggled through them together instead of separately, and that’s awesome.
Let me know what your favorite devotional has been to use with your children. I would love to know what you’ve used. Maybe you’ve just read the Bible together and haven’t had a specially written devotional. But I would just love to hear what you’ve found to be helpful and beneficial to your family.
Thank you for joining us for Books that Spark. I hope this discussion will spark meaningful conversations with the children in your life. Remember our drawing at the end of July. Enter before July 31st by downloading the 12 lessons and commenting on the first episode either here or on my website blog. You can sign up for my mailing list to get weekly reminders of the podcast and my blog. My website is terriehellardbrown.com
Have a wonderful week. This is Books that Spark, a podcast celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions.