I've written a little about the way I was raised before. I come from a home that was very heavily anchored in the Christian faith. From as long as I can remember, God was the center of our lives. When we had a financial need, we prayed. When we were sick, we prayed. When we needed guidance, we prayed. When the rain drenched the parched, crunchy grass, we thanked God. When we found a parking spot close to the door, we thanked God. When we were blessed in any way, we thanked God. Get the picture? From early on, I knew how to take all things to Jesus in prayer.
When I found out we were going to be parents, the most important thing I wanted to gift my children with was a God house. I wanted them to grow up knowing how to pray for the big things and the small. I wanted them to be friends with God. I wanted them to see their parents trust and seek God for the things that we needed/encountered in our lives and have that same sense of it'll-be-okay-ness that I did because God was in control. I wanted to raise my children in the admonition of the Lord (Deut. 6:4-7).
When Beatrice was first born, I started reading the Bible to her while I nursed her (smart phones are so handy). I felt pretty silly at first since she was basically asleep the whole time, but the point was to get in the habit of reading God's Word to her. I have done the same with prayer. We pray before nap/bedtime, we pray before mealtimes, we pray when she gets a boo boo, we pray for obedience when she struggles, we pray for mommy to have patience and wisdom when she struggles with obedience. We pray for all things around here. We watch Veggie Tales and limit the amount of secular books she has access to. We tell her that God made her and loves her more than we ever could. We praise Jesus in the car. We have created a God house. And I think it's working.
Beatrice has read enough books and seen enough pictures of Jesus that she knows he has long hair and a beard. And that he lives in the sky with God. And that he works at Toys R Us. Wait, what?! It seems as though we have immersed her in Jesus so much that whenever we see a long-haired, bearded man, she hollers "Cheese-suss!" True story. And while there are obviously some kinks to be worked out with who the Son of God really is (NOT the guy at Toys R Us), I can't help but feel that we're on the right track. Every time we sit at the table she says, "pray mama, amen!" When we rock a tiny bit before bedtime, she says, "pray mama." She has come to expect that we're gonna pray, no matter what.
I look forward to the day when my little tot can say her own prayers to God (as a child, I once asked my church for prayers for my sick teacher who had a horse in her throat). I can't wait to stifle the giggles at the precious things she talks to God about from her innocent heart. And I can't wait to watch her pray for me when I get a boo boo or have a bad day, because then I'll know that despite all of my failures as a mom, I will have at least given my children an anchor in their faith that comes from living in a God house.