Monthly Archives: May 2015

Weekend Links

Originally published in 2013

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! My husband and I have pretty flexible schedules, so we got our weekend started early today (Friday) with lunch at a new favorite lunch spot plus a walk around the park… we even walked in the rain a bit! Later we visited the farmer’s market and the library.

We were blessed by several sweet strangers today – at lunch, we had three different people remark on our sweet eight-month-old Elle as she sat in her stroller, which was fun. In the moments of exhaustion from mothering a little one, it’s nice to have reminders of her sweetness and that these moments will pass before we know it! We ate lunch, walked around, and then went back to the restaurant for dessert, and we were so impressed that the cashier remembered us and even remembered Elle’s name when we returned! Finally, at the farmer’s market, we had already picked out some pita chips and dip when I realized I had taken the wallet out of the diaper bag so we didn’t have any cash with us. The sweet man running the booth told us just to bring $8 next week and gave us the chips and dip.

It was a lovely and restful start to our weekend! If you find yourself with a few spare moments this weekend, here are a few links you might want to check out:

:: The Best Bibles for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers from I Can Teach My Child

:: Cute Bible Snack Idea from Catholic Icing

:: Prayer Book for Kids from the Groves family

Have a great weekend! See you back here on Monday for ways to teach your baby to follow Jesus!!!

Elle’s Baptism

Originally published at faithpasseddown.blogspot.com in 2013

Aside from the day Elle was born, one of the most memorable days of Elle’s life was her baptism day. My husband and I come from a church tradition that baptizes babies, and we chose to have Elle baptized when she was seven weeks old. We knew that she obviously wouldn’t remember that day when she grew up, so we worked hard to make it extra-special, and to record the details so we can continue to celebrate her baptism as she grows up!

The morning started off with snuggles and nap time for Elle with her grandma (my mom, who had come into town early to help us with the baptism festivities), while my husband, Jay, and I got things ready at his mom’s house.

We got dressed and ready to go… Elle ended up wearing two different dresses on her baptism day. I initially wanted her to wear a new dress, so we picked one out from Target before she was even born! But, Jay’s mom had saved the baptism dress that his sisters wore, and we knew it would be special for Elle to be involved in a bit of family history. She ended up wearing the family dress for the baptism itself, and the new Target dress for the party afterward.

We are so grateful for our pastor, who encouraged us to do some special things during the baptism in the church.

First, Jay was able to baptize Elle. Our pastor oversaw it, but Jay was the one actually holding her, pouring the water (our church just pours water on the person’s forehead), and saying the words.

Second, we were able to read a special prayer/blessing over Elle during the service. I got the idea from OhAmanda.com (her blog is down at the moment, but I’ll try to remember to put in the specific link once it’s working again!) – she did something similar for her son’s baby dedication service.

Overall, it was a wonderful, special service.

Afterwards, we went to Jay’s mom’s house for a lunch. We wanted to make this a special celebration day – with at least as much fanfare as we’d do on her birthday! So, we kept things relatively simple, but tried to be festive.

We served pulled pork (kept warm in a crockpot), pasta salad, fruit, bags of chips, and a beautiful cake made by Jay’s sister (a pastry chef in training… isn’t it amazing?)

One of the things I thought hard about before the party was how to make it Christ-centered, and not just a fun (secular) party. I’m not sure that we did this perfectly, but I was pleased with some of the things we tried.

We put together little treat bags for the kids who attended with some playdough and bubbles, and a cute bookmark that says “God will always take care of me.”

The decorations were my favorite part of the party. I am not usually very crafty, but I needed some kind of creative outlet after living the life of a parent of a newborn for the past two months, so my husband was sweet enough to help me make some banners and pinwheels.

In addition, though, we tried to make some specific “Christ-centered” decorations. We took photos of Elle and recorded Bible verses about baptism and new life and attached them to the photos, and then we placed the photos around the room.

We printed out Elle’s blessing and framed it, and my sister had made a beautiful painting for Elle, so those were on display at the party, too. They now both hang in Elle’s room.

We made a tree and had everyone add their “fingerprint” to it as a guestbook (something I had seen on pinterest).

Before we ate cake, we had everyone gather together and Jay prayed a special prayer for Elle.

Finally, after the party was over, I put together some mementos into a “baptism box.” I bought a cheap white shoebox at Michaels’ craft store and used some puff paint to decorate it. Inside, I put the photos with Bible verses, one of the pinwheels we used to decorate, a copy of the sermon our pastor preached that day (on an audio CD), and the cloth and certificate we received from the church. A couple sweet family members gave Elle a small photo album (which I filled with photos from that day), plus a little statue of a praying girl.

Elle’s baptism box sits on her dresser, and we’ve looked through it a couple times together since then (she’s now nine months old). Every year on her baptism birthday (August 19), I hope to look through the box with her. We can look at the photos, perhaps listen to the sermon on CD, and talk about her baptism day. We can read the blessing we wrote for her (we do that frequently already since it hangs on her wall), and enjoy some cake or ice cream too.

I hope Elle’s baptism will always be a special part of her life!

 

a Christ-centered Valentine’s Day

Originally posted February 2015 at faithpasseddown.blogspot.com

It may be a “Hallmark holiday,” but I love Valentine’s Day. Even before I met my husband, I always enjoyed celebrating with friends, from cards dropped into elementary school shoeboxes to a slumber party with my best friend in college. For years, I hosted an event called “Date with God” for girls at my college and church every year around Valentine’s Day. Now, it’s still one of my favorite holidays, perhaps because it hasn’t been taken over by Easter bunnies and Santa Claus… Valentine’s Day is still about love.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day in our family, I hope to make the focus about more than just generic “love” and talk about Christ’s deep and unconditional love for us, and sharing that love with others.

Here are some ideas I hope to implement in the next few weeks as Valentine’s Day approaches:

– hearts with “love” Bible verses

I got this idea from Jen Lund’s blog – she is actually part of the Mormon religion, but I like this idea and it could easily be done with all verses from our Christian Bible.

It’s quite simple: cut out hearts and write a “love” themed Bible verse onto each heart. Read one a day in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, or after. Store them in a basket or bowl.

study the story of St. Valentine


I have been admiring a board book “The Story of Valentine’s Day” at Barnes and Noble. This would be a simple and easy way to talk about the history and spiritual meaning behind the holiday.

share encouraging and affirming “Valentines” within our family


I want to make mailboxes for each member of our family – my husband, me, our toddler, and our baby. I’ve seen some cute mini mailboxes at Target in their $3 section, but I’m thinking it might be simpler/cheaper to just use some brown paper lunch bags, or some cracker/cookie boxes when we empty them.

I’d love to set up a little family mail station. My husband and I could write to each other, we could write encouraging words to our kids to share both now and to tuck away in a memory box for when they are older, and our toddler could draw pictures for each of her family members.

send out Valentine cards

This is already in process – I made a simple photo card on picmonkey.com and printed it out at Walgreens. The message says, “we love because He first loved us.”

We’re going to send to the girls’ “friends” (aka friends of ours who have young kids). I’m hoping to swing by the dollar store and pick up a coloring book, and we can rip out the pages and include one page in each envelope.


show love to someone different than us or someone “hard to love”

When I envision Jesus celebrating Valentine’s Day, I think of Him showing love to the “unlovable” (by human standards). In His day, this might have been an “unclean” person, or a tax collector. Today, it might look like a homeless person, or someone with a disability that makes us uncomfortable, or someone who visibly practices a different religion.

I’m wondering how we can intentionally show love to someone as a family in the next few weeks. Maybe a care package assembled to hand to a homeless person? Or keeping eyes open for a chance to buy a drink or a meal for someone we see? Any ideas?

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day in your family?

10 Tips for Surviving Church with Young Children

I love the idea of going to church with my children. Beforehand, I envision sweet cuddles while we sing hymns together, two perfectly styled little girls in church dresses and shiny Mary Janes, and my toddler clasping hands together during prayers.

The reality, however, is sometimes not quite so serene and picture-perfect. We rush in five minutes late and the toddler has pulled off her socks and shoes in the car, so she’s barefoot, even in 20 degree winter weather. We can’t find a seat because people are sitting on the end of every single aisle, so we stumble over three people into the middle of the row, dragging a diaper bag, car seat carrier, water bottle, and bag of snacks as we go. The baby starts crying halfway through the first song, and I try to decide whether to awkwardly nurse her in the back row or find a “mother’s room.”

Nevertheless, I believe bringing our children to church, and worshipping with them right beside us (at least some of the time) is important and valuable.

When children join us in a worship service…

… they participate in the bigger, intergenerational body of Christ. They grow up learning that church is more than just a group of same-age peers enjoying age-specific crafts and activities. (There’s nothing wrong with Sunday school or age-specific activities! I believe it’s simply good to have a balance).

… they see our parental example as we sing, pray, and listen to a message. They see that our faith is important to us.

… they gradually learn how to participate in corporate worship: how to sing songs together, how to listen attentively to a sermon, and how to speak creeds and prayers together.

So, despite the reality that doesn’t always match up with my dream, we keep trying. Here are some things I’ve found lately that have helped for us:

1. We prepare a small bag of toys and activities, preferably Bible-centered.

These go in a special backpack that my daughter carries. This isn’t anything spectacular – crayons and a notepad, some Duplo blocks, and a few board books. I do avoid markers so they don’t stain our clothes, church pews, hymnals, etc.

There’s nothing wrong with toys that aren’t focused on our faith, but I just feel better about it when our toddler is playing with Mary and Joseph figurines rather than a Barbie doll. I also do make a point to avoid anything electronic. I hope that as my daughter plays with blocks or does a puzzle, she is still able to have one ear tuned to the pastor and music – I’m not sure that would happen if she was playing with an iPhone.

If nothing else, I think it’s nice to bring a kids’ Bible. Sometimes, the sermon topic or Bible reading will match up with a story in a kids’ Bible, and it’s neat to be able to open to that match and help make a connection.

I am trying to compile a better collection of Bible-centered toys. Any ideas of where to find quality toys or activities?

I do know some people choose not to bring toys into church, because they want to keep church “sacred,” or because toys cause more problem (I imagine if you have siblings this might be hard if they get into a “share” war in the middle of the service!)

In addition to typical toys, I am considering making a quiet book for our toddler. I am not a seamstress, but I have seen some no-sew versions floating around Pinterest.

2. I aim to engage the children in the service as much as possible. 

My goal is not to distract or subdue them through the service; I want my children to be active participants in worship.

During the songs, we try to hold our kids (my husband holds one and I hold the other). Or, I might encourage the toddler to stand on her chair while I sit next to her with an arm around her (for stability). This puts my head right next to her ears, so I can sing into her ear, or whisper an explanation of what’s happening.

My explanations are nothing special, just simple words to talk about what we’re doing:

– “This song is about Jesus. He loves us sooo much!”

– “We’re taking Communion. That’s when we remember Jesus’ body and blood given for us.”*

– “Can you find a cross? Yes, there it is! The cross tells us Jesus loves us. He died and rose again.”

Or, I might point out something in the sanctuary to her. If there are special decorations or stained glass windows, I can quietly point them out to her.

Though these conversations are a bit more rewarding with a toddler who can speak back, we can give these same explanations to a young baby who is listening, but can’t yet respond.

*She doesn’t take Communion, but comes with us to the Communion table for a special blessing.


3. We stay flexible and don’t insist on always having the kids stay in church for the whole service. Sometimes we do half-and-half with Sunday school. 

In our family, we aim to have our children in the church service with us at least part of the time, but we don’t legalistically force them to stay in the service the whole time. We have moved several times, so our specific approach varies on what is available from the church we attend at the time.

Sometimes, our children (baby and toddler) stay with us for the entire service (of course, we might leave the sanctuary for a few minutes to change a diaper, quiet down the squirmy toddler, etc.)

Other times, we will keep the baby with us in the service, but only keep the toddler with us for the first part of the service. We like her to stay with us for songs and prayers, and maybe a Bible reading, but typically take her to Sunday school/nursery at the beginning of the sermon.

This is usually my favorite arrangement, since she gets to enjoy an age-specific activity in Sunday school while we hear the sermon, but she also still participates in some of the worship service.

4. We spend Saturday night preparing for the busyness of Sunday morning.

After having a lazy Saturday, sometimes it’s tough to get out the door on time on Sunday. We try to do as much as possible the night before to make Sunday go smoothly. This could include:

– preparing a good breakfast in advance (this might look like: set out cereal and set the breakfast table, hardboil some eggs, make a breakfast casserole, make sure we have frozen waffles, etc.)

– packing up a diaper bag, toy bag, snacks, etc.

– laying out our complete outfits and taking showers as needed

– preparing a meal to start in the crockpot first thing in the morning for “Sunday dinner” (the noontime meal). Just keeping it real: I think I’ve managed to do this, like, twice ever. But when I do, it’s so nice, as it makes the time after church so much more pleasant than “we’re hungry and cranky because church went long and let’s just grab fast food.”

5. We are trying to start worshiping with our kids early in their lives, rather than waiting for them to “grow up.” 

It seems as though it is easier to start worshiping with a little baby, rather than sending them to nursery/Sunday school every week and then starting at age 3, or age 5, or age 12, or whenever.

However, I do think there is always going to be a stage (age 1-2ish) that is particularly tough, when our little ones are old enough to talk and make lots of noise, but not old enough to fully engage and understanding “quiet voices.”

6. We talk about church throughout the week and try to incorporate songs and prayers into our week.

If there are songs that we regularly sing in church, I try to play them on iTunes or just look up the video on YouTube.

We also say the Lord’s Prayer every night at bedtime. It’s fun when we say it in church and the 2 year old’s ears perk up when she recognizes the prayer. (So far, though, she doesn’t say it with us).

I would love a way to know which songs we’ll be singing in church ahead of time, or what the Scripture reading will be about, so we can explain that ahead of time, too. I haven’t figured out how to do this, though.

7. We take care of physical needs before the service begins.

Changing diapers, going to the bathroom, having a water bottle, and making sure we have eaten something are all helpful. Arriving early at the church can help sometimes with this, if there is a comfortable place to “hang out” before the service begins. We’re used to eating a 10 am snack, and often that hits during the service. I like to be sure we have something right before the service begins, or else an easy snack to eat during the service (like a bag of Cheerios).

8. I try to remember that helping my child in church is a form of worship. Soothing a crying baby or whispering to my toddler to help her understand the service is just as much “worship” as singing or praying.

Having a young child in church can be challenging and doesn’t always feel very “worshipful.” You can’t raise your hands in praise while singing because your hands are filled with a wriggly toddler, and most of the time, I can’t hold a hymnal or Bible, either.

Forget thoughtful note-taking during the sermon… I’m glad if I can just catch a tiny bit of the sermon between whispers to the toddler or taking the baby out for a diaper change.

In those moments, I remind myself that changing diapers and holding a baby is no less worshipful than belting out the words to my favorite praise song. There is value in bringing my child into the family of God on a weekly basis, and exposing her to the things of God.

9. I seek out alternative forms of being spiritually “filled,” besides the Sunday service, that work for me.

Like I said before, it’s tough to focus 100% on the worship service with children in tow. I don’t always walk away with the feeling of being spiritually nourished or inspired for the week ahead.

So, I try to find ways to be “filled up” during the rest of the week. Technology makes this especially do-able. I might listen to a podcast or watch a sermon online, from either my own church or another one. I sometimes listen to sermons from our old pastor who now lives across the country, or from a church in Arizona that supports us as missionaries. I can listen to one of these during naptime, or as I’m falling asleep, or while folding laundry.

Or, I might try to read a good book for a few minutes before bed. Or, if my husband got to catch more of the sermon than me (or vice versa), we fill each other in on the drive home on what the other person missed.

10. I try to enjoy worship with my children as a highlight of my week.

Like so many other aspects of parenting, I know that years from now, I’ll look back at what was “hard” at the moment with such sweet memories in hindsight.

I see older people sitting in the sanctuary with me. They are alone, or with another spouse or friend their same age. They don’t have to worry about catching every word of the sermon, or doing tons of preparation the night before. They aren’t lugging in diaper bags and bottles and nursing pillows and bags of toys.

I imagine that will be me someday, and I imagine I’ll probably think back to these sweet days when I have a baby in my arms to snuggle through the service, when I have a sweet little girl to keep focused during the service, and when I have the privilege of passing my faith on to my children on a weekly basis in the church service.

So, I do my best to delight in Sunday mornings. I love singing and snuggling while holding one (or both!) of my daughters. I am not a very bold person when it comes to dancing or openly praising God with lifted hands, but somehow having a child gives me an “excuse” to do those things. With a kid in my arms, I have an excuse to sway to the music with few inhibitions.

Even when we show up 10 minutes late, unprepared without toys or snacks, shoes sitting on the floor of the car, and the baby cries through half the service… I still aim to remember that the Lord delights in little ones and desires that we “let the little children come to Him.”

What a joy to participate in worship with our children as not just a little family of four, but as part of the bigger family of God.

Do you bring your children into the church service with you? Why or why not? What tips do you have for handling Sunday mornings as a parent of a small child?

Comments posted on old blog:

  1. I enjoyed this post! I absolutely think that children belong in the church service! I have a 1 and 3.5 year old and 1 is such a hard age!! But we keep trying. 🙂

    I also agree that it’s important to prep Saturday night. I try to make sure my 3 year old has gotten enough sleep, just so Sunday morning goes as smoothly as possible.

    Thanks for stopping over at my blog also!

    ~Emily @ www.morningmotivatedmom.com

  2. Great tips! It is hard, depending on the child, but it’s a good thing to take your little ones into church. My youngest is now 12; those days seem so long ago.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love the story of your mom and giving the socks headaches!

6 Ways to Introduce Jesus to Even the Youngest Baby

Ah, the newborn days. Filled with squishy babies and spit-up and interrupted sleep and sore arms from lots of holding. We’ve had two babies so far, and somewhere in the blur of this simultaneously lovely and challenging season, both times I have found myself wondering how I can be intentional about introducing Jesus into the life of this sweet little baby.

Here are some ideas I’ve tried:

1. Above all else, show love and grace as you care for your baby’s basic needs.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all for the glory of God” (Colossians 3:17). As you change diapers, hold a crying baby, pick up dropped pacifier after dropped pacifier, warm bottles, change your baby’s outfit for the fifth time that day… do it all for His glory and your baby’s good. Offer grace and love to your baby. If that’s all you’re doing – if your day doesn’t find time for a special “devotion” time or worship music or Bible board books… this is enough.

2. Pray for your little one while they are still in the womb.

Expecting is my favorite gift for a couple when they find out they are having a baby. It’s a book with 40 different prayers and reflections, one for each week of pregnancy. The prayers focus on both physical development and spiritual development, casting prayers for both the present and the future.

3. Play praise music during your day. 

Days with a little baby can sometimes be a little, well, quiet and boring. It’s nice to have things to break up the day, like music. As your little one naps, or does tummy time, or sits in a bouncy seat while you wash dishes… turn on some praise music. Pandora is an easy (free!) option. I like the “David Nevue” station for instrumental piano music inspired by hymns and worship songs.

Personally, I don’t prefer to keep music on all day long. At some point, it gets on my nerves. But, I do enjoy an hour or two a day.

Praise Baby DVDs are another nice option to break up the day. They have kids singing popular praise songs, coupled with very simple images that appeal to babies – black and white designs, puppies, other children. I know that TV isn’t recommended for the littlest ones, but I don’t mind a few minutes a day, especially for images that are very slow – it’s almost more of a photo slide show (and I find that often, the baby doesn’t watch anyway).

4. Do an activity from Playtime Devotions: Sharing Bible Moments with Your Baby or Toddler.

This book contains very basic songs and rhymes for little ones. They are usually versions of familiar rhymes, like:

“Peekaboo, peekaboo, God above,

Peekaboo peekaboo Gives His love,

Peekaboo peekaboo I love you

Peekaboo peekaboo God does too!”

This excellent book is no longer in print, but at the moment, there are several used versions on Amazon for just pennies (plus shipping).

5. Talk and read aloud about God.

When our first child was born, I remember feeling kind of awkward “talking” to my baby. We would be sitting in silence in our apartment, and I felt a little silly making conversation with her.

Over time, I got a little more comfortable, and now, with our second baby, it’s much easier – I’ve learned to make conversation with no response, and I also usually have the toddler around, so I’m not talking to silence. 🙂

With a baby, you can talk about anything – how to cook dinner, what your plans are for the day, how you met your wife, what you want to do this weekend. But as you talk about that “usual” stuff, you can also talk about spiritual stuff, too: how you came to know the Lord, a person who has been a great spiritual influence in your life, or how God has provided for your family financially.

6. Write a blessing or commitment for your child.


Based on an idea from Oh Amanda, we have written a blessing for each of our children: a page of prayers and intentions for our little one.

We come from a faith tradition that does infant baptism, so we’ve shared the blessing on the morning when our babies have been baptized (both of them have happened to be baptized at seven weeks old). You could also share this in conjunction with a baby dedication, when they are born, on a milestone “birthday” like 3 or 6 months old, or just on any old day – it doesn’t have to be a super-spectacular event!

We printed them out and put them on the wall of our daughter’s room, and we read a small section of our toddler’s blessing to her every night before bed. As 2 year olds tend to be, she’s pretty self-centered and loves that it’s all about her. 🙂

some links to check out if you want to write your own:

Elle’s blessing

Ava’s blessing

blessing from Oh Amanda

 

How do you intentionally focus on Jesus with your young baby? 

I previously posted on an old personal blog, and here’s how “Annie Kate” responded – loved her resource if want to check it out!

“We used to sing old hymns or Psalms at bedtime and it was a wonderful tradition. We also sing one of them after each meal even now, and I often play them on the organ as well.

The New Genevan Psalter is a wonderful resource for singing if you love the Psalms. I just wrote about it on my blog: http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2015/03/introducing-the-new-genevan-psalter/”

four MORE ideas for teaching babies to follow Jesus

On Wednesday, I shared four ideas for teaching babies to follow Jesus. Here are four more that we are trying to implement in our family.

– building a library of Christ-centered resources for the future. As we’ve already talked about, young babies probably aren’t fully aware of what we are singing, reading, or talking about with them. However, this can be a great time to start acquiring books, songs, and toys that focus on Jesus so that when they are aware, we’re ready!

We already have some Bible story books and children’s storybook Bibles from our older daughter (2 years old), and it is wonderful! I find that we are much more likely to read a Bible story if we have quality, plentiful Christian children’s reading material. Grandparents have been a great help in this department, giving several children’s Bibles and Christian CDs as Christmas and birthday gifts.

– establishing routines like a daily God’s time. My family has experienced a lot of change over the past few years – career changes, moving homes, etc. – and through this change, I have gotten better about having a daily routine. It has been a lifesaver in the midst of change to have a relatively simple routine to follow most days.

We try to include a morning devotion time and a Bible story before bed in this routine. It doesn’t happen every day, but the days that it does happen, I’m so glad we try to make this special time part of our routine.


– taking baby to worship services with us – I hope in the future to talk more about this, but for now I’ll say that if possible, I think it can be a really great (hard, but great) thing to include children, including infants and toddlers, in worship with the whole church. Our church is very welcoming to kids in church (I know some really encourage kids to go to a “children’s church,” so please don’t feel guilty if that’s the case for you!), so we’ve always brought both Elle and Ava into the service with us.

Yes, we try to sit in the very back in case we need an easy exit. Yes, my husband or I sometimes spend half the service (or more) standing in the lobby holding her. Yes, I’ve missed most of the sermon because I was in a different room feeding her. However, I hope it has gotten her (and us!!!) into the routine of going to church.


– involving baby in ministry activities with me – As a parent of two little ones, I’m not involved in much ongoing ministry or service. But I do occasionally try to choose something easy that the kids can be a part of. Pre-kids, I used to faithfully volunteer at a weekly after-school kids’ program our church held in an apartment complex in our neighborhood.

When our toddler, Elle, was a baby, I tried to get there once a month or so. The kids loved to see her, and Elle enjoyed watching bigger kids from the comfort of her infant car seat or my arms. It gave me a chance to write in Elle’s baby book, “today we went to help at the kids’ club! We shared the story of Jesus calming the storm with the kids there.” I hope she was blessed by knowing what it means to serve Jesus from the very beginning!

Our lives have been hectic since six-month-old Ava was born, so she hasn’t been part of many service opportunities, but she did attend a volunteer orientation for a refugee agency I hope to serve.

What is your favorite way to share Jesus with your baby? (Or, if your children are older, what did you do when he was a baby?) 

Teaching Babies to Follow Jesus

My biggest hope for our daughters, Elle and Ava, are that they will know and follow Jesus. Ava is six months old, it’s fun to see her growing physically, from a little tiny newborn who couldn’t even hold her head up into a girl who sits and rolls and stands! It’s fun to see her growing emotionally and socially, from a baby who basically just cried and slept in the early days to someone who can smile and laugh! I love her physical and social development, but I hope and pray for her spiritual development, too.

I am learning that it’s never too early to teach little ones about Jesus! Here are a few ideas for how we try to pass faith down to the littlest ones in our house- I’ll be sharing four today and four more later in the week.

Before beginning this list, I want to make sure it’s clear that we do not do all four of these things every day in our house. In fact, I made this list awhile ago, and reading through it one last time before I hit “publish” on this post, I’m feeling a little sheepish that I didn’t do any of these things today with Ava. It is easy to get discouraged when we don’t focus on Jesus each day with our kids… but let’s not let that get us down! Instead, I hope this list might inspire you – and me! – to try one or more of these ideas tomorrow.

– praying with baby. Sometimes prayers with Ava are simple and short – there’s no need to worry about long, expressive, beautiful prayers with this audience! Something like, “Dear Jesus, Thanks for this day. Please help us have a good day, Amen.” is great!!! We don’t worry about her focusing on the prayer or anything like that… in fact, it seems like the best times to pray are when she is doing something else, like playing or receiving a diaper change.

Of course, sharing long, expressive prayers is fine too.  I find it easier to pray aloud than in my head (it keeps my mind from wandering off so easily), so sometimes I like to just hold Ava, walk around our apartment, and pray for whatever is on my mind – prayers for her, prayers for my husband as he goes to work, etc. She likes to listen to my voice, and I love that she helps me focus by being a “partner” in my prayers.

– singing worship songs with baby. Regardless of what others might think about my musical talents (or lack thereof!), I like to think that Ava loves to hear me sing. Of course, it’s fun to sing typical baby songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” but I try to makeJesus-focused songs part of your repertoire, too! I sing “It is Well with My Soul” often when trying to soothe our daughter, and my husband loves to sing “Jesus Loves Me” to her. We find ourselves singing both “adult” songs (hymns, worship songs, etc.) and “kids” songs (“If I Were a Butterfly,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children” – what you might consider “Sunday School Classics”).

Sometimes I’m at a loss for songs to sing, so I’ve marked a hymnal we already had at home with some favorites (just post-it note bookmarks). I’ve thought about making a list of song titles or printing out the lyrics to some of my favorite songs too.

Of course, it also works to sing along with a CD or a tune from my iPod (YouTube and Pandora are great for this, too). For me, I’ve found that if I have a CD on, I often stop singing myself, so sometimes I try to make sure it’s just me singing to my little one.

– talking to baby about Jesus as I go about my day. Baby experts all seem to agree that talking to your child is one of the best things you can do for their development. As I talk, I try to make sure I talk about Jesus! Some topics of “conversation” include: walking around the park and pointing out all the things God made; sharing a favorite Bible verse or story; telling her my “testimony” or thinking of a time when God was especially faithful in my life.

Sometimes it seems a little silly to talk to a baby when she can’t really understand, but it helps me get into the habit, and I know that sooner than I think, she will be able to understand! Plus, babies are great practice… maybe someday I’ll get so comfortable sharing my stories with my own kids that I’ll be willing to share with the cashier at the grocery store!

– reading Bible stories and Godly books to baby. Just like talking to baby is good for their development, I know reading is a great activity to do daily with your child. As my husband and I read to our kids, we try to include the Bible and other Godly books in the reading pile. With children this young, it doesn’t matter whether we read from the “real” adult Bible or a children’s Bible. Sometimes I try to read from my own devotional materials. Of course, it’s fun to read kids’ Bible story books, too.

What are some ways you share Jesus with your baby? Please comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Welcome!

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— Here are some of my favorite posts at Faith Passed Down:

3 Ways I Share Faith with My Kids Each Morning

You Can Do It! Encouragement for Your Faith-Building Journey

Times and Places to Read the Bible with Kids

Welcome!

I’m a mom of two girls and former youth minister who is passionate about teaching young people the grace and truth of Jesus.

As a follower of Jesus and a member of the body of Christ, two of the most important things I can do are:

1. pass my faith in Jesus down to my own children and

2. help other young people (outside of our family) to know and follow Jesus. I want to help build faith not only in my own children but also in my kids’ friends, our godson, my niece, the children at our church.

For four years I worked as a youth ministry director at our church for four years, leading middle school students, high school students, and young adults, into a (hopefully) closer walk with Him.

I hope this new site, Faith Passed Down, will be a place to share ideas about teaching faith to children and teenagers, full of practical ideas and inspiration. I look forward to learning from you, and I hope you’ll stick around and join me in passing faith down to a new generation.

Here are answers to some things you may be wondering about:

Who is the target audience of Faith Passed Down?

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or someone else with a young person in your life (perhaps a niece or nephew, younger sibling, Sunday school student, or family friend)… I pray this is a place where you will be encouraged, uplifted, and inspired to pass your Christian faith down to the young person (or people!) in your life.

Faith Passed Down is based on ideas from my Christian faith. If you’re not a Christian, by all means, please feel free to check out this site, but I can’t promise that everything discussed will apply to your situation.

All Christians have the responsibility and privilege of declaring the glory of God to younger generations. For many, this happens in family relationships – parents to their sons and daughters, grandparents to their grandchildren, older siblings to younger siblings…

But, it doesn’t just stop at family connections. Within the local church, we have opportunity to connect with young people, both through age-specific activities like Sunday school and youth ministry events, and also intergenerational gatherings like worship services, Christmas choirs, and church picnics.

Beyond family and church, many people have other connections with young people. For the first few years of our marriage, my husband I didn’t have any children, but we loved to go to dinner at our friends’ homes and hang out with their kids, and we hope we were a blessing to them!

What gives you the authority to talk about teaching faith to young people?

I’m interested in this topic from two perspectives:

1. My Bachelor’s degree is in “Christian Education Leadership,” a major designed for men and women working in church education ministry. After graduation, I worked full-time for a small church in San Diego, California, leading our youth ministry and helping with adult ministry, children’s ministry, and outreach.

2. I stopped working at our church when our first daughter was born, nearly three years ago. Since then, I’ve been thinking about how to pass faith down to our own children, and how to continue to bless other children in my life, like our niece and our daughters’ friends.

What should I do now?

1. Click here to sign up for daily or weekly emails from Faith Passed Down. To say “thank you” for subscribing, I’ll send you a 5 Day Course called Developing a Faith-Filled Family.

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