A young mom from Toronto recently sent me an email about a surprising interaction with her daughters after they began using MYSTART Journals. If there is one unique feature about the journal it would be that children take a few minutes. 2-5 are suggested, to listen to the Lord’s voice, as young Samuel did when he was a boy. It’s called “Rest” and is a time for us to be quiet and listen to what God is speaking. Here’s what the young mom wrote:
“As we were going through the ‘rest’ section, we decided 3 minutes would be a good start. When the timer went off, Becca, who is 10, groaned and grabbed the timer exclaiming, ‘Nooooo, it was sooo peaceful. Let’s do it again!’ And she proceeded to put another 2 minutes on the timer. Tara, age 8, happily agreed and bowed her head to spend more time with God. I was tearing up when Becca set the additional minutes.
“After the exercise, I asked Becca how she ended the phrase, ‘God is my .....’ I was tickled pink when she said, ‘HERO’. At the close of the devotional Tara declared, ‘Mom, this book really works!!”
Here’s the interesting part. The girls’ mom told me the week before they began their journals, both girls were asking whether God speaks and why He didn’t speak to them as He did to people in the Bible. She told them God speaks in whispers more often than in the thunder. Oh, the amazing timing for two little girls from Toronto!
There is a family from Ohio who have family night every Friday night and they light a Sabbath candle to begin the evening and share a MYSTART Journal entry together. Some of their thoughts:
Aaron, age 10: “I like to hear what everyone hears when they read the verses.”
Kelcie, age 14: “It’s a good way to get connected with God in the Word and with our family.”
Dad: “We can all do the same devotional and God speaks to us each at our own level. Thanks for not dumbing it down for adults!”
After the “rest” time, each person shares what God told them during their quiet time. Ah, these are precious:
Darren, age 10, wrote, “Dear God, please help me face my fears.” And after the “rest” time he said, “God is my protector!”
Chloe, age 12, “God is my microphone! He speaks loudly for me to hear!”
Aaron, age 10, “God is my Watcher. He keeps his eyes on me and keeps me safe.”
Kelcie, age 14, “God is my director/conductor.” BTW, Kelcie was in her school musical presentation of “Beauty and the Beast” last weekend. What a “coincidence” that God spoke these words to her!
Jason, age 9, “God told me he loves me!” It was the big smile on Jason’s face that was very convincing.
Bec and I believe whole-heartedly that a generation can be in touch with the God who created them and who loves to speak to them. As I’m thinking about my own “rest” times with God and how hurried and restless I can become, I’m drawn into the joy of expecting God to speak as simply as He is speaking to my young friends.
Some of my recent thoughts:
• Listening promotes an awareness of His Presence. • Listening creates a hunger in me.
• Listening reflects a teachable spirit.
I believe God is listening for listeners and I am asking Him for a new capacity to hear.
The Hebrew word, Shema, appears 1,161 times in the scriptures and is translated "hear" in the Old Testament. Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” I seriously doubt that Jesus put an age boundary on His listening statement. Go ahead, young friends, listen well. We want to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church through you!
My name is Bec. I'm an Aussie mum (that's how we write mom!) and I have 3 kids.
Caleb is 13 and in Grade 8, Silas is 8 and in Grade 3 and Ella is 6 years old and has just started First Grade.
We have been doing the MYSTART Journal each week now for 6 weeks. I have to tell you that at first they were a little skeptical. I'm a bit creative, and I get bored easily. So, I've tried lots of different things over the years to get us all doing something spiritual together, besides praying at bedtime and attending church. Some of them worked and were just for a season, others flopped!
In Australia, our summer is coming to an end and our kids are all starting back at school. The weeks go from relaxing to busy in a blink of an eye. Wednesday night came and went, and we hadn't done our journal together. The kids said to me, "Hey mum, now school's back when are we going to do MYSTART?". Trying to put away any guilty feelings I had because I hadn't remembered, I was also so glad that they had prompted me.
For Caleb, the journal is easy. He reads and responds. And now, he finds the listening easier. At first this was hard. Teaching his creative, imaginative mind to be still and to listen for God's voice has been a journey we have walked through many conversations recently.
Silas, is my sporty active guy. He likes to be busy, so sitting still long enough to write at times is a challenge. I've found, that when we do the journal has a lot to do with how much he gets out of it. His insights are amazing and if there's something funny to point out, it'll come from him.
Ella's reading and writing are developing and so, I sit alongside her and help her through the text and help interpret what she wants to say in a simple way. She finds listening easy, and will let me know what the Holy Spirit has brought to her mind, and then we'll write it.
I tell you their story, to make this one thought.
ALL KIDS ARE DIFFERENT!
The way they approach the Journal will differ.
Where you do your journal weekly, how you do it, who stores it... all those things will vary from household to household. I think this is fantastic. No two families are the same.
Have fun with it.
Experiment at what works for you.
Sometimes our discussions are serious, and sometimes we are all laughing around the table. One of those times happened the other week. We were doing the Lectio on Identity. The kids underlined what God was speaking to them and then copied it into the first part of the journal. Silas underlined, "believe in Christ". We talked about that at the end, and what that meant for him. He gave a great analogy of Jesus as a fireman, who we have to trust to save us. I was really impressed with his thinking and how he was taking it in. Then, we rested. 2 minutes went by and he wrote, "God is my Shepherd". I asked him why he wrote that and his answer was, "Well, we had Shepherd's pie for dinner and it was the first thing that came to mind!". Needless to say we all had a laugh and I said to him that God often speaks to His dad through good food to! Ha. We didn't make a big point of it, but the next time we did our Lectio, I said to him, "Hey Silas, tonight, no matter what we have for dinner, let's listen carefully to what God wants to say, ok?. He smiled at me, and said, "Sure mum". And sure enough, the next week his rest was beautiful.
Enjoy your kids and lead them well. With grace and wisdom.
Praying for you!