It's time to renew our commitment for family devotions.
That sentence alone makes me cranky.
We've renewed our commitment to have family devotions so many times that it's hard to get excited about another attempt.
My first thought is..."How many weeks will we make it before we fall off the wagon?"
We really, really, really want to have them. And we should have them.
The should and the want are very different from the carrying-out part.
Time to try again.
Let me clarify what I mean by family devotions.
The big kids read the Bible on their own.
The big kids and I do a Bible curriculum as part of school.
The little kids have a Bible storybook we read to them.
My husband reads his Bible on his Kindle at night to get out of putting the kids to bed.
The Bible IS OPEN daily in our home.
BUT...I have this vision of the seven of us spending time together while learning about God's Word. Maybe a fire in the fireplace warming the room. Maybe a little soft, classical music calming the chaos. Maybe all of the kids with their mouths closed and ears open. Maybe my husband and I smiling lovingly at each other as he teaches God's word and I nod in agreement.
Definitely just a vision at this point.
We picked Thursdays this year.
Let's try Thursdays for family devotions.
There's no rhyme or reason for picking that night. We've just tried every other night during the week and nothing has worked.
Looking at our track record, it's OBVIOUSLY the night's fault that we've quit so many times...not that there's anything wrong with our commitment to the devotions.
Thursdays it is.
So, we began two weeks ago.
Thursday evening came and almost went before my husband mentioned family devotion time.
Woo Hoo. I was sort of hoping he'd forget.
There was so much energy in the house that it hardly seemed like the best time to collect the children, but my husband disappeared to gather his family devotional material so I began to gather kids. Or herd cats.
I can be kind of whiny.
Why can't I gather the material and you gather the children, Dear Husband?
Because he still had to prepare and I certainly didn't want to be the one leading the devotion. Preparation time for devotions is as long as it takes all seven of us to find our way to one room.
It's generally plenty of time. There's always some battle to fight first.
Toddler and the Little Daughter wanted to invite some friends.
Teenager went to help Toddler with very specific instructions.
"Toddler can only bring 3 animals to devotions from his room. Three." Teenager smiled.
Middle daughter collected the three baby-dolls from the Little Daughter's room that would be joining us.
This is why we don't have family devotions. Getting ready for them is like an hour long process.
Finally, the majority of us arranged ourselves around our fearless leader.
Teenager and Toddler were still missing, but too bad.
In my mind, I flipped the switch for the fireplace.
What are we studying, Daddy?
That was when I noticed what was on my husband's lap.
His Bible. And Wayne Grudem's book entitled, Systematic Theology.
All 1167 pages of Systematic Theology.
He clearly thought too highly of my homeschooling efforts.
This could be a long night.
Before I could question the content we would be studying, Teenager entered with Toddler.
Five friends flowed from their arms. Five. Five. Five. And I couldn't let that go.
I had told him only three.
"I told you only three animals could join us. Go take two back."
It's a mystery to me why I picked that moment to be a stickler for the rules. I had let things slide all day, so I'm not sure why I chose to follow-through at that point. Maybe I was exerting my authority.
"But, but, but (Toddler stutters), I only brought three ANIMALS. This one guy is Spiderman. Not an animal. And this other thing is a dragon. Zach told me it's a...it's a..."
The Teenager interjected, "It's technically a mythical creature, so I thought he could bring it too."
Then Teenager smiled his charming smile. Gotcha.
So, there we sat...a dad, a mom, three boys, two girls, three baby dolls, three animals, Spiderman, and a dragon.
Kill the classical music in the background. It's just too much.
My husband told us we were going to be talking about why we need Jesus.
Start at the beginning. Good idea.
Second son piped up, "Do I need my Bible for this?"
"Are you kidding? Ummm, yeah, you need your Bible. Some people think a Bible is useful when we are actually reading the Bible."
Sarcasm has no place in family devotions.
But, seriously, "Do I need a Bible?"
Are we done yet?
My husband began by taking us through a brief overview of the Creation and the Fall.
He's a good speaker and he totally had their attention.
Cool. They are listening. Maybe 2013 will be different. The year of the successful family devotions.
Toddler disappeared, but we won't worry about him unless he's gone a really long time.
Then the study led to Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac.
Again, the children are captivated. I'm kind of captivated, too.
My husband is good. He had us all under his spell.
Toddler returned. He brought his little toddler Bible and he opened it up on his lap.
Someone. Take. A. Picture.
Aren't we just the sweetest family ever?
Maybe for that moment we were. But it wouldn't last long. It never does.
"I want to tell you about Adam and Eve."
My husband furrowed his eyebrows.
The rest of us couldn't resist. The Toddler was just so incredibly cute.
Tell us, Noah. Tell us about Adam and Eve.
So he stood up and told us the story with full body action.
He told us about the Creation. He mentioned the fruit. He talked about the snake.
He leaned forward and narrowed his eyes dramatically.
"And then...and then...do you know what the snake said to Eve?"
"What did the snake say to Eve, Noah?"
I truly thought my three-year-old was going to quote from the Bible that the snake had said,
"Did God really tell you not to eat from that tree?'"
I honestly thought that's what he would say. He's smart enough for that.
We waited. Waited for his brilliance to shine.
"The snake said...the snake said..."
Noah made eye contact with each of us to make sure he had our undivided attention.
"The snake said....sssssssssssssss."
And he wagged his tongue back and forth at each of us just like a snake would do.
And then we all started to "ssssssssss" back at him.
Because of course that's what a 3-year-old would say a snake said.
It took minutes to turn the focus back to the devotions.
My husband did his best to keep us on track.
Together, all of us have only about a 5 minute attention span and we were pushing thirty minutes.
I wanted to say, "That's good for a first devotion," and give him the universal finger twirl for "WRAP THIS UP." But that seemed rude.
So, I interrupted instead with a nice, closing summary.
My husband looked at me quizzically. I looked at him hopefully.
"Good thought." He said. "But that wasn't really the point of what I read."
Oops. Should have kept my mouth shut. Not helpful.
He did wrap up our devotion.
Quite successful for our first one of 2013, I might add.
My husband asked the Teenager to pray.
As Zach and I were looking for a specific verse for him to pray for our family, the herd began talking. Kids began fidgeting. Stuffed animals began migrating.
My husband...the man who had just masterfully kept seven of us still and fairly quiet for 30 minutes...stood up and made his way to the center of the room.
As we all curiously watched, he proceeded to get in the push-up position and hold it for several seconds before he raised one arm and leg. And then he actually balanced like that.
"What is he doing?" I asked the Teenager.
"The plank, Mom. We did it tonight at soccer."
Middle daughter and I exchanged an eyebrow raise.
"Ummm...Honey...do you realize we haven't prayed yet?"
"Oh, okay. Zach go ahead and pray for us."
I'm really not sure if he stayed in the plank position for all of the prayer.
I was silently laughing so hard I couldn't even look up.
As the kids scattered, I couldn't help but ask.
"So, what was that?"
He innocently asked, "What was what?"
"The whole laying in the middle of the floor doing the plank thing at the end of devotions."
His eyes lit up with joy.
"I just wanted to see if I could do it."
He sheepishly added, "And I can."
Best family devotion night EVER.
I guess my family also had family devotions last week when I was gone.
Apparently, having the mom there is optional.
I'm told it went well.
My husband used my different personalities to describe the Trinity to the kids.
And the Teenager ended the devotion in the plank.
A friend recently told me that she had to get over her vision of how she thought things in her family should look and face the fact that they probably won't ever look that way.
Away with the fireplace, classical music, and closed mouths.
In with the snake noises, missing Bibles, and "the plank."
Family devotions will never look the way I envision.
Perhaps, God can still be glorified.
Even through the plank.