He was our baby. He just turned 16. And somehow – well not somehow – but because of God’s power and plan, he’s now the oldest of six.
What and who am I talking about? I’m talking about this guy. Our baby. Or at least the one who used to be our baby.
He’s basically amazing. For 13.5 years he was the youngest of four boys.
Then in the spring of 2018 he suddenly – overnight – became an older brother to this guy:
What else? Well, while the days and the details are quite long and drawn out, it also feels like the rest all happened very suddenly too. In January 2019, a baby boy moved in. Then another baby boy a few months later. Then a baby girl in 2020. And then another girl, turning last year’s Christmas card into this beautiful collage:
Meanwhile, three of the oldest brothers all left home for college and beyond. So in the span of 2.5 years, Malachi went from youngest of four to oldest of six at home.
Just thinking about it makes me shed tears – of joy, of awe, of weariness, of amazement. I could also use a nap.
This kid, this young man, our Malachi? God has been doing amazing work in him to grow him into this role. He’s rocking it as big bro to all the littles who lovingly call him “Bubba.”
I could go on and on about God’s work in and for Malachi. But today I need to share this:
Matt and I want to make some changes for Malachi.
God helped Matt and me realize recently that with all that has happened in our lives during the past two-and-a-half years, and with all we are currently trying to juggle, we’ve neglected a thing or two.
We haven’t shoved Malachi aside by any means. But with nine kids in so many different stages of life, and with five of the kids demanding so much attention, it feels difficult to keep up with meeting so many needs.
Satan wants me to experience deep regret over all the ways I feel that I am lacking instead of recognizing God’s truth in the matter. God hasn’t neglected anything. God doesn’t have a hard time keeping up. And because we are in Him and He is in us, we have everything we need to parent all these kids.
With anything that might be lacking in our human parenting abilities, God has been working all along and always provides a way to restore.
It’s Never Too Late to Make Good Changes for Our Kids
So here we are. Back in the day when we “only had 4 kids” we did a pretty great job of spending time together in the Word. We read the Bible every morning at breakfast and through the years, we really covered a lot of ground. We practiced memorizing scripture together during dinner. We prayed together at night. As the boys got older, our spiritual time with them became deeper.
We continue to memorize scripture at dinnertime. We have nightly singing and prayer time and it is precious and amazing – and also sometimes loud and high maintenance because of the littlest babes – but always worth it. Then just before tucking in the little ones, they gather around Matt for Bible storytime. (I’ll share more specifics about our routines in another post tomorrow.)
But with all of this, we’ve begun to feel that Malachi has been, in some ways, lost in the shuffle. He doesn’t feel lost, and in fact, he recognizes the sacrifices we’ve all had to make with all the beautiful changes God has brought to our lives. It’s just that everything we’re doing spiritually for our family is pretty watered-down in an effort to teach so many little ones about Jesus.
Malachi needs more than “Bible storytime” from a children’s book and we haven’t been providing it for him. Who cares that our reasons or excuses are somewhat valid and understandable? God’s convicted us to make some changes, and we are grateful. And yes, our teen could be reading his Bible on his own, but we’ve found that he needs some guidance in order to do that effectively.
So now what?
Well, we started praying. Matt has been trying to set aside space in his day to spend intentional one-on-one time with Malachi at night after the littles go to bed. I had to ask God to show me what in the world I could possibly give up in my days so that I had more energy and time to spend with Malachi and for all that truly matters. My days are often beyond full, leaving no wiggle room for even sweeping the kitchen floor, much less having a Bible-filled conversation with my teenager.
Or so Satan wants me to believe.
I started praying for God to send help so that I would have more time and energy to give to Malachi (and other important people-focused needs). He has answered. I’ve hired some young girls to help with some of our daily chores. I bought a dishwasher that actually works. Small as these sound, these two things alone have truly freed up some time and energy in my day so that I can give more to Malachi. Praise God!
Some of this time is spent helping him with school work. That in-and-of-itself has been good because even time working through (those rotten) geometry problems together is character building and an opportunity for us to instill godly discipline.
But we’ve also been intentional about opening our Bibles together. Digging in. Talking through it. Discussing what God has to tell us through Scripture. It’s been pretty amazing to spend this time with Malachi, and I’m so grateful for God’s conviction and provision in this.
Right now we’re working our way through the book of Luke. We just finished reading and discussing the book of Galatians.
I also just got this thorough selection of resources and have these lined up to go through with Malachi:
- Intentional Living Through Prayer – prayer prompts for every day of the year. These offer such great cues and inspiration to walk teens (and all of us!) through praying intentionally.
- 30 Day Retreat With God – I love everything about this one! It helps us dig into learning more about who God is so we can love and serve better. It’s practical and simple to work through. A super helpful resource to give us topics to discuss and pray over.
- A Grateful Heart Bible Study – It’s too easy to be negative and to complain. I look forward to going through this study with Malachi as we focus on God’s work in our lives.
- James: Self Study Workbook – I wanted to read through James with Malachi anyway, and this book makes it so much better!
You can read more about how to get these books here, and I’ll share more on Wednesday about how I’m using that package for my entire family. If you can swing it, get this. It’s a huge pack of arsenal to pull from as we guide ourselves and our families down a path of spiritual growth.
Our Kids Need So Much More Than Church
What I mean is that if we expect our kids to grow up loving God and embracing Jesus and living life through the guidance of the Holy Spirit – but all we give them is an hour of church on a Sunday morning – we might be disappointed with the outcome.
First, our kids need parents who love Jesus and spend time constantly growing a relationship with the Father. So we grown-ups need to be intentionally focused on digging into the Word and letting God teach us His plans for us.
Then, as we grow, our kids grow. We talk about God in our homes constantly. We bring Truth into every situation. We read the Bible together, sing praises together, pray together, discuss Truth together.
Are your kids not-so-little anymore?
It’s never too late. Start where you are. Start now. Have family prayer time, even if it feels awkward at first. Read the Bible together (See our Bible Reading Guide below).
Not sure when you’ll find the time? Oh, there’s time. God will see to that. Ask God to show you how and He will. I promise.
Need a Bible Reading Guide?
I have been working on this resource because it very simply answers frequent questions I get about personal Bible study and about spending Bible time with family.
- How to Start Reading Your Bible Regularly
- Three-Step Guide to Make the Bible Meaningful
- How to Read the Bible with Little Ones
- Scripture to Read and Discuss with Your Teens
I’m making this resource available to everyone, plus a couple more:
101 Scripture Focus Cards
I uploaded these to Walgreens and had them print this file onto 4×6 photo cards. We pull them out at mealtime and practice memorizing them as a family. These prompt great discussion too. I especially love this because everyone in our family, from age 2 to age 47, benefit from memorizing scripture!
Table Talk Cards
And speaking of great discussion, these cards have been great at mealtime too. All of us at our house, from age 5 to adult can answer the questions on these cards and share them around the table!
As a thank you gift and as a way to give your family a fun spiritual boost, I’ll send you that entire file of resources if you buy the Christian Living Bundle this week through my links.
Get it here, then email me your receipt so I can send you the bonuses.
Start digging in with your family. Let God be a part of every moment in every day!
Let this week be an inspiration to make good changes in your family.
Hopefully, you already have some wonderful spiritual routines and traditions in your home. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to fill your home and family with Jesus! This package along with the bonuses I created can give us all a huge boost of encouragement and tools.
I’ll share specifics about our family’s routine in this post tomorrow:
More Than Sunday Morning: How Our Family Focuses on God All Week Long
We haven’t done it perfectly. But we have done it. And as of late, we’ve added more so that we can help our teen grow in ways he needs.
This Christian Living Bundle is only available for four days – through Thursday, March 25. Get it here then email me with your receipt so I can send you our bonus package with the Bible Reading Guide, 101 Scripture Memory Cards, and Table Talk Cards!
(The bundle costs $29.99. It includes $1182 worth of Christian Living resources. Plus I’ll send you my bonuses worth $21!)
Let’s make good changes for our families! Can’t wait to share more with you tomorrow… :)