A Parenting Bucket List for Christian Moms
I am big on intentionality. Something I love to do is make seasonal bucket lists to build memories and relationships with our children. One bucket list that has become invaluable in our home is our parenting bucket list. It helps me shape how I do motherhood. One of the items on the top of my parenting bucket list is to see my kids come to have real, vibrant relationships with the Lord.
Today I would like to share some of the ways I use a parenting bucket list to pass along our faith to our children.
Prepare for Battle
Motherhood is a mission field. You would not go on a mission trip unprepared. Shepherding little ones is no different. The enemy would like for us to fail. What would a war look like if one side was committed to the fight?
The Word tells us that we must put on the full armor of God because we do not fight an enemy of flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10-17).
Our enemy is a lion, seeking to kill, steal, and destroy (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10)
We must be in the Word and praying continually. Yes, how it looks with littles can change from day to day, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. I know that days when I am not in the word and have not prayed are tougher than they need to be!
Ephesians 5:18 tells us not to be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. Why? Being drunk affects how we walk, talk, and even see things. There is a battle raging for the hearts of our children, and we must be aware of it. We must also see our children as God does, precious and mold-able. True gifts. When We frame the day right, put on the right glasses, it makes all the difference in the world! Pray for guidance. Pray over your home and family.
Strengthen your relationship with the Lord. It will naturally overflow on those around you. I have heard it said that a lot more is caught than taught. You are setting the example for them. When you give it importance in your life, they will notice.
Go in with a plan. I try to plan family activities. You would not go into battle without a plan. Many times teachable moments will happen during these activities.
Build Relationships With Them
What am I talking about? They are my kids. I have a relationship with them already, right?Here’s the thing, I want more than for them to say I am just their mother. I want to have a deep and meaningful relationship with them.
Why? Because when I show them that they matter to me, it opens the door for Christ. Reaching their hearts is important, because rules without relationship leads to rebellion. I cannot set boundaries for them and teach them to set them themselves if I do not have a relationship with them. They will rebel against what I have tried to instill in them.
I let them see me as human. They see me cry when I am sad. I am teaching them empathy and compassion. I admit when I have been wrong. I am teaching them humility and how to forgive. They see me struggle. I am teaching them to rely on God’s strength.
Relationships take work. A good relationship with my children is no different.
So when I’m interacting with kids and working through the parenting bucket list, I try to remember how much words can weigh.
Over and over in Scripture we are told to be alert and sober minded. A big influence on our children is what we allow them to digest. Diet is not food alone, but music, movies, tv, and books.
We as mothers are called to keep watch over what we allow to touch our children’s hearts and minds. Media is such a powerful tool! I can remember lyrics to classic rock songs that my mom let me listen to when I was 5!
Mothers have been horrified to learn that their children have seen some of the awful things parading around on children’s apps and tv shows.
We must not only set the bar, but teach their little heart why we do not want to fill our thoughts with the unlovely, unpure, negative “junk food” out there. Jesus said that what is in our hearts comes out (Luke 6:45 ).
Filling Their Hearts
The flip side of this is filling their hearts and minds with things that are pure, lovely, positive, and praise worthy.
We are blessed with access to an abundance of media these days! It can really be overwhelming.
Seeds Family Worship CDs are songs straight from Scripture (and a great way to help memorize Scripture!). If your church has RightNow Media there are some amazing kids shows on there. Even Amazon has some great Bible based contain on Prime. Our library has Hoopla, a digital media source for free with a lot of Christian books and some children’s shows. My children enjoy Superbook, The Animated Adventures of Bibleman, Theo, McGee and Me and several others.
You can find these tools easy at the Living With Purpose Resources Page.
There are many, many amazing Bible based children’s books. It can be overwhelming! Masterbooks has wonderful books, Baby Believer® books are wonderful, as are Tommy Nelson books. Christianbook.com has a great selection of books as well. My children like the Arch books, and the Berenstain Bears
When we cook and clean I put on Christian podcasts or worship music. We often take dance breaks and sing-alongs to our favorite songs while we work. How precious is it to hear a child singing praise to the Lord!
As mothers, a choice is put before us. While we cannot control everything that they are exposed to, we can control what is in our house, and even where we allow our families to hang out a good deal of the time.
Have a Bible Time
This sounds like a no brain-er, but having time in the Word of God with your children is important. If it’s not on your parenting bucket list, I encourage you to find a spot for it. Do not worry about a children’s Bible. Yes, they have their place, but this is not it. You will likely need to start in small chunks, especially if your child is younger, and you will need to explain things, but it is so rewarding, and they really do not need it watered down. I am not saying jump into Leviticus right away, but you will be surprised by how much they take in.
Have no idea where to start? I recommend the Gospel of John, then the rest of the Gospels. Genesis is a good one for children as well, though you may need to omit a few stories until they are older. Psalms and Proverbs are dailies with us as well.
One thing to remember to tell them often is the difference between fiction and non-fiction, the stuff that really happened vs pretend stories.
Focus on Character Traits Each Week
The Bible is full of things like the fruit of the Spirit, the armor of God, what love really is, things we are to take off and put on.
Each week we choose one aspect of these things to focus on and talk about.
Each day I pray that God would open my eyes to opportunities that He gives me and words to say to make the most of those opportunities.
There are so many things in our world, in nature, and our everyday lives that offer deep spiritual truths.
Eggs from a friend that has chickens helps me teach that no matter the size or color of an egg, the inside is all the same, and God made everyone unique, that He looks at the heart when man looks at outward appearance.
The garden offers many lessons, how we prepare soil, how roots are put down, how they must go deep in dry times, how weeds are like sin in our lives…
Baking offers a chance to talk about following a recipe and God’s design for our lives, and how not following God’s design leads to unappealing results.
Watching a cartoon leads to talks about a naughty character’s behavior and how the Lord wants us to act instead.
A trip to the beach or a night under the stars are chances to stand in awe of the God who made heaven and earth.
Cleaning up can be a reminder that all that we do is unto the Lord, our act of worship.
These are a few ideas, but once you start looking you will find teachable moments everywhere.
One thing I am trying to get better at is building in margin to our schedule. Sweet little moments happen all of the time, and really cannot be scheduled. The beauty of God’s creation, awe of a vivid sunset, thoughtful gestures of little ones bringing dandelions to mama. Quality time happens in quantity time. I need to remember to slow down, and look for those moments.
Get out in God’s creation too!
This hasn’t always been on our parenting bucket list. It is something that we are starting this school year. I had heard of it many years ago, and brushed it off because I thought it was a Catholic thing. I more recently heard Protestant pod-casters talking about it and decided to look into it more.
What are Catechisms? They are questions and their answers from Scripture to teach theology.
Memorize Scripture Together
There is probably a whole post that could be written on tricks to help memorize Scripture, but I will leave that for another day (or, you could check out Pinterest I am sure).
Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is so important, and children are such sponges! (Psalm 119:11)
Our children go to AWANAs at a local church and each week they memorize verses. Even our two year old is doing it this year.
I used to think that I was horrible at memorization. Turns out it is a skill to be honed, not necessarily a natural talent (though some do have it as a talent!).
I often post notes around the house in various places with the week’s verses written out.
We also look them up by topic. Bed time can be scary for a child who does not like the dark. We say Psalm 4:8 and Psalm 23:4. When they are tempted to disobey we say Ephesians 6:1. When they are harsh with someone we remind them of Proverbs 15:1. When they say unkind things we say Ephesians 4:29. When a task is hard we say Colossians 3:17 or 3:23-24 or Galatians 6:9.
You can get creative, look up the sign language for the words in the verses or make up motions.
Putting it to music also helps so much! I mention Seeds CDs earlier, but there are other groups that put Scripture to music.
Teach Them to Church
We keep our children with us in church service. We want them to be a part of the body. To worship with and look up to those more experienced than they are. To set the example for the believers.
We quietly talk about what is going on in service, explaining symbolism. They greet the sweet fellow believers, and in turn are encouraged and admonished by them.
I do understand that it is hard for different families to do this, but this has been such a blessing for our children. I hope to share in the future our tip for helping them get the most out of it,
Mentorship has been made difficult by our busy lives and even the segregation of the church. Ministries put in boxes, children, youth, women, men, I want them to break down the walls and build relationships with those not in their peer group.
Pray With Them
We pray a lot. Our girlie is quite the prayer warrior. Each day we pray together as we begin our day, at various times throughout the day, and at the end of our day,
We use prayer prompts. If we hear sirens we pray for the rescue workers and the people that they are going to help. When we see people working in the heat we pray for them. When we pass a school bus we pray for the children of our nation. When we hear of someone who is sick or has lost a loved one.
We pray when they get hurt, or are upset. We talk about poor behavior and pray about how to improve it. When they know that they have done something wrong they will go pray to ask forgiveness.
Throughout the old testament God instructs the Israelites to set up memorials of remembrance of what God has done.
We have a jar and we write down special blessings and prayers that God has answered.
Easter and Christmas are intentional times of year to remember what God has done for us.
One year I would like to celebrate the feasts of the Bible and share how their symbolic ties to Christ.
Find a Missions Project to Do With Them
You do not have to travel to another country to serve the Lord. Our children are still fairly young, but we are trying to teach them that we can, and should, serve God wherever we are.
They can put together blessing bags for the homeless. Write a thank you card for the garbage man. Cut a neighbor’s lawn. Make a welcome basket for new neighbors. Fill treat bags with goodies and Gospels of John from Pocket Testament League for trick or treaters. Visit a lonely neighbor. Take a meal or two to someone who is sick, lost someone or had a baby (or organize a meal train). Take socks to firefighters (my sister in law is a firefighter and she said that they get a lot of baked goods, but dry socks after a fire are nice). Serve at a soup kitchen.
GraceBomb.org is a great resource!
I hope these ideas have inspired and challenged you.
How are you intentionally passing along your faith? Let’s chat about it in the comments! What would you put on your parenting bucket list?