Bedtime is lots of fun around our house. And I am actually being serious. For the most part our kids enjoy the routine because it is a family affair. When we skip our bedtime routine (yes we do miss it from time to time) for the sake of wanting them to go straight to bed, they have a hard time settling down for bed. But even when they are wound up and going crazy, going through our bedtime routine gets them ready for bed by the end. Having a bedtime routine creates a pattern, like muscle memory, for preparing to sleep. Devotions After putting on our PJ's and brushing our teeth, we jump on the bed and pull out The Jesus Storybook Bible. This is an excellent book that helps us see Jesus in each of the more highlighted stories of the OT, as well as showing us Jesus' purpose on earth through the NT. As with every children's Bible, they leave out the bad parts like Noah getting drunk and passing out naked in his tent, so I make sure to include them. How else can I make a biblical threat on their life? You never know when I may need one of them to cover me up. I cannot wait for the day Safari is sitting in Sunday School and the story of Noah's ark is the topic of conversation. I can see it now. "My daddy said Noah got drunk and passed out naked. He said when that happens to him I cannot make fun of him or he will put a curse on me."
Seriously though, we do add the stories about how each person fails and God's love restores them. The people in the Bible were far from perfect, and our kids will not be any closer . Albeit I hope my son's do not pimp out their wives for their own safety.
Safari has to read first. Bedtime is not fun if we do not allow her to read first. When Robin and I are tired and want to get rolling this can be frustrating, but it is also fun to see how much she remembers about the stories. We have read through The Jesus Storybook Bible several times, so when we tell her what story we are reading she recalls some of the story as she makes up the rest.
Singing After doing our devotion, we sing two songs of their choosing. These typically include Jesus Love Me, This Little Light of Mine (which we scream at the top of our lungs), Open the Eyes of My Heart, and other fun songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the ABC's. These are fun and often times give us some laughter.
What were you created for? From songs we move to life. We ask each of them, "What were you created for?" In response, they each say "love, joy, adventure, relationships, and to rule by the grace of God."
Love Life is meant to be one filled with love. God make man and woman in His image and was well pleased with them. Love includes putting others before ourselves, something God has done from the beginning. It means seeing others needs and wants as important or more important than our own. It means working together and forgiving one another when we mess up. It means fighting for one another and fighting for justice.
Joy Life is meant to be enjoyed. In the beginning God looked at all creation and proclaimed all was good. Creation is not evil and is not meant to be rejected but enjoyed in the presence and glory of our Father. Life should be filled with fun and laughter. We should not feel guilty that our life is filled with joy and laughter, but through the lens of love we must not live joyful at the expense of others. And we cannot forsake the needs of the others.
Adventure Life should also be an adventure. In the beginning God told Adam and Eve to go subdue all creation. Talk about a wild wild west! Life is still an adventure and mission is similar. Adventure involves risk and willingness to go and do.
Relationship Life is also meant to be lived with others. God saw Adam alone and said it is not good for man to be alone. Life is meant to be lived in relationship and community.
To Rule by the Grace of God And God created us to rule by His grace. As followers of Jesus we are a royal priesthood. We represent the Son, who is now King. This is authority is not an authority of lordship in which we hold it over others, oppressing and holding others back or underneath us. Rather this authority is an authority of servanthood towards others, and over evil and demonic powers.
Every night we plant these seeds of life and truth into the hearts and minds of our children. We do not give these definitions and explanations during the night routine but they are, and will become more, acquainted with them through daily life. We pray they grow with faith and focus in their relationship with the Father and others. This is our way of planting the right seeds.
Who loves you? Feelings of loneliness and unworthiness drive people crazy. One of the biggest issues I see as a pastor is insecurity. At a basic foundational level Robin and I are trying to combat this with our children with a simple question that reminds them of their value. Every night before bed, after asking them what they were created for, we ask them who love them. They each reply, "Daddy, mommy, Safari/Sojo, and Kanoa." Then we ask them who else loves them, to which they reply various people from our community (Unlce Choe Choe, Uncle Andrew, Aunt Katie) and friends from the neighborhood. After their laundry list of people we ask them who loves them most of all, and they shout Jesus! We reply that we will always love them and believe in them, and Jesus does so infinitely more.
Who do you want to pray for? Next we ask them who they want to pray for and why. We typically pray for our neighbor friends, community family, and family. Safari has started praying for her friends and family. Afterwords we say a prayer for Safari and Sojo. At the conclusion of the prayer, Robin and I pray their life's prayerful purpose over them.
Safari's middle name is Soleil, which is French for sun. The sun is what brings life and energy to all creation. So we say, "Safari, we pray you bring life and energy to all creation." Sojo's middle name is Justice. Justice means to restore right living. So we say, "Sojo, we pray you fight for the justice of all people."
And then we say good night. The last thing they typically hear from us before bed is our general vision for their life.
So our bedtime routine goes as follows:
- Devotion from Jesus Storybook Bible
- What were you created for?
- Who loves you? Who else? And who loves you most of all?
- Who do you want to pray for?
- Our prayer for them? And our prayerful vision for their life.
Our favorite times to do this is when we have friends over. We do not put our family practices on hold because we have friends and family over. We invite them into our family and therefor into our family practices. Most of the time this goes great! Unfortunately it did not go so great the other night. We had some of our community family over for dinner. When the kids were ready for bed we brought down the Jesus Book for devotions, but Safari got distracted and let's just say bedtime did not go so well. This does not mean we will never do it again. In fact, it means I want to do it again as soon as possible.
The best part of seeing things like this happen is that others get a chance to see that you are not perfect. Just because Robin and I are intentional about most things does not mean most things are easy. But we have a lot of fun doing them. Bedtime is one of the best!