Creating Spiritual Connections with Our Kids
WHOOPS! The link from today's devotion (April 23rd) was supposed to go to my home page where I have a list of God's promises for you! Click here if you'd like to read them.

This post is from my devotion March 26th about finding God's perspective and purpose as a parent. In it, I shared my story of becoming a gold-mining mom and promised to list here some
practical ways to connect spiritually with our kids. This is another way I learned to experience and give God's love to my kids.

I used to think that if I just read my kids the Bible they'd sit still during family devotions and then wake up the next day
wanting to be sweet little children who obey God's Word. Not so. Didn't happen. And I thought I was doing something wrong.

But what I discovered is that children don't want to just read about God's truths - they want to see us live them. They don't just want to be told a bunch of rules, they want following God to be an adventure. And it can be!

So, how can we make spiritual connections with our kids?

Heart Connections
First we've got to invest in positive heart connections . Although children need discipline and correction, the main thing they need is love communicated through the power of encouragement and time spent together! Why? Because spiritual truths can't get down into the soil of a heart that's been hardened by criticism and constant correction.

Now I realize encouragement is hard to offer when it's not what you grew up with. But if that's the case, this is our chance to
choose to be what we wished we’d had! Your grandchildren will thank you for it!

Spiritual Connections
God challenged me ten years ago to start looking for ways to catch my kids doing the right things instead of always correcting what they did wrong. He also showed me some positive ways to teach my kids about His character. I realized pretty quickly that it would be more affective if I used the "we" approach instead of a "you" approach. So, instead of saying,"You need to learn to be patient," I'd say, "We need to learn to be more patient, let's practice together."

Each week we'd focus on one character trait by learning about it and looking for ways to put it into action. The weeks we focused on patience we talked about what it means, ways we could be patient and memorized a verse about patience. Here is what we have on our Character Chart:

Be Patient

Wait without complaining.

· Ask for something and then wait without asking again.

· Be patient with yourself when you don’t know how to do something.

· Don’t interrupt. Wait for your turn to talk.

· Have each family member wait to buy something they really want. See if the desire goes away.

Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2b

Connecting on the Go
At meal times, bedtime, play time or while running errands, you can talk to your kids about what God says about patience and practical ways you showed patience that day. You can also incorporate the verse in prayers for your family and others:

"God, please help us to be patient and bear with one another in love. Give us Your patience when we get frustrated or want to complain because something isn't happening how or when we want it to."

Rewards and Blessings
When we see our kids being patient or demonstrating any golden action or attitude we can also set up a system of rewards so they learn that following God brings blessings. As I mentioned in my devotion, we created
gold nuggets when our kids were younger so they could save and redeem them for special treats or family activities.

Now that they're a tween and teen we reward them with other blessings like staying up later, cooking their favorite meal, renting the movie of their choice, etc. Whatever you choose, this is a positive way to teach our kids that God rewards those who seek and follow Him!

Passing on Our Faith
Kids want to see us live our faith, not just talk about our faith. As you read Bible stories with your kids or on your own, be sure to look for examples of people who showed good or bad character. Challenge yourself to apply what you're reading. Then take time to tell your kids how you are living it out, and use it as an opportunity to remind them that God really can make a difference in our daily lives.

These become powerful and memorable moments when we teach our kids spiritual truths that God is teaching us. And that's just what God tells us to do in Deuteronomy 6:5-7. I used to think it was so hard to connect spiritually with my kids but now I see that it's not - it's just takes me getting intentional about doing life together while keeping God's perspective and purpose in mind!

I would to love hear your parenting perspectives and stories! You can share them in today's comments and be included in a drawing for my Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child CD and Chart or another parenting resource if you already have that one.

Do you want to win a free year's worth of D6 Devotional magazines and be part of a contest to win an all-expense paid trip for two to the The D6 Conference? Today I have two posts. This one and the one below where you can find out about more chances to win!


Blogger Tammy Nischan said...

Ok, Renee, I am so excited!! Your devo this morning really spoke to my heart.....REALLY!!!!

I am excited about preparing my "story" and then doing my best to share it on youtube....YIKES! How funny!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Love you, Tammy Nischan

Blogger Glynis said...

Thank you for sharing a wonderful devotion. I'm going to spend more time looking for gold than for dirt today with everyone in my life...and that includes my kids (and myself)! God bless you!

Blogger Sanna said...

Your devotional spoke to my heart as well. Thank you for giving such practical and 'doable' ideas for implementing the gold-mining. My heart was encouraged recently when my 5 year old went over to his Grandma after eating supper at her house and thanked her for the wonderful meal--completely on his own initiative. When the days get long, I try to remember those moments!

Anonymous Tammy Schwandt said...

Good Morning Renee,

Thank you for your continuous encouragement! I will be making tin foil gold nuggets today. Our 3 small girls will be so excited to know what they are for. I love watching them learn and grow in God's grace.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

a good great to know there are not only hidden treasures in the word, but in people, if we will just look for them, and polish them, and "not grow weary in doing good".

Great! Thanks for sharing!

Blogger Jennifer said...

It is so easy to focus on the correction part of parenting. Thanks so much for reminding me to focus on the positive and that TIME is the most important part. This is an area I really struggle with as a busy working, homeshooling mom of 4 younger kids!

Anonymous Becky K. said...

Thanks Renee! I have been praying for ways to help my 3 boys learn and practice Biblical truths.
I've recently heard that a boy is a noise with dirt on it...there must be gold under all that dirt as well, and I will mine even harder for it now!

Blogger Tara said...

Hi Renee!
Thank you for your devotional today! I needed it after yesterday. I found more dirt than gold, but honestly I wasn't looking too hard for gold. I will from now on. I have also decided that it is too important for my children to get encouragement from me and feel loved so to start I am going to set aside one night a week to do family devotions and talk about our week. I want to hear my children and be able to listen to what they are telling me. My family is everything to me next to God and I want them to have all I didn't. Thank you and God Bless.

Anonymous Maria said...

Thank you for your encouragement. I'm going to spend more time looking for gold than for dirt today. God bless you!
Maria Rodrigues

Blogger yellodaisy said...

Thanks for sharing that story Renee'. It seems lately that discouragement is where I am stuck. I will start mining today. ( BTW, I don't think my guys will get too excited about gold nuggets, but Chuck E Cheese tokens are gold!)

Anonymous Loretta said...

Thanks Renee for reminding me that I can be an encourager to my children even if it was not what I grew up with, that the pattern can stop here with God's Grace. Today I choose to be mining for gold. I love how God challenged you to look for ways to catch our kids doing things right instead of always correcting them. How I needed to hear that today. I've heard it said that the mom sets the tone for the home but lately I haven't been seeking God to help me set a tone of joy in our home for Him so that they may know Him in the midst of our circumstances. Thank you so much for sharing and allowing God to use you to help me get my thinking back on track.

Anonymous Michele said...

I am getting ready to start a mom's ministry to help mom's learn how to raise their children in the way they should go. I don't have any great teaching in this and will be learning right along with all the other mom's. I think your words today could be something we could use for this ministry.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this Renee! I have been going through a period of frustration with my 5 year old and I am glad for the switch in mindset - to look for his gold and not focus on the dirt! :) Thanks for sharing!

In Him,


Blogger Robin said...

Thanks for the great devotion. I too tend to spend more time looking for dirt than gold.

Blogger Dana said...

Hi Renee!

Loved your devotional today. I'm raising a grandson and can't wait to mine gold with him. I think I will have him look for my gold too. Thanks for the great ideas.

Love in Christ,

Anonymous Wendy Follis said...

Thanks for sharing, Renee. I think it's also important to remember that we sometimes model the negative character traits. If we lead out as a parent in modeling those positive character traits, our kids will catch on!!

Blogger Heather said...

Hi Renee!! I just recently became a single mom to my four children (ages 9 mo- 9 years). The pressure to keep things running perfectly at home and at my full-time job as a church secretary has become overwhelming. I've become way too focused on the dirt and haven't taken the time to look for the gold. I've been expecting perfection from myself and from my kids and I've not given us any wiggle room to just breathe. Thanks for your awesome devotion! I loved the idea you shared too about making little gold nuggets as part of a reward system. I think I'm going to do that with my kids and even let them give me a golden nugget when they see me displaying a golden behavior or attitude. (And when I save up enough nuggets, YES, I'm going to treat myself to a massage or a new pair of shoes!)I want my kids to know that even moms are still works in progress and that God never gives up on us... so as a family, we're never going to give up on each other. OK... better stop typing before I start crying. Thanks Renee! God bless!

Blogger dee said...

What a great reminder! Thanks for sharing. I really needed to hear this again.

In our family, I've made a set of keys with tags based upon's keys where each key represents a character trait, like patience, kindness, etc. 18 total for us. When we catch our kids exemplfying one of these traits, the tablecloth and candles are set for dinner. The anticipation of finding out who earned the key is exciting when they see the tablecloth. At dinner the key is presented and the story that led up to the key is shared. Our kids then hang it in their bedrooms on a special hook as a reminder of what they have accomplished. The event also is recorded in a family family trait journal. The kids LOVE it! They constantly ask if they have earned a key.

Anonymous Suzanne Eller said...

Renee, This is perfect. I speak to moms of teens and many times they begin to share heartbreaking stories of teens walking away from faith, or beginning to make destructive life choices. "What do I do?" they ask. My answer usually surprises them, when I share that their faith in God is the most critical part of ministering to their teen during those times. Their teens hear a thousand messages, and our instinct is to add one more message (lecture, worry, angst, anger) to the pile. But that's the time to turn to God and trust Him more than ever. That's the time that you find joy where there is none. Where you find peace where peace does not exist. And that is the message that your teen will see and hear most clearly. Maybe not at the moment, and maybe they'll buck against the reasonable consequences and love you exhibit during that time, but there will come a time that they realize God is true. And your love for God will be that pathway. Love, love what you had to say. Thanks for linking my book, friend. You are awesome.

Blogger md said...

Thank you so much for your thoughts. God is so good in placing something in our lives just when we need to hear it. I am a mother of 3 wonderful children, my youngest step daughter and I are so much alike that we go at each other more than I would like. My husband and I were talking just yesterday on how we want to change their hearts not just their actions. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

Blogger Van said...

After reading your devo I thought to myself - "So glad Renee didn't run away! Just think those two most wonderful sons of yours- a couple of the best boys I have ever met and love, love, love... would have never had the gold pulled from them! So glad you didn't run away, Renee!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your devotional today. I do not have kids, but will use your idea of the gold nuggets for my nephew's Kindergarten Sabbath School class that I teach. I especially enjoyed your example with Bible verse about patience. Do you have more examples with verses anywhere? Or maybe I should buy the CD with chart. Either way, it does help MY patience with the kids to think of looking for the gold and not just praying for the dirt to go away.
God bless your ministry.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Renee for sharing this wisdom that God has given you with the rest of us. As the mom of a very strong willed 4 year old your words of encouragment and practical advice were right on time.

Blogger k said...

Thanks for the wonderful devotion. I try to remember that my kids are gifts from God, so we need to treat them with care. They are untimately in His hands. Prayer is the one big thing I know that I can do for them. No matter what mistakes I feel I make, I know He can do all things and they are in His hands. I pray that my mistakes will not affect them down the road. I can't make them do anything, only He can make them all they are to be.

Blogger Vern ~ Inspired said...

Well, what an exciting morning to read this unique method of winning a prize! Not sure yet if I can figure out the Utube thing but here is my D6 story...

Deut 6:7
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. v9 Write them on the doorframes of your house and on your gates.

OH,there is sooo much I could share!!

One of our sweet D6 connections happens in our kitchen without saying words.
For years now I have written scriptures, encouraging words and celebration messages on a plate that sits displayed near my kitchen sink. These messages are thougtfully written out to encourage and strengthen family or guests that visit our home.
Over the years each family member has participated in this method of encouraging one another and celebrating the Words & Love of the Lord! Nothing is sweeter to wake up and see that one of the girls has changed the plate and written a scripture or good luck message to encourage someone that day!

For all the parents that think their kids are not listening or paying attention to them...Dont' Stop!! I have a college student that carried this tradition to her college apartment and writes her own scriptures for her day and messages to encourage her friends!

Now, I was not one that was encouraged growing up...but my Abba Father has spoken and sung over me these truths. I learned to move forward in taking steps in cancelling the patterns from my past that brought discouragement, fear & defeat. I chose to become a mom that speaks life into her girls. It did not come naturally at first but on the words and breath of God I am transformed and equipped!

Jesus is the Answer!

Be Inspired!

We have a weekly "family night" and each member of the family has a responsibility--greeter to welcome everyone, opening prayer, song, scripture, acitivity, closing prayer & snack--for that night's activity. I found that giving each person, especially the children, a responsiblity has not only taken the burden off of me to "do it all", but it involves the kids more and, since I started doing this, they are super eager for our our weekly family night. I love your idea of looking up specific character traits in the Bible and finding ways to apply those traits, for kids & adults! I will definitely use your suggestion, and we will incorporate positive traits and be-attitudes in all we do. My husband and I have also started a family chore list to teach our children responsibility and working together as a team (we know one person can't do it alone when everyone is prone to make a mess!). I don't want to just focus on whether or not the kids have done their chores, so I am going to make some gold nuggets as you suggest so I can reinforce positive behavior, like sharing, patience, initiative, etc. Thank you for all your wonderful ideas!

Blogger My Journey to Hope said...

I really appreciated reading your blog today. Last week was Spring Break & after it was over, I definitely felt like giving up as a mom. I've been dreading summer vacation ever since. But I LOVE my kids and want to get better at connecting with them. I appreciate the wisdom you shared & I'm looking forward to trying new ways of learning with my kids. Thank you, Renee!


Blogger Becca said...

Is it too late to start the nuggets when you already have a teen? My husband and I try our best to make them understand the word of God and to get them to make right decisions, etc., etc., but sometimes the bad over powers the good. We do try to reward our kids when they do good but when we are constantly getting on to them for the "little things" they could be doing to help contribute with the family, it's hard to reward when they do good. My husband and I do the very best we can for our kids spiritually, financially, ect. but many times we get the feelin that kids these days just don't appreciate what their parents do for them. We speak the word to them and try our best to live it daily and the kids act like they are "hearing us" but their actions speak different. So any advice is welcome.

Blogger Cindy said...

Thanks for the encouragement and practical tips to raising kids to love the Lord! I recently found your proverbs 31 devotional sight and it has been a blessing! I too will find that gold in my dear children!

Anonymous Dori said...

Dear Renee,

I came here because your devo on for Proverbs 31 really spoke to me. We have a teenager in our house for the first time and are really struggling because there seems to be so much to correct and criticize that we wonder if we will ever dig deep enough to find the gold!!

I'd love to be in the drawing, but I am more excited about finding a fellow sojourner to give such wonderful, practical advice.

I'm adding your blog to my list of Favorite Sites right now!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a working mom with a struggling marriage to a husband who is out of town most of the week, I have realized that I very seldom mine for gold in my children. Most days I am exhausted, frustrated, have 1000 things on my "STILL need to do" list, and am always running late. All of these things piled on top of each other equal a short temper with my kids. God has been telling me to change this for a long time, but I have to be honest and say I just don't know how. We do have a reward system for showing good character, but it seldom gets used because all I tend to see is the negative. It breaks my heart when I see the looks of defeat on my kids' faces.

It's almost like having an addiction....I want to change, I've tried to change, and yes, I've PRAYED to change (constantly), I just don't ever seem to change. I don't know what do anymore.

Blogger pjmomof3boys said...

Okay, I just got off the phone with my tween (I'm at work, by the way), who was begging me for something and didn't want to take no for an answer. After hanging up with him, I sighed and said, "Kids can be so frustrating!" My coworker who sits beside me said, "Did you read your Proverbs 31 devotional today?" I told her that no, I hadn't read it yet. She said, "You need to read it." Isn't it amazing how God works through so many people to get a message through to us? I'm going to take your advice and concentrate on mining the gold in my three boys, and I love your suggestion for focusing on a trait each week. Thank you for the support!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a new single mother to my two daughters who are 5 and 2 I feel desperate to find ways to teach them about Gods word and really live it our and not talk about it. Between working two jobs and nursing school it is hard to do. Most of the time I feel like horrible mother because I have such a hard time teaching them. At the end of the day I am exhausted and I put more work into teaching them that before I even start working on something I quit becuase I have made it such a big process. I do not know a lot about devotions with children so young. If you have any pointers I would greatly appreciative.

Blogger Wendy Mueller said...

Renee, I'm a first-year homeschooling mom to three young boys. Recently we've been talking about ways that we can have more respect and order in our home and our school. My oldest son mentioned to me that at his old school, the teacher would give out, of all things, gold nuggets. He wanted to know if there was a way that we could get gold nuggets to reward good behavior. I was so touched when I read about you doing that as well. I believe I know what our next art project is going to be.

Blogger Kimberly said...

Oh, Renee. I just now got to read your devotion. Today has been one of those days. One of those buried in dirt days. One of those, I had to go take a shower right after dinner so I could just cry for a little while cause I was just plain worn out from the crying, whining, bickering and complaining surrounding me. And then I come by here before bed and I go back to read the devotion I somehow missed...and now I see, I haven't been digging for gold like I need to be in my children. And I need to believe that there is indeed gold even in me.

Thank you so much. Thank you.

Anonymous Sheryl said...

I also would like to thank you. I was buried under a pile of dirt today. I found myself crying almost continously. My 7 yr old daughter is extremely strongwilled, we homeschool, and, due to many other factors, I am very stressed with our daily life. I've been praying constantly for an answer to our situation. God spoke directly to me one day and told me, "A gentle answer turns away wrath." I've been trying to put that into practice, although days like today it's very difficult. However, when I read your devotion this evening (first ever) I was amazed at God's answer to my prayer. It's something I know and have known is true, but I needed to be reminded of it at just this moment!

Anonymous gloria said...

Thanks for the good work you are doing for we moms.GOD richly bless you. I am looking for GOLD to mine in my children, isn't that amazing?


Anonymous Rachel said...

I needed to hear this just this morning! We had "the battle of clothing" before school...
Golden Nuggets are sounding like a good idea. We are going to make them together.
Thank you for being authentic!!!!


Blogger Jenny said...

Your statement here is so true, "Children don't want to just read about God's truths - they want to see us live them. They don't just want to be told a bunch of rules, they want following God to be an adventure."

I love your idea about gold nuggets, that is so great.

By showing our son that we put time into reading our Bible or our devotions every evening he has made it a habit as well. Now my son loves to sit in his Daddy's lap and have his daily devotion every night, not only because he is reading about the lord, but because it is his special time with Daddy. (he has the adventure bible and devotional and he loves it:)

Blogger Jo Carroll said...

i love your ideas about mining for gold in the hearts of our kids, encouraging the positive behaviours is so important. i think just focusing on the bad behaviour & always being negative just exasperates them which we are commanded not to do!(Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. - I'm sure that goes for us mothers too!)

Anonymous Tonya said...

Thanks Renee!! Thank you for being obedient to what the Holy Spirit urges you to do and to say to us moms. I have been feeling hypocritical for trying to teach my kids God's truth while living out the opposite of what I want to teach. I can get so angry with them and not show self control or love. Your devotion gave me hope that I can change myself by focusing on the gold. I too often listen to the voice in my head that says I am a failure. Thank you again for reminding me that God sees the gold in me. I can't wait to start mining for gold with my little ones. I pray that God contnues to bless you as you grow moms in their faith and self worth.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. So simple, yet we tend to forget the simple things in the every day busyness of life. I am a veteran homeschooler of 6 dc. Oldest is 21 and married and is one that has stepped away from the Lord. The next is on the threshold of manhood and a National Guardsman. That leaves 4 others, ages 15, 14, 10, and 4 who are so precious to me. I don't want to 'lose' any of them! Thank you for the ideas...keep them coming! I find the older I get, the more I realize I need to learn. Bless you!

Lori in TX

Blogger Lelia Chealey said...

Hey Renee...
I'll be at the Rise & Shine women's retreat that you are speaking at October 31st in Iowa!! Can't wait to see you again.
Maybe we can do dinner or Starbucks. :)
Love ya,

Blogger Debi said...

This is something I try to do on a regular basis already, so I was so encouraged to see you share about it-that I am doing the right thing!

It's often hard for me to accept that I'm doing something can tell that *I* did not grow up with this type of praise, someone noticing the good things. It feels good that today, I can see this and say, "Hey, I'm not failing here! I'm already doing great!"

I hope my kids will be able to accept hearing good things about themselves, and I know now that I am helping them already to seek the reward of knowing they are pleasing the Lord Jesus.

Thanks for Sharing Renee.

By the way, you are SO CUTE! :)

Blogger Denise Smith said...

This was a devotion that I needed to hear. My last child at home has been recently struggling with peer pressure and we have been dwelling on the negative. This devotion has enlightened me to find a way to communicate with her to find the gold. Facebook! Thanks!

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