As a parent, I often feel like I am being stretched in many directions. Between carpooling, meal making, scheduling and trying to be both physically and mentally present for my kids, it feels impossible to do what’s most important---nurturing their faith. As a result, many times when I think about ways to be intentional about passing on faith to my children, I become so overwhelmed by what I am not doing that I am left feeling inadequate. In a world where families face demands from all directions, the challenge for us is to genuinely reflect our faith in ways that speak clearly to our children.
My challenge this school year is this: rather than feeling guilty about all of the places where I am failing as a parent, I am resolving to take small steps to pass on my faith to them. I know that I will learn by the mistakes that I make along the way, but that’s how parents have passed on faith for centuries. As a mom, I want my kids to have the active relationship with the living God that I do. This fall, I am resolving to do so, one small note at a time. I invite you to do the same!
Here is what I am doing this fall:
In the past, I have occasionally surprised my kids with cards in their lunch box. For this school year, I have decided to do turn this occasional practice into a regular one. Once a week, I will be slipping an encouragement card into my kids backpacks. I have little to no artistic skill, but last month, I took a day to do crafts with my friends and made cards. I have three kids, and they have sixteen weeks of school before Christmas break, so I made 48 of them.
It required doing some work ahead of time. I started by writing down some of our family’s favorite quotes (from family members, books, movies, etc.). Then, I paired each quote with a passage from Scripture that I thought spoke well to the idea of the quote. I bought an inexpensive box of blank cards from a local craft store (you can find them for $5-20), and set aside a good chunk of time with friends to tackle the project.
One can find lots of ideas for lunchbox notes on Pinterest (most of them are jokes or Valentines). I bought stickers, cut photos out of magazines, and used stamps (Martha Stewart would be mortified). I wrote the quotes by hand but it wouldn’t be difficult to print them up and glue them to the cards.
Here are some sample of quotes and Scriptures that I used:
"If anything is going to happen, it’s going to happen out there."
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
"A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though you may stumble, you will not fall, for the Lord upholds you with his hand.
So here’s my challenge to you: Find one new way that you can encourage your children in their faith this school year. It doesn’t have to be any grand scheme, in fact, I’d recommend starting small. And you definitely need to give yourself permission to recalibrate if (or when) your first try fails. Like notes in the classrooms of my youth, faith is meant to be passed along. As parents and grandparents, it’s our calling to do so. After all, someone, somewhere, once did that for us!