I am a mom to four boys ranging in age from three years to eight years. A normal day with them can include wrestling matches over who owns the Legos and sweet moments where they actually put someone else’s needs first. Sometimes I feel like I am a referee, but instead of getting caught up in that, I try to focus on the big picture of what I’m doing as a mom. As their mom, I spend a lot of my time teaching them things that I hope ultimately lead them to be healthy, functional adults that follow after Christ.
Our days are filled with learning about washing our hands after using the bathroom and cleaning up our toys. We also work on social skills like sharing, putting others first and taking responsibility for our choices. Most importantly, we work on learning about the God who made us and what it means to follow Jesus in our everyday decisions.
Every single day in our household provides ample opportunities for loving God and loving others, as there are six of us living in one house! I have discovered that it is often hard for my little guys to hear reasoning and mom’s instruction in the midst of their frustration or anger.
Just last week when my three-year-old Caleb saw a new toy in Target and was told no, he could not understand why. I explained at Target why we wouldn’t be buying it, but my experience as a mom has found that it is even more helpful to talk about it later when emotions have settled. Later that day, we read Sharing God’s Love and talked about how Finley didn’t get a new purse because she already had one. Caleb learned that being happy with what you already have is one way of “loving God with all your heart.”
At the start of each school year, we talk to our boys about reaching out to others and looking for kids who might be lonely. Meeting others’ needs is a privilege that they have as Christ-followers. Reading through the Sharing God’s Love book, my school-age boys see concrete examples of what it looks like for someone their age to “love others as yourself.”
In Sharing God’s Love, Aksel takes time to invite a child to sit with him on the bus, encourages a boy who is struggling with using scissors, and brings flowers to his teacher. Providing these age-appropriate examples of what it looks like to love God and love others throughout the day is essential in reinforcing what I am teaching them as their mom.
As a mom, one of my greatest tools for teaching my boys has been reading books with them. We have books in every room of our house and even in our car. We have favorites that we read over and over, especially when we are working on learning something. Over the years, we have read books about potty training, teething, and feelings.
Now that they are growing and in relationships with both God and others, we re-read books that remind us how to live a life of loving God and loving others. When we read this book, I say “love God” and the kids finish it by saying “with all your heart.” When I pause after reading, “love others”, the kids complete my sentence with “as yourself.” After reading this book just a few times, they all had the Jesus Creed memorized.
Even more important than memorizing the Jesus Creed, the boys are excited and able to talk about the ways that they loved God and others throughout their day. Sharing God’s Love provides our family with the language and space to talk through what living out the Jesus Creed looks like for each one of us.