I Love Summer!
As a parent, I start dreaming of summer after Easter break, and I start planning for it mid-May. Come Memorial Day, I’m done with school! I begin to dread waking up early and packing lunches, and I have to force myself to get out of bed by convincing my brain that, even though my kids seem to spend the last week and a half of school playing games, cleaning the classroom, and enjoying extended recesses, attendance is “legally required.” There has to be a monumental life lesson in there somewhere, otherwise, why would parents force themselves to follow through with something that is so painful? Fun as teachers may make this time for the kids, I want my turn!
The First Day of Summer
I crave that first morning when the kids and I “sleep in,” which often looks very little like sleeping and far more like lazily wandering around the house basking in the wonderment that we’ve made it through another school year. This is the one day when the kids are so grateful for the eight weeks of freedom that bickering couldn’t possibly break out, and I give in to brain-numbing amounts of time with TV, gaming devices, and computers. Conversations about beach days, trips to amusement parks, and summer movie releases fill our house until we almost wish away the days so that we can have the memories. It is a glorious twenty-four hours.
Every Day after the First Day of Summer
For the past several years, our church’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) falls the very week after my kids get out of school. I volunteer, along with two of my boys who are old enough to be assistants. My third son joins one of the kid crews and, for a week, we are all infused with songs and stories that tell of God’s love; our Savior, Jesus; and the power of the Holy Spirit. What a great way to start our summer! Not only do we have an amazing children’s ministry leader who diligently works to ensure that ALL kids see and feel the love of Jesus, but these five days build spiritual momentum on which I can capitalize.
I am a believer that the responsibility for religious instruction belongs to parents. Deuteronomy 11:19 explicitly directs parents to be teaching their children all the time: in the morning, while walking (modern-day driving), at meals, and before going to bed. As my kids have grown, I have tried many different summer routines. From service projects to daily radio-theater broadcasts to individual devotion time. Some ideas have been better than others, and a few have made it through the entire summer. This year, I am going with morning devotions, basic Bible activities, and Christian author selections.
The devotion I selected for this summer is about prayer. I love listening to and teaching my kids how to praise, thank, and petition God. We use the Lord’s Prayer, and then I encourage my children and teach them how to pray with their own words. I start the basic Bible activities after VBS. This time around, I have created curriculum and materials. We will refresh how to order all the books of the Bible, put the books into specific categories, and identify the major themes and characters of each book. Then we will dive into verse/book matching (a twist on memorizing Scripture) and key stories from the first five books of the Bible. Finally, we will read. While there may be some dissension among teachers as to whether children should have to do academic practice during the summer months, I have yet to hear any teacher say that kids should stop reading. During the school year, because reading grades are connected to Lexile and word count, we are bound to reading only the books that have tests that go along with them. This summer, I am having my boys participate in the Read Like a Lutheran challenge. Learn about it here.
Bearing the responsibility of the religious upbringing of children is not the job of the churches or the schools. Many parents feel ill-equipped to train up their children in the Bible, and so they outsource the work to these institutions. When I worry because I feel overwhelmed and burdened about this responsibility, I remember that God knows my capabilities, and He loves my kids more than I do. Daily, I am humbled by the glory and power of God. Like in so many amazing Bible stories, God selects the most unlikely people to accomplish His work, and here He has chosen us parents to share His story with our children. Come alongside your pastors and youth leaders, lean on their expertise, follow their guidance, and listen to their ideas. Then go home, submit yourself to God’s command, cast all your cares on Him, and step out in faith, believing that the God who created the universe can work a mighty miracle in your home.