It wasn’t what her parents told her about God but what they showed her about Him that had the greatest impact. As she reflects on building a Christian home for her family on the lasting foundations of her own, Jenna Marie Masters shares 4 simple ways to cultivate a Christ-centered family.
Don’t cry, Mom,” I whispered into the phone after she’d hung up. My parents had decided to drive by the house where my brother and I spent our early childhood. Their nostalgic drive-by led them to the ugliest house on the block. The soft grass we played on was now a crunchy brown; there was no trace of the tender attention it once received.
Don’t be sad, I thought, that house wasn’t meant to last.
My parents built me a house more gorgeous than any Zillow listing; they constructed a spiritual house built on Christ. And after all these years, it still stands firm, serving as a foundation for their grandchildren.
It wasn’t what my parents told me about God but what they showed me about Him that had the greatest impact. Four simple practices stand out from my childhood that cultivated a rich soil for my faith.
THE ART OF BUILDING A CHRISTIAN HOME
1. Cement Prayer in the Foundation
My childhood was filled with prayer. My parents prayed out loud during dinner, over sick friends, over my bed at night. Now that I’m a mama with four kiddos, something as simple as finding time to pray can feel like another “to do” on the list. But I’ve learned that prayer is for every time and everything. We pray in the car every morning on the way to school. Every. Single. Morning. Every kiddo prays out loud, from oldest to youngest. We model that they have a responsibility to battle in prayer just as much as Mom and Dad. If only one parent is dropping off, we make our best effort to join on speakerphone so that we can still all pray together as a family.
I can’t think of a better way to spend five minutes every morning. Then at dinner, we go deeper, asking if anyone has any prayer requests for themselves or their friends. Mamas, you can learn a lot about your kids by listening to the prayer requests they have for their friends.
Other times to pray out loud with your kiddos could be when you hear police/ambulance/fire truck sirens, see a homeless/lonely/sad stranger, when one of their teammates gets an injury during a game, or when they are struggling with a math problem.
My kids are so used to this that they start to pray for protection and peace over emergencies before I open my mouth. I’ve even heard them whisper prayers for help during homework. It’s natural for them now, and that’s the goal! Prayer should be more than a decorative tassel on our families; it’s meant to weave throughout each minute, holding our days together.
When my parents prayed over dinner, sickness, or at the foot of my bed as I drifted off to sleep, a strong foundation was being poured— God was always listening to me. Prayer was for all times because God was with me at all times.
2. Find Worth in the Nooks and Grannies
Another example my parents provided for me was to make others feel worthy. Often, I’d find myself restless in a widow’s house while my mom tenderly unpacked homemade goodies from orange Tupperware. My favorite was Grandma Myrtle from our church; she was always eager to play cards and do puzzles with me. I guess she recognized worth in the bored 9-year-old on her floral couch.
The truth is, I didn’t understand at the time how holy this lesson was. My parents weren’t just preaching that everyone was worthy of love and attention; they showed me. This is one of my favorite habits to cultivate because it speaks volumes to our kiddos about their own self-worth. And it can be much easier than you may think! We can start by looking at the people physically near us.
Do you have an elderly neighbor, or a single mama nearby? Once a week, double your dinner recipe and have your children take over a meal, or invite them to one of your kiddo’s sports games/plays/recitals. Once a month, set up chairs on your lawn and have the kiddos invite them out for some lemonade.
When my parents took the time to make someone feel valued and included me in the process, a thoughtful frame pieced together: Everyone is worthy. That meant that I was worthy.
3. See Who’s On the Bottom Floor
On Sundays, my dad would order an extra bag of hamburgers at Burger King for the homeless man who sat on the corner. I remember feeling unsure of the filthy, life-worn hands grabbing at the food. But my dad didn’t shy away from the people God placed in his path. He spoke to that man as an equal, and offered prayers and help. I realize now that if it weren’t for my dad, I don’t think I would’ve noticed that man. And if I did, I probably would’ve been afraid. So, I want to teach my kids to keep their eyes open for people on the floor of life, those that need encouragement, prayer, and love.
A straightforward way to do this is simply calling it out. If I see a homeless person or someone who looks troubled or lonely, I’ll ask my kids, “Do you see that man?”
This simple act draws their attention away from themselves and onto others. We talk about how God sees them and how that person was once someone’s baby, wondering what hardships brought them to this place. We pray for them. If we feel led, we’ll grab food at a drive-through or hand them a pre-made bag with necessities and snacks in it that we keep in the car. And one thing we always do is ask them their name. In time, we no longer were saying, “Do you see that homeless lady?” but rather “Do you see Rebecca?”
When my parents taught me the value of seeing people who tend to get overlooked, strong walls were raised in my life. God sees and loves everyone. God sees and loves me.
4. Craft the Heart
There are hundreds of ways to build holy habits when you’re a family on a mission, and each family has something unique to offer! The heart of it is choosing to make it an intentional part of our children’s daily lives, because life is a breath. Houses of wood and stone crumble. The branches of epic climbing trees eventually rot away. And as they do, let’s keep choosing to be families that build something that will last.
Someday, God will equip our children to build a spiritual house with a unique rhythm and calling. But it won’t be a new house. Instead, they will expand on the construction we’ve started. Just as I prayerfully add on to what my parents crafted for me.
One day, we’ll dwell in the house of the Lord together, forever. The grass will never turn a dusty brown, and the paint will never peel. I imagine we would have tears of joy, if tears were allowed, but they’re not (so, don’t cry, Mom!).
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
What are some ways you’ve integrated prayer in your family rhythm? What are some things you have done with your family to reach out to ‘the least of these’? Tell us about an older woman who invested in you.
15 SIMPLE WAYS TO ADD JOY TO YOUR DAY IN LESS THAN AN HOUR
Need a little extra joy in your day?
Our team has put together this FREE printable for our readers to help you infuse joy into your life quickly. Enter your name and email below and we’ll send this fun printable right over!
Share This Post