This! I could not be more excited about this new wonder for little kids and big kids and all the kids in us! I can’t turn these pages without choking up the happiest, with worship, with kinda heart-bursting joy! It’s an honor to welcome Matthew Paul Turner to the farm’s porch today. His wife Jessica is one of my dearest friends; we’ve journeyed together through life, sharing struggles and triumphs of parenting and life. And Matthew has heart for the marginalized and whether it is with his work with World Vision or serving people in his community, he loves people deeply. Few children’s book writers manage to capture the message of Scripture as beautifully as Matthew. His books When God Made You and When God Made Light are story time favorites in our home and have moved me to tears. I am so grateful for his words here today. It’s a grace to welcome Matthew to the farm’s front porch today…
“Let your light shine before others…”
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you…”
“But now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…”
Throughout scripture—the prophets, the Apostle Paul, and of course, Jesus—utilized the concept of “light” to help us understand the hope of God that we would actively play a role in making the world brighter, that our lives—how we live and how we love—would reflect the heart and passions of God.
As a parent of three little lights—Elias, Adeline, and Ezra—empowering them to shine brightly in the world is one of my most important responsibilities. The prayerful hope of my heart is that I will help my kids feel empowered by God to shine and that wherever they go, the world would become just a little bit brighter.
Though we are hardly perfect in our pursuit to help our kids shine, my wife and I do try to be intentional at enhancing our children’s God-given light.
Here are five ways to bring out the love and light in your own kids:
Remind your children often that they are light.
Speak this truth over them and also to them on a regular basis.
Sometimes I’ll whisper it in my kids’ ears before kissing them good night. Or as I’m praying for them during the drive to school, I’ll ask God to help us to shine today.
Because “light” is an easy concept for kids to understand—because they see it and experience it every day in tangible ways—empowering them with the knowledge that they are spiritual lights is something their hearts and minds can more easily grasp. Using books like When God Made Light and children’s bibles are also helpful ways to talk about light.
Give your children practical ways to shine.
Children need tangible examples as they learn new practices.
I’ve explained to our kids that “being God’s light” can be reflected in our attitudes, our demeanors and how we interact with friends and strangers.
It also can be shown through looking for ways to help somebody in need.
I tell them that “shining” amid everyday circumstances can be as simple as doing our very best or embracing an easy-going spirit when things don’t go our way or showcasing kindness toward others in our classroom, lunchroom, and on the playground.
When one of my kids finds him or herself in a predicament in which they’re having a negative attitude or they’re portraying selfishness, I’ll often use those situations as teaching moments for what it means to be light.
Make your home a place of light.
Home is where we are our truest selves.
For our children, it is a safe place to freely express their emotions in ways they may not be able to during the day.
Create an environment of light, where everyone is welcome and loved. Treat one another with kindness, show forgiveness and practice gratitude. Take time to celebrate the ordinary and the extraordinary.
These simple demonstrations of light will have a profoundly positive impact on your children.
Demonstrate light by admitting wrong.
The chaos of everyday life can sometimes get the better of us, causing us to engage our kids with a frustrated or weary spirit or with words that are too harsh.
But as we all know, our kids learn far more from what we practice than from what we say.
When we fall short of “shining,” apologizing to our kids is some of the best light we can give them.
It’s important for our kids to see us engaging fully in the complex struggle of what it means to pursue being God’s light in the world, which includes our home.
One powerful way for our kids to experience God’s light is seeing me, as their parent—their father—engage them with humility and asking them for their forgiveness.
Praise Your Children for Shining.
Never take your children’s light for granted.
Be grateful for it. Cherish it.
Praise them when you encounter it.
We should offer our kids praise for shining with far more passion than what we showcase as frustration when they struggle to be light.
Because light encourages light far more than frustration and disappointment.
Remember, your child’s light is a gift from God.
Our goals as parents is to enhance that light, to help them see it, and give them the life tools to use their light for God’s glory.
I am truly smitten with this children’s book! When God Made Light is unlike any Christian children’s book I have ever read — with a whimsical, rhyming prose that stays with you long after it is finished. Matthew’s prose is a captivating mix of Max Lucado and Dr. Seuss all rolled happily into one. An absolutely delightful, romping book, to be read again and again – highly recommend! It’s just as delightful as its predecessor, When God Made You. It’s truth-filled message is one that children need, as well as their parents.
And you know what? Our children’s books need to reflect the glorious diversity of the kingdom of God and these two books are desperately needed additions to every bookshelf and child’s library because these powerful visuals and diverse, affirming messages deeply matter.
When God Made Light is a five-star book and one that our family COMPLETELY loves.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]