When you’ve got a family of six, life is bound to get a little chaotic. School drama, baseball and basketball practice, Zoom work meetings and taxiing kids back and forth from appointments to church fills their days.
Add to that Brad’s role as campus pastor at Wooddale Church and Allison’s responsibilities overseeing their church’s preschool academy and…well, you get the picture.
Just when you think all the clowns of craziness have piled out of the car, another one keeps coming…and coming…and coming.
Even though life really CAN get crazy, the Herndon family puts a huge priority on the one thing that keeps them grounded–God’s Word.
Why knowing Scripture is big deal to our family
Brad grew up in a close, church-going family. As he grew older, he discovered how God’s Word can anchor a family in God’s deeply personal love for them.
“From the beginning, I wanted God’s Word to be a part of my own family’s understanding. I don’t want my kids just to go through the routine of church or even to understand behavior as morality. There’s something more substantial to it.”
That something substantial is really knowing God, not just about him. When you start weaving Scripture into kids’ lives, they discover a real Person.
The other huge plus about helping kids hide God’s Word into their hearts? “Scripture can grow with us,” says Allison.
You might think a verse is simple, but soon you discover there’s always more to know and learn.
“It can grow with a child. It can grow with an adult. You start out introducing your kids to a seemingly simple verse but it’s also something we’re always engaging and something we’ll never figure out.”
Making the connection between God’s Word and kids’ everyday disappointments
Covid has been tough on everyone…middle schoolers are no exception.
The orchestra concert thirteen-year-old Lucy had been practicing for…cancelled.
Last day of school party…cancelled.
Middle school open house this fall…cancelled.
And recently she found out she’s not in the same hybrid group as her friends.
Can you spell D-I-S-A-P-P-O-I-N-T-M-E-N-T?
Instead of telling Lucy what she should or shouldn’t do or how she should or shouldn’t feel, her parents listened. Then they coached her with questions that stretched how she thought about the situation.
What do you think God might be trying to teach us all during this time?
How do you think you can make the best of this?
What do you know about God that will help you on your first day of middle school?
One day Lucy’s church small group leaders challenged students to look for a verse that was meaningful to them. Lucy stepped into new territory. Rather than looking to her parents, Lucy owned the responsibility of going directly to God’s Word for herself.
She picked Matthew 5:16:
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Jesus’s reference to light really resonated with her. Her name, Lucy, means “bringer of light.” And Lucy liked the idea of sharing Jesus’s light. Sure she was bummed about her own disappointments. But she knew covid had brought sadness to others too. By being hopeful and positive, maybe others would see Jesus in her.
Through that one verse, God shifted the focus from her own problems to what others needed.
When your kids ask you tough questions that you’re wrestling with yourself
“But God said to pray and I did! So why didn’t it happen?”
As parents we like to think we have answers, or at least present that image to our kids. But pretending to have answers when we don’t isn’t honest. And, it sets kids up for false expectations when they grow up. Truth is, every stage of life is going to serve up messy questions that don’t have neatly wrapped answers.
Instead Brad and Allison take this approach:
- Be honest. “I don’t know the answer but I’m with you in this.”
- Validate how your kids feel. “It’s okay to be disappointed. It’s okay to be frustrated.”
“Doing that acknowledges the camaraderie you’re feeling in that emotion,” says Allison.
By taking this approach, Allison is showing Lucy what God is like—full of compassion and love.
- Offer your own experience. Tell your kids about a time when you felt the same way and how you struggled.
“That shows kids we can move forward and hope,” says Brad, “even though we don’t have the answer.”
- Point them to God’s character.
Allison knows what that’s like herself. “In these times, more than ever,” says Allison, “I have to intentionally remind myself of how God has been faithful in the past so that I don’t forget that’s he going to keep being faithful in the future.”
What “being still” looks like when family life gets crazy
Before the Herndon family moved to Minneapolis area, friends gave them the heads up that the pace of life was about to pick up. So they intentionally set boundaries.
Friday nights means Allison’s homemade pizza and a movie together. There’s nothing wrong with hanging out with friends or scheduling playdates, of course. But some days Brad and Allison say to the kids, “Today we’re going to rest, spend time with God and with each other as a family.”
One of their favorite things to do as family is get outside—camping, family walks, hiking.
“The role of creation has a big impact on our relationship with God,” says Brad. Something about nature makes God seem so close. (Added Bonus: Kids don’t know how to be bored when they’re camping.)
“Sometimes we’re running around on the outside,” says Brad. “But sometimes our heart is running around too. Our mind is running around.”
Brad and Allison’s hope is that even though it’s tempting to be busy, they can create spaces for their kids to “be still” (Psalm 46:10). Not only on the outside but on the inside too.
2020 © Carol Garborg