A Devotion to Help Kids Understand God’s Love


teaching kids about God's love

Need a family devotion to help your kids understand God’s love for them? This devotion is simple, brief, and meaningful, and is appropriate for kids of all ages. (Confession: I totally cried when we did this devo with our kids. )

Start by reading Zephaniah 3:17—I love the old NIV version (NIV 1984):

“The Lord your God is with you,

     He is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

   He will quiet you with his love,

   He will rejoice over you with singing.”

(This is where the waterworks started for me. I just can’t. It’s so beautiful. So overwhelming. So comforting. It sets my heart to singing every time.)

Explain to your kids that God takes great delight in them. Just as Mommy and Daddy put them to bed each night with a song, so God, our Heavenly Father, sings over us. Then tell each child one thing in their character that brings God great delight—be as specific as you can be. For example, with our four kids, we shared:

Kid 1: Your compassion, kindness, and concern for others’ feelings

Kid 2: Your soft heart towards God, the way you are always seeking Him

Kid 3: Your amazing patience and kindness to your younger sister, even when she drives you crazy

Kid 4: Your deeply loving spirit—you give affection so generously to others, and make us all feel loved

Talks like this are a wonderful way to encourage our kids and show them the height and depth and breadth of God’s astounding, mind-boggling, often undeserved but absolutely devoted love for all of us.

This image is taken from my new Instagram account, @elizabethlaingthompson, where I am posting scriptures, encouragement, and humorous thoughts to help you through your waiting journey. I’d love to see you on Instagram!


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Teaching Kids to “Go the Extra Mile”


Image courtesy of Pixabay

Me: “Hey, {insert child’s name}, will you help me {set the table/carry the laundry/vacuum the floor} ?”

Kid, with a dramatic groan: “But that’s not my chore this week!”

**Repeat variations of this conversation a dozen times, with all of my children, over several weeks.**

Me to myself: Time for a family talk.

With this attitude problem in mind, last week the kids and I held a quick devotion time before school. We turned to Matthew 5:41–42: “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Kind of a strange passage, right? Not your usual “encourage the kids to help around the house with a good attitude” scripture.

But hang with me.

First I had to explain the context of the passage to the kids. During Jesus’ day, the Romans occupied all Jewish territory. By law, Roman soldiers could force Jewish people to carry their equipment for them—they could just stop them on the side of the road and conscript them into service. No matter what the Jew was doing or where he was going, he had to stop and travel with the Roman as his temporary slave. (Remember Simon, the man who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross when Jesus couldn’t carry it himself (Mark 15:21)? That’s an example of this law in action.)

The only redeeming aspect of this law was its built-in limitation: the Roman could only force the Jew into service for one mile. We can imagine how humiliated the Jews must have felt by this practice—how slowly and angrily they must have walked while shouldering their enemy’s burden, how violently they must have dropped the baggage at the end of their mile of service.

To help the kids connect with the story, we acted this scene out using pillows from our couch. I played the part of the Roman soldier, and forced my son to carry my pillows across the room. I piled pillow after pillow into his arms, until he was giggling his head off, and his giggling head had completely disappeared behind a pile of pillows. Then he had to attempt to walk across the room.


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When everybody stopped laughing, we used this story to talk about Jesus’ expectations for his followers. Jesus called his disciples to have a completely different attitude than anyone else. Instead of giving in to anger and resentment, he called us to show the love and grace of God by going the extra mile. (And now you know where that phrase came from! Cool, right?) The disciple of Jesus shouldn’t just count his steps till he reaches the end of his required service, then drop the burden and stomp off in a bitter huff—no, the disciple of Jesus says, “Hey, Roman soldier, I’m enjoying your company so much, why don’t you let me carry this for you for another mile? And while I’m at it, let me tell you about a preacher named Jesus…” Jesus wants his people to exemplify kindness and grace, even in the face of injustice and cruelty. He wants us to do more than expected, and better than expected!

And how does this lesson translate into our daily life today? It means that as people who love Jesus, we always seek to have a great attitude no matter what—even if we are being mistreated. It means that we show the love of God to people who don’t “deserve” it. It means we do more than we have to, and we do it with a great attitude. In Colossians 3: 22–24, Paul has these words of admonition for slaves with their masters (I emphasized some phrases): “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” What a challenging attitude to attain, under painful circumstances—but what a great reward in the end!

We talked about having a “second-mile” attitude in our family life—in everything we do at school, in sports, in friendship, and at home. We talked about always looking for ways to serve and give, above and beyond what we are required to do. I asked the kids to work on having a better attitude about helping around the house—not thinking in terms of what’s on the chore chart, and what they have to do to earn allowance, but always striving to serve as much as they can, and with a generous spirit.

I have to say, the Bible is powerful. Jesus’ ways work. This simple scripture brought immediate change to all of our hearts (the kids’ and mine!), and has made our house a more helpful and Christ-like place to live. If you do this devotion with your family, I hope it inspires you all to give your best and go the extra mile! (And come back and let me know how it goes— either here in the comments, or on Facebook—I love hearing from you!)

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5 Questions to Ask About Your Kids’ Technology Use Over the Holidays


5 Questions that will help kids use technology wisely over the holiday break via @lizzylit

Ready for five questions that can make or break your holiday?

Okay, here’s the first one, and it’s a big one: How is your family going to handle technology during the holidays? (Insert Jaws theme music here. Or perhaps that screeching sound from the infamous Psycho scene . . . )

The technology issue over the holidays always seems to sneak up on me. Not this year. This year I plan to think ahead, and make sure Kevin and I are on the same page before the kids start their chorus of, “I’m bored! Can I pleeeeease have some extra game time? Can I pleeeeease watch more TV?”

The minute kids get done with school, they kick into chill-out mode. They want to turn off their brains, turn on the TV, and play games. And hey, maybe they do deserve a mental break, but it’s up to us to parent them into a healthy mental break. If we don’t want our kids to disappear into an iPad/video game/texting fog for the duration of the holidays, then now is the time to think this through. Don’t wait until your kids succumb to a Game-Induced Zombie Coma. Don’t wait until your teenagers begin texting you from across the room, because they’ve forgotten how to use their lips. Don’t wait until you’ve turned into the “Put-Away-that-Stupid-iPod” Police. Here are four simple questions about your family’s technology use to discuss before the school break begins:

What are your holiday technology guidelines going to be?

How much TV is okay to watch? (And what KIND?)

How much game time is allowed, and when?

When do the cell phones get put away so the family can look each other in the eye and just BE together? (And this includes the parents’ phones, too!)


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If we agree on a strategy ahead of time, and talk it through with our spouse and kids, our holidays will go so much better. Let’s not allow our precious family time to go to waste—let’s think. Let’s be proactive. Let’s parent on purpose. And let’s enjoy making meaningful memories—the kind involving eye contact and real conversation!—with the people we love.

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The Tradition that Teaches Kids to Give at Christmastime


how to teach kids to give at Christmas via @lizzylit

My favorite holiday tradition is the day we give our kids money and set them loose in a toy store.

They tear through the aisles, eyes glittering with desire, desperate to find the perfect toy. As they search, my husband and I watch them transform into the best versions of themselves. Compassionate, selfless versions. Big-hearted, open-handed versions that sometimes hibernate for weeks in normal life, but always wake up shining on this day.

Because on this day they aren’t shopping for a toy they want—they are choosing gifts for each other. This is Sibling Gift Day.

When our kids were toddlers, my husband and I began searching for ways to build a spirit of giving and generosity into our Christmas traditions—singing in nursing homes, buying gifts for families in need, baking treats for friends—but Sibling Gift Day has become our most bonding holiday tradition. Not only does it teach our kids the joy of giving, it also builds connection and affection in our family. Here’s how we do it . . .

Click here to finish reading how we use Sibling Gift Day to teach our kids a spirit of giving, on BonBon Break!


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Have Yourself a Merry Married Christmas


how to have a merry married Christmas

This month in Lizzy Life, we’re talking about having happy, holy holidays! We’ve already talked about 10 questions to ask yourself NOW to help you have your best Christmas ever. So today let’s talk about setting our marriages up to win.

If you’ve been married for even a single Christmas season, then you’ve already learned this: Spouses can envision very different things for holidays, without even realizing it. One of you wants to relax and keep it simple and never ever get out of their pajamas; the other wants to be Clark Griswold, and invite Cousin Eddie and every other relative to spend weeks partying at your house!

On our first few Christmases together, Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome and I ran into unexpected conflict over stupid things: should we invite 50 friends over for Ugly Sweater parties every other night, or go hibernate alone in a mountain cabin with no Internet or phone service or Ugly Sweaters (or clothing of any kind); should we drive thousands of miles cross-country to visit every possible relative, or stay home snuggling by the fire; should we invite friends over for Christmas dinner, or have a quiet meal with just our family…and the list went on. Plus, we both had our own list of like 36 Things We Absolutely Had to Do in December Or Else Our Whole Holiday Season Would Be Ruined. 

We quickly learned that we had to talk through ALL THE DETAILS of our expectations and calendar if we wanted to have a merry married Christmas. At first I, being rather a free spirit when it comes to holidays, ran away screaming when Kevin came at me waving a calendar and throwing out terrifying words like “schedule” and “plan ahead,” but I quickly realized how wise he was. And now that we have four kids and all of our family lives out of town, there’s no choice. We have to plan.

Kevin and I have learned that several weeks before Christmas (if you haven’t noticed, that’s NOW!), we need to have a little meeting together. We put the kids to bed and sit down in front of the tree (the calming presence of the tree helps me not hyperventilate). We grab our family calendar, pour glasses of wine (again with the hyperventilation prevention), and map out everything we both want to do over the holidays. First we talk about expectations and talk through our answers to the 10 holiday questions I posted last week—how we want our holiday to feel, what we are both hoping for.


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how to have a merry married Christmas

Then out comes the Evil Calendar. This is where we figure out how our expectations translate into life in the real world, with the limits of 24-hour days and the need to eat and sleep and bathe children. This is where expectations meet reality. This is where we figure out how to make our expectations actually happen. We are VERY specific—we pencil in everything we want to do over the holidays:

  • all the gajillion fun family outings we want to pack in
  • date nights
  • who we are going to invite over, and when
  • Christmas decorating and wrapping
  • shopping excursions
  • community service
  • church events
  • all 537 Christmas and birthday and New Year’s parties we need to attend
  • we even reserve certain nights for relaxing at home, watching favorite movies and wrapping presents 

These plans are not set in stone or signed with a blood pact or anything—we can always change them later. But they give us a roadmap to start from—and they make sure we’re working from the SAME map, trying to get to the same destination.

And you know what’s the best part about doing this? It doesn’t just unite us and prevent conflict and confusion, it also helps me to feel less overwhelmed. For example, your spouse might help you realize: Hey, I’m being unrealistic in my Big Holiday Pinterest Plans. If I’m going to decorate my yard with snowmen made from snow flown in directly from the North Pole, and carve an ice sculpture for a Christmas dinner centerpiece, then I’m either going to need my spouse to kick in and help me, or consider scaling back my decorating plans a little. This is especially helpful for me as a woman who wants to do ALL OF THE THINGS, but forgets that she does not have a body double, personal shopper, or house elf to help her. Kevin, wonderful husband that he is, usually offers to take a few Christmasy jobs off my plate when he sees how much I *think* I can accomplish in December—some years he has offered to do the wrapping for me; other years he’s suggested we get babysitters so we can go finish Christmas shopping together; other years he tells me to schedule in exercise and naps. (Really.)

But seriously. When you map out HOW and WHEN you’re going to accomplish all the different fun things the holiday entails, and when you come up with a plan for working together with your spouse to make them all possible, I promise: you’ll feel happy and free. Holly-jolly, even. All your Scroogey “Bah-Humbug-I’m-too-overwhelmed-to-enjoy-Christmas” feelings will vanish. This puts you and your spouse on the same holiday team, working toward a merry married Christmas!

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