Review by Susan Lyttek
Author Karen Whiting starts this colorful and fun devotional with an introduction to make certain that we parents know that she has been there. As the mother of five children, with her military husband, she shares that the family devotions they did kept them united in purpose and thought—without becoming a burden to their already active lifestyles. To facilitate this for today’s family, she uses the SIMPLE process which stands for Schedule time to gather together, Involve your children, Mix in fun and hands-on experiences, Plan ahead, Let it become a legacy, and End each one with prayer.
Basically, the family commits to weekly devotions, but the intensity of each week depends upon … life. Mrs. Whiting recognizes that everything has a season, especially within a family. So all the devotions are flexible enough to tailor them not only to your family, but to your week.
Beyond the hab.it itself, which will deepen the understanding of God and the Bible amongst all your children, the L of the SIMPLE is a scrapbook, added to by each member of the family. We are so quick to forget what we learned or found meaningful that this physical reminder will be something the family or an individual within it can review to celebrate or to find motivation to persist.
In a world that downplays or even belittles faith, it may be difficult to get every member of the family excited about devotions. After all, life has so many time demands, why add another? To that end, the author stresses using the devotion experience as a time to allow children to sense their worth to God and the family. Have some one-on-one time with a struggling child, using the week’s topic as a springboard. Take time to cook something together that relates to the lesson or enjoy a family field trip.
The fifty-two topics include (some titles abbreviated): Creation, Belonging, Names, Affection, Who is God?, Praise, Faith and prayer, Hearing God, Personalities, Investing Time, Listen, Learning, Easter, Understanding, Approval, Hope, Success, Trust, Overcoming Fears, Fresh Starts, Discipline, Summer fun, Money, Life Skills, Patriotism, Politeness, Outdoor fun, Work Ethics, Responsibility, Cooperation, Joy, Knowledge, Comfort, Autumn, Worldviews, Understanding Messages, Service, Friendships, Priorities, Convictions, Generosity, Following God, Sharing Faith, Temptation, Decision-making, Thanksgiving, Failure, Thoughtfulness, Stress, Justice, Christmas, and Winter.
This assortment of themes and foci allow for each family to choose the week’s devotion based on what’s going on in the world and in their lives—adding to the intensity of the experience. Or if the family begins week one the first week of January, they could follow through sequentially and the devotions will roughly parallel the year.
Each three- to four-page devotional study begins with a family beatitude that reinforces the theme. Older children might want to memorize this and/or the weekly Bible verse. The first page also has a summary of possible activities. Page two is the actual family devotion in the form of a story to read aloud. On page three, you will find the Bible story that connects to the theme and some questions and verses to promote discussion. Lastly, page four gives suggestions for the prayer journal and a prayer for the week. This simple prayer could be used at meal and bedtimes in addition to during the family devotions.
The artwork that Katerina Davidenko designed to complement the text is simple, yet inviting. It truly turns the entire book into a memorable package, particularly for families where most or all of the children are between the ages of 4 and 12, with the ideal fit in the early elementary years.
Overall, 52 Weekly Devotions for Busy Families will allow parents of young children to take whatever time they have to instill a solid godly foundation for their family. Dedicating one year (or more—it has enough content to repeat without the sense of repetition) will knit your family together in ways that you will look back on fondly once they have grown and gone onto families of their own.
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of four novels, award-winning writer, wife and mother to two homeschool graduates, writes in time snippets and on random pieces of scratch paper. She also enjoys training up the next generation of writers by coaching middle and high school homeschoolers. Find out more about her and her projects at www.sajlyttek.com.