By Tricia Hix

What are two or three things you intentionally do help your kids cultivate their own relationship with the Lord?

Raising my kids first starts in my own heart.

The scripture in Genesis 6: 5-7 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise”.  This scripture gives instruction on when to talk about the Lord with your kids and was my starting point when establishing how I want to raise my kids. But when I read this scripture years ago the Lord revealed to me that the parent must first have a love for the Lord. A love so great that they see God when they sit, when they rise, and as they walk along the way of life. So although I talk about what I do to help cultivate my kids’ relationship with the Lord, I believe it is important to first see how I myself am intentional about cultivating a relationship with the Lord.  Raising my kids first starts in my own heart. “Whatever is in the heart, the mouth speaks” Matthew 12:34. How do I view ordinary everyday topics? What do I see around me that speaks of God and His heartbeat? What do I listen to in the house or in the car? And from the overflow of His love and presence the next steps in parenting come naturally.

One of the things I did when my three were babies, and even now, is have praise and worship music playing all around us, in the car and in the house. While we clean, or play, or drive around town I intentionally make room for Him when we are together. I find small ways to authentically engage myself in worship when I’m alone or around my children. And I don’t mean just think about the Lord. I mean lifting my hands, singing out loud, and being bold about my love for the Lord in front of them. As I intentionally make room for the Lord in my heart during those moments, the kids see something amazing. They see it is fun to know God. They see how it can transform the heart. And most importantly they come to think it is a normal way of life to be close to Him. At times, I have seen them experience God in a way that I could not create in my own strength. He is faithful to meet my little ones right where they are at. He is the same God for adults as he is for children, and often times meets them in a more tangible way because their spirits are so open and sensitive.

Being intentional with my kids also includes learning Bible verses and applying them to our everyday lives. I struggled as each child was born to find time not only for myself to read the Bible, but to have structured time to read with my kids. To be honest, our Bible time can look very different depending on the month and season. It works best for us to have scripture time during dinner. Whatever bible verse we are learning for the day, we recite it and have fun with it around the table. I break down words for the little ones and we go around giving examples of how we can apply it to our lives. For example, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart”, Matthew 15:18.  This scripture we can apply all day long in the way we talk to each other. And additionally at the dinner table we can look back on the day or talk about the Bible for a bit while we are together.

Another thing I do to intentionally cultivate their relationship with the Lord is constantly connect what they feel, think, and say to what God’s voice and truth is. At a young age I open the opportunity for each child to know that they too can hear from the Lord. At the end of the day I don’t want them to obey me to get out discipline or to make me happy. I want them to obey because they want to make God happy.  For example, when I talk to my kids about friends coming over and sharing, we connect our feelings of selfishness to kindness. By asking questions like “what does God have to say about sharing?”, “what does the Bible have to say about giving?, “what does God say about a temper?, “when you feel joyful about giving to someone where does that joy come from?.” and “where does true happiness come from?” We use scripture to answer questions and many times stop to pray for God to help or give thanks to God for allowing us to experience His happiness.

What does discipline and grace look like in correcting your kids?

Discipline is a tricky one that I am constantly learning and working through. I at times discipline differently according to each child and situation at hand. And each situation can require different consequences. For us, we try to communicate the expectations of behavior and the consequences if they do not listen and obey. This way there are no surprises if the consequences come to pass, after all mommy did say so before hand. At times I can tell that spankings, time out, or taking toys away will not work because the heart is in the wrong place. So what I do is take the child to their room, talk in their terms of what they are doing, explain what the Bible has to say about it, and then pray together asking God to help us make better choices. We invite the Holy Spirit to help show us the area of our heart that we need extra help in. For my two older ones now, I just tell them to go to their room and ask God to show them the area where they need His help. And when they come out, they usually come forward with what they are sorry for and are a little more humble in demeanor. At times when there is consistent sin pattern such as lying, I write scriptures down about the issue and they copy them, recite them, or repeat after me. I give grace more when I know they are tired from a long night or if they are working harder in other areas on character development. For one of my kids, when the love tank is empty, I give grace and try to fill it with his love language and most of the time that child changes the behavior just from feeling more loved.

Tricia and her husband, Doug, have three kids and live just north of Dallas.  Tricia home schools  her kids, works in hospitality at her local church, is a coaches wife during the sport season, and is a great friend to many.   Tricia is passionate and a fighter. She rarely holds back in whatever she does and that translates to her relationship with the Lord, as a friend, wife, and mom.  She will speak up for her loved ones and fights to see mercy and justice. Tricia is friend that everyone would want, she takes initiative and before you know it she has served you and everyone around with a heart made of gold. Anytime I talk to Tricia about my role as a mom I feel inspired and walk away with new insight. She has a gift to make complicated parenting seem simple.  This post is a little different (which I love). Instead of a normal post, we thought we would do a Q & A. I asked Tricia to write down answers to a few of my parenting questions.  - Jamie