Bible Vitamins and Brown Bag Lunches

With three kids under the age of seven years old, I’m convinced that someone is either screaming or pooping at any given minute of the day. I admit that instilling Goodness into their lives isn’t usually at the top of my mind. But we haven’t given up trying. Bible Vitamin

Family devotional times filled with praises choruses, stories and theological discussions are often met with frustration and tears in our family. And that’s just from me and Heather.

Instead of trying to carve out a unique time for spiritual nourishment each week, we looked for an opportunity in the normal rhythm of our lives. I kind of accidentally figured out that one of the best time for us to download God’s Word into their hearts is when their mouths are crammed full of food during breakfast.

We call it our “Bible Vitamin” and it consists of nothing more than reading a single story (usually a couple of pages) out of one of the dozen children’s Bibles we have in our home. Our philosophy is that putting God’s Word into their hearts will pay longer dividends. And we believe that one of the best ways to instill Goodness, or any Fruit of the Spirit, is to have Biblical examples in their minds.

So far, the routine has worked pretty well for us. Since we rarely miss breakfast, we rarely miss our Bible Vitamin. And the kids have come to expect it and will even ask if it starts to look like I’m forgetting. It can also lead to some hilarious conversations.

One morning we read about the twelve spies entering the Promised Land and how ten of the men were scared of the giants. The question at the end was, “When you’re afraid, what can you do?” Abe, our three-year-old, promptly responded, “I could run away.” Not the most noble answer, I thought, but very reasonable. So I asked him, “What else?” He said, “Or I could kill someone.” Alright, that’s kind of on the other end of the spectrum. But through it all, I could see his little mind working, and for that morning, that was enough for me.

But Abe’s answer also shows that we’re still working on Goodness in our family.

Holiness in Action

In the curriculum for this series, Pastor Heather Zempel offered one definition of Goodness: holiness in action. That’s a great way to explain why Heather and I try to prioritize service to and with our kids.

Of course at this stage in our lives, service can be challenging. Trying to find opportunities that are age appropriate and don’t end in parental anger and frustration has been difficult. But we’ve found a few that work for us.

InService is part of NCC’s ministry to the homeless community. The project consists of two parts. During the week, we gather the items for and assemble 50 brown bag lunches. We usually divide this process into different tasks; our six-year-old will help Mommy make sandwiches, while the two younger boys and I will open and spread the bags all over the floor and drop in the drinks, fruit, and other snacks. This is also a fun way to serve with another family with kids.

Late Sunday morning we meet with the rest of the InService team at Ebenezers and walk to Union Station to hand out the lunches. The kids catch on pretty quickly that everyone doesn’t have enough money to buy lunch, but they also love that they have come prepared to fill the need. They are doing Good.

Our family has also volunteered with DC Diaper Bank, delivered meals on Thanksgiving morning through Food & Friends, and just picked up trash on our block.

I’m sure our strategy will change as the kids get older. But for now, our prayer is that something as simple as reading a short Bible story at breakfast and making a lunch to hand to a homeless friend will help cultivate Goodness in our kids’ hearts and become part of their character.

Nathan Gonzales and his wife, Heather, live in Northeast DC with their three children: Hazel, Abe, and Jude. They’ve been attending NCC since it was one church with one location in the basement theaters in Union Station and now attend Barracks Row on Sunday morning. Nathan writes about campaigns and elections for The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report and Roll Call.