Family Devotions and Fudgsicle Juice: Why Imperfect Families Are Okay

Today I want to introduce a wonderful gal, Katie Wetherbee! Katie is one of my favorite bloggers. Her honesty, her humor, and her ability to speak the truth wrapped up in love makes her someone I learn from every week. I know you’re going to enjoy her too. ~ Joe


I have a confession to make:

I am a family devotions failure.

I had such high hopes of…you know…”training my children up in the way they should go.” In fact, I was quite certain that with my teaching background and my solid Protestant upbringing, I would be able to create family devotions that would rival dinner at the Dobson’s house. I envisioned cozy gatherings by the hearth, my children’s rapt attention shining on their little faces as I read aloud from the Bible. I’d grace them with my wisdom and insight, and lovingly encourage their attempts at memorizing whole chapters of Zechariah.

And then I actually had the children.

Although we did read Bible stories with them, these times didn’t turn out quite like I expected. So many things got in the way:

Short attention spans
Runny noses
Real life.

So, we stumbled on as best we could, but I always feared that I wasn’t quite measuring up to what everyone else was doing. This fear was confirmed when one mom, her dewy skin glowing, reported that her family just loved the particularly meaningful devotions they’d had while on vacation. I pictured them…all suntanned and gorgeous, in deep discussion on some tropical island, knowing that in the same situation, my obviously less-than-holy offspring would probably be digging big ditches in the sand while fudgsicle juice dripped down their sweaty faces.

And then there was the friend who regaled me with her family’s tradition of reading the Christmas story before bed on Christmas Eve. “Oh, how perfect!” I enthused, inwardly wincing. Our Christmas Eve tradition included reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” This solidified my future, I figured. I’d spend all eternity with mutant sugar plums dancing in my head. In Hell.

Of course, we had our own “Christian-y” traditions, like doing service projects together, throwing a neighborhood “birthday party for Jesus” each December and singing in the church choir. We prayed together. God’s name was spoken easily and often. Still, I always worried that these activities wouldn’t count. I’d read that family devotion time was a great predictor of spiritual maturity. Secretly, I knew that I was letting my kids down…I was just too afraid to admit it to anyone else.

billbaseball 001And then it happened. The altar call at Vacation Bible School.  The true, and very public, litmus test that revealed which moms were raising spiritual Olympians.  I stood at the back of the worship center as the pastor invited children to walk to the front of the church as a public sign of their new commitment to Jesus. Children began to rise and walk forward.

But not my 6 year-old son.

He sat, motionless, his legs curled underneath him. His dark eyes were fixed on the front of the church as he observed his peers receiving applause for promising that “Jesus is my forever friend.”

My heart filled with fear and worry…and shame. I’d let him down. If only I had mastered those family devotions!

Later, when we had a quiet moment at home, I casually remarked, “Hey buddy. I noticed that you didn’t go up front at Vacation Bible School today.”

“Right,” he replied, as he played with his blocks.

“I wonder why?” I asked

“Oh, Mom. I don’t need to walk up front to make that promise. I can make it right in my own chair.”

There it was: Burgeoning spiritual discernment, wrapped tightly in the unwavering faith of a child.
Despite my imperfect motherhood, God still held his heart…and He (and my boy) taught me so much on that sultry summer afternoon…


There’s no “one-size-fits all” when it comes to raising kids spiritually. What works for the Dobsons or the Grahams or the McGinnis family might not work for us. Or for you.

And that’s okay.

Because our great God adores imperfect families.

Sugar plums and all.

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