Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pillow Fights and Making the Bible Real

Whumph!  Whumph whumph whumph!  "Daddy's down!  Get him!"  WHUMPH WHUMPH WHUMPH!  Giggle giggle giggle!

Those are the sounds of our nightly pillow fight.  It's way better than the sounds of nightly TV shows, believe me!  After the "work out" winds down, a fly on the wall at our house is likely to hear me reading from  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or The Wizard of Oz while Daddy reads something more like Goodnight Moon to the small one.  Then we start the Faith5TM.

The Faith5 is a set of five bedtime rituals recommended in the book Holding your Family Together by Dr. Rich Melheim. (He also recommends the pillow fight!)  Although I was skeptical of some of these activities to begin with, I've really enjoyed weaving them into our nightly devos.

Have you ever been frustrated by monosyllabic answers? How was your day?  "Fine." What did you do today. "Nothing."  The first step of the Faith5 seeks to overcome that.  In this part of the routine, every person in the family tells their "high" for the day, then everyone tells their "low." At our house, you may hear things like this:

5 year old boy: My high today was having a pillow fight!  
7 year old girl: My low today was that I didn't get to ride my bike.
Toddler: My high today was (incomprehensible babbling)

These may seem trivial to us right now, but they are big things to our kids.  If we don't listen with compassion to these small highs and lows, what makes us think our children will come to us when their joys and hurts are bigger?  When they have their first crush or get ridiculed for their faith, we want to hear about it.   So we listen and we confirm.  We also share our own highs and lows so that we can model for them what talking things out as a family really looks like. 

After sharing our highs and lows, Daddy reads from the Bible.  We've chosen a plan on our YouVersion Bible app that will have us reading the New Testament in a year.  We've always read the Bible every night, so this step didn't really add much different to our nightly routine.  It was the third step that has really a game changer.

After reading, Dr. Melheim suggests we talk, not aimless chatter, but discuss how that day's Scripture apply to us, particularly our highs and lows.  This was the step I was most skeptical of.  I mean, there's no guarantee that the Bible verses we read today will have any bearing on our day.  And I'll admit it can be a stretch.  Sometimes, though, there is a perfect lesson.  In one of our recent bedtime routines, we read about the crucifixion in Luke's gospel.  Mommy and Daddy had had a mild argument that day which figured in our lows for the day.  So we were able to speak about how Jesus forgave even the people who had crucified him, and we could certainly forgive each other.  I could tell the lesson sank in because as I put my oldest to bed, she told me how glad she was I had forgiven her of a minor infraction she had made that day. 

It's that kind of practical application of Scripture that made Dr. Melheim's book so valuable to us as a family.  We had been reading the Bible together, but we lacked a routine way to make God's word come alive to the children in their everyday lives.  Tying Scripture to our own day really made the difference.

The next to steps are to have a prayer and a blessing.  The prayer should ideally thank God for our highs and pray about our lows.  The blessing is the last thing our children hear before they go to sleep, and I usually choose a Biblical blessing followed by an "I Love You" (read more about blessings here).  

Since we have begun the Faith5 at home, I have noticed a change in our family dynamic for the better.  My son is less aggressive (probably because he's able to whack Daddy with a pillow every night!)  My older girl, who is the clam of the group, has opened up beautifully and is more willing to tell us more details about her day.  We laugh more.  My husband has taken more active role in the bedtime routine without even being asked.  I consider more how to apply my own daily Bible reading to my life.  

If you'd like to learn more about the Faith5, you can read the book, Holding Your Family Together, and/or visit  The website has many other resources, such as Bible verses set to music for easier learning and stories from families who have benefited from this routine.  I've really only scratched the surface here.  Dr. Melheim gives the psychology, sociology, neurology, and theology behind each step of the routine, all in an entertaining and enlightening way.  I highly recommend the book and the faith5. 


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