By Sue Regner

Lost keys can cause panic and great anxiety. I have emptied out toy baskets only to find missing slippers and even a missing telephone but no keys. I have dug in the couch only to become rich in pennies and nickels but still no keys. I have offered rewards and found out my kids were better detectives than I am.

What a relief when I found out the most important keys in my life could not get lost or stolen. They are the 4 keys to faith formation in the home. Four different ways to walk on this faith journey with our children. You may already be doing these and don’t even know it. You may be surprised at the simple way you can reestablish your home as the primary place where faith is nurtured.

Caring conversations express an interest in others: their hurts, their joys, their concerns and dreams, their values and faith. Caring conversation only requires the time to be available to listen and to speak.

My three girls were active in school and seemed to need new outfits for special events faster than the calendar pages were turning. I made it a point to drive the forty five miles to Toledo just to be able to have that precious one on one time with them. It was a special time I cherished as much as they cherished the new prom dress.

Do you have a special place you have these conversations? They can take place anywhere you place your heart.

Caring conversation only requires the time to be available to listen and to speak.

These conversations allow honest conversation about what could be difficult topics. When you allow your child to ask questions and honestly and openly disagree or wonder about faith issues you are creating a trust. ‘Simple’ questions also allow your child to learn that you are a person they can talk to about anything.

Rituals and traditions are those patterns of behavior we expect to occur on a routine basis and which communicate a certain meaning in life. The way people greet one another each day, a table grace, bedtime prayers, the blessing of a Christmas tree, a special birthday song are all examples.

Rituals and traditions are those patterns of behavior we expect to occur on a routine basis and which communicate a certain meaning in life.

Our family celebrates baptismal birthdays using the candle given at baptism.  We have been know to stick it in pie and even strawberry shortcake.  The kids look forward to their “second” birthday party and they each know that date as well as their birthday. What kid wouldn’t want two birthdays in a year?

Search Institute research has found that adults who are higher in faith maturity are more likely to have been involved in faith-related service as children and teens. When parent and child together perform service activities, the child sees the parent’s capability, faith, and values in action. Notice this is a family activity!

The intergenerational bond is built not only in the service event, but also in the retelling of the event through the years.

I remember when I was in youth group and we would go on the annual trip to the Los Angeles County Hospital. Just thinking about it made me terrified. The thought of seeing all those old,sick people were just too much for my selfish little life. My parents gave me no choice so I went and it did change my life.

Because of that visit I organized annual trips to local nursing home the week before Easter. We would take our home made Easter baskets to the residents and many families were blessed those years. The opportunities are endless and are limited only by your imagination.

When my kids were little I felt so inadequate to lead a devotion. Even though I attended a Lutheran day school and high school I never felt prepared. My mom always read me “Little Devotions with God” so I used the same book for my kids.

Today the stores are loaded with devotionals and I try to let parents know it doesn’t take a special degree or training to lead devotions, only the desire to lead their children close to our Lord.

Over the years parents have expressed their feeling of inadequacy in sharing devotions with their child. A devotion can be as simple as a prayer at bedtime followed by blessing your child  and asking God to prepare their day for them as they sleep. Who wouldn’t want to be blessed?

Start where you’re comfortable and go from there; but start somewhere! Devotions don’t always need to be formal or specific acts but more a total way of being. Where do you begin?  Start with a simple table grace. Some people find it easier to set a time and place–maybe Sundays during dinner. Maybe you start by asking your children how they felt Jesus was with them that day. 

Start where you’re comfortable and go from there; but start somewhere!

For more ideas about how to help keep family devotions simple read this 6 Reminders for Keeping Family Devotions Simple by Janette Haak.

You have a fun opportunity to share some of the ways your family uses the Four Keys.  At the bottom of the rainbow steps at St. Luke you will find a newly decorated bulletin board. There is a spot for families to tape or pin up pictures of the Four Keys in action.  Maybe you could share a picture of your child’s baptism birthday or a visit to a nursing home. You decide and pin it up.

We are excited to share each other’s joys in using the Four Keys!

Use your keys, not to start your car but to start your faith walk with your child. Only about 2% of children know their parents faith story. Lets change that statistic. Tell them how Jesus has changed your life. Tell them about the day they were born and about the day they were baptized. Bless them at bedtime or before you send them off to school. Pray and start; you can do this!