We’re definitely always in a rush because someone needed to go back and grab something, or the shoes they were planning on wearing were not, in fact, in the car like they told me, or there was a surprise homework sheet they just noticed when they put it in their bags. By the time we get going we’re a family on a mission – get to school as fast as possible so we can make up the minutes we lost.
Time in the car with family is precious.
My friend Jihae tells me that she thinks she immediately falls asleep in the car on road trips because her father would drill math facts with his kids every time they entered the vehicle. Sleep was her only escape. But I like Mr. Ham’s efficient use of time, and I do the same thing to my kids as we’re rushing down the road to school.
“Let’s sing the states song!”
“Who wants to do the books of the Bible rap?”
“Let’s have a competition to see who knows the past tense of these verbs!”
“Who knows the multiples of 5?”
“Let’s see who can say Psalms 100 with all of the hand motions!”
Making the most of my time with my children is important to me. I want to take every opportunity I can to cram stuff into their heads and hearts. The car ride to school offers me this chance on a daily basis.
But every morning, no matter what chant or song or game we’re finishing up, everything stops at the railroad tracks. There are tracks that cross our path about a mile away from the school. When we get to the railroad tracks, I ask a very purposeful question to each of my girls individually.
“How can I pray for you today?”
The answers vary. Sometimes it’s about a test coming up, sometimes it’s about playground drama, and many days there’s nothing specific at all. But driving over the railroad tracks signals our entire family to stop what we are doing and ask God to be with us throughout the day.
Even my young preschool daughter knows the tracks mean to stop what we’re doing and pray. If we’re buried in a conversation, she’ll yell out, “Mom, we’re at the tracks!” And we all pause and pray.
This is why this works for us:
1. We will pass those tracks every day. It’s a physical, built-in reminder so we don’t forget.
2. It doesn’t take long, just a few minutes for each girl to share and then we pray for each other.
3. It hopefully sets the girls’ hearts in the right place before they begin the adventures of learning each day.
4. It reminds ME of the great plans God has for my kids outside of my influence, and informs me on how to best pray for those plans.
And just like Jihae’s eyes feel heavy when she buckles in for a long trip, I hope my girls hearts feel a need to go to their Father every time they pass over railroad tracks. It’s our privilege as parents to instill habits of prayer and a culture of prayerfulness in our families.
Cindy Branton is the social media manager for CIY’s Believe and SuperStart programs. She is also the proud parent of Brielle, Braelyn and Briarly. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.