Conversations in the Mini-van

Post by Becky Dell



Deuteronomy 6:7

"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."



Life is made up of a string of moments.                                 


Fleeting moments. 

Lingering moments.

Fun moments.

Serious moments.

All moments blend together, building each day.


About two years ago, our family was in the beginning stages of transition. I had been homeschooling our two sons and we felt God calling us to enroll them in school and bring our journey of homeschooling them to an end. Not only was He calling us to send them to school, but he was calling us to send them to a public charter school. This was a very vulnerable time in our lives, especially for me. I remember moments of fear. Intense fear. Moments of excitement for all of the opportunities this would allow the boys to experiences. Moments of sadness. Moments of joy.


During our transition, I was an emotional wreck, most of the time. One of my biggest concerns was how I was going to continue to nurture their hearts and teach them how to be in communion with Jesus throughout the day, even when I wasn't with them. How would I be able to redirect their minds to things above, when they were being influenced heavily by things of this earth? Oh how I miss the moments within our homeschool day when a math problem would morph into a discussion of Adam naming uncountable numbers of animals or how many times Noah would have skip counted by two's! Studying Greek myths and contrasting the stories with the amazing mercy, grace, sovereignty and great love of the One True God.


Then the first day of school happened. That day, we prayed together on the way to school. We each prayed. It was all we could do. Excitement filled our mini-van, nerves fluttered about, fear ran rampant. The unknown. It was in those moments that God prompted me to have each of us pray. I am so grateful he did!


I had no idea, in that moment, that God was opening a new door into a new pattern that He was creating. He was building a new way to disciple our boys, and answering my prayer about how I would lead them to focus on Christ. I would lead by example. Every morning, on our way to school, we pray. We pray for many things and many people. The most precious prayers, to this Mama's heart, are the selfless prayers. Prayers of gratitude, thanking God for the beautiful weather, colors painted on the clouds, or simply thanking God for allowing us to wake up and go to school. There are prayers for each other, and prayers for teachers and classmates.


There are some mornings the boys bicker from the moment they wake up. Morning grumpies are the worst!! Those days, the kids don't want to pray. I remember the first time one of them told me that they were mad and that they didn't "feel" like praying that day. Oh, how that hurt my heart. In that moment, God reminded me that circumstances may be bad, attitudes may be wrong, hearts may be hard, but HE IS GOOD. Always. So I shared that with the boys. This opened another door for moments of discipleship on this new journey. I didn't force them to pray. It is so important for me to show them that prayer is a time of communion with our Heavenly Father. I didn't want to MAKE them pray, I wanted to teach them to WANT to pray. So in that moment, I asked that he would simply say something about God's character. In stating who God is, there was a transformation of his attitude. It was in that moment, God showed me that reflecting on who He is, in all circumstances, takes our perspective off of ourselves, and casts our eyes on His glory. He is so good. So many times, after the boys get out of the car at school, I smile because of the way their prayer has changed over the last year and a half. It is so beautiful.


 So many moments throughout my day draw my mind to think of the boys. In those moments, I pray for them. As I pray for them I pray for my husband and I as we parent them. I think this is a huge part of discipleship. When we pray for those we are discipling, our affections for them increase. God, in His graciousness, directs our prayer in ways to pray for them. It is beautiful and a testament to His love for His children.


At the end of the school day, when the boys hop in the car, I can tell instantly how their day was. They wear the struggles and joy of the day on their face. Tattooed across every inch of them. Every day, we do the same thing. I ask them how their day was, and call on one of them to share first. While they are talking, I listen, and I often pray, silently. A moment within a moment. Elementary school is rough! Emotions are tricky. Friends can be friends one day and enemies the next. It is brutal!And confusing!! When one of them shares that someone was mean to them I listen then we pray. I will always offer to pray, but I always ask if they want to pray for the person who has hurt them. I think one of the hardest things we can learn as Christians is to pray for those who are mean to you. There are many times when one of my sons doesn't want to pray for the person. If I am being honest, there are times when I don't want to pray for them either. (Mama Bear!!) Then a gentle voice reminds me that they may not know God. There was a time when I would share that we need to pray for them because only Jesus can change hearts. We prayed for them because if it weren't for God working in our hearts, we would do the same thing. We pray for ourselves when we pray for them because we have probably done the same thing and we need God's grace to be kind and love others well.

 As the year went on, the boys would take over the reminding. They would encourage each other to pray for the person.


In those moments, I am reminded that discipleship stems from a desire to teach my children who God is. In that moment, I am reminded that God is also discipling them. They were His children before He entrusted them to our care. He loves them immeasurably more than we could ever love them. It is in those moments that I am unspeakably thankful that we are His and He is ours.


It is amazing to me to think of all of the big conversations that have taken place within the walls of our mini-van. It is a safe place for us. A place where we can speak freely. It is a place where many things come to mind and we naturally chat to fill the void of time as we go from point A to point B. It doesn't hurt that we are all (literally) strapped down and stuck in a small space.  It is the place where both of my boys, about 14 months apart, prayed to receive Jesus into their lives. It is a place where I hear the best and worst parts of each day. It is a place where questions are posed and discussions are birthed. It is a place that holds many moments and many memories. It is a gift. 


As we are nearing the end of our second year of school at our charter school it encourages my heart to no end to see how God has answered my prayer for helping me disciple our kids while they are gone so much of the day. It has been the easiest part of our transition. He has shown me that intentional discipleship of our children is not only possible but it is completely necessary. Making it a point to use the moments that God gives us to intentionally focus on Him is crucial.


As I type, I am sitting on a bed that has never been used. A bed covered with Frozen bedding under an umbrella of pink tissue paper pompoms. Our family is about to embark on the next phase of our journey together. Next month, our daughter will arrive. We are adopting a little girl. I can't even express the joy this brings to our family. I have so many questions that fill my mind as to what the next chapter will look like. I am so thankful the Lord has beautifully created a space in our busy day for me to lay the groundwork for our kids to talk about God. I know this will continue when their sister joins our morning ride to school. She will hear us talk about God. She will hear her brothers share how God is working in their lives. She will hear us pray for others and for ourselves. She may never know that for the last twelve months, maybe more, that every morning on the way to school she was prayed for by her mom and brothers. She may not know how much the Lord prepared their hearts for her arrival by daily prompting us to pray for her. I believe, however, that her life will be forever impacted by the discipleship that takes place throughout our time together in the van. I greatly anticipate the moment when she will become part of our discipleship time together, the precious moment she is ours, and, prayerfully, the moment Jesus calls her as His own. 


Becky Dell and her husband, Aaron, are leaders in the Hills and Heights House Church in Region 1 (Dayton). They have a heart to serve Cleveland Elementary. They have two sons, Noah (10) and Colin (8) and will soon welcome a daughter through adoption (5). They enjoy exploring bike paths, traveling, and visiting Gatlinburg, TN.