This is part one of a two-part series. How do parents and children read the Bible together? Today we hear the mother’s story from Sandra Montes. Tomorrow we’ll hear from her now-adult son, Ellis Reyes Montes. Please keep the Montes family and their neighbors in your prayers as they live the Houston area and are active in the recovery effort after Hurricane Harvey. – Ed.
UPDATE: This is now a three-part series! On Sunday, September 10 we’ll read how faith at home made a difference for Ellis and Sandra as they lived through Hurricane Harvey. – Ed.
Before Ellis was born, his dad and I read and sang to him. When I was a child, my parents not only read to and with me, but reading the Bible was a way for me to retain Spanish when we moved to the United States. I also saw my parents reading and studying the Bible and other subjects daily, and that is how I learned the importance of education and especially reading. As a pastor’s daughter, I also wanted to share my faith with my child.
We bought lots of books for Ellis on all topics, including the Bible. His favorite books growing up were the ones that had cassettes (I wonder how many people still remember them?) along with them that had great music, sound effects, and funny voices. Two books that we read repeatedly were “Are You My Mother?” and “My Crayons Talk” (I still remember the little music and sound effects of these books!). Although I read the Bible and Bible stories to and with Ellis, I hope he got inspired to read the Bible through my example and that of his grandparents.
For me, reading was about not only the content but also a way to connect and have a close relationship with my son. We had an evening routine before bed. He would take a bath, brush his teeth, and then we had our special reading time – usually from 20-45 minutes. That time was very special for me because it was usually the only time during an entire day when it would be just my son and me. We weren’t playing; we weren’t doing crafts; we weren’t doing anything except reading, laughing and talking. He would lie in his little bed – my favorite was his car bed – and I would sit next to him on the floor or on his bed. We would choose different books to read and then we would listen to them together, I would read or he would. The best part was that we got to talk about the day or about what we read.
And on many occasions, we talked about our faith. He always had great questions. At times, we looked for the answers together (this was before wifi, fast internet, and smart devices, mind you). The incredible thing is that we still share what we read, our faith, and our questions; but now, our time together is usually sitting on my bed and watching Netflix. While we watch, we laugh and talk about anything. And when we do share what we read it is usually Ellis reading to me.
An important part of reading any book is discussing it. This is essential for someone to grow in understanding and in curiosity about any subject, even God. For us, we still discuss our faith and as Ellis has grown, we have differing views on topics. This makes it interesting and challenging. I am glad Ellis feels comfortable talking about a variety of topics and most of them include faith.
As Christians, we have the Bible as our compass and prayer and interpretation of the passages as part of that guidance. Throughout Ellis’ life, we have faced many issues and situations that might have caused some to lose or question their faith, including divorce, illness, infidelity, blended family, abandonment, and homosexuality. Throughout our life, in the midst of those issues and situations, we both not only have read about but also have seen the God who can do anything–the God who supplies all our needs, who breathes life into dry bones, who parted the Red Sea, who makes a way, the God who loves and gives eternal life.
For years, Ellis has been my example. Ellis reads the Bible all the time and I get to hear him when we discuss what he has read. He even reads and studies the Bible in different languages. When I have questions about passages, I go to him. He is a blessing and a testimony of what my parents and I have shown him. My dad always says, “Nothing will change in your life if you do not read the Bible.” I believe this is true. It is in the Bible where we find promises and words of encouragement and solace.
When Ellis asks me to pray for him, I quote scriptures to him. When we are going through a tribulation, Scripture reminds us where our faith lies. When we see what is happening in our world, Scripture and faith help us navigate life. I am incredibly grateful my parents taught me, by example, faith and the importance of reading the Bible. I pray that Ellis’ faith and diligence with Bible reading started at home as well.
How do you integrate the Bible into your daily life at home?