Post written by Britta Alton, co-author of Don’t Forget to Flush: A Bathroom Devotional for Kids
If I had three floors or less (good ol’ elevator pitch) to tell you about Don’t Forget To Flush and why you should buy it for your child, or niece, or grandson, or whomever, it’s easy to sum up quickly. My husband and I, with a great deal of help and life experience from our two sons, wrote a bathroom devotional that kids will really love. It is geared towards kids ages 9 to 12, and is written from the perspective of a boy named Eli as he shares with the reader how everyday items in the bathroom remind him of godly truths. I like to think of it as 99 flushes toward a lifelong habit of spiritual seeking.
That’s the short answer, but there is so much more to this little book of devotions! Since we’re talking about a devotional that is intended to be read during bathroom visits, let’s ask why? If your home is like most other homes with middle-aged or pre-teen kids running around, someone is always forgetting to flush. Why is there a constant need for the reminder? Flushing is something that has to be done every time. Well, unless you follow the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule. Regardless, it always eventually ends in a flush. From the time a kid begins potty training, they have to have practiced the move a bazillion times, right? Why haven’t they managed to perfect the skill?! How many times before they finally get it?
Funny how those same questions can be asked of any grown up person of faith regarding their journey. Whether you were brought up in the church or started seeking a life of faith as an adult, we still always forget things. Major things. Like how to love our neighbor as ourselves. Or how to forgive those who harm us. We forget to pray for guidance, and often when we probably need it the most.
When my husband or I find ourselves hollering out the bathroom door for someone to come back and flush, it is a humble reminder that no matter how habitual an activity may be, it can always be forgotten in the rush and hurry to get on to the next thing. It speaks to us as adults who always flush, because we find ourselves forgetting important faith practices as we rush through daily life as well. That’s where this book began to be formed. In conversations with youth in church, we wistfully talked about how hard it was sometimes to make a daily habit of reading for the purpose of becoming closer to God. In the kind of revelation that comes from divine epiphany, someone spoke of how we always have to go to the bathroom. How handy would it be if we could turn that into some type of daily time set aside for quiet devotional reading? From that idea, and the ensuing years of early parenthood for us, this devotional book for kids began to bubble and stew.
In the process of creating this bathroom devotional book, we’ve learned that there are two types of people in this world: those who read in the bathroom and those who stare at you blankly when you talk about doing so. It’s ok. Enlightenment will come. I grew up in a ‘read in the bathroom’ family and my husband did not. It didn’t take long for him to begin to value and understand such a practice. It is a nice and quiet place to contemplate many things. To be sure, there are plenty of times bathroom reading might include less spiritual things like how to make your own pickles, or how to hit the perfect chip shot out of the bunker. Over the years though, our bathroom “library” has included great theological thinkers such as Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster and Phyllis Tickle. As our boys grew in wisdom and stature, and their independent reading skills developed, we started finding their own favored selections in the bathroom library: Mo Willems, Dr. Seuss and C.S. Lewis to name a few. We are so excited to have curious seekers growing in knowledge.
The funny thing is that we are all designed to be curious seekers. Even reluctant readers find something along the way that connects and helps them grow. We’re hoping that as kids read the comic devotions in Don’t Forget To Flush they’ll see glimpses into their own lives as Eli struggles through “normal” everyday obstacles. Forgetfulness, selfishness, impulsiveness, curiosity gone awry and many of Eli’s amusing life experiences will be familiar to most kids. Each devotion stands alone as Eli processes routine happenings and interactions with his family and friends. Whether it is the humbling experience of running out of toilet paper to the maddening instant when you realize you’ve stuck your elbow in toothpaste, our intrepid not-so-squeaky-clean bathroom guide ponders some familiar and not-so-familiar scriptures as he tries to learn from each occurrence. As the reader progresses through the book, the devotions progress as well. The first section of devotions hold a very internal self kind of focus for Eli. In the next section the reader will notice that Eli’s focus begins to move outward to his close community of family and friends. And the last section looks farther out to the wide world of others that Eli encounters along the way.
As this devotional is released, we are celebrating 22 years of marriage! We are by no means experts, just tenacious through thick and thin. We’ve been blessed to find wisdom about faith, children, life and everything else from wonderful people along the way. And not one other person or couple was just like us. So as we worked to create this devotional, we intentionally strove to let it speak easily to kids in family settings that were very different from ours. Whether you are married, a single parent, an aunt, uncle, grandparent or even a foster parent helping to guide young people in their faith, we hope you will find that this book is hospitable. It should allow you and the children in your life to really connect, giving generous space for the vast differences we can attribute to a great and creative God. What a boring world this would be if we were all the same.
Don’t Forget to Flush is available today! Click here to shop.
About the Authors
Kevin and Britta Alton have spent two decades advocating for and ministering to families and children of all ages. Kevin is the co-creator of Youthworker Circuit and a content curator for the Science for Youth Ministry project. He has written, co-authored, and contributed to several books including, The Whirl Story Bible, God’s Graffiti Devotional, Faith Forward Volume 2, and SENT, Youth Study Book. Britta loves finding ways to assist, protect and build strong character through vocation or volunteerism. They live happily in the countryside with their two wonderful boys near Chattanooga, Tennessee.