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May 21

Reading the Bible with Multiple Ages

Posted on Monday, May 21, 2012

“And so David had to flee from Saul-” I begin, the crumbs of a hastily eaten pancake still on my fingers.

“Mommy, mommy, mommy!” calls the three year old from one seat over.

“What Squishy?” I quickly ask.

She takes a dramatic pause, then- “And so Noah and Joshua and Moses, they built a big boat and Jesus likes to read books and-”

“Squishy, Momma’s reading right now, you can have a turn to tell your story when I’m done,” I interrupt her excited run-on sentence and then turn to 11 year old Mookie, “Can you please get her sketchbook for me?”

Mookie runs off to get the sketchbook and I search for my place on the page.

“Then he came to the Phillistines and-” I see a  7 year old  wander from his chair in search of more food.

“Drummer boy, remember, sit down and wait until we’re finished reading.”

Turning back to my page, I hear strange, unappetizing sounds and find the source to be the 9 year old’s nose.

“Eeww, Jellybean, go blow your nose,” I insist and find my place again just as Mookie slides back into her chair with the sketchbook.

“As I was saying, David fled the palace…,” and Bible time at breakfast begins.

Getting an uninterrupted ten minutes to read the Bible together is only one of the challenges of including God’s Word in our daily plan.  I also have to consider the best time of day and the best translation to suit four children, ages ranging from three to eleven years old.

The Story Bible at Breakfast

A friend at church recently mentioned that their family reads the Bible together threes times a day, at each meal.  We may not catch each meal and we may use some variations in the form of the Bible that we choose, but I do try hard to share scripture with the kids several times a day.

With particular thoughts toward my six year old, this year I pulled out The Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos to read each morning at the breakfast table (over and around the noisy toddler).

We’ve read Vos before but I have been surprised by how our morning reading of The Story Bible has led our hearts toward a truer understanding of God’s character.

We started in Genesis and I worried about the ho-hum reaction to hearing the stories the olders have heard so many times before, but instead all of us found ourselves saying, “Oh, I had forgotten about that,” or “I didn’t know that detail.”

The Story of God engaged each of us.

As we wind up the school year, we’re entering the story of Esther and plan to keep reading into the New Testament stories this summer.  ”Read the Bible!” the kids call out most days.

Narrating the Bible Plus Two Questions

After I read a short section, I ask one of the children to narrate what she heard in the story. Sometimes I’m tempted to skip over the 7 year old, not wanting to frustrate him (or, more honestly, not wanting to cause me to deal with any frustration) but I’m always rewarded when I ask. He may need me to lead him along a bit with questions to get him started, but I’m always amazed by what he’s retained.

Next I ask everybody: “What do we learn about _______ ‘s character (fill in David, Joshua, etc)?”

Then I ask: “What do we learn about God’s character in this story?”  For younger children, you might need to be more specific by naming the character trait, “How do we see God’s love in this story?”

I also read extra historical information from Journey through the Bible.

God’s Character through the Big Picture

By moving more quickly through the stories then we would in a regular Bible, we’ve been able to see the firm and unchanging character of God.  We’ve gathered stories of His power and might, which we’ve recalled regularly during prayers for sick friends and family members and other challenges our family has faced this past year.

Here’s are a few truths about God we’ve seen consistently through the Old Testament stories:

God hates sin (the flood, Adam and Eve, the Israelites, Jacob and Esau, Saul, idolatry of the Israelites).

God often chooses the man least fit for the job and works through him, so that God’s glory and power and not man’s power can be seen (Moses, Gideon, Moses, Joshua, Samson, David).

His patience and mercy, as with the Israelites.

His plans cannot be thwarted. (Balaam, Samson, Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, Jonah).

Study the Bible, so that you can be discerning with an adaptation.

In case you decide to try a story bible, do remember that you will get less of God’s actual words and more of someone’s else-so choose carefully. Look at reviews and find the story bible with a good reputation for adhering to scripture.

You need to be a student of God’s word yourself, knowing the truth and being able to discern when the words of your story Bible don’t align with scripture. In those cases I read it aloud and then point out to the kids, “This is one person’s idea, she’s just sharing her opinion. What do we know about God to be true?” Or sometimes my olders will interrupt and voice a concern and share some scripture that keeps us on the right track.

We may have the Story Bible for breakfast, bit we also  read and memorize scripture almost every evening together and my 9 and 11 year old do their own Bible Studies during their rest time in the afternoon. The Story Bible is one part of a larger plan for studying God’s Word.

The lessons of The Story Bible are not just for kids.

God has used these stories not only for me to remind the kids of His power and might but also to constantly remind myself.  We are now in our 7th year of a turbulent health decline with my Dad.  Currently in a battle for quality care and dignity, I seem to face giants, but the Lord reminds me of story after story when He defeated the most impossible enemies.  He reminds me that He often strips back the power and army surrounding a man so that His glory can be seen.  He used the Story Bible to remind me of these truths and point me back to His scripture:

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And He is not served by human hands as if He needed anything because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:24-25-this is a verse we memorized together with the help of Seeds)

More Resources for reading and studying the Bible

If your children are not ready for a Story Bible with mostly words and hardly any pictures (probably age 5 or 6 and younger) don’t miss The Jesus Storybook Bible, the author and illustrator have  the gospel through every story and picture.

Other resources for bringing the Word of God into your home:

 

Dec 21

An Assortment of Audio Treasures

Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“Mommy, can you put it on now?” one child asks before we even get the coats, the hats, and the littlest one all out the door.

“Just a minute, I can’t even think about that yet.” I answer as I grab the toddler running by without her shoes.

“I already got it ready!” the eight year old yells from the back as I dump the diaper bag on the seat beside me in the van.

“Just let me get going,” I growl.

“Don’t ask again,” the ten year old whispers to everybody. Finally, we’re on the interstate, my swirling thoughts settling like the snow that was here last week.

I reach for the button and I hear, “She’s doing it.  She’s putting it on.”

And the story begins.  Most assuredly, it was one of these:

Radios Dramas by Focus on the Family Radio Theater

Once my eldest began listening to this series, she’s never again been satisfied with one person narrating a book on cd. For the past few years, these have been the main request for her Christmas list. Thoughtful story selection, great acting and writing, and a dramatic sound and musical score blended together into a compelling story. We have the entire Narnia Series(listened to repeatedly both in the car and at home) and The Secret Garden. We’ve listened to Squanto and hope to add it to our collection soon. On Christmas Day, Anne of Green Gables and George MacDonald’s At The Back of the Northwind will find a new audience.

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Your Story Hour

These volumes are a great way to dive into history as a family.  There a many, many volumes and they’re told in a dramatic format like the Focus on the Family series.  We’ve entered the life of slave with Sojourner Truth, grown up with Eleanor Roosevelt, and journeyed to a famous hymn with John Newtown.  Though these don’t match the top notch quality of the Focus on the Family Series, they’ve still engaged our whole family.  They have another series that chronicles the life of Jesus. My only word of caution is that occasionally one of the historical stories will include content  a bit questionable for our younger kids.  I’ve found that this series is a mixed bag, we find a volume in which every story is great and appropriate and then with another we might skip a few stories and I might silently wish the acting was a little better.  We have not found these are the library, but you can buy them online and look for good deals at your local homeschool convention.

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Classical Kids

We don’t own these cd’s but they’ve always been on my “To Purhchase” list.  Dramatic, well-written, musically inspired stories about great composers.  We just finished Mozart’s Magnficient Journey this morning on the way home.  I didn’t let them bring it inside this week to listen, because I didn’t want to miss any of the story.  If only they would make more of these.

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And finally, Seeds Family Worship:

Okay, so these cd’s are not story collections, they are a collection of even more important words.  I can’t help but mention these Bible verses put to music, delightfully not dumbed down either in words or music, for the whole family.  Many times these verses have stirred in my heart at just the right moment. Seeds in my heart.  There are six volumes and they are all available for listening free online OR, if you purchase the a cd, you get a second cd free to give away.  Seeds of Courage and Seeds of Encouragement are two of our favorites.

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Oct 19

There’s a Great Big World Out There

Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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My world is pretty small.

We didn’t take family vacations to National Parks and I didn’t fly on a plane until I was 20. Though I live 12 hours from the town that I was born and raised, it’s still in the same corner of the country.  In a few weeks I travel to Colorado which is atleast a jump out of my corner.

It’s not only the distance(or lack thereof) that I’ve traveled that defines my boundaries.  A small world is a safe world.  If I stick to people of my same economic background, job position(stay at home, homeschooling mama), ethnicity, beliefs, maybe I can accept my small world as a suitable miniature copy of the larger universe.

Except it’s really not the same-at all.

Though I’ve always wanted to travel, I’ve never possessed a drop of desire to be a missionary.  A group of my college friends have lived in the inner city of our college town for ten years, sharing food and money, bringing neighbors in to live in their homes, starting home churches, and they even went to the Phillipines for a year to live and serve(about 18, including young children and a baby).  Now one of those families is off to Germany to live for 3 years and start an underground church.

Have I compared and thought that my daily existence didn’t carry the same outward purpose?  Yes, and no.  Yes,when I think “They are  so much better than I am” and no, because I’ve also felt like I had a mission in my own house.  To keep our family walking steadily with the Lord, and moving slowly away from some of the multi-generational struggles that so hard to break, to grow a strong man and three women who understand the deeper truths of the Lord.  With the myriad of other challenges since becoming a family, it seemed we had enough to attend to in our little corner.

But in the last few months I’ve noticed  a wall that’s sprung up between our family and our goals.  So many of the character traits I’m trying to build into our children are blocked simply by living in our culture.  Thankfulness in a world of consumerism? Diligence in a world of machines to make everything easier and a goal to find leisure and work less each year? Help others when we’re told only to help ourselves?  How do we effectively instill a different perspective if they only experience the middle class world of America?

At the beginning of school we started illustrating the passage of love in 1st corinthians.  Though it produced some great art for our sketch books I couldn’t get them to connect the verses to their own lives.  ”Love does not boast” was a great drawing of a wrestler who is being obnoxious from winning the round juxtaposed next to the love character who politely says in his cartoon window “I won!”  How will this help them understand the nature of God’s love and the love we’re called to give?

We remained at the wall and in the meantime I grew more frustrated and discontent with all of my responsibilities and challenges.  Poor me!

It’s usually around this time that another voice calmly speaks to my heart.  Our family needed to turn our focus off of ourselves and on to a much bigger, more diverse, poor and hurting, beautiful and inspiring world and get a big dose of perspective.  And put God’s word into action instead of a sketchbook.

Bit by bit the door is opening and I don’t know what the door flung open will look like.  But here are two resources we’ve been looking at daily.

This first book is one that I’ve seen around homeschool sites for many years but couldn’t buy it and couldn’t find it at the libary. Now our library has it and we’ve been taking a few pages at a time.

Material World by: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel

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Through this book you travel around the world gathering a picture of families-what they own, their income, their wishes and hopes for their future.  Each time the location changes there is a photograph of a family in front of their home with all of their wordly possessions(furntiure, bicycles) surrounding them.  From clay houses and huts to large homes in Britain and Iceland, our eyes are wider.  Here are some facts that have surprised the kids.

  • One yearly income was 119 dollars, only a little more than double the generous check my daughter received for her birthday.  The 7 year old who, after getting the money, had quickly decided she needed 100 dollars not fifty, dropped her jaw.
  • Or the communal baths a mile away open 2 days a week,
  • and the one room houses with 11 family members made the sharing of a room seem a little silly.
  • Or when we realized the items we put out with our garage sale last weekend tripled what some families will ever own.  And that was what we were getting ride of-our waste.
  • We found one family who doesn’t dispose of anything-nothing they consume includes any trash that needs to be thrown away.  We throw away a bag of trash a day-how could it be possible to live without any garbage?

Missionary Stories with the Millers

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There are many other missionary stories and books, this was the one we had on hand and it’s been a picture of heroes and what it means to have faith in God.  It’s also a reminder that we have a greater purpose than maintaining ourselves and our own lives.

It’s not a soapbox to climb on or a guilt trip that I hope to wake up from.  It’s a discovery of truth.  Looking for the wider world makes my world look more not less.  Instead of seeing how little we have to give, we see how our smallest offerings make a difference.

It’s a journey for sure, but my heart seems to growing along with my world.

How does your corner look today?

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Mar 1

Resources for Daily Worship

Posted on Monday, March 1, 2010

I hope I’ll have a few minutes this week to talk about how adding Square Time(as named by 4 year old Drummer Boy) to jumpstart our day has given us fuel for the day.

Right now the family who inspired us toward this change in our day is hosting a contest to win the ebook so that you can read all about it for yourself.  Particularly if you have more than one child, I highly recommend entering the contest and if you don’t win, go ahead and buy the very reasonably priced ebook.

For today I want to share a few resources for the Worship and Bible portion of our Square Time.

Worship
I can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, and although I have led us through some songs we’ve really enjoyed the videos available on youtube, words included, to bring a joyful noise to our worship time. The words help the readers and the pictures help the 4 year old track with us. A few examples:

There are also many audio links and lyrics for popular children’s bible songs, here.

Scripture Memory
This weekend I discovered Seeds, a band who combines God’s word with hip, quality music.  I bought two of their 4 cds, each cd package contains a complete cd for yourself and a complete cd to give away!

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We’ll be listening to a verse a week(in addition to playing the whole cd in the car), learning one verse before moving to the next. Their website contains a verse checklist and verse memory cards to coordinate with the cd’s.

Even more exciting you can start listening to their music right now, here.

Memorizing the Books of the Bible

Each day they ask to listen to this song again and again.  We’ve learned the first ten books in the last week.  It’s addicting.
When we start the next five books I have my writers copy the names into their Square Time notebook.

Studying the Word

  • Leading Little Ones to God: A Child’s Book of Bible Teachings by Marian M. Schoolland
  • The Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos
  • Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol. 1 by Ella K. Lindvall
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible
  • My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt

(If you have a wide variety of ages, let your older children know that sometimes you’ll be reading Bible books directed toward their younger siblings and sometimes at their level.  We are re-reading Leading Little Ones to God, my 7 and 9 year old are looking up the Bible passages reading them aloud to us.  I also ask them to listen for something that is new to this time.)

Prayer

I tried to teach this prayer to my girls when they were 3 and 4 and we just didn’t stick with it.  But we started again and it’s really brought about the sweetest part of our time in the morning.

Mookie “Mommy before we start can I tell you something? The other day when Jellybean and I were fighting I didn’t tell her but I prayed that God would soften my heart and her heart and we stopped fighting, God answered my prayer!” And we all praised God.

Don’t force your kids to pray this way.  Some mornings my kids have moaned and groaned and then joined in later as we go down the prayer, “Lord, I confess I didn’t want to pray when we started.” Oh, my heart.

Basically we take each letter and go around in a circle(or square) saying one or two things aloud related to it, and continue to the next letter.

A-Adoration(You’re great!)

C-Confession(I’ve sinned, I’m sorry)

T-Thanksgiving(Thank you for answering my prayer)

S-Supplication(God supplies all we need, “Lord please help Grandad get out of the hospital”)

Here are a few more places to read about it:

http://teachingthem.com/2008/10/03/acts-prayers-for-kids/
http://www.suite101.com/lesson.cfm/19359/2957/4
http://withthekids.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/exploring-prayer-acts/

Everytime we go back to putting our Bible and Prayer time first, no matter whether it goes smoothly or not, all of our hearts are softer, ripe for learning, filled up with our Daily Bread.  Which is more important, that your child know how to label pronouns and verbs, or that your child knows how to spend time with the Lord?