Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts

May 13, 2011

Keeping the Bible Handy

Like many moms, I struggle to find time to read the Bible. I've typed about various ways we can
find time to read the Bible with our husbands or by ourselves, but here's an additional little trick to try: Find the right location for your Bible.

When my kids were younger, I had a devotional area in my living room - just a place to sit where I kept my Bible handy. But when that stopped working (i.e., my kids wouldn't leave me alone long enough to focus), I knew I had to figure out a different routine. After some trial and error, I started keeping my Bible in the kitchen. With my Bible handy, I find I can easily read it during pauses in cooking.

Maybe the kitchen is the best place for you to keep your Bible, too. Or maybe not. The idea is simply to keep it in a place where you normally wait. That could be your car. Or the laundry room. Or even the bathroom. Whatever works for you works for God, too.

Apr 4, 2011

Reading the "Real Bible"

My oldest is just 5 years old, but she often asks me read the "real Bible" to her. By this she means a Bible translation, not a Bible storybook. I'm all for this. Although she may not understand the "real Bible" thoroughly, I believe hearing it now instills it in her heart - a conclusion I've come to after talking to adults who had the Bible read to them as children.

There are inherent difficulties in doing this, of course. The Bible is full of mature themes, and at this point I'd rather not have to answer questions like "What's a virgin?" So a certain amount of preparation or editing-as-I-read is necessary.

In addition, while she sometimes sits next to me on the couch and listens to me read, I find she's actually more attentive if she has some busy work - like coloring - to do while I read.

Lately, we've been reading from The Family Reading Bible, which, although better suited to slightly older children on up through teens, has made my job a little easier. This is an ordinary NIV Bible, but with sidebars containing very short commentary and questions for parents to ask. There are also reading plans in the back to help you work your way through the Bible, or certain portions of it. Last Christmas, we followed the Christmas reading plan, which gave us background on what the Old Testament says about Christ, as well as taking us through the New Testament Christmas story. Now we're working on the Easter reading plan.

Whether you use an aid like The Family Reading Bible or whatever "real Bible" you have laying around, why not start reading it out loud to your kids today?

Jan 3, 2011

When You're Overwhelmed

"...I will cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed."
Psalm 61:2

I think every mom feels overwhelmed at least some of the time. But if you're going through a prolonged period of feeling stressed and overwheled, it's time to take action:

1. Worship God. Nothing gets things in perspective quicker than dropping everything and worshiping the Lord. While you're at it, make sure you're finding time to read the Bible and pray. When we're busy, these things can all too easily fall by the wayside - yet they are often the very cause of our stressed out feelings. We need to spend time with God.

2. Go to church. It sets the mood for the entire week. Go by yourself, if you have to.

3. Sleep. I've argued before that sleep is one of the main things every mom truly needs. Get more rest and you may be surprised how your perspective changes.

4. Do only essentials. There are many good things we can do here on earth, but if those good things are interfering with our mental health or our ability to do a good job at the first task God's given us (to be great wives and mothers), then we need to stop and focus on essentials. Sometimes the essentials are easy to spot...sometimes they are not. For example, while it's probably a good thing to try to organize and de-clutter the house, if it's making you feel overwhelmed, stop. Come back to it another time, when your responsibilities aren't so overwhelming.

5. Cut back work. If you have a job besides your chief position as wife and mother, consider quitting. Analyze your family budget and cut non-essentials; reconsider your lifestyle. Although not ever woman can quit her job, a relaxed, loving Proverbs 31 Woman is a lot more important than having a big house, dinners out, or a subscription to Netflix.

6. Find time for yourself. How long has it been since you took a walk? Read a novel? Went to the gym? Took a soak in the tub? Finding even just a little time for yourself is essential. And if you can combine it with exercise, you'll feel all the better.

7. Focus on one thing at a time. Often when I feel overwhelmed I find I'm trying to juggle too many things. Stop. Breathe. Choose one thing. You'll enjoy life more and you'll do a better job at whatever you're doing.

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

2 Tim. 1:7

Sep 10, 2010

Be a Bible Smuggler

You and your children can be Bible smugglers, help persecuted Christians throughout the world, and develop a better sense of thanksgiving - all through one free source.

Voice of the Martyrs is my favorite magazine. It's slender, but every time I receive a new copy in the mail, I can hardly wait to read it. The magazine (the publisher calls it a "newsletter," but it's full color and laid out just like a magazine) offers true stories of Christians throughout the world who are suffering persecution. In communist and Muslim-controlled areas, for example, Bibles are illegal, and so is any telling of the gospel. Yet despite this, Christians in those nations still worship God and tell others about Jesus' saving grace. Very quickly, I'm reminded just how fortunate we are to live in the United States, where Christians never wallow in filthy prisons or put their lives in danger because they love Jesus. My problems and worries seem very small, indeed, and I never fail to feel inspired by the perseverance and faith of the modern-day martyrs I read about.

Read this magazine with your children. Or, if your kids are young, show them the photographs and retell the stories in your own words. Talk about religious freedom and the spiritual, political, and religious reasons not everyone enjoys it. Together, learn about which nations restrict Christian activity, and add the martyrs you read about to your prayer lists.

Becoming a Bible smuggler is also an exciting activity to do with your children - and you can do it from the safety of your home. Voice of the Martyrs isn't just about reporting; it's about doing. They smuggle Bibles into countries where they are illegal and offer support to the families of Christians sent to prison for their faith. All through donations as small as $5. A more worthy charity there is not.

Jul 29, 2010

Teaching Children About Jesus' Return

Jesus' return to earth is one of the most important things we can talk to our children about. The Bible tells us many people - even believers - will be deceived just before that time (Matt. 13:6, 22). Those who regularly read the Bible and have a personal relationship with God will have a harder time being deceived - but what about little children? What can we teach them now to help protect them should they live through the end times?

Age appropriateness is important here. For example, I wouldn't tell most preschoolers the earth as we know it could come to an end at any time. This would frighten and upset many young kids. And while it's important for parents to consider their child's maturity before teaching them some things about the end times, it's also vital to not wait too long. This sort of thing is easy to put off, but children hunger for this kind of knowledge. If you're having trouble bringing up the topic, consider reading a children's Bible that includes the book of Revelation, like The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Big Picture Bible Storybook.

Here are some ideas of what to begin teaching your kids when they are about preschool or kindergarten age. As they grow older, you can add more details from the Bible:

* Some day, Jesus will return to earth. (Matt. 13:26)

* Jesus said nobody knows when he will return except the Father. Therefore, we should be wary of those who try to pinpoint the date. (Matt. 13: 32)

* The Bible says Jesus will return the way he left after his resurrection. The Bible says Jesus floated into the sky, past the clouds, and disappeared into Heaven, so when he returns, he will float down from the sky. (Acts 1:9-11)

* The Bible says everyone on earth will see Jesus' return. (Rev. 1:7)

* The Bible also says the lights in the sky will go dark before Jesus returns. (Matt. 24:29-30)


Jul 13, 2010

My Devotional Area

Although Mindy doesn't immediately ask you to clean up your existing devotional area in chapter 10 of The House That Cleans Itself, I chose to. (Chapter 10 is really more about creating a devotional area, if you don't already have one, and making sure you use it every day.)

Here's what my devotional area looked like before:

A cluttered mess! Yet it took me less than 10 minutes to make the space a lot more functional and relaxing:

I removed a lot of clutter; some it went directly into a donation box. The rest, I admit, ended up cluttering some other area of my living room because it's stuff I think I'll keep. I also dusted and tidied the couch slipcover. On the table, there now only sits my Bible, my daughter's Bible, and some devotional materials.

Because the whole premise of The House That Cleans Itself is to change your house, not your habits, I realized I also needed a better place to keep library books and books I'm currently reading to the kids. These are the books that really made my devotional area a difficult-to-use mess.

The answer was pretty simple. I dug up a long, narrow basket I've had forever, but which wasn't serving any real purpose at the moment. I placed this underneath the table and put only a handful of books inside it - stuff we are reading now and nothing we will soon read or have finished reading.

Yay! It looks so much better! My hubby even commented on it. Bit by bit, step by step, is what this is all about.

Mar 5, 2010

Battling the Hafftos

Both my kids are ill with a stomach bug, so instead of writing up a new post that would probably be incomprehensible (I'm not getting much sleep!), check out my friend Tanya Dennis' excellent, "Battling the Hafftos:"
"Once upon a time a beautiful princess married a hunky, young prince. She possessed creativity and a zeal for life. Her new husband loved this about her. Sometimes her spontaneous actions backfired on both of them, but he still encouraged her to be the fabulous, fun person she was. Joy shone through her green eyes as she surveyed their future together.
In time the royal couple added children and a mortgage to their kingdom. The princess loved her family dearly and longed to create the perfect home for them. As the family grew, so did the gravity of her task. Laundry piled higher and higher in the castle turrets. This, among other royal duties, prevented the lovely princess from getting out as often as she would like. Always observant, the wicked Hafftoos decided this was the perfect time to attack.
Not every knows about Hafftoos. Not everyone can see them, but believe me: they are very real. These sneaky little trolls wander around ever so carefully through delightful and quaint villages stealing innocents’ joy. They transform tasks into chores and desires into burdens..."
Read the rest here.

Bookmark and            Share

Jan 20, 2010

Memory Verse How To

I confess I never set out to memorize scripture until my firstborn came along. It was then I realized memory verses were an excellent way to teach my child about the Bible - and in the process of teaching her Bible verses, I naturally memorized some myself. Which got me to thinking: Why should we bother to memorize the Bible when we have multiple Bibles in the house?

-- Because God tells us to. See for example Deut. 11:18 ("Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds, tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads")

-- To help us worship God. During our busy lives, verses will come to mind that remind us to stop and worship or talk to God in the midst of busy-ness.

-- To remind us of God's commands. ("I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Ps. 119:11)

-- To help others in troubled times. How many times have you wished you knew the right thing to say to someone who is suffering? The Bible offers the truest hope there is, making it the perfect thing to quote in troubling times.
-- To comfort us when we're troubled.

-- To witness and answer questions of unbelievers.

If you haven't yet begun teaching your child memory verses, start today! And be sure to memorize along with them. Here are some ideas to make this a fun, easy project for the entire family. Try out several, and discover which ideas work best for you:

* Print out a verse (along with an accompanying clip art picture) in large type and tape it someplace where you and your children will see it many times throughout the day.
* Read the entire verse many times, out loud. Then try to say it without looking.
* Instead of memorizing the entire verse all at once, memorize parts of it. Repeat a phrase several times, then try to say it out loud without looking. When you can do that correctly, move on to another phrase.
* Write the verse over and over.
* Write the verse on several index cards, then place the cards throughout the house, where you’re likely to see them.
* Print out a bookmark with the Bible verse on it. Place it in a book you’re currently reading, making sure to read the entire verse each time you open and close the book.
* Try implementing the verse throughout the day, reading it (or repeating it in your head) as you do so. For example, if you’re memorizing the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31), think of several practical ways to do for others. A child might do dishes for her mother, teach her little sister how to tie her shoes, and give her dad a back rub, for example. As you do each of these things, r
ecite your memory verse.

* Draw a picture representing the Bible verse, as someone else recites the verse to you repeatedly.

* Write your memory verse on your mirror with lipstick or soap.

* Keep a copy of your memory verse by the television’s remote control. Every time there’s a commercial, read the verse over and over until your program comes back on.

* Make a collage of magazine illustrations that relate to your memory verse, while someone else reads the verse out loud.

* Print your memory verse on your lunch bag, or tape it onto your lunch box, so you can read it repeatedly at lunch time.

* Write your memory verse out on a dry erase board. Read it over many times, then try to recite it. If you fail, rewrite the verse on the board and try again. 

* Once you think you know a verse by heart, recite it twice a day for a week before moving on to another verse.
* Make sure verses stay in your memory by using chore time and waiting time to review verses you’ve already memorized. Washing dishes, taking out the trash, ironing, waiting at a stop light, waiting in the doctor’s office, and a million other mindless things eat up our days. Use that time for good by keeping memorized Bible verses fresh in your mind!

* Introduce a new verse at dinner, right after prayer. Discuss it, then have everyone read the verse at least once. Then try to recite it perfectly. Who gets it right first?

* Make up a melody for the verse. Sometimes putting it to music makes it easier to memorize. You can make up your own tunes, or try the ones at Pursuing Life Ministries.

* Set realistic goals. Your children should be able to memorize a verse a week, if you make it a priority. Adults who have a more difficult time memorizing should set a personalized goal: Perhaps one verse every two or three weeks.

* Choose verses ahead of time. Although it makes sense to choose verses that will help your family with current problems (like fear or anger), try to choose at least a month’s worth of verses in advance. More is better. Type them into a Word document, so all you have to do is scan the verses to choose your next one. This prevents putting off memorization.

* Before you start memorizing, read the verse in context. It will help you understand the true meaning of the verse.
* Record the Bible verse on your MP3 player. Play it over and over in the car, while you exercise…

* Use bathtub crayons to write out the verse on the side of the tub or shower. Read the verse repeatedly while bathing each day.

* Use a reasonable amount of time to work on memorizing scripture each day. Try at least five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening.

* Start memorizing short verses first. When you are confident that you can do this, move on to longer verses.

* Ask God to help you memorize Bible verses.

* Work out motions to go with a Bible verse. This especially helps small children.
Bookmark and Share

Jan 5, 2010

Teaching Kids About Art

Unfortunately, one of the areas public schools generally neglect is art. Yet learning about art - even in a basic way - is so enriching. One easy way to expose your children to art (and to learn about it yourself) is through the web.

Recently, I discovered Garden of Praise, which offers a section on famous paintings. Just click on a thumbnail image, and you and your kids can see a piece of artwork, and learn a bit about it and its artist. You can also see a slide show of other paintings by the artist, find links to learn more, do jigsaw puzzles of the artwork, do crosswords and other fun work related to the art, print a picture for coloring, and even take a quiz. What a great resource!

The same sit also has Bible lessons, biographies for kids, music games, and more free material.

Bookmark and Share

Dec 4, 2009

Teaching Children How to Pray

I've made a real effort to make prayer a daily part of my childrens' lives. We pray before dinner, we pray before bed, and we pray in between - as difficulties appear, as people around us seem to need it, and as our naturally hearts fill with thanks for something God has given us.

But until recently, I've never really taught our children how to pray. I tried to show our preschooler through example, but it's become clear this is not enough. Too often, her prayers are about her wants - not about praising God or asking for help for others. I want to help change this.

What is an Acceptable Prayer?
Any heartfelt prayer is acceptable,. However, our best example of what a "good" prayer is comes from Jesus. In fact, before Jesus prayed what we now call "The Lord's Prayer," he said, "This then, is how you should pray." (Matt. 6:9)

Jesus then asks for God's will to be done.

He asks for provisions.

He asks for forgiveness of trespasses (or debts).

He asks for delivery from temptation and evil.

Throughout, he prays not just for himself, but for "us."

In some translations, he then praises God the Father.

This then, is the model we should use when teaching our children to pray. It's okay to ask God for things, but we should also ask for God's will to be done, ask him for forgiveness, and offer him praise.

Helping Kids Remember
The trick is to help kids remember this model. Older kids can memorize The Lord's Prayer, but it's also useful to have a visual guide children can look at while praying.

Over at The Greatest Mission Trip You'll Ever Take, Deb Burton offers an excellent idea for such a visual guide. She calls it "The Circle Prayer." (Click on the circle prayer illustration for an enlarged image.) Children begin with the center circle, which is themselves, then work their way to the outer circles, which includes immediate family, extended family, friends, church, and the world at large.

I plan to amend this prayer circle somewhat, so more elements of the Lord's Prayer are included. And since my four year old is only beginning to read, I'll use clip art images to represent each circle.

Another idea is to create a prayer list with your child. For older children, some gentle leading on your part can help shape this list. (Try studying The Lord's Prayer first.) But let them write it out and decorate it as they wish. For my preschooler, I'll use photographs or clip art images to represent each of the people she might pray for. For example, photographs of family members should be easy to find. A digital photo of your church would be another good addition, or a National Geographic photo of needy children in other parts of the world.

But Remember...
Although it's great for Christians to use The Lord's Prayer as an example, and while visual aids can be quite useful, it's also important for children to know that prayers should come from the heart. That means it's quite okay to pour your heart out to God without following any particular format. And it's certainly not ideal to fall into such a habit with your prayers they loose meaning.

There are also plenty of other types of prayers. Try looking through the Bible with your child to find other great examples. For example, Jesus, his disciples, and the apostles prayed for the sick and persecuted (James 5:13 - 16 and Hebrews 13:3, for example), as well as leaders of the church and missionaries (as in 1 Thessalonians 5:25). What other sorts of prayers can you and your child find?

Bookmark and Share

Oct 29, 2009

Finding Time to Read the Bible Together

Just as it's vital for moms to find time to read the Bible alone, it's vital for them to find time to read and discuss it with their husbands. Not only does Bible and prayer time with your spouse add intimacy to your marriage, but it helps couples resolve conflicts and acknowledged their absolute dependence on Jesus for the health of their marriage and family.

But if you can barely find time to read the Bible by yourself, how on earth can you find time to read it with your husband? Here are a few ideas:

* Ideally, you and your husband can pull out the Bible and read a passage together once the kids are in bed. (In my household, this always seems like a good idea - until the kids are actually in bed. Then we realize we're too exhausted to comprehend anything we read.)

* If your husband comes home at noon, try reading a Bible passage together during his lunch hour. Remember, it doesn't need to be long. (In fact, shorter passages are easier to digest and really think through.) If there's not time for both of you to eat and then read the Bible, try eating before (or after) your husband's lunch hour, so you can do the honors of reading out loud while he eats.

* Get up early together and read the Bible. (If you have young children, or your brain is naturally foggy in the morning, this may not be the best choice for you.)

* Make sure non-essential things aren't getting in the way of Bible time. If you "don't have time" to read the Bible together, but manage to watch television, movies, sports, or participate in other activities together, think hard about how you're spending your time. (Statistically, most Americans watches 30 hours of television each week. Try laying aside just a slice of that time for God's word; you'll be glad you did.) Even "good" things, like volunteering at church or working for charity, are less important that immersing your marriage in the Word.

* If you really can't find time to read the Bible together, try the next best thing: Choose a Bible passage to read separately during the day. Then, at night, discuss that passage together. If your husband has a hard time digging out his Bible in the middle of his work day, try emailing or text messaging the passage to him.

* Make it a family event by having the kids read the pre-chosen Bible passage during the day, too. Then discuss it at dinner.

* Or, read the passage aloud when you sit down at the dinner table, then discuss it while you eat.

* Although it's a nice idea to read a daily or weekly devotional together as a couple, it's far more important to actually read the word of God. So if devotionals are getting in the way of your Bible time, reconsider them.

* If you truly cannot find time to read the Bible together, something is wrong. One or both of you are spending too much time away from the other; it's difficult to keep a marriage healthy under these conditions. So while you're trying to re-arrange your life so your marriage is high on your list of priorities, try to at least read the Bible together every weekend.

* When you've finished your Bible reading, be sure to take time to discuss the passage with your spouse. Then end by praying together. Although it's okay to allow just one spouse to pray aloud, in my experience, really praying together - taking turns talking to God - is much more fulfilling and effective.

Bookmark and Share