God never loses you

Crowds shuffled by as my daughter and I sat and waited for the rest of our family to return from a ride at Silver Dollar City. Lauren finished her snack, so I sent her the 10 steps across the path to throw away her trash. She jumped down, to do what I asked.

My eyes never left her as she skipped across, threw her trash right in the pocket, and turned to skip back.

Then, she hesitated. Her eyes focused on the crowd, and though I could see her, she couldn’t see me. Panic flashed across her face and her eyes darted back and forth trying to find me, and I got up to go to her. As I moved she saw me, ran back and gave me a big hug of relief.

I squeezed her extra tight. “Did you not know where I was?”

She shook her head, and snuggled in for a tighter hug.

I gently reassured her. “You may have lost me, but I never lost you!”

The same is true of our loving Heavenly Father. He tells us in Galatians 3:26 that we are God’s children through faith in Jesus. Just as a parent attends to his child, God watches over us because He loves us. He knows us, He knows where we are, and He cares about the situations we find ourselves in today. We may feel utterly lost, frustrated, off-balance and unsure. But God sees us. We are not forgotten. He didn’t leave us.

Despite our feelings and even sight-lines, God never loses us. Psalm 121:8 says, “The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” There may even be times that we believe God is leading us to step out in faith on mission, and suddenly we turn and can’t find our bearings. Look toward heaven and cry out to Him. We can find peace when our sight fails us by standing firmly on God’s always-kept promises.

For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.
– Deuteronomy 31:6b

Me and my girl, together

Me and my girl, together

Diving into the Word this summer

It’s summer!!

In addition to splashing in the pool, exploring at the river, sleeping in (well, we are working on that!), and jumping on the trampoline, it’s also a perfect time to dive into the Word of God.

Though we emphasize the Bible as a family in our devotions, AWANA work and special experiences (like Christmas Countdown and 2 Weeks 2 the Cross), summer is a special time to dig deeper in the Scripture sandbox. We want our kids to discover God’s Word for themselves, and independently spend time with their Savior. Summer provides us an expanded format for them to learn how, at their own level and pace.

The kids' Bibles and devotion binders

The kids’ Bibles and devotion binders

Here’s how we are approaching our personal devotions this summer. This plan may change, because I want to give each of us the opportunity to wander down the paths where Jesus leads us!

We are using this page out of Lauren's Explorer Bible as a template for her devotions to start the summer.

We are using this page out of Lauren’s Explorer Bible as a template for her devotions to start the summer.

Early Reader Plan
Lauren, my six-year-old, has leaped forward with her reading skills. She surprises me every time I hear her read. This is her first time to study God’s Word on her own, since she now has the ability to read and write very well. I just bought her an NIrV Explorer Bible (with a purple cover), and she loves it! It is a treasure to her, as God’s Word should be. I love the NIrV translation because it is specifically geared toward young readers. Inside her Bible, we found a highlight page with Scriptures taking the reader through the life of Jesus. What a perfect place for her to start! So, each day (most likely weekdays), she reads the Scripture verses, then writes a few sentences about what she’s read and then draws a picture to help her remember. In addition to embracing the Word of God for herself, she is also furthering her reading, writing and comprehension skills. When we finish the life of Jesus, we will likely focus on another Bible hero, like David or Esther.

This is Lauren's first devotion page. She started reading about the life of Jesus in her Bible, and this is her synopsis and illustration!

This is Lauren’s first devotion page. She started reading about the life of Jesus in her Bible, and this is her synopsis and illustration!

Advanced Reader Plan
Jackson, my nine-year-old, is an advanced reader who just needed some focus and a plan to process and apply what he was reading. I discovered he was jumping around in Scripture rather than reading it through, so I asked him what he would like to study. He knew right away he wanted to know more about the life of Jesus! So, I collected devotions from TruthforKids.com. They have a plan for kids to work through the entire Bible in a year, with Scriptures and devotions for each day. I had downloaded them last summer and we had started from the beginning, but trailed off during the school year. So, I printed off the first chunk of devotions starting in the Gospels. In addition to the Scripture and devotional reading, Jackson needed a place to process and record what God was teaching him. So, I found a great free resource for kids and teens to use for Scripture journaling. Each morning, Jackson will read Scripture and the corresponding devotion, then journal and pray. He is currently using his NIrV Explorer Bible, because his NKJ version has a tiny font size, but he’s ready for a good beginner study Bible, probably in a NKJV, HCSB or ESV. (Not sure what I mean with those acronyms? Find out more about Bible translations and what might be a good fit for you!)

Adult Reading Plans
Both Matt and I are working through different Bible reading plans with YouVersion Bible App. If you don’t have their Bible app downloaded on your phone, you need to! There are so many plans to choose from, and you can sign up for reminders, and even push the “catch up” button if you get behind. I’ve completed many reading plans that have taken me from “cover to cover”. Right now, I am doing a 100-day focus on the Gospels. Matt is working through a read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year plan.

Even if these Bible study plans aren’t the right fit for you and your family, find a way to focus on God’s Word this summer! And, please drop me a note to let me know how you are diving into the Bible!