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!

Love is

Lauren and her "Love is" mobile

Lauren and her “Love is” mobile

We had an amazing Valentine’s week planned for our family. To help us better understand God’s love, we were going to focus on one phrase of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for seven days, correlate a person in Scripture who displayed that kind of love, do fun Valentine’s activities and give the kids a special Valentine’s gift each day. Everything was wrapped and ready to roll for Monday.

Then I had surgery to extract my wisdom teeth.

The kids stand in front of our Love Is wall hanging after Day 2, with bookmarks they made out of paint strip samples.

The kids stand in front of our Love Is wall hanging after Day 2, with bookmarks they made out of paint strip samples.

Sheer adrenaline and pain meds got me through the first day of “Love is”. We learned that love is patient and kind, and thought about how Joseph, son of Jacob, showed that kind of love to his family, and how God displays that love for us. We made Love Is Mobiles, which are proudly hanging on both the kids’ doors.

That’s as far as I was able to go in our family experience. Tuesday, my recovery turned for the worse, and Matt helped us learn that love is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude. John the Baptist exemplified that kind of love, and we studied about how John loved Jesus that way. The kids each got a Valentine’s book, and though they begged me to read to them, my face was so swollen and pain levels so high, I just couldn’t.

We skipped every other day of our Bible study.

To say I was disappointed is putting it mildly. I’ve literally spent the entire week sleeping on the couch or in bed, trying to get through the terrible pain and onset of vertigo.

Finally yesterday, after my oral surgeon treated me for a dry socket, God gave me some clarity through the pain. I sat in the car surrounded by my dear family, who had driven me two hours to my appointment, and realized we had each learned so much about love this week even though we didn’t finish our “Love is” study.

Love is patient and kind. Love picks up the slack for others. Love stays quiet so another can sleep. Love helps do the dishes and pick up toys. Love understands when another says no. Love is willing to wait until someone feels better (which is very difficult for kids who love to snuggle!). Love puts life on pause to make sure someone else is OK. Love sacrifices time and energy. Love gets through interrupted plans. Love takes the kids so the other can rest. Love turns down the volume on the TV. Love is there, no matter what.

The kids opened all the rest of their little love presents today, and are currently having a great time throwing new frisbees and blowing bubbles outside with my husband, while I continue to rest on the couch.

But as I watch them through the window, I see what love is.

Happy Valentine’s Day!