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!

Do I really need a sign?

still small voice

What do we need more from God: a sign or His presence?

Usually, we want a clear-cut blazing sign that shows us the direction our lives should take, when the intimacy we have with God in the everyday is what will direct us.

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.” At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah? ”

– 1 Kings‬ ‭19‬:‭11-13‬

When faced with decisions or struggling with the unknown, we want a line-in-the-sand experience, a direct-from-heaven supernatural confirmation, as if God’s own Word is lacking.

I’ve asked many questions of God lately, wondering what He wants of me at this time of my life. Could He just show me what to do, which direction to go? It’s frustrating to not know, and I tend to strain my eyes on what is unclear rather than being satisfied with the promises God has already made to me. I want the sign.

This past week, I have been reading back through my verse journal and old Evernote entries. During my time with the Lord each day, I write down verses that speak to my heart, that God highlights to me as I study His Word. Looking again over the Scriptures and those God conversations from spring through summer this year, I realized that I was not alone, voicing my questions in vain. God was there, listening and responding. The transcript is right in my book, from His Book. I’ve sifted through old blog post and book ideas I’ve jotted down in Evernote over the last year, and God has already given me much of what I thought I didn’t have.

Jesus directs my thoughts as I just live life with Him. When I am in His presence, I am in His will. I don’t need the mighty, earth-shattering winds, the earthquakes, or the raging fires lighting the path for me. I just need Him.