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!

Hummingbird witness

Coming for a drink

Coming for a drink

A few short minutes after I hung the feeder on my porch this summer, hummingbirds showed up for a drink.

I had been noticing the tiny birds darting around our front window as soon as the weather started getting warmer. It was as if they remembered the sweet red liquid from the year before and came right back with expectation.

Now as summer is growing increasingly short, I’ve been remiss to continue filling the feeder with nectar. It’s been several weeks since I’ve mixed the sugar water for the hummingbirds, and I thought they’d scout out new digs for a tasty drink. Yet, several times a day, the same hummingbirds come back and flit toward the feeder, hoping for a drink.

They just keep coming.

Watching these hummingbirds touch down for a drink, returning again and again, challenges me in my faith.

I need to persist in prayer.
Jesus tells a parable in Luke 18:1-8 about a woman who refused to give up in receiving justice, and repeatedly came before a wicked judge with her request. She kept coming, and kept asking, and the judge eventually gave in to her request just to get her to stop! This woman was determined for justice to prevail, and she would not stop until the judge did what was right.

Just as the hummingbirds keep coming back to the feeder, God wants me to persist in prayer. If even a bad judge will finally relent, how much more will my Savior respond with His faithful love? I must keep praying, and let God shape my heart and my circumstances.

Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
– Matthew 7:7-8

I need to be satisfied with every taste of God’s goodness.
A Greek woman approached Jesus with great need. Her precious daughter was possessed by a demon, and though this woman wasn’t a Jew, she knew only Jesus could save her baby girl. Matthew and Mark record in their gospels that the woman came near and kept asking Jesus to heal her daughter, to the point that the disciples wanted Jesus to send her away because she was making such a commotion.

He said to her, “Allow the children to be satisfied first, because it isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

But she replied to Him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
– Mark 7:27-28

The woman knew just a taste of Jesus’s words, just a touch of His power, would transform her family. She was willing to be fed crumbs under the table if that meant experiencing God’s healing and grace.

Even though my feeder is essentially empty, the hummingbirds continue to come for the hope of just a taste of nectar, just a sip to satisfy. Jesus saw the woman’s faith in her response, her humility and her hope, and healed her daughter that very moment. Help me have that kind of belief, Lord, and be grateful for every morsel You give!

I need to cling to Jesus with expectation.
My hummingbirds won’t leave. They know that feeder is a source for food, even if it is delayed.

During Jesus’s ministry here on earth, a point came when many who had followed Him struggled with His teachings. The road of discipleship became difficult, and they bailed.

Therefore Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”

Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!”
– John 6:67-69

Jesus was Peter’s source for life. He is my life, too. He is who I need most in this world. I won’t leave because He is my salvation.

The hummingbirds even now circling my porch have it right. They will not give up. They keep coming with expectation. They continue to act on their hope.

I want that same witness. Jesus will never fail me. My life’s story should prove I believe it.

Now, it’s time to fill the feeder.