Just a Simple Idea to Get You Going

If you’ve been considering reading the Bible to your children, but are somewhat intimidated or overwhelmed by the idea, consider starting with the Jesus Storybook Bible. This amazing book by Sally Lloyd Jones walks you through Bible stories with a focus on seeing Jesus. This is a wonderful tool to help you get into the rhythm of reading Bible stories, especially with very small children. And check out the videos that go along with the stories:

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The Bible and Your Family

I’ve been sharing transcript excerpts from my time on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss last year . . . today, we hear from some of my friends too. Thanks for being here and for staying faithful in following Christ in His Word. Here’s that transcript:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When you consistently read the Bible, it requires you to make changes to your life. The point of reading the Bible isn’t just a read, it’s to act on what it says. As Carrie read the Bible with her children, she and her husband, Wes, was confronted with an important realization. Now that our kids know this book, they’ll know when we are not obeying it. That led to a series of practical decisions, and we’ll hear about some of those today.

Carrie has written about her adventures through the Bible with her kids in a new book called,Together: Growing Appetites for God.

I’m so pleased that Revive Our Hearts can help promote this book as part of our new True Woman Imprint.

I hope you’ll get a copy at ReviveOurHearts.com. I’ll be back to explain how you can do that after Carrie continues the story of one mom committed to getting God’s Word into her children.

Carrie Ward: We gave my mom a coffee mug that had the dwarf Grumpy on it. I remember mom showing us the mug and it said Grumpy underneath it. I think it for her birthday, or some occasion, and the idea was that she’s grumpy without her cup of coffee. She took it as a joke and at the time; I thought nothing of it.

When we were in Deuteronomy, we read this long string of commands: Anyone who attacks their father or mother, is to be put to death. And in the middle of that string of commands,
anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.

In the middle of reading that, my son said, “Is giving Grandma a cup that says Grumpy, dishonoring? And I was like, Ouch. I sat back and thought about it for just a minute, and thought. Well, we gave her that in jest, and she took it that way. She received it and it was just something for humor, and I believe that is the way she received it. But at the same time, I wanted to be sensitive to his conscience that said this could be dishonoring.

It made me really stop and think. I probably wouldn’t give her that coffee mug again because for one thing, I wouldn’t want to dishonoring to my parents, and for another thing, I would not want my children to have any kind of feeling of guilt or have their conscience undermined by something I did.

So it really made me stop and take a second look at my own life and my own habits. That happens often when you read through Scripture. You come to a point where you know that you don’t live this out perfectly, and you know your kids have seen you not live this out perfectly. So you have to remind yourself that you are forgiven, and I also have to ask my children’s forgiveness and be ready to do that and be ready to live out what we’re reading. 

Leslie: As the Ward’s read the Bible each day and ask God to help them live it out, they were challenged to make a big sacrifice. Wes and Carrie knew about a family who needed a car and they made plans to give one of theirs away. The kids loved this car.

Carrie: It was going to be a sacrifice, not only that we would have to rearrange our schedule, but also, just the sentimental nature of having something that you liked and then giving it away.

Leslie: On the morning that Carrie gave the news to the kids that they were becoming a one-car family, their Bible reading gave them important perspective.

Carrie: We had been reading in 2 Corinthians 8 the morning before where Paul is urging the people to give as they had promised. It talks about giving, and suddenly it hit me. I could use that to help explain that we were giving away the Suburban.

I sat down with them and reminded them of what we had read the day before. Then I explained that their dad and I felt prompted to give away the Suburban and that we already had someone picked out, a special family that could use this car. So there were a lot of questions, and we had a lot of conversation about it. I honestly didn’t know what we were about to read that day. So we opened up the Bible and we read 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

It’s the passage that’s often titled in the Bible, “The Cheerful Giver.” It really walks you through how and why to give. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)

It would have been perfectly fine for me just to say we feel like God is prompting us to give and we’re giving this. But God was really not only prompting us to give but teaching us how to give at the same time. So He used His Word that day to show and confirm in me that this was the right thing to do, but to also show me how and why, and to teach our children how and why you give.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’” (2 Cor. 9:8-9)

Leslie: The Ward’s discovered that the Bible not only confronted them, it not only guided their actions, it also brought them comfort.

Carrie: We had probably already been reading Scripture for three years when a circumstance came about where I really saw the Lord using His Word in our life. I became pregnant with our fifth child. About nine and one-half weeks in, we miscarried and this was a real devastating blow to me. It’s a very emotional thing to go through. Our kids were really small, and they didn’t quite understand what was happening.

Then about six months later, I became pregnant again. About ten weeks or so in, I miscarried again. The first time we miscarried I was kind of asking questions, and contemplating God and why this happened. The second time I was just numb. I didn’t want to talk about it, and I didn’t want to discuss it, but I knew my children would take it harder this time than they had before.

After we heard the news and we came home, Wes found a quiet moment and brought us in the living room. He was going to share with them what had taken place. At that point I really didn’t want to hear it again. I really didn’t want to discuss it. I really didn’t want to be telling them because I knew this was going to have more of an impact on them this time.

He said, “I want to tell you something. But first, I want to read something to you.” So he read from Job. He read about the devastating things that had happened to Job. Then he read that initial response from Job which was, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

And honestly, I didn’t have those Job kind of words really in my heart, but then Wes prayed for us. I don’t remember what he prayed exactly, but it really felt as though he was standing before the Lord saying what I couldn’t say, and teaching our kids what they should say. I really  felt like, having already read Job, our children had that framework of knowing what had happened to Job and knowing that even in the suffering, that God is still with them, that God is still faithful. So God really used that verse and that knowledge that we already had to remind me of His sovereignty and to demonstrate to our children of His sovereignty. 

“O that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed in an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!” (Job 19:23-24)

Leslie: Here’s some thoughts on Job from Maggie Ward.

Maggie Ward: It seemed like he really believed that there was going to be a Messiah and even though nobody really had said it, how did he have a clue when he was way before Jesus.
“I know that my redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, and yet in my flesh I will see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

Leslie: As Carrie Ward read the Bible to her young children morning after morning, it wasn’t just affecting them, it was also influencing other women who were watching Carrie’s example.

Maggie Paulus: Well, I actually got to be in Wes and Carrie’s small group at our church.

Leslie: This is Maggie Paulus. She heard about the Ward’s adventure through the Bible before her son was even born.

Maggie Paulus: We were just starting to raise our family. I was kind of picturing into the future what it would be like. So what I mostly just enjoyed was that the reality is that they don’t sit still, you just get a little bit in at a time. That planted a seed in my heart that it was a possibility that I could do that with my kids even at an early age.

I didn’t have to wait until they were seven or eight and sitting still. The Bible says you reap what you sow, so I know if I just feed my hunger even if it’s just a little bit, and I sit down just a few minutes a day and read the Word, not just for myself but for my little kids, that just creates in me more desire for His Word.

My personality is very random, and I get distracted really easily. Sometimes I read these blogs of these women who are hyper-organized. They have their schedules, and they have their routines. It is really hard for me to get into the rhythm of things. But just hearing Carrie’s stories, it still grows that desire in me that I can do it. So even if I haven’t done it for a few days, I still know that I can just try again—just start over again.

The neat thing is, I haven’t actually done it for a few days but this morning after breakfast, I sat down and gave my kids little sippy cups with chocolate milk at the table. We’re still in Genesis, and I was at the part where God rescues Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah, and the craziest thing happened. He actually sat and listened through the whole chapter, and then he wanted me to read it again. After I read it the second time, I kept telling him a little bit more of the story. Then he wanted me to read it again, which is nothing short of miraculous, because he knows that after breakfast he gets to go watch a movie or go get to play with his trains. So I was just in awe that he would be so interested. It was getting in his heart, and you could just see his little mind thinking, his little eyes were imagining what was happening.

What an incredible privilege it is in our country just to have the Word and to be able to read it out loud. Of course, the Word has been such an anchor in my life. I want my kids growing up knowing that it’s there and that the Lord speaks to them through His Word. I don’t want it to be a weird thing that you only do on Sunday or when you hit rock bottom that you go to it. I just want to introduce them to it at an early age so that it just becomes an every day part of life like playing or eating.

Leslie: That’s Maggie Paulus. A mom who is trying to instill in her three-year-old a love for God’s Word. She’s been encouraged to start when her children are young by her friend, Carrie Ward, who’s just released a book about reading her Bible to her children. It’s called Together: Growing Appetites for God.

Michele Wilson is another mom who’s been influenced by Carrie. Before she had a family, Michele enjoyed a rich, consistent time in the Bible. But after getting married and having four kids, she found spending time in God’s Word very challenging.

A few months ago Michele started reading Carrie Ward’s blog called, AnEverydayMama.com. That inspired her to begin an adventure with her young kids through the New Testament.

Michele Wilson: Reading Carrie’s blog and praying and asking God, “How do I even start, Lord? I feel like I have failed at this so many times, where do I begin?” It was a very sweet moment. Not long after that prayer, I think it was the next evening, my little three-year-old walks up with her small little children’s Bible and says, “Mommy, will you read this me?”

I knew at that moment that I needed to just start right there. So I gathered all four of my children and I said, “We’re going to start reading through the Bible.” And they all cheered and said, “We’ve been wanting to do that.”

So I pulled them into the bed with me, and we read just a short four or five verses together. We talked about it and just had a wonderful time. So the next morning we gathered in mom and dad’s bed again and started reading. We read probably for two maybe three weeks like that each morning in mom and dad’s bed. Then one of the boys turned and looked at me and said, “This is so great, can we start reading through the Scriptures with Dad?”

I said, “Let me think about that. Let me talk to Dad and see how we can incorporate Dad into this time.” We came up with after dinner would be a perfect time. “Let’s just stay at the table and read through the Bible together.” So we’ve been reading through the Bible for two-and-half months now. Now my three-year-old and my six-year-old argue over who will pick up the Bible or the iPad for Mom and Dad to read Scripture.

Around the same time God gave me the desire to read through the Scriptures with my children, He was placing in my husband a desire to meet with several men to pray—and they just happened to be praying for our children and their wives. I think that really set this tone for our household. Then my children were challenged through their Sunday school class to start reading through the Bible, but they never told me that until after we were already reading the Bible. I think that there was something—God was already speaking to each one of us to prepare us for this family time.

I think the biggest thing is I gave up so many times. I didn’t persevere through. I would think that if we didn’t sit down and read for fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes, that we were failing.  Really, whatever amount of time we’re reading the Scriptures, God uses. So that was really important for me to understand in my own heart, that His Word would not go away void. If it’s five minutes their attention span can hold, then it’s five minutes. But as we’ve done this over and over, now they sit still for thirty minutes, and they want more. So we just gauge the evening according to where our children are, and that’s okay.

Leslie: Michele Wilson has been seeing how valuable it is to spend time as a family in God’s Word. She’s been encouraged by reading a blog by Carrie Ward. It’s called AnEverydayMama.com. Carrie has also just released a book called, Together: Growing Appetites for God.

Carrie Ward told us that after spending years trying to be more disciplined in her Bible reading, what she really needed was a greater hunger. Carrie’s friend, Andrea Salzman was going through a similar struggle. She felt like her hunger needed to grow. When she heard that Carrie was reading the entire Bible with her small kids, Andrea asked Carrie for advice.

Andrea Salzman: I was discouraged personally because it was hard for me to be in the Word. We had little kids, and sleep was precious, and it was just hard to do.

Carrie: I knew that there were other people out that struggled in this area, but probably more came to light as I talked with people, as I gave my testimony.

Andrea: I remember just being frustrated and saying, “Carrie, how do you even do that?”

Carrie: People would come up and probably relate more to what I was going through than I had previously thought. You think you’re the only one struggling until you share it. Then you find out that it’s not just you. 

Andrea: And she said, “Andrea, you pray for a passion to be in the Word.” I started praying for a passion to be in the Word, and it’s been amazing since that time to see what God has been doing in my life. I started saying, “Okay, well if Carrie started reading with her kids, I’ll just start reading with my kids. I’m going to pray that we get a passion for the Word because right now, it’s not very exciting.”

Because now, I get up in the morning where I used to sleep. I get up in the morning and I read the Bible and I pray. I found out that I didn’t have enough time, so I had to get up earlier in the morning to read. So just the fact that Carrie encouraged us to be in the Word and to pray for a passion for the Word is so exciting to me, because I prayed and it happened. Then we started encouraging other friends that it’s okay even if you have little kids, even when your sleep is hard and you’re exhausted, if you can just get a little bit of the Word, God’s going to grow it and grow it and grow it.God delights when we’re seeking Him, and He delights to answer those prayers. 

So I think it’s just helpful to start. It can be a couple of verses a day, and just watch what God does, because He delights in us knowing Him. That’s when I started thinking, “Carrie started really young, reading the Bible with her kids. I could do it, too. It was encouraging, also, to remember Carrie saying she would be tossing Cheerios to their youngest while they were reading the Bible. I thought, ‘Okay I could do that.’”

So we started at breakfast, and we started reading at breakfast with the boys as well. I love it when they ask me to read another one. When we hit the book of Ruth, they didn’t want to stop. I said, “Okay, guys, we really need to get on with our chores.”

And they were like, “No! Just one more chapter, Mom, just do one more.”

And I said, “Alright.”

And we just did the whole book, all the way through. They sat through it all and that was neat.

I think when we started reading through the Bible, we started memorizing  Scripture at the same time. I’m amazed at how they picked up verses so fast. I’m horrible at memorizing. It’s been great, because I’m memorizing things as they’re memorizing. I don’t think if we hadn’t started reading the Bible together, I don’t know that we would have picked up the memorizing at the same time, and that’s been encouraging. 

One day Ethan, our youngest, was crying or fussing about something. I couldn’t get to him. I was doing something. I could hear Caleb who was three at the time. He was starting to sing to Ethan. He would sing, “Don’t be afraid. It’s okay. God is good, and He loves you. You can trust Him”

He just repeated it over and over again. I thought, “Okay, they’re starting to get the fact that God is good, and it’s sinking in.” Even whenever the kids are afraid at night, they’ll say, “Mommy, can you find me a verse?” If I find a verse about fear or whatever it is the problem is, I’ll write it on a  Post-It note and stick it right next to their bed.

We arranged their bedroom and they were like, “No, no! I forgot my verses!” And they ran over to the wall and peeled them off and moved them over by their beds. So just the fact that they are starting to see that Scripture is precious.

I’m praying that they just get a passion for being in the Word of God and seeing that it’s not a dry book, that it’s a duty for a Christian to do, but that this is a love letter from our Savior. It’s telling us about our God, and it’s personal. That’s what I’m hoping; that’s what I’m praying that they see. 

Excerpted from Revive Our Hearts.

A Couple of Simple Ideas

Routines, it seems, were made to be broken . . . at least by summer. My Bible reading with the kids has had some breaks here and there. (Why? That’s the likely subject of some upcoming blogs.) But, we also like change and spontaneity. Still, with our rhythms being bumped a bit, my husband and I still want to create an atmosphere that continually cultivates all of our appetites for God. Continue reading

Fear. It’s Real. And What to Do About It.

A few days ago, as I was driving home, my mind drifted. In no time I was in an internal panic, thinking about what would happen to my children if my husband and I both died at the same time. Then, I let my mind go further (too far) and I imagined if we all died except my youngest daughter. Would our friends gather around her? Would our family get here quickly enough to calm her fears? I was almost in tears as I was driving, gripped by fear. Continue reading

Compassion Sunday is coming!

On Sunday April 21, churches all over the country will be promoting Compassion Sunday. Compassion International is hoping that many, many individuals and families will reach out and bring the love of Jesus and a new life story to children in extreme poverty.

My son is promoting this event in our church. He and his brother made this cool video to prep our church for the coming event. Compassion also sent him 20 names and pictures of real children who need real help. Each of them needs prayer and financial support.

Compassion International is one organization that is doing this good work. My family has also made such contributions through Gospel for Asia and Samaritan’s Purse. I hope you’ll check out these great ministries.

Would you please pray? And, if you’re not currently sponsoring a child in need, let me encourage you to consider what you might do for the least of these.

 

Folding and Thinking

Yesterday morning I was folding laundry in the hall upstairs, and looking at the sizes trying to figure out which shirt belonged to which kid, etc. These days I’m folding 12′s, 14′s and shirts that cause me to do a double-take to know if it’s my son’s or my husband’s. While folding, I had this wave of melancholy come over me. (This doesn’t always happen while doing laundry!) I lingered over the thought that I only have a handful of years left to share a house with these four, not-so-little-anymore, people of mine. Continue reading