kids’ Bible reading

At our house, we have begun nearly all of our “school year” activities. It has been a busy few weeks. But, it’s been hanging over my head that I need to post the actual Bible reading plan my daughter is using. I was going on and on about doing it, so I must be true to my word!

There are actually two parts to her “Bible study/reading.” The first part is a short, 4-day reading plan through a few of the Psalms. My intent with this reading plan is to help my daughter have some consistent time reading in the Word, and to begin learning to engage it. For this portion, though there are some elements of “Bible study” in it, this is not intended to be a thorough treatment of these passages. I also want to be careful to avoid extremes…legalistic reading, pure knowledge accumulation, “mindless” reading, responding purely out of emotion, or without wisdom. It is 3rd-grader approved, and quote, “better than the ones from last year we did.” So far so good, I guess!

I have five weeks of this written out; you are more than welcome to print them off for personal use. Perhaps they will be helpful for some. If they are, send me a note or comment below and I’ll post more as I prepare them.

They could be done individually, the way my daughter is doing it, or they could be used to help foster some discussion together. The Psalms I chose are in no particular order. I wanted to give her a taste of different Psalms, so I’m being intentional to include some from different genres of the Psalms – they are not all praise, they are not all lament. It would be easy to avoid “harder” ones, but I think there must be ways to allow our kiddos to engage all of it at some level.

The disclaimer: I sort of proof read these, and I know when you blog you’re supposed to be great at proofing, but this just didn’t happen, so you may truly find some typos. And, they are totally not comprehensive! After all, this is for a little girl’s daily reading and prayer time. I prayed and worked hard to be faithful to the Word, but I also did not agonize over these for hours on end. I pray there are no major exegetical fallacies (!). That being said, the primary resources I use for our Bible study are Bible Study by Kathleen Nielson, One To One Bible Reading by David Helm, a few resources passed down from my pastors, and my resources from a course I completed at http://www.simeontrust.org.

Second, in my previous post, I mentioned we’re trying to prepare for Sunday mornings at our church by reading through and doing some “Bible study” together so we’re primed and ready for the sermon. I don’t plan to post this portion specifically, because it’s primarily discussion. If you’re interested in the kinds of questions we talk about, though, I’d be happy to give some insight or suggestions! Just send me a note.

We do this typically on Fridays together, and it’s mostly a discussion that takes us around 30 minutes. On Sundays during the sermon, I’ve been having her take notes, listening for three specific things: 1) something we learned together about the passage (this helps us know if we were on the right track!), 2) something new she heard that we didn’t discuss or address (this helps her – both of us! – remain teachable, and appreciate the pastor’s work, teaching, and instruction in the Word), and 3) listen carefully for how the pastor asks us to apply it to our lives (this has been hardest for her to find, I think because it’s at the end of the sermon typically!). On the way home or later that day I’ll glance at her notes and/or ask her about what she heard.

This has been highly encouraging to me. She has gleaned a lot from the sermons recently. I praise God for some of the things his Word has really made her consider and think about during our Friday discussions and Sunday afternoons after hearing the Word preached!

But, lest you think we are super great at maintaining this rhythm – or you observe my daughter on Sunday mornings and question – we have not done this perfectly. This is our ideal, our goal, my vision for my daughter and myself as we study on Fridays. Traveling to see new babies in our family and spontaneous field trips has interrupted our “study” cycle. And sometimes, when we sit down to discuss it on Fridays, it’s just really, really awkward! I ask questions that sound boring or are filled with “ums,” she is unenthused, her eyes are glazed over, and it often has taken a few minutes before we really get to anything very “great.” However, once we finally get there, once we plow down and work together to see what God is saying, wow! God’s Word is real food for us, not plain ol’ words on a page. I just know he is delighting to see us make this effort to know him.

I’m praying these ideas spur many of you on to better and greater ones, as you work heartily to bring your littles before the throne of grace and truth!

Here are the five weeks of Psalm readings:






I get very excited planning for my daughter’s home school year. It’s the craziest thing, since I never expected myself to be in this place…planning, organizing, looking ahead, looking forward, hopeful, anticipating…doing school with her (!).

I’ve just begun to plan out her “Bible reading stuff.” Several have asked me to let them in on what we’ll be doing as we go forward so I thought I’d start sharing it. Today arrived a couple of new books that I’m pretty excited about, so of course I had to start taking photos! Is there any other option in this technological world now?

We already have a few items, are still looking for some missing items (if it’s not under her bed, where could that book be at?!), have others that I’m not sure we’ll use or not, and are pretty set on the others.

IMG_20160701_113552233 I’m not exactly sure how it will all look quite yet, what she’ll do independently and what we’ll do together, but so far what I am fairly certain about is having several layers for her “Bible study.”

Please note that my daughter is going into third grade; some of these ideas will be too much for your little! And one other thing: I have great vision and ideals and goals…that sometimes play out beautifully and sometimes they just don’t. I overwhelm my husband sometimes with all my plans and ideas. Please don’t feel intimidated if this sounds like too much. I would be so sad if you were.

First, she’ll have a daily Bible reading plan. Last year we used this one and it was very sufficient for this. I wanted her to get in the Word independently, I had a new baby (’nuff said), and it introduced her to an Bible reading plan that didn’t overwhelm or intimidate her.

This year, I’ll probably come up with a plan for her myself. So far, I’m leaning specifically towards incorporating Psalm 119 because it speaks of having such great delight for God’s Word. After it gets organized, I’ll share it!

Second, she’ll have a new “topic” for school: theology. In the past she has been pretty entranced by my own studying, so I thought, well why not just be specific about it and add this in?? These are the books that came today, and how exciting to think she can claim to have her own “theology books!” So cute. I’ll be looking through them more closely to see how quickly I want to take her through each one and in what order. This is a part that we may do during the day, or sometimes do later with dad. These books could very easily be done during family time, if that’s your style.

First, we’ll be reading the children’s version of Paul Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, entitled Dangerous Journey. There is a study guide for this book, which I’ve ordered, and I’ll look at that to see how it can be utilized for discussion.

Second, we’ll be reading through a systematic theology book for kids by Machowski, The Ology. It has extra Scriptures and a question or two for each topic. The ages he lists in this are primarily for 6-12. If you have younger kiddos, we just received this book when we dedicated our son at church and it would be a great “theology.”

Third, we’ll be reading through some of her children’s Bibles to keep in mind that “bigger story” in Scripture. We own The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Biggest Story, and God’s Big Picture Bible.

I think those will be sufficient for the year. But if not, we’ll likely dive in to Sally Michael’s God’s Promises. We did her God’s Names in the past and really, really liked it (I think she was about 5 or 6 at the time).

We have done Catechism in the past, and may or may not do some of that again. It’s nice to have a change of pace. If you have older kids and want a supplement to Catechism memorization, we worked through these workbooks last year. They were a little difficult for her in second grade, but they did help us have some good discussion.

Third, she’ll be doing actual Bible study. I’ve had a difficult time deciding which book of the Bible to go through with her, but in the end, I landed on Luke. I really wanted to go through a gospel/narrative with her, and since I found out our church is preaching through Luke this fall, I thought this was practically a no brainer. We’ll be studying passages a little ahead of the preaching schedule, and my hope is that by the time they tackle it on Sundays, she’ll get a little more out of it than she otherwise would (and so will I!).

I am going to type up some pages for her/both of us to fill out. They’ll be simple, there will likely be work for her to do independently, and opportunity for us to discuss together. The work load won’t be huge. Reading through the passage once or twice during the week, doing a day or two of a few questions, and then our discussion of it together. We’ll see how it all plays out. (sigh) I love thinking about this part and can’t wait to see how it turns out!

This step has only just begun, but I’ll post it, too, when I’m done. I plan for us to start studying Luke at the very beginning of August so that we’ll be sure to “be ready” for our church’s sermons! (Egads!)

Fourth, she’ll have some Scripture memory. This is where the curriculum that our church uses on Sundays comes in to play. The amazing Children’s Ministry staff at our church does a beautiful job teaching Biblical truths to the kids in their care. We’ll take a day to do any worksheet she brings home from Sunday School and do our best to memorize the Scripture they are working on. There have been times when we’ve done this well, and times when we haven’t. We definitely need to grow in our self-discipline in this area!

I hope this is helpful for some. If I have the opportunity and mind for it, perhaps I’ll post my motivation and desire for all of this. The purpose behind the doing – to see God and his glory – is really the beautiful motivation of it all. I hope it will be yours, too.

Much love to you!




the girl wants to be like me

It dawned on me the day she insisted on drinking water from a mug. A few minutes later, I found her sitting on the couch, Bible open in her lap, head bent in reading, and the mug cupped in her hands.

I realized it every day she frantically searched her wardrobe to find an outfit that matched what I was wearing.

I have seen it as I’ve watched her organize her play make up to look just like mine in front of her bedroom mirror, and apply it on her sweet little face alongside me in the mornings.

And it was confirmed, just the other day, when she informed me that she, too, has her own “theology” books to study, and that she loved the very word itself.

The girl wants to be like me.

I am like someone she wants to be.

Today, right now, as she is learning about life, it is I she looks up to. I am her biggest influence, her most dominant role model. Though they say these days may change in many ways, for right now, she loves it that way.

Do I?

I find myself pausing as I type, after writing that question down, pondering it. Do I love being the one she looks up to? I think about some of the moments this very week when I’ve scorned some of her copycat ways, sighed at her tagalong spirit as I walk through the house, and I am convicted. I am convicted because I know the scorn and sighs that come from me are not worthy examples to follow.

I find my mind drifting to the words of Peter…”what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…(2 Pet 3:11-12).” 

What sort of people ought we to be, he asks. When our daughters look back upon their childhood, what sort of person will they see in their mothers? Will they see a mother who was diligent to be found in Christ…as she was nagged all day long? Will they see a mother who longed for the Day of the Lord, not in order to escape the trying moment, but rather to embrace it for eternal purposes? Will they see a mother who aimed to be a role model for them while they were young, pursuing godliness, chasing Christlikeness, striving for holiness? 

They will surely remember our sin, our moments of weakness. They will look back upon their childhood and see our stumbles and areas we should’ve grown in. But, thank God for that! Would we want it any other way? For if they remembered perfection, surely that would reveal a negligence on our part. The appearance of perfection is not reality or truth, it does not demonstrate or explain the grace of the gospel of Christ. The truth is that as we pursue lives of godliness and holiness while they follow us around, tugging at our skirts and chattering in our ears, they not only see our weakness and sin, but what we do with them. Will they remember us as ones who embraced the scorn? Or will they remember us as ones who had great humility over it and prayed for the power to overcome it?                   

The girl wants to be like me. 

I am like someone she wants to be. 

Am I becoming like what I want her to become? Will I, will we, embrace it? Will we love it?

great things in 2016

As I look back and reflect on 2015, one thing is loud and clear to me: the year 2015 looked absolutely nothing like I anticipated upon entering it.

We had no idea there would be a sudden job change for my husband, or that we would begin homeschooling our daughter, and, perhaps least of all, that we would witness the birth of a second child, our son.

In these last few weeks since his arrival, in the very early hours, when my house is dark, before the cats are prowling around meowing (screaming) for food, before my daughter is up giving me fashion makeovers, before my husband wakes me for a moment to say to goodbye before leaving for the day…I have held my newborn son. 

I have liked to sit in his room, in the watches, in those early dark hours, and hold him. I have liked to hold him and stare at him, sitting in the old feeble rocking chair I found for a dollar and my dad fixed up for me. 

I have stared at him, and I have cried. I have cried because his chubby round face, so still and so perfect and so lovely, makes me ever so grateful. It brings to my mind all that God has brought about for my family; the external evidences he has given that demonstrate the internal workings he has done. The realized and unrealized burdens that he has lifted, and the quiet joy that he has brought to our souls because of how incredibly merciful he has shown himself to be to us.

I see its realness when I look in my husband’s eyes and see a brightness there. I see its authenticity when I watch my daughter’s selfless attitude and deep love towards her new baby brother. I see its freedom when I search my own heart, and feel the need for his continual mercy.

Watching my family live life, and living it in light of the mercy of our great God, is an astounding, blessed, grace-filled, holy gift; it is a gift that I could never have before imagined until I lived this life, with these people, before this God. It makes my soul fall upon its knees in speechless wonderment. It makes my mind desire to lift itself up to the throne of grace. It makes my heart tremble with humility before the One who has so cheered my flailing, burdened spirit. 

What will this next year hold for us? For me? My husband? My children? Our family? I have made a few plans, a few goals. I want to grow in commitment to the tasks God places before me, and so I pray that I choose to keep at these tasks, and not willingly go my own way in the things I take on.

But above all… in the midst of all that, really…I want to watch God at work, as I have watched him work this year, and the years before it. I want to continue to see my family live life as he works in our hearts to deepen our knowledge of himself. I want to watch him move among the people of my church, opening eyes and deepening faith. I want to watch him expand his flock, bringing the straying and the wandering to the safety of his eternal care. I want to join in singing with the angels, as they rejoice over souls saved. Though I have vision and thoughts and ideas for 2016, I’d much rather it look nothing like I anticipate. I want God to astonish and astound me with his plans and works. I want to end 2016 much like I am ending 2015; in speechless, tearful, joy-filled thanksgiving and praise. 

And so for 2016, my prayers for myself, my family, my church, my community, is this:

Nothing exceeds thy power,

Nothing is too great for thee to do,

Nothing is too good for thee to give.

 Infinite is thy might, boundless thy love,

 limitless thy grace, glorious thy saving name.

Let angels sing for sinners repenting, prodigals restored,

 backsliders reclaimed, Satan’s captives released,

 blind eyes opened, broken hearts bound up,

 the despondent cheered, the self-righteous stripped,

 the formalist driven from a refuge of lies,

 the ignorant enlightened,

 and saints built up in their holy faith.

I ask great things of a great God. 

– from The Valley of Vision

praise to the only One

The layers of my personality and my sin, and how they interact and fit together are deep. Unfathomable. The only one who can probe those depths truly is the one who knit me together in my mother’s womb and who remembers every moment of my life; every motive, every memory, every decision, and every circumstance prompting all that I’ve done or didn’t do. I remember so little of my life; how could I really ever know myself truly or interpret myself accurately? I must interpret in light of God’s truth, revealed in his Word, and believe that what he says of me is sufficient for all my time here on earth.
In light of the knowledge that I cannot fully comprehend all my motives or reasons for acting, I can still see a pattern of sin that is not uncommon to many. It is the lack of putting whole effort into something, and the desire to do ‘just enough’ to get by. When faced with the flaws of one’s personality, thoughts can become daunting, and lead to a variety of fears that stifle any attempt to be truly wholehearted in what she is supposed to do.
It can be discouraging, and cause sorrow upon sorrow, to recognize that instead of being mastered by the God who knows the depths of one’s personality, we can let ourselves be mastered instead by the fear of what may be. 

Sometimes, the fear of what may be is the resultant pride that could be waiting on the other side of a good effort put forth, and it can cripple. When fearing pride is the current ruling master of one’s thoughts, it can be a paralyzing idea that pride will again be the same ruler after all is said and done. Then, instead of putting out the effort, all effort is stifled and avoided, and God is not glorified.

I think of this and wonder, has anyone really, ever given their all? Even among the “competitive” personalities? Are there really those who have given their every effort, worked truly hard and diligently, for whatever it is they do? And after all is said and done, after this wholehearted effort given, is there truly any who have ever done it purely? Who, when on the other side of their hard work, have finished and received praise for a job well done, and have actually responded rightly? Who have not bowed down and submitted themselves to the rule of pride?

Surely there must only be one. One, who did his task with all his energy, all his willpower, all his strength. Yes, there was one, and it was Christ. It was he alone who worked hard, wholeheartedly, tirelessly, enduringly, non-competitively, without apathy, without laziness, and fearing nothing about results from his completed task.

It was Christ, who, on the other side, when the job was done and done well, remained constant and unchanged in personality, in motive, in response, in mindset, in goals, in priorities, and in role. It was he who remained focused on his purpose, determined to continue on to the next task, continuing his work, and continuing in obedience. Who did not attempt to do more or less than what his assignment was, but rather did exactly what he was meant for. There has only been one who knew himself truly, knew his ability, and knew that instead of ever being ruled by the sin of pride, he alone had the authority to conquer it.

This ought to convict us, humble us, and also give us great peace. It ought to put our minds and thoughts in a right place as we see our gifts, tasks, talents, and roles in light of what Christ did and how he did it. Even when our personalities are inclined to give valiant effort in tasks he gives us, our imperfect perfection cannot compare to his perfect perfection. Our personality and sin working together is unfathomably deep to us, but it is not to him. He knew this as he went forth in his task. It takes wholehearted effort to empty oneself in order to bring wholehearted assurance to the one who cannot.

Praise to the One who gives us the opportunity and the command to press on and forget what lies behind us! The half efforts, the false efforts, the fear or pride, and the shame of it all. And praise to the One who gives us cause to look forward and strive forward in faith as we find assurance in him that all our efforts to follow him, serve him, obey him, adore him – feeble though they may be – will be happily and gladly seen by the God who created us and understands us better than we understand ourselves, in light of his Son’s valiant, complete effort.