As I have been figuring out our summer plans, one of the ideas that God gave me was to start every day with my older kids having a time of Bible study on their own. I gathered them together and explained that we were going to honor God by committing first thing each day to spend time studying His Word. I told them that before they go play with friends, before they venture off to our neighborhood pool, before they turn on the tv... you get the picture... they are going to make God their first priority. I explained that it takes 21 days to form a habit and I hope that, in requiring this from them, I will help them create-- not just a habit-- but a lifelong passion for spending time with God before they do anything else.
I went to the store and bought each of them a 5X7, 80 page notebook to serve as their Bible journal. They cost $.99 each! Then I explained that every day I will write down a passage I would like them to read, with a verse I would like them to copy into their notebook. (This takes just seconds of my time to do.) Simple! After floundering a bit about what exactly to have them read and write, what has emerged this week is a system that is working well:
- The seven year old is reading Psalm 23 each day, and copying down a successive verse until she has copied down the whole Psalm. Then we will move to another short passage and do the same thing. I am hoping the repeated daily readings will add up to a familiarity of some key passages in the Bible.
- The eleven year old is reading through the gospel of Matthew, one chapter a day, and is writing down a verse from that chapter, which I choose for him.
- The thirteen year old is choosing a Psalm and writing down a verse that speaks to her personally every day. I am giving her more flexibility and letting her make it personal because of her age and maturity.
I am excited about making this time a daily priority. If you have older children who are capable of reading and writing, I highly recommend starting this as a summer project-- not in a mean, dictator way, but in a passionate, "this is so important and I want you to experience it" kind of way. Better yet, do it with them, making your own journal and copying down verses that speak to you. (If you don't know what to read, subscribe to the P31 devotions and just read the devotion for that day and then copy down the verse for that day into your notebook, then write down a few prayer requests if you want.)
After you are done, talk about what you read. Share something cool with them that God showed you. Then ask them questions and let them narrate (a fancy word for tell) what they read. I am doing this with my eleven year old, just to make sure he grasped it. I just ask, "Did you read your chapter?" Then I say, "Tell me about what happened." It's pretty cool to hear him tell it in his own words. If I know anything about what he read that day, I add to it not in a teachery sort of way, but in a "if you think that's cool, let me tell you about this." Today we talked about Herod and his legacy-- how his son and grandson were also bad men and that his grandson died after being eaten from the inside out by worms. Ewwww, gross. We also talked about how Nazareth was not a place that people expected greatness to come from, and how it was significant that the prophecy that the king of the Jews would come out of Nazareth was fulfilled just as it was written in the Old Testament. This is all stuff I have learned from my years in CBS. Nothing earth shattering, just good info that, I think, helps make the Bible come alive.
As I explained about this summer plan to my kids earlier this week, my eleven year old son said to me, "Mom, you really love the Lord, don't you?" I don't think he has ever paid me a nicer compliment. And I can't think of a better legacy to hand him, a passion to ignite, and a habit to start now.
ETA: I found a great article about planning for summer fun here. You might want to check it out, as it had some great suggestions for moms who are trying to make the best summer ever without breaking the budget!