When it comes to memorizing bible verses, we don’t often see the point. It is something we did in Sunday School when we were kids, but that’s the extent of it. And when it comes to making our kids do it, it seems like more work than its worth, but I would contend that teaching your children bible memory verses actually helps your job as a parent.
In elementary math, we see the importance for kids to memorize the basic addition facts as well as the multiplication tables. While they don’t understand why they must put these numbers to memory, we know that as they advance in higher math being able to pull these facts out of their brains quickly will be a great benefit to them. We can apply the same logic to memorizing scripture. In Joshua 1:8, God tells Joshua to meditate on the Law day and night so that he will be careful to do all that is written in it and have success. Just like memorizing basic math facts helps us in Algebra, internalizing the Word of God helps us to keep His commands.
Scripture memory sets children up for victory against temptations
As parents, we strive to set our children up for success in life. We want them to go to a good school, so we look at the options and choose the one that will best prepare them for the next step. We make sure they have tutoring and/or extra help in the areas they are struggling. We take them to extra-curricular art classes, dance, sports, and a multitude of other things to prepare them for life in the best way we know how. We pay for extra ACT or SAT Prep courses to ensure they get the best possible score so they can get into the college of their choice. We want the best for our children and are willing to sacrifice ourselves if necessary to make sure they have it.
Just as we set them up for success in physical areas of life, we need to set them up for success spiritually. Temptations are a very real part of life. At this point in their lives, we are right by their side acting as their conscience helping them decide between right and wrong. But a day will come when that is not the case. They won’t always have us to help them make the right decision, but when we give them the word of God as their standard for life we set them up for victory.
Your word have I treasured in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
To give our children the tools to fight against temptation, we must be teaching them the gospel. Not only on Sunday morning, but we must be living it out in front of them; teaching them diligently and talking of it when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Deuteronomy 6:7) We all need to be surrounded by these truths of God’s word. When we add bible memory to this and store these truths in our hearts, the Helper will bring them to our minds when temptations arise.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
Scripture memory gives a reason for the “why”
Children ask “why” a lot. Sometimes it can be hard to continue to come up with reasons for the behavior we require. But when all of our rules are tied to the bible, we have a black and white reason for the expectations we have for them. I find it easier to answer my children’s questions when I can point them straight back to the source.
“Why do I have to have a good attitude when I do things?”
Do all things without grumbling or disputing. Philippians 2:14
“Why does it matter if I do my work lazily or sloppily?”
Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23
“Why is it wrong for me to get angry?”
Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
“Why do I have to forgive my sister?”
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
“Why is it wrong if I lie?”
…the Lord hates…a lying a tongue…” Proverbs 6:16-17
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 (One of the Ten Commandments)
Just as these verses answer the immediate why, they also answer the long-term why. As children grow into teen-dom and young adulthood and begin considering life outside the nest, they can give a reason for the standards their parents instilled in them. These truths are like stakes for direction and support. Just as we put stakes in the ground so that our tomato plants have something to grow up on, we give our children the word of God to give them the direction to grow. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…
Scripture memory tethers them to God rather than to us
In his book, Reset: How to Keep Your Kids from Backsliding, Todd Friel makes a statement that makes complete sense, yet it completely challenged me. “Tether your child to you, and the odds are they will fly the coop. Tether your child to Christ, and he/she will submit to Him long after you and I are dead.” In other words, we must be teaching them God’s rules. Show them that they are obeying God when they obey us. And, as the psalmist says, the best way to obey is to hide His rules in our hearts. When the time comes to let them go into the world on their own (and believe me, it will come faster than you expect) we can breathe easier knowing that the word of God is with them.
When Solomon, the wisest man in the world, was giving advice to his son he said to observe and not to forsake the teachings of his mother and father. He counseled that when these words are stored in his heart they will guide his steps and guard his way. How great to know that when we are no longer there to keep them on the narrow path, that our God is with them.
Bind [my words] continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
So where do we go from here? There are several scripture memory guides on the market — invest in one for you and your family. Memorize with your kids, show them it is important for you too. A family devotional book that we have personally used and enjoyed, Sword Fighting, has 52 bible memory verses along with applicable devotions. Another great resource that my family is a part of where scripture memory is a key aspect is AWANA. I highly recommend joining a club at a local church.
I have made a set of 16 illustrated scripture memory cards containing some key verses for children. I want to give you a set for free when you join my mailing list. Just follow this link to get them.
I have been asking myself how I am spending my time. Am I being a good steward of the time God has given me? Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord” and Psalm 5:3 encourages,”In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” Therefore, before I begin my day I need to spend time with the Lord, as well as meditate on His word throughout the day. This is an important routine to fill up my tank for the day allowing me to go into my tasks with the right attitude and providing the words to use in spreading the gospel. In my last post I discussed how I am spending the time and abilities God has given me and whether I am using them to the best of my ability. I wanted to devote more time to the topic of daily Bible study as that is essential to all other things.
Daily Devotional Habit
First and foremost comes my time with God. Over the years, I have developed a habit of pulling out my Bible first thing in the morning. I get up with my husband and help him out the door at 6am. Then I sit with my bible, my reading plan, and a cup of coffee. (Also earbuds because I focus sooooo much better when I listen and read it!) For a long time I have felt that I was doing good in this area and I checked it off my list, so to speak, of disciplines that I have got a handle on. But, Paul exhorts us to excel still more (1 Thessalonians 4:1). My typical Bible devotion is usually to read either the M’Cheyne One Year Plan or a chronological plan (this year I am doing Solid Life Whole Bible Reading Plan). These plans have me reading the Bible in a year and have me reading in both the Old Testament and the New Testament at the same time. The act of reading from 2-4 different areas in the Bible helps me make observations and connections I haven’t made before.
However, I am not consistent at Bible journaling, nor do I regularly do a separate Bible study. I underline and write little notes in my Bible, but sometimes I have more to say than what I can write in the margins. And while I love journaling, I’m a wordy person, so writing in a blank page journal is like a 30 minute exercise for me. This means that I usually get lazy and don’t pull it out because “I don’t have time for that.”
However, I have decided that, in order to continue to grow in my relationship with God (2 Peter 3:18), I have to do more than what I already do. So I purchased this simple journal that uses the Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer (SOAP) method. I decided to do this instead of using a blank journal like I have in the past to make the idea of daily journaling feel less intimidating. The fill in the blank pages are one page per day which make me feel like I can briefly write my thoughts without writing a book. 10 minutes of journaling is still journaling! I’m still getting my thoughts on paper without taking up all my time. Also, I have committed to write in the journal daily, which forces me to think and meditate upon what I have read (Joshua 1:8).
In addition to reading and meditating on the Word of God, prayer is an important part of daily spiritual disciplines. Because I lack focus, I can struggle with this aspect at times. Not because I don’t know what to say, but because, despite my best efforts, my thoughts stray to other things. The best way I have found to combat this is to have my Bible open and pray scripture and/or write my prayers in a journal. Again, this is not something I do everyday, but I am striving for excellence in this area. Another favorite way to pray is during my morning walks. After I read my Bible and before my kids get up, I leave the house and walk about 2 miles. The peaceful serenity of the morning makes for a wonderful time of prayer while I get some exercise, Somehow being outside and moving my body helps me concentrate on prayer. I am also looking for other profitable ways to pray during my day. My pastor’s wife tells how she would often pray while doing monotonous daily tasks such as folding laundry or ironing. This is also a good method.
So what’s so important about developing this skill? Why not just do a five minute devotional and be done? 1 Timothy 4:7 says to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” In his book on spiritual disciplines, Donald Whitney compares this to spiritual exercises. “To go to your favorite spot for prayer or journaling, for example, is like going to a gym and using a weight machine. As physical disciplines like this promote strength, so the spiritual disciplines promote godliness.” As we grow in godliness we grow in sanctification, and that is the goal of the Christian life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
I am a list setter and a planner. I like to write my to-do lists and I like to schedule out my days. There may be times I need to adjust on the fly, however I do so much better in my day if I have a plan worked out telling me what I need to do and when. Because of that I have tried a lot of planners. Digital and print, specialized and general, purchased and homemade. I’ve tried them all. And nothing is just right — just what I’m looking for.
The specialized ones are too … ummm … specialized, not leaving room for the other areas of my life. The general ones don’t allow me the space for jotting down notes and brainstorming; processes that help me keep my brain in check. Digital ones keep me in a box of “fill in this blank with this type of information” — sometimes (a lot of the time) my life doesn’t fit in a box. Then there are the printable planners that boast of completely customizable pages that include several different options to make the planner what I need it to be. I just print what I want. That sounds great in theory, but printing 150 pages in full color and binding it in something durable is expensive! I’d honestly rather pay a little bit more to buy one already printed and professionally bound.
So what it boils down to is that I want a planner that is already printed and bound, that is not specialized in to categories like homeschool calendar or blog calendar, but has room for me to brainstorm my thoughts and allows me to schedule out my day to include all the different things I do.
Enter the Living Well Planner. I found it a year ago when I was searching for a good way to plan my chaotic life and bring the overwhelm under control. I was unhappy with the last two planners I had purchased as they were homeschool specialized and were not conducive to the other areas of my life. I had been a reader of Ruth Soukup’s blog for a couple years and had heard about the planner but hadn’t checked it out yet. It seemed to have everything I was looking for, so I took the leap and ordered it. I’m so glad I did!
My favorite part is the goal setting and project planning pages at the beginning of each month. It’s a place for me to brainstorm the “big thing” I’m trying to accomplish right now and set goals for projects I want to accomplish in the future. The worksheets help to break up my big “to-do’s” into actionable steps. It’s especially helpful that there is a new set of goal pages every month as I have different things I want/need to accomplish that often.
The goal setting page at the beginning of each month.
Project planning pages following the goal setting page.
Then there are the weekly pages. Every day is laid out by the hour so I can time block what I need to do each day. For a slightly scatter-brained person like me, that is a life saver. In addition to the time block, there is a space to write your daily “must-do” and what’s for dinner. Seriously, it’s like this planner was made just for me!
The weekly planning pages. Everything is undated so you can start whenever!
In addition to these pages every month, there is also a monthly budget page, thoughts and thanks page, and a notes page. You could literally almost keep your whole life in this planner — and it’s beautiful too!! The months are tabbed making it easy to flip right where you need to be.
There are a multitude of planners out there — one to fit every taste and niche, and then some! While that means that somewhere in the sea of planners there is something that fits your unique personality, it also can be overwhelming. So I thought I’d share with you the planner I use and enjoy. I hope this review was helpful to you.
In full disclosure, I do earn a little commission of your purchase, but it has not effected my review in the least. I had this planner for a year before I became an affiliate and I would recommend it regardless of that fact. It is a planner I will purchase again in the future.
Am I making the most of my time? Homeschool, blog, church, family; I have so many things vying for my attention, but if I’m not careful, I can easily waste an entire day wandering aimlessly because I haven’t written anything down. I know I have things to do, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t want to come to the end of our school year and feel that I didn’t accomplish all that I set out to do. I don’t want to look back at the end of this year and think that I did not give my all to my family or the people God has put in my life. It is important that I learn to intentionally think about my time and how I spend it.
As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.
So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the parable of a man getting ready to go on a journey. He calls his servants and entrusts to each of them various amounts of talents according to their ability. To one he entrusts five talents, to another two talents, and the last he gave one talent. Then he goes off on a journey. When he returns, he lines the servants up to see what they did with the money. He expects that they invested it in some way and received a return for it. The man who had been given five talents traded with them and earned five more. In the same manner, the man who had two talents also invested them and earned two more. The landowner was pleased with these men, because they wisely used the possessions he gave them and acquired more. This is what he he told them:
Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt. 25:21)
Then he came to the last slave, the man who had been given a single talent. He was a fearful man. What if he lost the talent? What if he didn’t use it correctly and made a huge mess out of things? He believed his master to be a hard man who reaped where he did not sow and didn’t want to disappoint him. So he decided to hide the talent — he couldn’t lose it if he didn’t use it, right? When the time came to give an accounting, he went and dug up the talent and held it out. “See, here is your talent. I was afraid to lose it because of what kind of man I knew you to be, but here it is, I didn’t lose it!”
Instead of being grateful, the master was furious! He called the slave wicked and lazy! “You should have at the very least put the money in the bank so it could earn interest! What good does it do me in the ground!” He then took the talent from the man and gave it to the servant with the ten talents.
For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. (Matt. 25:29)
What does this mean for us? Let’s think of the talents as abilities or time. God has graced each and every one of us with abilities and skills, as well as 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. How are we using these precious commodities? Wisely and thoughtfully? Or are we hiding them in fear? Are we squandering them on useless things that will gain no profit?
Consider 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” Am I being a faithful steward of what He has given me? God has given me the ability to write and a desire to encourage others. But if I decide that I’m too fearful to share the post I wrote (which I’ve done) or if I don’t talk to the person that I know needs encouragement for fear of rejection (also guilty), then I’m not being faithful to that which God has given me. He has also given me six children and has called me to homeschool them. I need to be faithful to teach them and prepare them for life. I need to be faithful to share the gospel with them and show them what it means to be a christian. The last two decades I’ve had as a parent have gone by in a flash; in another decade all my kids will be grown. I only have a short amount of time with them — how am I spending it?
I know myself, and I know that if I am not proactive and intentional about my days, I can easily waste an entire day appearing active but actually accomplishing nothing. If I don’t consider my goals and make a prioritized list of actions that need to be accomplished then I will wander from place to place, knowing something must be done but not knowing what to do first. The Living Well Planner is the best thing I have found to keep track of my life and keep me in check. You can read why I like it in this post. This is one way that I can keep from wasting my day. It is the first step, but it isn’t the only step. I must also DO the things I plan to do.
Psalm 37:5 says, Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him and He will do it. Before I begin my day I need to spend time with the Lord, as well as meditate on His word throughout the day. This is an important routine to fill up my tank for the day allowing me to go into my tasks with the right attitude and providing the words to use in spreading the gospel. I will talk more about this in my next post.
Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much… If you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
What do you do to make sure you are using your time wisely?
Last spring was an extremely busy time for me. It seemed that I was constantly running this child or that to an out of town activity, somebody to therapy, a dentist or orthodontist appointment, or myself to a job When I had a minute to breathe I was wading through the details of graduating my oldest from high school. Guilt was ever present as I periodically checked in on my mostly independent homeschooling children, hoping they were still learning something without me. The harried schedule and demands on my time and focus left me flat, bruised, and exhausted with nothing left to give anyone. I was finding myself forgetting appointments and responsibilities. But it was when I had to say no to the opportunity to bring a meal to a new mother (something I always liked to do) that I started questioning my current lifestyle. Were all the aspects of my self-inflicted full schedule necessary? Was this really the abundant life God intended?
The culture tells us that being busy makes us important; that our worth is found in our to-do list. But these words from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians tell a different story, “For now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.” Also his words to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” His worth was bound up in Christ and his calling to spread the gospel.
It appears that abundant living is discipleship-centered,but how did my schedule reflect that? Some drastic changes had to be made. I couldn’t keep up this life. The effects were detrimental to both my immediate and my church family.
I was in survival mode, scraping in a subject here and a subject there to get in the necessities of homeschooling in between points on the agenda. Oh yes, they were learning what they had to in order to pass on the the next grade level. But there was a level of interaction that was missing. My 14 year old daughter could tell you the she felt neglected, that I was never there; that even when I was there I was distracted. My calling is first and foremost to care for my family and teach them. I was failing at that endeavor.
So what did I do about it? Well, first I waited for all my current obligations to come to an end, which happened to be in June. And then I let them end and didn’t seek something to replace them. I have since made myself more aware of my families needs and am decisively protective of them. For example, I know that morning is the best time for my kids to do school. It is difficult for all of us to focus on schoolwork in the afternoon. So when I’m scheduling Dr. appointments or meetings, or am asked to help someone, I always make sure it is done in the afternoon. In addition, I have blocked out mental time to focus on them. My attention is, first and foremost, reserved for them from 9-12 every morning. I have determined that this block of time must be for my kids and their needs.
My Church Family
Since when did I let my level of busyness dictate my level of service? And since when did my life become all about me? The church, as a body of believers, was created to build one another up but I had placed myself in such a state that I couldn’t participate.
From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16
How am I loving my church family? 1 John 4:11 says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” How can I show love to the mom who needs an emergency babysitter or the family who, because of medical emergency, needs ministering to? How can I respond to them when I don’t even have time to breathe? The truth is I can’t! A drowning person can’t help someone else. I had to get my life in order so that I would have time to make to show the love of God to others.
I am not saying that I shouldn’t have boundaries; that there aren’t times when I should say no to a call for help. However, what I am saying is that my life shouldn’t be so busy and hectic that I can’t even consider serving others. Walking in Jesus footsteps in part means helping people when called upon. To show them the love of God. This is a priority for me and I need to build my life around it.
This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. John 15:12
We used to live in a rural setting on the outside of town. I had to plan 20 minutes to drive anywhere. A thirty minute shopping trip put me away from the house for an hour and a half. Needless to say, I didn’t run to the store in the middle of the afternoon to buy a can of beans for a recipe! I made due.
Every trip was well-planned and organized not wanting to waste a single trip to town. When I had to drive in for a doctor’s appointment or homeschool class, I combined other errands in the day. I had the system down to a fine science; I knew how to make the most of every trip. It was my habit on shopping day to buy enough groceries for two full weeks.
Now I live in the center of town. I am two minutes from a Neighborhood Market and two minutes the other direction from a Wal-mart. Most other errands I have to run are typically 5-10 minutes away. Formerly it would to take me 20 minutes just to drive to town; now I can run to the store, pick up a handful items, and be back home in 20 minutes.
I have come to learn that this is a mixed blessing. Yes, it’s nice to be able to get whatever I need, whenever I need it. I enjoy the flexibility of being close to everything. But it’s made me lazy. I don’t have to write an extensive menu with a shopping list to match in preparation for shopping day because I can easily go again. I don’t have to create a route taking me from Point A to B then C in the best way possible. And I don’t. I don’t plan anymore. I just go. And I’m finding myself going to the store for just one little thing more and more often.
But what if I don’t want to go again?!? I’m tired of running to the store and swiping my card every other day. It’s a time waster and a money waster.
I’ve been overwhelmed of late with the extensive list of things I have to accomplish and the limited time in which to do those things. Part of the reason for my stress is that I seem to always have to go somewhere, meaning I’m not home where many of my primary responsibilities dwell. Some of these outside appointments are necessary, some are self-made. By not planning my shopping trips more carefully, by saying to myself, “It’s ok if you don’t get it all now, you can go back,” I’m actually adding more unnecessary trips to my day and thus more stress to my life.
Additionally, when I go to the store more, I spend more. This is a concept I figured out a long time ago and practiced. I would go to the store (except for milk) no more often than every two weeks. When I shop more, I buy more. But if I’m not planning to go to the store, I make due. If I’m out of certain things then I don’t make the recipe that requires the items I’m lacking. It’s really that simple.
I’ve been looking for ways to simplify my life; to ensure I have more time in my day to do the things that matter. Planning my day, my outings, and my shopping trips and menu is one simple things I can do to redeem some of my wasted time.