learning the Word together

One of the most important aspects of our life together here at home is spending time praying together and studying the Bible together. We don’t always hit all the “Big Rocks”, but this is one we try hard to not miss too often. That said, I always do best at consistency when I have a plan! One year we memorized the Ten Commandments and talked about them in depth (loosely based on my Dad’s Ten Pillars class, which everyone should take!), and last year our curriculum included a Bible plan and the kids impressed me by learning quite a few chapters of the Bible!

This year, I had a desire to help the children ponder, think, and apply. I found a list of scriptures that all highlighted the character of God, and then made a plan:

null

This was just enough to fill a school year’s worth of devotions, with enough space to add in special Christmas and Easter readings. I bought everyone a blank composition book, got a stack of Bibles, and filled our Circle Time basket. We followed the above structure, which allowed us to incorporate recitation and handwriting into our Bible time (and I do love killing several birds with one stone!) While the boys did copy and meditation work, the girls would work with me a bit extra on memory, and then draw pictures to go along with the verse.

There are several ways to memorize scripture as a group. Sometimes we’ve done lots of rote repetition, learning little chunks at a time. This year, I emphasized listening, and then reading out loud together. I’m amazed, when I add a few hand motions for Fiona, and use the same expressive patterns for the older ones, how quickly they learn this way! Fiona knows some of the verses better than others, and I’m sure not every one has stuck in Beatrice’s long-term memory, but we are hiding the Word in our hearts together and it is so good.

Of course, my favorite day was when the boys would share what they wrote in their journals. Some weeks required a bit of prompting to go deeper than the obvious “God is good and God loves me.” But some weeks I was so blessed by the observations they made, and what the Holy Spirit would speak to them.

The scriptures we’ve covered (and will cover in the next few weeks!) are:

John 3:16
Matthew 6:26
Psalm 103:12
Psalm 103:4-5
Romans 8:32
Psalm 139:1-6 (over a couple of weeks)
Psalm 107:9
Luke 19:10
Isaiah 1:18
Psalm 103:3
Isaiah 53:5
Job 19:25
Psalm 86:15
Isaiah 40:31
Jeremiah 9:23-24
Ephesians 1:7-8
Psalm 103:19

*****

Along these lines, I bought a 3-ring binder last year, titled it “Circle Time”, and divided into different sections: Songs + Hymns, Scriptures, and Book Reports. This is allowing me to keep track of the songs we’ve committed to memory (I make copies of lyrics, which we use until we’ve memorized a song or hymn), the scriptures we’ve learned, and the books we’ve read out loud together “for fun.”

*****

What plans or ideas have you implemented in your Bible time? Do you have a devotional book, or a loose plan?

Two-Part Invention

null

April’s book is finished: CHECK!

I decided to read Madeleine L’Engle’s Two-Part Invention next, simply because it was small and short and not intimidating!

This was the first (yes, the first!) book by L’Engle I’ve ever read. It wasn’t my favorite, and I certainly won’t be handing it out to all my friends, but it was enjoyable. People are fascinating, their lives are interesting, and her candid telling of what it was like to walk through cancer with her husband of 4 decades was sensitive without being flowery.

The pace was fluid, never slow, and her writing style was transparent — you get the story without being hit over the head by overly-creative poetic prose. The best part was being inspired to take out my Two-Part Inventions and brush them off. They really are some of the most perfect compositions.

chats with Beattie

I’ve been stitching the last bits of decoration onto costumes for the upcoming musical, and yesterday as Beatrice and I sat, her working on an embroidery project, me sewing another band of gold ribbon, she said,

“You don’t sew very much anymore, do you, Mama? That’s kind of true, isn’t it?”

I smiled. “Yes, that’s true. Not very much. I have five children, you know!”

“Yes, Cecily is number five and she keeps you very busy.”

Thoughtful pause.

“But that’s good that you’re very busy, Mama, because that means you are always taking care of your children.”

Heart melt and attitude check all in one instant. Out of the mouth of this babe comes the sweetest encouragement, and the startling reminder of how I am shaping her value system and ideology by my example.

She sees that I’m busier than ever with the care of these beautiful children. Does she see that it brings me joy, and that my service is prompted by sacrificial love? I pray so.

sisters

Ryan and I sat at the table, lost in conversation and coffee, and when I looked across to check on the girls, I saw this:

They, too, were lost in conversation and friendship. Eyes glowing, giggles, who knows what being shared in whispers and confidence.

It made my heart smile to see their absolute joy in one another.

*****

I uploaded photos today and right after the pictures of my girls caught my eye, I saw this one:

A quick visit, and I laughed because we matched so well. (It’s been almost 16 years since we shared a closet, but we still manage to show up wearing the same thing.) We were the two heads bent over a funny secret, and wasn’t it just yesterday? We cried and daydreamed and argued and learned to share together. We watched each other grow and began to understand what compassion and empathy meant, how to value and appreciate differences and giftings.

I remember being asked, “Do you always get along?” And we were a bit perplexed. We were born to be friends. If a difference or offense got in the way, we dealt with that. Our friendship was non-negotiable.

Sisters.

We all see each other less and less, as our families and lives grow, and sometimes I just wish for our childhood bedroom full of double beds and dolls. But in its place we have something far better and deeper, and I am so incredibly grateful for the women who are all my friend and so much more.


The seventh sister was waiting in the wings. And yes, I am blessed x6. I love my big family.

BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

We know not what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee.

My book-a-month pace was completely thrown off when I decided to pick up Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy as my read for the month of March. At 500+ pages, I anticipated it being an effort to get through in one month; what I didn’t factor in was the emotional toll it would often take, and how I would read a couple of pages only to put it down, too undone to continue.

It is a deeply human story of Germany in the the 30s and 40s: the agony, painful naiveté, perplexity, suffering. Reading of the unfolding of the Nazi reign of terror from the perspective of a proud, deeply German family was heart wrenching and enlightening.

And against that backdrop, the story of a young man’s faith, which was intellectual in nature, until the Holy Spirit began to beckon him into something deeper. What if we lived like this was true? As the world around him began to unravel, he began to learn what it meant to walk by the Spirit, and the simple decision to obey Christ at all costs set him on a course toward martyrdom, yes, but also deep Kingdom impact.

This is what struck me most: he was not spectacular. He never made a decision to do crazy things. His was not a philosophy of ends justifying means. Rather, he purposed each day to make sure the next step was consistent with the truth of Scripture, as revealed to him. Would I have reached all the same conclusions as he did? I’m not sure, and certainly not every believer around him chose the same path, but even in that, Bonhoeffer’s example of grace and care toward another brother’s conscience was incredible.

He dug deep into life, convinced that God meant to inhabit and redeem our human experience, not take us out of it. He was calm and courageous because he simply did the next thing. The supporting characters in the story mirror the deep conviction and courage that we see in his life. His deeply intellectual, thoughtful faith left me mulling over concepts of conscience, ethics, truth, and obedience.

When I read the last page, and closed the book, I wanted to weep: weep with sadness, weep with inspiration, weep with thankfulness. This gentle man gave his body to be burned, but left a legacy of one whose eyes were fixed on Jesus until the end.

Highly, highly recommended.

Such people [of private virtuousness] neither steal, nor murder, nor commit adultery, but do good according to their abilities.
But . . . they must close their eyes and ears to the injustice around them. Only at the cost of self-deception can they keep their private blamelessness clean from the stains of responsible action in the world. In all that they do, what they fail to do will not let them rest. They will either be destroyed by this unrest, or they will become the most hypocritical of all Pharisees.

The solution is to do the will of God, to do it radically and courageously and joyfully. To try to explain “right” and “wrong”—to talk about ethics—outside of God and obedience to His will is impossible.

March, in photos

I’m so glad for pictures! These months of busy but unspectacular days would be lost if it weren’t for pictures. (Lost to my memory, anyway. Not lost in their impact!)


Waiting for Daddy


Fiona’s fabulous drawings


<3


A shopping trip where I let the girls pick out birthday gifts for a friend — oh, the joy!


Sunrises


She is loving this new skill!


Learning to braid Fiona’s hair


NZ gear from the grands


Another year older = time to start some good habits.


Luther together for movie night


Cherry pie birthday traditions


My new vacuum comes completely apart for cleaning. AWESOME.


Blessing my two girls with fun new skirts from Mama’s sewing machine.


Birthday outing!


BFFs


Bubbles and babies.


Sometimes our friend Julie spoils us.


Illuminating our scriptures.

Untitled
Reading!


She loves her baby dolls.


And she loves her pretend friends.


March walks.


I just love these kids!


Outings with Cecily


Learning to bake independently


Sunshine and a blondie.


In denial about winter


What up.


The four amigos.


So sweet.

Untitled

Jameson performing for Grandparent’s Day — much of our months has been music for various things!

Untitled

Beatrice!

Untitled

William!