10 Tips for Getting Your Kids Into the Word in 2022

Photo 113333005 / Kids Reading Bible © Krystyna Taran | Dreamstime.com

When we had kids at home, I had a goal of a daily quiet time (Bible reading, memorization, and prayer) for each child before they left the house for school. 

I know. Tall order. 

Our kids attended public school, and I wanted God’s Word in their heads before they stepped out the front door. 

God’s Word changes things. People. Circumstances. Hearts. 

Check out these verses:

  •  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 
  •  “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 
  •  “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Getting your kids’ eyeballs in God’s Word is vital. 

How? Here are ten tips.

1. Tackle small portions:

  • One verse at a time 
  • One passage at a time
  • One story at a time 

(See Devour the Bible: Small Bites and Devour the Bible: One Bite at a Time at the end of the post.)

2. Study a character: Who’s their favorite Bible hero/heroine? Villain? Team?

3. Choose a genre: History? Poetry? Battles? Love stories? Proverbs? Parables? Where does your student gravitate?

4. Identify topics of interest (or need): Anger? Money management? Sibling issues? Tie to a Bible character if possible. Trouble with lying? Abraham’s your guy. Sibling rivalry? Explore Joseph and his brothers or Rachel and Leah.

5. Meditate & Memorize: These two disciplines pair beautifully. Think on it (Meditate). Over and over (Memorize). Start with short verses and progress to passages and even chapters and books as they grow. 

6. Find a dramatization of what they are reading. Choices range from a time-traveling trio exploring Bible times in a Hanna-Barbera’s The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible cartoons to Dallas Jenkins’ s The Chosen series.

7. Keep helpful resources on hand:

  • Concordance
  • Study Bibles
  • Biblegateway.com
  • Bible apps 

8. Provide needed supplies and create a special spot:

  • Journals
  • Colored pens, pencils, markers
  • Stickers
  • Highlighters
  • Pillows
  • Good lighting
  • Comfy seating (But not too comfy!)

9. Try different reading plans and study methods.

Study Methods Example: Interrogate the text: Who, what, when, where, why, and how?

What is God saying to me?

Reading Plan: Read one chapter of Proverbs each day for a month.

10. Reward the effort. One of the best things you can do is to reward the behavior you want to see repeated. What hits their sweet spot? A gift card? A trip for ice cream? A new book?

If you feel overwhelmed, I get it. 

When it comes to your child’s race of faith, we parents serve as coaches, mentors, cheerleaders, medical crew, and water station personnel. 

It’s a lot. 

We feel equipped for some roles. Others—not so much. That’s why I created Devour the Bible: Small Bites for preschoolers and Devour the Bible: One Bite at a Time for elementary-aged students.

A key part of any race is moving toward the finish line—Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. A large part of that movement involves time in God’s word: reading, understanding, and applying it, all in relationship with Him. 

Devour the Bible helps kids understand what they read and how to walk it out. Think of it as the fuel offered at a race station. Oranges. Bananas. Water. Gatorade. 

Fuel that will get them through the next leg of their race. 

For your elementary-aged students, Devour the Bible: One Bite at a Time offers one Bible verse with five study points in infographic form you can stick on your fridge. Kids study one verse while learning something new each day. By the weekend, they’ll have hidden a new verse in their heart. 

For your preschoolers, I’ve designed Devour the Bible: Small Bites, a coloring sheet with a shorter verse for easier memorization, five easy applications, and a parent’s guide. 

Fuel today’s race with Devour the Bible. This month, we’ll chew on 1 Corinthians 13:4a. Enter your email in the form below.

If you would like both, just email me and I’ll send you the other link.

The Secret to a Joy-Filled Christmas While Juggling Pinterest-Perfect Holiday Expectations

Photo 78493871 / Christmas Checklist © Julia Sudnitskaya | Dreamstime.com

My friend, Pam, always said that men believed in Santa Claus because when they woke up Christmas morning, everything had already been done. They neglected to see the behind-the-scenes work: baking, cleaning, shopping, etc.

Know the feeling?

Joy bursts from the Christmas story like fireworks on the Fourth of July. When we still had kids at home, I felt like everyone was bursting with joy—but me. 

The only thing that burst from me was stress. And if you stood too close, you probably caught some too. 

Today, it’s different. Discover the joy of Christmas by following these three steps. 

1. Prioritize. What’s really important to you? 

  • Making memories and being present? (I mean truly present, not exhausted because you pulled an all-nighter setting and decorating the table.) 
  • Or crafting the quintessential social media post? 

My kids don’t remember what our table looked like. They do remember our Christmas Quest and it’s a family legacy today. 

2. Simplify. Some things have to go. Take a look at your to-do list. What can you delegate? What can you modify? What can you cut? Here are a few ideas.

  • Ease holiday baking by participating in a cookie swap. 
  • Swap out the china for paper goods. (Pinterest has Christmas table decorating ideas with, yes, paper plates, and they are Christmas-dinner worthy.) Your company would rather have you at the table with them than slaving over a soapy sink of dishes.
  • Consider giving experiences (tickets, memberships, classes) over physical gifts. Less wrapping and shopping. More memories. 
  • Instead of a traditional holiday meal, have everyone prepare their family favorites. 

3. Focus. Keep Christmas Christ-centered. 

  • Advent.
  • Nativity plays. 
  • Christmas carols. 
  • Daily readings of portions of the Christmas story. 
  • Conversations about the biblical figures who lived the Christmas story. 

The Incarnation calls us to celebrate. To worship. Vigorously. Intentionally. With joy in our hearts. 

Set aside the to-do list and lose yourself in the story.

Walk with Elizabeth and Zechariah through nine months of pregnancy and silence (Luke 1:21-25). 

Feel Joseph’s courage and boldness as he approaches Mary’s father after a dream-filled night (Matthew 1:24). 

Sing the Magnificat with Mary (Luke 1:46-55).

Sing with Zechariah when his silence is finally broken (Luke 1:67-79). 

Fall to your knees and shield your eyes when the heavenly host appears to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-9). 

Walk the Temple grounds with Simeon and Anna as they are led by the Holy Spirit to the infant Jesus (Luke 2:25-38). 

Rejoice with the Magi as the star miraculously reappears (Matthew 2:10). 

And worship. Worship Christ the newborn King!

P.S. Here are a few things to get you going. 

1) This is Whitney Houston singing “Joy to the World” in the movie, The Preacher’s Wife

Best. Version. Ever. 

2) The Chosen Christmas Special

3) Bible Readings of the Christmas Story for December

Answered Prayer: Great Expectations

Photo 162324207 © Mia Stendal | Dreamstime.com

Is it wrong to place expectations on God when it comes to prayer?

I’m currently working on a picture book on prayer. Here’s a quote:

“I heard your prayer. You thanked Me for breakfast. You’re welcome. Is that such a surprise?” asked God.

Kaitlyn stirred her cereal. “I guess not,” she said. “I just didn’t expect You to answer.”

“And why shouldn’t My children expect an answer when they talk to Me?” 

My critique group flagged the word “expect.” 

I thumbed through my thesaurus, (okay, scrolled) and found “anticipate.” Another writer suggested “wait for.”

And isn’t that the problem? 

Do we really expect, anticipate, or wait for answers from God?

My thinking shifted in a counseling session during which I asked God specific questions and waited for His answers—which He gave. Immediately. I was stunned.

Since then, I’ve been training myself to be still and listen for God’s voice.

Yet I find myself doing the same thing as my character when I pray over a meal. I expect God to respond to prayer—just not at the dinner table. 

Here’s what I’m learning as I seek to dialogue with God:

1. I can’t listen if I never shut up. (My greatest challenge!)

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” Psalm 46:10 NIV

2. God’s whispers are easily doubted and brushed aside. Yet He continues to whisper. If you think it’s God, go with it. 

“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:12

3. The enemy talks too. His voice? Loud. Clear. And wrong. Learn to discern.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say . . .’” Genesis 3:1

4. God’s timeframe for answers rarely matches ours, but don’t stop looking and listening. Daniel waited three weeks because of demonic interference. Abraham waited years because he wasn’t ready for his mission. Zechariah and Elizabeth also waited for years, but because of a historical timing issue. 

“Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.’” Daniel 10:12-13

5. God wants to speak to you and is probably speaking right now. Have you prepared yourself to hear Him? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Does God hold a place of reverence and authority in your life? Are you careless with your choices? Are you intentional in following the leading of the Holy Spirit? Character matters. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

6. God speaks in many, different ways. Dreams, donkeys, writing on the wall. Don’t put him in a box. 

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’ . . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”  Matthew 1:19-21, 24

7. When God speaks, write it down. When you heard Him but didn’t jump on it, record it. When you heard Him and obeyed, take note. Sharpen your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and keep track. You’ll be amazed at how much God talks once you start paying attention.

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1

8. Pray together. There is power in prayer, and it multiplies when we come together. My youngest and I have been praying together for over a month now. Both the consistency and the number of answers has staggered me. 

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

Pray with expectation. God not only hears you, He has an answer as well. 

Activities:

1. Pray together as a family (weekly?) and keep a prayer journal. 

2. In your personal prayer time, use your imagination. Picture your favorite place on earth. Now, imagine Jesus is with you. Spend some time hanging out there. Why did you choose this spot?

3. Challenge yourself to be still and listen this week. Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Set a timer and stay put until it goes off. Be reasonable. If this is new to you, start short.

4. Monologue or dialogue? Which characterizes your relationships? Your prayer life?

I Love You with All My . . . Mind?

Photo 105440082 / Dementia © Atthapon Raksthaput | Dreamstime.com

She stands there, wrings her hands, and taps the spot where her watch is supposed to be. She paces, back and forth, between the basket that should hold the watch when she’s not wearing it and the chest of drawers where she hid it. 

Mom has dementia. 

She’d been living in Wichita Falls, and only this spring did my sister and I realize how much the disease had progressed. Mom’s in DFW now, and we’re all adjusting to the change. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 has taken on new meaning, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” 

Mom’s in the messy middle of the disease. She’s aware enough to know something is horribly wrong. To be ashamed and embarrassed. To grieve the loss of her faculties.

But she’s deep enough into the disease that she finds it difficult to manage her thoughts.

And it torments her.

Verse 5 above says trust God and stop trying to figure it out. So, we challenge Mom to turn her face to His. To ask Him when she can’t find something. To be thankful we walk beside her. To know this season will be short in light of a healthy and whole eternity. 

Many times, what I think dictates how I feel and what I choose. In Mark 12:30, Jesus commands us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

These connect. Each one affects the other. 

What does it look like for me to love God with my mind?

And what does it mean for Mom to love Him as her mind fails?

In Mom’s case, the mind’s physical ability to work properly is impaired. Because her short-term memory no longer functions, her mind hyper-focuses. She sees the empty spot on her wrist. I can’t find my watch. But faulty thinking leaps to an illogical conclusion. Someone stole it. So I try to steer her thoughts back to God. Worship music. Scripture cards (link below). To fix her eyes, and hopefully her mind, on Him and the peace only He gives.

In my case, though my mind’s physical abilities function well (I think), my mind is faulty too, colored by my broken sin nature. God’s Word must serve as my filter. My grid. If not, my mind will lead me astray. My thoughts can be just as illogical as Mom’s when I am in the flesh.

So, what does it look like for me to love God with my mind?

And what does it mean for Mom to love Him with her mind even as dementia steals it?

I think it looks a lot like Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

For Mom.

And for me.

Loving God with Your Mind – Activities

1. Psalm 101:3a reads, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” What are you watching? Reading? Listening to?

2. Romans 12:2a says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Remember Playdoh? Talk about the difference between conforming and transforming. What molds does the world offer? How does it present those molds? How does it pressure us to conform? What does Jesus offer instead? How?

3. What’s your state of mind? Romans 8:5-6 reads, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Where do you land?

Life/Peace ——————————————————————————————-Death

Scripture cards: Here’s a link for Mary DeMuth’s art on Etsy. I love, love, love her Scripture cards.

I want to bring your attention to Glenys Nellist’s new illustrated children’s Bible, I Wonder: Exploring God’s Grand Story. Here’s the link for two activity packs that accompany the book. I was eager to read Glenys Nellist’s I Wonder for several reasons. One, the author is such a delight. Two, our theologies differ slightly. I found I Wonder to be, frankly, wonderful. Nellist stays true to the biblical accounts of the passages she includes and her chapter questions reflect many of the questions of my own heart. Her questions will make sense to kids because they’ve asked the same ones. The illustrations are gorgeous. What a treasure! Don’t wait until Christmas to buy this one. You’ll want it now.

In the Wilderness

Photo 150126889 / Pikes Peak © Sherri Brown | Dreamstime.com

The wilderness. 

Scripturally speaking, the wilderness is a place we often seek to get through, rather than camp there. 

Moses and the children of Israel wandered forty years there because they lacked the faith to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:31).

Hagar ended up there twice, once when escaping Sarai’s abuse and once when she and Ishmael were cast out to preserve Isaac’s place as the child of promise (Genesis 16, Genesis 21:8-21).

Jesus, led by the Holy Spirt, went there for testing before He got on with His ministry (Matthew 4:1).

I was challenged to rethink my perspective of the wilderness when I took my mom to church last Sunday. Her pastor mentioned that when we think of wilderness, we usually think of desert. Yet, when she Googled wilderness, she ended up with pictures of the Rockies. 

Then it dawned on me. 

When I go on vacation, my husband and I often travel to the wilderness. Hitting every national park is on my bucket list. I love the physical challenge of a good hike, the breath-taking views, and, fingers crossed, wildlife sightings. 

Could God have another purpose in the wilderness than the testing I’ve been taught? 

Well, like a good Bible scholar, I did my homework. 

My trusty NIV does indeed refer to the wilderness as desert. Barren and rocky. 

But—I’ve lived in the desert too. Honestly, it was tough coming back to Texas after living there.

Amazing sunsets. Flowering cacti. Lots of sunshine. We loved it.  

So, here are my questions:

Did Israel wander in the wilderness forty years so that the children of those who lacked faith could get to know their God enough to trust and obey Him and enter the Promised Land?

Both of Hagar’s wilderness experiences included divine encounters. Was that the point? One-on-one time with the Lord away from the distractions of civilization?

Jesus Himself depended on God for provision in the face of direct attacks from the enemy. I need those lessons too. 

Next time you head out into the great outdoors, here are a few things to consider:

1. What can you learn about God from the things you see?

2. What perspective does this piece of wilderness offer? (Ocean, mountain, prairie, etc.)

3. What word does God have for you here?

I recently hiked Pikes Peak (no snow). Above the tree line, there was rock. Lots of it. 

But there were also wildflowers. 

And cute cuddly animals, marmots and pikas, even at the highest elevations.

What treasures are hidden in your wilderness? God awaits you there.

Activities:

What’s your favorite outdoorsy place? Why?

If you aren’t outdoorsy, what’s holding you back?

Plan an outing. The beach counts. If you live in Texas, hang on. Fall is coming.