Friday, October 23, 2015

Doing My Part In Preparing the Army

   We are in a Battle!!! There is a war going on between what is good and evil. We are called to be soldiers in this battle. We are to prepare ourselves so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  This battle doesn't just involve adults either. The devil and his servants would love to take captive the hearts and minds of our children. Are they prepared to stand strong?
Breakfast table Bible reading - this was when my in-laws were visiting
 (during our basement days) and we were privileged to have Grand-dad read.

  Those of us the homeschool are very privileged to have opportunities to teach our children the truth of God's word. The Bible and Prayer are still allowed in homeschooling. But are we truly taking advantage of that freedom? I fear that sometimes we may become so cumbered down with so many workbooks or a large curriculum that we don't have much time to spend on what truly matters in life. It isn't that I don't think other subjects aren't important - I do. Nor do I believe (like I have heard some do) that we should teach every subject (even Math) out of the Bible. I do want every subject to have a Biblical worldview but it doesn't have to come directly out of the Bible. But I do think if we chose to homeschool because we want our children to follow Christ rather than the devil then I think we should make study of the scripture of first importance in our homeschool.

    I just wanted to share a little bit from Ephesians 6: "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Eph. 6:13-17

  This is what I want for me and what I want for my kids, truly what I want for everybody. But I have the most influence on myself and my children so that is mostly what I will talk about today. Let's get practical....

     I think pretty much every Christian I know would say that they want to have on the full armor of God and be able to stand firm against anything the devil throws at them. They would like to know the Holy Bible well. They would love to be able to memorize verses - maybe even chapters or books. They would like to have an active prayer life. But just wanting something doesn't make it happen - we have to have action too.  It can be pretty easy for us to be like the apostles whom Jesus had asked to keep watch and to pray in those last hours before the Crucifixion but who kept falling asleep. Jesus said of them: "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." 

   Realizing that our flesh is weak and that we do tend to be busy, get distracted, have a lot on our plate we can't just let the important things like prayer and Bible (study, reading, memorizing, meditating) get put off until "we have time". We are going to have to make time for it. We are going to have to develop habits to spend time with God and in His word. I realize that there is a concern that we will just go through the motions and not really have our heart in it. Work to make sure that is not the case. But still I would rather have to force myself to do something and then be able to turn my heart and mind around to truly be worshiping and studying then to never get started in the first place.

   The area of prayer and bible reading/study/memorizing/meditating are areas that I have grown in over the years but that doesn't mean I have "arrived", I most certainly haven't! My kids aren't perfect either. But we do love the Lord and we are trying to live our lives for Him. We also do have more knowledge and understanding of the scripture then we used to. So with reservations (because I don't want to be boastful, nor do I want to compare myself with anyone else or have others compare themselves with me) but in hopes that hearing about what we do could somehow encourage you and your family or maybe give you ideas as to how you can get more in the Word and into prayer at your house I am going to share what we do with you. 

   Here is the basic schedule of our day concerning the organized prayer and Bible times:
  • Prayer Journaling and Bible Reading are what I do in the morning as soon as I have gotten dressed and ready for the day.(Generally my kids are still asleep - when I had babies they would often nurse during this time) In my prayer journal I record praises first. I think that is a really wonderful way to start my prayer time. It reminds me of who and how great God is. Then I list a bunch of things that I want to thank Him for. The things don't have to be big important things, they can be things that we normally take for granted likes socks and shoes, whatever. Counting my blessings is a great way to start my day. Then I do journal my requests - for me and for others. I also journal things that I want God's forgiveness for and then I try to notice and journal answered prayers. Then I read 1 or 2 chapters in the Bible. This year our church has been working to go through the Bible and so they have different areas we are trying to cover each month. I have been trying to read along with the church's monthly theme at this time previously I would chose which book to read rather randomly often going back and forth between the old and new testament. While I am doing both my journaling and Bible reading I will often be working on some sort of handwork like rag rug making. This tends to slow me down a bit and cause me to spend time meditating on what I have read and spending more time praying about each thing on my list.
  • We read the Bible at the Breakfast table. (on week days) This is a chapter from the New Testament. We are trying to change up what version we read each time we go through. We just recently started reading through in King James which has been interesting and somewhat entertaining for us. I think different versions can help us to notice things about the verses. We aren't just hearing the same thing we have heard over and over before.
  • We work on memorizing as we clean up from breakfast.(on week days) Everybody has their job to do to get dishes done, the floor swept, the table cleaned off, etc. If we are fast with our work and still have a lot of reciting to do we will work on things like making applesauce, dusting, processing corn (see picture below) and so forth while we recite. This allows us to get needed chores done around the house but still memorize scripture. Currently we have been memorizing the book of Colossians. We are nearly done but still tend to stumble over all the greetings at the end. We do this one every time and then most days we also review on of our passages that we have memorized in the past like "The Sermon on the Mount", James, Romans 12, Various chapters in Psalms, Our Alphabet verses (one verse for each letter of the alphabet) and the books of the Bible.

  •  We Sing Together. (on week days) We sing songs that praise God, ones that pray to Him and ones that are verses set to music or Biblical teaching. We love this time of worshiping God together.
  • The Kids use the Bible for their Copy work. (on week days) We have a notebook for each of them and each day they set the timer for 15 minutes and then with their best handwriting and paying careful attention to spelling and punctuation they copy out from a book in the Bible. Some of them get a lot done each day but Aaron who does not yet enjoy writing in cursive can sometimes write only 5 or so words in that amount of time. But speed is not the requirement here - being careful is. 

  •  We read the Bible with our after lunch reading. (on week days) This time we read a chapter from the Old Testament. During this reading time we also often read from some other book that is spiritual in nature. Currently we are going through (with short sections of only 2 pages a day) Halley's Bible Handbook. This is a time we also read from other fun and educational books.
  • We read the Bible on our own at rest time. This is the time that the kids tend to do their personal Bible reading. This is a time that I only recently started reading the Bible. I was challenged by the goal at church to get through the Bible and I just wasn't managing to read that much in the mornings. So I decided I would add it to my afternoon reading time. Now it does mean that I don't get to read as much in the way of other books as my eyes tend to start to close after the 3 chapters that I decided to read each day at that time but that is okay. This is definitely not the highest brain functioning time for me either so I doubt that I remember as much as I might after reading at other times but I do think that I do retain some things so that is worth it.
  • At bedtime we have a prayer time. It used to be that I would pray and then we would sing a prayer song together but I we did recently change that up. A couple of things prompted that. Some of the kids said it really didn't work so well to sing in bed so we dropped our nighttime song though sometimes I will still sing to them. The other thing that I had really been thinking about was all the different times we were asked to pray for something and then would forget it and not really pray about it. Also I wanted my kids to have more opportunities to pray aloud with others. So I got two jars and cut out a bunch of little pieces of cardstock. We have been writing out prayer requests out on the cardstock and putting them in one jar. Each night we each take 3 requests out of the jar and we all pray together, remembering the requests on the slips we drew out. Then we put them in the other jar when we are done. After the first jar is empty we simply switch and draw out of the full jar and put into the empty one. If a request is answered we can remove the card. We also keep adding requests whenever anyone asks for prayer. I have been liking our new method of bedtime prayers.

  • We have Scripture throughout our Home. From wall hangings, to verses on chalkboard doors, etc. I like to have scripture available to read throughout our home. 
That is what we do in a nutshell. I hope and pray that maybe it will give you ideas of how you can incorporate more prayer and Bible reading into your life as well.

 Here are some quick tips on how we have made it work for us: 
  • Add Things Gradually - We aren't going to change drastically overnight. For us this was and still will be a process. We add things here and there and then tweak things from time to time.
  • Routine! It was so helpful to me when I learned the art of having routines and then adding gradually other things to the routine. For instance we already eat breakfast as a family - adding Bible reading to that time wasn't hard. We already clean-up from breakfast - adding memorizing scripture to that time wasn't hard. We have always had a read aloud time before naps - adding Bible to that wasn't hard. When I can just add to a routine that is already established then it makes it pretty easy for it to become a habit.
  • Do What We Can. We do have some days that get super hectic. We have music students arriving early (every other Wednesday we have music students that come at 9 am and it is tough for us to have all our morning routines done by that time) or we have to get out of the house early for something. On those days we don't tend to get our whole morning routine done but we work to see how much of it we can do. Even if the students might be due in 2 minutes we will still start reciting our memory work as sometimes they are late and the truth is you can recite quite a lot of verses in 2 minutes. Also we do just have to realize that some days we aren't going to get everything done - for instance the last two days we have had an afternoon art class that we were going to so all of our afternoon reading got tossed "out the window". But we still did what we could each day.
  • Don't be so focused on getting through the "plan" that you don't allow time for discussion. I have been there and done that at times so I totally understand the temptation. But I realize now that I truly don't want to miss the blessing I receive from having Biblical discussions with my children. They often think way deeper than I do and from their questions I have learned much.
  • Don't forget to have fun! God's word isn't dry and stuffy. It is living and active and truly interesting! There is some humor in their too (at least we think so). We have at times made our Bible learning more "fun" by having Bible drills (seeing who can find verses the fastest. The first one to find it gets to read it), Bible Trivia and Bible games.
 God's Word has really blessed our lives. I hope it has and will continue to bless your family as well!

  I would really love to hear about any ways that your family incorperates prayer and scripture into your days! Please share what works for you in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes as I am doing dishes or folding clothes I will put on a CD of a past Sunday morning service. I can sing along and listen to a sermon. I especially appreciate this if I have been teaching the children's class that Sunday then I don't 'miss' the sermon. :) Appreciate all you are able to do with the children to 'hide God's Word' in their heart. :)

Jennifer said...

This post is so encouraging. Thank you for raising up soldiers for Christ. Yes, we sure are in a battle for the hearts and minds of the young people in our country. Praise God for moms like you who make the scriptures a priority. I'm so thankful that my family had this opportunity as well. You are so right, it is easy to focus on the academics and put the Bible aside for "more important" things. But the truth is it is the most important.
Isn't it wonderful to be able to incorporate God's Word into every area of our lives. "Raise up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. " Thanks for sharing.

Nola said...

It is so encouraging to see another family who values all of these things. This is so very rare. We don't really know any families who are like us in this and other things in our area. This is one of the reasons I keep reading your blog. It is very encouraging to read about another family with the same values. Even things like not all running off to age-segregated activities all the time but valuing family. We are very much counter-culture where we are and no one else we have met here believes similarly. Anyways, for Bible times, I do a Bible reading time in the morning with my children on homeschooling days, and we were working on memory verses during that time. But now my husband wants to change that to the evening Bible time. We read the Bible and pray and sometimes sing together as a family during that time after supper. I only have one child who can read so far so she reads the Bible on her own in the morning and this is also the time I have for my own Bible reading time. I started keeping a journal recently where I write out a verse that stood out to me and why and then a few things I am thankful for below that. Then I can pray about that verse and read over them when I want/need to. I keep a prayer list in the back of that same journal. Having a list really helps. I find writing out the verse also helps me. I want to decorate my new home with some scripture. I love the one you did with the tree. I also like your idea of pulling the prayer requests from a jar. I am going to talk to my husband about that idea. I Thank you for sharing all these things. You are such an encouragement. Especially because I was not raised in a Christian home so I don't really have a big idea of what a Christian home looks like.

Sarah Blanshan said...

Great ideas, Abbi! You are such an encouragement. I hope to take a few of these and incorporate them into our little family soon.

Amelia said...

This is so good that you posted this Abbi.

We've always stressed a quiet prayer and Bible time preferably first thing in the morning, in the evenings we like to have a time of prayer, and a special devotional on Sunday evenings along with a hymn. I also like to keep our home in an intentionally sweet spirit, an atmosphere of praise, when we view television, we keep it sweet,we watch the attitudes of characters glorified in the movie, we like the old 40s movies for this reason, it was a time in the country when the country had more of a healthy fear of God. When we listen to music we are particular on the spirit behind it, the sound etc. We tape (dvr) our favorite church in the city and we enjoy listening to those sermons and beautiful music, during the day, while sewing, cooking or ironing. Service opportunities are valued too, we've gone to the nursing home since our girls were tiny and some of our best friends live there. It's a precious and most important opportunity to pray with people and leave the name of Jesus in their ears. It's a great thing and I so thank the Lord above when I see our older daughters leading a devotion and prayer after singing time.

We must live that true religion and have it in our hearts firstly and also teach by example with discernment, boldness, saturated with love. It has to be in our hearts, that personal relationship with the Lord as I know you agree. Also, taking a stand for righteousness is very important too, even if that means standing alone.

What a blessing what you shared here Abbi, what a precious mommy you are. And thank you for opening it up for us to share too.

I appreciate you! : )

Amelia said...

Hello Abbi, I had forgotten to add how we homeschooled. Please oblige. :)

I tried to keep our homeschooling sweet and simple, using curriculum that worked for me and not the fads. For us as the children became older and read on their own, we used a lot of Christian Light Education. We started with Bob Jones for K-5 and 2nd with Lea and Marianna. Bob Jones was detailed enough to tell me when something different matter if the child 'got it' and not to stress. I was very prompt to put the books away if my babies needed attention or there was a sick child or a crying child. For 2nd grade or so, an hour and a half was plenty of sitting school time.

Bible curriculum was nice for us, but it was used as a guideline. Many of the creative writing assignments in CLE were very good ones but the girls were free to change topics if they wished. All the fill in the blanks could be done open book, it was for learning not for stressing. When the girls had an interest, we got books on that. Creativity was stressed and lots of pretend playtime, lots of mommy-time with baby dolls until their teens actually. Whenever they were ready. Cooking in the kitchen and baking was great fun too! : )

I have so much to you can see from a 54 year old veteran homeschool mommy. I love what Dr. Moore and his wife Dorothy wrote...K.I.S.S. "Keep it simple sweetie!".

An may I mention good manners? Our children if they are to be leaders, whether the political realm, church or a mommy at home, they need manners and need to see integrity displayed. My heart is broken over moms who have none of the above and almost seem snarky or smart alec at times, thus the same with their children and youth. If we have mercy and kindness then our kids will too as a whole.

Well dear one, It looks like I've written quite a lot here, I hope that is okay. This topic is so dear to my heart.

Blessings to you and all mommies out there. The culture is a tough one, but we can insulate our families in the Lord.

Abbi said...

Thanks so much to all of you for leaving your encouragement and telling about how you make God and the Scriptures a priority in your house as well. I loved reading through your comments!


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