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Bible Time: How it works at Our House

Janelle asked me weeks ago to write a post about what our Bible time looks like. Here it is.

I think too often Christian moms cling to a perfect picture of how Bible time should play out and feel a sense of failure if expectations are not met. Dad should lead. The children should be quiet but enthusiastic. Devotions should happen every day. I was one of those. I waited for years for Stuart to take the initiative in this area. It hasn't happened yet. He's a great living example of a godly man, husband and father but Bible study is not his strong suit. I have learned to be content with this. So instead I read Bible with the kids Monday through Friday and it looks like this:

It’s eleven o’clock. I’ve done my morning workout and spent time preparing for our Bible lesson. I’ve read through the portion of Matthew that we are covering today and thought about it but honestly a whole lot doesn’t come to me. Then I spend some time at and study sermons and commentaries. The Bible comes to life this way for me and after I have gone through a commentary on the chapter and looked for additional historical information and looked stuff up in The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, I can begin making other connections that I haven’t come across in my studies. This happens frequently during our discussions around the table.

The kids are working on their morning chores. Some are in pajamas; some are dressed; all need their hair brushed. Bread is rising on the counter and Lauren and I are setting almond coffee cake, butter, grapefruit, plates and glasses of water on the table.

“Claire, I’ve called you three times to get the napkins out! Faith? Faith?! We need silverware. Where are you?!”

Eventually everyone straggles into the sunroom and coffee cake is distributed. The chatter is childish and loud. The room has terrible acoustics and these child noises are magnified to the point of being intolerable.


The children gobble and dribble and spill. I eat fast, push aside my dishes, brush crumbs off my Bible and open to Matthew. “Do you remember what we talked about yesterday? Why is Matthew the first book in the New Testament?”

Claire sidles out of her chair and gets out her coloring book and crayons and sits on the floor.

“I know Mom.” This from Lauren who always pays attention.

“I know you know. I want to know if Claire knows. Do you remember why Matthew comes first, Claire?”

She looks up from her coloring book, “He had bad brothers.”

Oy! Everything relates to Joseph with this kid!

“No, silly!” John is indignant. “Matthew is the trailer hitch book. He uses lots of Old Testament verses. His book is perfect for connecting the Old Testament with the New. He was writing to the Jewish people and was trying to get them to understand that Jesus fufilled many prophecies that were written in the Old Testament.”

“That’s great John. I’m impressed.”

“Can somebody build me a ramp? I need a ramp.” Charlie makes it through about three minutes of Bible time before he runs off to play.

“Faith go with him and build the ramp and then come right back.” They wander off to the playroom.

Yesterday, I read straight through Matthew 1-17. We contrasted Matthew’s and Luke’s geneologies. Today we look at the people listed in Matthew’s. Claire fidgets. Faith needs to be reminded to leave her block building and return to the table.. Kids interrupt for more coffee cake. Water spills and children rush to get a towel to clean it up but eventually we discuss the women listed in this geneology. We discuss how all five are outcasts. I find their stories and read relevant portions aloud. We talk about how three are Gentiles. “Isn’t that awesome, guys, that even at the very beginning of Gospel message God lets us know that the good news of salvation is not just for the Jews but for everybody? Matthew includes person after person in this gospel who is on the edge of society, people who are looked down on, outcasts. Why do you suppose he does that?”

“What’s an outcast?”

“I just told you. Somebody who is looked down on. Somebody that everybody else thinks is unimportant or worthless. Do you understand?”

“I guess. Can we be done yet?”

“In just a minute, Claire. There’s some important stuff in this section.”

“I know. Matthew was a tax collector and tax collectors were looked down on during Jesus’ time.”

“That’s right, Faith. That’s exactly right. So as we read through this Gospel, keep your ears open and be listening for stories about the outcasts, the people nobody liked.”

“Are we done now !”

“Yes, we’re done now, Faith. Clear the table and get your after breakfast chores done and then it’s time for individual lessons.”

We will read over this section for two more days. Tomorrow we’ll point out all the kings. We spent a year in Kings and Chronicles so this will be good review to see what the kids remember. I’ll emphasize that none of these people were perfect. We’ll go through the list of names and see if we can remember the shortcomings of the people in the list.

The next day we’ll talk about how Matthews personality is reflected in the geneology. It makes sense that a numbers whiz would divide the geneology into three equal groups of fourteen. I’ll explain that Matthew’s geneology shows us that in spite of the chaos of the individual lives that make up the list, God is able to work his perfect orderly plan through ordinary people. I’ll tell the kids that A record of the geneology of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham can be translated The genesis of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham. I’ll ask them, “What do you think about when you hear the word genesis? Now doesn’t it make sense that John chose to begin his gospel, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ? They are really both saying the same thing!”

That will be the end of Matthew Chapter 1:1-17. Four days spend with Matthew’s geneology. Bible takes about twenty minutes to a half hour. We often have one lesson at breakfast and another at lunch. Interruptions are a given. The little ones get bored but their minds are stretched and around age seven they begin to understand and participate with more enthusiasm. If I only had little ones (seven and under) I would simply read through the The Child’s Story Bible like I did with Lauren and John. Perhaps this is really what I need to do with Claire and Charlie but Faith (7) is definitely ready for this type of Bible study. She begs me to read Bible at every meal. For now this is the way we learn. For now. But nothing ever stays the same with children.


Sarah Markley said…
This is beautiful, Kate. The normal-ness this shows is encouraging, as well as your dedication to studying the Bible with your children. What an example!
That's great! Thanks for the inspiration. We do our Bible reading at breakfast, and alternate between Child's Story Bible and an actual Bible. (Since we have kids of all ages.) It's neat to have older ones now that can actually look things up and add to the lesson. Thanks for sharing!

What a GREAT idea. We could read one at breakfast and the other at lunch. I wonder why I didn't think of that? Such a simple solution.

Janelle said…
Kate, thank you for applying that for us. Thank you for showing us that it really can be done and that you are just a mom trying to lead the way for your kids. Thank you for taking the time to portray it with the interruptions! I am sure that was the real-life coming through your words. You made me smile.

I need to improve in this area. Meaning I am at nothing, so anything would be an improvement! I just start to doubt and get overwhelmed. Once I reach that stage I don't even want to try.

Thanks for the encouragement.
ValleyGirl said…
Your perseverance and patience are very impressive!!

Thanks for giving us a peek into your lives and for demonstrating how the message still gets through even when your kids SEEM to not be hearing anything!
lori said…
Ours is in the morning....and with the older ones it's really neat to see them growing. Since I've added the character journals to the Bible Study (I try and match up character traits that correspond with the chapters we are reading) even Hayden is getting it all and relating it to his life....
You know Kate, often in the day, mini Bible studies emerge while we are doing school with a simple question that someone asks...that is where the real blessing is...that we can have these "lessons" or "studies" going on 'all the time!'
thank you for sharing, and I think that whenever and wherever and however it works is perfect!
neat look inside!

The spontaneous mini Bible studies are the best! I love those moments.

Alyson said…
Thank you for that. I have to admit that I have adopted you as my homeschooling mentor ;)
It is very nice to get a peak into your day. I know homeschooling is different everyday. You painted a very clear pic for me.

By the way we are now freezing up here in eastern ontario!! Are you still swimming down there?
My chickens are getting some bibs for their bare backs! ha! stay tuned for pics!

The pool is still open but way too cold to swim in. The leaves are starting to change and are falling from the trees by the truckload. We'll be raking until February.

I definately want to see the bibbed chickens. We are getting organic eggs from a local farmer and we just found out about another farm that sells free range chickens. The quest for healthy eating continues.

Etta said…
Thanks for sharing this, Kate. Since both my boys are little (4 and 1) I only read out of our children's Bible right now, but sometimes the older one gets bored and wants to read other stuff. So now we read a story book and a Bible story. Not always a lot of discussion, but we've been through the children's bible several times now, and he is starting to be able to tell the stories back to me. I can't wait to see that translate into genuine interest someday.
Love the picture of this with your family and Bible time. Thanks so much for sharing!
Much love,
Heather C said…
I love the "realness" of this! Thanks for sharing your Bible time with us... I'm encouraged that it IS doable, and if I let go of the fact that it should be "perfect", we might actually get somewhere. :) Thanks again... I'm blessed!

Mary@notbefore7 said…

This year seemed to be such a break through when I finally discovered what a GREAT time mealtime was to read the bible with the girls. We read the entire Jesus Storybook Bible in one week because they didn't want to stop. I use breakfast to read a Psalm and lunch to read the bible. This is working right now. I look forward to the day we can do a bit more discussing.

I love that you just accepted and used what worked rather than pursing "perfection" that doesn't exist.
Joy said…
This was really exciting to read. I cannot imagine the day that I could have a deeper conversation about the Bible with my kids (I have 4 but the oldest is only 5). For now we enjoy the fun Bible story books and occasionally my oldest asks to read from "my real Bible".
Susan said… are such an inspiration to me!
Thanks so much for sharing this. I had bad experiences with family devo time when I was little, so this gives me some ideas for how to do it when we have kids. :) And thanks for your honesty, too; as another commenter said, it's encouraging! :)

So ... can I join you all for Bible and coffee cake some morning? ;)
L.L. Barkat said…
Kate, what an amusing and encouraging sketch here! What homeschooler can't relate?

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