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Christian parents have a responsibility to make sure their children know and love God's Word. But what if you struggle as a parent to read the Bible yourself. How can you pass a love for God's Word along to your children if you struggle with it yourself? That was Carrie Ward's story. Until God gave her a plan to help her develop a consistent time in the Word, right along with her children. Readers will walk together with Carrie Ward, an everyday mama, as she journeys through the Bible with her small children one ...
Christian parents have a responsibility to make sure their children know and love God's Word. But what if you struggle as a parent to read the Bible yourself. How can you pass a love for God's Word along to your children if you struggle with it yourself? That was Carrie Ward's story. Until God gave her a plan to help her develop a consistent time in the Word, right along with her children. Readers will walk together with Carrie Ward, an everyday mama, as she journeys through the Bible with her small children one chapter a day. As her children re-enact the Bible stories readers will be able to see Scripture through the eyes of a child. Parents will learn how to impart God's truth to their children day by day, and will see its transformative power on their families. Together: Growing Appetites for God is an easy read and includes helpful tools for scripture memorization and charts to follow progress through the Bible.
A True Woman Book
The goal of the True Woman publishing line is to encourage women to:
If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. Mark 4:23
On the day I started out to read the entire Bible with my three children, I was euphoric. This was going to be great. I sat down at breakfast and read, "In the beginning God created ..." Somehow, naively, 1 expected my children, the oldest of them only four years old, to share my enthusiasm. I expected them to be filled with wonder. I expected them to be wowed by the reading of God's Word. I expected them ... to listen. What was I thinking?
My first three mornings went something like this.
"'Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.'"
"Can I have some more toast?"
"Uh sure, just a second. 'By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.'"
"Are we gonna have to take a nap today?"
"Yes! God rested, and so should you. Where was I? 'Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it—' Where are you going?"
"I need to wash my hands."
"Can you wait just a minute?"
"Sticky! I'm sticky!"
It was a scene made for YouTube. While I was reading about the fall of man, my little ones were spinning in their chairs, standing in their chairs, and asking questions not at all related to Adam and Eve. I thought, I am reading out loud to myself. This might not have been a bad thing, but it was not exactly what I had in mind.
Our trip through the Bible began with me wondering what in the world I had undertaken. Could I do this without lots of pictures? Would they ever be able to listen, or at least be still—or even just be quiet? God was merciful, and He did not leave me in this predicament for long.
On day four I reached the story of Cain and Abel. Mind you, while I read, the children were as wiggly and talkative as ever. The story was chopped in pieces as I stopped to answer unrelated questions or jumped up to get more food. Once the reading and waffles were behind us, I sent Graham and Maggie off to play in the living room while I began cleaning up. But before I finished clearing the dishes from the table, I realized what it was they were playing. They were "playing" Cain and Abel.
I watched them take turns playing the part of Cain. They would walk off in the "field" together, and Cain would whack Abel over the head with some sort of invisible farm implement. This may not sound like the sort of interaction a mom should be excited to see between her children, but I was thrilled. They were listening! Whether or not they intended to listen, they had definitely heard the story in great detail.
From that point on, I didn't obsess over trying to get them to hang on every word. I did try to teach them to sit still, be quiet, and pay attention, but each morning as they were smacking, squirming, and blurting, I knew they were also hearing. They were hearing the Word of God. This was what I wanted, because if I could read God's Word and they would hear it, God could use it to change their hearts. This was the encouragement I needed to keep going. And keep going we did.
Reenactments of the Cain and Abel variety became an almost daily occurrence. Biblical epics became commonplace in the Ward living room, our standard After-Breakfast Theater. Stuffed animals were gathered by twos and led into the ark (a blanket draped over the dining room chairs). Abraham and Isaac climbed the mountain, and Isaac was incredibly thankful for the ram. Joseph was sold into slavery. Moses threw off his sandals in front of the burning bush. Joshua marched around Jericho. I waited with much anticipation to see how my children would interpret each day's Bible reading.
One day a man of God came to Jeroboam to speak a word against the altars and idols that Jeroboam had built.
This story captivated my children. All day, and into the next, my little people ran around the house yelling, "Seize him!" Then one itty-bitty hand would wither. (It was interesting to watch a preschool interpretation of one's hand drying up. It reminded me of the shrinking of the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. They would pull their hands to their chest and then sort of scrunch up in a ball on the floor. It was more like their whole bodies had withered.) After that, a three-foot-tall "man" of God would pray, and the little hand would be restored. It was great. Even my hand withered (and was promptly healed) a few times.
By the time we got to stories of David, the acting had become quite skillful. Goliath stood on a chair to be more "Goliathy" and yelled, "Am I a dog?" I red David a line, "I come to you in the name of the Lord." Then David made one adept swing of his slingshot. Goliath died several times that day, always dramatically.
Another day David was playing his harp when Saul threw a spear at him (or was it her?).
David hid by the stone (a basket) waiting for Jonathan to shoot his arrows.
In the cavelike closet, David crept up behind Saul to cut a piece from his robe (bathrobe).
The acting was larger than life—and hilarious. I loved it! God created children with a wonderful imagination and a great capacity for playing pretend. My children didn't just hear the account given in the Bible; they put themselves in the story. Along with the fun, something significant was happening. The Lord was reinforcing what we had read. Their play not only reinforced God's Word in their minds, but in my mind as well.
From the beginning I had been praying that God would help them remember and understand more than I thought they were capable of. And as we moved through the Old Testament, God continued to reinforce His Word to our children. I saw this at work on a grand scale the day we read Psalm 105.
A portion of this psalm recounts the story of the children of Israel being brought out of Egypt with wondrous signs. This triggered their memory of Moses confronting the pharaoh. When the eating and reading were over, the acting began.
My older son, Graham, seized the role of Pharaoh sitting in his thronelike leather chair. Benjamin was now old enough to participate, but on this particular morning he was more like a guard in the pharaoh's palace, watching the story unfold. Emma, our newest arrival, must have been playing the part of an Egyptian baby—too young to appreciate the drama. Maggie, three, was Pharaoh's trusted servant.
I leaned over the kitchen counter, completely captivated but trying not to be spotted for fear they might stop the performance.
"Bring him in," declared Pharaoh in a demanding tone.
Maggie, the servant, quickly ushered in an invisible Moses. (The invisible Moses was an interesting twist.)
There was a muffled conversation between the pharaoh and the invisible Moses. Pharaoh suddenly became quite agitated and yelled, "No! Send him away." At this, the servant hastily escorted invisible Moses out of the presence of Pharaoh.
After a quiet moment Pharaoh began to shout in alarm, "Oh, oh, blood, blood!" and then an urgent "Go get him." The servant wasted no time in retrieving Moses.
Hushed whispers were exchanged, and again, Pharaoh grew agitated. "No!" he exclaimed, and Moses was again sent out of the palace.
There was a brief silence before Pharaoh howled, "Oh, oh, frogs, frogs! Bring me Moses!" Moses reappeared (tricky for an invisible Bible character, mind you!), accompanied by Pharaoh's faithful servant, of course.
I wondered if the children were actually going to remember all ten plagues. However, without any planning on their part, they condensed the story and skipped right to the end.
Once again there was a conversation between Pharaoh and "Moses," but in the end the pharaoh yelled the inevitable "No!" and out went Moses. At this point Pharaoh, with a surprising amount of sincerity, cried out, "My son, my son!" as he (apparently) saw his lifeless firstborn. This time the pharaoh told his servant to go and inform Moses that he and his people could leave Egypt. So Maggie went to one side of the room, made a grand sweeping motion with her arras, and yelled, "You can go."
Oh, but the story didn't end there! A moment later, my son the pharaoh jumped to his feet and shouted a command to his servant: "After them!" The pharaoh and his servant began the chase, through the living room and the kitchen, around the corner to the dining room, and back to the living room. By the time they reached the living room the second time, Pharaoh was yelling, "They're crossing the Red Sea. Let's go after them!" Then, at one end of the living room, he collapsed, giving a great performance of a drowning man.
However, his servant did not remember accurately all the details of the story, and she kept running. My son popped his head up and yelled, "No, Maggie, you have to stop. You drown in the water."
My daughter didn't really like this idea. With a confused expression, she looked to me for the answer. I said, "Yes, Maggie, if you're with the pharaoh, you drown in the sea."
With an awfully serious look on her face, she said, "Can we play this again? Next time I'll be Moses."
As my children have grown, the performances of Living Room Bible Theater have become less frequent, although it occasionally recurs spontaneously. But how thankful I am for those rich Old Testament accounts! I'm so thankful for little children and the sense of wonder they express. I am thankful for the way God made their minds like little sponges, soaking up details that I sometimes overlook. I'm thankful for those days of rehearsing Bible stories in our living room. I have watched my children remember, and help each other remember, passages in remarkable detail. As our reading continued, God also answered my prayer that they would understand.
I praise God for the way I have witnessed His Word being implanted in the minds of my children. But before we ever started this Bible reading adventure, God got my attention and did a work in my own heart.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9
Moving day! You watch total strangers load your worldly possessions into a large truck. You may feel uneasy as they drive away with your stuff, but you have no time to linger, worrying if your wedding dishes will make it or not. After you wave good-bye to those guys with your belongings, you spend the next few hours trying to force fit into your car all those "keepsakes" you wouldn't entrust to the movers—along with the broom and dustpan. Thankfully, we had two cars!
Our big day had come. Once all the surplus items had been squeezed in, we situated our most precious cargo, our two children, and said "good-bye" to Chicago on our way to Little Rock. In some ways this was a big move for us, but it was actually a pretty easy one. We were excited to be buying our first house. My husband, Wes, was energized about his new job on the broadcast team at FamilyLife Today. And, having grown up in Texas and Oklahoma, we were both eager to be moving back closer to family and friends.
We drove all night and arrived at our new home the next morning, just in time to watch those same strangers, now most trustworthy men, unload all our stuff. Our well-rested children ran from room to room while we tried to stay awake to oversee the work and do some cleaning. You can imagine the scene—boxes piled high, the faint smell of Comet and fresh paint in the air.
Those first few weeks in Little Rock were spent doing the normal stuff, surveying what had gotten mangled in the move and what hadn't, reconnecting with friends nearby, and eating out way too often. Right in the middle of getting our new nest in order, I received some troubling news from dear friends of ours. I was floored. It was the kind of news that makes you weak in the knees and leaves you with a persistent anxious feeling. The chaos I had been facing on the outside, I was now experiencing inside.
That first night I cried and prayed. In the days that followed I tried to learn every possible solution to this problem. I thought there must be something I could do of say that would mend the situation. But at the end of each day, I did the only thing I knew I could do: I prayed. I sought God more intently than I had in a long time, perhaps ever.
This news drove me to a desperate kind of prayer that lasted several months, and in the process God began to reveal Himself in ways I had not experienced before.
Around this same time, I was "very pregnant" with our third child and felt a bit self-conscious when Wes and I went to dinner with a group from his work. FamilyLife Today and Back to the Bible were talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about helping her start a radio program. After a day of meetings, the group and spouses were going out to dinner. As it turned out, Wes and I sat directly across from Nancy. She and I had the opportunity to chat throughout the evening, and this conversation launched a friendship that God immediately began to use in our lives.
Excerpted from Together by Carrie Ward Copyright © 2012 by Carrie Ward. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 5, 2012
I was not crazy about this book, while the premise is good, that you and your children can get a lot out of reading the Bible together, it seemed like the book was just a super long plug for a bunch of other books or programs.
Other than telling us stories about her journey of reading the Bible to her kids, it mostly just advocated other programs. I do not agree with reading an adult Bible to little children, they will not get out of the stories what is really important, they will just be reenacting Cain killing Abel, as though somehow things like that are a good thing. It seemed that maybe she started at too young an age with an adult bible, because it seemed like her older children had a much better grasp of deeper meaning, obviously because they were older and were at a different learning level.
It seemed like her husband put a lot of pressure on her to teach the kids scripture and later, pushed her to have the kids memorize scripture, as though that is the most important thing to salvation, all at the urging of a so called "friend" who never had anything to do with the actually teaching part. It is judgmental people like her "friend" that make non-Christians think Christians are crazy or a cult. God does not judge you at the pearly gates based on how much of the Bible you have memorized, my Lord- would the version make a difference too?
Now her kids did seem to get into the Bible and especially focused on fasting and prayer, though they needed to be taught how to fast and the proper reasons to fast and pray. It makes sense that these kids would think fasting was fun; their parents made the whole family do it all the time, to the extent that the kids seemed to think of it as a game unless they were properly directed.
In the last part of the book she talks about the benefits of reading the Bible to your kids, and I mostly agree. Reading is crucial to a child's development. Being comfortable reading is also a huge confidence builder, always important in settings where it is easy for kids to pick on one another, like school.
Reading the Bible together also created a daily discipline with accountability to her kids. They let her know if she wasn't holding up her end of the bargain. It also created closeness and gave the children the ability to learn to interpret the Bible and discern God working in their lives, right for the beginning. It was not something new to them; they basically grew up with it, a very good thing. Bible interpretation is a hard thing to wrap your head around at any age, but starting young can be a positive thing.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to know more about the effects of daily Bible reading on kids, which were positive, overall. Or to someone who wanted to start a program like this with their kids.
I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist parents and clergy in recommending appropriate books for people to read.
Please read more of this review and other reviews on my blog: sarahereads(dot)wordpress(dot)com