Even the Child Yet to Be Born {plus a book giveaway!}

We circle up under the light of the tree, the firstborn leaning hard into my side and bending his head close to see the words, my little girl taking her place on what’s left of my lap, the baby in hiding filling me toward fullness. I turn the page and read aloud ancient words under dim light. I look up at shadowy little faces and remember seeing them first as silhouettes on a black screen, just a hint of his Daddy’s nose, a mere sketching of her Grandmother’s likeness, each tiny form scarcely highlighted in sweeps of chalky white.

Early in the evening, my husband and I sat with friends around another tree, prodding our pastor for stories from childhood and parenthood, all the stages of life and his lessons learned. He told us of bacon and eggs and the Word served like black coffee at his family’s farm table in the dark of morning, and how he never lost his appetite for it.

“Keep telling the story,” he said as he referenced Psalm 78:

I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done….
That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born….

The rocking chair creaked as the pastor echoed the Shema and the words right after, how we are to teach these things diligently to our children in the midst of our daily routines, “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

We’ve chosen a laid-back Advent this year. A few activities here and there, but no daily surprises behind the calendar doors. Our routine is meaningful yet sustainable. Each morning, the kids move the baby Jesus figurine from one door to the next in our wooden calendar. Every few days a new figurine joins the group in the Nativity scene with a Scripture reading of that individual’s part in the grand story. Before bed each night, we read a selection in The Jesus Storybook Bible, taking in the big picture of the fathers and mothers of faith who went before, those who foretold the Messiah’s first coming, seeing Him only dimly, like the traces of life on the ultrasound screen.

Our Advent may be simple, but it has structure and intentionality, something we’d been lacking for awhile. In the months of fall, my Bible reading with the kids disappeared as our previous routine gave way to scattered school mornings. Advent reminds me of what we’ve been missing.

After we coax the kids into their beds and turn out the lights, I reach for the next book on my list, “Together: Growing Appetites for God”. The themes of our evening chat come at me again. Everyday mama, Carrie Ward had tried for years to find a Bible reading plan that worked for her. Inevitably, her morning quiet time became not-so-quiet when her children would wake up in the middle of it. When she tried to read her Bible at night in bed, she would fall asleep. Besides that, she didn’t consider herself much of a reader. She had struggled with reading as a child and now as an adult she “rarely attempted reading for pleasure…there was no pleasure in it.”

But when she looked at those children in her care, she saw their unformed spiritual substance, those shadowy traces of who they might become. “I really wanted to succeed in reading the Bible–the entire Bible,” she shared, “This was something I had never done. And I wanted to get God’s Word into the minds and hearts of my children. I thought, Why not do both at the same time?” She determined herself to read the entire Bible aloud to her children, even if it took eight years. She worked the reading into her existing daily routines, and just like my pastor’s parents, she chose breakfast, a time of day when she and all her children were already gathered around the table.

She would read at least one chapter and even more if the kids asked for seconds. And they did. When they finished the whole Bible in less than five years, the kids asked to jump right back into Genesis the next day. In the beginning, Carrie watched as they acted out impromptu plays based on the day’s text. Through the years as the children matured, their response came in the form of more poignant questions, Scripture memory and commitments to Jesus.

Carrie says that “it’s worthwhile to envision ten, fifteen, or even twenty years down the road…. Think about them leaving home, with lives built on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. Imagine them knowing where to turn when they sin, having the assurance that Jesus is their only hope. Think about preparing them to go the distance by giving them ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ (Ephesians 6:17). Consider how God could use your children, grounded in His Word, to glorify His name in the world.”

I read the book in less than a day, underlining, bracketing, penciling in stars and notes, all this motivation for me to get back to reading plain Scripture aloud with my kids. It’s taken me five years to get past the middle of our read through the Bible, and with Carrie’s inspirational stories and practical suggestions, I’m looking forward to getting back to it, building it into our routine beyond Christmas and into the new year, all to see them grow in wisdom and stature and emerge from shadows into full knowledge, these two and the child yet to be born.

{Have you ever read the Scripture in its entirety? Have you thought of combining your own reading with your desire for sharing the Word with your children? In light of the way your routines already run, what plan might work for you?}

The Giveaway: Would you like your own copy of “Together: Growing Appetites for God”? Today Carrie Ward and Moody Publishers are graciously offering a free book to one Message in a Mason Jar reader! To enter the giveaway, simply comment below about your struggles or successes in reading the Word together. Please note: first time commenters are moderated. For extra entries (include a separate comment here for each entry): subscribe to Message in a Mason Jar via email or RSS feed, like Message in a Mason Jar on Facebook, share this post on Twitter, share on Facebook, and/or share on Pinterest. The giveaway ends at midnight EST on Sunday, December 16.

(This post contains affiliate links to items that I personally use and enjoy. When you purchase through these links, you encourage continued creative community here at Message in a Mason Jar with no extra charge to you. P.S. I receive no compensation from author or publisher for this review.)

27 thoughts on “Even the Child Yet to Be Born {plus a book giveaway!}

  1. Darcy–I LOVED this! Your comments on Sunday, your comments on the struggle, just it all. Yes, its been a struggle for me. We’ve done Bible Stories and The Jesus Storybook Bible with the younger boys, but I feel the need (Like Jennifer said) to take it deeper. And I’ve never read the Bible all the way through, I’ve done various books, but when I try to do a year plan, I lose speed as I work my way through the OT. That book sounds really interesting!

    • Carrie charts their readings on Robert Murray McCheyne’s plan, the one our pastor mentioned. I haven’t looked at that yet, but for our reading here, we are going through The Message Remix Pause Bible, which places an Old Testament passage alongside a New Testament one for each reading. Not sure what I’ll do after we finish that, but we still have a ways to go. ;)

  2. Thanks so much for this, Darcy. I’ve been looking for something to do with my kids now that they’re older, and how ridiculous that it never occurred to me to actually open up the Bible! I immediately left here and purchased the book on Kindle. Praying with you for new growth and a new passion for God’s word in the new year.

    • Wonderful, Kimberly! Carrie also shares some good anecdotes and advice for getting through some of the tougher passages with kids. Initially, she skipped Leviticus, but later found it necessary for a full understanding of Hebrews, discovering that ALL Scripture is profitable…. :) I also think the key to reading Scripture with the kids consistently is to keep things manageable/sustainable. Her plan to cover one chapter a day was do-able and they also allowed for sick days and vacation days when routines were out of whack. I’d love to hear more of how God leads you in leading your kids this coming year!

  3. I love the picture of you and the kids. It calms my soul just looking at it. Last year, we read Jesus Calling for kids at the bus stop. This year, I’m trying a one-year Bible devotional. I long for a routine in our lives that consistently allows us to spend time together at breakfast or dinner or something where we could implement something a little deeper. Maybe that is something I should be more intentional about in 2013. Thanks for this post. I’ll have to add that book to my list!

    • I love the way you did a reading at the bus stop. What a wonderful way to send them off! Like I said to Kimberly, in order to stay motivated it has to be something manageable/sustainable that meshes with your comings and goings.

  4. Beautifully written Darcy and so exciting to see the growing image of the little girl that will soon join the family! Leavener gave copies of the Jesus Storybook Bible to each family this year and the boys usually ask to read “just one more!” There is also a Christmas story reading plan that goes along with it.

    • Glad you told me you have one or I might’ve gotten one for you all for Christmas. Best kids’ storybook Bible out there! I just ordered the collector’s edition for the kids. Our current edition had a whole section of pages torn out by a certain two year old a few years back. ;) After we talked to him about it, he prayed and said, “God, I’m sorry for tearing your words.”

  5. I am currently a part of the #shereadstruth community so that is helping me to get in the word each day. But I have yet to incorporate Bible reading with my kiddos (4 mo and 2.5 yrs). I love this idea though and hope to win the book. Thxs for sharing.

  6. We did the Bible in 90 days with our Church a year ago. Its intense to read that fast, but you really get a feel for the overall story of the Bible instead of thinking of it as a bunch of separate books. I’m trying to read it again, but chronologically this time, going a little slower. I never thought about reading it to my kids, we may start during breakfast.

  7. Something my kids enjoy (esp. Camden) is an audio recording of the Bible…I can really see the Word infiltrating his thinking through what he says. It’s something you can listen to in the car! Although this is strictly for advent, we’ve been using a book in a 3 book series called Jotham’s Journey…the kid’s have loved it! We’ve used a simple advent candle I made at MOPS with red and blue dots down a white candle (25)..letting the candle burn down to each dot (vs. buying/trying to make an advent wreath). It’s shown me they’re capable of sitting for a period of time (the candle helps:) and listening to a story without pictures…so it encourages me that reading the Bible after dinner instead is something we can do when advent is over.

    • I had never heard of the dotted Advent candle. Love how it represents the waiting as you can see the wax burn away bit by bit. And the audio Bible is a great idea. Farah loves listening to our Awana CD, so I’m sure she’d transfer well to the Scripture on CD.

  8. The first time I read the Bible all the way through was with my Dad every day when he came home from work when I was in 2nd grade. We had a booklet that gave us passages for every day. I’m not sure why he thought to do that, but it made a big impact on me (the one-on-one time with my dad as well as the scripture). I have read the Bible through many other times, but it’s funny I hadn’t thought of reading through with my kids until reading this post. We love the Jesus Storybook Bible too, and have read a lot of passages directly from the Bible over time, but never the entire thing together as a family. I’m interested to read Together and get ideas! (Also, it was lovely to meet you yesterday!)

    • Neat to hear from another grown child’s perspective of the impact that reading the Word in full had not only on your understanding of God, but on your relationship with your dad. A real gift.

      After book club, I came home and told my husband what a joy it was talking with you. Looking forward to more good times with you and the other wonderful ladies in the group.

  9. I love the Jesus Storybook Bible. God used the read aloud book on Itunes to minister to me (an adult) in a dark period. Something about the narration comforted me in a new way. I am enjoying her new book as well. (Please do not enter me in the drawing)

  10. Pingback: Reading Through the Bible | A Spirited Mind

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