Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 12

I've been so blessed by what each women has shared about Bible Reading these last weeks. I'm going to end this series with some words of wisdom from a mother of eleven. I never met Laurie, and only know her through her daughter, Sheila but her words encouraged me.


She softly closes her Bible and kneels by her bed to pray.For nearly fifty years she has done this every day.”

Am I the only mother that has ever felt frustrated with the words of this song? Did this dear old mother never have morning sickness, fussy babies, or other disruptions to her schedule? Was she never so tired that she could barely think, let alone read the Bible and pray consecutively. Or maybe she only had model children, all five years apart in age? How did she possibly manage to get away to her bedroom and privately read her Bible and pray every. single. day?

A mother’s personal devotions is something very close to my heart, and probably close to the heart of every Christian mother. While my youngest child at home is now twenty years old, I well remember the frustration and guilt I felt when my children were young. The many cares and responsibilities of motherhood—cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, pregnancy and nausea, fussy babies, demanding toddlers, school schedules, marriage obligations, winter colds and flues, summer canning, and much more can leave a young mother exhausted. There seems to never be enough time for the countless tasks. So then, when do we spend time with God?

There are seasons of life when it is very difficult to find sufficient time and space for a daily, prolonged, private time with God. And while a scheduled time is certainly ideal, often it is just not possible. But there are many little random slots of time when we can find nourishment from The Word. Busy young mothers should try hard to not let one day go by without utilizing some of them:
  • Memorize scripture. Write a verse, or several, on a paper and tape it to the mirror, the refrigerator or above the kitchen sink. Read it often to rivet it in your mind. 
When I was a girl, my mom printed verses on 8 1/2” x 11” papers and put them on the wall like mottos. I always thought it was to help her children memorize verses, but when I have done the same for my family, I realize it blesses me too. Maybe use a colored paper and add a border or stickers to make it attractive.
  • Read your Bible or a devotional book while feeding the baby. Sometimes this is a good time to read to toddlers but children can and should be taught to entertain themselves also. 
  • When the baby keeps you up at night, spend some time reciting Bible verses and passages. 
The middle of the night, when all is quiet, is also a good time to pray. I like to try to be in an attitude of prayer continually, breathing words to God whenever something comes to mind. But when my children were small and I found it hard to find time for longer periods of prayer, I often prayed in the night while caring for my baby. 
  • Sing hymns to your baby while you rock him to sleep. Meditate on the words.
  • Slip a small Testament in your purse and read it while waiting at doctor appointments.
Don’t forget to ask your husband for help. When I was expecting my tenth baby, added to the normal (for me) twenty-four/seven nausea, I also suffered with depression. At that stage of my life, with my oldest a fourteen-year-old daughter, I was able to find more private time to read the Bible. However, because of the depression, I found it very hard. So at night, after we were in bed, my husband read aloud from the Psalms. I would lie quietly, resting, and soak it in. I probably went a couple of months without personally reading the Bible but I remember that as a very special time. I felt spiritually nourished.

If you are truly unable to find the time and energy, tell God about it. One mother of twins said she was so exhausted by the time she finally got her babies to sleep that she simply said “Dear God, You know my heart,” before she fell asleep. She knew that God understood this season of her life. In those brief words she was telling Him that her prayers in the past and her prayers in the future was her prayer tonight, when she was too tired to pray.

In less busy seasons or as our children get older and we are able to find more time, there are many exciting ways to study God’s Word:
  • I enjoy writing my own devotionals. I write out a verse or passage and then add my inspiration from it. Maybe I read from a Bible commentary and copy thoughts that stand out to me. Sometimes I write a poem or a small rhyme about the verses. This study is a blessing to me at the time I write it and when I read it later.
  • I like to underline and shade Bible passages and write thoughts in the margins. This is an extra blessing to me later, when going through difficulties. At times when I feel battle-weary, I open my Bible and just read places that are marked. 
The downside of marking in my Bible is that it can be a distraction. So I occasionally like to read from another Bible, that I don’t mark at all, to help me find new treasures. 
  • Once I read one section of Psalm 119 each day. I spent time thinking about the verses and chose and underlined a favorite verse every day. Psalm 119 is a beautiful passage and means much more to me since that special time of studying it. 
  • Sometimes I will choose a chapter and read it every day for a month. I think the first time I did this was with Romans 12. I remember being amazed at all the new things that kept popping up. It was really exciting. Currently, I am reading Hebrews 4. Some days I read something else but I am reading it often. There is so much I need to learn from Hebrews 4 about true rest.  And I am learning that there are many facets to the word “rest” in this chapter.
  • Word studies are also interesting. Some good words to study are Mercy, Grace, Redemption, Sanctification. And Rest.
  • In times of deep grief or stress it can be a blessing to simply copy a special verse or two in a journal, filling the page with the words. Or maybe just one special word—Rejoice, Hope, Blessed, or Grace, and adding a one-line prayer. Drawing small flowers and designs around the verse or word while we reflect on it can be relaxing and rejuvenating. After God called my youngest child to Heaven, and again when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found this type of journaling very precious. Sometimes our hearts and minds are just too overwhelmed to absorb much more.
  • And don’t forget to read the Bible like any other book. We enjoy reading other books for an hour or two (or more) so why not God’s Word? While the Bible is certainly different than other books and should never be taken lightly, I believe it can be profitable to sometimes simply read it to enjoy the interesting stories. The Old Testament, especially, has stories full of mystery, romance, murder, treason, war, infidelity and deception—stories with captivating plots and twists and unexpected endings. While some of these  are probably not the type of stories that we normally like to read, they are fascinating,  true stories and the omniscient hand of our mighty God is always there. What more could we want in a story? 
Young mothers, please do not wallow in guilt or discouragement because there isn’t more time to actually read your Bible. Your service to your husband and to your children brings glory to God in itself. Your work is very important to Him. However, do try hard to find time to hold your Bible in your hands and read from it, if only once or twice a week. It is important. We need the fresh insights and inspiration that only comes from personally reading God’s Word. Looking back, I regret not trying harder to find more time for Bible reading when my children were small. And I’m ashamed to admit that I still fail sometimes. 

The battle is huge and real. The hand that rocks the cradle must hold the hand of God. -Laurie L.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 11


For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration. 

I have found my devotional life changes with my seasons of life. After the birth of my first child, a set time for an orderly devotions disappeared. As babies were added to toddlers, Bible reading usually happened while nursing, and prayer was short sentences and breathes uttered between changing diapers and picking up blocks. Some days any Bible reading was Gospel signs or church signs while driving to town. 

My goal was to keep afternoon nap-time for a quiet devotional time, but some days a nap myself was needed more and Bible reading didn't happen - creating guilt. But then our bishop spoke words I've never forgotten. He mentioned that mothers with busy families need to not feel guilty for days when maybe a brief prayer is all that happens. The Lord knows our hearts and he sees the intense days of busy moms, and understands. The Lord is not judging a worn-out mom on the time she spent or didn't spend reading the Bible. Through the years, I've learned to not focus on when and how, but to focus on finding worship moments through-out the day. An extra beautiful sunrise, joy from a child's smile, the first robin's song in spring, a parking spot right at the front of the store when heavy with child -- all these things feel like a touch from God and are a worshiping moment. Prayers are uttered when a friend's name comes to mind, or I think of a prayer request from prayer meeting, or as soon as a prayer text comes to my phone.     One year I decided to do the One Year Bible plan, but it turned into a Three Year Bible plan! But that was okay. I found joy in accomplishing it and felt rewarded to be able to say I had read through the Bible. I would recommend it although it is a lot of reading and I found myself reading to just get the reading done and not focusing on what the words were really saying. I can have just as meaningful devotions pondering on only one verse. 

I have tried to get up early in the morning since I often hear that devotions should be first thing to start your day. But I am not a morning person. (There, I admitted it.) I found myself falling back to sleep while trying to read and pray. After again fighting guilt, I decided that just like my husband doesn't care what time of day I talk with him, so my Heavenly Husband will enjoy conversation any time of day!

Now that my babies are grown up, afternoon nap-time devotions still work best because the interruptions and questions of my four-year-old still doesn't work for morning devotions. My biggest challenge I now face is to keep Bible reading first and not let other to-do list take over those quiet moments. - Regina R.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 10

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.


It is easier for me now to have an uninterrupted block of time to sit down and read my Bible than when I had preschoolers. I usually wait until my husband leaves for work, or, depending on the activities of the day, may wait until after the children leave for school. Even so, I have to make this a priority, or it will slip through the cracks. There is always something else calling for my attention, and if I start on my To Do List, sit down to quickly read an email, make a phone call, etc. I start going from one project to the next, and find that my prime time for reading the Bible is pushed off and may not happen for the rest of the day.

I remember the days of being interrupted with babies crying and children fussing. My encouragement to young moms would be to daily read something from the Bible, but not to feel guilty if you are unable to read it through in a year.

My biggest challenge in Bible reading now that I am middle-aged is when we have guests and when we go on trips, which happens frequently. Distracted thoughts are another challenge.

Some tips that have helped me:
A little is better than none, but always try for more.
Keep a devotional journal. In one section record daily what I have read.
Have a plan-Read through the Bible; do a study on a topic, word, or a personal area of struggle; study a Bible character or book. Use variety.
Breathe a prayer before reading, asking God to “show me His ways, teach me His paths”…(Psalm 25:4)
If a devotional book is used, make sure some of the reading is the pure Word of God.
Make it a priority.

The Bible is full of hidden treasure. We only need to prayerfully spend time mining the gems. The more we read it, the more we love it. The seasons of life partially determine the amount of time we have for this, but the devil would like to make our time minimal in any season. It takes diligence, perseverance and discipline.

Some days we may have to snack on verses picked up here and there…daily calendars, snatches of songs, inspirational poetry. But many days we can read with discipline while feeding the baby; rising early; while children are napping; or after the washer is humming and the children are in school.

Some days our brains are foggy with pain, illness or grief and we are unable to concentrate on words on a page. During those times we reach up to God with parched lips, asking Him for living water to meet our need for the day. And He answers in ways that swell our hearts with worship even in weakness. As we persevere daily, we find the Word of God growing more and more precious. It is woven into the very fabric of our lives, enabling us to live with grace, strength and victory. - Timna H.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 9


For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

This is something that I have struggled with over the years…. For me, the very best time is if I get up ½ hour before the rest of the family. But it takes discipline to read my Bible and not spend my time filling in my planner book or something else. I enjoy writing, so the reading and journaling comes easier than concentrated prayer. It takes double discipline to stay sitting and "do nothing." (When in reality, I might be moving mountains.)
I’ve used devotional books some over the years but when I do, I prefer to read the Bible passage first, before I read what the author's interpretation is or I feel like I’m reading processed food.

At the beginning of last year I took the Fruit of the Spirit, one per week, and a Strong's Concordance and looked up various verses, the meaning of words, etc. I did the same with other passages such as Titus 2 on the woman’s role. (If I take a week or more per word, I’m not so overwhelmed on any single morning.) Maybe I should do it on the Virtuous Woman in Prov 31 next.

I also enjoy finding ‘twins’ and ‘triplets’ in Scripture – such as “mercy and truth”, see how many times they show up together and study them out. What other twins are there? Triplets are more rare, but such ones as “do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God.”
Having a specific passage that I am reading or topic that I am studying is much better than randomly opening my Bible and saying “Hmmmm, what should I read today?”-Jenelle S.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 8

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

Today we will hear from two moms of young children. I think many of us can relate to this season of life. 


Guilty, yes. Discouraging, yes. I have this idea of how it will look: early morning, a quiet half hour, a clear mind. But it never works that way for me. My mornings are all different. Quietness is impossible to find. If I do read early I'm so tired I end up falling asleep. And feeling more guilty. If I read during the day there is no quietness, and my mind is crammed with other things. More guilt. I wish I had something positive to share, but honestly, all I feel in this area is need.  - Amy E.

I have many regrets about my Bible reading habits in these interrupted-night years. I remember the daily newspapers I have skimmed, some 300 or so, while I supervise play. I picture how tall the stack of periodicals would be that I have read, cover-to-cover, here and there between tasks. And I wince when I recall the few books of the Bible I have read and fewer I have studied. My goal is to try harder to stick to a specific time and routine for my Bible reading, and/or purpose to rise earlier than the short people in my house to make it a priority then. How do others make it happen?  - Kathryn S.


Do you have any encouragement for young mothers like these two?

The next couple days we'll hear from some moms who are past this stage in life who might have some tips for us.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 7


For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration. 

When I was a teenager, I often only skimmed or skipped sermons in books and the Bible verses in articles or stories. Church signs with Bible verses were more boring than church signs with jaunty little sayings. As life becomes more crowded, though, I value those bits of Scripture more.

It is something I rarely confess—that I face a constant struggle to have my personal devotions every day as a mom. (My teenage self would be appalled.) Yet I can say honestly that I pray without ceasing, all day long. And I find myself “reading without ceasing,” too.

Now the Bible verses in the stories are the bits I reread. A nearby church sign says “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and the verse invites me into it every time we pass—I’ve yet to reach the outer edges of those words.

It’s also important for me to place scripture around me to read as I “run.” I like the flip calendar on the kitchen sink to have Bible verses on it. I put a verse on the chalkboard. Verses on the walls. I read my preschooler’s memory verses for the quarter, which hang on the fridge. I remember, often guiltily, that bits of scripture such as these can never take the place of daily Bible reading, but in this season, they feed me without ceasing.
As a reader, I always, always find time to read—something. For other moms who are readers, they might find it helpful to do as I have done in some seasons—I set aside a day a week in which I read nothing but the Bible.
I was inspired by these words by a grandmother recently: The more we do something, the more we will desire to do it. Perhaps if I am not desiring the Word, I am not reading it enough.
Among other things I have done to make Bible reading more real to me is to hand write it. I also like to paraphrase it, putting sentence by sentence into my own words. - Sheila P.

Are you looking for Biblical inspiration for young women in your life? I've enjoyed The King Daughter magazine which Sheila edits.

The King's Daughter, a quarterly publication, containing stories, inspiration, and discussion for young women ages 13-18. Rates are $12 for one year or $23 for two years. Send subscriptions to The King’s Daughter at P.O. Box 127, Mercersburg, PA 17236. Send a 6x9 SASE and $3 for a sample copy.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 6

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

Since I have been married, my husband signed up to receive Beside the Still Waters devotional.  I have not found them to be outstanding in inspiration, but I like the small scripture portions that do not confine me to my favorite books that I tended to stick to when I choose a chapter to read each a day. 

Personal devotions are more special when I am facing tough situations, and I have marveled at how a random Scripture can meet my exact need during these times.  When a special verse/promise blesses me, I like to write (or paraphrase the verse or idea) in my plan book so that I can review it throughout the day.  

The virtuous woman who rises early while it is yet night to look well to her household has been my meditation lately.  I confess that I do not rise very early, but the best time for devotions for me is first thing in the morning after I am dressed and combed for the day.  At times, my youngest joins me before I have finished (or started) my devotions.  She always asks for her Bible, and I give her an old Beside the Still Waters to keep her quiet.  

I try to make prayer a way of life.  Any mother knows that it is a necessity to call on God all day long.  When I read about a prayer request, I breathe a prayer immediately.  When I wake up in the morning, I pray before I crawl out of bed.  I pray until I fall asleep at night.  Some days my prayers are shorter than others, but I try to stay in tune with God all the time. - Stephanie A. L.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 5

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

Setting a boundary has been the single most helpful thing in achieving a more consistent Bible-reading time. It’s easy for me to grab my phone as soon as I wake up and scroll through a number of distractions. But if I miss my quiet time in the morning, I hate myself for choosing social media over time with God.

At the beginning of 2018, I set a goal that I would not open email or any social media until I had read my Bible. I am not perfect and this self-imposed boundary has not magically solved the struggle of right priorities. But it has helped me deal with my strongest temptation, and my Bible-reading this year was more consistent than any other. I plan to continue this self-imposed boundary in 2019. - Flo F.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 4

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.


I can certainly identify with feeling guilty! I remember being upset at feeling guilty when I knew I was doing the best I could with taking/finding time for Bible reading. But eventually I understood that there was some good coming from feeling guilt; feeling guilty kept me alert to be sure I really was doing what I could and that I was making a conscious effort to take enough time, and to keep updating my methods and length of time I spent. 
So some things that have helped me...I have an app, YouVersion, that sends me a verse a day. I have it set to come early morning so it is there when I wake up. And it comes again in the evening, so I can again meditate on it at the end of the day.
BibleGateway is also a website that emails a verse of the day.
Our Daily Bread emails out a devotional if you sign up for it.
When I had young children and babies, my nights often interrupted, and being told to get up earlier to find time for Bible reading, was not what I wanted to hear...not when I felt like more sleep was what I really needed! In that season of life, I simply fit Bible reading into a quiet slot in the middle of the day whenever it fit.
More recently now, I find that my best time is right after the children have left for school in the morning. The rush is over, the preschooler relaxes and finds something quiet to do while I have my quiet time.

I continue to read about how to find time for Bible reading and different methods of Bible study, because fresh ideas keep my personal experience fresh too. - Leona H.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Choosing His Word - Part 3

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.


My life has spiraled into survival mode as I fight the nausea and exhaustion that has accompanied the beginning of my fifth pregnancy. I love Bible journaling and Bible doodling, but even that has been a source of overwhelm recently.
For this season of my life, I’ve found some lower-key ways to stay in God’s word, and they’ve fed me.
Listening – The YouVersion Bible is a free app that has many translations (including other languages) read by professional narrators. Especially on Sunday morning when I have to prepare a meal before I get the children up, or when the Sunday school lesson scope covers several chapters, listening to the Bible read aloud is an easy way to be in the Word.Sometimes hearing someone else read will make a phrase stand out in a new way. 
Repeat reading – Picking a passage, a few chapters, or even a short book and reading it over and over for a week or even a month can help the truth sink through to my mommy brain. 
Defining new words Tecarta Bible has a Strong’s Concordance app. It’s not free but has been well worth the money we paid for it. Sometimes reading over a passage and looking up the words I don’t know can help me find that nugget to take through the day.
I desire to say with the psalmist, “Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)  - Crystal S.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 2

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

I’ll be honest: when I read Gina’s request my initial reaction was not a calm joy but a horrified, “No way! I’m not __________enough for that!” I tried to think what modifier belonged in the blank – good enough? Dedicated enough? Holy enough? Old enough? (Maybe all the above.) I share this, not as humble-bragging but so you know I’m fully as human as you; flawed but forgiven; worshiping with – at times – a wandering heart.

Journaling the Word was an idea I first got from Bethany Eicher in this post. As someone who thinks best with a pen in my hand, I was still surprised what a difference it made. I’ve written out several books of the Bible since then, and now I have my own Journaling Bible with wide margins for sermon notes, cross references, quotes, and other jottings. I love it, love it.
We’re not all wired the same and this may not work for you. But if you enjoy writing, and typically write lists and other notes to yourself, it may be a tool you’ll enjoy too.

This year I’m hoping to read the Bible through in chronological order, following a plan I found online. So far I’ve never managed to read the entire Bible in a year, so if I state my goal publicly here you can all hold me accountable.

Remember that the power is not in the organized plan, the Power is in the Word. And if I stay there, the Word Himself can bind even my wandering heart to His. - Marlene B.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 1

It began accidentally several years ago, but today I choose to continue the tradition. 

Every January, I begin the blogging year with a discussion on Bible reading.

But there is a problem. Any time we women discuss Bible reading, most of us react with guilt and frustration.

We want to read the Bible; we know we need the truth of God's Word, but we fall short of our goals.

Sometime we imagine that we are the only ones who don’t read our Bible every day. When we fall asleep while reading or can't remember what we read ten minutes later, we are sure that every one else is having meaningful devotions.

To combat this feeling of guilt, comparison, and intimidation, I asked several friends to share about Bible reading.
These women come from various seasons of life - married, single, mothers of toddlers, mothers of teens. For the next week or so, every day one of these ladies will share. I hope that their honesty and practical tips can be an encouragement for you. 

And we’d love to hear your thoughts on the comments.


We'll start today with 
Darletta.
My husband and I regularly read a chapter aloud together before we go to bed at night.  If a particular thought stands out from that reading or from a sermon or Sunday school lesson, I like to make a note of it.  Later I can look up the verse or idea on my Power Bible CD (available from Christian Light Publications) and study it in-depth.  
Sometimes this leads to inspiration that results in an article or poem.  Afterward, the verse or chapter remains special to me as reminder of God's grace in that era of my life.  The Power Bible CD includes Bagster's Daily Light and Morning and Evening Readings, both of which provide bites of soul food tastefully arranged.                          --Darletta M.


Past blog posts on this topic...

One year ago: Bible or Email? 

Two years ago: Are Bible reading plans legalistic?

Three years ago: Realistic Bible reading planning - Beginner's Bible Reading plan

Four years ago: One Year Bible

Six years ago: The One Needful Thing - A friend's Bible reading challenge

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