Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Take it to Heart: Helping Kids Memorize Scripture

By Christine Hoover

Like a good Baptist girl, I grew up doing Bible Drill. We memorized verses, learned the books of the Bible, and competed in drills to see how fast we could recollect what we'd learned. At the time, it wasn't one of my favorite things, but, now, I'm really glad I did it. The verses and passages I memorized are still there, especially those that my friends and I made into rhymes.

Now, I'm purposeful about helping my kids memorize Scripture. Even if the concepts in the verses are sometimes difficult for young minds, I trust that the Lord will begin to help them understand, and that He'll bring the words to mind throughout their lives.

I'm starting to see the fruit of my labor; my kids have Scripture tucked away and even remind me that it's time for Bible verses when I forget in the busyness of our day.

Over time, I've developed a system that works for our family. Here are some tips:

• Start Early
Kids can start around age 3 or even younger if they see an older sibling learning. My oldest, who is 7, is great at memorizing and started young. I tried to push my middle son, now 4, to start at the same age as his older brother and he really resisted to the point of it being a struggle. I decided to stop rather than make it something he despised. He sat and listened to his older brother learn his verses every day and, one day, announced that he was ready to start.

• Be Consistent
We work on our verses during or after snack time every weekday. I write out a group of verses that each child needs to learn in order to receive a reward and hang it on the fridge. Everyday, we review the one they just learned and then work on the latest verse. My middle son prefers saying all of his verses in order everyday, but my older son only does it once a week as a review. Each day, they get a sticker for the verse they’re working on.

• Celebrate Effort and Successes
I try to make this time as fun as possible and I celebrate with them with each verse they learn. After they reach the benchmark I’ve set for them, they say their verses for Dad and then get to pick out a small toy as a reward.

• Explain Why
We discuss why we’re memorizing verses from the Bible, the importance of the Bible, and the meaning of the verses we’re memorizing. I have had many opportunities to share the gospel with my children during our memory work.

• Reinforce with Music
I’ve found the most helpful reinforcement is in the form of verses set to music. My kids love “Seeds Family Worship” and Steve Green's “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart” songs. I have been shocked at how fast they pick up verses just from listening to music as we drive around in the car.

I have discovered that my attitude toward Scripture memory is the same attitude my children will have. If I make it drudgery or an obligation each afternoon, they resist doing it. However, when I make the process fun and relaxed and praise their hard work, they enjoy that time.

The best part of consistency in Scripture memory with my children is that I am learning it all right alongside them and, according to Psalm 119:11, helping my kids hide truth in their hearts.

Christine lives in Charlottesville, VA with her pastor-husband and three young boys. She bribes her sons to learn Scripture with time playing Mario Kart and trips to the Dollar Store. Follow her life as a pastor's wife and mom at hooverhousehold.blogspot.com.

What Not to Say to Your Husband

By Melanie Chitwood

Adapted from Melanie’s books, What a Husband Needs from His Wife and What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

Tyler was three years old when he was riding home from preschool with his best little girlfriend Brooke. Out of the blue, Brooke looked at Tyler and asked, “Tyler, do you love me?” As he looked out the car’s window Tyler answered, “Brooke, look at the trees!” Not to be deterred, Brooke asked again, “But Tyler, do you love me?” Tyler firmly answered, “Brooke! Look at the trees!”

I love this story because it reminds me that even at a young age males and females communicate differently. Because of these differences, communication in marriage can often lead to miscommunication instead of connection.

This list of things not to say to your husband will help you avoid some typical roadblocks on the path to communicating with your spouse.

Honey, can we talk?

When we say this to our husbands, we trigger some fear in our husbands. He assumes this means you want to talk about a problem and the problem will probably be him. Once again he’ll be in the doghouse, not a place he wants to be, especially in your eyes.

Also, while women tend to be natural at sharing, many men uncomfortable and unnatural to sit and talk face to face. Our husbands might need some warming up before they can jump into a conversation. A good way to get your husband talking is to introduce a topic he cares about, perhaps work or basketball. In addition, studies show men are much more likely to open up while they’re engaged in some kind of activity with their wives, such as going for walk, a drive to the store, or just hanging out with him while he putters in the garage.

I heard Jim got a new promotion.

With statements like this, your husband is quick to assume you’re implying he’s a failure. One insight about men that has helped me tremendously is to understand that most men are constantly wondering if they measure up. And many times they feel like they’re not.

Most husbands want to please their wives and to provide what their family wants. Any kind of statement, such as, the Hansens got a new car. Sure wish we could afford one… cuts a man to the heart with its implication that he’s not enough. Even if this isn’t what you meant, it’s the way a typical man will interpret this type of statement. Find ways to fill your husband up with praise and thank you’s for what he does for you and your family.

I forgot to tell you about …

Okay, I’m guilty of this. Just the other day while Scott was out-of-town working, I somehow managed to run into our mailbox (no, I wasn’t even on the cell phone), leaving a huge scrape down the side of the car. I didn’t tell Scott on the phone. I just wanted to avoid it. I felt stupid, and I knew Scott would be understandably frustrated about the repair expense. So he had a little surprise when he got home.

“No secrets” is a good policy for marriage. Our husbands can handle more than we give them credit for. When it comes to finances, matters with kids, family activities, and emotional issues in our marriages we need to speak with kindness, truth, and honesty. My husband tells me he does not like to get to blindsided, especially by something I could have and should have told him. The “no secrets” policy establishes trust in our marriages.

Do I look fat in this?

When we pose this question, we’re putting our man in a no-win situation. After all, is any sane husband going to answer, “Yes, and maybe you should go on a diet.” Whatever he answers, it’s probably not going to be the right answer to cover the insecurity we’re already feeling that may have prompted this question. He probably won’t be enthusiastic enough when he tells us we look great. And we might even be mad he didn’t say we looked great without having to fish for a compliment.

Maybe you feel like your husband never comments on your appearance and you’d really like him to. Tell him just that in a sincere and gentle way, not an accusing or angry way. Be direct. Most men don’t get hints.

When we’re looking for communication solutions in our marriage, let’s remember that the differences in communication styles are many times exactly the way God planned it. We’re told in Genesis 1:27 that we’re created in God’s image, uniquely male and uniquely female. As we accept the differences rather than fight against them, we’ll find our way on the path to better communication with our husbands.

Melanie Chitwood is married to Scott, a corporate pilot and business owner, and mother to two sons. Melanie lives in Charlotte, NC and serves on the Proverbs 31 Ministries Writing Team. Drawing from the lessons God reveals in her own marriage and in God's Word, Melanie’s marriage books, What a Husband Needs from His Wife (Harvest House, 2006) and What a Wife Needs from Her Husband (Harvest House 2010), provide couples a spiritual foundation and practical ways to invest in their marriage every day.

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Being Sure

By Amy Carroll

Doubt assailed me. I can be such a pessimist…for myself. (For everyone else, I’m a complete optimist!) As I dialed Lysa, our ministry’s president, I was having thoughts like, “She’ll tell me someone else has proposed this idea, and it’s been rejected. Or maybe she’ll like the idea but think I’m not the one to do the job.”

I was afraid to risk hope. In my article “Without a Net” featured in P31 Woman this month, I share about my journey of diving into a new idea from God while letting go of my backup plan.

It was scary to bring a proposal to Lysa that was outside my formal education and experience. To change careers and jump into the unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, I needed to be sure I was following God’s intent. This was a decision too big for impulsive action, so I began looking for some crucial signs and asking myself important questions.

First, I considered if my plan fit into God’s Word. For over 20 years, God has been teaching me that the Bible trumps every other influence in my life. I needed to make sure my job change wouldn’t violate the principles laid out in scripture in any way. “God, is it ok to help women convey Your message more effectively and engagingly?” I asked. Check!

The second hurdle was to watch for confirmation. The most important confirmation I received was from my husband Barry. He knows me better than anyone else on the planet and had watched my shift of focus and passion for over 10 years. I needed him to believe in me, and as the spiritual leader of our home, to have faith I was taking the right path. This job shift would also change our family’s financial status for a time, so it was crucial he be on board. His enthusiasm and support for my new project is my lifeline for long-term, through-the-hard-times success.

Lysa’s confirmation in that phone call and eventual approval of a new branch for Proverbs 31 Ministries not only fueled my fire but increased my confidence that I was within God’s will.

God has made it abundantly clear He uses my friends and mentors to confirm or warn when I’m making big decisions. I knew and trusted that Lysa would be listening for God’s direction even as she poured over my business plan. Her enthusiasm for my new project strengthened me on my journey to being sure.

Also, a little miracle happened during my conversation with Lysa. One of my greatest concerns was the lack of a steady paycheck during the time that Next Step Speaker Services was built. Lysa was concerned about that too and offered me a part-time job doing some projects for her. It was yet another sweet confirmation and an unexpected “hug” from God to loosen the grip of my anxieties.

The final question was, “Are you prepared to do the hard work?” While it’s true God ultimately accomplishes His purposes in ways far beyond what we can ask or imagine, we have a part in His plans. Reading the book of Nehemiah, I discovered how one of God’s servants accomplished a huge task. I came away with a deep appreciation for my part of success—organization, communication, energy, delegation and hard, hard work. Scripture actually says that Nehemiah and the Israelites, “…continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.” (Nehemiah 4:21 NIV) The good news is my new work is so exhilarating that I bounce out of bed every morning excited to start!

The final outcome from receiving confirmations and answering my important questions was that I was sure it was time to leave my own backup plan behind and leap into God’s new purpose for me.

Now, whenever doubts start to twirl through my brain like, “What are you doing? You haven’t replaced your salary yet!” I can remember the steps I’ve gone through to get here and banish those thoughts with, “I’m doing what God has planned for me, and He’s got it all under control.”

Amy Carroll is the blissful director of Proverb 31 Ministries’ new Next Step Speaker Services and a member of the ministry’s speaker team. She lives in North Carolina with her three favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. You can find Amy on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book or trying to figure out an alternative to cooking dinner. Visit Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find out more about the new speaker service at www.nextstepspeakerservices.org.