You will show me the path of life, abounding joy in your presence, and delights at your right hand forever.”Psalm 16: 11
When my children were younger, I used to have them memorize Bible verses. Simple verses like Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phillipians 4:13) hung in our home. I wanted to expose my young children to Scripture and recognized that I could use Scripture to help in my parenting.
As my walk with the Lord grew, my hunger for Scripture grew as well. I found myself quoting Scripture over my teens, and in my discussions. I remember my daughter saying one day, “How do you know all these quotes from Scripture?” I laughed. “How do you know all the lyrics to your favorite songs or all your favorite lines from movies?” I responded. As she laughed, something deep inside me was ignited. She couldn’t quote Scripture because she spent little to no time reading her Bible.
I had often struggled with the implication that Catholics didn’t read their Bible. However, I was proof of that. My family was proof of that. I realized it wasn’t just about memorizing Scripture, but also about knowing the Word of God. There was a whole book in which God spoke to His people. I was begging God to speak to my heart in prayer but was ignoring a key vessel in which He had already spoken.
I bought several devotionals for my older children and started encouraging them to open up their Bibles and look at the Scripture verses that they were referencing. All of my encouragement fell on deaf ears. However, the desire to soak my children in the life-giving words of the Lord didn’t. I wanted to help them develop a habit of reading Scripture, focusing on a few verses that “spoke” to their hearts, so they could then apply them to their lives. I wanted them to find the answers to their questions and the probing of their hearts to what God wanted of them. I felt like I had this “secret weapon” that they had no idea was in their possession or how to use it. I needed not only to expose them to Scripture more but to encourage them to share what their reading meant to them. I wanted to create a healthy habit that they could bring into high school, college, and beyond. I realized that teaching my children to read the Bible was as integral to their growth and development as learning to work independently, make a meal, or do laundry.
The first step we took, as a family toward this Scripture study in our home, was reading the Sunday Mass readings in our car ride to church. We lived about 20-30 minutes from our parish, and we utilized this time to discuss the first, second, and Gospel readings. We shared where the book was in the Bible (Old or New Testament), who the main “character” was, and what the overall message was. Then we encouraged our children to share how this message applied directly to them. As the weeks went by, the children began making the biblical connections of faithfulness, the unconditional love of God the Father, and a call to greater love. I had children who went into Mass already knowing the readings and actually sharing in the car ride home about the priest’s homily.
As I began reading Scripture in the morning, in my prayer time, I remembered a quote I saw on Pinterest. It said, “a Bible falling apart is the sign of a person who isn’t.” I sat and looked at my Bible. I was convicted by the Holy Spirit. It was like a million love letters that I never opened. God had so much to say to me. I would start with myself, and God would show me how to bring this to my family. Every day, as I found myself rooted in the Word of God, I was able to see where God was loving me and seeking me through His Word. He was planting seeds, nourishing them, and I observed the fruits in my life. He was calming me. He was answering my prayers to make me the kind of mom and wife that I wanted to be. One who could find the strength and grace to raise teens with love, forgiveness, and open ears. He called me “Beloved” through Scripture and showed me that the more control I thought I needed, the more I needed to yield to the Holy Spirit. When I wanted to lash out at disrespect, I was to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5). God was going to show me how to parent, and the Holy Spirit would make me docile to His will.
I began to share Scripture with my husband, encouraging him to open up his Bible as well. He saw the changes in me. He knew that starting my day in the Word of the Lord was changing me. It was a change that he desired as well.
As my husband shared the same desire to speak more Scripture in our home, we decided to begin a daily family Scripture study in our home. As homeschoolers, we did not want our children to see this as another “box” to check off on their syllabi; it had to be different. We invited each child to grab a throw blanket, make themselves a hot tea, and come in our living room. The goal was to create an environment that was comfortable and could lead to a space of deep discussion and prayer. We encouraged our children not only to select Scripture but to share their thoughts about the verses they chose. Beginning with my husband, we would move through each family member until each person had a day to lead. Each person would be empowered to begin our study with personal prayer, intentions, and then move to the verses selected. Each person was encouraged to write in their Bibles, highlight, and underline.
As I was sharing my Bible with my 8-year-old last week, she leaned into me, saying, “I wish I could write in my own Bible.” How did I miss that? Our two younger children didn’t even have Bibles. I’m sharing the importance of Scripture, and I have never even purchased them a Bible. A quick online purchase at The Catholic Company this week will be a delight for both of them when they arrive.
Week after week, I would listen to my children share the verses that the Lord had laid on their hearts. I would sit as a student in the classroom of my children. They would teach me, through Scripture, about the worries on their hearts, the joy in their favorite verses, and a greater call to love. Not only were my children learning new books in the Bible that they hadn’t heard before, but they were learning from each other. It was only when my oldest shared the Scripture about the “power of the tongue” that I would later hear her siblings remind her about how many of the things she said had hurt them. The Lord is using Scripture to transform my children and our home. As the number of Scripture verses increases in our home, my children have come to see how the Lord continues to remind us of his provision and care.
As we battle Covid-19 and now the looting and protesting in major cities, this daily Scripture study has given my children a platform for spiritual discussion and growth. They are looking at the world differently. They are using verses in Scripture to deal with the emotions that they feel and are asking God to help them. They are seeing the importance of learning from each other. They are making correlations between a verse of the day and a previous discussion.
They are learning…and hopefully creating a habit for life.
Recently, my ten-year-old came to me about reading her Bible at bedtime. “Mom, I started reading my Bible at bedtime to help me pick my verse for the week. Sometimes, I don’t know which one I will choose because they are all so good!”
I could have cried.
That was the desire of my heart.
As much as I might have encouraged them to open their Bibles, they needed me to show them.