Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A verse a day!!

Our verse a day is going pretty well here in 2011, praise the Lord.

Our introduction to this idea came several years ago, while having friends over to visit at our house in Texas. Each morning, the families all gathered for songs and then working on their verse for the day. We found it so simple. One thing we really liked was the sense of routine and order it gave to the beginning of the day!

Now, years ago, we would think memorizing a Bible verse per day would be a bit to difficult and ambitious to keep up with, but we have found it quite doable, with the Lord's help. The key is not flannelgraph or mnemonic devices or index cards. Its just simple repetition and review!

Our habit has been to gather everyone in the morning before breakfast for devotions. Currently we are in our den, which is a huge room, but we used to meet around our kitchen table in our little house in the woods. We had a large white board in our old house, but ironically, there is barely any wall space for such a thing in our new huge den, so we use an easel.

Dave selects a passage for us to work on. We are just starting Galatians 6, but just finished the first part of Matthew 8.

The way it works is that every morning, after having some song time, Dave pulls out his Bible and reads the passage to us. At first, he just reads phrase by phrase, and then we echo it back, kind of like a responsive reading, except we are just repeating.

After day one, we have memorized the first verse, so on day 2, we all RECITE verse one together, and then continue the rest of the passage echoing Dave phrase by phrase. Because we RECITE together, those who have it down solid, or have PARTS of it down solid give a leg-up to the rest of us who may be a little slow.

After the reciting part, one of the big kids writes the day's verse on a whiteboard in our den where we gather. We discuss the verse's meaning, find related verses elsewhere, define words, etc. If applicable, we then make an illustration of the verse, too.

The little boys get our notebooks and pens out, and we write the verse on a new page of our book.

(We get out the notebooks after the verse recitation and discussion so as not to be a distraction!)

The little ones who cannot read or write have a notebook and we can make the words in dots for them to trace.

Despite their lack of reading, our little guys easily NAIL the entire passage, even the two year old! They can recite the passage with just a hint word here or there; sometimes they don't even need that and we hear them saying it in the shopping cart! Its not because we give them vitamins or because they are super-smart, either. Children are wired for memorization and, boy, do we wish we had taken advantage of this fact when our oldest were still very young!

[It is sad that some homeschool experts recommend that parents have their young children memorize all kinds of Latin and facts and figures, but then only recommend a Bible story book for teaching Bible.]

Certainly, their understanding may be limited, though not as much as you might think, but we are convinced there is great value in their participation at this early age. Because of the fruit we have seen, our older kids are all fairly determined to begin Bible reading with their babies from their earliest days!

So everyone does their best at writing our their verse for the day....especially if its going to be photographed!

After discussion and having everyone write the verse in their notebook, we go around in a circle and take turns reciting this. Even this helps, because the faster memorizers recite first, and so I can hear the verse over and over before its my turn to try it. Ooops.

As I said, the key is repetition and review. We have stacked up quite a few passages since we started this method and need to review them, so we will usually recite a past passage together before working on the new verse a day passage.

We have found that even parents with dwindling brain cells can make amazing progresss. We don't do any intentional review at other times of the day, but just work on this in the morning.

Also, it is such a blessing, a major blessing, to start the day together with the LORD, singing and getting into the Word and praying together.

When we first started, we were somewhat hit and miss with our consistency. But now it is very much a part of each day. The children know what we are doing first thing! We wish we had started this tradition from the very beginning, but thank the Lord for these 6 or so years of taking a verse a day!

We hope this will encourage you to consider this wonderful, simple way of starting your day with the Lord!

For more information, please read How to teach your child a Verse A Day.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Block party

We are full swing into winter now, but before the weather truly went north, we engaged on a pre-winter adventure! (Well, this was after the pre-winter roofing adventure, but before the main winter adventure which we will touch on another time.)

Our station wagon needed a new fuel pump. The shop graciously offered to fix it for a 4 digit figure. We briefly thought about it (done!), and then it was decided that we would do it ourselves. "We" meaning our boys.

Without much thought and needing a level place to work, we parked the wagon on the street. This was because the garage contained our pickup truck, which was in need of a new battery and wasn't really needed, and because our driveway is pretty steep.

So, the boys were about to start the fuel pump job on the street, when a friend cautioned us that it was not safe to work on the street. So we began to think of ways to move the pickup out of the garage and move the wagon to the garage. We knew it would be an uphill battle.

Working both for and against us was gravity. It was working for us in getting the non-working pickup OUT of the garage, but working against us in getting the wagon up the driveway and into the garage.

Finally, Dave decided that it was past time to begin working on the wagon and saw that freezing rain was in the forecast, so we had a brief family meeting to consider our goals, objectives and resources, and we concocted a plan.

First, we cleared the pickup out of the driveway and parked it on the street. That was pretty simple, except we knew it had to be away from the driveway enough to not be in the path of other vehicles...

Then, we decided to take what some would consider a deficit and turn it into an asset.....

By process of elimination (it was the only running vehicle), it was decided to use the bus to shove the station wagon up the driveway and into the garage. Our usual practice of taking the driveway at an angle to park the bus (in order to not bottom out in the driveway) was to be modified. We had to kind of take the driveway head-on to keep the wagon headed for the garage and not the neighbor's yard.

The preparations began: a spare tire was strategically tied to the front end of the bus, allowing us to cushion the humongous dent being created in the white molded fiberglass bumper of the wagon. We also used some padded window insulation, to keep the tire from scratching the paint.

Hold on, hold on! Besides the impending dent, we did not figure that both the front end of the bus and the back end of the wagon were converging in the dip in front of the driveway at the same time, creating what would later be known as the "debris in the dustpan" effect. As Mommy didn't want to watch the wagon pop a wheelie, we began to scramble for Plan B.

The spectators inside our house accumulated at the front windows. We are uncertain at how many other houses they accumulated.

As you can see, this was an interesting situation.

Enter Grandpa P.

Across the street, Grandpa P. was growing accustomed to checking on what the Kleins are up to now. He saw this as an opportunity for him to help, and he graciously offered the use of the front of his truck to get the job done.

By this time, another neighbor came by to join in the fun and offer valuable insight and moral support. And he also brought his vehicle...

Slow and steady, we made some upward progress with the wagon, until...

the Jolly Trolley came through.

So before the Jolly Trolley could pass, we had to back the bus up, and both neighbors had to move their vehicles!

Here am I in the bus, on the wrong side of the road. The boys put the parking brake on the wagon, Grandpa P and Neighbor B backed out and parked on the wrong side of the road in front of me, and we waited out the commuters.

Not long after, the school bus came through!

The bus was followed by the police, but he was just patrolling and did not come to investigate was we were trying to do.

Progress using Grandpa Ps truck again came to a halt due to the dustpan effect. But, Plan C came to us in a flash: pull the wagon up with the truck!

The only hangup here was that it was necessary to drive over the bus' normal parking spot, which happened to have an oil slick. Tires began to spin, wagon began to fishtail. Solomon scrambled to find appropriate absorbent material to provide the necessary traction. Ashes from the fireplace? Rolled oats? I forget.

Okay, so here is the wagon in the garage. We were very thankful to the Lord for helping us get this accomplished! Whew!

Where is Grandpa P's truck? Well, the truck actually pulled into the garage. We put the brake on the wagon. The truck backed out of the driveway. The boys pushed the wagon the rest of the way in.

Well, a certain feeling of relief came over the Kleins to be sure: we were all alive and the wagon was safely in the garage. And we trust a feeling of satisfaction of helping neighbors came over the gentlemen who came to help in our time of need. We all had a good laugh, we thanked the men profusely, and they went their separate ways.

Then we noticed: our pickup truck was still on the street...

But that is a story for another time... or not at all.