Tips for Bible study when you have small children

I remember as a teenager having oodles of time for Bible study. After school or work, I would head up to our loft with my two Bible (one for each language, of course!) a pack of highlighters, and my favorite commentary by Charles Spurgeon. I would read for hours and loved every second.

Fast forward a few years and I'm a wife/mom/missionary combo with a pack of children and very busy days. I miss my hours up in the loft with my Bible and Spurgeon.

What is a mom to do?

My Bible study habits have had it's ups and downs. There have been good seasons and bad seasons.

In interest of full disclosure, two years ago when on furlough I, the missionary wife, was asked in front of a group of ladies at a church's missions conference how I found time to read my Bible.

My answer? "I don't. I'm not sure if I even packed my Bible in my suitcase for this trip. I think I forgot it." It was not an answer I was proud of, but it was the truth. I went on to tell them how happy I was that I had committed verses to memory as a child and teenager because many days that was all I could do was say a Bible verse over and over in my head. I told them I had been blessed and encouraged by reading my kids Bible storybook to them. I also told them that biggest lesson I had learned during that very busy, hectic year was that my children are not a distraction.
On the rare occasions that I did get up early to read my Bible and found a small child had woken up too, the best thing to do is pull them up on your lap and read it aloud to them. Don't huff, don't puff, don't get angry. Seize that teachable moment. No, you won't be reading for hours with a squirmy toddler on your lap, it will most likely only be minutes, but it will help.

A few things I've learned in list form (because I LOVE lists!)

1. Do your best to get up early before the kids and read your Bible. Or read it when they're napping, if you're not a morning person. Maybe it's just one verse, but read something!

2. Leave an open Bible on your kitchen counter, dining room table, or someplace prominent where you can walk by and get a quick glance. This will help instill the habit and practice of seeking out God's Word.

3. Have a plan. Plan to read through God's Word in two or three years. Take it slow and be realistic.

4. Have help! The Busy Mom's Guide to Bible Study - A 15 Minute Daily Plan by Lisa Welchel was a big help to me when I had two babies. I was hesitant at first, the cover looked "fluffy" to me (I know that makes me sound snobby. ugh) but it wasn't sweet nothings in the book, but more of a diving board for you to jump off of. Tips and tricks for how to study your Bible. I really enjoyed and was pleasantly surprised!

5. If you find your day whisking by and you haven't had personal quiet time yet, gather the littles around and read two or three verses to them. Explain it simply and pray. Five minutes may be all you have, but God can work wonders with five minutes.

6. Memorize, memorize, memorize. We love the Fighter Verse app and are having a great time learning verses together as a family. Next time you find yourself standing at the sink with a mountain of dishes recite your verses. That time is not wasted.

7. Saturate your home with Bible verses. It could be pretty print-outs or just scribbled on Post-it notes on your bathroom mirror, but put His Word everywhere.

8. Don't feel guilty when it doesn't happen. God loves you and knows where you are right now. He sees the spit up stains on your shirt and dirty socks all over the floor, and he knows you're oh so very tired. He loves you anyway and will be waiting.

A few more devotional books and helps I have found and loved for Bible study:

Now things have settled down a bit for us, I am able to wake up an hour before the girls and read my Bible. I am reading through one book at a time, one chapter at a time, until I read the whole thing. It may take me months, it may take me years, but I'm in no rush. I keep a basket with all my Bible study supplies in it so that when an opportunity pops up, I don't have to rush around looking for my stuff. Pencils, a journal for my thoughts, my Bible, and whatever devotional or theological or helpful book I am reading through at the time. I usually only read about a paragraph or two before it's time to make breakfast. I'm currently reading through Standing on the Promises by Doug Wilson.

While I would like to say that I read it every day, it simple isn't true. If I was up too late the night before, I sleep in and the day slips by awfully fast. But I'm trying and every week is getting better.

So let me hear it from you. What works? What doesn't? Any tips?

(And if you're reading this and thinking..."'s been a long time and I'm not even sure where the Bible is..." trust me, I've been there too.)


The Green Mommy said...

I love your honesty! It helps us "normal" moms know that it is ok if we can't squeeze the time into our day. Your suggestions are great! And I think I'm going to start doing a few things more.

Thank you for your post. You're such an encouragement to the rest of us!

Sarah Joy said...

If I get up too early, the earliness becomes counter-productive to the time saved. In other words, I'm a vegetable for the rest of the day, so usually I've got small people crawling on me when I'm reading my Bible and praying. (Where is it written that we have to have homeschool in the morning? Afternoon school works for us.) These small people know not to bother me (or fight), and two of them can take a little time to read their own Bibles now, but I've not been uninterrupted for a very long time. I decided to stop whining about it when a little one came down and climbed into my lap, and I read to her like you say. When we got to the part "In whom we have redemption through his blood," I decided to explain to her what redemption meant, and she got saved. Also, remember how very very short this time is. I try to take advantage of days when I have more time. They are few and far between, but they do come.
God's heart: Isa 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Why are we so hard on ourselves when God isn't? He knows we are doing something important, and leads us at a pace we can keep up with.

Jackie said...

Sarah, thanks for your ideas, they are great! I totally agree about not getting up early if it makes the rest of the day horrible. I never get up early when I have a newborn...during those days I read my Bible while nursing late at night. The main thing is to find what works for you, and that can change in each season.

Kathy said...

You're doing a great job Jackie and when you only have time to repeat verses you already know by heart, that's OK because you're providing a beautiful childhood for some very special people! I don't have kids and I still have to make myself make time because it's so easy to say, "I'm so buy so I'll do it later and/or I already know it!" :) One day when they're all grown and on their own, you can go back to having hours for your own study again--and you'll just smile when they call you and say, "Mom--how did you do it? Tips please!" :) You'll direct them to this blog post and they'll do fine, just like you are! Blessings to you and your sweeties! Oh, by the way, when they get a little older and are reading themselves, you can all sit together and all be reading your own books. I used to do that with my niece and it was really nice to sit near each other, each reading our own "stuff!"