Memorizing Scripture with Littles :: A Fun and Easy Tip

memorizing scripture with littles hhhIf you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…. The itsy bitsy spider goes up the water spout…. Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man…. One, two, buckle my shoe….

We all know those familiar words by heart, don’t we?? From when we were tiny babes, our parents clapped and smiled as they repeated rhymes and songs over and over again until we knew them, too. So well, in fact, that we can still pull them from memory at the drop of a hat.

What about Bible verses? Are we able to recite them as easily? Are we teaching them to our children?

Our greatest joy and responsibility as Christian parents is to share the love of God and His precious Word with the ones we've been entrusted with!

Let the Word of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. ~Colossians 3:16

Memorized Scripture is yours! It is yours even without a Bible in your hands. It is on your heart and mind and cannot be taken from you. It is yours to keep and to use for comfort and growth and for battle. It's yours to share as encouragement for others. It's yours to chew on and let sink deep in your heart. It's your Truth and a Lamp in the darkness and the Love letter in your pocket.

No rhyme or song is more important than that. Not even close!

As a mama, I struggled at first to find the "best" method to help my son memorize Bible verses. Do you want to know what I've found to be the golden ticket??

Hand motions. 

Hand motions!

My little guy has been able to put to memory many Bible passages simply by incorporating hand motions with the words of each verse. It's been a game changer!

Here's a short clip of my sweet kiddo saying John 3:16 by heart ::

John 3:16 with hand motions

Three cheers for hand motions!

A few thoughts: Keep it simple - No need to go crazy thinking of the perfect actions! Or using too many. Each motion should simply match up with an important word or phrase in the passage.  Have fun - Learning God's Word is a joy! Smile and be enthusiastic. Allow your child to come up with some of the movements for each verse.  But don't let it be a distraction - Hand motions are a tool to aid in the goal of memorizing Scripture, obviously not the main focus. If things get too crazy, then take a break or come up with a different plan.  Be consistent - Try to keep them same motions for certain words. Many can be used again and again! If you cross your arms over your chest for the word "loved" in John 3:16, then do the same action when you memorize other passages that include "love". This will also help kiddos to relate the passage they're working on with other ones they have learned. Run with it - This technique can be also used for memorizing hymn stanzas, the 10 Commandments, and parts of the Catechism. Not sure what to memorize first? Just start! Teach your favorite Bible verse. Open the Bible to a page and pick a passage. Pick a passage that applies to a struggle your kiddo has been dealing with. Flip to your favorite book and begin there. Ask your spouse or your mom or a friend. Google "Bible Passages to Memorize List". There's no "right" place to begin! Add a tune - If coming up with a simple melody to go along with the words and motions helps, then go for it! Repeat repeat repeat - Even though the hand motions can help, memorization still takes a lot of time and practice. Keep at it! Work on a verse at the breakfast table, in the car, before bedtime, and when you're waiting in the checkout line.

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart. ~ Proverbs 4:20, 21

My prayer is that the precious passages of God's Word would grow deep roots in the hearts and minds of your dear children. No matter the method to learning and memorizing Scripture, take joy in embracing the treasure the Lord has given to us!

Do you have a Scripture memorization technique that has worked well for you and your family or students?? Please share!  RachelSignature

5 Simple Bible Study Habits

Confession: I am not the best at studying the Bible on my own. I have lots of "reasons" that I can claim for why this is -- I haven't found a good devotional yet. I don't have any time. I'm in church every week anyway. I'm tired today. I have so many things to get done. Etcetera, etcetera.

Maybe you've been there with me?

However things have taken a turn for the better lately. And the funny thing about it is, it leaves me wanting more.

It's kind of like the "sleep produces sleep" theory for babies sleeping (although the jury is still out on if that's actually true). Bible study precedes and produces more Bible study.


Here are five helpful things that have facilitated this change in my life, besides the Holy Spirit doing His thing of course.

1) Women Wrecked// Women Redeemed Bible Study. If you haven't had a chance to join Amanda's Bible study, please check it out here, here, or here! What I love about this study is that it really focuses on reading the bible first, then discussion. It has really encouraged and motivated me to get out my Bible and study just my Bible.

2) Joining a Bible study. God encourages us to meet together and study His Word. I have been regularly attending a Bible study on Sunday following church. Perhaps your church has one that you can join easily? I know, I know. The kids need to nap, and everyone is hungry, and there is so much to be done at home. But just try it for a few weeks. Some weeks your baby might cry or your toddler will start screaming before she even gets to the nursery, but a short hour in the Word and in the fellowship of others while sipping on some coffee is the perfect way to begin your morning. I also joined a mothers' Bible study at our church that meets every other week. Our study consists of reading the bible readings for the next Sunday. I cannot begin to tell you how much that has helped on Sunday to have studied everything a little bit ahead of time. I feel like I am able to get so much more out of the church service, which we all know is difficult with wiggly kiddos.

Matthew 18:20,  "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.

Romans 1: 12, "...that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."

3) My study time isn't strict. Some days I have more time than others, and the time that I study changes from day to day. Some days I only get to read a short devotion from the WELS app on my phone while nursing the baby, or squeeze in a quick read of a Holy Hen House post before bed. Other days, I manage to get both of my children to sleep at the same time, and I can get a good half hour of reading and studying during nap. I don't beat myself up about it (anymore) and do what I can based on the what the day brings. Sometimes it's hard to get away from the all or nothing mentality, but really, something is still better than nothing. Even a short devotion is enough to bring my focus back right where it needs to be.

4) Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. I had gotten so caught up with finding the right devotion that I was missing out on exploring the Bible on my own, but it's not hard! Check out those footnotes. Look up the cross references. Use your concordance. Though I have yet to try it, you can even look up the Bible in its original languages here.

5) Keeping my Bible out where it can easily be seen. It's very easy to forget or get distracted by other things. Keeping my Bible open at the table makes it super easy to remember to get in a quick study during nap time or after the kids are in bed.

study habits 2

Not all of these ideas will work for everyone, I know that. But I'm hoping one or two will help encourage you to get in His Word if you have gotten out of the habit, or give you a few pointers to keep trucking along.

What are some things you do to help get some study time in? Please comment and share your ideas!

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days; Let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my will and make it thine; It shall be no longer mine. Take my heart -- it is thine own; It shall be thy royal throne. (Hymn 469 vs. 1, 5)


Why Memorize Scripture?

final memory photo For the first time in my adult life, I have a piano in my living room. I’ve owned the piano for almost two years now, but have kept it stored in the garage of my rented townhouse, awaiting a house with room enough for a piano in the living room.

I’m sitting at the piano with a stack of sheet music I haven’t seen in eleven years. My mom brought over three boxes of this music after I complained to her of having nothing to play beyond “chop sticks” and hymns. Flipping through the music, I sight read a line here, a piece there, stumbling through the parts my brain can’t quite decipher at the pace my fingers want to play.

Then I come across a piece I recognize. Its pages yellow with brittle edges and a rip dividing the second page, the volume containing this French Suite by Bach seems ancient. Eleven years ago, I performed this piece as part of an audition for a college scholarship I didn’t get. Then I went off to college and stopped playing the piano on a regular basis. This French Suite may seem ancient, but it’s actually the most recent piece I’ve performed from memory.

Eleven years has left me unable to remember how the Suite sounds, so I open to the start of the piece and begin to sight read. The beginning is simple enough, the right hand playing straight forward sixteenth notes while the left plods along with eighths at an easy pace. I smile as the familiar tune fills the room. I remember how the music is supposed to sound now, and I hum along in my mind.

Then I hit the fourth line of music and abruptly stumble over the notes as the once predictable right hand sixteenth notes dissolve into an unexpected series of trilled dotted eighth notes and the left hand simultaneously doubles its pace. I stop and backtrack a few measures and try the passage again. Once again, my fingers stumble. I slow to a snail’s pace and pick through the notes one at a time, but my fingers just aren’t connecting with the message my eyes are telling my brain to send them. What’s even more frustrating is I can hear how the passage is supposed to sound in my brain. I can even sing it. But I can’t play it. Or can I?

Backtracking once more, I try the passage again. But this time, when I near the stumbling place, I close my eyes. I don’t try to read the music. Instead, I turn inward, listen to the passage in my brain, and let my fingers fall where they feel comfortable. To my amazement, I am able to play the passage perfectly with my eyes closed! My eyes and my brain may fail to interpret the notes written on the page, yet my fingers, seemingly independent of all conscious thought, continue the song!  A piece of music I worked to memorize over eleven years ago has quietly stuck with me. Despite neglecting it for years, I can still play it due to the amazing gift of memory.

Memorization can often feel pointless in today’s age of instant media access. In fact, many parents with children in Christian schools complain at the amount of homework time spent daily on pointless “memory work” assignments. Why memorize a Bible passage when a Bible is nearly always available? If we don’t have a hard copy nearby, we can simply use google on our smart phone to look up the passage. We can install a Bible app! We can then text it directly to the person asking about the passage or read it aloud to them. With a few taps of a screen, we can bring up any hymn, any music video, any sheet music, or any chapter of the Bible along with essays, commentary, and other resources to help us explore and share our faith. So why memorize? Does God’s command to commit scripture to heart really apply to us today?

I share the story of remembering the piece of music with my eyes closed with my mom and she says she isn’t surprised. Music and verses memorized when young often stick with people for a life time. In fact, Alzheimer's patients who are unable to recognize friends or loved ones and who cannot recall what they had for breakfast can often still recite full Bible passages and sing hymns by heart. Memories related to music, love, and faith are the very last to go. Shouldn’t we be working hard to solidify these memories in our children so they carry them with them always to the very end of their lives? If the fate of disease should befall them in old age, if their eyesight fails to the point they can no longer read, if their hands are no longer able to operate pages of a book let alone a smart phone, if their brains falter and they are no longer able to process or understand the people around them, scripture will remain in their hearts due to the gift of memorization. Use this gift, and share it with your kids!

Rote repetition is one way to memorize Bible passages. Another way to help your children memorize Scripture almost effortlessly is to sing it! I can’t tell you the number of times my brain is triggered by a word, a phrase, or a tune, and unwillingly launches into an entire scripture verse thanks to my years spent working at a Christian summer camp where scripture was sung. Pair your favorite verses with silly tunes and sing them throughout your day with your kids on a frequent basis, and those verses will stick in their minds. Did you know there are almost fifty direct commands to sing in scripture? Here are a couple:

Ephesians 5:19b “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.”

Colossians 3:16 “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

First and foremost, sing in your heart. And, if you have the ability to do so, sing out loud! Use the gift of song to teach and admonish one another and your children. Use it to aid in the otherwise monotonous task of memorization. God knew what He was doing when he made tunes “catchy” for us humans! Give your kids the kind of ear worms you want to still be resonating in their ears in 80 years.

Got any fun methods of memorizing Scripture? We’d love to hear them!


A Dummy's Guide

My sophomore year of college I lived in a house a few blocks off campus with three other girls, only one of whom I really knew at all. One day I wanted to grab a cup of coffee on my way out of the house. I grabbed a travel mug out of the cupboard, filled it with cold coffee, and threw it in the microwave. Although I fully intended to return it, this travel mug was not mine. This travel mug was also mostly made of metal. How I got to my sophomore year of college without knowing that you are not supposed to put metal in the microwave, I have no idea. I was so embarrassed that I quick washed and dried the damaged mug and threw it back in the cupboard where I found it. Awful, terrible thing to do. (Jenny H., if you are reading this- I think the mug was yours… I’m really sorry- it was me!)

I remember being so frustrated that I went on a quest to find a book or manual of all the things that you need to know in life- all the little details that everyone else knows so I wouldn’t make a complete fool of myself and ruin perfectly good travel mugs anymore. I believe I started with a google search for “A dummy’s guide to life”.

There is no shortage of self-help, how-to, step-by-step guides in this world. You can find a book and research supporting any theory and lifestyle you want, telling you exactly how to do just about anything.

Take parenting: You can find firm believers in everything! Let them cry it out! No, don’t! Bathe them every day! No, don’t! Co-sleep! No, don’t! Immunize! No, don’t! Circumcise! No, don’t! Home School! No, don’t! I could go on forever. You can talk to grandmas and great grandmas and they will go on and on about how different it used to be, and how much has changed, and what they were told to do.

It’s not just parenting either, it’s everything in life. There are so many guides and theories on “how to be happy/get rich/live simply/eat clean/etc.” that it’s impossible to keep up. There are a lot of really great ideas out there with a lot of benefit for those who incorporate them into their lives.

However, there is only one guide that’s worth dedicating our whole lives to, and I think you know what it is.

The bible is not some kind of 10 day detox, or collaboration of helpful hints to get you through the toddler years. Scripture guides us every minute of every day in every aspect of our lives. It also provides the motivation to follow its instruction.

More energy, a healthier body, well behaved kids, better communication in marriage: these are all applaudable goals that are important to pursue. There is one goal, though, that trumps all others.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 3:14

We need to make absolutely sure that nothing gets in the way of the goal of heaven, and fulfilling our calling as Christians.

The bible also guides us in very specific ways and addresses parenting, marriage, the way we treat our bodies, and pretty much anything else that we need.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
— 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
— Ephesians 6:4
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
— Matthew 6:19-20
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
— Colossians 3:18

A lot of times we feel like scripture is not really giving us a clear directives, but a lot of times we convince ourselves that scripture isn’t being clear because we don’t like what it means for us.

Some don’t feel like incorporating the Word of God into every aspect of their lives because it doesn’t really fit their lifestyle. Scripture addresses that too.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
— 2 Timothy 4:3
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
— Romans 12:2

We don’t use the bible with the motivation of healthier bodies, better behaved children, stronger marriages, and financial security. We cherish it because it is the Word of God, showing us our sin and need for a Savior, and fulfilling the promise of Christ and of heaven. We can’t pick and choose which parts to apply to our lives, because it is not intended for our personal gain in this earthly life.

…and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Yes, the bible has instruction on parenting, marriage, and how to treat our bodies. The Scriptures, though, ultimately make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It is this God-breathed scripture that ensures that we are thoroughly equipped.

This is a promise that beats any self help, how to, step by step guide ever written.