Homeschooling

Our 2018-2019 Homeschool Plan

This is our third year homeschooling.

Sometimes, I still don’t really feel like I know what I’m doing, but when I sit down to plan out our year, one of my favorite things is to chat with other homeschoolers and get a sense for what they’re doing.

This helps me find creative solutions for when we hit a brick wall in something I’m wanting our kids to learn. It often also gives me new ides of things to teach that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and guides me to resources I had not heard about before.

So I thought I’d just take a few minutes and share with you all what we’re doing this year, in hopes that if you’re in need of ideas or encouragement that this would be a help to you. And even if you don’t homeschool, maybe you’ll find some neat tools for building connections with the kiddos in your life.

Morning Time

Morning Time is something new we’re doing this year. I’ve always made time for reading aloud, but some of the other things I wanted to include in our days on a regular basis—things like memory work, art, music appreciation, and math games—usually ended up getting put off over and over again. Morning time is helping me include all of those elements into our homeschool routine on a more regular basis.

And I wouldn’t have been able to figure out a way to make it work for us if it hadn’t been for Pam Barnhill’s morning time book, Better Together. This book helped me craft a vision for what I wanted our days to look like, and gave me practical steps for making it happen.

Every morning, after breakfast, we sit down and do several things together:

  • We sing two hymns
  • We have a little discussion about theology (more on that in a minute)
  • We do something artsy (do a picture study, read a poem, listen to a piece of music)
  • We review our memory work (we’ll be learning 6 passages of Scripture this year, and a few poems and science facts)
  • We do something math or science-y (Bedtime Math, read from a math or science book, a quick game like Professor Noggins or Logic Links, watch a Mystery Science video)
  • We read a chapter from our current read-aloud (this year I’ve chosen our books from the Brave Writer Arrow list, so that this coordinates with our language arts curriculum; right now we’re reading The Bad Beginning)

This has been such a delightful way to begin our days, and we’re really managing to fit in a lot of different things by doing just one artsy thing and one science-y thing each day.

Theology

When I pulled my oldest son out of public school after kindergarten, I wasn’t sure if we’d homeschool for one year or twelve, or somewhere in between. But despite the uncertainty of our future, I asked myself what I wanted him to know by the time he left our home as an adult.

The science and history curricula we were planning to use operated in four-year cycles, so as I considered how to break up the things I wanted to teach my children about the Lord, it made sense to me to follow this pattern.

So far, we’ve stuck with that system, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. This is our four-year cycle:

This year, we are on year three and are studying theology.

The best tool we’ve found so far for an elementary study of theology is this book. It covers all kinds of things kids need to know about what we believe. We’ve just begun with the first few chapters about God, but my kids have already learned about the trinity, God’s perfect love, and several of his attributes.

We belong to an Assemblies of God church, which is Pentecostal, so when we get to the study of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives later in the school year, we will probably supplement our studies with some resources from our own church. We also really enjoy using these Bible Quiz questions to help enhance our understanding of Bible stories and theology.

Other Curriculum

Just in case you’re looking for new resources to try, this is what we’re using to guide our study this year:

We haven’t gotten to it yet, but I also plan to use these things later in the year:

 

So that’s what we’re planning to do this year.

I’m sure some of it will change as the year progresses, but so far, at about 5 weeks into our school year (yes, we started very early!), we’re really happy with our system so far.

I hope your school year is going well, and if you have any questions for me, resources you want to share, or other thoughts, just leave a comment below!

 

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting me!

Teenagers

5 Terrific Study Bibles for Your Teenager

A lot of what I post on here about family and children focuses on preschool and elementary aged kids, simply because that’s where I am in life right now. My boys are 7 and 8 right now, and that’s a fun age.

But for those of you who have teens, I don’t want you to feel left out.

My husband Jason and I actually spend a long time in youth ministry before we because pastors of an adult congregation. (In fact, it was actually our passion for youth ministry that God used to move us in that direction, but that’s another story for another day.)

At the church where we currently serve, we recently taught a class for our students about studying the Bible. We sent them home with a list of great study Bibles to check our if they didn’t already have one, and so I thought I’d pass that list on to you fine folks, too.

If you have a teenager in your life, I’d highly recommend any of the Bibles below to help them dig deeper into the study of God’s Word.

Zondervan Student Bible (NIV)

This is the Bible that I used when I was a teenager. I wore one out and got another one for my 18th birthday, and it was my main Bible until I got married. I still pull it out to use sometimes, and one of my favorite features is that in the gospels, under each story heading, it tells you where that same story is found in the other three gospels.

Fire Bible

Available in several versions: ESVKJV, MEV, (Student edition is NIV, and is out of print; used copies here

This is the quintessential study Bible for teenagers growing up in a Pentecostal denomination. The study notes are written from a spirit-filled perspective, and my pastor-husband, Jason, actually uses this Bible pretty frequently when he’s preparing sermons.

CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students (ESV)

Apologetics is a newer area of interest for us as a couple, and it’s something Jason has taken a really deep dive into. If you’re curious about why apologetics is an important thing to teach our children, I highly recommend reading this from Natasha Crain. The Bible is absolutely true and trustworthy, and any argument the world has to the contrary is not based on “new information” but are simply the same old arguments recycled again and again for each new generation. If you want to equip your student to understand the plethora or reasons we trust the reliability of the Bible and responses to other attacks on our faith he or she will face, this Bible is chock-full of articles and help on those issues.

Teen Life Application Study Bible (NLT)

This Bible is a great choice for a student that has a little bit harder time reading and studying the Bible. The NLT is an easy-to-read translation, but the study notes for this Bible are still of a really high quality and would help any teenager understand the Bible better as they read it more.

She Reads Truth Bible (CSB)

Okay, so this choice isn’t strictly for teens, but for the young women in your life, I think this is still a really strong choice. One of the girls at our church saw my SRT Bible (I have this one) and asked her mom for it. She loves it now, and especially for girls who have a deep appreciation for aesthetic beauty, I think this is a good choice to help her fall in love with the Bible.

 

**Some of the links in the post are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission off anything you purchase  at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting me!

Marriage

10 Things I’ve Learned In Ten Years of Marriage

Today is my tenth anniversary.

I don’t know exactly what to think about that; it doesn’t seem like the right number.

On the one hand, it seems like we got married just a few months ago – how can be it ten years already??

On the other hand, we’ve made what seems like a lifetime of good memories together – how is possible we’ve only been married ten years?

But I do know that I’ve learned a handful of things since that beautiful day ten years ago when I pledged my “in sickness and health” to my favortie guy, and so I thought I’d share a few of those things with you today.

1. A good marriage requires hard work.
There was a blog post going around a few years ago about how we should stop saying that marriage is hard work.

The girl who wrote it talked about how it was fun and easy to spend time with her best friend. But she had only been married for three months.

I’m sure many of us think that marriage is easy when we’re just starting out (just like we know exactly how to be a great parent when our first child in on the way). The reason those of us who have been married a bit longer than three months say it’s hard work is not because we don’t enjoy our spouses, but because we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that the default over time in relationships is for people to drift apart.

Like a treadmill. If you do nothing, you’ll go backwards. It’s not miserable work, but it does take effort and intention to continue moving towards your spouse through different seasons life throws at you over the years.

2. A small gesture can mean as much as a big one.
Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to orchestrate big displays of affection: the romantic Valentine’s dinner, a big surprise for milestone birthdays and anniversaries—you know the drill. And those things can make us feel powerfully known and cared for. But so can an “I love you” text in the middle of the day, or picking up your spouse’s favorite treat. Don’t underestimate the power of a little thoughtfulness in the middle of an ordinary day.

3. Talking and communication are not the same thing
The first several years of our marriage, Jason and I thought we communicated really well, because we talked all the time.

We even talked about things that were important to us: dreams and plans, and the things the Lord was showing us. But talking to your spouse doesn’t always mean you feel heard by them. It’s something we’re definitely still learning, and like the other things I’ve mentioned, this takes a little time and intention.

It’s easy to say “the kids were crazy today;” it’s harder to discern your own feelings, and be vulnerable enough to say “I felt kind of insecure about my abilities as a parent today.” But that kind of honesty sets the stage for deeper intimacy in your marriage.

4. Inside jokes build fun and a sense of togetherness
Many of our personal inside jokes are from the movie Nacho Libre. This past Valentine’s Day, when most other couples were posting sweet odes to their loved ones (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, by the way), my husband plastered my wall with memes from our favorite movie.

It made me laugh so hard. And it was perfect because it was so us.

That’s what inside jokes can do for you—so whatever little inside jokes you have with your spouse, make sure to use them often to get a laugh out of each other.

5. You can’t assume your spouse knows what you want or need.
This is similar to number three, but it’s worth spending time on this idea separately.

Jason and I have different needs, not just because he’s a man and I’m a woman, but because we have vastly different personalities. The longer we’re married, the more we realize just how differently we see the world.

If I assume he’s exactly like me, and already knows how I’m feeling, I’m setting myself up for disappointment when he doesn’t respond accordingly. But if I tell him when I’m sad, or scared, when I need a hug, or when I need him to bring home a pizza, I feel a lot more fulfilled in our relationship.

6. Praise is a more powerful tool for change than criticism.
This is true in any relationship, but sometimes it seems especially easy to resort to criticism with those we love the most. Nobody wants to be nagged or to have their flaws pointed out. But we all want to be praised, and when we think we’re going to receive affirmation, we’ll do more of whatever it is, to get more of that praise.

7. Marriage is the most important relationship in a family.
Most marriage books say that you have to love your spouse more than your kids, but what does this look like practically?

Do you make time for your spouse’s interests like you do for your kids?

Do you pray for your husband or wife as much as you pray for your children?

Do you make efforts to continually know and understand them better?

If you want to build a strong foundation for your family, make your relationship with your spouse a priority.

8. Breakfast and lunch dates are just as good as (if not better than) dinner dates
I like getting dressed up for a fancy dinner. But meeting for lunch in the middle of a regular Tuesday is magical in its own way. And because it doesn’t seem to carry the pressure of having a super romantic night out, our lunch dates seem to foster better conversation.

And breakfast dates are even better. We usually only get to do this when our kids are spending the night somewhere, but sleeping in, and then lingering over my coffee with the one I love—it’s hard to imagine a better way to start my day.

9. God cares deeply about marriage
God gives us spouses as a gracious and wonderful gift because he wants us to have companionship. But he also wants show the world a picture of Christ and his bride, the church. God’s heart breaks even more than ours do when marriages fall apart. His desire for you, if you are married, is for your marriage to be strong, intimate, and life-giving. Which leads me to the last thing I’ve learned…

10. You don’t have to do it alone
Jason and I have benefitted immensely from the wise counsel and faithful friendship of the people in our lives.

Our marriage wouldn’t be nearly as strong as it is today if it weren’t for friends that constantly stand by us, hear our hearts, and encourage us to keep pursuing each other. We all have conflict in marriage; and we all have sin, shame, and heartache that we have to deal with in this life.

Having other couples, or even, in some situations, a counselor, walk through those seasons with you is invaluable.

In our years in ministry, we’ve seen a lot of marriages in crisis, and in most of those situations, I saw two things over and over again: couples who refused to be honest with others about their struggles, and couples who waited way too long to ask for help.

You don’t need to tell every single person in your life every conflict that you and your spouse ever have. But you do need at least a couple trusted people in your life who can walk with you through harder seasons in your marriage, and encourage you to go the distance.

 

After ten years, I can honestly say that fighting for a good marriage is absolutely worth it. I love my husband, and I’m looking more forward than ever to the next ten years!

Books & Reading · Holidays

5 Ways To Celebrate the True Meaning of Easter with Your Kids

When I was a new mom, I didn’t realize that you don’t have to have all the traditions for all your holidays and special occasions all figured out from the moment your firstborn enters the world.

Thanks goodness for that.

But it was hard for me at first. I had all these ideas that the special things I did growing up would be easy to automatically implement with my own children.

That wasn’t quite the case, especially when it came to Easter.

As family in ministry, Easter has always been an extremely full day for us. Most churches, of course, want to plan a service that somehow attempts to adequately celebrate all Christ has done. But also, Easter is a time when many who would not normally darken the doors of a church are willing to come. For many pastoral families, mine included, this means extra services or special events.

It was hard, those first few years, for me to adjust my expectations from how I’d grown up. We would always have an egg hunt in the living room before church, then eat a special breakfast before changing into our fancy new clothes.

But when you’re a pastor’s wife, either your whole family has to be at church very early, or you have to let your husband leave the house while you get the rest of the family ready without him. (We’ve done both at different points).

I could not celebrate Easter in my own home the way I had as a child in my parents’ home.

As I said, at first I was disappointed. When we couldn’t have a special breakfast and scour the house for eggs first thing in the morning, I thought, Well, then, I guess we just can’t do anything special.

I’m so glad I was wrong.

My boys are six and seven now, and we’ve finally found some ways of marking the season that fit us. Like so many of our traditions, the way we celebrate Easter has grown out of our family dynamics, a willingness to work within our schedule, and by learning what resonates with our children’s individual personalities.

I can’t figure out for you what Easter traditions will work in your home.

But if you’re looking for some new ideas of how to make the season special, ideas that respect and reinforce the true meaning of Easter, I’ve put together a list of things you might want to try.

Fast together before Easter

It’s too late to observe Lent if you’re not already doing so, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t fast, or give up something as you prepare your heart for Easter.

Our kids, at 6 and 7, are at the age where we are just beginning to explain to them and model for them the concept of fasting and self-denial.

While I believe that biblical term “fasting” really applies only to food (that’s another post for another day), any act of self-denial helps us to identify with Christ, and hopefully to understand that no matter what we do, we can’t really live righteously on our own.

Even if it’s just for a week, you could purpose as a family to go without something –sweets or TV or whatever might be meaningful for you. Whenever it feels inconvenient or uncomfortable, talk to your kids about what Christ gave up for us. Then when Easter comes, celebrate together that Jesus is alive and that he gives us abundant life in Him!

Attend a sunrise service

If you’re a parent to tinies, this one probably isn’t for you, and this isn’t something that makes sense for our family right now. But if you have older kids and are willing to get up a little early, this can be a really meaningful way to connect them with the wonderful news those women heard at dawn when they went to the tomb: “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6).

Use Resurrection Eggs to tell the Easter story

This is a newer addition to our family’s celebration. We bought a set of Resurrection Eggs a couple years ago for our church at the recommendation of some friends in children’s ministry, and when I found out what they were, I had to get some for our family.

If you’re not familiar with them, Resurrection Eggs are just like regular plastic Easter eggs, but instead of candy, each egg is filled with an object that relates to part of the Easter story.

This is how we use them in our family: starting about two weeks before Easter, we get the eggs out and open one that night. We look at what’s inside, and read a passage of Scripture relating to that part of the story. After that first night, we keep going back to the beginning, having our kids take turns telling the part of the story each object represents before moving on to that night’s egg.

What I love about using these eggs is the way it has helped develop biblical literacy in my sons’ lives. By the time we got to the last egg last year (spoiler: it’s empty!), the details of the Easter story were ingrained in their hearts from several nights of retelling it. And because of the eggs and the little trinkets, they were always so excited to do it. Any time I can make understanding Scripture fun for my kids, I’m all in.

We have this set, which comes with a little guidebook. But if you’re on a tight budget, it’s not too hard to make your own.

Make resurrection cookies or hot cross buns

There’s nothing quite like special food to set apart a special day. We have all kinds of holiday favorites in our house: birthday cakes and cupcakes, Valentine’s Day cinnamon rolls, and Christmas cookies.

You may already have food traditions for Easter, but if you have room for one or two more, these can be fun because they offer a way to tell the Easter story to your kids.

Resurrection cookies are meringues that sit in the oven overnight, and when you bite into them the next morning, they’re empty inside! There are also several ways to connect the ingredients and process to the Easter story as you make them together. I like the recipe and instructions here.

Hot cross buns have a long-standing history in the church as a traditional Easter food (eaten on Good Friday). Like the resurrection cookies, there are elements of making them that can be connected to the Easter story (the dough is beaten like Jesus was, you add spices like the women used to prepare Jesus’ body), and of course, the cross carved or iced on the top reminds us of Jesus’ death. This is my favorite recipe.

Have a Passover Meal

This is a tradition that we just stumbled into. One Spring, several years ago, we were reading in the Jesus Storybook Bible about how Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples the night before he died. My son was intrigued and asked if we could have our own Passover meal sometime.

I hadn’t planned it out this way at all, but that night was the Wednesday before Easter. So, on a whim, I said we could have Passover the very next night – the night before Good Friday, just like Jesus did.

Now, it’s something my kids really look forward to. While we eat, we talk about the first Passover and how God led his people out of slavery and how death passed over them because of the blood of the lamb. And then we talk about that meal that Jesus had with his disciples, and how he is the Passover Lamb who saves us from death and slavery to sin.

I absolutely love it. You can read more about how we celebrate this special meal, including what I make for us to eat right here

 

I hope this gives you some ideas of how you could make this Easter even more meaningful for your family. It’s the best news in the world, and it deserves our marking it with a special celebration: He is risen!

 

**Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy something using them. Thanks so much for supporting me!

Faith At Home

What To Do When Kids Tattle: A Biblical Approach

“Mommy, Caleb hit me!”

“But Garrett hit me first!”

“He took my car!”

“He said I was mean!”

I’m sure your children never behave like this, right? It’s just mine who find the perfect way to push my buttons with their bickering on a weekly (daily? hourly?) basis.

Of all the things my children do, one of the things I find most frustrating is their tattling.

Some days, I’m tempted just to veto tattling all together: “Just leave me alone and figure it out for yourselves.” But if I’m honest, I reach for that solution not because it’s best, but because it’s convenient. I don’t want to be bothered every five minutes with the minutiae of my children’s conflicts.

That’s no excuse, though. God has placed me in authority over them to teach them and to model for them how to live as a follower of Jesus.

One of the things I’m supposed to teach and model is how to resolve conflict.

So when it comes to tattling, these are a few biblical principles we try to apply:

They should admit the part they played in the conflict.

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (vs. 3-5).

Notice that he doesn’t say we should never confront sin in another person’s life. We do, however, need to be careful to examine our own hearts before we approach someone else.

When one of my sons comes to me to tattle, one of the first questions I ask is, “Were you doing anything wrong?” I want them to learn to recognize that in a conflict, both parties are usually partly at fault, and the only thing they really have control over is confessing and repenting of their own sins.

They should approach the other person privately first.

Later in Matthew, Jesus says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (18:15)

I have found that often, my children turn to tattling as a first response rather than a last resort, and with a little gentle guidance, many of their conflicts can be solved just between the two of them.

If they come to me saying, “My brother took my toy,” I’ll usually ask, “Did you ask him to give it back?”

Sometimes (definitely not all the time, but often enough) this ends the conflict. A simple misunderstanding can be resolved with a little communication and without much involvement on my part.

They should not accuse each other.

This is something I find myself saying to my boys whenever I hear them making a lot of assumptions about the motivations behind their brother’s behavior (ie., “He was trying to hurt me,” “he wanted me to get in trouble,” etc.)

The Bible makes it abundantly clear who our accuser is.

The book Revelation prophesies a day when he’ll be defeated: Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down” (12:10).

When we accuse each other (and this includes us, moms and dads!), we are acting more like Satan than like Christ. It is your enemy’s lying voice whispering in your ear that tempts you into assuming the worst about someone else, especially in the heated moments of a fight.

When I’m trying to help my kids resolve a conflict, if they start to accuse each other, I shut them down immediately. I don’t need to hear why they think their brother acted in a certain way. I just want the facts.

Remind them that the ultimate goal is reconciliation.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stressed the importance of reconciliation: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23).

Every once in a while, I get the sense that one of my sons is just anxious to get his brother in trouble. (Again, I’m sure your kids never do this, right?)

In those moments, I do my best to remind them, that if they involve me, it needs to be because they want to get along with their brother and they just need some help.

My ultimate goal is for them to be at peace with each other. Sometimes, that does happen through well-deserved discipline, usually on both sides. But it can just as easily happen through heartfelt apology, conversation, and the gift of forgiveness.

Either way, reconciliation is the end we’re working toward, and I try to help my kids (and myself) keep that goal in mind when I help them through their conflicts.


Now, please know that these methods are not a simple, one-size-fits-all solution to conflicts between my kids. Sometimes, when both kids are shouting over the other to be heard, tempers are high, and I’m feeling short on patience, it’s hard for me to sift through what they’re saying to the heart issues behind whose turn it is on Mario Kart.

But I do believe, that as I endeavor to faithfully teach these principles to my kids, and to live them out, one day at a time, they will, over the years, bear fruit in their lives.

 

Heart

How to Choose a Bible Version for Your Family, Part 4: The Most Important Factor

We’re talking about how to choose a Bible version for your family this month.

We’ve talked about some over-arching principles for reading the Bible, and how important and wonderful it is, no matter what version you read. And we’ve talked about some more academic considerations, like the manuscripts behind the translation, and translation methods.

And those are common things you’ll hear people throwing around when they’re discussing the merits of one English Bible over another.

But all of those overlook one critical element: the reader.

The best Bible for you is the Bible you’ll actually read. So here are a few more factors to consider as you choose a Bible for yourself, or your family, or your children.

Reading level

I’m an avid reader, and my bachelor’s degree is in English literature. Shakespearian language is no problem for me, and sometimes, I actually enjoy it. So reading the King James Version is no big deal for me.

But it’s not the Bible I would hand to my seven-year old.

When I got him a Bible last Easter, I looked at several versions, and finally settled on the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV). It’s not my favorite, and it’s not one I would use for serious study, but it’s still better than the paraphrases in his story bibles, and he’s been able to read it himself some over the past year, which is a gift I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Familiarity

If you’ve grown up in church, you probably have a version of the Bible that you’re most familiar with. For me, that’s the NIV. For people a generation older than me, it’s the King James.

Familiarity, when it comes to Bible versions, can be both good and bad. Hearing verses the way we learned them as children can anchor us, like hearing a favorite song, or wrapping up in a favorite blanket.

Reading from your favorite version can feel like going home.

Also, it can be easier to study in the version you’re most familiar with. If I’m looking for a verse but I can’t remember where it’s found, the words I’m remembering are most likely NIV, so if I have different version in my hands, it might take me longer to find what I’m looking for.

The bad part of familiarity comes when we become more loyal to the translation than to Scripture itself.

For example, the translators of the NIV recently released an updated version. But instead of applauding the scholarship that tries to make the Bible in my hands as accurate as possible, I find myself nostalgic for the way certain verses used to be worded.

This is a me problem, not a Bible problem.

The other issue with familiar translations is that sometimes we are so used to the wording, we can become numb to what the words actually mean. In these cases, it can be helpful to switch to a different translation to force us to pause and understand what we’re reading. (Side note: I think this is one of the major reasons paraphrases like The Message and The Passion Translation are so popular. But the same thing can be achieved by just reading a reliable translation you’re not as familiar with.)

Study notes

You can find good study Bibles in any version you’re looking for.

However, if you’re wanting a specific set of study notes to accompany your Bible, it may limit your choices. One of mine and my husband’s favorite study Bibles, the Fire Bible, is only available in the NIV. The new She Reads Truth Bible only comes in CSB.

And while I think there are definitely merits to reading the Bible text on its own, if you’re a newer believer, or are really digging into God’s Word for the first time, a good study Bible can be helpful. You might want to look for features like a topical index, or articles by leaders or theologians you like. If you’re a visual person, you may want a Bible with lots of diagrams and maps.

Again, the best Bible for you is the Bible that you’ll read, so if these things help you, don’t be afraid to buy the version that has the features you love.

Aesthetics

I put this last because it’s the least important, in my opinion, but it still matters.

Is there anything more beautiful and precious than the Word of God?

Then it’s okay to want to have a Bible that’s beautiful on the outside, too. Of course, a humble Gideon Bible from a hotel nightstand, or a $5 gift Bible from Walmart can still speak the same powerful truths to us, but I love what the ladies from She Reads Truth said in their most recent study on Exodus: “God’s Word doesn’t need good design to be necessary or useful, but it is deserving of it.”

And when we’re talking about our families, especially our little ones, a Bible with an eye-catching look can make a lot of difference for them. I shared earlier that I chose my 7-year-old’s Bible because of the reading level, but I picked my younger son’s Bible for a different reason.

He’s always been really drawn to picture books, and Big Picture Bible from the folks at The Gospel Project had more illustrations than most of the other ones we were looking at. He loved it. But it wasn’t available in as many versions.

We ended up getting the HCSB, and he’s stumbled over a few big words when he has read from it. But he loves it, and he wants to read from it all the same.

And that’s the goal isn’t it?

It’s not about being the most right when it comes to choosing a Bible translation. It’s about creating an atmosphere where our families can absolutely fall in love the Word of God.

I hope this series has done that for you.

But if you have any other questions, you can leave them in the comments below.

Also, if you’re wanting to stir up your own passion for God’s Word, the Faith Starts at Home Bible reading plan is a great way to fall in love with Scripture. You can sign up right here. I know it will be a blessing to you!

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Faith Starts at Home!

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How to Choose a Bible Version for Your Family, Part 3: Translation Methods

We’re talking about how to choose a Bible version for you family this month.

Last week we talked about the different manuscripts translators use. Today we’re going to look at different approaches scholars use when they translate.

Obviously, the Bible wasn’t originally written in English. The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew (though portions of Daniel are in Aramaic). The New Testament was written in Greek. And they were written thousands of years ago, so things like capitalization, spelling, punctuation, and even the meanings of certain words have changed since then.

It takes a lot of careful scholarship and some degree of interpretation to convey what those millennia-old, foreign language texts mean in twenty-first century English.

However, there are a few different ways to approach this, which is where people start to have a difference of opinion.

We’re going to get a little nerdy here for a second, but the two main schools of thought on Bible translation are called formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence. You may have also heard these called word-for-word and thought-for-thought translations.

Formal Equivalence

Formal Equivalence, or word-for-word translation is just what it sounds like. For every word in the biblical manuscripts, translators try to “ensure that every word in the original was rendered by an English equivalent,” (The Legacy of the King James Bible, by Leeland Ryken) with as little change to the original structure and word order.

This sounds like the ideal, doesn’t it? Of course we want our English translation to line up as closely as possible with what the Hebrew or Greek actually say.

However, problems arise when there isn’t a perfectly equivalent word in English to the word the Hebrew or Greek uses. If you’ve ever studied a foreign language (or even seen one of those BuzzFeed articles about words we should steal from other languages), you know what I’m talking about.

Also, sometimes trying too hard to carry the structure of the original languages into English can make for some awkwardly-worded sentences that can make them harder to understand.

Bibles that use this translation philosophy include the New American Standard (NASB), King James (KJV), and the English Standard Version (ESV).

Dynamic Equivalence

Dynamic Equivalence, on the other hand, is known as a thought-for-thought translation because of its tendency to take a whole phrase of words and try to carefully render them in the way that makes the most sense in English, even if that yields more or fewer words than the original.

The major advantage of this type of translation is its clarity, but one of the major drawbacks is that sometimes to render a thought in a way that’s clear in English, translators may unintentionally narrow the meaning of the original text.

Translations that use dynamic equivalence include the New Living Translation (NLT) and the New International Version (NIV).

A couple more things to note

Paraphrases

A few versions of the Bible are not true translations of the text, but rather, English paraphrases. These versions tend to be very easy and compelling to read, and can be useful compliments to Bible reading, but should not be used exclusively for serious study of the Bible.

Paraphrase Bibles include The Living Bible, The Messge, and, as far as I can tell, the new Passion “translation” of the Bible.

Optimal Equivalence

Another Bible that stands out from the traditional formal vs. dynamic equivalence debate is the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). This is a recent update of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and claims to try to strike a balance between the two schools of translation. They call their philosophy “optimal equivalence” and I’m intrigued. But even if the CSB does a great job blending these two translation philosophies, I don’t think that makes it the single best translation, because I don’t think there is such a thing.

As I mentioned before, there is no perfect English translation of the Bible.

If you’re trying to really understand what a particular verse means (and you don’t speak Hebrew or Greek) the best way will always be to compare several different translations. Moreover, when it comes to choosing the right version for you, there are still other factors to consider, like our different reading abilities and study needs.

And those are the things we’ll talk about next week.