Books & Reading · Faith At Home

Three Things We’re Doing to Build a Strong Family

I wish so badly that there was some sort of formula for parenting.

That if you fed your kids a certain number of vegetables, took them to church a certain number of times, and gave them a certain number of goodnight kisses, you could guarantee that things would turn out the way you wanted them to.

Unfortunately, like so many other things in life, there is no one clear-cut way to guarantee results in your parenting. The longer I serve the Lord, the more I realize that beyond the basic right and wrong, it is absolutely essential to be yielded to the Lord’s leading in all that we do, especially in parenting.

Remember what Mary said to the servants at the wedding in Cana? “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

Mary knew Jesus. She knew his authority and his power. She trusted that if the servants followed his guidance, Jesus would make things right.

So before I share about the ways we are building a strong family, I want to preface it with this: do whatever he tells you. I really think that these pillars of our family culture are beneficial for all kids, and research even backs up how important and foundational some of these practices are. But you have to start with the vision God gives for your own family. If one or more of these doesn’t resonate with you in your season or particular family dynamics, and most importantly, if God is leading you to do something different, then by all means do that.

But like I said, I think for most families these three things will help, over time, to build a foundation for a resilient, close-knit, healthy family.

  1. Share stories

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Stories matter. Did you know that one of the biggest predictors of a child’s ACT scores—more than race or gender or socioeconomic status—is whether or not that child’s parents read to him or her? But even if it didn’t virtually guarantee academic results, I’d still read my kids stories. Jesus told stories. The Bible itself is a story. Stories show us who we are and who we can be like nothing else can, and being able to pass that on virtue and character to our kids through stories is a priceless gift.

  1. Share meals together

There are so many studies that point to the overwhelming importance of regular family meals. Kids whose families eat together are less likely to be overweight or become addicted to drugs. They are also more likely to do well in school, and be resilient in the face of adversity. But again, I think there is a strong case for eating with your family even if these factors were not in play. Food plays an extremely important role in the Bible, and if Jesus spent time eating with his disciples, shouldn’t we eat with the disciples he has entrusted to our care?

I know that, at least for me, the time and effort it takes to make regular family meals happen can be a challenge. Soon, I’ll share some more strategies for making this a little easier, but there’s one big thing that really helps us make family meals a priority: we eat breakfast together.

Several years ago, another pastor’s wife shared with me that family breakfasts worked better with their weird schedule, and I instantly realized what a game-changer that would be for us. Now, I feel more off-kilter when we haven’t had a sit-down breakfast in a few days, than when we’ve missed a bunch of dinners in a row. If dinner works for you, that’s awesome. But if it doesn’t, know that it doesn’t have to be at night to count as a family meal.

  1. Share time in nature

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Kids absolutely need time outside. Period. Not only does it help their physical bodies, but it’s so much easier for us to wonder at the mystery of God’s creation when we are out in it. Standing at the edge of the ocean, climbing to a mountain peak, sleeping under a canopy of stars—these are the things that absolutely take my breath away at the beauty and majesty of our God. I want to pass those same experiences on to my children, so we try as much as we can to explore and camp and go on hikes.

And one more, as a bonus:

  1. Play Games

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I would be remiss if I left if out because this is such a big part of who we are as a family. Jason and I both come from game-playing families, and playing games together was an early part of our relationship. We love sitting around the table and playing games with our family (the big people) and we would love for that to be true with our own kids when they are grown. I don’t know if there’s any research backing up the importance of a regular family game night (something we’re trying to get more consistent at doing), but playing games teaches kids to be gracious winners and losers, to cooperate, to think strategically, and a host of other skills. Plus it’s tons of fun!

So, that’s what we are doing. Like I said, there’s no formula, but I think if I can do these things consistently over the next decade or so, these habits will eventually bear good fruit in my kids’ lives. So now you tell me: did I leave anything out? What do you do to build a strong family? And do you have any tips or tricks to make it easier to implement these habits? Let me know!

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Our 2019-2020 Homeschool Resources

When people ask me “What curriculum do you use?” I never know quite how to answer.

We embrace a mostly Charlotte Mason mindset for our homeschool. (You can read all about that method here.) And as I’ve learned more about how to implement this in our home, I’ve found more and more resources I like at Ambleside Online. If I had to say which single “curriculum,” I use, that would be it.

But Ambleside Online, and other resources for Charlotte Mason education is about so much more than “curriculum.” I follow some of their suggestions, and supplement in other places with resources that fit our family. And of course we read LOTS and LOTS of books.

Thus, our “curriculum” for the year is an ever-evolving list of books, projects, activities, and conversations. But if I had label what we’re actually using, these are the things that would make the list. (And lots of these resources are things you could use even if you don’t homeschool!)

Bible and Theology

This year, for our religious studies, we’ll be focusing primarily on apologetics. We’ve begun having conversations about apologetics with our kids already, but we begin to work through apologetics ideas a bit more systematically this time. We’re using the Case Makers Academy books from J Warner Wallace and the associated free resources on his website. We’re about halfway through our first book right now, and my boys love it.

We’re also learning six new hymns, memorizing a few new passages of Scripture, and following the Year 2 Bible reading plan from Ambleside Online.

Language Arts

Brave Writer is one of my very favorite resources for Language Arts. Their Arrow Single Issues are a really fun way to explore literature, writing, and grammar through their actual context in good stories. I know for sure we’ll be reading Redwall, Caddie Woodlawn, and My Side of the Mountain, but I probably need to choose at least one more title. The good news is, there are many great books to choose from.

Both boys will also continue to work on their cursive penmanship with Handwriting Without Tears workbooks, and we’ll continue to have our weekly poetry teatime.

History

One of my favorite things about the Charlotte Mason method is her insistence on using living books – that is, books by a single author, that tell a story—instead of dry, committee-written text. After a few years of trial and error, we’ve found that what sparks curiosity and learning for us is a great picture book.

There are truly some amazing books out there for kids on just about any topic you can imagine. This summer, we spent almost a month deep-diving into books about the moon landing. We seriously read probably 20 picture books.  We all (mom included!) learned so much.

So we will explore history mostly that way this year. I plan to focus primarily on 19th and 20th century American history, with a particular emphasis on things like the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, Westward Expansion, American pioneers, WW1, Industrialization, the Great Depression, and WW2.

We’re also going to add mapping to our study of the US, and we’ll be learning to draw it with this book, starting in a couple of weeks. We’ll see how it goes!

Science

Another major Charlotte Mason principle is nature study. I’m not great a getting outside with my kids, but nature walks are a whole lot easier for me to pull off than science experiments.

Right now, we’re using a NaturExplorers guide from Cindy West on spiders, and following the activity suggestions. We’ve seen all kinds of spiders and webs this summer, once we started looking for them, and we’ve been recording our findings about spiders, and other interesting things we notice or learn in nature journals. We’ll keep studying spiders as long as it’s interesting, and then we’ll move on to something else.

We may use the schedule from Ambleside Online, or we may buy another guide. So far, the boys are most interested in science involving animals, and I’m happy to let them keep pursuing that as long as it captures their attention.

We also like using picture books to supplement in this area when we can’t go outside (it’s been a scorcher this summer in Tennessee). We recently discovered Jim Arnosky’s picture books, and we can easily spend half an hour pouring over his gorgeous animal illustrations.

Fine Arts

Our favorite art resource is ChalkPastel.com. My kids can be a little bit perfectionistic, and tend to have meltdowns when they don’t do something right (gee, I wonder where they get that?), and “Nana” has been such a kind and gentle guide for them as they grow in confidence in their artistic abilities. We aim to do one painting a week, and so far, I just use the videos on their You Tube channel, but I’d like to buy this set at some point.

We also study music, through hymns, as already discussed, and through classical music appreciation. I’ve used SQUILT in the past, and have had some success with their resources, (we like these cards) but this year we bought the Peter and the Wolf album from Maestro Classics and had a blast learning the music and all about Prokofiev. I’ll probably buy the Nutcracker one for Christmas.

Finally, after we move to South Dakota, we are hoping to purchase a full keyboard, mostly for me, but also so that I can begin to teach the boys to read music and play the piano. I have not yet decided on a method for this, though, so I’m open to suggestions!

Math

This is about the only area where we have a true curriculum. I’m using Singapore Math 3 with both boys this year. We’ve been using it since first grade with Caleb. Every year about March, I start wondering if the grass is greener in some other math book, and I always end up coming back to Singapore. I really like it, and it seems to work for my boys, at least for now.

My primary math goal for both boys this year is for them to get a solid grasp of the multiplication tables. So if we get decently far in the year, and that isn’t happening, I’ll probably buy Kate Snow’s Multiplication Facts That Stick. I bought her addition and subtraction guides to help Caleb a couple years ago and loved them.

I also want my boys to think math is interesting and fun, so I try to take time on a regular basis to throw in some “fun” math – we have especially enjoyed the Penrose books this year so far. We also play tons of board games as a family, and the boys enjoy the math-based video game, Prodigy.

 

So that’s what we’re using this year in our homeschool. Do you homeschool? What are you using this year?

 

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

 

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Holy Week

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“It’s not a tattoo; it’s just marker,” I told the friend who asked at lunch.

If I got a tattoo of a cross somewhere I could see it, I’d probably eventually get used to it, and it would lose its significance as a reminder. But I don’t think that will happen in just seven days and I so desperately want to spend this week remembering, so during our pastor’s Palm Sunday sermon, I took my brown felt-tipped pen and inked a little t shape on the inside of my left wrist.

I used to have mixed feelings about Palm Sunday.

None of the crowds shouting “hosanna” on Sunday stood by Jesus on Friday when He turned out to be a very different kind of savior than they expected. It seemed, to me, like a celebration of fair-weather Christianity.

But this year, as I’ve observed Lent in a very traditional way–a way that sees each Sunday as a mini-easter and a respite from the discipline of fasting–it’s heightened my sense of expectation for the coming resurrection. And when I got up yesterday morning, just one Sunday away from Easter, I couldn’t get these words out of my mind: “…Jesus set out resolutely for Jerusalem.”

The crowds lining the streets from the Mount of Olives to the temple may not have known what awaited Jesus in Jerusalem, but He did.

And He came anyway.

For you.

For me.

The New American Standard Bible says “he was determined” to come. He wouldn’t give up on our salvation, even when that road led to His very own cross.

So as we draw ever closer to observing the worst, best Friday in all of history,  I’m lifting up my voice this week and shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Books & Reading

The Best Books I Read in 2018

I’m an avid reader.

It’s always been one of my favorite hobbies. According to Goodreads, I read over 130 books last year. (My husband is pretty sure I have a problem, and he might be right). But of all those books, a few stand out as really incredible. I’ve limited myself to 12 total: four novels, four works of nonfiction, and four children’s books. So you can be sure that I really thought they were great.

Best novels

The Masterpiece, Francine Rivers – Francine Rivers has long been one of my favorite authors. Redeeming Love has always been my favorite book of hers, but this new one might be a close second. It’s that good.

The Almost Sisters, Joshilyn Jackson – Heads up: this book has some language and some adult themes (the main character gets pregnant out of wedlock). But there are also some powerfully redemptive messages in it, enough to suggest to me that maybe the author is a Christian? Plus, it’s a really good story.

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Stetterfield – I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a mystery so thoroughly. I couldn’t wait to figure out the twist, and the setting and characters were very reminiscent of the Bronte sisters’ work. If you love Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, this is a book you’ll want to read.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis, Patti Callahan – This is a fictionalized retelling of how C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman met and fell in love (though Joy’s son says it’s very much based on the truth). It’s a wonderful picture of the life of one of my very favorite authors.

Best nonfiction

Martin Luther, Eric Metaxas – This book is long, but it’s worth your time if you like biographies. I loved learning so much about a man whose life I knew very little about—and whose work had such a profound impact on the church today. If this is too long for you, I also highly recommend his book, 7 Women, which is seven mini-biographies of important female historical figures.

The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel – My husband, Jason, has devoted much of his time to the study of apologetics, and for someone just starting out, this is one of the first books he recommends. Now I can see why. The book’s compelling narrative, in which author Lee Strobel diligently searches for the truth, serves as a framework for a lot of detailed information concerning the historical and scientific evidence for what we believe as Christians. The movie is also superb.

The Road Back to You, Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile – This was not my introduction to the Enneagram, but I wish it had been. This is a great place to start if you’re just discovering the nine types, and still trying to figure out your own.

Letters to the Church, Francis Chan – This book encapsulates a lot of what God has been stirring in mine and Jason’s hearts regarding the church as we have pondered what is next for our family. But it was also deeply personally challenging, as Francis Chan looked honestly at the discrepancies between the New Testament and modern American church, and encourages believers to pursue a closer walk with Jesus.

Best kids books

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, Maryrose Wood – Imagine Jane Eyre meets Jungle Book. This terrific series had my kids (and me) engaged from the first book to the last.

The Green Ember series, S. D. Smith – I’ll be honest, the first time I read The Green Ember, it wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t dislike it, exactly, but I didn’t love it either. But reading it aloud to my kids has given me a whole new perspective on this series. As a mom of boys, I love stories that encourage them to be brave and selfless, to see themselves as warriors for everything that is good and true, and these books do exactly that. We’re currently reading the second book in this series and loving it.

Bob, Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead – This is a sweet book about a girl and her forgotten imaginary friend. It’s beautifully written, and I hope it wins the Newbery award.

Now We Are Six, A. A. Milne –While I was familiar with Milne’s Winne the Pooh stories, this year was the first time I’d ever read his poetry for children, and I adored it. We read these aloud over the course of several Monday afternoons, when we have a weekly poetry teatime.

 

I hope you enjoy these book recommendations, and find something on this list you think you might enjoy. If you want to keep more up-to-date on what I’m reading, I post a picture of books I’m trying almost weekly on Instagram (the photo above is one I posted about a month ago), and you can always see  everything I’m reading on Goodreads. But please note that my picking it up is not an endorsement: there are many books I read last year that I would not recommend to someone else. Some I just didn’t enjoy, in some cases I blatantly disagreed with the author, and some I couldn’t even finish because I disliked them so much.

If you’re curious about a particular title, please ask me.

Also, if you love book recommendations as much as I do, a couple of my favorite bloggers just released their “favorites of 2018” lists on their own blogs. You can see The Lazy Genius’s list here, and Emily Freeman’s here. I’ve added several of their recommended titles to my own list for what to read next year.

**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!

Books & Reading · Holidays

Links for Thanksgiving

I just love Thanksgiving.

I love Christmas, too, of course, but sometimes the oh-so-very-important meaning behind the holiday gets overshadowed by the gifts we exchange.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have that problem. More than any other holiday I can think of, Thanksgiving is a time to simply enjoy good food with the people you love. We are celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband’s family this year—we’ve rented a house a few hours away, and we’ll all be together for several days. I can’t wait.

This Thanksgiving is special in some new ways, too. We’ve been studying American history this year with our boys, and so more than ever before, they’re aware of the rich history behind this holiday and some of its traditions.

If you’re looking for some new books, songs, or traditions to add to your family’s celebration this year, I’ve gathered a list of some of my favorites below:

To Read

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dagliesh

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

Give Thanks Bible reading plan from She Reads Truth

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving All Year

To Listen To

My Thanksgiving Playlist on Spotify

“Stepping Stones,” Part 1 and Part 2, an Adventures in Odyssey story about the Pilgrims

To Make

Chex Party Mix (use the oven method, not the microwave method; it makes a difference!)

A Thanksgiving Tree

Libby’s Pumpkin Pie (expert sources and my dad confirm it’s the best)

 

I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

 

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!

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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!

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