Awed by God’s Ways

He was sitting alone, eating a sandwich when we drove up. I wouldn’t have noticed him, except that I guess something about the little plastic tub of potato salad, pudding, or pimento cheese made me curious about what he was eating. So I took a longer look, while he eagerly sunk his teeth into his generous Reuben sandwich. Typical country person’s lunch—hearty sandwich, big bottle of Gatorade, and that container of mystery food. He looked like a working man, was 30-something, and he looked like he was enjoying his meal.

This took place at Yoder’s—a Mennonite store where we had placed our rescue jar for our mission project. We stop in every so often to collect the funds that have been contributed, and today was the day. Andrew was in charge of the collection today. Just dump the money from the jars inside the store into our collection canister—really just an oatmeal canister that we covered with flyers about our project. It looked like people had been generous these last few weeks, because the jars were full. What a blessing!

As we left the store, Adam didn’t see the hanging plant, and whacked his head on the underside of it. No harm, but I consciously had to avoid looking at that young man who sat there, because I knew he saw it, and might be embarrassed if I caught him chuckling at my boy’s misfortune. We were almost at the car when Andrew tripped and the contents of that collection canister went flying! I immediately assumed he’d been tossing it in the air, and a little reprimand was on my tongue, and I noticed that Austin also had a comment on his tongue, probably not unlike mine! So instead of the chiding I said a quick prayer, and suggested that we help get it picked up.

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Money had spilled all around, under the car, behind the car, and beside it. The wind was picking up a few of the bills, so we had to crawl under the car for some, and chase other dollars. Once we’d retrieved all of the spilled money, the boys started putting it back into the container, and started loading up to leave.

Well…remember the sandwich guy? He’d been watching the whole thing. He called Andrew over and asked him what he was saving for. Andrew explained that we were collecting money to rescue girls out of trafficking in India. I was in the car and saw the man hand Andrew a dollar. I thought that was really neat that he wanted to contribute!

When Andrew got into the car, he said, “Mom! Look!” He opened the money that the man had handed him—not a dollar, but a twenty—no—five twenties all folded together!
We were stunned! Gratitude swelled up inside us as we saw the generosity of this stranger.

We immediately wanted to thank him properly, but how? My eyes fell on the one wooden scripture plaque that I’d picked up to give another donor. Our last one that the kids had made! (We’d held those plaques in the Jr room for about two months, and not touched them, but today, I’d picked one up, for “some reason”) I knew we had it for him! I told Andrew to go over and see if he’d accept it as a token of our thanks. He looked at it and did accept it. The verse said “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3. When Andrew got into the car, we just prayed prayer of thankfulness—not even so much for the money itself, but the the spirit of giving that we had been shown, in so unexpected a way! We prayed that somehow in God’s way, that the message on that plaque would touch that man’s heart and speak to him in the way that only God can arrange.

Thank God for using our blunders for His glory!
🙂

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Anticipation

Timeline of a Lovely Pink Lady

Day 1:  Saturday, April 14:   My son and I spotted the first sprouts of what we hoped would turn out to be the Pink Lady’s Slipper flower like we had seen in that area last year.



Day 4:  Monday, April 17:  The bud has appeared, and we are sure this will be the Lady’s Slipper!  We hope!  How long will we have to wait?  I sneak out the woods every day, but nothing seems to be happening quickly!  It is hard to wait!



Day 5:  April 18, Wednesday:  No change!  Why am I disappointed?  Just a few hours have passed, and I still would like to see a major change!  My boys laugh at me as I rush out to take a quick look before heading out for the day!



Day 7:  Friday, April 20:  The bud is beginning to open!  I have sent my boys out to check, and they keep saying, “No change” but I have to go see for myself!  I can definitely see a change!  I have hope that maybe for the Sabbath, we will have a bloom!



Day 10:  Monday, April 23:  My son’s birthday!  We are so close!  It’s teasing me!  I can see the shape, and the beauty emerging, but it’s still going to take some more waiting!  It will be worth it!



Day 11:  Tuesday, April 24:  I headed outside first thing in the morning, just like I did yesterday!  I hardly hoped, but there it was!  What a jewel!  I do still think it may open a bit more!  It’s much paler than I thought it would be!  But I am super excited at how it looks!  I took pictures in the early morning light, and after it had rained in the afternoon.  I really like it after the rain!  Tomorrow, I will go check it out too!


Day 12:  Wednesday, April 25:  OK.  I couldn’t let the day go by without seeing how the orchid had changed!  Today is the best day by far!  The color has deepened to a nicer pink shade, and now you can see inside the flower!  I think it is beautiful–obviously!  My son told me that I geek wildflowers!  He’s right on!

As we walked down the driveway, I got to thinking that if we have these orchids on our property, I’d bet that the neighbors have the same type of environment.  So, I started gazing over towards their side of the driveway.  You know, the grass always promises to be greener on the other side of the fence, and all.  Well…suddenly I did see a bloom on their side!  It’s not opened as far as ours yet, but time will bring that beauty out!  And now I have another flower to watch!  We actually have about 9-11 more growing on our property in the woods, but they are just leaves so far.  I read that not all plants make a flower every year, but I hope they all make one here!  But I might get more done if they don’t bloom!

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Here is the flower on the neighbor’s side!

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I know that some of my shots are a tad fuzzy.  I am basically just shooting with a poor old IPhone 5!  My good camera keeps fuzzing out on me, and so I’m just doing this for my pleasure and memories!  But I am happy with every shot that I have of this exquisite specimen of God’s handiwork!  The wait has sure been rewarded, even if my family thinks that I have gone off the deep end!

Get outside and enjoy God’s world!

Trillium & Other Surprises

img_9217-1My third-born son and I are becoming Nature Nerds.  I wear that title with pride, and I think he kind of just gets roped into these outdoor adventures.  But he does take it with a nice attitude, and is learning all the way, even if he doesn’t quite gush enthusiasm for flowers, if you know what I mean!  After all, he’s eleven!  That might not be cool to be too interested in flowers.  But, remember Luther Burbank and George Washington Carver, Elliot Coleman, and other fine men who appreciate wild things, and you will see that flowers and plants are for everyone!

Well, we took an excursion yesterday to see the wildflowers.  We hooked up with two dear old friends (old friends, not OLD friends, as in old ladies) who happened to know bunches about all things wild! You never know what you will stumble across out on the trail–I just figure you have to get out there and start looking, because the flowers are there, whether anyone sees them or not.  When you do come across little patches of beauty, it is such a treat for the eyes and for the soul!  If I miss these beauties, it’s kind of my own fault, because there they are, just blooming for all they are worth!

We came across some neat finds!  Some stumped us, which led us to scour the field guides and good old Google when we came back to the cars, but, as the Good Teacher said, “Seek, and ye shall find.”

We discovered that what we initially thought was the Little Brown Jug plant was actually another in its family, the Southern Heartleaf plant.  I looked up pictures on the internet when I got home, but the photos I saw still look like they are mottled a bit differently.  Naturally, I think that the ones we saw are prettier, but that’s because they are ours.  Much like your baby always looks nicer to you than other people’s, and I think that’s just fine!  I think they are just neat-looking flowers.

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Southern Heartleaf Flower

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Aren’t they cute?

We were hiking around Hot Springs, NC, and explored three trails with our friends.  The Jack’s Branch Trail, which a friend had heard about for its wildflowers, we found overgrown, and a definite rugged walk!  Over logs, under logs, across the creek, through fallen trees and over mossy logs.  We didn’t quite find the official trail’s end, but knew we found the correct beginning point, at least an old point of entry.  Later on, we did find a new connection into this trail, which was plainly marked.  So, that will be an adventure for another day!

Along the rugged trail we spotted some lovely Silver Bells, which grow on a tree.  I had never seen this type of tree before.  We almost stepped onto a patch of Dwarf Crested Irises, in both light and dark purple!  They are quite lovely!  We found Yellow Bellwort flowers growing along the way, although I’m not sure what variety they were, as my pictures turned out fuzzy.  We saw many other Spring wildflowers that were so nice–the Fire Pinks bloomed abundantly, Blue Phlox, Star Chickweed, Wood Anemone, and lots of violets!  I learned more new names–The Purple and White Phacelia, and Bishop’s cap were among them.

All in all, we had a good experience–great company and and lovely day!

My son and I decided to take the scenic short-cut back home, and are we ever glad that we did!  We didn’t know that The Lord had surprises waiting for us!  As we drove the back road back along the French Broad River, we kind of started to relax.  We put an audio story on to listen to, and just sort of drove along slowly, enjoying the scenery.  Suddenly, a striped cat leaped across our path!  Wait, no–he was a Bobcat!  He sprang across the road, looking just like our tabby house cat without the tail.  Yes, he was a bit larger, but not considerably!  We stayed there in the road until he disappeared into the woods, but we felt excited to see one of God’s creatures that prefer to remain hidden.

The next surprise greeted us as we entered into the Paint Creek Corridor.  A banquet of white trillium flowers spread out before us, lining the road!  I was amazed!  I’d been hoping to see trilliums all week, and now, without really looking for them at all, there they were!  I couldn’t resist the urge to take pictures of them, and after snapping a few, I realized there were at least two varieties, although they do look similar.  We saw the Bent Trillium, I believe, and the Sweet White Trillium, which has the burgundy/dark center.  I thought we found another variety, the pink streaked one, but I think that is what they start to look like when they get older.  Honestly, I could be wrong about that, but I could not find any other trilliums that look similar to these streaked ones.  I personally think they are very beautiful flowers with the colored streaks!  I took a picture of the buds of some, and almost thought they were the Bent Trillium.  I believe they are all the Sweet Whites in the group that I saw.

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Sweet White Trillium

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Sweet White

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Bent Trillium

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Sweet White

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Sweet White Trillium

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Sweet White

We had just one more trail to check out, since a nature-savvy friend of mine had told me about a certain trail that often had Trailing Arbutus growing on it at very specific times of the year.  We were literally driving by the trail, so I thought we’d better try to see those!  If I hadn’t known what to look for, we’d have overlooked them for sure, because you have to lift leaves–dry and live to try to see the little pink flowers.  Imagine our disappointment to see that they had just bloomed and lost their flowers!  I said a little prayer for our hike, and whispered that maybe we could be permitted to see some of these flowers that we’d heard about.

Later along the path, we did find a patch, and with some poking around, found blossoms that were still fresh!  I made sure to bend down to take a sniff, and had my son do the same, for the fragrance was like nothing else!  Reminded me of a nice perfume!  Thanks to our Kind Father for allowing us to experience these little jewels.

Just after leaving the flower patch, we began to head down the trail.  As we hiked along, we both stopped short at a rather loud rustling sound just to our right, and down the ravine.  “A bear, my son gasped!  Yikes, I thought, and tried to follow the dark form with my eyes.  It scrambled up the other side of the ravine, across from us.  I felt tense as it didn’t move away, and blended into the shadows.

I whispered a prayer that God would help this crazy mama and her boy, seeings that we were hiking all alone in the park, no cell service, and no one knowing where we were!  I wondered how far to the end of the trail (I knew it wasn’t a long trail, but long can be relative, depending on whether you are being chased by a bear or not)!

We couldn’t exactly see how big the bear was, which made me nervous.  I knew it didn’t look huge, but all the trees made it difficult to see if it was a cub or grown-up.  If it was a cub, I knew Mama Bear was somewhere, and I did not want to meet her!  The bear ended up moving along and away, and we decided that we would be wise to do the same!

Our day in the Wilds ended, we came home refreshed!  We stopped along the driveway to take a shot of the Pink Lady’s Slipper bud that we’ve been watching.  I am trying to be patient for the flower to open, but it is taking its own sweet time about it!  It will be worth the wait, I am sure!

Homebound

One sick boy and the Sabbath day.  That’s how it all started.  My boy was not sick enough to stay in bed all day, but not well enough to go mingle at church.  Although we hated to miss the fellowship of our church family, we decided to take the day at home, and a beautiful day it proved to be!

Sunshine and invigorating breezes beckoned to us, and we followed!  I think that the out of doors is a balm for our tired bodies and minds, and we need to slow down more often in order to stay really fit.  We buzz around day to day like busy bees, yet what we really need is to take a rest so that we can appreciate the wonderful things that God has blessed us with!  If all we do is buzz by, then we miss so much!  Today, we slowed down, we tromped through the woods, and we looked.  Deliberately looked.  We suspected that God had placed hidden treasures for us out there, but we would not see them unless we searched.  So, I handed my son a camera, picked up my own, and we plunged into the woods.

The photo gallery is a sample of some of the hidden treasures we found, mostly captured at the hand of an eleven year-old little chap.  Each little flower raises its head to the Maker whether any human eye ever walks by and stops to enjoy its beauty or not.  Isn’t that how we should be too?  Just blooming cheerily wherever we find ourselves, not worrying whether anyone is watching our work or not; just doing our best for the Master?

So…some day soon, I recommend that you do as we did today.  Slow down.  Look around.  Push back the branches and step off the trail.  So much awaits you!  What you will see, feel, hear, smell, and even taste, if you’re brave enough, will delight you in a way that our Creator planned.  You will not regret such “wasted” time, for every part of your body and mind will swell in thankfulness and awe at the hidden gems scattered about amongst dry leaves and broken sticks.

Aren’t God’s ways amazing?

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Young Dogwood

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Squirmy tadpoles

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Capturing the treasures

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Just us!

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Carpenter bees and Blueberry blossoms

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Cherry blossoms

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Ground Ivy

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Apple blossoms

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Pink Spring Beauty

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Blueberry blossoms in abundance!

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White version of Spring Beauty

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Praying Mantis egg case

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We hope it’s a Pink Lady’s Slipper shoot

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Dogwood

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Fiddleheads of ferns

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Big dandelion

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Spotted Wintergreen

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Little dandelion

 

Little Print Shop

http://www.sdahomeschools.org/little-print-shop/

I let go today.

It’s a good thing! I needed to trust my boys and see what they could do! I needed to, but always before I had assumed only was careful enough, so I took on tasks that required precision, and did it all myself, while they looked on, wishing they could help.

But, a little voice (you know the One) whispered that I would run myself ragged trying to do it alone, between school subjects. Many hands make light work!

It took me time, but I did listen. Here’s what we’re up to!

Our Sabbath School chose a noble project this year of trying to raise enough money to rescue a girl from trafficking in India. We were told this would cost somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000! We have 12 kids. How could we accomplish this great task? Of course we began to brainstorm about a project.

Among the ideas, one that somehow popped into my brain was the idea to print and sell the prayer cards that I had just made for myself, after listening to a neat talk on 3ABN. Here’s the talk. I had no idea if anyone would want them, but since I was excited about my own cards, I thought that maybe someone else would like them too!

After contacting the speaker and getting permission to print and sell her cards for our mission project, we kind of waited to see if anyone would want them. Well, we didn’t wait too long before we received a couple of requests. Then a couple more. When one lady ordered seven sets, though, and then several more requests came in, we knew we had more than something we could squeeze in the cracks of time between math and science. We suddenly had our own little ministry!

It’s funny, because from time to time, I have wished for something that we could do together, but could never really think of anything concrete. Now we can all be a part of the team; indeed, we all need to do our part, to make the thing work! Before we really knew what happened, we had requests for 20 sets of cards, plus what we needed to make for the Juniors to show people. So, 20 sets times 100 cards equals 2,000 cards, and that’s just the orders so far! It gets a little overwhelming thinking about that!

After thinking about it some, I realized that this would be a very good learning experience. We made a little assembly process, and each boy had a part to learn. At the beginning of the chain, my 11-year-old helped feed the colored paper into the printer to print the sheets out. Before long he was printing front and back sheets independently, and he loved his role! We had to choose 10 different colors of paper for the 10 different topics, which was easy enough; then a lady wanted pastels. We decided we would offer two options —brights or pastels — and soon noticed that the demand was about equal for both kinds.

Next came the laminating process, which my 14-year-old oversaw. He kept the sheets running through as fast as he could, which wasn’t exactly quick, just because our little laminator is rather pokey. Once laminated, the sheets had to be cut! My 12-year-old took this job over from me. This was a difficult thing for me to hand over, but he soon proved that he was competent and careful. Once the sets were bundled up into groups, my 11-year-old and 14-yr-old took turns punching holes, and then we put them onto rings.

This whole process sounds like it happens quickly, but, for us anyway, it takes quite a bit of time! Even with us working diligently, the enormity of the task just required a heavy time commitment.

But, I have learned a few things along the way, which is the whole point of our little business endeavor. One thing is that many hands on the job is a good thing. It was not difficult to interest my boys in the work, because it was hands-on, and they were an integral part of it! Contrast this with regular school work. The usefulness of the task just made it more agreeable. We still have to do school work, but the skills just in this project are very important. Categorizing, printing, planning and coordinating colors, precision in several areas, and staying on task were some that I noticed. In fact, staying on task with this was the biggest surprise to me, because I have a certain young’un who really has a hard time with focusing. I looked on amazed as he turned out to be the most focused of all, and didn’t want to quit!

Just to be more “schoolish,” I assigned the boys to write up a paper describing the whole process of the card-printing job. Again, I looked on in surprise when the boys cranked out decently detailed papers on the subject, when just last week and the week before and so on, their writing assignments practically had to be dragged out of them! It’s another testimony to relate-able and practical. It’s much easier to write about something you are interested in and know something about, as opposed to the last paper we tried to write!

So, long story coming to an end, I found that, once again, if we have something interesting and that allows our boys to “do something,” we just learn so much better! Frankly, I wonder if the boys even knew they were learning anything. But, if they are going to run their own businesses some day, or function at a job under someone else, learning skills like this will be a real benefit to them. The fact that through our work we are tangibly making strides to rescue a child from trafficking  makes it all the more practical and important!

If we can do a little home ministry/business, so can you!

As an update: this project got rolling, and before long, the kids REALLY HAD raised enough money to rescue a child from trafficking! Now, 3 months later, they are well on their way to a second rescue! What a victory for persevering!

Memorize More Scripture!

Here is one of my favorite posts that I did a couple months ago on my homeschool blog site. We have listened to so many true stories of missionaries and ordinary people who have been thrust into almost impossible situations, and their ONLY HOPE and stay was the Bible verses that they memorized.  See my post Find Me a Good Book for many of these remarkable stories!

We are living in such confusing times! On one hand it’s parties and plenty; on the other hand we know that the sands in the hour glass are almost all spent. We don’t have years to prepare our hearts, and we don’t know how much time our children have either–with us or on their own. My prayer is that we can separate our minds from the rush of this life enough to put in the deposits that will last a lifetime, an eternity!

http://www.sdahomeschools.org/memorize-more-scripture/

 

In our home we are resurrecting our memorizing muscles! They have atrophied with disuse lately, I am ashamed to say. Life goes that way. Important things get squeezed into the background by other duties that scream louder for our attention.

But, quietly, the Holy Spirit keeps whispering, “You need to hide God’s word in your heart. You need to teach your children to do this too.” And, I am determined to listen and work little by little on fortifying the fortresses of our minds with Bible verses.

Why bother, in this age of instant apps, smartphones that hold the entire Bible in our pockets, and every imaginable tool to study the Bible? The only answer is BY FAITH. We are so lazy. We would rather click our phones than unzip our Bible cover and find a page. We’d rather search any app than search for a topic in the Word. And, our minds are shrinking with all this instant access to everything. I think that it makes us lazy spiritually. We just shrink from any hard work. But, by faith we have to override all of this ease, and remember that one day we are quite likely to have our Bibles taken away from us. What about when we lose power permanently for standing strong for God’s law? If we have only made the habit of clicking on the EGW app or the Bible app and not downloaded them into our permanent memory banks, we will be empty in many ways. We need the Bible to help us fight against temptation, so that we can meet Satan with “It is written,” and not just our own strength.

So, we must make the habit of memorizing the Bible. One verse at a time. We are told that our minds will strengthen as we put forth our efforts.

In light of all of this, I thought I would share a few resources that have been helpful to our family as we have worked on Scripture memorization. Currently, we are working together on Matthew 4:1-11, or how Jesus met temptation. I chose this one because we want to know how we can follow His example and succeed in our areas of weakness.

Listen to this talk first! 

The talk above is by Chad Kruezer, and it has been a real inspiration to me. I’d also recommend reading the chapter in Great Controversy about the Waldenses if you want to get inspired. Check out how many chapters Fanny Crosby had memorized — five chapters per WEEK!! She could recite the entire Pentateuch, all four Gospels, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and many Psalms chapter and verse. All this being blind! Makes me wonder what’s wrong with my memory! Disuse is the only excuse.

Another resource we have found inspiring is the book, Ten Peas in a Pod, by Arnold Pent. It tells the amazing story of a family who homeschooled before it was called that, and who made Bible reading and memorization such a part of their everyday life that several of the children memorized many whole chapters and books of the Bible. It is a great read-aloud for your family and it will entertain as well as inspire!

If you need another inspiring account of a family who got their children into memorizing, here is one. The author/mom shows how she helped her children to successfully memorize the book of James.

This is a good book about scripture memorization that will give you tips, reasons, and stories to inspire you. The book is on sale for only $3. I paid more several years ago, but I think they just want to get them out to people!

If you have a Kindle, or any device where you can install the Kindle app, then there is a book that we have found to be quite helpful. You can find it in the Kindle Store. The reason this particular book is helpful is because it contains the entire Bible, divided by book, which is not so rare; many online Bibles offer this, I know. But, this book has the advantage for memorizes of offering an option where, once you have your verses on the screen, you can may either read the typed out verses, or click on the number of the verse to change the text into first letter only (see the photo below). This way you can jog your memory of the verse or passage without seeing the whole words, which gives your mind a chance to remember what’s coming next.

Here is the option of first letter only verses.

It works similarly to the way I memorize without the book. I write my verses on one side of an index card, and on the other side I just write the first letters. Then when I review them, I have cues, but not answers.

Scripturetyper.com This app is such a wonderful resource!  You can use the website online or download the app. You can add verses/chapters and join groups if you want. It saves your verses and gives you a reminder to review them at intervals. This is good for everyone! Our boys like to practice their verses often when we get into memorizing! You have several options for how to memorize and review your verses. You can just type the whole verse out, you can type using just the first letters, or you can have certain words blanked out on your screen so that you have to remember those words, while the words typed in will help you as you go along. It remembers your speed, and you can challenge yourself to keep improving your speed and accuracy. PSST…don’t tell your kids, but this also sneaks in a little typing along with the Bible memorization! We have the Scripture Typer Pro, which allows us to install it on five devices, so we can all be using it at the same time, wherever we are! It is well worth the price.

Thy Word Creations produces nice books that help you to memorize whole portions of scripture or whole chapters. They have well-known chapters set to music with a CD. These have been invaluable in our home. Every song that we have learned in this way we still have memorized years later! I am including the product webpage, and an amazon.com link, since it looks like many are not in stock on the webpage.

Thy Word Creations website—children’s projects

Teen and adult products

Amazon link

The following website offers a phone number to obtain Bible memory verse songs that go along with the My Bible First Kindergarten and Primary lessons.

My Bible First

This link is a resource for memorizing the entire chapter of Psalm 119. I do not have it yet, but have listened to the samples and they are very nice! This is my next project! Our son started memorizing Psalm 119 and almost had it down, with no ”help” like this CD, until he got sick. With a little brushing up, I know he will have it mastered. You can download the album or purchase the audio CD. I am always amazed at the talent that some people have to be able to set these passages to nice music.

There is an app that last I knew was free, and used to be available for both iOS and Android. Now I am not seeing it updated on the App Store, which makes me sad. I am including it here, on the chance that they will decide to update it, since it is a wonderful app. This app is put out by Fountainview Academy, and has hundreds of songs from the KVJ Bible put to music. Lovely music. The app is Scripture Singer. I really enjoy it and still have it downloaded onto my old phone.

There are probably hundreds of resources and tips for memorizing the Bible. I have just listed ones we have used with success from time to time. One of the best ways to have success is to join with friends who also want to memorize, because then you have accountability. Our best times memorizing have been when we had a little group who met weekly and memorized together. So much easier than when you feel like no one will know whether you succeed or not!

Feel free to share any ideas you have as well, because we are all here to help each other!