Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How We Start Our School Day with Devotions

     As many other homeschoolers do, we start our day with the salute to the flags (American and Texan) and then devotions. This has been the most fun to our day…spiritually rewarding, interesting and fun! We’ve been known to get so immersed in our Bible study, that we forget the time and realize we should be in the middle of math!

    When my children were toddlers, my son was very sick and we did not go to church anymore. I bought the Betty Lukens flannelgraph set and proceeded to use that to teach Bible stories to my children. I’d start with the first story of the Old Testament, gradually working our way through the Bible, trying to work in the Christmas and Easter story seasonally. Of course, Noah’s Ark was one of our first stories. While Noah and his family were rocking around with the animals on stormy seas, I spent time on that point. We talked about how we got scared during thunderstorms and tornado warnings (at the time we lived in the middle of tornado alley). We talked about how Noah and his family must have felt. We talked about how God had not abandoned them. God used that story, and a small German print of an angel helping 2 children safely cross a bridge during a storm, to teach my 3yod to trust God during a storm. Our nighttime wakings to calm our children during storms had ended.

     In the last couple of years, I put away the flannelgraph, since I felt my children were ready for more meat. They get excellent Bible teaching at our church, and they were ready for this next step. About that time, we began a classical study of Ancient History which included reading nearly the entire Bible. I let my 10yo son and 12 yo daughter listen to an audio Bible as they read along. As we read about the different ancient cultures in the Bible, along with God's truths, we studied more deeply about each of those cultures, while also reading literature, art projects, map work and science projects about those same cultures. We also watched Ray Vander Laan videos about the Bible. Learning everything in context allowed our understanding of the Bible to exploded.
As we progress through history from the Middle Ages to the present, I plan to pick one of Paul’s letters in the apparent order that he wrote them to the various churches. So far we have studied Galatians, I and II Thessalonians, James and I Corinthians. Sometimes we spend time on one verse and other times we take a quick survey through a chapter, depending on how the Spirit leads us. 14yod had just completed James in her Sunday School class when we started James, but to her surprise, there were some new points that I had been taught over the years that were new to her. In turn, she shared some of her excellent notes on what she had been taught in class. She asked if she could write notes on the white board to share some of what Mr. K had taught in James. That was a thrill to have dd teach/share during our devotions.

     When newletters from various missionaries come through the e-mail, I save them for our devotions. Yesterday morning we got a tour through Thessalonika from a missionary couple, whom my children got to meet a year ago. The missionary influence is huge in our church, so my children are used to that. But to have been invited to share a dinner as this missionary couple were passing through our town last year, was novel to our children.

     We always end with a hymn. Last year when we did the Ancients, I pulled Scripture and a weekly hymn that would point us to what God had to say in view of the week’s study of the culture. For example, when learning about the blood-letting Mayans, we studied verses about the necessity of the blood of Christ to save us from our sins. That was followed by a hymn, such as "Are You Washed in the Blood?" I had always taken verses and hymns on Christ shedding His blood for granted. Juxtaposing Christ’s work with the Mayans’ pointless blood-letting, allowed me to see Christ’s effective work for me in a more meaningful way.

     This year, since we have been studying Church history, we have been pulling out hymns from the Middle Ages to learn. Some we already knew, we just didn’t realize the origins! We are using Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan. In glancing ahead, I have seen that it doesn’t tell the entire story of the poignant hymn, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Nevertheless, this book lists the hymns sequentially so that is a good starting off point, which can lead to further research.

     Now that Christmas is nearing, we are using a book I purchased a couple of years ago, Come Let Us Adore Him: Stories Behind the Most Cherished Christmas Hymns by Robert J. Morgan…These are also listed sequentially. We started yesterday and I am turning it into a guessing game. If the song is known, I think I’ll read the story behind it and then play the notes and have them name that tune! Today’s tune was unknown, but I knew they could figure out the composer. I gave the year and then played the tune. We talked about how it’s not a familiar tune. Nevertheless ds noted there were elements to the tune that reminded him of "A Mighty Fortress is our God" and guessed Martin Luther! Correct!
Later note: In 2009 while studying the 20th century, we watched Chariots of Fire, about Eric Liddell to refused to run in the 1924 Paris Olympics on a Sunday.  He later became a missionary to China, during which time the Japanese invaded and he became imprisoned. Liddell died shortly before liberation. While in China, he wrote a devotional which was first published about the time of the release of Chariots of Fire. I found that book and we used it as a devotional for the rest of the year.


  1. Wow! I am going to have to read this entry more carefully later. I just passed on an award to you.

    If it is not the first entry on my blog it is the second.



  2. We love to do devotionals in the mornings, too. My six year old gets really involved and asks many questions. It's great!

    I have viewed a friend's TOG binder and was impressed. I think that we will go with that curriculum when my son is a few years older.

    Thanks for posting those photos. They are nice! I showed them to my oldest. His reaction was, "Cool! Have we ever been there? That's really far away, isn't it? Can we go there?", ad infinitum. (lol)

  3. How wonderful that your dc are making so many connections between history and the Bible!! You are so good at tying in your biblical studies to whatever you are studying in history (and I know that TOG year 1 does a good job of that too). Loved this post!



  4. I think the idea for the hymns to tie in with what we're learning is just beautiful! I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for this. Thanks so much for sharing.