One benefit of getting settled into life in Asia again has come through the re-establishment of some routine in our lives. It seemed like our time in the States was full of transitions and travel, and it was hard to get into a rhythm (other than the rhythm of constant change!). Knowing how much children enjoy routine, I have sketched out a little weekly schedule for our family, always subject to change, of course, but at least it is a start!
[Sidenote--subject to change, as in last Sunday afternoon when a group of friends arrived for a party. "Oh," I said, "I didn't know you were coming over!" "I'm sorry," said one of our friends, "I guess I told everyone except you that we were going to get together today at your house!" No matter--they all came in, I found some fresh fruit to slice and a few monster cookies in the freezer, and we had a great time together. They stayed 3.5 hours! Things like this seem to happen to me regularly!]
But I digress . . . now something built into our daily routine is a time of devotions after breakfast (with the girls still in their high chairs) where we read from one of our two new Bible storybooks. While in the States, we purchased two excellent ones: the Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Storybook Bible. After the reading and perhaps a few brief questions about the day's story, we then practice our current memory verse and have prayer together. It's true, Chloe is pretty oblivious to everything going on, but I have been very encouraged to see Clara Anne's response.
Earlier last week, we came to the stories about Jesus' death. As John was reading (he's the preferred reader since he's more dramatic and does exciting voices), Clara Anne was literally on the edge of her seat, with a horrified look on her face. She seemed to comprehend what was happening to Jesus and was truly distressed. When we asked her a few questions, she gave evidence of being especially touched by the fact that the soldiers hit and hurt Jesus. Of course, we couldn't stop there and had to read the next chapter where Jesus rises from the dead. It was amazing to see the relief settle over her face when she realized that Jesus was alive again.
I really knew that the stories were making an impact when later that morning, Clara Anne was playing with Play-Doh at the kitchen table. I was working nearby, and overheard her telling the story again to herself, complete with a big lump of play-doh which was the tomb, and a smaller bit in her hand which was Jesus, she was putting him in the tomb and then taking him out again. The soldiers' awful deeds seemed to be foremost in her mind--as she played and talked to herself I kept hearing "soldiers hurt him" and things like that. As far as she was concerned, they got the full blame!
More than just that day, it has been encouraging to see how Clara Anne now asks to read the Bible numerous times a day. Many times during breakfast she will say, "Mommy, we forgot to read my Bible!" I then remind her that we always do it after breakfast and that she just needs to wait a moment. Both of the books I mentioned above do a very good job of telling the BIG story of the Bible--tracing themes from beginning to end. I truly think that she has been captivated by the story, the greatest story ever. I myself have been moved, sometimes to tears, as I have read through these books with her. The best part is, these stories are all true! They're not just nice-sounding, happy feeling, made up stories! Amazing! What a great God we serve!
Now if only Clara Anne's love for reading her Bible would have some practical application--you know, more obedience, less whining, a more joyful spirit--but then again, maybe the Lord thinks that about me sometimes too! Thankfully He is patient with me, a redeemed child, so I need to be patient with my as-yet-unregenerate 2.5 year old. For now, Clara Anne, we'll just keep on reading!