Tonight one of my boys burst into tears just as I grabbed the bible to start our reading of Romans. He had just remembered that he lost his homework that is due tomorrow and half-way finished.* I took a deep breath. “We’ll find it buddy, it is time to read Romans now.”
Silently I thought please be able to put this aside, all six of us are around the table; it is getting late and now is our chance.
His sobs slowed and stopped. I took another deep breath and opened the bible to Romans. Mr. 9 and Mr. 7 slipped away from the table and to beanbags on the floor in that five seconds. I called them back and asked for their attention. They complied, albeit a bit sulkily. Mr. 4 slid off his chair onto the floor. The 12-year-old groaned. I almost laughed and thought It’s a good thing I spent part of my afternoon reading a book on virtue and habits in parenting. Patience.
Everyone was finally in their chairs. “Okay” I said as cheerily as I could manage and jumped right into the eighteenth verse of Romans. Daddy reminded Mr. 4 to be in his chair again and then, remarkably, we all listened to fourteen verses of Romans together, stopping along the way to define new words, to talk about idols and to ask incredulously “Did it really just say those evil people disobeyed their parents, or did you just put that in?”
Our children are used to long Read Aloud sessions and hearing short bible passages, but all six of us have never read all the way through a book of the bible together. It is going just about how I thought it would. It certainly isn’t simple, but it has been good. These boys are ready to dive deeper into God’s word and it is a privilege to be reading together. Starting with a narrative book of the bible might have seemed simpler, but so far, they are following and we are all learning something.
I’ve been really grateful for a few resources we used to help us get ready to read Romans. We watched ‘What’s in the Bible: Letters from Paul’ over the weekend so that they would know the context, and we enjoyed Chris Raschka’s new book Paul Writes (a letter). I also printed out a copy of Valentin de Boulogne’s painting ‘Saint Paul Writing his Epistle’ for a picture study.
My four-year-old has asked to talk about the picture of Paul each night; he loves to study it and then answer questions about it to test his memory. The older boys really enjoyed studying the picture and talking about what reflects the time period of Paul (scroll) and what reflects the time period it was painted (books and playing cards). I have a few more resources in waiting for the coming weeks. It helps the younger boys so much to have visuals and things to do as they listen some nights. But, most nights we need to be able to pick up the bible and just read as homework, piano and bedtimes await us at the end of long days. Simplicity is the key and I have a feeling what I will learn most of all from this experience will be the virtue of patience.
* The missing homework that brought tears was in his homework folder… sigh.
Are you participating in the Good Book Club with your family this Epiphany? How is it going so far?