Why I Write in My Bible & Let My Kids Write in Theirs
Some of my fondest memories of my childhood were watching my mother taking notes in her Bible. She took notes of important facts that the Pastor mentioned during the sermon, dates of specific things that were mentioned, and other information like songs that spoke to her or acronyms to help her remember. My little country church did not have a Children’s Ministry. I sat with my cousin most Sundays until we got in trouble and were seated on each side of my mom. I would watch my mom marking in here Bible each time we attended church, which was usually multiple days each week.
I received my own Bible after I was baptized. My mom ensured I had the right pens and hi-lighters so I, too, could begin to take notes. My Dad, however, was the EXACT opposite. He isn’t a Christian but has attended church since he was a boy. He believes that marking in your Bible borders on breaking some unwritten commandment. He got so angry with me for marking my Bible, it hurt me deeply. Although my mom didn’t publicly contradict my dad, she quietly showed me that it was ok and that I needed to understand that my Dad just wasn’t saved. While Dad isn’t saved, he holds the Bible as a Holy Book—which it is— but doesn’t get the studying part of it.
On a bookshelf in my bedroom rests almost every Bible I have ever owned. In them you would find notes that go as far back as church camp. I have notes from special events, sermons throughout the years, and various other notes such as notes to my husband. It’s like a journal of my spiritual life.
When Clay and I first married, he was so much like my Dad in many ways, including taking notes in the Bible. He wasn’t raised in church. He felt his Bible was a HOLY book that was for reading and not for writing in. He considered it a blasphemy to the Word of God. His Bible was in pristine condition. He kept it in a cover to protect it, the pages looked like they had never been touched, no marks or papers shoved in it somewhere. Watching me in church drove him nuts. I would underline, hi light, circle words, write notes in the margin, shove papers and notes into my Bible. It made him crazy back in those days! I brushed it off as that was MY walk, not his. Over the years, Clay has become a note taker and Bible writer, too!
I have taught the boys to keep a prayer journal and Bible notebook. I have also allowed them to write in their Bible. My youngest is attached at my hip and occasionally we watch sermons online. This could be because there was a service in the big church I want my kids to hear, because Clay had to work and missed the service, because someone was sick, the weather, family emergency, etc. It is not often we miss church but it does happen. On days we miss fellowship, my youngest piles up into the chair with me and listens to the sermon. Apparently, he has also been given the gift of keen observation. He began underlining scriptures in his Bible over the past year. When my mom bought the boys study Bibles, he took that serious!
I can hear some parents cringing. I can hear others yelling, “YOU LET YOUR KIDS WRITE IN THE BIBLE?!”
The first thing we do when we receive a new Bible is to put a name on the cover or inside the cover. This makes that Bible OURS. We have claimed it! The next thing we do when we receive or gift a Bible is write the “To” and “From” names and the occasion for the gifting or receiving. This puts an identity and also the importance of giving or receiving the Bible during that particular time.
When I look back through the my Bibles, some I bought, some were gifted, and a few others were inherited from my grandmothers. There is history written in the pages of those Bibles. My Dad’s mom has notes about my Dad’s military service, favorite scriptures and other notes that are personal to our family. My Mom’s mom is much the same way. Notes shoved into the Bible, death notices and important scriptures.
The Bible is a tool used to teach, train, equip, educate and inspire each of us. However, a tool that is not marked up is an unused tool. A hammer without a mark on it is a tool never used. Why is it that we want our Bible to remain unmarked? A marked up, used Bible that is falling apart is often a sign of a person that is not. Are we not training those little people to be big people who use their Bible as a tool?
Part of my calling as a parent is to disciple my children and teach them the way they should go. My kids will not learn how to use their Bible as a tool if they are not taught. We are huge advocates for AWANA. This is a program that all of my kids have attended since each was 3 years old. We love this program because their key verse is 2 Timothy 2:15. Which says….. The AWANA program has helped my kids learn numerous scriptures. My oldest knows hundreds of scripture and his brothers are not far behind him. They have learned how the Bible is laid out and memorized the books of the Bible. They have also learned the importance of serving. AWANA teaches these things so that children can go into church and know how to find scripture, how to study the word of God, to know how to serve, and how to locate the books in the Bible.
It still doesn’t end there. When a child is in church they need practice! They need to be handed their own Bible and
allowed encouraged to follow along with the sermon. In my experience, your kids learn to follow along by following your example. You may not know it, but they see you turn the pages and take notes. They see you listening and paying attention. If you are a Bible marker like me, they closely monitor this. That is what happened with my boys. My youngest wants to study God’s Word like I do. He began by only underlining the same scripture references I did. He would watch what I underlined and do the exact same thing. As he continued throughout the past year, he now underlines his own references. He listens to important parts of the scripture and underlines those in his very own Bible!
As I listen to the sermon, I not only hear the verses, but also read the verses. As I underline the references, I am bringing another physical sense into the studying – touch. The more senses we bring into our studies with God’s Word, the more we will remember.
So why do I let my kids write in their Bible? The answer is simple. It is THEIR Bible. It is their identity. It is their timeline, their journal, their studies. It is THEIR time with God.
If I allow my chidden to write in their Bible, how do I keep them from writing in other books? Honestly, I wait to start them writing in their Bible until around kindergarden age. Prior to this age, I have trained my kids that we do not tear up books, we do not write in books, we do not color in books that are not coloring books and most importantly, we respect books! Around the age of five when I introduce notetaking in their own Bible, they seem to have the understanding that there is a difference in notetaking in study books or a Bible and just scribbling in a book to scribble. I have never had confusion or an issue on this in my home nor myself growing up. I keep in open dialogue with my kids when explaining the difference. It works for us. So yes, I let my kids write in their Bible and so do I. 🙂