Sunday, April 3, 2016

Singing Our Praises for His Word

Some gifts are worth waiting for!

Or so that has been the case with Nina and her Bible from Daddy. 
A Long-Awaited Bible

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Last spring, Daddy gifted Nina a certificate that she could use to pick out her very own Bible after she received her First Holy Communion.  Nina was delighted with this gift and could not wait to get her Bible.  However, when she went to some small shops in our area, she just did not see a Bible that she loved.

Daddy and I then offered to buy Nina a Bible online, but she said she would prefer to wait until she was able to go to other fairly local stores with Daddy.  So, she waited... and waited... and waited... until Daddy was finally able to take her to a shop almost a year after she had received her certificate

The wait was worth it.  Nina so enjoyed her date with Daddy, and as soon as she spied a copy of the New Saint Joseph, Family Edition of the Holy Bible she fell in love with it
It met all her "dream Bible" criteria: Catholic, real (not a children's Bible), big, with full-color illustrations and pages that are not too thin...  Plus it has gold lettering and a red cross on its antique white,  padded, faux leather cover, is trimmed with gold on the edges of pages, has a connected red ribbon bookmark, and even comes in its own special gold-colored storage box.  Indeed, Nina had found just the Bible she had been waiting for!
His Word Brings "A Miracle" - A Long-Awaited Reading Break-Through


When Nina came home from her date with Daddy, new Bible in hand, she was beaming and asked when we could begin to read it.  What happened next blew me away!

Nina has been struggling with reading for years, and although we have had pockets of decoding success using a variety of resources to include the
Logic of English ones that we have recently discovered and come to love, reading actual books has often proved more painful with Nina than it is delightful.  So often, she wants to read "real books", but, then, decoding comes so hard for her that she gets frustrated and ends up crying, giving up, or, worse, tantruming before she is able to make it very far with independent or "buddy reading".

When Nina "fails" like this, I simply back away from books for a while, and, then, reintroduce them after she calms.  Using this strategy, we have read some Bob Books, Little Stories for Little Folks, Now I'm Reading books, Progressive Phonics readers, and similar phonics-based early readers with some success.  However, anything with many sight words or multi-syllable words, has never brought success.  Thus, I was admittedly not to keen on trying to help Nina read the Bible. I feared that her attempts to decode the words in it would sour the joy she felt just holding it in her hands. 

However, Nina's enthusiasm was not to be dampened, and I trusted our Lord would grace us. 
So, with a "Lord-you've-got-this, right?" smile, I took a deep breath, snuggled down with Nina on our couch, and suggested to her that, before beginning to read her Bible, we pause and pray, asking God to grace us both with a positive experience complete with patience and persistence for her if she struggled with a word (and the same for me, too!) 

Nina readily prayed with me and then asked if we could begin at the beginning of her Bible: its front end pages.  So it was that Nina began sounding out the words of the Ten Commandments as best as she could.  When she came to ones she could not decode without help, I wrote them in a notebook, broken into syllables, and she tried them that way.  If she still could not read them, she asked me to read them for her and, then, we went back to the text on the front end pages and read the word in context there. 

We carried on in this way, continuing to read each commandment as written on the end-pages, and, then, when reading Third Commandment, Nina looked at the word "Sabbath", paused, almost asked me to split it into syllables for her in a notebook, but then sounded out "sa-bb-ath, Sabbath".  I smiled and said, "Yes, Sabbath," and Nina screamed, "SABBATH!  I just read Sabbath all on my own!" 

Nina reading "Sabbath" was such a moment of victory that as I recall it now, tears brim in my eyes.  Our Lord is so good!  Truly, "Sabbath" may not seem like a difficult word to read, but, for a girl who struggles to decode words beyond three or four letters and who constantly confuses b's, d's, ps and q's, reading the word "Sabbath" is an extraordinary feat!

Now, granted, Nina is already familiar with the Ten Commandments, but her level of concentration on each letter she was decoding was so great I truly think she was, indeed, reading the word "Sabbath" and not just speaking it from context and memory.  What a success that was!. It gave Nina the confidence to tackle words like "adultery" "covet", and "belongs", allowing her to read through all Ten Commandments in one sitting with just a bit of help from me.

Moreover, since Nina and I first sat down with her Bible, she has proudly read the Ten Commandments silently to herself, sang them out in our kitchen, and read them aloud to her Daddy, brothers, and me.  Sometimes, when doing so, she consults the list we made for her of "challenge words" divided into syllables in a notebook.  Sometimes, though, she reads without it.  All the time, she beams and, as she does, I offer prayers of thanksgiving.

Nina is now moving onto reading a Psalm with me.  I could not be happier.

Singing His Word

Or maybe I could be happier.  For, even more delightful than when Nina reads Bible passages that she is mastering is when she sings them out to all who will listen! 

Nina has long played "cantor", using saint books, Bibles, picture books, and more as "hymnals" that she pretends to read as she sings.  This past week though, she did not need to pretend to read.  She actually read! 

One sunny day, she brought her Bible to the front stoop and began to sing out the Ten Commandments with pure joy!  She even recruited Daddy to accompany her on his guitar.

Beautiful.  Truly beautiful.  This step in Nina's reading success has been so long waited for and is so welcome.  I pray that our Lord continues to grace my girl and me with patience and persistence as she reads and sings His Word!

Who knew the gift of a Bible bought nearly a year "late" would bring another step in the gift of reading for my daughter? 

Thank you, dear Lord, for this success for Nina.  May her skills continue to grow as she commits Your Word to her heart through reading and singing it. 


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