If you have daughters and would like to significantly impact their lives, I highly recommend this inexpensive study to do together with them.
In the evenings, my husband, Elmer, is in charge of our family Bible times together.
In the mornings, after Elmer leaves for work and the girls and I have completed our morning chores and are ready for our school day to begin, we spend time together most mornings doing some kind of Bible training and lessons, often focusing on godly girlhood and womanhood.
We've gone through a lot of Bible reading and biblical devotional books together, over the years. Some have been wonderful! Some have not been so wonderful and were finished reluctantly, or abandoned.
I think my most favorite study I've ever done with the girls, which we are working through right now, is based on the book written by Elizabeth Prentiss: Stepping Heavenward.
Yes, my girls are definitely old enough to work through this Bible study on their own. But the benefits of the three of us reading Stepping Heavenward together and answering questions together in the study guide has been invaluable!
- Stepping Heavenward was written in 1869.
- This author also wrote the well-known hymn, "More Love to Thee, O Christ" after the near-death illness of one of her daughters.
- Her goal and purpose for writing: "Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price, and I wish to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls."
Why is Stepping Heavenward one of the BEST Bible studies
I've ever used for older girls and women?
Stepping Heavenward is very convicting, but not in a bossy, finger-wagging way. The girls and I will read portions of the diary entries, and my heart is convicted of many things that we all tend to do and excuse our behavior afterward. I know the girls are thinking hard, and the Holy Spirit is ministering to their hearts, as well.
We're using the accompanying study guide by Carson Kistner (see the photo on the right, above). Some mornings, we read selections of the fiction work, and other mornings we read diary selections and also answer questions from the study guide.
I was SO excited to begin this study that I purchased three copies of the study guide! Normally, we'd just verbally work through one copy and not write answers in it, but I felt like this was important enough for each of us to have our own copy.
If you choose to use Stepping Heavenward for yourself or with your daughters, here's what you should know:
1. Because this text was written over 140 years ago, the language style is slightly more formal than in modern-day texts. However, it isn't overly antiquated. If your daughters aren't used to reading anything but the most modern of books, or the most popular styles of books, you will probably want to read this along with them, orally. If they are used to hearing a variety of styles of the English language, older and newer, you may still want to read it alongside them, or to them, or this book may be worked through independently.
2. Stepping Heavenward is available for the Kindle. I chose to purchase this version, here, for $1.00. You may also purchase a paperback version on ChristianBook.com or Amazon.com, or a hardback copy that corresponds page by page with the study guide here, at Solid Ground Christian Books.
(I am not an affiliate for these links, nor was I asked to write this review. I'm just excited to share this Bible study with you! For those of you who are reading this through an email subscription, you'll probably want to click on the title of this post and view the website version which will contain all of the links, graphics, and free printable pages.)
3. The Kindle version of this book has no page numbers (depending on your version of Kindle) or it has page numbers that don't correspond to the page numbers in the Study Guide. To assist you in following along with the study guide as you read the Kindle version (or other paperback version), I've developed this free printable for you. It will help you keep track of the diary entries and know which sections to read for various portions of the Study Guide. See below:
A sample of Stepping Heavenward:
"How dreadfully old I am getting! Sixteen! Well, I don't see as I can help it. There it is in the big Bible in father's own hand: "Katherine, born Jan. 15, 1815."
I meant to get up early this morning, but it looked dismally cold out of doors, and felt delightfully warm in bed. So I covered myself up, and made ever so many good resolutions.
I determined, in the first place, to begin this Journal. To be sure, I have begun half a dozen, and got tired of them after a while. Not tired of writing them, but disgusted with what I had to say of myself. But this time I mean to go on, in spite of everything. It will do me good to read it over, and see what a creature I am.
Then I resolved to do more to please mother than I have done.
And I determined to make one more effort to conquer my hasty temper. I thought, too, I would be self-denying this winter, like the people one reads about in books. I fancied how surprised and pleased everybody would be to see me so much improved!
Time passed quickly amid these agreeable thoughts, and I was quite startled to hear the bell ring for prayers. I jumped up in a great flurry and dressed as quickly as I could. Everything conspired together to plague me. I could not find a clean collar, or a handkerchief. It is always just so. Susan is forever poking my things into out-of-the-way places! When at last I went down, they were all at breakfast.
"I hoped you would celebrate your birthday, dear, by coming down in good season," said mother.
I do hate to be found fault with, so I fired up in an instant.
"If people hide my things so that I can't find them, of course I have to be late," I said. And I rather think I said it in a very cross way, for mother sighed a little. I wish mother wouldn't sigh. I would rather be called names out and out.
The moment breakfast was over I had to hurry off to school. Just as I was going out mother said, "Have you your overshoes, dear?"
"Oh, mother, don't hinder me! I shall be late," I said. "I don't need overshoes."
"It snowed all night, and I think you do need them," mother said.
"I don't know where they are. I hate overshoes. Do let me go, mother," I cried. "I do wish I could ever have my own way."
"You shall have it now, my child," mother said, and went away.
Now what was the use of her calling me "my child" in such a tone, I should like to know.
I hurried off, and just as I got to the door of the schoolroom it flashed into my mind that I had not said my prayers! A nice way to begin on one's birthday, to be sure! Well, I had not time. And perhaps my good resolutions pleased God almost as much as one of my rambling stupid prayers could. For I must own I can't make good prayers. I can't think of anything to say. I often wonder what mother finds to say when she is shut up by the hour together.
Thus begins the lifelong diary of young Katherine as she pours out her hopes, dreams, and spiritual journey on the pages of her dear. old journal. Whimsical and charming Katherine is engagingly candid about her character flaws and her desire to know God.
As you listen to her share her heart through these journal entries, you will be amazed and delighted by the depth of her character and the womanly wisdom and godliness she develops over the years.
From the agonies of being a teenager to the delicate balancing act between being a wife/mother/daughter/neighbor, it is easy to relate to Katherine's triumphs and trials whether you are 16 or 60. Listen to her unforgettable story set in the early 1800's as you are encouraged to "step heavenward," and don't be surprised if you find yourself recommending it to all of your friends and family!
On Librivox, you may download an excellent rendition of Stepping Heavenward in audio format, read by a woman who has a solid and interesting reading voice.
Librivox.com also has links to the Gutenberg e-text, the M4B format available, and a zip file of the entire book.
Have you read through Stepping Heavenward yet? If so, how has it impacted your life and your thoughts?
Have there been other significant Bible studies you've worked through by yourself, with other groups of women, or with your daughters?