August 24, 2012

Reading Your Bible Interview - with April Hromada

Hi! We're taking a rabbit trail today... 

I love spending time with my mom, April Hromada, and I'm going to share her with you.  We had tea together as she deftly stitched on another signature quilt. I've told you before my mom once said, "Once a mom, always a mom."  Well, as usual for my mom, she got involved with one of her kids' projects (that would be me)... this time for interviews with those who delight in God's Word. 

Below are excerpts from our chatty interview.  Grab your cup of ice tea, coffee, latte -  name your pleasure - and join in on our tea time....

k*:  Tell us about your family and your favorite activities.
April: I have four children:  Bill, Karen, Doug, and Collette.  I have eleven grandchildren – twelve, now that one is married.  Not chronologically:  Lynette who married Nate, Christie, Susan; Ryan, Steve, James, Justin – none of these boys are married yet, but there are nice girlfriends; Joshua, Jenna, Nick and Paul – all younger children between twelve and two years old.

k*:  What things do you enjoy?
Cross stitched table runner and favorite tea things
April:  Well, I’m sitting here hand-quilting right now, which I prefer; although, if machine quilting would be faster for a certain project, then I would do it. I love embroidery; it's like painting with yarn.  I like to read….

k*:  Favorite book?
April:  That's not a question I can answer! (laughs)  Other than the Bible…

k*: Favorite genre?
April:  Probably mysteries, but I've read most of the good mysteries, so those are going by the way side. I like essays - GK Chesterton is a very interesting person and poet as well. I also read one book per month for my book group since 1986 … a group of friends, at one book a month, and at 12 books a year, over 25+ years... that's more than 300 books!

k*:  Well, you've mentioned reading the Bible.  We would love to hear about your first encounter reading it.
April:  My first encounter was reading an old Douay-Rheims version sitting on my mother's coffee table. It’s similar to the King James.  I picked it up, started at Genesis, and got bogged down in Leviticus. That book had great pictures, but I just closed it up.  Then I did the same thing with a King James Bible that I bought for my own coffee table. 

Back in 1973 difficult times were going on in our country. I got very, very, very, very upset about the idea of abortion becoming the law of the land. I was flabbergasted and shocked beyond belief.  It was horrifying envisioning the future that my precious children would grow up in; and of course, most of it has come to pass.  I actually spent a lot of time crying over it, and I cried out to God.

But something happened at my church – at the time I was at St. Kieran’s Church.  A man there named Dr. Kelly was a physician at Cook County Hospital, where taxpayer money was to pay for abortions.   He couldn’t stomach that.  He was interviewed on television protesting loudly that he could not continue living in his country should this be allowed. The law passed, so he packed up his family – fourteen children, though some were already married – and moved to Ireland, where it is still illegal. I haven’t the faintest idea what became of him, but I was impressed by his stand.

The Kelly family had already left for Ireland, but their home hadn’t sold. The church women sold their household goods for them, and I brought home a little booklet called A Woman at Prayer and an easier Bible translation, Good News for Modern Man. Reading the booklet was a revelation to me.  It explained what it is to love God:  to prefer Him and His ways, much like you would prefer your husband above all others.  Ahhhh!  OK!

Then I read the Bible translation, Good News for Modern Man.  I had heard gospel stories read in church, but I never read from the epistles of John or Paul. Reading these explained my relationship to God. I thought a person had to be super good to be like saints and whatnot, but Paul proclaimed and explained how being justified by Christ is not of my own doing. 

I tried sharing it with my husband.  At that point he wasn't interested in anything like that.  So I kept it under my hat and prayed a lot. I really enjoyed going back to church, because I understood now what was going on. (chuckle)  I even got involved studying the Bible with a gal over there. Changes began in the Catholic church encouraging Bible reading. Taking the bull by the horns, she called up the senior pastor to ask him to have a Bible study. He was old and crabby and said, “No, but I don't care what you do.” (laughs)  So she took that as a yes. 

She already taught Bible studies in her husband's church - a Reformed church - and she just used their general materials called Coffee Break Bible Studies.  She put a notice in the bulletin, assuming not many would come, but there was a pretty good showing. I went and was really interested in it. She started with prayer, asking for God's protection, then just said we would open up the Scriptures together. Coffee Break materials simply pull out what the Scriptures mean.  The first one we did was 1 John because that was a short study. Everyone was very excited, including the younger pastor who decided to come. And we went on with more studies for about two years.

k*:  And as you’ve said, Dad wasn’t interested during this time.  Yet eventually, he came to know God - and so did his relatives.  How did you all start growing in the Word?
April: I have to back up a little bit. I really prayed a lot for Dad. At this same time, he was enticed with the idea of becoming a Mason, which I didn't know a lot about, but I knew that masons and the church in particular were no good together. That was a difficult point.  He showed me one masonic book's teaching - as everybody lifted themselves up, they would improve the whole world by the Masters lifting themselves up at one time. And it occurred to me that this was just opposite of what the Bible taught about Jesus lowering himself and emptying himself for us.

So I took a chance - I agreed to read his masonic book. Then afterwards I gave him the book of Romans in the Bible to read.  I mentioned it would be interesting to read two completely opposite philosophies, and then he could tell me what he thinks.

Well, he really got into it and spent about two weeks reading the whole Bible.  And then he wanted to share it with everybody else. So then, he just called up his sister and said let's do it!

k*: How did you go about reading the Bible?
April:  We just wanted to read the Bible.  That's all. And so we did. That went on for quite a while too, about a year and a half.

k*:  In Titus we read about older women teaching younger women. Hebrews writes that as we mature, we ought to become teachers.  I know you've taught many women in Bible Studies throughout the years.
April: Sometimes I think I've never really done anything much, but I guess I actually have. I did teach a couple of years in the Catholic church. When we left, we had our house church, which we lead for about a year and a half.  After that, we spent time in other places. At Village Free Church, I taught women's and children’s Bible studies, overlapping six years with each of them.

k*:  I've attended Bible Studies with women who have walked with the Lord for a long time, and with others who are newer, and with some who have never read the Bible but are curious.  What suggestions do you give to women who are new to reading the Bible to help them start knowing the Lord?
April: Most women want to learn more when they come to a women's Bible study. We pray when we get started, and then tell them it doesn't matter how long you've been a Christian in reading the Bible; God talks to you newly day by day. It's not a contest who knows how much. It's new - new every day.

k*: Where would you suggest they begin reading?
April: I would say just to start with the gospel of Luke.  You've got to really know about Jesus.  All the rest of the stuff can be theoretical - in a way - if you do an epistle first. I think you need to really see who Jesus is; that would be the most powerful thing.  The rest of the Bible is like a commentary on who Jesus is, what he did, and what he had to say - instead of the other way around.  After years and years of studying, I would say to start in Luke. I happen to like Luke! (laughs)

k*:  Would you suggest reading one chapter at a time?
April:  Most Bibles will divide the chapters up with headings - just use one a day.  I would do that rather than to read too much - think about it, pray about it.

k*: Can you tell us how you’ve seen people change when they come to God?
April: He makes all things new again. I really, really, believe that. I used to be a person up on the latest books, never really shocked by what I read – until maybe the middle 70’s. I got jaded about what was going on in the world. I have to say the one thing personally for me, and for my husband, too, is that your mind gets renewed. The old things go away. You get an innocence back again that you’ve allowed to be taken away from you. None of that has appeal anymore. You become new; new and fresh again.

k*: – When I talk with others, we discuss how life is so busy. There are schedules and demands. When you’re in school, you’re busy. If you’re a soccer mom, you’re busy. If you’re a young mom, little ones keep you up at night and before you can rest, the other children are awake. So how do you find that time to read the Bible? Men are driven to get to their jobs, support their kids' activities, then help with homework, and they have committee work – they’re busy! And then we find we’re dried up, or we just can’t find the time….
April: That happens at many different times in life.

k*: How does God get us through those dry times? What do you do?
April: You gotta keep on. You’ve got to keep on keeping on! That is one thing you learn along the way. Even if it doesn’t seem very interesting, at least still do a little reading every day because these are particular times God really works in your life. I think it helps to make a commitment that you will spend ten minutes a day in devotions – you can certainly do more than that – but let that be your minimum - and keep that commitment to yourself. No matter what, bad things happen in our lives. Even if you don’t feel like reading, keep that commitment. That is most important in dry times. Then suddenly you’re out of it again. 

k*: What are some of your favorite purchased Bible studies or authors?
April: I don’t know if they are the same now, but I really enjoy the ones put out by the people in Grand Rapids, the Coffee Break Studies. I’ve done many other booklet studies. I don’t like the ones whose authors do all the talking and then give a few Bible verses. I like the ones that have you draw out the meaning – make you dig into the Bible because that what makes it come alive to me.

k*: I prefer that because it teaches you to read on your own, to know how to dig in and ask questions of yourself as you read His Word. Just curious – where are you studying in the Bible right now? What’s God teaching you?
April: I have been going through a whole long course of Jesus’ life in the Bible. I just want to know him more clearly. The whole point is to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus. Once in a while when I feel a little farther from God, I want to be more like Jesus – more than picking out what type of a Christian I’m going to be, or someone I want to emulate. I want to emulate Jesus. Am I really willing to commit? Everyone wants to give their life to Jesus, but when it comes down to REALLY giving your all to Him, it’s not that easy.

k*: Any other encouragements for us?
April: If you want to have any contact with God, you need to be in the Word. It’s good to even pray with God’s Word. Years ago I can remember wanting to pray for our church that was going through a lot of problems. I got out a topical Bible and opened it to “church” and spent one hour every day for five days on my knees praying for our church by taking each scripture about the church and praying it back to God.

I’m now praying through the Psalms. When I was first a Christian they didn’t appeal to me – we sang them in church – but I wasn’t reading them. I got to the point in my life where I spent so much time praying just about problems that I said to myself one day… this is it. I’m just going to praise the Lord. (laughs) So, I got to reading the Psalms, and I think that it really changed my viewpoint ­­­of God. Psalms covers most everything. I never get tired of it.

k*: We appreciate all the time and advice you have passed on to us. Would you leave us with a few favorite passages about loving and studying God’s Word? We can look them up during the week and start digging into the Word.
April: Besides Luke, try Psalm 119. It’s all about loving His Word. Use one section at a time.

Thank you for spending some time with us!
I hope to add more interviews with others to encourage us to delight in God.
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Taste and see that the Lord is good!
~ from Psalm 34

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post - I really enjoyed reading this interview (had to find some kleenex, lol)!
    You've drawn out real treasure through Mom's story - encouragement in the Faith, in perseverance, and in the power of prayer...
    This was truly a blessing to me, today! Thanks for posting this. :)


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