Oct 1, 2014

Teaching the Bible to Children at Home

Realizing that God gave me the responsibility to be the first person to reflect who He is to my children is a bit terrifying.  I'm fairly certain they'll regale their future spouse, or even counselor, with words like,
"A howler monkey has nothing on my mom when she gets going"
"My mom knew the Little Ceasar's Pizza guy's practical whole life story we went there so much"
"My mom (unknowingly OF course) once set me in time out at the park in a pack of fire ants" Whoops.

I mean, I make mistakes.  Sometimes big ones.  But hey, here I am entrusted by God with this responsibility of teaching my children who He is.  Sometimes by example, sometimes by admitting to them that I am not the finest specimen of humankind.  Ouch.  I've been thinking about how exactly to teach my children about who He is at their current stage, and how that actually looks for this family and the way we do life.
In all honesty, we are not the scheduled family.  We don't really take regular times for anything.  A scheduled family devotion where we all sit down together?  Bwahahaha! We have what I like to call "open ended routines".  Sure, we eat dinner together, but at different times every night, and sometimes it's more like a lunch together.  School is done a little bit different every day to work around other weekly obligations. But a few things have "stuck".  We do "tuck-ins" every night and we at some point eat a meal together each day.  I can work with that.

In thinking through what it is that seems to be important, one was knowing God's Word, the other was praying to Him.  It also seemed that knowing God's Word came through two ways:  Meditation on small chunks and knowing the over arching story.  So we are biting off chunks by memorizing verses in our "sit down" time at the table.  I combed the intrawebs  for verse cards.  Surely, I didn't have to recreate them did I? I was about to bite the bullet and admit that the intrawebs of information had actually failed me, Then I hit upon this little gem that seemed to be made just for me: little verse cards and with lovely vintage graphics.  They had "Jenny Plumb" written ALL over them, and I made them mine. Out came the laminator and I spent an evening printing, laminating, can cutting these puppies and stuffing this old truck with them.  300 verses later, we're in business and they're sitting smack dab in the middle of my table.  Some of the verses were truncated so before I laminated, I wrote the full verse on the back for the older two to learn.  The simple version is perfect for Tessa.

One other thought.  The Word of God is beautiful.  For me, boring plain verse cards just didn't invite an excitement to memorize.  But these made pulling out a new card feel like a new, tangible treasure.  The certainly invite my kids into memorization more than a plain white card would.  Ainsley has painfully read each one.  Her reading isn't quite up to par yet for some verses, but because they were child sized and beautifully pictured, it fascinated her.  Some might argue that the Word of God is beautiful in and of itself, and I do agree.  But still, something about turning the Word into something aesthetically pleasing also appealed to me.  I think the monks who painstakingly copied the first few versions of the Bible in the dark ages into gorgeous works of art would agree with me.
The other routine in the day that the kids just won't let me forget is their "tuck-ins" at night.  So this is when we fit in our Bible stories so that they learn the over arching story of the Bible.  We snuggle up on the bed together and read the next story.  For the girls, we are reading, "The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes" by  Kenneth N. Taylor.  The book pictured above is the version I had when I was little.  I think I picked it up at a yard sale.  It has since been redone into updated pictures but I still like this old version for sentimental reasons.  For Ainsley, I add in details that might not be in the simplified story.  The stories are short, in easy language, and has three follow-up questions that invite some discussion.
For Hunter, we are reading the Action Bible.  I know, every Christian parent on the face of creation seems to have this Bible and I'm not sharing something new.  Here is what I have noticed about the Action Bible as much as I love it: while it shares the story in a fascinating way to draw kids in, it does not necessarily share the purpose for the story.  For example, when we read about Jonah, we talked together about Jonah's love for a plant more than a love for the city of Ninevah who were his enemies.  When we read about Ezekiel and the dead bones (clearly appealing to my nine year old boy), we talked about how God was showing Ezekial that without God's spirit in our lives, everything we do is like dead bones - pointless and not life-giving.  When we read about Samson, Gideon, Ehud, and Deborah, we talked about how God used people who were arrogant, fearful, humble, outcasts and ordinary women to accomplish His purposes.  He doesn't pick favorites, or rather His favorite people don't even hit on the radar of earthly recognition.  It has been a fascinating read as this Comic Style Bible brings alive the fabulous and exciting stories of the Bible.  The Bible is not full of boring stories that's for sure.  God brings ultimate adventure to life.

So that is what is working for us this go round.  Next year, we may switch it up - we usually do, but this feels fresh and real and workable for our current way of living.  Teaching our children is purposeful and takes thought, but I think it has to be workable in your daily rhythm or you just have good intentions but it falls off when you get into your normal routine.  I have done this so many times.  I get excited about this great new idea that we are going to halt everything to try, and after reality sets in in about, oh two days tops, that great idea falls out of fashion.  Have you looked at your routine and figured out what is workable to teach your children within it, or do you think that you need to create something new?   Hey, it doesn't have to be new or amazing.  Just figure out something creatively that you are already doing and work it in.
So are you?  Don't be afraid to "fail".  There is no fail.  Just work at it until something clicks.


  1. The cards are really beautiful! Your post about how to teach your kids about God was very insightful and inspiring, thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas!

  2. I actually hadn't heard of the Action Bible before. I'll have to check it out. :)