Bible time: a doorway to discovery.

I’ve been reading a new Bible story book with my youngest child. It’s beautifully illustrated, peppered with questions to stimulate discussion and he’s really enjoying it. We’ve progressed through a variety of story Bibles over the past few years, some I love (like The Big Picture Story Bible) and some I don’t. But I’ve found that using a variety of Bible resources for children can act as a doorway to discovery for me and my child around issues of faith. 

You see, Bible time – although traditionally part of our family bed-time routine – doesn’t finish when the book is shut and the prayers are said.  It continues in various conversations at all times of the day, and using a variety of Bible story books highlight different aspects of God’s story, raising questions and opportunities for growth. Like, yesterday on the way to the dentist, my son piped up from the back of the car with questions about sin and God’s plan for Adam and Eve. These questions obviously arisen from his thoughts around the particular Bible book we are using at the moment.

I find it so easy for us as parents, grandparents or teachers to assume that, because we understand the full implications of a particular Bible story, the children we share it with will also. We forget that we’ve heard the same story over and over, many times. And had years to grapple with difficult concepts. Our children are sometimes only exposed to Biblical truth in the Bible story times we provide them with, and by using several different versions or presentations of the same story we can naturally increase opportunities for questioning, conversation and understanding.

But we must also be ready to respond to these questions, and always available for faith related conversation (1 Peter 3:15). These conversations and questions can reveal false beliefs, misconstrued understandings of things we may have previously attempted to explain, and show where our children are in their journey towards knowing God. It is crucial that our attitude to these questions and conversation times is one of enthusiasm. I always try to respond to a child’s questions about faith with an answer like, ‘That’s a really good question, shows you’ve been thinking about things.‘ It is important that children grow up not being ashamed of their lack of understanding, but looking forward to ‘working out’ what it means to be saved. Often a questioning, humble approach to learning about God can be even better than knowing all the ‘right answers’ – even for grown-ups.

Which Bible story books have you found helpful encouraging children to think and talk about faith? 

Penny

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Pillow Talk: Keeping Open Communication Lines

PillowTalk

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 NIV

It started quite innocently when they were toddlers and fast became our nightly ritual. We’d split up between our son and daughter, alternating every other night, with books and then a cuddle before the lights went out. Inevitably, our children’s bodies quieted, but their little minds raced with all the questions they’d stored up during their busy day. They’d ask questions like: Who made all the stars? Why can’t we see the wind? How do fireflies glow?

Oh, they had great questions that allowed for some important pillow talk conversations and teachable moments! And as they grew, the questions changed from discovery to disclosure: Why didn’t so and so invite me to his/her birthday party?  Why do some mom and dads live in different houses?

And then, there were those nights when things just weren’t right. You know, a bad attitude or a “silly fight” ensues between siblings that seems to be about something more but you can’t place your finger on it. It’s those nights when my husband and I asked the questions: How was your day at school? What was the best thing that happened today? What was the worst thing that happened today? And if they were ready, they’d tell us all about it, right there with our heads resting on their pillow. It was a precious time of safety, sharing, and sustaining our family relationships.

Moving into middle school and high school, our roles and routines changed with their growing independence and autonomy. However, those communication lines and late night conversations remained open and active. Many times, upon their late arrival home from a band competition or an outing with friends, we’d hear a knock at our bedroom door and a whisper, “Are you still awake?” We were never quite sound asleep as any parent can attest, you don’t sleep until you hear the last set of footsteps walking up the stairs to bed. And so, we always welcomed them in to tell us how their night went and what the highlights were of their respective events.

Now they’re grown, married and raising their own children. At times we babysit our grand kids and I ask my kids, “What’s the routine?” and the answer, “Books, prayers, cuddles.” And, of course, pillow talk ensues.

How do you keep the communication lines open with your kids? Please share in the comments below and help one another out.

Blessings,

Dawn

Posted in Devotions, Encouragement, Family activities, Family stories / memories, Grandparents love, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Contagious

FriendsIn some parts of the country children are coming down with chicken pox and measles—childhood diseases which were almost unheard of until recently. These contagious diseases have resurfaced because some parents are choosing not to immunize their children. I am not going to present arguments for one side or the other as this could turn into a heated debate. Rather, I am going to talk about another contagious disease that is affecting today’s children—bullying! Yes, bullying has been around forever (read the Old Testament!) but I believe it’s a societal disease that needs some immunization. This immunization is not in the form of a shot or pill. I wish it were that easy! The antidote to bullying is kindness (read the New Testament!).

Today’s kids have it tough. Children can be down right mean. Maybe it stems from an unhealthy home life or low self-esteem. When a child is bullied, it makes him or her want to bully others. But if bullying is contagious, maybe kindness is contagious too. Did you know that when someone smiles at you, the muscles in your face automatically respond and you smile back without any conscious effort? Acts of kindness can have the same result.

We live in a self-centered, narcissistic society where the media messages tell us to “get what you want,” and “you deserve the best.”  I can’t find those messages in Scripture. The messages from Jesus are “be kind to others” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Kindness and caring need to be taught and modeled in the home. Here are a few ways you can help your children or grandchildren cultivate kindness:

  • Make a get well card for someone who is sick.
  • Let you child help you bake cookies and bring them to a neighbor for no reason.
  • If the weather is bad, get the mail for an elderly neighbor and bring it to his or her house.
  • Help your children write thank you notes to teachers, coaches, and relatives.
  • Encourage your child to be friends with someone at school who is new or who needs a friend.
  • At the dinner table, have each person say what they like best about the other family members.
  • As a family, pray for the specific needs of friends, neighbors, and extended family.

You can teach you kids to be kind—and let’s hope it’s contagious!

Crystal

 

 

 

 

 

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