Creation according to a two year old

One of the remarkable things about taking more initiative to teach my children the Bible has been the way God has renewed my sense of awe in the truth of His Word. We have been working through the creation story from Genesis 1 over the last week or two and I have been a bit surprised at how my faith in God’s ability to do such a miraculous work has blossomed! I am not a die-hard literal creationist, but I believe God is the source of life, He is all-powerful, eternal, and His revelation to us is authoritative. Here’s the thing—if God is all these things and Genesis says that God spoke His creation into existence, how long does that have to take? The bottom line is that as a Christian, I have to believe that God could accomplish creation any way He wanted to and we don’t have to fuss about whether a day is 24 hours or an age….blah, blah, blah.

And one thing is for certain–it is A LOT easier to teach the creation story to a young child as it is written than to try to over-rationalize it! Remember, the creation story was originally passed down orally as a STORY. Stories that are easy to remember follow a pattern and even a young child can follow the plot and main action points.

I am not naturally a musical person, but I made up a song to teach the Big idea of creation to my two-year-old. Here are the words:

In the very beginning, God made the world.
After six days, His work was done
and He said it was very good.

I am currently working up the nerve to embarrass myself by singing the song on a video. Several times, I have heard Sawyer singing the song to himself as he plays. Of course, he gets to the He said part and switches to “Zacchaeus….you come down.” but I think the words are getting lodged into his brain synapses. Here’s what I like about the song:

  1. Credits God as the creator of our world
  2. Affirms God’s eternal nature
  3. References God’s pattern of work and rest
  4. Reminds us that God’s creation—especially humanity–is VERY good according to God Himself!

So even though we have gone over the details of what God did on each day of creation, I don’t care if Sawyer remembers that just yet. Two-year-olds don’t really have a sense of time anyway so I am choosing to focus on the main ideas of the story and use details of the story as conversation points as we go through daily life. For example: “look Sawyer, flowers….do you know who made the flowers? God made the flowers! Aren’t they beautiful? God made our world and He made us! He calls us very good!

As we have started this type of conversation on our walks, I have noticed that Sawyer points out things we have talked about before and excitedly reports that God made them. We used to only notice the big trucks so this is a nice break in our monotonous routine!

I am working on writing up a lesson plan detailing some of the activities we have done related to the creation story. I will post it when it is finished.

Praying for your children

One of the simplist ways parents can impact the spiritual formation of their children is by praying for them each night at bedtime beginning at birth. This precious way to wrap up the day can become as much a part of your routine as brushing teeth. While my husband and I are far from perfect parents, this nightly routine of praying with our kids unites us as parents and helps keep us focused on the fact that God has given us our children to raise, but they are His. Through our prayers, we offer our kids back to Him AND teach our children about the one who died to offer them life and salvation!

Why I pray for my children each night:

  1. I want them to know they can talk to Jesus–that prayer is how we talk to God
  2. I want them to learn how to pray from the time they can talk so that it becomes a natural part of their daily conversation.
  3. I want them to know that God is the source of all we hold dear. We thank him, we give him credit, we ask him for help because we need His help.
  4. I desire God to work in their lives in a powerful, life-transforming way, and I believe God’s will is for me to ask persistently for their salvation, their protection from the enemy, and hearts that desire to submit to and follow God.
  5. If I don’t pray for my children, who will?

What do we pray for?

  • Their salvation- that they would come to know God at an early age.
  • Their wills to be submissive to God- That they would follow God in obedience
  • Understanding of God’s love for them- that they would feel his presence and know that God believes in them and loves them perfectly.
  • Their future- that they would know that God has created them for a purpose and that they would know God’s calling on their life including career, spouse, friendships, and decisions.
  • Their protection- That the devil’s schemes to keep them from fulfilling God’s purpose for them would be thwarted and that the hurts of life would not keep them from believing in and trusting God.
  • Our wisdom- that as parents we would know how to encourage and empower our children, teach them about who God is, and know how to discipline them and form them into mature, responsible, caring, Godly people.
  • Our family and important people in our lives- that they would know that God cares for these important people and wants us to intercede on their behalf.
  • Our needs and thanks. We remember the experiences of the day and thank God for giving them to us. We also pray for help for whatever comes up in our lives.

I also found these links helpful as a guide to knowing how and what to pray for your children:
Prayers for Children
Twelve ways to pray for your children
31 days of prayer for your children

First attempts at teaching the Bible

Since my children were born, my husband and I have prayed with them each night before bed and have included God in our conversation and daily activities, but my son is now two and very into books and stories and seems extra interested in learning about God and the Bible. So—it’s time to dive in and start teaching!

In my “outside the home” life I teach Christian Education courses to college students. Over the past several years it is remarkable to note how many Christian college students really have only a basic understanding of the Bible. A few (wanting to go into ministry) really have not been taught the Bible. It is much harder to know where to start with college students, but at home with Sawyer, we are starting with popular Bible stories and some select Bible memory verses. I feel a deep calling to help my children understand who God is and how He has worked throughout time to reveal himself to us and show us His love. Hopefully when Sawyer gets to college, he will have a deep, meaningful understanding of Scripture—not just Sunday School answers.

Where to begin….well, we are on a pretty tight budget with me reducing my work load (and pay) beginning this July to stay home with the kiddos. So even though this is probably the most important investment of my life, it has to be done without breaking the bank! We started with what we already have on hand.

We were given a storybook on Jonah (with GREAT pictures), so we started with Jonah! Here are the three big ideas we developed from the story:

  1. God wants us to obey even when we don’t want to.
  2. Sometimes, God goes to great effort to get our attention so we learn to obey Him.
  3. God is a God of second chances. He is loving and forgiving–even when we are not!

We took a week of our life to focus on the story of Jonah. It really is awesome to teach a Bible story to a child who has never heard the story before! I have found it even rejuvenates my own faith. Throughout the week, I developed several activities related to the story that Sawyer could participate in and integrated the big ideas above into our conversations.

Here are some of the activities we did together:

  • We read the story out of our storybook several times. In addition, I talked to Sawyer about how the story of Jonah is in the Bible and asked him if he wanted me to show him in mommy’s Bible. He got very excited about this. After Sawyer was pretty familiar with the story, my husband read him parts of Jonah from Scripture.
  • We found ways to act out the major events of the story using props from around the house. At one point, I was the whale and I swallowed “Jonah” (Sawyer) by putting his head under my sweater. He LOVED this game! After that, he found tons of ways to be swallowed by the whale–a clothes hamper, blankets—you name it! We also acted like the boat. I was the boat and i rocked him back and forth while making stormy noises before throwing him out of the “boat.”
  • We learned a song about Jonah and sang it throughout the week.
  • I showed him some pictures from the internet from different versions of the story.
  • I let him watch the veggie tales video on Jonah (though it was a LOT longer than I had anticipated—didn’t veggie tales used to be 30 minutes? you know….sweet and sour….half and hour….veggie tales.)

We are tackling the creation story next. I have been collecting ideas all week. Can’t wait to have a great time explaining how God is the source of life!