Friday, December 30, 2011

Some of you really enjoyed it when I was reading and commenting on books. If you're interested, Ken has some book commentary at Children's Ministry Today and Tomorrow. He's currently actively involved in children's ministry.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Do you linger outside in the winter after dark? Imagine the sky lit up without fireworks or city lights, airplanes or satellites. Imagine the songs of angels filling the night time. Grander than a church choir, grander than the Mormon Tabernacle choir or the best choir in the world. And of course, you've never heard anything like it before because you work all the time and you're too poor to do anything else. And suddenly the sky is filled with music. And you go into town to see a new baby lying in a cow's manger in a cave or a barn filled with animals... you're used to being around animals but the's all about the baby...the baby lying there in the manger was just the beginning...

Did you ever consider going star gazing with your kids?

Have you ever literally let the path of a star in the sky lead you somewhere? Miles and miles through foreign countries? Think about it.

And those middle eastern wise men did follow that star. What did it cost to take such a trip? What would they have been doing if they had decided not to go? It was still all about that baby...and still, that baby lying there in that manger was just the beginning...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Different Twist on Thanksgiving

I'm rummaging through my closet in the dark, using my fingers (not my eyes) to find something to wear and thought of you!

We take our God-given senses for granted until we lose them. Before I had cataract surgery I was using my fingertips to find clothes in a closet or drawer. How do you tell if something is clean if you can't see? Don't get grossed out. I'm just saying, that we take our senses for granted. Many Sunday Schools do a blind man's walking test to help make us better leaders and better followers. We can feel sorry for someone but that's not the point. They have strengths and abilities that we don't. We don't need them. We don't use them. The fact that human beings are even capable of growing such strengths and abilities is amazing. People who may be lacking sight or hearing or mobility draw on resources we don't draw on. They can do things that we can't. Man in particular, but every species, is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Sight: Divide your kids into groups of two or three. I like setting up a class so there is more participation and less waiting for turns. You will need one blind fold per group. Each group with have three pieces of clothes that feel different and three pieces of clothes that feel almost the same. Pick the T-shirt, pick the boy's dress shirt, pick the polo shirt. Set up one exercise that's particularly hard - three sweaters that feel the same but have different necklines or cardigan, V neck and pullover. Three knit shirts with different sleeve lengths. Three styles of shorts.

To appreciate hearing: watch a wildlife clip without sound. List all the things you don't hear. Then show it with the sound and see if you missed any sounds. Watch a real life movie (not animated) without the sound. Pick one that no one has seen before. Talk about it after. Watch it with the sound.

For taste and smell: pick some foods. Blind-folded, taste three cheeses that feel the same holding your nose. Taste them without holding your nose. Use three fruits that feel the same. See if you can tell what they are with just smell.  Use three leafy vegetables that feel the same. See if you can tell what they are with just taste.

To appreciate touch: when your kids come to class there is a new rule. You may not use your hands for anything.

For mobility: when your kids come to class there is a new rule. You can not walk or use your feet.

Go outside: Take the kids out when the seasons change. What's different? Individually or in groups, list all the things you see, all the things you hear, all the things you touch, all the things you smell, all the things you taste.

We need to make time to give thanks for all the things we take for granted. We have lots to be thankful for.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Emerging Kids started because I found myself part of a group of young believers who were launching something new. I was almost 50. I'd spent most of my life working with kids, mostly in church. It was a unique opportunity because we could take a moment to ask "Why?" Why are we doing this? What do the scriptures say?

Jesus said eternal life is to know Him. How will this activity help children and their families know God better - Father, Son, Holy Spirit - and believe?  How will it help us teach children to better love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, strength and to love their neighbor as themself?

That's where Emerging Kids came from.

Keep asking questions. Another project: Search the scriptures for the people who asked God questions... When your kids first learn to plague you with the question, "Why?" see where the word "Why" shows up in the scriptures: Old Testament, Wisdom Books, New Testament, Jesus, Paul. Who was asking? Who was answering?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Someone posted a comment here but my computer keeps shutting down just as I finish writing my comment and right before I push the save Because of my uncooperative computer and the fact that the original post was posted in August so you might not notice the comment, let's reopen the discussion.

I agree with most of the comment and that wisdom is learned through life and living and making choices - not from the best teaching and learning curriculum, but as educators I think we need to take note that all of Proverbs is about learning wisdom. God commended Solomon for asking for wisdom. Somehow, somewhere in Solomon's life wisdom became a valuable commodity to him, more valuable than riches.

Every human being has opportunity to learn wisdom throughout their lifetime. Some people do, some don't and to greater or lesser degrees. Why? I would like to propose that it has something to do with how we learn to process life which I expect is affected by the learning environment we grow up in. For all the hours we spend in educational institutions over the course of our lifetime, where do we learn to focus on learning wisdom if someone in our family or faith community doesn't steer us in that direction?

Many cultures know who their "wise ones" are and those people are held in highest esteem for their wisdom. Did you ever send a child to a wise person for an answer? And I'm not talking about the internet. Wisdom is valued in scripture - more than gold but we don't think about it. We don't talk about it. We hardly notice it. When was the last time you heard an adult say to a child (or another adult for that matter) "That was a wise thing to say," or "That was a wise thing to do?" Do we encourage it? Can we encourage it? Without drawing undue attention to that which is by nature unassuming? If so, how? When is the last time any of us told that very wise person in our life, "Thank you! You are so wise!" When is the last time you heard a child say, "I want to be wise like so & so when I grow up. Pray for me to be wise."

That's all I mean...

Friday, October 21, 2011

I had a friend who used to read a different version of the scriptures when he read through the Bible each year. I've been using Holman's translation lately. You have to love children to minister to children but if you are going to teach the life-giving scriptures need to filter, feed and fill every fiber of your being, myself included.

If you looked up stories about hate (see previous post), did you look up stories about love? mercy? compassion? If you do a word study, read the story around the passage. Or see how many stories you can think of where God demonstrated His love, mercy, compassion and that's what the scriptures say is happening. Where are the stories in scripture about hate? Check out those stories.

Ecclesiastes 3 is full of contrast - a time for this, a time for that ... not just love and hate. The scriptures confirm that, but have you ever taken each of these and searched the scriptures for the "when"?

tear down/built up
throw stones/gather stones (Jesus had a story about that)
embrace/avoid embracing
search/count as lost
keep/throw away
be silent/speak

How many of these can you find in the scriptures? How many did Jesus talk about? What did He say?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Should probably go back through and tag all the posts about creation...better still, I put CREATION in the FIND box... Lots!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More about wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (HCSC). You can think deep about it or take it in it's simplist straight-forward form. Or make it a word study if you want. Remember to look at the stories.

I've said this before but I don't think wisdom is part of the curriculum anyplace. Who's the wisest person you know? How do you grow the kind of wisdom you see and hear in that person? Jesus' disciples only walked with Him for three years and he was the embodiment of the wisdom of God. I find it interesting that Jesus never said that about himself. (or at least I didn't find it) Paul did. And Paul wasn't in that group of disciples who walked with Him in the flesh.

Reminded me of the "Christ" part of St. Patrick's breastplate - a Christian Irish hymn.

Monday, August 29, 2011

from Ecclesiastes 1 (HCSB)

9" What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
    10 Can one say about anything,
    "Look, this is new"?
    It has already existed in the ages before us."

Ecclesiastes. One of the wisdom books. One of my favorites...
Did you ever ponder the book of Ecclesiastes with your kids? God commended Solomon for asking Him for wisdom when he could have asked for anything... and he wasn't that old, as I recall...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

So...did you find stories about hate? Here! Bible Gateway. Six search pages plus some.  Holman translation. Look at the stories. See where God takes you....

Saturday, June 04, 2011

More Google searches: Bible stories about Hatred, Bible stories about respect. Can you name some?

A lot of people use scripture to defend their own ideas or justify the things they deem important. It always amazes me how we manipulate God's word but I guess that's what happened in the Garden of Eden to begin with. If you're a modernist you see modernist thinking in the scriptures. If you're a post-modernist you see post-modern. If you're a Crusader, you find reason to invade the Middle East. If you're a Puritan you find reason to burn witches. If you're a pacifist you find validation, too. Let me propose that God isn't any of those but He is all that the scriptures say about Him. So, does God intend us to take off our cultural lenses? Put aside our personal agendas before we come or bring them with us? I think He'll take us in whatever form we come if we come to listen and hear, willing to change. My understanding is that you can't enter the presence of God and not come back changed.

In order to go to God and ask Him what He thinks about something we need to be pretty familiar with the scriptures to start with, cover to cover, many versions. We need to take a word or concept and do an exhaustive search but always in context. If what we find seems to contradict itself no worries. It just means we have a long wrestling match ahead, especially when it seems to disagree with what we always thought we knew. And maybe that's the control, being open enough to listen and respond when we see things in God's Word that we weren't expecting. Or to say, "Yes, Lord, but didn't You also say..." As you search make sure you include all the stories about whatever your investigating. 

You could go the scholarly route of the original Greek and Hebrew but if most of us don't, didn't God design His Word to speak to us, too, or did He design it for us to go through scholars?

How does God feel about this? What does God think about that? Scripture says the secret things belong to God but the things revealed belong to us. (Deut 29:29) The scriptures tell us to search for Him with all of our hearts - whatever we do, to do it with all of our heart & mind & soul & strength. There are things that we don't know and we may never know. The Orthodox are content to say, "It's a mystery!"

Solomon in his wisdom said, there are times and seasons for things that seem diametrically opposed to each other. (Ecclesiastes 3). There are things in scripture that grate against our cultural and even religious sensibilities and what do we do with that? Gosh, if I have a problem with this, it must not be God. Nada! Or, "Look here, this gives me license to beat up some living thing because they didn't do things my way." I don't think that's it, either.

In some denominations they will always steer you towards traditional Church thinking to make sure you don't get way off base. In some churches they encourage spending more time with the parts of scripture that most people ignore or maybe they're more open to "revelation" and new ideas. If you've been steered way off base in traditional situations, you steer clear of that. If you've watched people go off the deep end you steer clear of the that.  But if you keep searching for Him with all your heart, He'll let you find Him. He's faithful to His own Word and to His People.  May God help us open our eyes and ears and hearts and take the journey to see all He allows us to discover about Him. .

I have great confidence in the God of the scriptures. Less confidence in us humans. For all the things that can go wrong and do, it amazes me that God still has such confidence in man. Go find His stories about Hate and Respect.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

We have a child getting married first wk in July and then we move and I'm starting a business. Time is at a premium around here but let's play with this just a little: Philippians for children (Holman translation):

Paul wrote a letter to his friends. I'm going to read you just a little bit. Pretend you are Paul's friends in Philippi.

When you remember someone does it make you happy? Do you pray for them? (1:3-4)

Promise: "He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (1:6) This is a wonderful promise for someone discouraged with themself.

Paul told them "I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel." Are you partners with people who aren't part of your church?

This is a blessing: "And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that [comes] through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." (1:9-11) How would you "translate" that for a child?

Lots to talk about. How young can you go with some of these pieces? You can go pretty young with being happy and praying for someone when you think of them if you model it, not just talk about it. You could go pretty young reminding kids that God started something good in them and He won't quit until He's done.

Pick a translation. Bite off little pieces. Chew on it. Play with it. Offer it to a child. How can you bless him?

Quit while they're still asking for more. Don't keep pushing it until they can't wait for you to stop!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What was Paul's letter to the Philippians about for kids? A Goggle search...

Paul wrote letters to groups of people about specific things that those particular groups of people needed to hear. Who were the people? What was Paul writing and why?

Where did the people live from a cultural/political/social perspective? If you were a child in Philippi listening to someone read Paul's letter would it mean anything to you?

Find out what you can about Philippi and what was happening at that time in history. What specific events or practices affected Jewish and Gentile believers? Their children? Research! How would the things Paul said affect the grown-ups? How would they affect the children?

Think about someone standing up in church and reading a letter from a teacher who visited once or however many times Paul had come to them previously. Are you meeting in someone's home? Are you hiding? Are families there, not just grown-ups? Think about the situation, the circumstances.

Or without any research, read the letter in the NIV Readers' Version. Imagine yourself a child listening. What do you hear God saying to you? Imagine that as a child you weren't there but your parents came home and you heard them talking. What would they be saying?

Read it to children a little each week in class or a little each day at home. What do they hear? What's relevant to them? Ask them!
A thought provoking twist to an old question at Children's Ministry Today and Tomorrow. I like it!

[I always thought "yesterday" was in the name of your blog, too. . . shows how observant I am!]

Monday, May 30, 2011

What is "mature spirituality"? What does it mean to grow up in every way into Christ Jesus? What does it look like? Is it childlike?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Welcome back Followers' page!

We hit 10,000 this week! Six years of blogging. If that brings 10,000+ people (and the kids they work with) a little closer to Jesus, I'm happy.

This is the St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer.

I like the lines,"Christ in hearts of all that love me," because it's a prayer for the people you grow relationships with whether they believe today or not. And this - "Christ in mouth of friend and stranger" Yes, and we know the Celtic and Roman churches had their falling out...sigh...

Can't find it right now but more than a hundred years ago a man wandered some islands in the North Sea (Scottish, I believe - Hebrides, maybe?) collecting the folk songs and prayers their isolated community had said for generations...prayers and spiritual songs for every event of the day, every kind of work, acknowledging God and His Christ and His Holy Spirit. Scripture talks of psalms, hymns & spiritual songs and praying without ceasing. (Some communities do that and don't write them down or neccessarily use the same songs or prayers over and over) They were people who expected Christ Jesus to walk through their day with them every day and acknowledged Him there ... I'm guessing that faith communities of every culture and subculture have tools that they use to keep their faith alive, some systems more rigid, some more fluid.

Scripture tells us that if Christ is lifted up He'll draw all men to Himself. How do we do that day by day, moment by moment, even without a word?

Colossians 1:9-10
". . . We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing [to Him], bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God." (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Followers Gadget disappeared. Don't know why. . .

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Here's an interesting google search, "biblical jumping into the unknown."

Implications for children & faith? Sure! Fear at one end of the spectrum, adventure at the other. Real life & faith. Let's play with it. Let's explore.

So how do I search the scriptures to see what I can find? I wouldn't worry about "jump." Although it might be an interesting search. Jump makes me think of leap and leap makes me think of the stag in the Psalms and Song of Songs and there are probably other images of deer or surefooted creatures in dangerous-to-us places..

Deer aren't the bravest creatures on the planet but they live in the wilderness. You can search "unknown." "Wilderness" is another word I would search for. "Unknown."  "Dark," "Darkness," "Deep darkness." You could keep going with that.

You could also start thinking about stories about people in scripture wandering into the unknown or go back and look at words like "wander," "journey," "lost."

How about stories: Put yourself in the place of the people in the stories. Adam & Eve found themselves in the unknown (to them). God led Abraham & Sarah on a journey. When Noah re-emerged from the ark he didn't know what he was going to find. Rebecca didn't know what she would find at the end of her journey. Moses, Joseph, Caleb, Esther. Daniel. All had experience walking into the unknown-to-them. What other Bible stories can you think of where someone chose or was forced to wander or jump into the unknown... Remember how limited their experience was. They didn't have the global exposure we have today. I'll have to think a little harder to think of someone who JUMPED into the unknown. I know! David. Impulsive, passionate David and his adventure with Goliath. Anybody else you can think of?

You could do this kind of brainstorming with mid-elementary kids and older about most any topic. Makes them think. Ask open ended questions. Make it a game. Gives kids creative thinking tools they can draw on to kindle their faith in real life situations assuming they have a strong foundation of Bible stories up to that point. A good reason to lay deep Bible story foundations...

Who were these people? What did they face? Do I face situations like that? What did God do in that particular story for that particular person in the scriptures? How does it feed my faith in God? What should I remember?  Did God ever meet you in a situation like that? What did He do?

Have fun with this! There are closed questions (the questioner already knows the answers). It's good to have some specific stories in mind in case nobody can think of any. There are open questions (you ask a question and let the kids explore possibilities and implications, new-to-you observations) ready!

Maybe you can use this technique with younger kids, too. For younger kids, "Can you think of any Bible story where someone was afraid? Where someone was very brave? Where someone was sad?" Enjoy the journey. See where it takes you. I expect God will meet you and your kids there.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The other day I was trying to find an author who's name I couldn't remember which makes the task rather challenging...he wrote about Genesis and creation from some new angles. Whatever it was that I read at the time, I was particularly drawn to his looking at "dominion" as caring for as opposed to absolute dictatorship but alas . . we don't know who it was.

So as I was searching...I found it interesting (apart from catch words, fads, and media hype) that there is an ever growing focus on our relationship as believers to the natural world. On line, anyway, it seems to fall into the ecology/environmental venue. I shouldn't be surprised. This generation of  parents is more relational, more holistic, more focused on networking and community and being individuals with a role to play but part of something bigger . . . It's just interesting how we work through our faith with global issues....

As an aside...there's a forward going around about an old lady who didn't bring her cloth bag to the grocery store but it gives a rather unique, and perhaps comforting for some of us, perspective the stewardship and "recycling" of the last generation it before you delete it...

Monday, May 02, 2011

If you go to Child Theology on Facebook. Go to Wall and you'll find these rather interesting topics to explore more...

Roots of Empathy.

Unconditional Parenting. Jade Lundgren's comment (scroll to the bottom) perked my interest. Ok...she posted in 2008. Am I behind or what?

And in the forum you'll find book reviews!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

This is from Australia.  I thought it was interesting - an astute observer. You may have access to other thoughts like this, and this is a year old so you can read it and look back at the past year all at the same time. This particular site seems not to be scaremongering.

Do you ponder the patterns you see in families and children you work with and how it affects your interaction and a child's faith?

Friday, April 22, 2011

I routinely search the referrals on my site meter to see where people come from and/or what they are looking for.

Here is a resource site that I may have posted long ago but they have a FB page: The Child Theology group. Lots of post-ers. Lots of followers. Downloads.

Happy Resurrection Sunday weekend, people!! Now, off to find out what's happening w/emerging kids on FB. . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Somebody was looking for a rebus for Psalm 139.

Do you know how to create a rebus?

Pick a story (in this case, from scripture) that uses a few nouns over and over- preferably nouns that can be substituted with a simple drawing or clip art image. If you simplify the language for early readers (assuming the story lends itself to that without sacrificing the Word), it's fun or at least it's something different.

If you're telling the story, use the pictures as story cards. Hold up a sheep picture for "sheep" but don't say the word. Hold up the picture and let the kids say the word.

Use your imagination and have some fun with it.

Friendly Strangers

From one of my favorite dog sites, "My Smart Puppy". Maybe my favorite. I thought this article was about kids and dogs but it isn't. It is a very well-conceived game to play with your kids to teach them the proper response to a friendly stranger. As a dog-trainer, teacher, parent, and once a child. . . "Read this!" This is WONDERFUL! Sarah's a great trainer!

Frankly, sadly, this advise should probably also apply to child, teen, anyone who asks your child to go do something without asking you first. If you are a child, even if another child asks you to go with them, you stop and go ask mom or dad.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts about justice. Worth reading at Celtic Odyssey.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mark 11. (I was looking for the passage about Palm Sunday. Here it is in one of the gospels)

The close up view is to look at the "Hosanna" story and see how many details you notice. The zoom out story is to look at the simple, obvious big picture.

What age would you tell this story to? What parts would appeal to which age? How can you tell it without compromising the story? If you were a child, and you were there, what would it be like? What would you see & hear and experience? As a toddler or preschooler? As an elementary aged child, as a pre-teen, as a teen, as a parent? How about someone who wasn't a parent? Was it common in that culture NOT to be around children? What can you discover about Jesus?

How many different stories are there in this chapter? (There may be more than the headings in your Bible.) Look at them one at a time. How is it that this story goes with the other stories in this chapter? What ages would you tell them too? Why? Do you find the same stories with the "Hosanna" story in the other gospels? Which stories? Does it matter?

What about the variations on one story from gospel to gospel? Same stories, different writers, different points of view. Still God's story - the story of His Son. Still God's Word.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This is just for fun. Lent. Easter. 'Tis the season.

This is a site with old pictures from Children's Bibles. Someone came looking for "the teaching boat" which I thought was a neat phrase for the boat Jesus taught from. Here's another page from the same site.

I'm going to post this and then go look for sites for Bible Art.

Take your familiar holidays, read the familiar passages the way a storyteller would, without visuals and props and let the story (God's Word) do it's work. Or read it and then gather images that people have created over the centuries and flip through from the oldest to the newest and see what you see. See how the artist interpreted the story but also see how people's cultural perspectives changed. What stayed the same. What changed? What part of the story did they focus on?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One of my favorite Psalms: Psalm 139. . . when you think toddlers, think "fearfully & wonderfully made..." When you think teens or pre-adolescent. When you think about individuals.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Toddlers & movement

Thought about you guys while I was sitting in a waiting room last night watching toddlers with their relatively short attention spans, leaning to use language and social skills (talking to a friendly stranger in long sentences but I couldn't understand the little guy - something about a truck out the window), moving moving moving. Walking, running, climbing.

Which says incorporate as much gross motor into your lessons as you can. Ok. An example? Like walking around Jericho 7 times.  Save all your churches Amazon book boxes and tape them closed which will give you big cheap building  blocks. Build a wall with the kids and tell the Jericho story or sing a song and march around the wall and then make it fall down. I bet you can do that at least 5 times and keep their attention.  Abraham walking, taking a long trip. What will they bring? Put it in a bag. Walk around the room a couple of times. "Oh, I'm so hot!" "I'm tired. Are you tired?" Where will they sleep? Make a tent. Go to sleep. Wake up. Fill the bag. Pick up the tent. More walking. That kind of thing.

Look at this week's Bible story and see if you can tell the story with movement. Lots of movement. Simple movement. Walk. Run, March. Stretch, Make yourself big. Make yourself little.  Fast/Slow, Tip toe,  Stop/Freeze. (You might have to practice that one.) Show them. Do it with them. Make it fun. Use movement in your story telling.

I'm not saying they will intellectually remember and be able to regurgitate what you're teaching them but they will remember the activity and they will remember the fun and they will associate it with church and God and maybe someday it will be another small building block as they grow faith.

Oh...remember...Toddlers aren't the only age group that like to move!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Remembering (revised)

As you're searching your memories, next time you go to Bible Gateway search for "remember."

God remembered Noah and the animals and His covenant with them.

God remembered Abraham when He destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah.

God remembered Rachael when she was struggling to conceive.

It will mean more to you if you go back and read it and ponder in light of remembering. If you keep track of the things God does for you, remember that God is remembering you. Not to mark God as everybody's houseboy but noticing and giving God credit is a way to honor and worship Him daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes moment by moment. Wow! Out of millions of human beings and generations of human beings, God remembers me!

Keep going with the search.

What does God remember through the scriptures? What do you remember? What does He tell us to remember?

As I started reading through those passages I got distracted as usual. I don't recall noticing Gen.31:49-51 (NIV) before. Laban, a God-fearing father, calling God to be a witness between he and his future son-in-law if Jacob ever  mistreats his daughters or takes other wives . . . just read it. Then go and read what happened in the lives of Jacob and these two women.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

So, my daughter and I were talking again about her memories. She's taken a long journey from faith through other things and back to faith and the scriptures. She was talking about things that shaped her faith. She can also tell you lots of things that totally turned her off to church.

We were talking scripture this morning before she left and I'm reminded that when we dedicated her the pastor prayed over her (or prophesized) that she would be a woman of the Word. For most of her teen years and into early adulthood I failed to see that. She's only met that pastor once. We moved when she was a toddler. If she runs into him again I asked her share with him that God is answering his prayer. Would you be encouraged if someone came up to you and told you that you prayed for him/her 30 years ago and God answered your prayer?

Here is an exercise for leaders, childrens' ministers, parents...maybe everyone in your faith community. We'll call it child sensitivity training or maybe toddler sensitivity training. Ha! Most of us probably don't remember back this far and it's probably a good thing but...

What are your earliest memories of something faith or church related?  At home or alone? In church or with a group? How did it affect you?

Name five more specific situations or experiences that shaped your faith as a child. How old were you? Recall as much detail as you can. How can it help you better represent God to children?

I shared with you the finger game, the book.  Here's another one. (Both sets of grandparents and my parents all went to the same church). I sucked my thumb for more years than you care to know. I remember being carried by one of my parents (probably my dad) and saying good-by to people after a church dinner waving good-by with the rest of my hand.

The doing with my hands, the rhyme, the book, family, community - just a couple of memories. Try it.
Thinking more about toddlers and story and naming... Adam came to this earth not with all the experiences of a grown man but as another new creature in a brand new world (I am not saying man is an animal, but God did make him), with enough language to name, with brand new senses. One of the first jobs that God gave Adam? Naming the animals. God let him name things.  If he called an ant Quigley, the ant's name was Quigley. It always amazes me that God gives us as much freedom as He does and that He gives us as much responsibility as He does. He is ever an awesome God.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Toddlers & Stories

Let's look at toddlers and Bible stories again. I forgot I'd started this post.

Toddlers are relatively new arrivals on this planet. They are learning about their world through their senses.They are learning about living and non-living things around them. They are still learning words and language to go with these new objects and experiences. To understand a story requires an understanding of language.

When you interact with a toddler, they understand more language than the language they use. A toddler can get the doll for you before they can say, "doll." Their language skills and attention span are limited. They have vocabulary based on development and experience. They may have experiential memories and associations that they don't have words for. Using pictures, and picture books expands their vocabulary. It may give them opportunity to generalize a sensory association to a picture. At this age you are giving children words for things they see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. When you tell a story to a toddler focus on using pictures and sounds and taste and touch. When you do, attach a word.

If you're telling the story of Noah's ark, use a picture or stuffed animals. Name as many things in the picture as you can. Bring a pan of water with a boat. Name ark or boat, water.

Reading and storytelling as a time when a child or small group of children can enjoy your focused attention and snuggle in your lap or sit close gives story a positive association. Turning pages is probably a little like hide & seek.  Maybe they will associate the word cat or the cat on Noah's ark with the furry creature at grandmas.

Naaman. Most toddlers know about being sick, getting washed or taking a bath or maybe going swimming.
The surprise element is fun for young children (if you don't scare them). Naman goes under dirty and pops up clean. Use your creativity. (2 dolls or puppets)

Communion. Toddlers have tasted bread, drink and (hopefully) sitting around a table with loved ones.

Because toddlers are learning words, vocabulary, language, use a big picture that tells a story. Don't make it too busy but point out and name the different things in the picture. Use sound and touch and smell. Point to things: Who's that? What's that? Use a of tape sounds. What's that sound?

Most of a toddler's vocabulary involves nouns. Concrete objects and actions. Pick a toddler. Any toddler. What words do they know? Use the word "Jesus", the word "God" as much as you want, not because it's concrete but I'd put it in the category of  learning "Mommy loves you" for a toddler.

I was talking with a professional storyteller the other day. She said that most storytellers can tailor their stories for audiences 3 and up. I asked her about pictures with toddlers but she doesn't use props and pictures for her tellings. So that level of storytelling is beyond a toddler - a church sermon.

Pray with toddlers when you tell a Bible story. Think about family or church rituals and patterns of action that send messages to little children. Praying before you eat, asking God's blessing, prayers at night before bed. Advent candles, a creche scene, advent candles and calendars, regularly pulling down that special Bible book to read or tell a story with your toddler nestled in your lap.  I think our calling on God, and actions repeated over and over in the lives of toddlers (like prayer) sends a message to toddlers. If you bow your head and pray at every meal. Your toddler will come to expect that and even initiate it. That kind of thing.

Finger plays (though their small motor coordination is still relatively undeveloped), action rhymes (the sounds and actions are upbeat & fun) and simple songs are other ways to tell stories to toddlers. I still remember being little in Sunday School and trying to do "Here's the church, Here's the steeple, Open the doors, See all the people." I remember the pictures in one of the story books and I'm pushing 60.

Noah's ark: Make a boat in the middle of the room (a sheet, chairs, cardboard). Leave stuffed animals all over the room before the kids come in. Pretend to find and bring all the animals into the boat. Eat, sleep. Then take all the animals off the boat and find them homes. How about that!  Ok. Herding toddlers is alot like herding cats but try it. You never know. Maybe use a box instead of a sheet. One big enough for everyone to get in. No, not in the water...Send parents to places where there are lots of animal sounds and listen to sounds. (a farm, an animal shelter, a zoo, the woods) Name the sounds!

Doing is how toddlers learn. It gives them opportunity to use their senses and to learn names. Those experiences will give story more meaning as their language skills grow.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Little Prayers

So my oldest child and I (she's 30) were talking tonight. We were talking about prayer and she said she remembers our saying (or me mumbling) little prayers when we heard a siren or when we saw the Mercy Flight Helicopter. Understand that we live between two hospitals and a fire station all less than a mile away.

We'll never really know how God answers most of our prayers but it doesn't mean we shouldn't pray or that He doesn't hear. If I'm not as disciplined about the length of time I spend in prayer but more faithful to pray whenever I think of something something for God - the praying without ceasing part...who's to say that all those seemingly tiny prayers aren't accumulating in God's presence somewhere like loose change in the jar by your bed. Who's to say that when it's time to empty the jar you won't be amazed to find a hundred dollars or two or three hundred dollars worth of change. Who's to say? The incense of our prayers is worth more.

So you have two images you can use with children - even little children.  Talking to Jesus, any time any place, asking Him to help someone. And the image that God collects all those little prayers and who knows how many that will be. Who's counting! What if you put a piece of paper in a jar for every time someone remembers you or says something nice to you or asks what you think about something?

Where's that scripture about not despising the day of small beginnings . . . Zechariah 4:8-10 (the Message). Here it is in the NIV too. 

(There are certain scriptures that I remember but I don't remember which version they were in so they're hard to find.)

While you're at it do a word study for "small" or "little" or "beginnings" or "prayer" a word study for "despise"...If you go to Strong's or Crudens and follow the Hebrew or Greek word to find all the verses that use that same word, see what picture you get.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I mentioned the article on the AOL news Rethinking The Bible As A Social Book (Jan 26, 2011). I mentioned all the comments and then I went back to really read (instead of skim) the article.

I find it interesting that so many people pounced on the word "modify". I agree whole-heartedly that we have no right to tamper with God's word. Maybe I'm just weird but it was all the other possibilities that caught my attention: "The apps makes it possible for readers to share their highlighted text from a book on Twitter or Facebook, along with their comments, related photos and videos. Private groups can also be created for more of a book-club feel" or on-line Bible study? What a wonderful opportunity to interact with and share the scriptures socially for kids in today's world. Should it take the place of face to face, no. It's something different ...

Like anything new, it's scary, yes, but also full of possibilities to be used or abused. Think about the good and the bad possibilities available to man when someone developed the wheel (before & after). Some of the grown-ups were early adopters, some not. Maybe the kids and teenagers had a riotous time. We don't know.  I bet the apostle Paul would have a field day today with a social Bible app . . . for better or for worse. I wonder if he'd condemn it or use it to great advantage... 

That was the part that jumped out at me -  potential for personal and social options for discussions, sharing, pondering the Word of God with personal visual and audio options for worship that you can share.  (my own interpretation) even with unbelievers. Maybe more appealing to, maybe common ground with unbelievers.

Having a tool out there with the capability to "modify" the scriptures is scary for sure. That particular possibility should give us that much more incentive to make sure our kids really know God's Word "as written" - what's there and what isn't...

Take a passage. Take a story. Change something. Start with the obvious and move to the more subtle. Change something and see if your kids catch it...Make it a game. How do you teach them to tactfully say to someone they love, "I don't think that's what the scriptures really say. Let's go look."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"...stories in the scriptures about temptation. . ."

Stories where God told someone to do something and they didn't or where God told someone not to do something and they did would count as stories about giving in to temptation.

Choosing to do (or not to do) what God told them, even when it was hard, would be a story about resisting temptation:

Here are a few of those stories:

Adam & Eve
Cain & Abel
Joseph & the guy's  wife (I've forgotten his name)
The Golden Calf
(Maybe) Lot
Lot's wife
David & Bathsheba
Jesus and Satan
Jesus in the Garden

See if you can think of more...not what you would call "sin" by our traditional religious church standards...look at "God said do..." and someone didn't or "God said don't..." and someone did. Or they were tempted to disobey God but they didn't.  Maybe they made a choice to honor God and do something that was very hard. Job's wife wanted him to deny God. Daniel chose not to eat the rich food offered at the king's table. You could probably count breaking one of the 10 commandments if you look at the stories that took place after God gave the commandments to Moses. See what you can find...

You could also do a word study. If you use "tempt," I think "tempted" and "temptation" will show up too.

I'm guessing you'll see things you didn't see before.
I might be wrong but I don't think I'd bother worrying about "character studies for toddlers".

Last thing I knew toddlers are learning  through their senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch), their environment ("I feel safe", "I feel safe enough to explore this world", or "something scares me"), and maybe more than any of us dare to admit, their relationships with the people and the living things around them. That's where they'll learn about character  -  hands-on, sensory, environmental, relational. And I think you'll see their young spirits respond to and imitate what they see and experience in the people who surround them day in and day out.

Something to explore: At what age would you start focusing on character? At what age do children differentiate between good, bad, and just different? What makes something good? What makes it bad? I don't think we talk about it. I think we take whatever those words mean for granted.

Children begin to imitate those around them at a very young age. Who and what they're encouraged to imitate will definitely impact their character. Use it to your advantage and the glory of God.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Have you seen this? When I opened up AOL to chat, this was in the news. AND as of this post, there are 207 comments. :-)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lots to ponder at the Cory Center website.

But let's take it a step farther. Here's a challenge for you...

Did you ever search the scriptures for stories or passages about people who got mad at God? Who were they? Why were they mad at God? Did God respond? If so, how?

Did you ever search the scriptures for stories about people who were grieving? Can you think of stories or passages in the scriptures about people who were very very sad? Why were they sad? What happened? Did God respond? If so, how?

Today we have sports. Are there sports in the scriptures? If so, what? If not, what did people do to stay "fit"? What was fitness all about? How did they balance and fill up their lives? What would a typical day or week or year look like?

Not looking for right or wrong answers here. Looking for observations. Read and search God's stories for the obvious, not for some deep dark secret. Use your eyes and ears, your mind and your heart. See what God will show you...Do it with your church leadership. Do it with grown-ups or parents. Do it with teens. Do it with children.  See what God will show you...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

some of us have a love/hate relationship with technology...

that being'll see... has some interesting discussions. I'm especially impressed with what appears to be a growing desire among these particular youth pastors to collaborate and learn from and grow with other people and other ministries. Check it out. You'll find some interesting discussions.

The church of England has a new site & newsletter called Going 4 Growth. Check that out, too.

ponder with me

I'd like to propose that as the Virtual becomes more and more the world that children become most familiar with that sensory, tactile, kinesthetic learning and association, human interaction with the natural world and healthy relationships will become that much more important for a child's whole wellness.

I'd like to propose that as more and more kids spend more and more time away from their nuclear family that exploring the relationships between child, family, care-givers, and community with all the "socialization" pluses and minuses will be worth exploring...

Many cultural elements over the last quarter century are new and a bit daunting...but if there's "nothing new under the sun" how do the scriptures lead and guide us through?

What if the images of the scriptures that we take for granted (and generations before have taken for granted) disappear from our culture over time? . . .  father, mother, sparrow, bread, lily, grain, sheep, grass, water, stings, horns, many things we take for granted in a God-created world that may or may not survive as our man-created world continues to grow...what do you think?

Are we obligated to keep all the things that God created and those things referenced in the scriptures alive in our world? If people stop eating bread or stop eating meat will that make those passages of scripture irrelevant? If farms disappear will that make the agricultural images of scripture irrelevant? What about commercial fishing? What about time spent outside observing something like a sparrow?

I'm just asking ... I suggest we think about it now instead of turning around later, wishing we had...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's

Ecclesiastes 3 is one of my favorites. Do we teach this to kids? How do we do it? Probably mostly by example. There are parts of this passage that it's easy to have issues with ... even parts that break the commandments but we don't think of it that way. Take the 10 commandments and go through the stories of scripture and see how often the rules were broken and ponder. Who decides whether it's time for this or time for that? How do you decide?

Psalm 8 

Revelation 21:1-6a
So much of Revelation is worship!! That was once a revelation to me! This is a neat picture of Immanuel "God with us." Every time you wipe away tears remember His promise.

Matthew 25:31-46
Another powerful picture. Perhaps a picture of the kingdom of God coming to earth...perhaps a picture of the Holy City descending, the Bride, the New Heaven, the New Earth . . .God with us. . .  My husband is very very good at this kind of giving so the kids grew up seeing this modeled often. Challenging to our faith and risky when kids want to do it, too...