My first memory of Sunday School must have been around age three. You’re going to think I’m making it up, but the truth of the matter is, the first visual I have was sitting in a circle with other kids my age, watching a kind woman put a piece of felt on a board.
Felt on a board. My first impression of Jesus.
I don’t remember understanding a lick of what this well-intentioned Sunday School teacher said, but I did want to touch the felt.
That was a little church in Bellingham. I don’t have any other memories from that, but I have seen home videos of me dressed up for the Christmas service, singing Jesus songs with a bunch of other kids, up on stage. The home video clearly shows me playing with the boy next to me, who was jumping on the risers, and so I jumped, and then a teacher came to settle us down.
The next memory I have of church came around age 8, when I was in another Sunday School. Because my family did not attend church regularly, my attendance was hit-or-miss. Our neighbor was the one who offered to drive me, and I went because I liked her kids and I liked her family. But once her blue van pulled into the Church parking lot, I felt nervous. We sang songs that I didn’t know, and I sat at a circle table full of kids I didn’t know, listening to a woman talk about verses I didn’t know and didn’t understand. Some kids remembered their Bibles. I did not. Some kids remembered their offering money. I did not. I felt stupid and alone.
I remember thinking my eight-year-old thoughts about God, wondering why He chose to reveal Himself to some people and not to others. How come other 8 year olds knew their Bible verses, and seemed to nod when the teacher spoke? Why did those same kids have more "Awana bucks" than I did to buy candy on Wednesday nights? What was I doing wrong?
Now that I am a mother, raising a daughter who is almost of the age where I had my first felt-board memory, I find myself asking God how to introduce Him to Olivia. My hope is that perhaps I can save her from some of those lonely, confused feelings I dealt with as a child when I thought about God.
My main concern is this: How do I differentiate between the stories I tell Olivia about God and Jesus along with stories of Cinderella, Snow White and the Tooth Fairy? How can I help my child grasp that one is fairy tale and the other is absolute Truth? At what age do children understand these things? And if its as early as three, like it was for me, then we are fast approaching that birthday for my daughter and I’m asking God for direction. My prayer sounds like this: “Jesus, how can I introduce You best to her?” When I hear Him whisper back, I hear “model My love.”
So, as I consider these things (both here on this blog and alone in my thoughts) I wanted to introduce a Childrens Bible that I’ve heard about from a few different women. Its called The Jesus Storybook Bible and what I like about it is that its not “cutesy.” In other words, there is no felt-board involved. Just clear text that is faithful to the Bible, yet able to capture the attention of children. So far, I’m really enjoying reading it with Olivia at night. Granted, we've only just begun. But this beginning feels good.
And you don’t think I’d tell you about this Bible without giving a few away, do you? Of course not. I have five brand-new Deluxe Edition copies right here at my desk, thanks to Sally Lloyd-Jones, who is a wonderful childrens author and weaves her faith into all her books.
Simply leave a comment (with your contact information) and if you’re one of the five winners, I’ll get a hold of you. I’d love if you’d share in the comments section ways that you are sharing your faith with your children.