I try to do a "quiet time" of some sort with Blythe
every day most days. And yes, quiet time is supposed to be in quotes in that sentence because there is rarely anything quiet about being with that girl. For quite awhile now though we get out a blanket, get some crackers, and read our bibles. A few months ago I started helping her memorize scriptures. And we're starting to pray together more too [this is slow.] So when I saw that I "I Can Learn the Bible" by Holly Hawkins Shivers was a book available for review, I grabbed it quickly. And I'm so glad I did.
In the foreword, Jennie Allen shares that her seminary professor Howard Hendricks said, "If you give your child one thing by the age of five, let it be a big faith in God." That's what I want. That's what, at the end of my days when I'm exhausted, I pray I am giving my girls. And even though I'm a former teacher, I need help in practical ways to present this to them. And that is exactly what "I Can Learn the Bible" gives me. In the foreword, Shivers shares her purpose and thoughts behind the book:
"We can educate our children with a biblical worldview, we can enroll them in church activities…and love them well. But there is nothing like the Word of God being planted in their hearts, taking root, and producing genuine spiritual growth. Ultimately, the spiritual well-being of our children rests in the hands of God-- He will form and strengthen them through His Word and His Spirit. It takes the pressure off parents, does it not?"
The set up of the book is simple: Every week there is a new verse and a small devotional/story that expounds on the verse and makes it practical for a child. There are also fill in the blank statements and questions to help the parent engage in a discussion with their kids. The focus is to help your child understand the scripture, but also to help them memorize it. Let's be honest: three year olds can hear something once and remember it forever! [Just be sure they hear it right the first time because it's locked in there after that. Example: Blythe has been singing "Hot Dog Crumbs" all day instead of "Hot Cross Buns"].
Shivers gives parents a sample "weekly schedule" that they can potentially follow with the week's verse and devotion. This is super helpful because the material is simple and short, so to come back to it everyday for the week can be a bit challenging, but the schedule helps. I also improvised because Blythe is still pretty little, and to keep her interest in the same verse and devotion all week was a little challenging. So here is an example of our week with this devotional:
Monday: we read the verse and the devotional together. This week's verse was, "In the beginning God created the sky and the earth. Genesis 1:1"*. I gave Blythe a black piece of construction paper and some star stickers and white and blue crayons and we made something out of the nothing.
Tuesday: We read the verse again and I had her repeat what she could on her own. Then we used the little prayer from the book that had a fill in the blank: "My favorite part of Your creation is….". Blythe said her daddy [of course]. So I had her draw a picture of her daddy and we prayed and thanked God for making him. We repeated the verse before we were done.
Thursday: She didn't want to do the devotional this day, so I followed her lead and we read a favorite Bible story of her-- Jonah.
Friday: We returned to the original devotional, re-read it in its entirety, and repeated the verse and the prayer.
Saturday and Sunday: I will ask her to repeat the verse whenever I think of it.
At first I thought there would be no way to get an entire week out of it, but when I supplemented some activities, it really worked well.
At the end of every devotion is this phrase that the child is asked to repeat: God's Word is for me and to me, it is in me and working through me, and just like His love, it goes on and on forever!
Blythe picked up on that right away and by the end of the first week has almost memorized it.
I think this is a great tool for parents with younger children [I believe it is marketed for 4-8 year olds], and is just what I had been looking for. It gives me a baseline, but also allows me to add my own twist if I want to. If you don't get excited about coming up with crafts and activities though, just sticking to the basic devotion and outline Shivers lays out would work well too. If your child is a little older, you could probably just spend one or two days with each devotion.
I hung up a line right by our dining room table where we will clip each week's verse, and I'm hoping at the end of each week to go over each of the verses as a form of review. It is also a great reminder to our family to have these verses hanging up-- God's word is for me and to me, in me and working through me!
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and BookLook Bloggers, but all opinions are my own.
*I'm not crazy about the translation of this verse [International Children's Bible], because if you look in Genesis it isn't until verses 7 & 8 that "the sky" is created.