Baby Steps

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Charlene, John, and Ray in Togas and Laurel Wreaths, 1979

We are history lovers, and I’d love to tell you that this photo illustrates that Ray and I started teaching our eldest history when he was a few months old. It would make a good story, but in reality Ray, John, and I are dressed up for a Christian student center event when Ray was a campus minister for students at Ole Miss. Why am I wearing our brown polka-dotted sheet and Ray our floral one? We don’t remember. Ray says that maybe we did it to be even weirder. Maybe so.

While we were in Mississippi,  Ray and I started pulling Bible class material together for classes we taught. While he preached in Illinois and in Tennessee, we began to write Bible class curriculum for the churches where Ray was serving. In Tennessee we began to dream of publishing them.

Twenty years ago, while teaching first and second graders in Sunday School, I decided to develop Creation lessons for my class. I decorated our room with Creation posters, hung birds and clouds from the ceiling, and filled the window ledge with picture books about things God created.

The next Sunday a little boy said that the room looked different from the week before. I asked the children what they thought we were going to study. Another little boy asked, “The universe?”

I said, “We are going to study about the things God made.”

A little public-schooled boy said, “God didn’t make the world, did He?” I was mortified. This sweet, well-behaved little boy had been to church since he was a baby, but he did not know that God created the world. I felt sure he had heard it. Perhaps somehow his Sunday School teaching and what he heard at school (and perhaps on television) didn’t seem to fit together for him.

A passion was born within my heart that day: I must help children know about Creation. I researched everything the Bible said about light and water and dry ground and birds and fish . . . I was amazed at how much the Bible said about what God made. Take birds, for instance. Noah released a dove from the ark. Abraham sacrificed a turtledove and a pigeon. Birds fed Elijah. Jesus taught that when we see God taking care of the birds, we see that He will take care of us, too.

Our class studied one topic after the other in the order of the Creation week. We did hands-on activities and read picture books about those topics. Our class was “homeschooling” with unit studies.

I later put those unit studies together in the order of the Creation week. After reading a homeschooling article that suggested we create a sense of wonder in the hearts of children, I named the curriculum, Creating a Sense of Wonder.

It was really low-tech (some of its page numbers were hand-written, because I didn’t know how to use a computer well enough to add them), but it was a beginning. God was teaching me. He was helping me put ideas on paper.

Ray continued to write Bible curriculum for Sunday School classes and was also asked to write some for a Sunday School curriculum publisher. Step by step God was building on the foundation our daddies and granddaddies had laid as we were growing up. God was preparing us to do what we do today.

I know that the steps you are taking to train your children seem like feeble ones some days–maybe many days. God is the master builder. He knows what to do with those steps you are taking.

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9, NASB

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