In this episode we look at some books that spark wonder and joy in life to help our kids embrace joy, peace, and develop resilience.
July Giveaway: Enter the drawing by: 1. download the 12 mini lessons of the "Parental Guidance Requested Workshop" 2. Comment below "Books that Spark," Episode 1 that you downloaded them Two winners drawn on July 31, 2020: 1st prize - Praying the Scriptures for Your Children: Discover How to Pray God's Purpose for Their Lives by Jodie Berndt The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones The Jesus Storybook Bible Coloring Book for Kids: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones
2nd prize - ICB, Bedtime Devotions with Jesus Bible from Thomas Nelson
Transcript: Welcome to Books that Spark, a podcast for parents and caregivers where we review books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and conversations leading to teachable moments with our kids. Thank you for joining me today.
I wanted to let you know that coming up in August, I’m really excited. I’ve been able to interview two wonderful authors who have books debuting in August. The first writer we’re going to talk to is Deb Gruelle, and we’ll be introducing her newest book coming out in August. The second one is Jennifer Grant who also has a book coming out. We are actually going to have her interview on the day that her book debuts which is August 17th, so you won’t want to miss Books that Spark in August when we have two very special guests share their books with us. We had a great time talking about their books and what sparked the stories that they wrote. So be sure to join us in August when we have these interviews. Don’t forget about our drawing for July. Remember our podcast comes out each Tuesday morning. And I’m so excited to tell you that if you sign up for my mailing list you get some freebies. I’ve created three different books of phonemes that you can download. You can choose from the three different books. One is a coloring book, and the other two are just picture books. And you can learn and practice and go through the phonemes of the English language with your children. I have a list when you sign up for free as well that is of over 100 picture books and board books that are excellent to read to your kids, really good stories with excellent illustrations that are either Christian in nature or do not go against the Christian worldview. So I was very picky, overly picky sometimes to create this list for you. I also tried to go with writers maybe you haven’t heard of before. I did not include Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, and I do note that in the intro on the list that those are excellent books and you can pretty much trust any of those. But the books that I did read may be books you’ve never heard of or writers that you’ve never heard of. I hope this can be beneficial for you and your family as your shopping for books in building your child’s library. In addition to that, I’ve decided to make one of my stories available on my website. If you go to my new website, terriehellardbrown.com, you’ll see that I have quite a few free things that you can download there. I’m adding new things all the time. I’ve developed in one of the classes I did in Parental Guidance Requested and that I teach in my workshops I have a freebie that is a passport you can download and make for your children and read different books from different countries, stories, fairy tales, and legends from different countries and learning to count in different languages and these kinds of things. So I have that resource that will be available soon on my website. I’m also developing some other materials, some cost, some are free, but those are all available on my website. Please go take a look and download what you can use. And just send me a little note. Let me know if you do use the different items with your church, with your homeschooling group or whatever, and let me know how you used it. That would mean a lot to me. Some of the things are plays, monologues, and dialogues that you can use in your church services or in your schools. My goal is to help equip parents, teachers, and caregivers with the ability to have materials and have resources that will help us as we’re discipling and teaching our children and helping them to grow in their understanding of God and His purpose for their lives. And in addition to that, I also try to speak into your life as a parent, as a teacher, and as a caregiver. Because we need to be discipled too. So that is what I try to do with my website, my podcast, and my blog is to encourage you and help equip you so that you can help equip your children.
I want to share with you a feel-good story that I love. This book is called My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray, illustrated by Raul Colon. This is one of those books you cherish and that you enjoy sharing again and again whether you’re the parent or the child. It’s such a beautiful story of a relationship between a mom and daughter. It’s about a mom sharing her love for dance and her love for life. In addition, it has great onomatopoeia and imagery and other literary devices that make this book fun for teaching literary devices if you’re a homeschooler. The pictures look like they were either painted or that the colon used pastels. Each picture is full of color.
The book takes us through the seasons of the year. The book says, “My mama had a dancing heart, and she shared that heart with me.” She starts with spring. “Mama says, ‘Bless the world, it feels like a tip-tapping, song-singing, finger-snapping kind of day. Let’s celebrate!’ and so we did.”
For the summer she says, “When the waves would come plash-splashing on the shore, out we’d go into the red-orange morning with kites and balloons tied to our wrists. We’d do a seabird-flapping, dolphin-arching, hello summer ballet, with me following Mama, and the sand stuck between the toes of our up-and-down squish-squashing feet.” Then Moore takes us through fall and winter. The books ends with “and now after satin-ribboning my feet and listening to the violins sing-swelling around me, onto the stage I go air-daring, leap-flying, wing-soaring, letting the spring rain, summer waves, autumn leaves, winter snow carry me along until the music slows and I feather-float down…down to the ground.”
So at the end of the story, the girl has grown up and has become a professional ballerina because of the heart her mom had and experiences they shared together. She takes all that she gleaned from her relationship with her mom and puts her mom’s passion into her own performances as a dancer.
So you can see why I love this book. I think it’s really beautiful to see the relationship and the affect the mom had on the daughter. The conversations from books like this can be about how we influence each other in the family. Our kids may not think about their influence on others. It’s a powerful thing to think about what we can do to bless and make a positive difference in this world and in our families. I think it’s important to teach our kids that they have an effect on people and can bless and influence others.
We also need to think about the influence we have as parents. What legacy do we want to leave for our kids? We have so much influence in shaping who our children become especially while they are young. When our kids are grown, what have we done that is going to influence them to hold on to the wonder and joy of life? We want to deal with values, dignity, integrity, and choosing right over wrong, but we also want to instill joy and wonder in them as well. We want to build creativity and ingenuity in our kids as well as resilience. They watch how we react to and act in life. That will influence our kids more than anything we say. The time we spend together with our kids is going to forever affect our kids. So, we need to be careful not to always be so serious, but to help them see the joy and strength that joy brings in our lives. We need to go splish-splashing in the waves by the ocean. We need to go building sandcastles and swinging on tree swings and whatever gives our hearts delight and share that with our children.
Of course, we must teach our kids about safety and right and wrong, but we also need to teach the love of life. The bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Do they see us letting go of that strength or do they see us walking in it?
If all our kids see in us is negativity and defeat, that is what they will learn. If they see resilience and tenacity, that is what they will learn.
I want to share a couple more books with you, but I want to take just a moment to talk to you. For years I battled depression. Now, I’m not talking about clinical depression where we need medication. I have friends who are bipolar and who are dealing with other illnesses and need their medication. If you are dealing with post-partum depression, I suggest talking to your doctor. There are some times in life when we may need medical help. But what I’m talking about is the type of depression that we fall into and amplify by our own thoughts and attitudes. It’s like when one bad thing happens in our day, we focus on that and our attitude is, “I’ve had a horrible day,” when what we really had was a horrible few minutes with a really rude person or whatever.
I’m sharing this with you because we can teach our kids to live defeated, depressed lives if we aren’t careful. Like I said, I’ve been there. I would have something bad happen that triggered my negativity, and I would spiral down into depression. I had a friend who struggles with this too, and she simply said, “It is not God’s will for us to live like this.” That frustration we were talking about and feeling at that moment got me to thinking about it. The bible tells us to take every thought captive under the authority of Christ. So, I started trying to do that. If I start feeling depressed, I think back to where it started. Usually it was something small that spiraled and grew bigger because of my response to it. The thoughts I had after that initial point are usually filled with lies about how useless I am as a human being, how God can never use my life, or about how I should just give up with whatever because I will never succeed…stuff like that. So, as I took each thought captive, I would think of God’s truth in His word, and the lies became apparent. I rejected those lies and began to come out of the depression.
Sometimes I fall into that pit because I’m exhausted. If you haven’t realized it yet, parenting can be exhausting. So, some days, I would just go to bed early deciding I would deal with whatever happened after a good night’s sleep. It’s funny how problems shrink when we sleep on them. Even big problems shrink some and become easier to tackle when we’re rested.
The other thing I’ve learned through this process is that creativity goes out the window when we’re stressed and exhausted. I want my kids to use their creativity and to value it. I want them to see that their dad and I are creative people too. I believe creativity is such a gift from God, and because of it, we can problem-solve and move through life with more grace and beauty in our lives.
So, if you’re exhausted, battling depression, feeling defeated, find a way to get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone or have someone watch your kids so you can take a nap, or if you need to go see a doctor, please do it. I wish someone had talked to me about this when I was a young mom instead of having to battle this for so long alone. Victory is attainable. We do not have to stay stuck in defeat and depression or stay a victim to the lies of the Enemy.
Two last little points I learned along the way: Grief is a painful experience that we must walk through. Do not try to avoid that one. If we are grieving a loss, as painful as it is, we need to walk through it. Medication only delays it. It does not remove it. Second, all feelings are temporary. Mark Lowry, a Christian comedian and singer, says his favorite Bible verse is, “It came to pass.” That’s not really the whole verse in the Bible, but his point is that in all of life, whatever we’re walking through, it’s temporary. We can’t give up, we need to walk through it.
A friend who lost someone to suicide always reminds people that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. All problems are temporary, no matter how terrible they are. We need to realize this, and we need to teach it to our kids.
I just felt I needed to share that today. Maybe someone listening is really struggling or maybe you’re just losing hope in our world’s current situation. This too shall pass.
I have a mentor who is wise beyond her years. This week’s blog post will tell you a little more about this story, but when we were facing a really hard situation in ministry, I called her to lament and to ask for prayer. Her response was simply, “I wonder what God is going to do?” That sentence changed everything for me. I have tried to hold on to that since then no matter what we’re facing because God is ALWAYS at work in and around us. There have been times when He literally fought the battle for us. We were all concerned about something awful that was going on, and the next thing we knew, within a few days, the whole situation had turned around and the problem evaporated. It’s not always that way, but we have seen God work and help us walk through too many situations. With each one, trusting Him gets a little easier.
So, how can we help our kids live their lives in this way: with resilience, tenacity, and joy?
First, by us setting the example for them.
Second, by helping them know the truth of God’s word and His presence with them always.
Third, by instilling a joy for life in them through the wonder and creativity in their lives and all around us.
I think that’s one reason I enjoy poetic writing in picture books. That’s why I like My Mama Had a Dancing Heart. That’s also why I like Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Poetry and Color by Mary O’Neill, illustrated by John Wallner. This is a book of poems, but the illustrations and the imagery in the poems are amazing.
“The Colors live
Between black and white
In a land that we
Know best by sight.
But knowing best
For colors dance
And colors sing,
And colors laugh
And colors cry—
Turn off the light
And colors die,
And they make you feel
Every feeling there is
From the grumpiest grump
To the fizziest fizz.
And you and you and I
Each has a taste
And each has a smell
And each has a wonderful
Story to tell….”
And if you’re homeschooling, this is a brilliant book for teaching imagery and personification.
Another book I’ve shared before is Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago. They also created the Bible story book and coloring book that I’m giving away in the drawing at the end of July. Remember to comment on the first episode of this podcast and to download the 12 lessons from Parental Guidance Requested to be entered in the drawing.
In this book, Jones takes a scripture and poetically described the meaning of it. It’s not a picture book, but it is a fun book to share with anyone. The pictures are gorgeous. On page 59 she uses Colossians 3:15 which says, “Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” And she writes, “Let the sun in! When you open the windows, do you have to beg the fresh air to come in? Or when you open the curtains in the morning, do you have to argue with the sun to make it shine into your room? How silly! You just open the windows and the air flows in. You open the curtains and the sun shines in. The Bible says it’s like that with God’s peace. It will flow into our hearts, if we let it. Are you worried? Are you anxious? Is anything troubling you today? Don’t try to work it all out by yourself. Let God’s peace flow in—like sunshine into a dark room.”
On page 69 she talks about 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” She writes, “No Birds’ Nests! Sometimes bad thoughts just land in your head from nowhere. Is having an awful thought a sin? When Jesus was tempted in the desert, Satan whispered awful thoughts and lies to Jesus to tempt him away from God. It’s not the thoughts that count; it’s what we do with those thoughts. Jesus didn’t listen to those awful thoughts. He didn’t believe them. He sent them away. An old proverb says, ‘You can’t help it if birds come and land on your head. But you don’t have to let the build nests in your hair!’”
One more is called “Born to Fly!” on page 212 of the book. Jones writes, “Have you seen eagles teaching their babies to fly? Oh dear. Poor eagle babies. Imagine one minute you’re all cozy in this warm, lovely nest and the next, you’re being pushed out—BY YOUR OWN PARENTS! But the parents know what they’re doing. As the babies plummet, they flap their wings in a panic—and grow stronger. The parents catch them on their wings and lift them back up, over and over, until at last the baby learns to do what it was born for—FLY! And the Bible says you were meant to fly as well—to soar in God’s love, trusting him, loving him. You were born to fly!”
I like the way she describes the Christian life in this book. Her words are full of hope and faith and focus on God’s plan and purposes.
The last book I want to share today is Quinn’s Promise Rock by Christie Thomas and illustrated by Sydney Hanson. This book’s subtitle is “No Matter Where, God Is Always There,” and that is the message of this cute book. It’s the story of a father owl and his daughter owl. As they are flying one night, Quinn, the daughter, suddenly becomes afraid thinking about what if she got lost. Her dad takes her several places and shows her the safety of those places and uses them as analogies for God’s presence with her. He gives her a rock to remind her that God is always with her no matter where she goes.
I love this book because it describes many of the attributes of God. I also love the father/daughter relationship shown in the story. It’s a very sweet story.
I hope you have a week filled with the knowledge of God’s presence at work in your life and that our kids know He’s with them as well.
Thank you for joining us for Books that Spark. I hope this discussion will spark meaningful conversations with the children in your life. Remember our drawing at the end of July. Enter before July 31st by downloading the 12 lessons and commenting on the first episode either here or on my website blog. You can sign up for my mailing list to get weekly reminders of the podcast and my blog. My website is terriehellardbrown.com
Free Course Through July--Parental Guidance Requested:
Lesson 1-Reading Picture Books with Our Kids
Lesson 2-Praying with Our Kids
Lesson 3-Praying for Our Kids
Lesson 4-Overcoming the Overwhelm
Lesson 5-Discipling Our Kids
Lesson 6-Keeping Consistent Conversation with Our Kids
Lesson 7-Seize the Teachable Moments
Lesson 8-Creating a Safe, Soft Story Circle
Lesson 9-Building Character
Lesson 10-Leading Kids in the Way They Should Go
Lesson 11-Be Aware of Bias
Lesson 12-Making Room for Reading
Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials. Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, and discussion. For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com