Monday, February 19, 2018

Where is God?

Picture Book: Where are You Hiding, God?
Author & Illustrator: Elizabeth Zartl
Summary: The young child in this new book is determined to find God. She even plays a game of Hide & Seek with God. 
First she looks in her bedroom and explores her dresser. Is God hiding in her socks? But she doesn't see God.
Then she checks out the bathroom. Is God hanging out with her little rubber duck? No. God isn't found in the tub either.
Next she wanders to the garden. She's disappointed that God is not among the flowers. 
She starts to get frustrated, "Why can't I find you, God?" Then a small leaf floats down and touches her.  
 She recognizes God in the leaf... and in the wind! 
Now she declares with confidence that God is in the flowers afterall. God is in the dragonflies too!
And at bath time, she makes an even more profound discovery. God is in even the smallest drop of water.  
When she returns to her room, she realizes her earlier mistake. God has been there all along, in her dresser and more importantly, in her image when she looks in the mirror because God is always inside her.
Hanna’s Comments: This beautiful book won a 2017 Spirituality and Practice Award. I received an advance copy, hence the missing mirror in the last photo. Published copies will have a foil mirror. Read this book with older children if you are trying to help them understand that God's presence is everywhere. If you have younger children who love to play Hide & See (What child doesn't!), this is a great book for them. Read the book, and then play an exploration game or ask them to go find God in an unusual place and report back to the group. While playing, be sure to emphasize the central message of the book: God is in every moment, every place, and inside us. Don't forget to talk with your kids about the emotions that this character is feeling and how those translate to our own lives when we feel God's presence. There is joy and comfort and especially companionship.
Original Publisher & Date: Westminster John Knox, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: My presence will go with you…(Exodus 33:14); Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:7); You will seek and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13); Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in your faith family and explore the possibilities of God's presence everywhere, including inside us. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

PBT Question #2 to Ask about Any Secular Picture Book

Is there a sacred theme to the book? (such as Fruits of the Spirit, Light, Bread, Ritual, Creation, Courage, Righteousness, Ancestors, the Least…)
This is the easiest of the PBT questions to consider when approaching a picture book. 
Often the major and minor themes of picture books are concepts of social-emotional learning that we want children to know so books on these concepts are common. Fortunately for those who want to use picture books in ministry, those same concepts are also considered aspects of an abundant spiritual or religious life. 
If your using the "web version" format (you may have to select this on your phone), you will see a large list of purple search labels below. On this website, I consider topics that directly connect with scriptures found in the Old Testament (Hebrew) Scriptures and New Testament Scriptures.
 You'll find fiction and non-fiction books.
I've included classics from your childhood. 
And I especially enjoy telling you about the best new books and award-winning books.
Just click on a purple word below and be taken to all the picture books I’ve connected to that concept.
To demonstrate the abundance of themes that can be found in the PBT search list, here are 10 biblical themes and links to 10 featured PBT books that connect (1 each for the first 10 letters of the alphabet):
Adoption -  MissMaple’s Seeds
Brokenness - Koko’s Kitten 
Change - Fortunately     
Discovery - TheListening Walk
Enemies - EnemyPie   
Friendship - Bear and Bird   
Generosity -  If You Plant a Seed
Image of God - The Colors of Us
Justice - The Day the Crayons Quit

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Monday, February 12, 2018

PBT Redux #21 Love Monster and the Last Chocolate

This year Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday are on the same day. For some people, Ash Wednesday begins a Lenten journey of struggle and denying your desires. My Lenten journey will involve better Sabbath practices. I'll bask in the love of God that is always available. Today’s PBT Redux is a reminder of God's love that is better than chocolate, ever present, and more abundant than we realize. You might want to have some chocolate handy when you read this one.
Picture Book: Love Monster and the Last Chocolate
Author & Illustrator: Rachel Bright 
Summary: This book is in a series of 4 books. In all, you’ll find Love Monster living in a world of cute, fluffy characters and exploring their relationships. In the introductory book, Love Monster searches for love among the fluffy creatures, thinking no one will love a slightly hairy, googly-eyed monster. He's so wrong and so lovable.
In this book, Love Monster knows he is loved by all his cute fluffy animal friends. He is fretting about a box of chocolates, found when he arrives home from a trip. 
Before opening it, he worries about whether he should share the chocolates. There might not be enough to share with all his cute, fluffy friends. 
Someone might eat his favorite, Double Chocolate Strawberry Swirl.  
Perhaps he will have only the coffee one left after sharing. He hates the coffee one!
After deciding not to share and then feeling very guilty,
 he runs to his friends 
and confesses his selfishness. 
They insist that he look in the box.  
There he finds one chocolate, his favorite, and a love note saying how much they missed their favorite monster. 
The story ends with this wise statement: “Sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others that you start to find out just how much they think of you.”
Hanna’s Comments: How could I not love this book?! It’s about 2 of my favorite experiences in this great life God gives us: chocolate and friends! Your children will get a kick out of Love Monster’s fretting. Help them realize how he struggles with generosity but is still willing. Claim and explain the joys of generosity.
Allow your audience to give examples of when they have discovered surprising generosity from others. Tie it all together with some scripture. See my suggestions below.
Original Publisher & Date: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2015 
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: One gives freely, yet grows all the richer. (Proverbs 11:24-25); Give and it will be given to you. (Luke 6:38a); It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35b); Let no one seek their own good but the good of a neighbor (1 Cor. 10:24); Look not only to your own interests but to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4); any scripture involving God's abundant love or grace
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book when teaching children about the joys (and struggles) of generosity. OR Teach this book to explore God's abundant love (or grace) freely and surprisingly given, even when our inclinations are selfishness.