Friday, November 11, 2016

Three Spiritual Practices

Picture Book: Lilla’s Sunflowers
Author & Illustrator: Colleen Rowan Kosinski
Summary: Lilla and her father especially enjoy the time they spend in her sunflower patch. 
When Papa leaves for a tour in the military, Lilla gives him a single sunflower seed to remember her. 
The coming days without her father are very hard for Lilla. She uses the sunflowers to remind her of her papa. 
As the sunflowers droop in their season, Lilla’s faith that her father will return also wanes. 
When birds attack the flowers, she is especially distraught. 
Then she receives a letter from Papa with a photo of the sunflower he grew and a message of coming home. 
He does come home, and together they plant more sunflowers. In spring, Lilla’s sunflowers bloom and many letters are received. 
Papa explains how the sunflower was such a “bright spot for everyone” that his friends are sending photos from their homes with their families and the sunflowers they had grown thanks to the seeds of Lilla’s sunflower.
The photo above finds Lilla satisfied to have her papa home and pleased that one seed that she offered then grew to bring so much joy. 
Hanna’s Comments: Today is Veteran’s Day in the USA so I offer this book as a personal thank you and reminder of the costs and difficult journeys we require of those in the military and their families. Read this book to a group of children, teens, or adults in your faith community who are choosing to remember the sacrifices of veterans. 
You can also use this book to illustrate important spiritual practices such as affirmation, gratitude, and remembering. Remembrance is not just for those who have died but for those whose stories we find valuable during their lifetimes. Strong connections across generations and congregations are built on such storytelling, affirmation, and gratitude for lives well-spent in service. 
A highlight of this book is its focus on Lilla’s feelings. Anytime you can talk about the feelings of a character, you offer the possibility of connecting to feelings in your audience. If these feelings are then connected to faith, they are even more meaningful.
Original Publisher & Date: Sky Pony Express, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections:  All things work together for good (Romans 8:28); I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers (Ephesians 1:16); be thankful as you are called in one body (Colossians 3:15); every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17); The Passover and Last Supper rituals are rituals of remembering and thanksgiving.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book during a time of remembrance for those in the military and their families who have sacrificed for you. Then teach the importance of spiritual practices such as affirmation, gratitude, and remembering.