Friday, August 26, 2022

I Am Whose I Am

Despite having the same title, the books above are very different! The first book I describe below is a PBT God Book – a book about the nature of God. The great I Am, may be called by all these names and more. The second book is a book about the nature of human beings. One of God’s names, I Am, found in Exodus 3:14, serves as a core theological perspective for both books.

Both books here are board books so refrain from reading them to older children. Instead, present their ideas to older children in other ways, such as offering only the text as poetry or storytelling. Better yet, let ideas inspire you to design a game, craft, or drama.

You may not see the connection between these 2 books. Let me explain with another crucial scripture:

All humans carry in them the Image of God. Genesis explains in 2 places and then declares us good (God created humans in God’s own image... And God blessed them and called them good. Genesis 1:27 & 28a, 31). 

The 2nd book below about human nature, empowers our goodness (Dare I write God-ness?) and blessing in each of us. No matter which name we call God, “The Great I Am” is in us and provides for our resilience!

Picture Book: I Am: The Names of God for Little Ones

Author: Diane M. Stortz

Illustrator: Diane Le Feyer

Summary: Each double page of this resource book (not to be read all at once) includes several components: The Name of God, the word/phrase in its original language, a bit of a key scripture, a paraphrase of that scripture or another, a short prayer, and a beautiful illustration. Here is a quick summary of all pages. The names of God are in bold.

Creator - Elohim (Genesis 1:1)

God All-Powerful - El Shaddai (Genesis 17:1 - Abraham’s Star Promise)

I Am – Jehovah (Moses & the Burning Bush – Exodus 3:14)

God Who Saves - El Moshaah (Moses & the Red Sea – Exodus 5, 14 & Psalm 68:20)

The Lord Will Provide – Jehovah Jireh (Abraham & Isaac – Genesis 22:14 & Manna - Exodus 16)

The Lord Who Heals - Jehovah Rophe (Exodus 15:26 & Naaman 2 Kings 5)

Son of God – Luke 1:35 (Jesus’ Baptism – Matthew 3)

Teacher – Rabbi (Matthew 5-7)

Good Shepherd – (John 10:11 & Luke 15)

Savior – (Titus 1:4 & Luke 23-24)

Friend – (John 15:14 & 21)

King of Kings – (Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19-22)

Hanna’s Comments: Very cleverly and efficiently designed, this book gives so much in its pages! Appropriately, it is sensitive to the violence of some of these stories.

This author has also written Say and Pray Bible: First Words, Stories, and Prayers for infants and toddlers. I love its design! It uses word bubbles for building simple vocabulary around a few Bible stories. 

Original Publisher: Tommy Nelson, 2018

Age Appropriateness: 3 and up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: See above

PBT Applications: Insert components of this book at the end of a children’s worship or children’s moment. Also, use it to inspire you to design a lesson for older ages about the various names for God. Encourage them to share what names they prefer for God.

Picture Book: I Am! Affirmations for Resilience

Author: Bela Barbosa

Illustrator: Edel Rodriguez

Summary: The author calls this book a tool kit for building self-esteem and self-worth. Connect it to the scriptures mentioned above and you will help build your listeners' sense of being precious children of God, endowed with goodness, strength, and resilience. The first pages offer a bit of an emotional assessment: How do you feel on the inside? 

This book offers ways to feel better. For each double-page spreads you'll find a description of feelings, directions for a stance or fluid movement, and words to say. I encourage you to insert deep breathing, explaining that the Holy Spirit is God's breath. 

Hanna’s Comments: Movement is crucial while reading this book so have a person as a designated book holder or use a book stand while you lead the movement. Reading all these pages at once would be too much. Choose a few or use this book as a resource and insert an idea into a classroom ritual or lesson’s closing prayer. Because the body is the focus here, you can glean ideas for a lesson about The Body of Christ. Certainly, we gain strength from others too!

Original Publisher: Rise X Penguin, 2020

Age Appropriateness: 2 and up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about God’s strength, such as Habakkuk 3:19 & Isaiah 12:2 (God is my strength.) OR about resilience, such as the story of Ruth & Naomi. Remember PBT scripture connections can be spiritual ideas (the first example) or spiritual stories (the 2nd example).  

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I listed both books in my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum when the RCL listed the story of the Burning Bush (Year A). The 2nd book I listed for the lesson on Isaiah 12 (Year C -theme: My Strength).

PBT Applications: Use ideas for this book and integrate them into a lesson for teens about how we find strength in The Body of Christ. Together create body postures and transform them into body prayers. 

If you are interested in learning more about my Trinity Treasures, a scripture based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.netRight now, free lessons are emailed if you agree to fill out the monthly feedback form.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Listening as an Act of Love

A few weeks ago, I posted a book about listening to godly sounds. Violinist Joshua Bell playing in a subway was the story in that post. Check it out HERE. Today’s listening is about perhaps the most holy kind of listening we humans can do... listening to a family member, friend, or even a stranger who is hurting. This is the best book I know about that holy practice. Like other excellent picture books, it is rich with tender meaning and encompasses all kinds of humanity, including humor, in its clever images and words.

Picture Book: The Rabbit Listened

Author & Illustrator: Cori Doerrfeld 

Summary: Taylor, a young child, begins to build “something amazing.” This wise author doesn’t use pronouns so Taylor can be whoever you want. Disaster strikes and all blocks fall! Taylor does too.

A series of animals comes to help Taylor cope. There’s a chicken that talks too much, an angry bear that wants to yell on Taylor’s behalf, and an elephant who wants to help Taylor remember. The ostrich’s strategy is predictable! The snake’s suggestion made me ssssmile.

“But Taylor didn’t feel like doing anything with anybody.” Yay, Taylor for knowing that! Once finally alone and in the quiet, Taylor is quietly joined by a rabbit. We don’t know if they are friends. Does it matter? After the silence, Taylor asks the rabbit to stay. Then the rabbit listens and listens and listens. Now that Taylor is ready, some of the responses that were suggested earlier now feel just right. Taylor vents, blames, and remembers. Again, “When the time was right,” Taylor details plans to build again. The rabbit listens some more as Taylor dreams of an even more amazing build next time.

Hanna’s Comments: Did you think of yourself as you heard my quick summary? I hope so! Did you think of others who have tried to help you, but the timing or remedy wasn’t right? They didn’t come in quiet, did they? Long ago, I remember hearing Krista Tippett on the On Being podcast interview Parker Palmer about a terrible bout of depression during which he was in the bed for days, maybe weeks. A friend came regularly to give him a silent foot rub. Wow! What love! What empathy! What a godly neighbor!

Original Publisher: Dial Books, 2018

Age Appropriateness: 3 and up

Formats other than Book: Audio & tablet

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about God being a comforter and listener. So many! The great commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself! Any Jesus story where his first response is to listen. Ruth and Naomi, because they were present for each other through a difficult series of tragedies and a long, dangerous journey! I bet they took turns listening. Why don’t we talk about their journey more?

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I have listed this book for 4 lessons in my 3-year RCL-based Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum. Those 4 lesson themes are: The Trinity: Our Helpers, God Hears Cries, God’s Mothering Love, and Ruth & Naomi.

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of young parents or teens. Then talk about the power of being present to (and not immediately fixing) another’s pain. Then you LISTEN as they tell stories of listening, not listening, and not being heard. Together vow to do better because it is a godly practice, good for all of us. 

One more thing: (forgive me) I know a few pastors who could use this book. There's a gift idea! 

If you are interested in learning more about my Trinity Treasures, a scripture based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.netRight now, free lessons are emailed if you agree to fill out the monthly feedback form.