Category: Music, Audio, Movies (page 1 of 6)

Theology is Awesome (Videos)

Our theology influences every part of our lives, and yet so many theology resources are fairly abstract—they’re hard to decipher, and tough for kids to decode. We adults can leap a little more nimbly from one abstract concept to another, so applying theology—what we believe about God—to a dicey situation at work may come more easily to us. It isn’t easy, of course, but we’ve had more practice. Our brains can handle a little abstract thinking.

But when our kids are campaigning for a last-minute drink of water before bed, or testing for a yellow belt, or squabbling with each other—what does theology have to say to that? The other day my daughter was wrestling with some unsavory feelings toward her sister, and I found myself rambling about, you know, God’s love and maybe the cross? And my words shot past her like so many misaimed arrows.

In that moment, she needed me to be concrete. She needed to hear examples she recognized, from the world she sees around her. My fluffy abstract nouns like “love” and “forgiveness” gave her nothing to hold onto and turn over in her hands. She needed me to sit down next to her and point to something she could study and say, “There. It looks like that.”

Theology is Awesome (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

The videos produced by Theology is Awesome do exactly that: Kate and Brannon take tricky concepts and big questions and explain them in a way that gives viewers something to see and something to take with them. They frame some of the big questions we all ask about God and the world, from “Does theology matter?” to “Why is theology so boring?”, in creative ways that make even the most abstract-thinking of us take notice. They bring energy (and such a sense of humor!) to subjects that could have been flat and colorless. You’ll finish each video wishing you knew them personally (which—full disclosure—we do! They’re good friends of ours, and, yes, they really are that delightful).

So, where should you start watching? They have some delightful introductory videos, but I recommend jumping into the deep end with “How to Teach Theology to Kids.” It’ll make you laugh, and it’ll prepare you to pause mid-soup-stir to answer your child’s question about Pharaoh’s hard heart (yikes).

Theology is Awesome (video resource)
YouTube | Facebook

Also worth visiting: the Ellises’s business Credibility. They’re legit!

The Bible Project (Videos)

When our school year (like so many of yours) took a hairpin turn mid-March, I found I missed the little things most—those luxuries we hadn’t realized were luxuries. Watching the students file into morning chapel and sit down right next to each to other. All of us singing together, inhaling and exhaling one another’s saliva droplets, unaware that that was a privilege we could lose.

But just as I’ve loved seeing how God has transformed our losses into unanticipated gifts, I have loved seeing how our school transformed morning chapel into a little “chapel at home.” The at-home version is greatly simplified, yes. But during those last months of school, the girls and I gathered around the table each day, watched a video from The Bible Project, and then read a portion of Scripture together. Chapel wasn’t what it had been, of course, but it became something else for those last few months—a time to gather around the light of Scripture together and to remember who God is.

The Bible Project (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

You’ve probably already watched a video from The Bible Project. They’ve been around for a while. Co-founders Tim Mackie and Jon Collins use their differing gifts to articulate some of the more abstract ideas in Scripture, both explaining the concept through each video’s narration and illustrating it through the video’s art.

I was most familiar with their videos summarizing specific books of the Bible, but they also make short videos about theological terms or concepts, or about the genres of Scripture—so many things. And the videos explain so clearly what role each book or idea has within the bigger story of the Bible. For all you visual learners (I’m one, too): you’ll love these. And for those of you wondering how much such a resource costs: they’re all free! (But, of course, you could always donate to the Bible Project.)

The Bible Project (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

So, how could you use these with kids? If your pastor is preaching through a book of the Bible, you could watch the corresponding Bible Project video to give your family a big-picture view of your pastor’s week-by-week preaching. Or you could pick a specific theme, like “The Covenants” or “The Holy Spirit,” and dig into that with your kids. Or you could browse through their library and see what strikes your fancy. I highly recommend the series “How to Read the Bible.” We started watching it during the last weeks of the school year, and our girls loved it so much they insisted we keep watching through the summer.

The Bible Project (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

One note, though: I do encourage you to pre-watch these videos before sharing them with sensitive or young children. I haven’t seen anything in them that is inappropriate for adults, or even older children, but the Bible can be gruesome and disturbing at times, and in the interest of staying faithful to the text, the Bible Project doesn’t shy away from that. Your kid may not be ready for some of the videos quite yet.

But hey, even if that is the case, you can still enjoy them! And I really think you will.

The Bible Project (Videos) | Little Book, Big Story

The Bible Project (Video Resource)

“For You, Lord” (A Song)

Our pastor has been inviting musicians within our church body to record and share songs with the congregation, and a few weeks ago, it was my turn.

I had written this song a month or so before he asked, for a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer and was just beginning treatment. But I have noticed that songs and poems in particular often mean one thing to me when I write them, but then take on an entirely difference shape once they’re finished—as though I thought we were building a really big sandbox, and God knew all along we were framing a house.

This song has that quality more than any others—it became a prayer I sang during those first weeks, as things around our state began closing and we started to understand that a white-coated savior wasn’t going to swoop in with a vaccine and make this all go away. When our pastor called and asked if I’d be interested in recording a song for our church—now worshiping in various rooms throughout our county—I knew exactly which song I would share.

I want to share it with you, too.

For You, Lord

You are my light and
my salvation—
what shall I fear?
You are the stronghold
of my life—
of what shall I be afraid?
Not of sickness or death,
suffering, fear, or shame.
Nothing can separate
me from your love
or remove from me
your grace.

You have said, “Seek my face,”
and so, O God,
you alone will I pursue.
But you know me, God,
how I go astray—
keep me close to you.
All the days of my life,
may I never know
a day apart from you.
You are my shelter,
my refuge,
and I will cling to you.

I will wait for you, Lord

When we reach those doors,
my hand in yours—
what, Lord, shall I say?
But the door long barred
swings open for
the passkey of your name.
You clothe me in your garments
of goodness,
mercy, peace, and joy;
you say, “Child of mine,
come inside—
enter and enjoy.”

I will wait for you, Lord

Let’s Support Authors & Artists!

Once a day, we go for a walk. It’s a big outing for us now, and invariably includes a stop to visit our neighbor’s chickens. (That is the extent of our analog socializing for now: the neighbor’s chickens.) But along the way, we hunt for stuffed animals hidden in windows and on porches, and we search the neighborhood for handmade signs: “Apart Together.” “We got this.” “We can do hard things.”

Our own sign says “Thank You,” and around it ranges a constellation of Post-It notes naming everyone we could think of to thank, from God to grannies (Phoebe’s addition). And then there’s Sarah’s addition, the one that is the reason for today’s post: “Authors.” In her words, “We would be so bored right now without them!”

Recently, S. D. Smith wrote about the importance of supporting artists and authors during this pandemic, as the cancellation of events and tours has meant that many of them are losing revenue they need in order to keep doing the work we (and they) love so much.

I know that the internet is filled with things we can do to help, and that is as much a gift as it is—at times—overwhelming. So, here is a little, bite-sized list of authors and artists mentioned frequently on this blog and how we can support them right now.

Slugs & Bugs

Slugs and Bugs | Little Book, Big Story

Slugs & Bugs is currently running a “SlugStarter” (like a KickStarter, but with a better name!) to fund their newest project—a new silly songs album! Learn more about that here.

S. D. Smith

Ember Falls, by S. D. Smith | Little Book, Big Story

S. D. Smith, author of the Green Ember series, just released the final installment of the series. (Want to know more? I reviewed the earlier books in the series—but have, alas! fallen behind in my reading—here.) Order a copy of that book or any of the others to help keep his good work going.

Dianne Jago

Deeply Rooted Magazine: Issue 13 | Little Book, Big Story

You haven’t heard Dianne mentioned here by name, but she is the founder of Deeply Rooted Magazine. She wrote a book! And it launched right at the start of the closures and lockdowns, so I encourage you to pick up a copy of A Holy Pursuit (or, if you’ve read it already, left an Amazon review). I haven’t read the full book yet, but I got to peek at it early in the process and it looks so good—a biblical look at the popular myth of “Following your dreams.”

The Riot & The Dance (N. D. Wilson)

The Riot & The Dance: Earth is a stunning nature documentary filled with solid theology and directed by N. D. Wilson (author of 100 Cupboards and a bunch of our favorite books; you can read my interview with him here). The Riot & The Dance: Water, the second film in the series, just released last month, and you can stream both films for free on Vidangel. But this is work worth supporting: buy a t-shirt. Buy books by N. D. Wilson or Gordon Wilson. Keep the good stuff coming!

Ned Bustard

Reformation ABCs, by Stephen J. Nichols | Little Book, Big Story

Ned Bustard is one of my favorite illustrators, known best around here for illustrating Church History ABCs, its sequels, and Every Moment Holy. But he also sells prints of his (excellent!) linocuts on Etsy. Grab one (or three) here and show support your support.

Andrew Peterson

The Wingfeather Saga & Wingfeather Tales | Little Book, Big Story

Andrew Peterson recently released new editions of the first two books in The Wingfeather Saga (which I love deeply and reviewed in full here). The book covers are gorgeous. These are totally worth buying even if you already have the other ones. (Don’t ask how many copies of Anne of Green Gables I own based on this logic alone.)

Scott James

A two-week devotional for Easter: Mission Accomplished, by Scott James | Little Book, Big Story

Author of the Easter devotional Mission Accomplished, and the Advent devotional The Littlest Watchman (both reviewed here), Scott James is adept and telling big truths to little people. His newest book Where is Wisdom? launched last week and is inspired by Job. I haven’t read it personally, but I know he’s an author worth supporting.

Wildflowers Magazine

Wildflowers Magazine | Little Book, Big Story

Wildflowers magazine is full of fun projects for kids currently house-bound, and they are currently offering a free printables to their newsletter subscribers! These include coloring pages, DIY projects, and more (even one of the short stories featuring my illustrations). They have also marked down all their past issues to $8 apiece! Learn more about the giveaways here, or go here to order an issue of Wildflowers.

Those are a few ideas. You could also buy anything from the Rabbit Room store, which is filled with work by artists, musicians, and authors worth supporting.

Staying Home | Little Book, Big Story

And if you know of other authors or artists we can support, please mention them in the comments below!

Radio Read Along (Podcast)

Last week, I introduced you to BiblioFiles, my very favorite podcast. This week, I’ll introduce you to Radio Read Along—my other very favorite podcast. (I get to have two very favorite podcasts because both are produced by the Center for Lit crew, so really, they’re parts of an excellent whole.)

But rather than tell you what both podcasts have in common, I’m going to tell you how they differ: BiblioFiles is filled with meaty discussions about great books, while Radio Read Along introduces listeners to great books worth discussing. Part audio book, part discussion group, part book club you wish you actually belonged to, Radio Read Along takes listeners chapter by chapter through classic literature and concludes each book with a BiblioFiles-style discussion.

This is a two-pronged podcast: first, the full story, read aloud delightfully by one of the Andrews family (usually, but not always, Adam). Then, the discussion. The BiblioFiles discussions are wonderful and often send me out hunting for the books under examination. But Radio Read Along gives me the full story first. By the time I reach the discussion episode (at the end of the book or, for longer books, every ten chapters or so), everything—the story itself, my thoughts on it, the scenes I loved or did not understand, my questions—is fresh in my memory. These episodes are like tiny, highly-concentrated literature courses.

Radio Read Along (a podcast) | Little Book, Big Story

But I am not the only one in our family reaping the benefits of this podcast.

On a sick day, Sarah listened to Peter Pan (joyfully read by Megan Andrews) in full. Later, we listened to the discussion together and she said happily, “Mom, that was really fun.” (Which leads me to believe that either my kids don’t know much about fun, or they know better than most what fun really is.)

Mitch and I have been listening to Great Expectations separately and discussing it, enthusiastically, when we’re together. Lydia, too, has joined us: she read Great Expectations on her own, but she and I listen to the discussion episodes in the car on the way to her ballet class. Like Sarah, she has loved and laughed aloud at them (and even preferred them over her favorite CDs).

So. I am a fan of Radio Read Along because I enjoy it. But I love it more for the way it has oriented our family discussions around literature and taught us how to ask good questions and how to respectfully disagree with one another. We are learning a lot about reading literature from Radio Read Along, but I think we’re learning a lot about being a family, too.

Radio Read Along
A Center for Lit podcast