Tag: ae macha

Mission Accomplished | Scott James

Our daughters have a knack for arriving on holidays. Our first made me a mother on Mother’s Day, which made me feel a little like an impostor: when a nurse wished me “Happy Mother’s Day” as I sat there holding my hours-old infant, I must have given her a “Who, me?” look, because she laughed and said, “Yes, you.”

Our second arrived in the midst of a month of family birthdays; our third, on St. Lucia’s Day, early in the morning (though she was due the next day, on our anniversary). Our girls seem to like days already made significant by our family or the world, and we like that about them. I thought that this daughter might be the exception, until I looked at the calendar for Lent this year and realized that she’s due right in the middle of Holy Week. That gives her something like four holidays to choose from.

Having had one daughter during Advent, I can tell you: this was welcome news. Anticipating the birth of a child during a season that celebrates the birth of the Christ Child was beautiful and deeply significant. Rejoicing over the Resurrection of Christ and our new life in him while holding the newest illustration of new life in my arms sounds equally lovely.

(Of course, that assumes that I won’t go horribly overdue. But I have my hopes. And my trust in God’s timing.)

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

And so Lent is a quiet, mildly planned event in our home this year. Today’s book is the only new Easter book I’ve discovered this year, and because it is a devotional meant to be read during Holy Week and the week after Easter, I can’t guarantee that we’ll read it all the way through as a family this year.

But I read it through and found it worth sharing, so I thought I’d kick off the Lenten season with a new book for you, then follow by republishing a few of our favorite Lent and Easter books during the following weeks.

Mission Accomplished is a collection of fourteen family devotions, meant to be started on Palm Sunday and read for the next two weeks. I don’t know what your history is with family devotions, but ours is spotty, and a two-week devotional is right up our alley. Each devotion begins with a reading from Scripture, followed by a short reading from the book. There are questions and prayers and, at the end, a hymn to sing or a project to work on as a family.

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

I liked that last part, because the hymns were (almost) all hymns I knew, and the projects were simple projects that I’ll actually (probably) do with the girls: painted rocks or crosses made from twigs and twine—stuff that doesn’t take a lot of preparation but that does deepen the lesson learned through the reading.

Illustrated by A.E. Macha (who also illustrated The Gospel Story Bible), Mission Accomplished ties our Lenten celebrations back again and again to the Gospel. Whether we read it now, well before Holy Week, or during Holy Week (accepting the very real possibility of being interrupted by a trip to the hospital), I’m excited to share this book with our family and to remember the Reason we have for singing together, reading Scripture together, and painting rocks together.


Mission Accomplished
Scott James, AE Macha (2015)

The Gospel Story Bible | Marty Machowski

Today’s summer rerun—and this is the last one!—originally appeared on May 31, 2013.


We live in an exciting time, folks. Say what you like about information overload or environmental threats or the public school system—when it comes to story Bibles, we live in a great time. There seem to be new story Bibles published each year, of such a depth and quality that we, as adults, are blessed by them! Kids like them, too, of course, but when I sit and read to my children and know that I’m not only hearing old tales retold but am being reminded of the One who originally authored them, I know that something fabulous is happening in my heart and in the little hearts beside me.

We have many story Bibles, but find ourselves returning to a proven few: The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Big Picture Story Bible and today’s guest of honor, The Gospel Story Bible.

In his introduction, Machowski says, “It’s possible to simplify Bible stories so much that you edit out important gospel connections to God’s larger plan of salvation . . . Old Testament stories point forward to Jesus. New Testament stories point to the cross. The goal is to thread each of the 156 stories like beads on the silk thread of the gospel, creating one picture with them all.”

Isn’t that beautiful?

What we love best about this Bible is the fact that it represents a vast swath of Scripture, including stories that are often glossed over or ignored by other authors. I mean, there are six stories about Jacob alone, whose questionable choices leave him somewhat under-represented in children’s literature, as well as passages from the prophets and a few of the less savory moments from Israel’s exile.

Even the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is included, in a graceful telling that leaves out details of the cities’ explicit sins and focuses instead on the fact that the people rejected and despised God—in the same way that we all have. “We want to stay in our world of sin,” Machowski writes, “so God reaches down and gives us the faith we need to believe. Then God draws us away from sin to the safety of his Son Jesus.”

I respect an author who doesn’t shy away from the more challenging parts of Scripture, but who tells them well and uses those stories to display, again and again, the goodness and grace of God and his unswerving plan to redeem his creation, no matter how far we fall, or how fully we deny him. These challenging stories give rise to interesting discussions, so be prepared to engage with your kids: you can’t get away with reading one story, snapping the book shut and bundling them off to bed. Your kids will ask questions.

In fact, Marty Machowski seems to anticpate that, and at the end of each story he includes three simple questions, usually based on the story’s illustration. Our girls love these, and this allows us time to discuss the contents of our reading at its close. In fact, one daughter knows that there are three questions, and if we ever skip one, she is quick to call us out.

The illustrations, by A.E. Macha, are unlike anything I’ve seen: simple and intricate in turns, they hold our daughters’ attention and embellish each story well. Personally, I’m not always sure that I like the style of the drawings but I am consistently drawn to them, if you know what I mean. And I love the overall palette of the book: bright, strikingly bright, but with deep, dark accents as well.

If you find that your family is ready for a new story Bible, I heartily recommend this one. It takes time to read the whole thing through (there are so many stories!), but as you do, you’ll find yourself getting a clearer picture of the whole of Scripture, bead by shining bead.

The Gospel Story Bible | Little Book, Big Story

Do you have a favorite story Bible? I’m always on the look out for others!

The Gospel Story Bible
Marty Machowski, A.E. Macha (2011)