Category: Devotionals (page 3 of 7)

Indescribable

In the light of the protests happening around the country, I wanted to share something brief with you before we get to our usual review. I don’t know where you stand on these issues, but I appreciated Jonathan Rogers’ recent newsletter, “A Time to Listen”:

Now is an excellent time for white folks like me to listen more than we talk, to read more than we write. It is the writer’s responsibility (and privilege) to use his voice to tell a truer story than the one one the world is telling. Today I think the best use of my voice is to encourage you to listen to some voices you may not have listened to in the past. Lord knows I haven’t listened the way I should have. “A riot is the language of the unheard,” said Martin Luther King. So let’s listen . . .

I encourage you to read the whole email, even if you don’t make it back here again afterward. Rogers dedicates the rest of it to a list books, podcasts, and other resources that give those of us who haven’t listened the way we should have an opportunity to listen to voices we haven’t heard before (or, perhaps, that we need to hear again).

I don’t think you need to hear much else from me on this, other than that I am learning to listen, too. And for those of you marching: thank you. Our family is praying for you.


Not long ago, a single spider could clear any room of our house. (I take no pride in saying that I was often the first one to leave.) One report of a spider in the play room and no one would go up there again until Mitch had killed the offender and presented evidence of a body. One web on the front porch, and no one would sit in the rocking chair out there until every corner of the porch had been swept.

But now we have pet spiders—three of them. Goldie, the garden spider, hangs her web outside our dining room window. A wee baby spider just set up shop over a planter on the patio. And Rosie, the incredible redback jumping spider, tucked her burrito-shaped web into a crack in our raised garden bed. We visit her every day and often, to Rosie’s chagrin, the little girls hover right over her, chatting and pointing.

What changed?

Indescribable, by Louis Giglio | Little Book, Big Story

We learned more about spiders. They became not a whole scary lot of bugs that run, as C. S. Lewis once unforgettably observed, like disembodied hands, but individuals: a male house spider, horrifyingly large, but just hanging out in the corners of our dining room, looking for a lady friend. A garden spider, not spinning its web across our porch steps out of spite, but because she’s hoping to snack on a few of the bugs that try to snack on our hellebore.

Just as this shift isn’t limited to spiders (we now have snail friends, and roly poly friends, and it’s all I can do to keep the younger girls from keeping ladybugs in their pockets), it isn’t limited to one book either. But if I had to choose one book that has taught us to love the world around us a bit better, and see it in a little more detail, I’d choose Indescribable.

Indescribable, by Louis Giglio | Little Book, Big Story

Indescribable sits in the windowsill near our table, and hardly anyone grumbles when we pull it down to read at dinner. This book is a curious mix of Scripture, scientific exploration, devotional readings, and fun “Bet you didn’t know this!” facts about our world.

Each reading looks at some incredible aspect of the world and considers, without reaching far for the connection, what that aspect says about God. The death of stars; our respiratory system; shark’s teeth—each of these topics spark wonder in us, and each of these can teach us something about God. When so many people assume that God and science stand in opposition to one another, Louis Giglio shows us that science does not inevitably lead to skepticism but can instead teach us to recognize, through even unlikely things like spiders and snails, the personality and joy of God.

Indescribable, by Louis Giglio | Little Book, Big Story

Giglio has introduced us to incredible facts about whales and volcanoes and trees and snow. But he doesn’t just point at those things and say, “Isn’t this cool? Isn’t it great how this happens?”—and then walk away. Instead, he points from the tree to the Tree Maker and says, “Look what this says about him. Look how purposeful and wonderful this tree is. Enjoy it. And through it, know the one who made it.”

“The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1), and so do redback jumping spiders named Rosie. Rejoice.


Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God & Science
Louis Giglio; Nicola Anderson (2017)

Window on the World

Until now, I have proceeded as usual with my publishing schedule. I usually plan out blog posts a few months in advance, so while our family found our footing under a stay-at-home order in Washington state, I let that schedule hum along and publish books I’d chosen months before.

But it occurred to me the other day that, really, I want to shift focus a bit while many of us face some degree of quarantine. For the rest of the school year, I’d like to share books that, I hope, encourage and equip you all during this strange season. Books for kids dealing with difficult issues. Comforting read-alouds that remind us of the big picture. Educational resources that are both enjoyable and easy to use. Devotionals that draw our hearts back to God when we are ambushed by fear.

I hope that you all are finding some measure of peace and comfort during this season when so much is uncertain. I find the greatest source of hope and courage in the gospel, which is not dependent on our circumstances, but was written for us long before any of us lived. Let us mourn our losses and bring our sorrows to God, our true and steadfast hope. And let us also rejoice in him, for he is our true comfort, and he will never change. My prayer for you, dear friends, is this:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)


And now for today’s book!

Window on the World, by Molly Wall & Jason Mandryk | Little Book, Big Story

At the start of the school year, after I’d spent the summer planning to homeschool and then, abruptly, preparing our girls to return to school, I got to choose one book from the massive reading list I’d assembled for our home-school-year-that-wasn’t—one out of dozens that the girls and I would read together, one Friday morning lunch at a time.

I passed over beautiful history books, thrilling science books, charming story books, and landed on this book: Window on the World. This, I thought, is the one thing I want to share with them this year.

Window on the World, by Molly Wall & Jason Mandryk | Little Book, Big Story

Window on the World is a prayer resource for families filled with double-page spreads on different countries or ethnic groups around the world. Through stories and facts, authors Molly Wall and Jason Mandryk introduce readers to the culture, history, and Christian church of each country, while giving both an on-the-ground perspective of daily life and a flyover view of the country’s larger details, like population and geography.

We have worked our way through this one slowly, spreading each country’s reading over three or four days. And at the end of each reading, we pray—fumblingly, some of us very much with the training wheels on. We are new to praying as a family, and I’m grateful for the way this book has nudged us to think beyond the borders of our home, church, and city.

Window on the World, by Molly Wall & Jason Mandryk | Little Book, Big Story

Of course I had no idea how this year would progress—I didn’t know we’d be homeschooling again by the end of it, or that the world would seem so unsteady. It is probable that life in these countries will look like different by the time this particular storm passes, but even so, I am grateful for the chance to gather together with my girls over empty lunch plates and pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, knowing that our Father knows their needs just as surely as he knows ours. When so much seems uncertain, it is good to clasp hands with my daughters and remember that.


Window on the World: An Operation World Prayer Resource
Molly Wall & Jason Mandryk (2018)

30 Prophecies: One Story

While we’re living lives close to home—perhaps homeschooling kids we hadn’t planned on homeschooling or filling time with toddlers but without libraries—please feel free to comment below or email me (thea@littlebookbigstory.com). I would love to help you find good books for your family! I can’t drop them off at your house, but I can at least try to find some titles your family will love. (And thank you so much to those of you who reached out last week! It is a joy to get to help out somehow, even from afar.)


You know that middle part of the Bible with all the skinny books by people with names like Habakkuk and Obadiah? That’s a mysterious stretch of Scripture, even for many adults. But 30 Prophecies: One Story invites kids to consider those books (the minor prophets) as well as the better-known major prophets (like Isaiah and Jeremiah), by connecting those prophecies with the One who fulfilled them—every single one.

30 Prophecies: One Story, by Paul Reynolds | Little Book, Big Story

Though a picture book, 30 Prophecies: One Story is a devotional intended for older readers. Paul Reynolds lays each prophecy out in a way that helps readers grasp the context for the prophet, the prophecy itself, the way Jesus fulfilled that prophecy, and the way that prophecy connects to the rest of Scripture. Each reading closes, as well, with an application section and a prayer. It’s a beautiful and coherent way to read the Bible, and for my history-minded daughter, I think it’s a way that will resonate with her.

30 Prophecies: One Story, by Paul Reynolds | Little Book, Big Story

In hindsight, this would have made an excellent devotional for Lent. Ah, hindsight. As it is, it would be a great Easter gift (and will be, in our house).


30 Prophecies: One Story
Paul Reynolds (2019)

The Garden, The Curtain & the Cross (Calendar)

Long, long ago, I shared The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross with you. Remember that one? It was my first introduction to the series I came to adore, the one that has somewhat overrun my blog, because I’ve never met an installment that I didn’t want to share with you.

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross Easter Calendar and Devotional | Little Book, Big Story

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross looked at the entire story of Scripture and told it—winningly—in one short picture book. It is the best, and smallest, introduction I’ve found to the gospel and the entire storyline of the Bible. And now (oh joy!) the book has an accompanying Easter devotional, as well as an Easter calendar. You know those Advent calendars with the doors you open to reveal some little hidden picture? It’s like that. I love it.

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross Easter Calendar | Little Book, Big Story

The devotional is a two-week devotional, so it won’t take you all the way through Lent. But it will give you a running start at Holy Week, and it will start some great family discussions. The readings are scripted, with times for prayer and discussion as well as reading from Scripture. And it features Catalina Echeverri’s lovely illustrations from the picture book.

Though this devotional is a companion to The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross, you don’t have to read the picture book to benefit from the devotional. Carl and Lizzie Laferton explain, in the introduction, that the devotional looks at some of the passages that informed the picture book and borrows language from the picture book, but it can be read on its own.

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross Easter Calendar and Devotional | Little Book, Big Story

(That said, I still think you should read The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross. You’ll love it.)

Easter is a season best enjoyed with a back story—the Resurrection is delightful on its own, of course, but how much more powerful is it after Good Friday? And how much more significant is Good Friday after Holy Week? And how meaningful is Holy Week after we’ve been reminded of the whole, grand story of Scripture? That is what this devotional is about.

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross Easter Calendar | Little Book, Big Story

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross Easter Calendar
Carl & Lizzie Lafteron; Catalina Echeverri (2020)


Disclosure: I did receive copies of this for review, but I was not obligated to review this book or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.

Observing Lent with The Jesus Storybook Bible

What Advent is to Jesus’ birth, Lent is to his death and resurrection. During the 40 days of Lent, we prepare to celebrate Easter by remembering our need for Jesus. We reflect on our mortality, remembering that we are dust, and we reflect on our need for a Savior willing to die in our place. Lent is, perhaps, not so cozy as Advent, but it is beautiful. And it starts tomorrow.

Over the years, I have found many Advent devotionals and a few excellent two-weeks-til-Easter devotionals. But I have found very few books willing to walk our family through the entire season of Lent. I cannot, in fact, think of any.

Observing Lent with Kids and The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

But Sally Lloyd-Jones has a whole-family guide to observing Lent with kids—and the Jesus Storybook Bible. That’s what we’ll be doing this year, and I wanted to share it today so that you, if you’re into this sort of thing, can join us!

The guide features forty days of readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as a printable paper chain and coloring pages. This will definitely please the younger set of readers in our house, but I know the older girls will enjoy it as well.

Jesus Storybook Bible, Reading Plan for Lent | Little Book, Big Story
Photo: Sally Lloyd-Jones

You can download the guide from Sally Lloyd-Jones’s website for free by subscribing to her mailing letter.


The Jesus Storybook Bible
Sally Lloyd-Jones; Jago (2007)