Tag: devotional (page 3 of 7)

Sammy & His Shepherd

The Lord is our shepherd—but what exactly does that mean to a child who lives miles from the nearest sheep?

In Sammy and His Shepherd, Susan Hunt walks families through the twenty-third psalm one verse at a time, showing readers what it means for a good shepherd to lead his flock to still waters or through dark valleys. She does this through the story of Sammy, a sheep who lives within the Good Shepherd’s fold, and of Sammy’s friend, a neglected sheep living in the neighboring pasture.

Sammy and His Shepherd, by Susan Hunt | Little Book, Big Story

Sammy’s friend has never experienced the care that Sammy’s shepherd gives him, and as Sammy explains it to her, Sammy begins to appreciate more fully the gift it is to belong to the Good Shepherd. And when the shepherd purchases Sammy’s friend and welcomes her into his flock, Sammy walks alongside her and helps her learn to trust her new shepherd’s care even when she doesn’t fully understand it.

Sammy and His Shepherd, by Susan Hunt | Little Book, Big Story

Part devotional, part storybook, Sammy and His Shepherd illustrates the relationship of a good shepherd to his sheep so beautifully that I find myself thinking about it still, weeks after we finished the book. And it’s clear I’m not the only one still thinking about it: our daughters have been sketching sheep and shepherds since the book’s end. By telling this as a story, rather than as a straightforward devotional, Susan Hunt has given us something to picture when we read Psalm 23. And she has helped my daughters take that psalm—and the glorious truths within it—to heart in a new way.

Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23
Susan Hunt; Cory Godbey (2008)

9 Books About Prayer for Children

Prayer is a beautiful, essential part of the Christian life. Through it, we know our God better. We see ourselves more clearly. And yet, it is confusing. And hard. And we hardly ever want to do it. Why pray about things when God already knows everything? Why talk to someone we can’t see? How do we know he’s listening?

These are questions kids (and adults) ask. So it’s helpful to have great resources on hand to help us parents as we do our best to answer our children’s questions. (It is also helpful to offer up a bumbling prayer: God, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Or what my child is hearing. But you know! Please help! I am a big fan of the bumbling prayer.)

9 Books About Prayer for Children | Little Book, Big Story

On this list, you’ll find a few books about prayer, a few books of prayers, and a few books that help guide your family’s prayers—bumbling and otherwise.

Loved, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Loved, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

Sally Lloyd-Jones’s lovely paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer is a delight to read together. Loved introduces the youngest readers to the beauty of simple, open, childlike conversation with God. (Read the full review.)

Everything a Child Should Know About Prayer, by Nancy Guthrie

What Every Child Should Know About Prayer, by Nancy Guthrie | Little Book, Big Story

This is a topical book that looks at prayer from all sides. Nancy Guthrie uses short, warm readings to help guide a family discussion. (Read the full review.)

The Prayer Map for Girls: A Creative Journal

The Prayer Map for Girls: A Creative Journal | Little Book, Big Story

This guided journal helps children learn to pray by giving them simple prompts and lots of space to write their prayers. (We, of course, have the edition for girls, but Prayer Map journals are also available for boys and for adults.)

The Lord’s Prayer, by Tim Ladwig

The Lord's Prayer, by Tim Ladwig | Little Book, Big Story

Like Loved, this book looks at the Lord’s Prayer, but Tim Ladwig tells a parallel story through his illustrations that shows what it looks like to live out that prayer. (Read the full review.)

Psalms of Praise, by Danielle Hitchen

Psalms of Praise, by Danielle Hitchen | Little Book, Big Story

A sweet board book to start the youngest readers praying from Scripture! (Read the full review.)

A Child’s Book of Prayers, Illustrated by Michael Hague

A Children' Book of Prayers, by Michael Hague | Little Book, Big Story

A classic compilation of traditional prayers, hymns, and passages from Scripture.

Window on the World, by Molly Wall & Jason Mandryk

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

This prayer guide introduces readers to different countries and people groups in the world, sharing both practical stories about life in that country as well as ideas for how to pray for that country’s people. (Read the full review.)

Psalms for Young Children, by Marie-Helene Delval

Psalms for Young Children | Little Book, Big Story

This paraphrase of selected psalms introduces young readers to the range of emotions the psalmists explore and invites families to pray through passages of Scripture together. (Read the full review.)

Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field

Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field | Little Book, Big Story

This classic picture book is a beautiful prayer for the littlest readers. (Read the full review.)

But grown-ups like books about prayer, too, right? Right! Here are a few of my favorites:

A Praying Life, by Paul Miller
Prayer, by Timothy Keller
Every Moment Holy, by Douglas Kaine McKelvey
The Divine Hours, by Phyllis Tickle
The Valley of Vision, ed. by Arthur Bennett

The Gospel in Color

We had talked to our daughters off and on about racism—here and there as we came across it in books, mostly—but we could discuss it only to a certain depth, being white parents in a predominantly white city. But as the national discussion about race and racism grew louder and more urgent this spring, I was confronted by how little I actually understood about the issue. My own little lessons about it began to seem too shallow, too theoretical.

And so I was grateful for this book, The Gospel in Color. Racism is not theoretical to authors Curtis A. Woods and Jarvis J. Williams, but neither is the gospel: at the heart of this book, it shines bright, a clear reminder that things are not what they are meant to be, but that God is working out his plan of salvation for all races and all peoples.

The Gospel in Color, by Curtis A. Wood & Jarvis Williams | Little Book, Big Story

The Gospel in Color comes in two editions—one for parents, and one for kids. Both are beautifully illustrated by Rommel Ruiz (Golly’s Folly; Why Do We Say Goodnight?), and full of biblical, practical wisdom. The parent edition contains more in-depth information; the kids’ edition is written directly to younger readers.

The Gospel in Color, by Curtis A. Wood & Jarvis Williams | Little Book, Big Story

In both books, the authors share ways that their families have personally experienced racism, as well as some of the history of thought that has led to the idea that one race is somehow superior to others. But Woods and Williams handle this graciously: they don’t villainize anyone, and they don’t gloss over any hard truths either. Instead, they hold the gospel up to the issue of racism and allow it to reveal racism for the sin it is while simultaneously reminding us that grace is available to us for all sin, and that God is always at work, restoring our world.

The Gospel in Color, by Curtis A. Wood & Jarvis Williams | Little Book, Big Story

I know that there are a lot of perspectives on race, even within the church. I know that there will likely be things in this book that may not sit well with all readers. But I know, too, that the gospel is the one thing that unifies all Christians—it is the grace of God that unites us into a family and holds us together—and it is that gospel that Woods and Williams proclaim. Grace for all. Freedom for all in Christ.

After this, I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9–10)

The Gospel in Color: A Theology of Racial Reconciliation for Families
Curtis A. Woods, Jarvis J. Williams; Rommel Ruiz (2018)


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)