We just celebrated Father’s Day in the U.S. It always puts me in a pensive mood.
How do you picture God? Do you see Him as an old man? Do you seem Him as gentle and quiet? Perhaps you see God as austere, demanding. Perhaps you see Him as absent, disinterested in your life.
Psychologists tell us that the images and impressions we have of life with our physical fathers establish our mental and emotional images of God.
In other words, the relationship we have with our Dads directly impacts the way we relate to God.
If your Dad was kind, gentle, fair that’s the way you’ll understand God to be.
If your Dad was honest, truthful, dependable then you’ll think God to be the same way.
I believe the main reason I personally find it easier than many people to trust God and to have deep faith in Him is because my Dad was strong, dependable, truthful, dutiful. He lived by the motto that his word was his bond. If he promised something, he did it no matter the cost.
Now my Dad had faults. Yep. But his particular strengths paved the way for me to trust my Heavenly Father totally.
But not all of us had Dads like that.
If your Dad was distant, uninvolved in your life you’ll believe God is the same way.
If your Dad was not trustworthy, if he was cruel, capricious you’ll see God the same way.
If your Dad was never around, you’ll think God doesn’t care either.
If I were a Dad it would frighten me to realize that what I say to my kids, what I do for them or to them, how I do or do not relate to them not only shapes them into the adults they will become, but it also shapes their relationship to God with eternal consequences.
A father’s relationship to his children puts them on a path toward a loving, forgiving God—or a path that leads them away from God. A path that makes it tremendously difficult for them to trust God.
And, if someone believes subconsciously that they can’t trust God it makes it hugely difficult for them to accept His love, His untethered gift of salvation that He offers through the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus.
Dads, what a tremendous responsibility you have. I’m praying for you.
Ephesians 6:4 Amplified Bible
Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21 Amplified Bible
Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children [with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by favoritism or indifference; treat them tenderly with lovingkindness], so they will not lose heart and become discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken].
Another 2018 picture book review by Jean Matthew Hall.
Hilarious! If the S in Moose Comes Loose written by Peter Hermann and illustrated by Matthew Cordell is stunningly hilarious. Judging from their short bios both the author and the illustrator are hilarious themselves. Go-figger!
Harper Collins Children published it in 2018.
I love picture books filled with wordplay but this one tops them all! It’s wordplay and letter play scrambled together.
Cow’s best friend MOOSE loses his S and his E falls off. Cow is distraught without her best friend. So, she launches a plan to GLUE the letters back into place. But she’s out of GLUE and winds her way through a complicated scheme to borrow the letters G-L-U-E.
Of course, each time she borrows a letter the friend she borrows from changes into something else entirely.
Kids will love this book as they unknowingly spell their way through all sorts of one-syllable words.
Whatever kind of school your children are enrolled in they MUST read If the S in Moose Comes Loose aloud!
Here’s an interview with the author.
Another review of a 2018 picture book by Jean Matthew Hall.
It’s an ode to childhood imagination, and a tribute to loyalty and love.
Loved to Bits was written by Teresa Heapy and illustrated by Katie Cleminson. Roaring Brook Press brought it to life in 2018.
Loved to Bits is definitely proof that quiet picture books, gentle picture books are not a thing of the past. In fewer than 250 words Heapy tells the story of a young boy and his beloved Teddy bear.
Loved to Bits makes an excellent snuggle-up-and-hug-me read. And it will work great for a bedtime book, too.
I never had a Teddy bear as a child. Reading this lovely picture book makes me sorry that I didn’t.
Here’s an amazing and inciteful article in the Washington Post. Every parent of a preschooler or kindergartener needs to read this, please! And share!
Another 2018 picture book review by Jean Matthew Hall.
Elmore was written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie, author of the Toot & Puddle books. It was published in 2018 by Penguin Random House.
Such precious illustrations! They remind me of the Beatrice Potter books and the original Pooh books.
But Elmore’s story is just as precious. He’s a prickly little porcupine who is lonely. He has no friends because getting too close to a porcupine can be dangerous.
Elmore ponders his situation for days. Then a bit of encouragement from his uncle gives him the determination to find a solution to his problem. After all, everyone needs friends.
In the happy ending Elmore finds a unique solution, of course. And it makes him and all the other woodland creature sooooo happy!
If your child is a bit of a loner, I think they’ll love this book. And it might just inspire them to find their own way of making friends.
And Elmore is so cotton-pickin’ cute!
It’s difficult to talk with our little ones about hard topics like hunger, war and displaced families. Today’s picture book might be a bridge to discussing some of those topics.
Tomorrow is not like most picture books I’ve read. It isn’t silly or dreamy or gorgeous.
Tomorrow is a sad book with a sad ending. Why?
It was written and illustrated by Nadine Kaadan a Syrian author/illustrator who was forced to leave her home in Damascus, Syria and now lives in the UK. It was published in English in 2018 by Lantana Publisher in London.
She explains that she wrote this picture book for the children of Syria. They have been through so much anxiety and fear, so much loneliness and change in the past ten years.
Her main character, Yazan, is sad.
The illustrations are dark and a bit scary.
It’s obvious the Yazan is lonely, confused and frightened.
In most picture books the main character solves their problem and finds a happy ending.
But not in Tomorrow. There is no happy ending for Yazan. There is still no happy ending for the children of Syria. Kaadan wrote this picture book hoping for a better “tomorrow” to come soon for the children of Syria.
I think this little book will give American parents and teachers a great place to reflect on the plight of refugee and displaced children around the world. For Christians this is a great place to start praying for other children, too.
Not every child in this big world is surrounded by the comforts and safety of home and family. Use this book to help your children learn gratitude for their blessings, and compassion for children in terrible situations.
Here is an interview with the author.
Another 2018 picture book review by Jean Matthew Hall.
I Do Not Like Books Anymore! According to the jacket flap is a story of “the struggles and joys of learning how to read.” Yes, I can see that in the cute story about a big sister and little brother who love books and imaginative play.
I Do Not Like Books Anymore! was written and illustrated by Daisy Hirst. It was published in 2018 by Candlewick Press.
But I’m struggling with the ending. I want resolution!
As Natalie is struggling with learning to read she decides she does NOT like books anymore! Things get better, and she seems to tolerate books. But she never actually lets us know that she has changed her mind about that.
To me that ending isn’t satisfying.
The author/illustrator, Daisy Hurst, has developed some adorable sibling characters. The story is realistic. I just want the ending to take one more step toward a satisfying resolution.
But what do I know? Only what I do and don’t like, I suppose.
Hirst also has a sister book about Natalie and Alphonse, titled Alphonse, There’s Mud on the Ceiling!
We all know that babies are not able to talk. But we often forget that talking is the human way of expressing our needs and wants. So, before a baby or toddler develops that ability to express their needs, desires and reactions in words they express them in other ways.
• Hitting, biting, kicking, snatching
These attempts to communicate with others result in a lot of frustration for the child and everyone around them.
One way to alleviate some of the frustration is to teach yourself and your little one very simple sign language. They can start learning signs between 4 and 6 months of age. You can start using the signs along with words. Baby will catch on and start mimicking you. Keep using the signs. Be consistent and persistent. Baby will get the idea! This really does help with communicating before your child can piece words together in phrases and sentences. That happens between 2 ½ and 3 years of age.
Many years ago, before Baby Sign Language became popular, I was an American Sign Language interpreter. So, when my kids were 2, 3, 4 years old I taught them basic signs that I could use with them in public without making a scene. Signs like:
Stop, pay attention, bathroom, hungry, thirsty, wait, and warning!
Now language experts know which signs are vital for your toddler to communicate with you. Using them helps with some of the temper tantrums etc. that result from frustration about babies and toddlers not being able to express themselves verbally.
By the time they are a year old your kids should have a basic vocabulary for communicating their needs to you.
Click on these following pics to download and print out each chart to help you learn the simple signs.
REMEMBER that baby’s attempts will not be perfect. But you’ll soon figure out what they mean.
Another Picture Book Review of a 2018 picture book by Jean Matthew Hall.
ERASER was written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant. IT was published in 2018 by Two Lions.
I’m sure this must be a very popular book, but it isn’t one of my favorites. It feels like a picture book length graphic novel to me. The sketches of the characters (a variety of school supplies) are cute and the faces are expressive.
The text is written as conversation bubbles above their heads (minus the bubbles). Just not my favorite style. But I’m betting it’s popular with first graders.
Eraser feels unappreciated. Pencil takes all the credit for the work he does and trivializes Eraser’s contribution. So, she runs away.
On her journey she meets wadded-up and trashed papers who remind her of her worth. Nothing would be turned in correctly without her efforts.
So, Eraser pulls herself together and returns to help the other school supplies with the gigantic science project in progress.
In the end Pencil realizes the error of his ways and welcomes Eraser as a partner.
Like I say, not my favorite. Not just because of the art, but also the story. The plot feels incomplete. There isn’t enough conflict to show us what Eraser is really made of.
But I think your kiddos will enjoy this light and silly tale.
Eraser is also available for Kindle.
Are moms really martyrs? Sometimes we might feel like it.
One of the things I remember about my childhood is that Mama cooked southern fried chicken frequently. She bought the hen, cut it up, soaked it in buttermilk, floured it, fried it and stacked it on a platter. We couldn’t wait to dig in. Everyone (six of us) grabbed their favorite piece and bit into that crispy, crunchy skin.
Everyone except Mama. She waited until our plates were filled, then she took what was left— always the wings or the neck. She adamantly declared that the neck was her favorite piece, and that secondly, she loved the wings.
As an adult I realized that Mama probably wasn’t telling the truth about that. I found myself doing the same thing—enjoying the leftover pieces after my husband and kids got theirs.
That’s part of the definition of mothering, I believe. Almost any woman can become pregnant and deliver a baby. That’s just the beginning of motherhood. It’s the easy part!
It concerns me that I see a decline in the philosophy that motherhood IS giving. That motherhood IS sacrifice. It makes me sad.
I want to challenge young mothers today to embrace the idea that bringing children into the world is the beginning of a life a blessings, but also of giving, of sacrificing.
I want to challenge young mothers today to be like Christ who, “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning the shame”* of His purpose in this life.
For the joy of seeing those children become the servants God wants them to become we mothers must give, must serve, must sacrifice.
I can tell you from personal experience that 50 years down the road the joy is worth it!
*Hebrews 12:22 NIV