Guest Post at Almost An Author

Hi, writers!

Please pop over to Almost An Author to read my guest post “Your Fifteen Minutes” with an editor or agent.



Shaping Little Lives

“As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined.” is a proverbial statement from centuries ago.

Ephesians 6:4 (The Amplified Bible)

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

When a twig is green it is supple. Though it might be straight as a rail it can be twisted and shaped into a curve, a horseshoe, or even a wreath.

The opposite is true, too. If a young, green twig is crooked or bent it can be soaked in water, then tied and pressed between two straight branches, dried and straightened.

silhouette-1082129_1920I believe this principle is particularly true of children.

And parents, we are the primary people to shape those little green twigs into the people God wants them to be. We have the power to reshape their minds and hearts so they lean toward God or away from Him.


Mainly through your personal relationship to each child. It’s true that education, popular culture and religion are influential on our children. But YOU are the primary influence.

The way you treat them is the most powerful molder.

How you speak to them
—or AT them.

How you listen to them
–or don’t.

How you touch them.
Are your touches gentle but firm? Or are they rough? Do you jerk your children around when they misbehave? Or do you find yourself avoiding touching them at all? Do you touch them only when they act badly? Or are you generous with appropriate hugs. As they grow older do you continue to give them loving touches like, you know, messing their hair, punching their shoulder, tickling, high-fiving? Fist-bumping?

How you prioritize them.
Is spending time and communicating with your kids the most important part of your day? Or do you pay more attention to your cellphone than to them? Does your job always come ahead of your children? Your community responsibilities? Your ministry to others?

Is our comfort and convenience more important to us than they are?

God gives us our children. They are tender plants around our table of life. How straight and tall they grow spiritually and emotionally is in our hands.

NOTHING should take priority over them.

God’s Word Says
Psalm 128
Proverbs 22:6
Ephesians 6:4

2018 Picture Books–Kitten and the Night Watchman

It is 2019. Ta-da! For most of this year Jean Matthew Hall will review some of the amazing picture books published in 2018.

613wQUARtML._AC_US327_QL65_Kitten and the Night Watchman was written by John Sullivan (also a night watchman!) and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. Paula Wiseman Books (Simon & Schuster) published it in 2018.

Kitten and the Night Watchman is a sweet story of loneliness, friendship and family.

The night watchman of the story makes his rounds and does his job. But he’s always thinking about his wife and children at home sleeping. It’s a lonely job walking around a deserted business checking doors and windows and machinery. Lonely, that is, until he makes a friend.

Yoo’s richly colored illustrations filled with shadows add to that feeling of darkness and loneliness. But the expressions of the watchman and the kitty show us the loneliness (for both) has ended.

Kitten and the Night Watchman is a precious story your young children will beg you to read again and again, I think.

Tips From Two Year Olds

Get excited! There’s always something new to learn.

Make a mess! You can clean up later.

Explore! There’s a great big world around

Dance! It doesn’t matter whether you dance well or not, just dance!

Play with your food! Get your fingers in there. Slurp a little. Enjoy every bite.

Let go! Share your feelings. Don’t hold back.

Go naked! Stop covering up how you feel and who you are.

child-1997729_1280 editHave fun! The simplest toys bring the most pleasure.

Laugh! There’s a bit of humor in almost everything.

Rejoice! Every day brings new opportunities.

Hug! Show others that you love them.

Nap! Work hard. Play hard. Sleep hard.


“Oh, no! I forgot Mrs. So-and-so.”

Yes, I’ve said that before. Bet you have, too.

Or, “Mom, I need a gift for a party I’m going to.”

You’ve heard that, haven’t you?

Many years ago I thought it was weird that my mother had a shelf in her closet that was stuffed with random gifts, wrapping paper and tape. Too many times I watched her dash into the bedroom, head for that closet and reappear with a beautifully wrapped gift for Mrs. So-and-so who  dropped by during the holidays.

I now understand my mother’s actions completely.

Here’s a list of inexpensive gifts to pick up in a hurry, or to keep on hand, for that “Oh, no!” moment of yours during the next Christmas season.

• Knit or crochet hats, mittens, infinity scarfs
• Fleece throws
• Jars or boxes of holiday candy
• Holiday coloring books and crayons, markers or colored pencils, puzzles, books
• Small dress pins, earrings, pendants
• Bath or shower sets for men or women
• Miniature die-cut cars, trucks, or people
• Hair accessories for women, teens or little girls
• Mixes-in-Jars (cookie mixes, bread mixes, soup mixes)


I hope this list gets your thinking cap to whirling. Some of these gifts you can even make throughout the year to have on-hand at Christmas.

Check out PINTEREST for recipes and instructions.

I pray you and your family have a memorable, beautiful Christmas together.

Picture Books and More

I’ve mentioned that I’m now on Pinterest. I find it useful in several areas of my life.

Today I want to share my Pinterest Picture Books Reviews Board with you.

  • Gentle Chapter Books
  • 17 Unexpectedly Awesome Books for Boys
  • Books That Teach Kindness (and various other virtues)
  • Books for 6 – 8 year olds
  • 100 Most Beautiful Children’s Books
  • Read Aloud Novels (for various ages)
  • 40 Books for 3rd Graders
  • 100+ Beginning Chapter Books

And lots more!25897609168_9216f8f06e_z

Disclaimer: I have NOT read every book on these lists. So, use your parent-smarts before you refer them to your kiddos, please.

Blessings to  you all in 2019! Keep those children reading.



“Who wants to go see the Christmas lights?”

That question was always greeted with lots of, “Me! Me!” and grandchildren rushing to get their jackets on. We’d buckle up and ride around various neighborhoods Oooing and Ahhing at the outdoor lights.

I enjoyed the sparkling lights as much as the grandkids did.


But, have you noticed how ugly all those wires and sockets and extension cords look in the day time? When the lights aren’t shining? They’re twisted and tangled. They dangle from naked trees like nooses, and smother shrubs. They really look a mess.

However, when darkness falls and we flip the switches, those nasty tangles of wires disappear and we see only the beautiful lights.

Sometimes people think that when we get saved, when we have a personal relationship with Jesus, that all the tangles and loose wires will disappear. But that’s not true. Like the Christmas lights, the tangles and messiness of our lives still exists. We still have sinful habits and bad relationships. We make mistakes in judgment, and sometimes we even choose to sin.

We can make a real mess of our lives—children and parents alike.

I pray the Lord will help us, in spite of the messiness of our lives, to shine for Him in the new year. When a blanket of darkness falls around us—when our culture tries to envelope us in darkness—I pray we’ll shine bright enough to reveal the LORD to the people watching our lives, our families and our churches.

Goodnight, Manger-PB Review

Another Christmas Picture Book Review by Jean Matthew Hall.

20181115_110101-2545699518-1542299137477.jpgGoodnight, Manger is Laura Sassi’s take on the first Christmas. It was illustrated by Jane Chapman and published in 2015 by Zonderkidz.

This board book is sturdy enough to last for years through several sets of little hands. Good thing, because it’s cute and sweet. The very short rhyming verses will certainly appeal to toddlers. You’ll be passing down from one toddler to the next, I’m sure.


Chapman’s illustrations are warm, colorful and simple. They depict the Holy Family from a different perspective—happy, loving and frazzled!

Sassi’s story is the efforts of Mary and Joseph and all the stable animals and visitors to quiet a very upset baby Jesus on His first night on earth. Everyone from the donkey to the Wise Men tries to get the baby Jesus to sleep—but he’s having none of it.


Mama Mary has a great idea of them all working together to make baby Jesus feel happy and safe.

It’s a truly clever idea. I think toddlers AND their mommies and daddies will enjoy the humor of Goodnight, Manger.

Grab it up quick for your toddlers.

Hey! I think new parents might really appreciate the good laugh it gives, too.

A very Happy Christmas to you!


I’m baking.

The wonderful aromas of spices, vanilla & chocolates fill my house. My kitchen is a big mess with flour & sugar everywhere. Chocolate chips & sprinkles decorate my island. My little freezer is bulging with the goodies I’m making to share with the people I love.

It’s my thing. Baking and cooking delicious food for others. I get a lot of joy out of watching them enjoy (or pretend to enjoy) the stuff I serve them.

I also bake to celebrate!

 To celebrate Your birth, Dear Jesus
 To celebrate our love for each other
 To celebrate the bounty of gifts God gives us

20181204_100856The sweet treats I prepare and share represent all the delicious blessings God pours into my life, And there are plenty of them.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for friends & family to celebrate with. To exchange gifts with. To share good wishes with. Thank You for days of celebration.

This huge deal we make over Christmas is just a tiny taste of the celebration we’ll enjoy in Heaven someday. When God’s Son, Jesus the Groom, parades through Heaven with His Bride on His arm the entire universe won’t be big enough to contain the festivities.

I’m eager for the party to begin. Are you ready for that day?

Christmas Guest Posts

Two guest posts I authored. Please drop in to read them

HERE at Almost An Author “Christmas Grief” and

Christmas Grief

HERE at Little Lamb Books “Christmas Lights.”

Author’s Corner: Christmas Lights




%d bloggers like this: