Friday, January 29, 2010

A GREAT Bible Story Book--for Them and You!

You know how I love books. Maybe you don’t know how I love children’s books. I could get lost in the children’s section at Barnes and Noble for hours on end. Maybe it goes back to my lifelong love of stories. Or my Reading Specialist background. But now I have grandchildren, so I have a great excuse to disappear for hours into children’s stories.

But here’s a book that is absolutely wonderful for both kids and parents (and grandparents). And if you don’t have kids at home or grandchildren, borrow a neighbor kid or niece or nephew and read it to them. Or, do what I do when no grandchildren are around and just sit on the couch and read it all by yourself! Preferably out loud, because the writing is so beautiful.

It’s a Bible story book, which makes it even better: The Jesus Storybook Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones, a best-selling children’s author. And you can tell she is the best kind of children’s author, because the writing is captivating for both children and adults.

The stories sing. They are very creatively told in language kids understand. Some of them are actually funny. The author obviously has a sense of humor—and so, I believe, does our God, author of THE STORY. And they have engaging titles like “The Scary Sleepover” (Daniel in the Lions’ Den), “The Man Who didn’t Have Any Friends[None]” (Zaccheus), and “Operation No More Tears” (Isaiah).

Best of all, the underlying theology is sound. The author attends Dr. Timothy Keller’s church (Redeemer Presbyterian) in New York City. I know this because she gives him credit right at the beginning. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn this because the grace-filled Gospel he preaches informs every page of the book. (BTW, look for his name to surface in more book recommendations to come—I’m currently reading two Tim Keller books.)

The theme of the entire book is captured in the title--The Jesus Storybook Bible--and in the subtitle: Every Story Whispers His Name. The Bible is shown to be the story of God’s Great Rescue plan in sending Jesus. The drama is all about God’s 
“Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love,” as Jones often reiterates. It reminds me of Philip Yancey’s profound observation: “…the Bible from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 tells the story of a God reckless with desire to get His family back.” (The Jesus I Never Knew, p. 268)

What better time to begin telling that story than when our kids are young? I read somewhere that this book is recommended for children ages 4-7, but I’d give it a far broader range. My 3-year-old grandson is mesmerized by it, my son uses it with high school kids in Young Life, and parents tell me they love reading it with their kids. Grandparents, you’ll love it as well!

It makes a great gift. I wish I could give it to every woman in Mom to Mom. I’d love to see them all reading it with their children—and giving Dad a turn, too! It’s such a compelling way to introduce the great themes of God’s Word. I did give it to two neighbor families for Christmas—a start.

It’s available pretty much everywhere—online or in bookstores. Treat yourself to the “Deluxe Version” which comes with the complete book on audio CD’s, and you’ll love it even more. The stories are read by British actor David Suchet (“Hercule Poirot” in the Agatha Christie mysteries on PBS). You really need to hear him as the voice of the serpent in the Garden, Daniel’s conniving friends—and the voice of God at creation! When we first got the CD’s, Woody and I found ourselves fighting over who got to have them in which car!

And oh, how could I forget the illustrations? Recently Bjorn and Abby were telling me how Soren (he’s 3) sat on his dad’s lap during a meeting they were holding at their house and paged through nearly the entire Jesus Storybook by himself. This made me go back and look at the illustrations (by Jago, an award-winning illustrator) and realize anew how compelling they are.

I know I’m kind of over-the-top in this recommendation. I warned you how obsessed I am with stories…

BTW, just in case any of you are wondering (as I was) if the author is related to the great preacher/commentator Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, I googled her and found out—to my surprise—that she is not. But I think she should be!

Monday, January 18, 2010

January: Not Quite So Bad After All?


What is it about January? Such a hard month. The party’s over. Christmas is a memory. The family has left. After 3 wonderful weeks of glorious chaos in our home, with various families (our kids and grandkids) coming and going, the house is eerily empty. And quiet. Very very quiet. Way too quiet, if you ask me.

And it’s cold.

Really really cold. January is not Wisconsin’s best month. Probably not the best month in most states, even without this year’s record-breaking cold.

And then there’s the news this month. Oh, the heartbreaking stories and images out of Haiti. We all weep with our brothers and sisters there. We all (I hope) pray for them and for all the relief workers pouring in. And we all (I surely hope) give what we can to forward relief efforts in this bleeding, broken country.

But amidst all this, I’m discovering January’s not all bad, either. Here’s my very random list of things that make January not-quite-so-bad-after-all.

January is a good month for:
  1. Memories. How I savor the memories of having everyone home this year for Christmas. Even Lars—YAY HURRAY! I loved have the house chock-a-block full of pack’n plays, high chairs, wall-to-wall toys, and kids singing and dancing (and yes, even fighting, if you can imagine my grandchildren not always being perfect sharers!) I cherish the memories. And thank God!
  2. Restoring order. As much as I hate putting away Christmas stuff, there is something satisfying to this first-born half-German recovering perfectionist in getting the house put back together again.
  3. Throwing things away. Some things it feels good to throw away—like stale Christmas cookies we didn’t quite finish. A few (very few) less calories consumed—and added to my hips?
  4. Working out. It’s good to get back to the gym. Crucial, in fact. Fast walking has a way of re-ordering my thought life.
  5. Music. I find music so restorative. I love the music of Christmas! But as I put away my Christmas CD’s, the old favorites come back. And, thanks to my kids, I have great music on my iPod to listen to when I work out. I especially love listening to music Lars told me encouraged him during the long months in Afghanistan. Hey, if it works in Afghanistan, surely it can work in Wisconsin!
  6. Buying warm slippers. Somehow my house seems colder since the kids and grandkids left. But I just went out and bought warmer slippers. TWO pairs—they were practically giving them away in the January sales.
  7. January sales. The slippers just reminded me. Another good thing about January. It does feel good, doesn’t it, to get 70% off now and then?
  8. Reconnecting with my husband. Now it’s just him and me. The kids are gone, I’m not traveling this month, and it’s just him and me. A good thing, actually, as I have a really great husband. I realized recently that I haven’t written much about Woody in this blog. More to come in 2010…
  9. Listening to God. Wow! Linda? Listening? That’s not a thing easily done. But I find I’m learning to do it better in my quiet house. It will be so interesting to discover HIS plans for 2010 instead of rushing ahead to make my own.
  10. Being reminded that God goes before. 2010 seems like such a blank slate, in a way. Of course my calendar’s not totally blank. But there’s something about a new year that makes me both nervous and excited. I loved being reminded in Streams in the Desert on January 14 that “…God is out in front. He is in our tomorrows, and it is tomorrow that fills people with fear. Yet God is already there. All the tomorrows of our life have to pass through Him before they can get to us.”
Having said all this, I’m still not a huge fan of January. But I’m discovering it’s not quite so bad after all.