Sitting on
the old leather couch or rocking slowly in a rickety glider, I’m surrounded by
my children as we read together.  I feed
my little ones on stories morning, noon and night.  Serving up Harry the Dirty Dog for breakfast, The Magic Tree House becomes an after nap snack, and the evening
ends quite often with the quiet words of Goodnight
, lulling them off to sleep like sips of warm chamomile tea.  

children starting filling our house my own books – the ones from a bachelor’s
degree in Biblical Studies and the others from a Master’s of Divinity – were
packed away to make room for cribs and changing tables and piles upon piles of
children’s clothes and books.  A
voracious reader, my appetite was now sated by short stories set on colorful
pages and, much to my surprise, those books began to speak to me in all kinds
of surprising ways.    

The Carrot Seed taught me about simple
faith and perseverance in the face of discouragement as I watched the little
boy tend with care and conviction that which was being formed in places he could not
see.  The
Runaway Bunny
gave me new images for and insight into the story of the
prodigal son and God’s great mothering, fathering, loving pursuit of the ones
who belong to him.  

When I’m
tempted to trade the truth of who I am for something the world wants me to be,
The Story of Ferdinand, that peaceful
little bull who’s carted off to the bull fights in Madrid reminds me about the
truth of identity.  Refusing to fight
despite the expectations of the taunting and teasing crowd, Ferdinand helps me find
the freedom and resolve to make my own quiet but firm stand rooted in the truth of my identity as a beloved daughter of God.  

Tempted to
judge the wilderness within myself and my children, I remember the little wild
thing Max from Where the Wild Things Are.
 When the wildest parts of me “roar their
terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth” I’m learning to, on occasion at least,
join in with the “wild rumpus.”  Then, when
I’ve had enough I, like Max, return home tired and spent to the place of
truth where I am loved just as I am.  

I Love You Just the Way You Are, the
simple board book about the little bear Ba and his caretaker George, reminds of
the truth that sometimes love is the only thing that can pull us out of a
“grumpy, frumpy, stumpy” sort of day; love is the trump card that breaks
through every time.

And The Lotus Seed, the story of a refugee
from Vietnam who carried a lotus seed half way around the world, affirms for me
the truth that beauty and life can come even from great darkness, 

                           It [the lotus] is the
flower of life and hope, my grandmother said, 

                           no matter how ugly the mud or how
long the seed lays dormant, 

                           the bloom will be beautiful . . . (Sherry Garland)

In times
when I’ve been unable to search and study scripture as I once did, the themes
of the gospel continue to find me as I sit reading with my children perhaps
because my heart is open and listening like a little child.  Now, as time and space open up around me and I return to the ministry of spiritual direction, writing and preaching, it’s no surprise that I carry these books with me, replacing my church’s usual movie clip sermon intro with a reading of The Runaway Bunny or The Carrot Seed. These books, through the grace and mercy of God, have influenced my “business”  and faith as much or more than any others. 

Are there any children’s
books that influence your faith? 

Curious about these books? Here are the full titles and authors:

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown

The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

I Love You Just the Way You Are, by Virginia Miller

The Lotus Seed, by Sherry Garland

also check out The Curious Garden by Peter Brown which offers such a beautiful analogy for the way the kingdom of God can be tended and spread among us.  

This post is linked with the High Calling community linkup around the prompt Best Books for Business.  Click over to find more takes on the topic.

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