Fall Picture Books

Finding books for children is getting trickier and trickier in our current culture. Gone are the days you could just set your children free in the picture book section and let them enjoy sweet stories and illustrations. It seems these days most newly published books have an agenda. That’s frustrating! Even if you agree with the agenda being pushed, maybe you just want your sweet babies to read a book about Fall and leaves and pumpkins and not have to think about society’s problems.

For that reason I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite picture books for Fall. Some are straight Fall and some are jack-o-lantern types, but none are Halloween stories. I taught Children’s Literature for years and these are some of my very favorite books. I couldn’t wait to read them to my sweet littles every Fall.

These are for the younger ages; Baby to 5.

Little Acorn – a cute little story of the life cycle of an Oak Tree

Leaves – I love the illustrations in this story.

Autumn in the Forest – This is a fun lift-the-flap book.

One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller – This book is hilarious! If your children have any knowledge of chickens, they will especially love this story. I love that it has a tiny bit of suspense, but in a fun, approachable way for preschoolers. My grandchildren love this one!

These are for elementary age children:

The Scarecrow’s Hat – This is a sweet story about some barnyard animals helping out the scarecrow. The watercolor style illustrations in this book are just lovely.

The Little Scarecrow Boy – A sweet story about a little scarecrow boy and his scarecrow father.

Scarecrow – The language in this book is beautiful and poetic. I love when authors create beautiful language for children.

Leif and the Fall – I have a grandson named Leif, so you know I had to get this one. It’s a cute story of a leaf named Leif and his experience with ‘falling’.

Leaf Man – An oldie, but goodie. The pictures in this book are stunning.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf – Another oldie but goodie. This has such fun illustrations and some good information about types of trees.

Pumpkin Jack – This is such a cool book about the life cycle of a pumpkin. Nothing much Halloween related in it, other than the carving and lighting of the jack-o-lantern and a mention of trick or treating.

The Roll-Away Pumpkin – A silly story about the town chasing a pumpkin rolling down the hill.

Too Many Pumpkins – This is a sweet story about a pumpkin truck wreck resulting in an unwanted pumpkin patch, and eventually a field of jack-o-lanterns and a neighborhood party! Super cute.

Pumpkin Town – Another cute story about an accidental pumpkin patch. Fun illustrations.

Pumpkin Soup – This is a Little Red Hen inspired story but about making pumpkin soup. It’s a cute story with fun illustrations. One caution I would give is that there is a section that says: ‘They feared for the duck, all alone with the trees, and the foxes, and the wolves, and the witches, and the bears…’ and on that page there is an illustration of a witch from their imaginations. Duck was fine. She encountered no witches and that is the only mention of it. I actually just taped those pages together. Use your own discretion. Just wanted to mention it.

Sophie’s Squash – Similar to Pumpkin Jack, except it’s about a girl and her love for her squash. It shows the life cycle of a squash.

These books are not so much Fall books, but books I read to my class around Halloween. They’re a bit of a nod to the scary and spooky without being at all scary and spooky.

Bats at the Library – I love this story. I mean, It’s a book about bats in the library reading books. What’s not to love?!

How I Became a Pirate and Pirates Don’t Change Diapers – These are such cute pirate stories. Not at all scary.

Edward and the Pirates – I love this story about Edward and his imagination.

Happy reading!

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” — C.S. Lewis

It’s our time, Hosts!

Who are we trying to please anyway?

It’s the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Hosts, we got this. Here are a couple things to remember:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

There is a difference between trying to make people feel welcomed and loved, and trying to impress. It’s a fine line. Be aware of it. Trying to impress will leave you feeling exhausted and unfulfilled, trying to serve will leave you and your guests filled with joy. It’s the difference between making sure everyone has a seat at the table, and fretting over making sure every chair matches and is beautiful.

Watch your attitude!

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9

This is a big one, friends. Frankly it discourages me how quickly I can be enticed to grumble when it comes to being hospitable. No matter how hard I work to prepare, the few hours before an event seem to always get me a little frantic, and this often leads to grumbling and usually over the stupidest stuff! Why is it that you don’t notice the smudges on the baseboards or the doggie nose prints on the back glass door until people are about to show up and it’s too late to do anything about them? I’m working on this. I don’t want to be a grumbler.

Stay out of the ditches!

In my opinion there are two ditches we tend to fall into when it comes to hosting. The first one is that everything must be PERFECT! Not a smudge on a baseboard, not a dish in the sink, no unmade beds, and not a dog hair to be seen! And the host will make her family quite miserable making sure no hosting stone has been left unturned. She will freak out, yell, grumble, threaten etc. to get that house into tip top shape. TIP TOP SHAPE, PEOPLE!

The other ditch is the ‘whatever’ ditch. This is the attitude of ‘take me as I am.’ I’m not cleaning for y’all. You can come and see the real us and if you don’t like it…well, too bad! Just push that pile of laundry out of your way and have a seat. No one cares anyway.

Clearly  the goal of a good, God honoring host is in the middle of those two ditches. We want people to be comfortable in our homes. If the people coming have children perhaps don’t leave out your grandma’s  crystal vase on the coffee table. How comfortable are your guests going to be in your house if at every turn their children could break something valuable? On the other hand, you don’t want to clear every surface and turn your whole house into a toddler playhouse. How is that nice for the adults? Find a middle ground! You don’t have to have a kitchen that sparkles like the night sky and looks like no one has ever cooked in it to be a good host. But if there are so many dishes stacked everywhere that your guests can’t find a clean glass for some water that’s a problem. You don’t need a house that looks like no children live there to host friends, but if every seat is covered in toys where are your guests going to sit?

And to confuse things even further, the point is never what the guests think of YOU, but how they feel in your home and how they feel about who you are serving. WHY are you serving them? Because you love the Lord and he instructed us to love his people. I want my guests to feel like I prepared for them. I want them here. I have made a place for them. Not because I’m some great host, but because THEY are children of God and I want to serve Him by serving them.

My point is, it’s not really about what exactly you do, but why you do it. If your home is tiny and you’re eating PB&Js off of paper plates for an afternoon playdate with a new mom at your church and you didn’t manage to get those few baskets of laundry put away, and there are some of last night’s dishes still in the kitchen you didn’t get to, but you made a comfy place in the living room to chat for a while, and you got out the train set that is usually put away so all the kids would have a fun activity to keep them occupied while you get to know your new friend better, that new friend is going to feel so loved. You thought of her and her children. You prepared for her.

Maybe you’re empty nesters and you decided to invite a few couples over for dinner to get to know them better. Get out the good China. It’s only 6 plates you have to hand wash. Get down the fancy glasses or grab some nice goblets at the dollar store. Use cloth napkins. This is always so well received. Your guests feel like you went the extra mile for them. You prepared for them. They were worth the good China. It’s not about showing off your good China or fancy glasses, its showing people you love them.

So as we begin this crazy frantic week of vacuuming up the dog hair and cleaning baseboards and cooking way too much food in way too small a kitchen all while trying not to grumble, remember just Who we are trying to please

P.S Take the turkey out of the freezer. It’s time.

At The Lord’s Command

At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. Numbers 9:23

In the latter part of Numbers chapter 9, it is described how the Israelites decided when to go and when to stay. Quite simply, God told them. When the cloud (or fire at night) was covering the tabernacle, they stayed. When the cloud or fire lifted from the tabernacle, they moved. Honestly, I sometimes wish God still spoke to us this way. This specifically. I wish he would say, “This is the college you should attend.” Or “Take this job.” Or “Move to this state.” Or “This is exactly how you should parent that child.” But he does not. Not anymore.

And while I do like the idea of a direct do this/do not do this statement, I also don’t particularly want to roam the dessert, have to practice sacrifices, or you know, deal with plagues…  So I guess figuring out how to hear God this side of the cross is not so bad after-all.

One of my favorite poems is the one popularized (though not written) by Elizabeth Elliot: Do the Next Thing.

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

I think this so beautifully describes how we listen and obey God now, on this side of the cross where there is no cloud or fire over a tabernacle. It is about knowing God. Knowing Jesus. Knowing and loving His word. And being obedient to the Holy Spirt, the helper He left with us.

If we are Christians of the Word we will have a much better chance of ‘hearing’ God. He left us a book. It’s all in there. We need to read it. All of it. Every day. Make it a habit. You brush your teeth every day. You eat every day. Read the Bible every day. It is not as hard as it sounds, and I am embarrassed it took me so many years to develop this habit. But now, with the help of the audio version on the Bible App, I read it every day. I am also part of the Bible Reading Challenge that helps me schedule it out. The point is, how can we possibly expect to hear from God if we’re not reading His word? That’s how we know Him. As the saying goes, “If you want to hear God speak, read His word. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read it out loud.”

Living in this in between place can be difficult. We don’t have God speaking directly through His profits, or manifesting Himself to show us exactly what to do. And He has not yet returned to gather His people. So in the In Between, we read His word. We listen to His Spirit within us, and we pray…then we do the next right thing.

Red Goblets

I have been looking for red goblets for a long time now. I can’t find any 😩 (and by any, I mean any that are not crazy expensive. Yeah, I’m looking at you Fitz ans Floyd)

Dave caught wind that I was on the hunt for red goblets and suggested maybe we didn’t actually need any. He said perhaps all the clear glasses we have in varying styles were sufficient. He requested maybe I not purchase any.

This made my unhappy. But since I couldn’t find any anyway it was no biggie.

Then I found some. And the price was not too bad. So I bought them. Even though Dave really didn’t want me too. And they came. I was so excited. Dave was less so, wondering where in the world we were going to store 24 red goblets. I opened them up so excited to see them, and… THEY WERE PLASTIC!

Ugh! They were way too expensive for PLASTIC glasse!

I guess I got what I deserved. No red goblets for me. These are going back and I shall abandon the hunt.

I mean, unless I see some at thrift stores. That does not count, right?

Rest

The following is a devotional talk I gave to the local MOPs group about Rest:

When I was asked to do today’s devotional I happily said yes. When I was told the topic was rest I laughed. What are you supposed to tell a bunch of moms of preschoolers about rest? Buckle up Buttercup, you’re not getting any of that for a while! That hardly seems encouraging! But the good news is, that’s only one kind of rest. That kind is a bit illusive in this season of motherhood, but that does not mean there is no rest for you.

Let me define the three types of rest:

Sabbath Rest – One of the ten commandments. A 24 hour period where the Israelites (who were wandering in the desert at that time) were to not work. They were to gather twice as much manna the day before so they would have enough for the Sabbath as well. That was the only time they were allowed to do that.

Spiritual Rest – In the Gospels the theology of rest is most clearly articulated in the words of Jesus in the last part of Matthew 11 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ( Matt 11:28-30 ). The rest referred to here is not just our eternal life with God, but it is also rest in this world. It is the sense of security and peace that flows from a right relation with God the Father, through obedience to his Son.

Worldly RestVerb: cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. Noun: an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.

Let’s start by talking about Sabbath Rest. The idea is simple. We are human and we need rest. Our bodies need rest. We cannot work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Even if we had the mental fortitude to do so, eventually our bodies would give out.

God rested on the 7th day not because He was tired, but to give us an example. Work hard for 6 days, but on the 7th: rest.

Under the Law, Sabbath Rest was a very specific commandment given by God for the good of his people that ended up getting polluted by the Pharisees. They made rules upon rules about what was and was not ‘work’. But then as we know Jesus came and turned the idea of the Sabbath on its ear by performing several miracles on the Sabbath. For us today the Sabbath does not look like a list of do nots, but we do need to look at the Old Testament principle of the Sabbath and apply it. So that may look like cooking most of your food on Saturday so that on Sunday after church you can come home and just warm up lunch. It may look like doing an extra load or two during the week so you don’t have to do laundry on Sunday. It may look like getting up a bit earlier on Monday morning to get the lunches packed for the day so you don’t have to do it Sunday night.

It looks like taking Sunday and focusing on restful things. Whatever those restful things are for you in this time of your life. You can’t not change diapers just because it’s the sabbath, unfortunately. But what you can do is spend time together as a family doing something fun and easy and relaxing. Play in the pool. Take a walk. Read aloud. Watch a funny movie together. Go to the park. The idea is to not make the Sabbath like any other workday. Find the things you normally do Monday through Saturday and do as few of those things as you can get away with on Sunday. If you can implement this practice, you might find you have less of a need for rest during the busy week. 

What about Spiritual or Biblical Rest? What is that? How is it different from Sabbath Rest?

While Sabbath Rest was a time of deliberate physical rest. Biblical or Spiritual rest is more of an emotional and mental rest. As I said before, the Matthew 11 passage is the best example of that. It’s the idea that we are not alone in this mad world. We are not left to just flail about trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. Biblical Rest shows us what burdens are ours to carry and what are not.

The Vaccine is a miracle, and everyone should get it. The Vaccine is poison and no one should get it. We should let those poor people across the border, we should send all those people back home. What about all those Americans and American allies left in Afghanistan?

Just 5 minutes of watching the news can make a person feel utterly hopeless. But here’s the thing moms, that is not our burden to bear. Most of the time those big scary things are someone’s burdens. God is working in them and we should certainly pray about them. And maybe there is someone in this room who works for the department of the government handling the border crisis, but if not, then that’s not your burden.

What is your burden? That is the question you need to answer. That is the question you need to ask God to reveal to you. If you’re here it can be assumed that you have children. And I’m also going to assume you are married. Those are your first ‘burdens’ so to speak. Those are the things you need to be focusing the most energy on. Being a Godly wife, raising Godly children, that’s no small thing. God has given you a specific task, for a specific season and if you go to Him with those tasks or ‘burdens’ they will be light!

I know it sounds impossible, but I am convinced, mostly from experience, that often when a wife and mother experiences her most burdensome, overwhelming season it is because she is carrying burdens that are not hers to carry. Ask your husband for help in this area. He knows you better than anyone. One of the things I learned early on was to tell anyone who asked me to do or join anything, that I needed to speak to my husband and I’d get back to them. This wasn’t just to buy me time to think about it, though it did have that benefit, but when I took the time to ask my husband and listen to his response it really helped me prioritize. There were a lot of things I said no to as a young mom. And between you and me, I can’t think of one single thing I would go back and say yes to. Every yes is a no somewhere else and fair or not, a yes outside the home usually means a no to your husband and children. That’s not always bad. I did say yes to things but when I did my husband and kids were on board and willing to help make it work. The point is, you will find no rest if you are doing things that are not yours to do, and carrying burdens that are not yours to carry.

Finally let’s talk about Worldly Rest. (and by Worldly I mean in this world, not sinful.) This one is the easiest to understand, and yet often the most misused. This kind of rest might look like putting the kids down early, putting on your favorite pj’s and fuzzy socks, grabbing a glass of wine and watching a movie with your husband. It’s taking a bath during naptime after a very long morning, It’s when your friend comes to get the kids for the afternoon and you get the whole house to yourself where no one will ask you questions. As I said earlier, this type of rest is the most elusive during your stage of life, an often the most longed for. This type of rest is the one that, if not able to be found, can get us right off our spot and send us straight into Bad Attitudesville.

You know the scenario: You get all ready and get that movie queued up and someone wakes up with a nightmare. Or you get that bath all ready and stick one toe in only to hear a child yelling that he wet the bed. Or your friend is on her way to get the kids so you can enjoy your glorious afternoon alone and a child throws up, turning your beautiful quiet day alone into an afternoon of cleaning up vomit.

These are the moments that test us. These are the trying moments. These are the times when we are tempted to say, “I just wanted ONE MINUTE to myself! Is that too much to ask! I work my tail off for this family and I just want to take a bath in peace!” or, if we are rightly experiencing Sabbath Rest and Biblical Rest, perhaps instead of losing it, with the help of the Holy Spirit we might be able to comfort that frightened child with a book and a little extra cuddle time before you start the movie. Or maybe you grab that sweet child who wet the bed and put them in the bath you drew up for yourself, get them all cleaned up and then crawl into your bed with them for a little nap. Or instead of your afternoon off you get some quality time with a sick child reading books and watching their favorite cartoons between cleaning up vomit and they remember that day for the rest of their lives because their mom was there when they felt their worst.

That’s the ideal. We often fall short. I KNOW I did. But if we are getting the type of rest God has for us in the season he has us in, we have a much better shot of handling it correctly when our oh-so-longed-for moment of worldly rest gets shattered.

What it all boils down to is are we relying on God to sustain us? Are we trusting him to help us carry the load he has given us? Are we obeying Him and what He has for us as moms? That is where Rest is found. 

Well, Hello There

Hi there, readers. My name is Tricia and this is my newest endeavor. I have lots of thoughts about lots of things and I do love to write. Many moons ago I had a blog that I wrote in faithfully. This was during what seems like another life where I raised kids and homeschooled. Life was full!

Now all the kids are grown, three are married, and I have several wonderful grandchildren! Life is oddly very full and also emptying at the same time. The emptying nest is a strange thing.

So I decided instead of resurrecting the old blog from a very different life, I would start a new one that reflected this new stage. Welcome to MiMi’s Remarks. Here we go…