Kid Talk Tuesday Posts

Where Does Love Hide?

Dr. Mary Manz Simon © 2017

I want to reach out and grab it, before the love floats away. Because on this single day each February, love is all around.

After all, this is the month of candy hearts on the coffee table and white doilies glued to red construction paper. The word doesn’t change through the years, but the depth of the emotion changes during the seasons of parenting.

The excitement and passion of romantic love gives way to familiar comfort as the anniversary years add up. The wonder and amazement at the birth of a child gets buried in a flurry of baseball games and gymnastics lessons. In some families, love gets lost in a tangled web of broken relationships and fractured hearts.

Children learn quickly that the very word, “love” can be quite useful. Even a three year old knows that saying “I love you” can trigger mommy cuddles; a tween adds “I don’t love you” to emphasize a point.

In the next twenty-four hours, how many times will your child say the word “love”? Listen for these phrases:

You don’t love me as much as __________.

Most parents would agree that we have a responsibility to help each child develop and celebrate his God-given gifts. But most parents would also agree that it’s hard to raise children without making comparisons.

And yet each child has individual strengths on which we can build. Sometimes abilities and gifts are buried under a strong-willed nature, the moodiness of adolescence, or the hurt of neglect. Each child has a right to be loved for who he is.

Do you love me?

We often assume children know we love them. Yet even the most casual observer would question our love when we yell at a child for dropping a spoon from the high chair or overreact to a report card. Love can get all mixed up with other emotions and even lost in the hassles of everyday life.

Years ago, a mom made the commitment to tell her child at least once a day, “I love you, and Jesus loves you, too.” That’s an appropriate resolution for each of us this Valentine’s Day 2017.

If you loved me you wouldn’t make me…empty the garbage…turn off my tablet…come home early on school nights.

Love is often a handy trigger for parental guilt. It’s true that love is unconditional, but showing love involves setting limits. Because we love our children we teach them about responsible behavior. Because we love our children we require them to meet certain expectations. And we do these things not because it’s easier (often it’s much harder) but because we love them.

If you loved me you would…take me to Disney World…give me a smartphone…serve me ice cream for breakfast.

At an early age, children discover that love can be an effective negotiating tool. Manipulating the word “love” and the accompanying emotion has triggered countless impulse purchases in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Giving things  will never replace giving love. Our gift of self—attention, time, affection—is the essence of parental love.

If you loved me, you would forget that I…didn’t make my bed…hid my phone under my bed…left my bike outside in the rain.

Human nature makes it tough to forget, but because we are Christians, we can forgive.

I’ve never met a perfect child or a perfect parent, but because Jesus loves us, you and I can forgive our children. Because Jesus loves us, our children can forgive us. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). These words are a blessing every day.

Yet even on Valentine’s Day, love can get buried in the busyness. I know: I had three children in less than four years. Life in those years was often chaotic; I’m not sure it’s settled down yet!

I hope sleep-deprived parents will share the precious love children offer so generously when reading my newest book, Where Does Love Hide?  Interacting with a young child who lifts the flaps of this fun book reminds us all that love can be found everywhere.

Challenge your child—and yourself—to discover where love hides at your house on this holiday. And if love seems a bit elusive, reach out with a hug, a caring word or a helping hand. You’ll uncover exactly where love hides.



Mary Manz Simon is an award-winning author whose titles have sold more than three million copies in the Christian channel and are available in ten languages. A long-time columnist for Focus on the Family, Mary has authored numerous articles for a variety of periodicals. Her speaking venues include Book Expo of the American Booksellers Association (BEA), National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), and International Retailing Show of the Christian Booksellers Association (ICRS). She serves as an adviser to MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and was quoted in McCall’s magazine as one of “America’s top parenting experts.”



Two Simple Ways to Make Bible Storytime Memorable by Kristi Gravemann

Reading with your children is one of the most special times you can share, especially when you’re reading the Bible together and nurturing a love for God’s Word. The Bible is full of stories of adventure, courage, faith, and redemption. Best of all, these stories unveil the depths of God’s love—a love so deep that he sent his Son to die for us. These are the stories we pray will stick with our kids for a lifetime.

Here are two ways to bring Bible stories to life and create lasting connections for kids:

The first is to provide context for the story. For example, if you are reading the story of Jonah, use maps from your Bible to show where Jonah was from and where the story took place. Fill in any other details that provide background for the story too, like what the boat might have looked like that Jonah took to Tarshish. This reminds kids that these were real people and real places.

Another way to bring a Bible story to life is by tapping into your child’s five senses. How many times has a song, a smell, or a taste evoked a memory for you? You can create those same powerful memory and sensory connections for your kids. Let’s look at Jonah again. Several elements of this story lend themselves to a fun sensory experience:

  • Touch: Fill a spray bottle with water, set the nozzle to mist, and spray the mist over your kids’ heads while you’re reading the story to help them imagine they’re out at sea. Another idea is to tell them the story while they’re in the bathtub.
  • Sight: Dim the lights and give your kids flashlights. Tell them to imagine they’re in the belly of the fish, like Jonah was.
  • Sound: Play background noises that sound like waves crashing. Change your voice for the different characters.
  • Smell: Open a can of tuna to create a fish smell.
  • Taste: Mix some salt with water to simulate seawater, and give your kids a small taste. Tell them to imagine what it was like when Jonah was in the sea. He probably swallowed a lot of seawater!

There are many things to you can do to bring Bible stories to life. Whether your Bible storytelling is simple or elaborate, do what works best for you and your family—have fun and don’t stress! After all, the most important thing is that you and your kids are in God’s Word together. That’s what really matters!


Kristi Gravemann is the Marketing Manager for Tyndale Kids. She has spent over 16 years immersed in marketing and product development for a variety of globally recognized brands. Kristi is convinced that if scientists were to study her DNA, they would discover a children’s book gene. Reading and a love of learning have been hallmarks of Kristi’s life since childhood. She brings that same passion and enthusiasm to her marketing role on the Children and Youth team at Tyndale. She’s beyond blessed to market fantastic children’s books with solid, Biblical values that parents can trust.

Head to to learn more about Jonah and the Fish and other Tyndale Kids titles!

Consider the Groundhog by Dandi Daley Mackall

I love animals. I grew up with horses as best friends. As I’m writing this, one of our dogs is trying to worm her way onto my lap, while her sister snores at my feet. We have an abundance of outside cats, raccoons, birds, deer, wild turkeys, and far too many squirrels. (I’ve written about all of them.) And we do have groundhogs.

Animals have taught me many things. Horses offer faithful companionship and an amazing humility as, though nearly ten times my weight, they allow me to ride and guide them. Cats, of course, are a lesson in independence. And dogs, who greet us as if we’ve been gone for years instead of minutes, exemplify unconditional love. If we’re willing to pay attention, I believe our Creator can teach us powerful lessons through God’s creatures.

Proverbs 6:6 says,

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!

But what about groundhogs?

As Groundhog Day approaches, it seems only right that we consider the groundhog. What could we possibly “learn from their ways”?

Groundhogs go by many names: woodchuck, groundpig, whistler, thickwood badger, Canada Marmot, land-beavers, to name a few. They’re rodents, the largest member of the family of squirrels and rats. Try googling “groundhog,” and ninety percent of the hits will offer ways to get rid of the pests and keep them from burrowing in your lawn and garden.

Yet as I considered the groundhog to write this blog, I discovered that I have a lot to learn from them. In spite of all their rodent-esque faults, groundhogs are highly organized, much better organized than I am. A groundhog digs a burrow with separate bedrooms, a bathroom, and a couple of exits, including a super-secret exit that’s hidden until needed. Bedrooms are kept neat and clean, with Mom Groundhog changing sheets of clean, dry grass regularly.

There are other takeaways from considering the groundhog. But as their special day approaches, I turn to the most famous groundhog of all— Punxsutawney Phil.

Every February 2, which is about halfway between winter solstice in December and the vernal equinox in March, we celebrate Groundhog Day. Actually, it’s a little before sensible groundhogs end their hibernation and venture out into the world.

But on this day, Phil, the rock-star groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is brought out to meet his fans, who are hoping against hope for an end to winter. We in Ohio share that hope. Tradition has it that if Phil sees his shadow, we’re in for six more weeks of winter. But if Phil doesn’t see his shadow, we’re supposed to get an early spring. Phil gets it wrong most of the time, and apparently, the little rodent doesn’t care about all those humans who put their hope in him. Frightened by his own shadow, Phil usually races back for cover and six more weeks of sleep.

I don’t think many of us believe Phil has the power to predict winter, even though we hope the guy won’t see his shadow and winter won’t stick around through April.

We hope our team wins, hope we’ll stick with our New Year’s resolution to exercise more and eat less, hope our kids drive safely, hope our friends like their Christmas presents. We toss around “hope” as if the word were synonymous with “wish.”

But biblical hope isn’t a wish. It’s the assurance of things yet to be seen. It’s an all-out trust that we’re in God’s hands. It’s Jesus:

And his name will be the hope of all the world (Matthew 12:21, NLT).

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and    of Christ Jesus, who is our hope . . . (I Timothy 1:1, NASB).

What we hope for is much less important than where we place our hope.

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you (Psalm 39:7, NLT).

When Punxsutawney Phil lets us down, we sigh, bundle up, and say, “Rats!” (No offense to rodents.) “Oh well.”

But hope in Christ is a sure thing. It better be. Otherwise, we’re in big trouble.

If our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world (I Cor. 15:19, NLT).

Sorry, Phil. No matter how cold and long our winter is, I’m putting my hope in Christ.


Dandi Daley Mackall is the award-winning author of over 450 books for children and adults. She visits countless schools, conducts writing assemblies and workshops across the United States, and presents keynote addresses at conferences and young author events. She is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and has made dozens TV appearances. She is has won several awards for her writing, including the Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children’s Literature and a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. Dandi writes from rural Ohio, where she lives with her husband, Joe, their three children, and their horses, dogs, and cats. Visit her at


Jesus Is My Lantern Craft by Jesse Doogan

lantern header photo


Days are getting longer, but January always feels a little bit darker after the Christmas decorations are put away. Help your kids out of the January doldrums with this fun paper-lantern craft, and decorate the lanterns with stickers that remind them of who their light is. While you’re crafting, talk about what it means to be the light of the world.


You’ll need: lantern photo 1


1. Trim your construction paper down to a square. This will make your lantern a little skinnier, which will help the candlelight reflect off the sides.

lantern photo 2

2. Fold your paper in half and help your kids cut notches into the folded side of the paper. The notches should be about three inches deep. Make sure you save room to decorate!

lantern photo 3

3. Unfold your paper and add stickers to the top and bottom of your lantern. Leave about one inch of room on each edge.

lantern photo 4

4. Wrap your paper into a tube, overlapping about one inch, and carefully line up your notches. Tape the top and bottom of the lantern.

5. Place over a flameless tea candle, and enjoy your lantern!

lantern photo 5

One Year Devotional Giveaway!

What better time to begin a daily devotional with your kids than the start of a new year?

OY Devos with Jesus Giveaway

Featuring a range of kid-friendly topics, from practical life lessons that Jesus taught to the essential theological truths of His character and deity, The One Year Devotions with Jesus will encourage young readers and help them to know Christ better.

Enter below for your chance to win this devotional for your family!

OY Devotions with Jesus