Picture book, anyone?

At some point in their life all of our children have loved books. Lilah, our youngest, is no exception and may love them more than any of our other children have at this point in their lives. I was reminded of her love for books while driving in the car with her yesterday and I was constantly forced to hand her another “buk, buk.”

After several, several, “buks” being “read” and thrown to the floor she finally settled on one that occupied her attention for several minutes. As I watched her I was reminded of the stages that my children have gone through in reading.

They all started out loving the pictures. As they grew older and we continued to read to them they began to learn particular words and would even know when Dad was skipping pages or skipping words. (Hey, some kid’s books are loooong!) Landon especially knew every word to his favorite books. Picture books, however, don’t last forever and they began to foray into the books with more words than pictures. Finally, they become bored with picture books. Yes, they may pick one up every now and then and be amused but this passes very quickly and they are off to look for something more substantive.

Allow me to skip over into a believer’s personal devotion life. As a youth pastor I was constantly asked by parents about devotionals for their children. I was usually hesitant to recommend much that I knew was available because it really was just a picture book, most of simple colors and shapes. I have even been asked by many adults what I would recommend and I sometimes facetiously reply, “ummm … the Bible.” Listen to what Scripture says about a believer and their spiritual growth:

Hebrews 5:12-14  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

You and I would be disappointed and would be enquiring about the mental growth of our children if they were satisfied with picture books all of their life. As believers we should desire to learn more from God’s Word than just the “picture stories” which are quickly seen. Let’s read with interest and with a desire for understanding.


The Sleep Denyer

Are you a little sleepy? Do your eyes refuse to stay open? Want to sleep, but can’t? Maybe you have  a test you need to study for, a book report you need to finish, or you have one of those last-minute school projects that the kids are “doing” and you are simply “observing.” Tired of coffee? Worried about the sugar in Mountain Dew?

Introducing, for your benefit, The Sleep Denyer. This new “superhero” weighs in near 30 pounds and stands about 30″ tall. Guaranteed to work no matter the need, or the hour. The Sleep Denyer specializes in those late night moments when you absolutely must not fall asleep, or for those nights when insomnia is preferred over a restful night of sleep.

The Sleep Denyer comes fully equipped to handle depriving you of sleep whether you are in a crowd or simply all alone. If you are in the company of some who have selfishly allowed you to fall asleep The Sleep Denyer will go into full ATTACK mode. The Sleep Denyer will call your name, Call Your Name, CAll YOur NAme, CALl YOUr NAMe, and CALL YOUR NAME! Once you have been spotted by The Sleep Denyer you can be assured that your doze does not continue. If you happen to find yourself alone The Sleep Denyer will normally resort to the “Stomp and Prod” mode. The Sleep Denyer will Stomp all over the offending sleeper and will absolutely ensure that they wake up. If the offending sleeper happens to be in a position which eliminates the Stop mode The Sleep Denyer will move to the Prod mode. In Prod mode The Sleep Denyer will poke and prod the offender until the offender is fully awake.

Maybe staying awake is not your need and instead you prefer to be woken up a few times throughout the night. The Sleep Denyer offers this service as well. If you have fallen asleep in the middle of a chapter The Sleep Denyer will wake you up 30 minutes after the house is completely quiet. This abrupt deprivation of sleep will give you the impetus needed to finish that chapter or wash those few dishes left in the sink. If, however, your need is for a middle of the night alarm The Sleep Denyer is available to serve here as well. Whether you just don’t want to sleep thru the night for fear that you may oversleep something important, or you have a puppy that is potty-training, The Sleep Denyer will ensure that you don’t enter that elusive level of REM.

For all of the problems associated with The Sleep Denyer I can assure you that you want one. The Sleep Denyer is more fun than a barrel of monkeys, dipped in hot sauce, and sprinkled with honey and powdered sugar.

Dear Lilah,

Dear Lilah Laine,

I love you. That certainly goes without saying but in case you become angry at the tone of this letter I must state this at the beginning. I have loved you since before you were born and that night/morning in the hospital simply was the fruition of the love that I have for you. It is because of that love that I am writing this letter to you. I know you are too young to read, but I rest assured that somehow this message will be communicated to you.

We have a problem. You see the bed that I sleep in at night was bought so that your mother and I could enjoy that very simple comfort. If you knew how cheap I was you would realize that this was a big deal for me. We deliberately bought a bed that was the right size for us, we did not include children into our measurements for we did not plan on children sleeping in our bed.

However, you seem to have another plan in that small head of yours that you are seeking to implement. I understand waking up in the middle of the night as you have been doing for the past couple of months – you see I am in my thirties now and I also have to wake up in the middle of the night now. I have no problem with you ending up in our bed in the middle of the night for that is simply the fault of your mother and I being too tired to make sure you go back to sleep in your own bed. As you know though we were making headway in that department as I had started taking you into the living room and sitting up with you until you fell asleep. I was then able to lay you back in your bed and I could go back to my bed.

Smart, yes you are very smart for you have figured out this pattern and have staged what for lack of a better word we shall simply refer to as a sleep-in. For the last three nights you have managed to outlast both of your parents in going to sleep which means you have ultimately ended up in our bed the entire night. Even last night after I woke up, remember old guys have to wake up in the middle of the night, and placed you in your bed you simply let it fly until I put you back in our bed.

I’m warning you child that it ends tonight, well, possibly next week, but it will end – one day. I would like to sleep without feeling your little heels beating like a bongo drum on my chest. I would also prefer for my nostrils to continue to widen at the natural rate that God has given them instead of you continuing to try to make mine wide enough for your entire hand to fit in while you are trying to go to sleep.

As I said at the beginning, I love you,



I think your mother would also like to talk to you about the fact that you only sleep for about 45 minutes during the daytime, but that will have to be the subject of another letter.