Episode 188: Helping our Children Understand Home, Hospitality, and Heaven

In this episode we talk about the concept of home and its different meanings. How can we help our children understand the blessing of being hospitable? How can we help them understand heaven? What can we do to make our house a home? Free downloads available.

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Show Notes/Transcript with Links:


Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship, every day, sparking important conversations with our children. We all want to see the next generation on fire for God, but life is so busy and seems to take all our energy just to get through the day. How can we disciple our children well when we’re having trouble staying awake long enough for our own Bible reading? Well, part of that is taking every opportunity with every book we read to speak to our children and to have them talk with us, opening up those conversations with our kids, whatever we’re reading, wherever we are, and whatever we’re doing. That’s the key to discipling our children from day one. If you’re feeling inadequate or overwhelmed or like you don’t know enough to disciple your kids, I promise you, you have the answers they need. You know Jesus and he has changed your life. So now let’s join the conversation talking about some more books that will bless you and your kids.


Hi, everyone. I’m so glad you’re here with us today. I wanted to spend today talking about some books about home. That’s been on my heart a lot lately. To think about what we mean when we talk about home as we’re discipling our kids and discipling our friends. This does sometimes come up because we are thinking of heaven as our home. This is not our home. Ultimately, heaven is our home. And so helping our children and helping others to understand that concept is important. But in addition to that, as believers, I believe we are called to be hospitable. Even if we don’t have the gift of hospitality, we are called to be hospitable and allow people to be in our homes and to welcome them in our homes.


I am not the best hostess ever, but I love having people in our home. People who have been in our home have always said they feel comfortable and at ease when they come to our house, and I love that so much. That’s the best compliment I could get. I may not have the perfect home, but I certainly want people to feel welcome and feel comfortable here. So I was just thinking a lot about home.


I’ve got some freebies for you on this episode to download if you would like to. I have a poem for children that I’m making into a board book eventually, but right now it is still just a poem about home. And I have some other devotionals and things about home that I will have on the podcast episode blog post where you can download those for free if you would like to.


I want to share one book with you that is really special. It’s called You Are Home by Mackenzie Porter. And this book is a board book, and it kind of breaks my heart to share it with you because the poem I’m sharing with you is very much along the same lines as this one. And sometimes that happens. We’ll find a book that we’ve written, we’ll find a book that’s very similar to what we’ve written. It’s not that anyone has copied anyone else, it’s just these are important topics that we’re sharing with our children. And so we write similar books. Of course our poems are very different, but the message is basically the same. So my poem is free for you to download, and I hope you enjoy it and can share it with your children. But this board book is just wonderful. It talks about family being home and that is our safe place, that is our sanctuary. And I believe that’s what God wants our homes to be and especially for our children to know that they always have a soft place to land. I hope you check out this book. It’s really great.


But let’s talk about a few books that I think are really amazing in talking about home. One that I’ve mentioned before that I just–it’s out of print and I wish it weren’t. It’s just such a wonderful book, and I’ve told Carol Brazo I love her book, and she’s very humble about it. But I think it’s an amazing book. For me, it was a life-changing book as a young mom, and it’s called No Ordinary Home. And you can find used versions of it. They’re out there. I have several copies of it that I’ve had over the years. I lost my first one where I had all kinds of notes written in it, and it made me very sad. It was really cool. She let us translate it into Chinese to be able to share in Taiwan, and I loved that. This is just a fantastic book, and it does help you to think about how you can make your home extraordinary, how it can have a Christ-focused atmosphere of what you’re trying to create and how you’re trying to make meaningful memories and activities in your home that point to Christ. It’s mostly a story about her journey as she was growing in her faith as a young mom. I love it. It really is a wonderful book.


And there’s a new book out. If you like HGTV you’ll recognize the name. Erin Napier has written a book called The Lantern House, and recently on their show they had the artist Adam Trest on there, and he was painting a mural in one of their houses that they were renovating. But this is an adorable little book. It reminds me of the classic The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, which I also, I’m talking about today. It’s just a modern version of that, and it shows specifically the different families that live in the house and that bring life into the house, living there, you know, renovating the house at one point for it to be a home again. It’s just a beautiful book. The illustrations are really cute. They’re kind of folksy. I love folk art, and it is kind of folk art that Trest does. And so I highly recommend this book just for a really wonderful picture book about home.


And then, like I said, The Little House, a classic book from when we were kids by Virginia Lee Burton. I just love this book. It tells the story of this house that was a very happy house and the city grows up around it, and it’s kind of squashed. And it’s still there, but it’s having a hard time. And then they move that house out to the country, and it finds, you know, peace and happiness again. But it’s so cute because it tells the story from the perspective of the house as it’s experiencing all this growth and change around it. So I got a newer version of the book that has been republished as the 75th anniversary edition of the book, which was from 2017, I believe it was. So it’s fairly new, but it’s nice to have a brand new version of the book. My kids grew up with this book and loved it, and our old version of it has been lost along the way somewhere, but it was pretty worn out because it was from when I was a kid that I had my copy. And so it’s kind of nice to have a new one. But I do miss having the old one too. But anyway, this is a classic, timeless story that every generation can enjoy.


There is one called A House Is a House for Me, which is by Maryanne Hoberman. This is a national book award winner. The Little House is a Caldecott book award winner. And so these are both award-winning books, and this one is illustrated by Betty Frazier or Fraser. This is such a cute story and it’s talking about homes. What is a house? And I mean, it even talks about how like a pen is a home for ink, and a teapot is a home for tea, you know, and this kind of stuff. So it’s really cute. It’s a poem. I just, I love that book. Of course you know me, I love poetry. It’s just such a cute book, but it gets you thinking about all kinds of different houses and homes for animals and for us and for everything on earth.


And I have to share one more about home and family, and that is Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds. Even though it’s not technically about home, it’s about the table and gathering around the table for meals and for family time. I think it captures the spirit of what we want when we’re talking about hospitality and making a home that is a haven and a safe place for our children and for people to come and visit. Really truthfully, I think this is so important, and I think that we sometimes discount that, that our homes are a place of peace, that they are a place that are a haven, a safe place for people to come to because there are many, many places out in the world that people are not feeling safe. Because of what Christ has done in our lives, our homes should reflect that and that it is a place of safety and rest. We know that in Christ, he is our home, and he is a place of safety and rest for us. And he calls us into his presence. We need to be able to invite people into our homes and they experience that same welcoming spirit and peace when they come to our home. They should always feel safe and at home in our homes. So I just think we really should take that on as important and make it a priority.


In my book, Building Character through Picture Books, I do have a devotional that goes with Our Table and The Little House books, both of those, I have a devotional in the book about them. Just to let you know those are in there as two of the books out of the 25 that are in there.


And then one last one I want to talk about today is called The Story of Home. And this is by Carolyn Saunders, and it is talking about heaven. It’s just a really wonderful book for children about heaven and that that is our ultimate home. We may not be really comfortable talking with little children about death and dying and those kinds of things. It’s hard. None of us want to talk about dying. Of course, sometimes we lose someone we know or they lose a grandparent or someone. It naturally becomes a part of life. We do need to talk about, and I do have some books I recommend for parents to use when they’re talking about death with little children. I’ve talked about them before on my show, but A Little Blue Bottle by Jennifer Grant is wonderful, specifically that’s the one that comes to mind when I think of that. But I think we do need to remind kids that this is not our home and that we do have a home in heaven.


If we are followers of Jesus Christ, our destination ultimately is being at home with Christ in heaven. The reason I think that is so important is because it gives us something bigger than ourselves. It gives us a purpose in this life, and it helps us not to be so overwhelmed by the craziness of life and the difficulties we may face–to understand that we may get knocked down here, we may struggle here, but this is not the end. This is not all we have to look forward to. So I think that it’s important for us to help children understand that we may get knocked down. We may have an imperfect life here. We may have bodies that don’t work right, but when we get to heaven, there will be no more tears, no more pain. We will have perfect bodies. We will be in perfect peace and in unity with Christ. And it’s just a wonderful thing to remember and to think about.


In this book, The Story of Home: God at Work in the Bible’s Tales of Home starts with the garden. In the beginning, people lived in a perfect home. And then it talks about the fall of man and how Adam and Eve sinned. And you know, one thing I really appreciate about this book is they don’t make it apples. They’re not eating apples. And I love that because the Bible does not say they were eating apples. So it talks about how the garden changed and how their relationship changed, and they lost their perfect home. So then it says, “Adam and Eve had to leave their home, but God gave them a promise. Even though sin would keep intruding one day someone would defeat sin and the serpent forever, and he would build the way to a more wonderful home.”


So see how it’s a great way to introduce the concept that this is not our home. We can always look to the hope we have for our future in heaven. And then it talks about the years when the Israelites were roaming and kind of nomadic in their lives and it says, “Years passed, and humans could never quite find their way home. They caught glimpses of it when they spotted a zebra’s stripes, felt the winds soft flutter, tasted the lemons pucker, or noticed the fish’s ‘blub, blub.'” I think it’s cute, but most of the time sin seemed to intrude upon the whole earth, not just around them but inside them and people were so homesick. Where was the home God had promised. It talks about the sin that invades the earth, invades our hearts. It talks a little bit about the exodus and the tabernacle and the promised land, and then it goes on to the temple. But that sin still was a problem and people were still homesick. And I love that. I mean, have you experienced that yourself? You know, there’s no other way to describe that longing for heaven. The only way to really describe it is homesick.


I will always remember before my mom passed away, one day we were just talking, and we were just giddy talking about heaven and how we get homesick for heaven. As she was getting closer to her death, and she knew she was, she was sick for quite some time, she would begin to think about heaven and talk about heaven more and more. And I could see that she was looking at home, excited for what God had for her. Even though talking about it wasn’t always comfortable and sometimes it made us cry, I loved the joy she had in her heart as she thought about going home, that she had that hope and that promise to hold on to.


As we get into the story, I’m just kind of showing you some of what it says. It says that “Jesus spoke of a house in heaven with many rooms, and he hugged little children and said, ‘The home I am building is for you.’ He smiled at the poor and said, ‘The home I am building is for you.’ The home is for anyone who is willing to follow Christ.” There’s a whole lot in this book that is good theology, good teachings, good understanding of what God has designed and what Jesus did. And it talks about his resurrection and his teachings and the fact that he is coming back to take us home. And then it talks about heaven and the feast we’ll have there together. I just love this book. I think it’s really well done. It’s a great way to talk with children about some of these concepts.


And then at the very end, it has a little devotional time or information where the scriptures are all through the book. There’s scriptures by the way that we can look up and read as we go through the book. Then it has some questions at the end that we can use for discussion as well with our kids. So this is a great book for sharing the gospel with our kids as well as helping them understand the concept of heaven means we’re going to be in Jesus’ presence and living with him forever and that we don’t have any pain and sin and suffering there like we deal with here all the time. So these are some wonderful books about home and like I said, I’ll have some previews for you to download if you so choose to as well. And I just hope they bless you and I really pray that we can help the world know that we are Christ followers by our love and that people when they come into our homes experience hospitality and warmth and peace and acceptance, that they know that they have a safe place to land.


And that our children as they grow older and as some of them have gone different ways, and maybe some of our kids have rebelled against church and against the Bible and against God, that they will always know that our homes are a safe place to land and that God is always a safe place to land. And that if they will continue to seek the truth and to seek what is right and what is good, that they will come back to an understanding that God loves them and God has a plan for their lives, that he is ultimately their home.


Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” where we encourage each other to grasp those teachable moments sparked by great books and great conversations, and to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share so people know we’re here or leave comments on the podcast host sites, or on our blog. We truly appreciate you. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment on TerrieHellardBrown.com. We love to hear from you, and we respond to every comment and question. We pray you feel empowered to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Free Downloads:

Poem: “Little One, You’re Home” by Terrie Hellard-Brown

Simple Ways to Make Your House a Home

“Make Yourself at Home” devotional

Animal Homes Activity

To download the coloring page click here

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

Child reading a book with animals around her

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