A sadness veiled my community recently when the life of a middle school student was lost. Though I didn’t know the family who is now grieving their precious child, like everyone else, I ached for their broken hearts and my head felt like a blender imagining what the family and friends were going through. I sent a text to a friend whose child is in the same grade, asking how she was processing the tragic death. My friend made my eyes water when she relayed that she walked in to tell her daughter it was time for dinner and found her praying.
Having faith doesn’t make the hard things in life go away, but it sure gives kids a grounding to help them deal with those events. I told my friend I was so glad her kiddo had her faith to lean on when it seems like so many kids just have their phones.
The world has always been a mixture of joy and pain, but the challenges we face can feel overwhelming to kids (and adults) as we reckon with racial injustice, climate change, economic challenges in families, and life emerging from the pandemic with shifts in mental health, social norms, routines, and friend groups. It’s a lot. The data on mental health and self-harm tells us our kids need help and support.
I’ve been writing faith education resources for 1517 Media’s entities for almost two decades now. Every project I’ve been a part of has had an underlying goal of helping learners know that they are beloved children of God and part of God’s unfolding story in human history. I innately write through the lens of being a mom and a pastor and the experiences I’ve had in those roles.
Some of my favorite writing projects have been working with Dan Erlander’s truly beautiful collection as it is re-released with supplemental faith resources. I first flipped through Manna and Mercy when I found a copy in my internship office in Colorado Springs, Colorado 25 years ago. It wasn’t like anything else I’d seen before—the scope of scripture in a palatable, user-friendly format conveying God’s love for creation better than the two-inch tomes on my systematic theology shelf.
So when asked if I would help format Dan’s work into an interactive edition for kids, I was honored. I hope that in kids’ hands, it is doodled in, smeared up with cookie crumbs, and filled with their unanswerable questions. I hope they laugh at the prairie dogs, wonder at the people, and relate all of it to their own lives. Most of all, I hope that when they face both the joys and challenges that lie ahead in their young lives, this resource will have helped equipped them with tools of faith, inherently knowing that they too are part of God’s unfolding story and the mending of the universe. Come what may, I hope they know they are beloved children of God.
Manna and Mercy: An Interactive Edition for Kids is available now.