God Talks With Kids:
Helping parents answer life's big questions
A few weeks ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was getting ready to head to Florida for a conference. The night before, Joss lay in bed, asking over and over, “But what if you die? Who will take care of me?” I did my best to reassure him, not wanting to promise more than I could guarantee to deliver (“I promise I’ll be back.”) but not wanting to give him any cause for continued doubt, either. I don’t know if my answer was sufficient; but I did come home, and he hasn’t brought it up again since.
As parents, we often encounter conversations we may or may not feel ready for. I recently interviewed Morgan Phillips, author of “God Talks With Kids,” a new book that is designed to help parents navigate these kinds of conversations.
“God Talks With Kids” is not your typical book. It is, rather, a series of cards connected by a binder ring. This unique format was inspired by Morgan’s mother-in-law, Shannon Phillips, who passed away before Morgan and her now-husband, J.R., met. However, when Shannon’s children were in high school, she gave them a gift: her favorite Scripture verses and passages collected on index cards held together by a binder ring.
Morgan’s husband still has these original cards.
Where “God Talks With Kids” differs from the original is that this book is designed specifically for parents of children ages 3-7.
“I wrote the content based off my own kids’ development,” Morgan said. “It might be relevant or applicable to children who are 8 or 9, or 2, but my children are 3 and 6. So I know the content is scalable to both of them.”
Beyond the content, the cards themselves are designed to be durable and cleanable. Plus, Morgan’s sister-in-law, artist Sarah Schilling, created the most whimsical illustrations.
Sarah (Sadee) Schilling and Morgan Phillips. Photo by Carol Petty
“I knew I wanted the artwork to be something that kids would love. So I called [Sarah] because she is an aspiring children’s book illustrator and is so talented,” said Morgan.
They settled on 25 illustrations because that seemed doable, explained Morgan. “We worked up a contract and I sent her the verses I chose. I told her that I’d love something that involves animals and woodland creatures, but other than that, I’m really open.”
Sarah’s finished illustrations feature five children, the “God Talks Kids,” who interact with adorable animals.
“When she sent me the draft of the illustrations, I was like, ‘I love them! But are you sure it’s okay to have children interacting with animals?'” Morgan says. “I was thinking more with my logical brain, which is the brain I use, but she is much more in tune with the creative world and said, ‘I think in a child’s world and imagination, animals and kids kind of live in the same space.’ So I said, ‘Let’s do that!'”
Morgan found inspiration for “God Talks With Kids” in spring 2018, when her daughter was four years old. As they drove to preschool each morning, they used Shannon Phillips’ original cards to address some anxiety her daughter was experiencing.
“We would talk about God’s promises through the Bible,” Morgan says. “I was using my mother-in-law’s tool at the time to pick out verses, but a lot of the verses in her book were difficult even for adults to understand.”
So Morgan chose verses more appropriate to a child’s understanding, and wrote conversation prompts and prayers to accompany each verse. An emotionally difficult 2019 and grieving the death of her husband’s father and her own grandfather put the project on the back-burner for awhile, but eventually Morgan was ready to move ahead.
“My grandfather ended up passing this December, so that was really hard to deal with, but it was such a blessing too because he wasn’t suffering anymore. Once I got past some of the trauma, I could be like, ‘OK, I still want to do this,'” Morgan says.
She hired a local graphic designer and printer, and “God Talks With Kids” is now available for purchase!
God Talks With Kids and COVID-19
I asked Morgan to give an example of how “God Talks With Kids” could be used to address children’s anxieties over COVID-19.
“I would go back to one of the verses that’s actually in the book, Isaiah 41:13. It’s one of the verses I felt God put on my heart to move forward with this project. I’m not an entrepreneur at heart. I don’t take risks, but I felt like God led me to this verse.”
Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
“We are living in a time when it’s really easy to be fearful,” Morgan says, “and I feel like fear is even more contagious than a virus. In ‘God Talks With Kids’ I talk about how when we’re scared, we can ask God to hold our hand. And even if we can’t see him hold our hand, we can do it in our hearts. He replaces our fear with peace when we ask him to.”
Where to Order
Order “God Talks With Kids” at godtalkswith.us. If you order by 9 p.m. on Monday, April 6, it should arrive in time for Easter. The book is just $19.99, with free shipping. You can also order a “God Talks With Kids” T-shirt. The front says, “mamas raise, Jesus saves,” with the “God Talks With Kids” logo on the back.
As if launching a new book wasn’t enough, Morgan and her family are also doing something special for Easter. On the “God Talks With Kids” website, you can order plastic Easter Eggs that the Phillips family will use to “Egg Your Yard.”
Along with candy, the eggs include a secret message about Easter that families can decode. These secret messages are written to remind families that Easter is about more than bunnies and candy. Morgan is hoping they will prompt a conversation along those lines, making this initiative complement “God Talks With Kids” perfectly.
Families in the Tulsa area can choose whether they want 12 eggs, 24 eggs or more, and then select the date/time they want them to be delivered. For families naturally worried about the spread of COVID-19, Morgan says that they are prepping and filling the eggs with gloved, clean hands.