Several years ago at a moms’ convention, my booth sat next to that of a friendly woman who seemed very popular with young moms and their toddlers. Her cheerful green jumpsuit with the red candy striped blouse, bright red lipstick, and beaming smile drew a steady stream of twenty-something moms eager to buy her CDs and get their picture taken with her. She had introduced herself to me as Jean, but to them she was Miss PattyCake, their childhood friend who had led them via live performance concerts and DVDs to worship God through song, dance, and words. Her motto: “We have two hands to clap, one heart to love, a voice to sing, and every song can give thanks and praise to God!” Her fans were eager to meet her and introduce her to their own children.
With so many years of ministry experience, Miss Pattycake (Jean Thomason) was finally persuaded to write a book that could pass along her wisdom and insight. Sharing God’s Big Love with Little Lives was released in June 2017 by Worthy Publishing.
CP: Who is “Miss PattyCake” and how does that persona teach children about the Bible?
Miss PattyCake is a brightly costumed character with a program designed to plant biblical truths, broken into musical child-size pieces, into little lives. She teaches Bible verses and stories, praise songs, games and activities that are biblically based. Miss PattyCake exists to share God’s BIG LOVE with little lives, and help parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers teach God’s Word through music, stories, scripture, and FUN. With biblically based resources and live appearances, she assists in the Kingdom work of spiritual formation, which is, laying a foundation for salvation and establishing a biblical worldview.
About three years ago I was singing at Sherwood Baptist in Albany, Georgia. In the foyer hangs a large banner with these words, “Whoever wants the next generation the most, will get them.” I knew it then—I had to take the time to write what I had learned through experience, research, and Bible study about these early years and the importance of starting EARLY to teach biblical concepts, scripture, and have FUN doing it. I don’t think I am a good writer, but I can talk – so I would record myself teaching, and then actually write what I said! It needed lots of editing and it took almost two years. It was a self-published work first called P.E.P. TALKS (PattyCake Encouraging Parents). Then Worthy Publishing read it, liked it, and made it better! I am most proud that they left the color and graphics in the book since my hope is for busy parents to intrigued and never bored while reading. When I was a young mommy, I didn’t want another book telling me what more I should do, or what I wasn’t doing. That is depressing. This book, I hope, will be fun to read, make people laugh, and give them enthusiastic confidence as they live with and influence little lives!
CP: Why is it important for parents and caregivers of children to be intentional about teaching the Bible and, as you put it, “practice praising God”?
Praise is a game-changer for all of life—so much of Scripture instructs us to “rejoice in always,” “give thanks in everything,” “Praise the Lord!” When I began to practice praising God it radically changed my life. If you will practice praise by yourself as well as with your children, and do it often, it will change you. It will change the way you deal with your circumstances, and it will change the atmosphere in your home, and that will affect all your relationships. I have found many people do not really know what the word PRAISE really means. It is always a verb and has many different directives. When parents and caregivers get understanding about how and why we praise God, it can change their life. It changed mine! Then they know better how to teach children, who are already more uninhibited and are excited to give thanks and praise to God. The Bible says this, “Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk, and silence atheistic babble” (Psalm 8:2 MSG).
Working with little children now for 25 years has proven to me they need little encouragement to give God PRAISE – only direction. The promise of God’s Word, again and again, is this: when we CHOOSE to praise God, the benefits are blessings, joy, peace, His presence, guidance, and more! Who doesn’t want that?!
CP: How do you use the word “praise” to organize the book?
By using the letters of the word as the acronym PRAISE, this book will take you on a tour of parenting and teaching young children about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible.
P – Placed And Privileged to Parent
R – Rare Window of Opportunity
A – All-Access Pass
I – Infancy
S – Seven Ways to Practice Praise
E – Enthusiastic Enjoyment
! – Imperative—Do It!
CP: How should parents and caregivers be sensitive when teaching the Bible and biblical truth to children who’ve encountered abuse, bullying, or other difficulties in their lives?
What a good question, and sadly, real issues for some families. No matter what sadness, sorrow, or pain children have encountered, they all need to know about the unconditional and faithful love of God and the good news of the gospel of Jesus. The Bible is clear about the power of God’s words which “are living and active” (Heb. 4:12) “Never return empty and always accomplish what I desire” (Is 55:11) They are a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps 119:105). All of us who are alive in this fallen world know that sad and bad things happen to children. This should make us even more determined to teach our own little ones about God who made them and loves them, and about Jesus who went about doing good, and forgave others. We should never, for any reason, not teach the Bible to children, because we can trust God’s words to lay a foundation on which salvation and sanctification can be built. Second Timothy 3:15 says “from infancy you have known the Scriptures which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
How do you want this book to make a change in its readers?
I hope and pray this book will leave readers saying, “I can do this!” God helping us all, we can confidently say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). I hope this book will convince readers that God has put a child or children in their life on purpose. And that He has given us everything we need to speak into this little lives as His ambassador, representing His kingdom. It is no mistake you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, or caregiver of a little child. It is a great responsibility, a privilege, and it can be a pleasure!
CP: What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Psalm 40:1–3 “I put all my hope in the Lord.
He leaned down to me;
he listened to my cry for help.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of death,
out of the mud and filth,
and set my feet on solid rock.
He steadied my legs.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this and be amazed;
they will trust the Lord.”
This has been my personal life verse since I became a follower of Jesus! The word “praise” here is the Hebrew word tehillah, which means to sing with the spirit, the singing of hallelujahs! This word changed the direction of my life, pointed me to become a worship singer, and set the course for my life work. Also, it is my story—what God has done for me and through me, how He has helped me and used me. I am the one who is amazed!
CP: Any parting thoughts?
We must take seriously the task of teaching our children about God. The culture will not do it for us. The church is helpful, but the task ours.