Mentor Mama: Today we are going to be talking about introducing young children to prayer and how it can mold their faith, prayer life, and family bonds. The concept of God and knowing what to say to God can be very intimidating for little ones. But if we teach children how to talk to God and help them learn that their prayers for others matter, it can be an instrumental factor in building a firm foundation of faith that will last a lifetime. Our guests today, Chrissy Metz and Bradley Collins, have co-written a new children's book titled, “When I Talk to God, I Talk About You.” They are here to talk about the importance of modeling prayer to young children and watching them grow in faith through that tender introduction at an early age.
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Mentor Mama: Emmy and two-time Golden Globe nominee Chrissy Metz, whom many of us know for her portrayal of Kate Pearson on the award-winning NBC series This Is Us also starred in the hit 20th Century Fox faith-based film Breakthrough. She also performs I'm standing With You on the Breakthrough soundtrack. Chrissy's other credits include Superstore, The Last OG, American Horror Story, My Name is Earl, Entourage, and the Netflix film Sierra Burguss. Chrissy Metz is from Homestead, FL and she recently released her memoir, This Is Me, which debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Chrissy's co-author and boyfriend Bradley Collins is a songwriter and creative community advocate living and working in his native Nashville, TN. Through a decades-long career spanning artist and songwriter development, music, publishing, real estate, event production, and more, Bradley has worked to protect and expand creator’s rights alongside promoting responsible urban growth and rapidly expanding Nashville. Bradley grew up in the music business closely watching his father, Grammy-nominated producer and publisher Tom Collins. Bradley's career began at the legendary Acuff Rose Music Publishing. Bradley moved on to work in artist management, publishing and more, expanding into an independent, entrepreneurial role that allows him to support and counsel creators while making time for his own music. Please welcome Chrissy and Bradley.
Bradley: Thank you. We’re happy to be here.
Chrissy: Hi, thanks for having us.
Mentor Mama: Oh, thank you. I'm so excited to have you guys here. I know professionally you both are very busy people. So what inspired you to write a children's book together?
Chrissy: Well, I taught preschool. I have a very big family and when Bradley and I were getting to know each other during the pandemic when we like officially met, we just sort of talked about like what was important to us and for me, prayer was always really important in my life. My grandmother really instilled that in me at a very young age. I was like going to church and so excited about going to church and would go on my own once I got older. So we just talked about how important it was also for kids and how they should feel loved and supported and bolstered with self-confidence and that was really the beginning of wanting to write a book like this.
Mentor Mama: I love that your professional background, you know, as a preschool teacher really impacted you because I imagine you really know how kids think and feel and act and respond.
Chrissy: Yeah, I would see so much through circle time and now of course, to know, growth is so important with reading books to children, but also for them to have pictures to look at and for them to have the ability to ask questions about the book. And this really is something that we hope will foster connection with whomever the reader is to the child but also help them to want to ask questions about all sorts of things, you know, and specifically hopefully about prayer and faith and who they are and who they will become as young people.
Mentor Mama: Yeah, absolutely. Well, your children's book points kids at a very young age to God and the power of prayer. Can you tell us a little bit more specifically why you found it important to teach young children that they, too, can pray to God?
Bradley: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, for me, that's really my story about how the book started. I was about that same age as this book was intended for, my grandfather was very sick and I remember going to church and watching my parents and grandparents praying to God when he was sick, I saw my mom and grandmother incredibly stressed and I didn't know if I could pray to God too or not. Didn't know if that was something that I could speak to, and the book, through writing, answered a lot of those questions for me that yes, you can pray and kids can learn how to pray. They can pray for their pets, they can pray for their friends at school, and they can pray for their grandparents to be better. And that's a lot of what I struggled with when I was seven or eight years old. Because I didn't know that yes, God wants to hear what I have going on, and it doesn't matter how small or how big it is. Starting a daily prayer routine and dialogue is really important for children. And we're seeing a lot of parents come to us saying that this was this book has been a catalyst for them to start that conversation and it's told through animals. So it's a very gentle delivery where you can see how animals take care of each other. It's the same thing with parents and children.
Mentor Mama: That's so beautiful. In looking at the book and your own personal life. How does the book reflect your faith life and your understanding of prayer?
Chrissy: Well, for me, I always thought, can I only pray in church, do I only pray in the morning or at night? And what we hope to reiterate in the book is that you can literally pray anytime, anywhere as much as you want. And that, for me, is how I live my life. I mean, I literally pray all day, every day for other people. Pray for, you know, God's will. You know, God will not mine be done because my ego might want something that is not intended for me, but that you know it's also important to talk about gratitude and to be thankful for everything you've received. So that's something else that we wanted to bring throughout the book, but yeah, for me it's just about being able to pray anywhere, anytime, as much as you want and knowing that nothing's too big or too small.
Mentor Mama: Yeah, for sure. I know, I think the same for me too,
when I was young. I didn't realize we could pray anytime or all day long either. So, I love that you're sort of bringing this idea to the forefront. Well, your book is described as a touching ode to unconditional love. So, tell us, how have you experienced God's unconditional love in your own lives, and how do we pass that on to our children?
Bradley: Oh, in my own life, I think I have to look at when I was at my lowest. You know which was during quarantine when I was incredibly scared and I had just left a job that I was really good at for a long time and I knew there was something else out there for me and I couldn't figure out what it was. And that led me to write and songwriting. And I remember praying and I just felt like my prayer was immediately answered because I was praying about, how am I going to do this? I've never seen anyone do this before, become a writer after being somewhere for so long, and it came to me that just because no one has been on this path before, it doesn't mean it's not my path. And I felt like that was a really powerful, loving message to me that I carry with me daily, walking into co-writes, writing appointments, anything, that I have that support. And it really took away a lot of the fear from what I was experiencing like we all were during quarantine. But it's really helping today.
Chrissy: I think for me, I'm really feeling the presence of unconditional love and everything, you know, in everything that I do and don't do. I really trust and believe that there is a plan for all of us and it's not always what I want and, in my time, and you know being of service to people, and then reaping the reward from the blessings that I've gotten, I'm like, oh, wow. The more I can give, the more I receive. And that for me is unconditional love. And I'm just so grateful for that. And feel so blessed that I have the ability to do that, you know, especially coming from very humble beginnings.
Chrissy: I also think it's interesting because obviously most of us in our lifetime have never gone through a pandemic. But even if you aren't religious, people did pray because what else could we have done? What else? So, that to me is also very moving and very powerful that all we could do was surrender and trust and pray for the bigger picture.
Mentor Mama: Absolutely! Yes, I agree. Well, it's really interesting that children's books often impact adults just as much as they do children. I remember reading so many to my kids. What are your hopes for parents and grandparents who read this book to their children?
Bradley: Well, I hope is that what we're already seeing feedback from friends and honestly strangers talking about how this book was the door to let them talk to their children about prayer and what it means, and that they can open up and pray on their own and they don’t have to have a parent around. And it's just something that they can start in their daily routine. God wants to hear what's on their heart and what they have to say, and it's a way to speak to Him directly.
Chrissy: And for me, one of the three lines of the book is that the reader says to the listener, you know that there's a plan and a purpose for us all, and that you're made from love and held in it too, and that, you know, we all have a purpose and a journey, and I hope that can be reiterated to the parent or whoever's reading the book because maybe they didn't hear that as a young child. Or maybe it wasn't fostered in their own lives and they can feel like, wow, they're purposeful and powerful too, because that obviously bolsters the connection between the parent and the child. And then the way that the parent or the mentor, whoever's reading, walks through the world. So yeah, hopefully, it's a cyclical love of just knowing that you're purposeful.
Mentor Mama: Yeah, there's no doubt in my mind that this book is going to touch the young and the old, alike, that's for sure. Well, you're giving adults an opportunity to be part of their children's faith journeys from a very young age. Whom would you say was instrumental, I know you both hinted towards your grandparents at the beginning there, but whom would you say was instrumental in your own lives that really influenced your faith walks?
Chrissy: Definitely my grandmother. She lived with us in Japan. I lived there from I was about a year old to about 9 years old. And those are very informative years and we were like best friends. Like she would pick me up from school and make my lunch and my mom was working a ton. So, I would see her reading, you know, whether it was through a Bible or like a little note card, and she would always send those to me and put them in birthday cards. And it was just always really important and I always revered her so much in the way that she sort of walked through life. And I said, oh wow, she must be doing something right, and so, I wanted to do that too. And it prompted me to go on my own journey with God and so definitely my grandmother for sure.
Bradley: And for me, I mean, I've always had to kind of figure things out for myself. It’s just how my family dynamic was but seeing my grandfather so sick, like in a roundabout way, that's how I learned about it because he was a Christian, but he wasn't a practicing Christian, I'd say. And when he got really sick, he became a Christian and I saw that whole transformation, his changed personality and what he believed in. And I saw how important it was because, you know, we look at things today, like what happened with Damar Hamlin and how everyone dropped to a knee and prayed on the field. And you know it's when you’re at your lowest and at your weakest, I feel like we turn to prayer. And through all of this, I’ve learned you don’t have to do it only when things are great. You know, I always say, thank you for the blessings I have and thank you for the blessings that I don’t know that I have! You just never know what is working for you.
Mentor Mama: Yeah, and I can only imagine how many things that we do take for granted that are really blessings that are bestowed upon us, I mean, probably when we get to Heaven, we'll realize, oh wow, I really was not as thankful as maybe as I should have been.
Bradley: Yeah, being thankful that all you had to do today was deal with traffic. Thank you so much.
Chrissy: Or, how about, when you've forgotten to lock your door and you've missed an accident on the freeway? You know something like, is, wow, so powerful. And I always try to remind myself and just sit in that gratitude when those kinds of things happen, because there's a bigger purpose for sure.
Mentor Mama: Yeah, yeah, I remember. As a kid, maybe in Sunday school or somewhere, learning like our life on Earth is a dot on the page, but Heaven is the arrow that never ends. It just keeps going and going, and so, if we can kind of keep that long-term vision in mind it helps the current position that we're in. Well, the artwork in your book is incredible.
Bradley: Well, that’s our good friend and super-talented Lisa Fields. We're so lucky that she was available to do the illustrations, and she also did all the artwork on our album, Prayed for This Day. She's just unbelievably talented. The book is told through the perspective of animals caring for each other, and it's the first thing she's ever done with animals, which is hard to believe, but it's so great and everyone talked about the artwork, even if the children are very young and can't read everything yet they get a lot out of the artwork and we just think she's so talented.
Mentor Mama: Yeah, for sure. What was that process like of turning over your words to someone else to interpret visually?
Bradley: Well, I think we had trust that she was the right person. I think Chrissy and I just independently came to her, but the process of it was we liked what she did, so let's not mess it up, you know, let's let her do what she does. And we had a couple of little changes. I wanted some more fireflies in there. The fireflies in the book are the warm safe light of God around you. If you read through it, you'll see that the fireflies get a little more prominent throughout the book.
Chrissy: Yeah, I just love the fact that she can convey so much emotion through the animal's eyes and obviously the connection between the parent (the adult) and the younger animal (the cub). I feel like you can just see the way that she wanted to tell the story. Through the pictures, you tell the story twice in a way that even if you can't read yet, you definitely get the message and it's just so tender and so sweet. And we're just in awe of her.
Bradley: What we wrote and what she drew just worked so well together. We're so lucky to be working with her.
Mentor Mama: I started following her on Instagram. I have to see what else she's up to. Especially when I got to that one photo of the sea otters, I was like, that's the cutest thing I've ever seen.
Chrissy: I know, it’s almost too much!
Bradley: Yeah, I think that’s Chrissy’s favorite picture, right?
Chrissy: Yeah, I think it is one of my favorites.
Mentor Mama: That would be a great one to have the original painting on your wall, it’s so darn cute.
There is another whole angle on this book, Chrissy, you're a singer as well as an actress, and we've heard that there is a companion album that goes along with the theme of this book. So, tell us a little bit more about that. And Bradley, what was your role in the project?
Chrissy: So, the album’s title is, Prayed for This Day, and we essentially just started writing music because what they were going to pair with the audiobook wasn’t exactly what we wanted. And so we thought, well we will do it instrumental and then we got very lucky to be partnered with Phil Barton, who is an amazing singer-songwriter and especially in the kid world, he's had a lot of experience. And then Liz Rose, who is just an amazing songwriter, and then there was Runaway June, a girl group who did harmonies on one of the songs. And so we just wrote, I think, the 10 songs in about four days, and it just poured out of us and we obviously took a lot of the lines from the book to each song and some of my nieces and nephews got to sing on some of the songs. So it's really special.
Bradley: Yeah, we co-wrote all the album together Phil Barton and then three with Liz Rose and one with Jennifer Wade of Runaway June and Phil and Mike Coco produced it with our friend Brad Winters and it's a companion to the book. You know, we say it completes the thought to the book. It brings all the animals to life in the songs and it's something that you can read the book to a child at night and set them to sleep with good intentions and this album is a lullaby album and it'll send them peacefully, you know, to bed.
Chrissy: There are a couple of fun songs, one silly and fun and then one called, Friends and you know, obviously in the book we talk about making first friends and learning how to share and care for your friends. There's a song called, Learning to be Brave, that is indicative of the little duckling on the mom ducks back like just dipping his little toe in the water, little webbed foot in the water, you know, learning how to swim for the first time and so just lessons that we wanted to impart on the listener and there's a couple of lullaby songs and one song in particular called, No matter What is the one that Runaway June is on and Natalie plays the fiddle on, I love that message because I think we all need to know that no matter what you choose, no matter your path, we want to appease our parents or appease people in our lives that no matter what you choose, you know we're going to love you and you're going to be loved no matter what. That's very important.
Mentor Mama: That's beautiful. That's so exciting and such a great add-on to the book. When you first wrote that, did you even think about the album at the time?
Bradley: No, I mean we're songwriters too. So, you know, anything happens to us, we have to write about it, but when the idea came and we were presented with the first music for the audiobook, we were kind of like, I think we can do something with this and it flowed very easily. We're very grateful because we had a pretty tight deadline to get it done. But the response to the album has been really great.
Mentor Mama: That's amazing. Four days, that's incredible. Well, before we go, Chrissy, I just have to ask you this: I loved your movie, Breakthrough. That was amazing. Do you have any future faith-based films on the horizon?
Chrissy: Oh it's so hard because unfortunately, I think with faith-based films, they don't always get the budget that they are deserving and then it's hard to get them off the ground, which means it's hard for people to join. So, for me, I want to be a part of something that means something and so I haven't read anything recently that I was drawn to do, but obviously always open to it! We'll see. We'll see.
Mentor Mama: Oh, I keep saying God has a plan! Where can people find out more information about both of you and be able to purchase the book and the album?
Bradley: The album is on all streaming services, so Apple, Spotify, anywhere. The book is available in all bookstores, including Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and it's going to be in Walmart soon.
Chrissy: And in local bookstores. Support your local bookstores! All my handles online are Chrissy Metz, on Instagram and Facebook, and all that jazz.
Bradley: And I'm Bradley_Collins on everything else.
Chrissy: You can follow us there and check out the book and we would love to hear what you all are thinking and how you feel about the book and the album. Those messages really mean a lot to us.
Mentor Mama: Oh yeah, they're so encouraging. I was looking at one of your posts and I saw what some of the people wrote that was so positive and encouraging.
Chrissy: I'm like in tears reading it's about. It’s what we’ve hoped and it’s not lost on us.
Mentor Mama: I remember when I was following your Instagram and then all of a sudden Bradley came into the picture and I was so excited for you both and am happy things are going well for you guys.
Chrissy: Everybody shouts for Bradley when we're going places now. Hey, Bradley, Bradley. I'm like, I get it!
Mentor Mama: We will be sure and put all the links to everything here in the blog, as well.
Chrissy and Bradley, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today.
For our listeners, be sure and pick up a copy of the children's book and the album. The book, When I Talk to God, I Talk About You. You can find the link in our show notes. Lastly, head over to the Coffee and Bible Time website for our prayer journals that will help guide and document your prayer life at coffeeandbibletime.com. Thank you so much for joining us on our blog today. We love you all. Have a blessed day.