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Praying with Jane is a lovely, small, hardbound book. Rachel Dodge has taken three beautiful prayers composed by the famous novelist Jane Austen and transformed them into a thirty-one day devotional. It is insightful, uplifting, and engaging.

The author’s introduction reveals fascinating details of Jane Austen’s spiritual and family life which may be unknown to many readers. Then, after presenting each prayer in full, she breaks them into small passages for reflection.

Each devotional gives insights into Jane’s faith, pulls illustrations from her novels, quotes related scripture passages, and suggests personalized prayers on the same theme. We glimpse the gracious life of hope and joy lived by a woman whose strength came from daily conversations with God.

For those who love all-things-Austen, this book will be a valued addition to their collection. Published by Bethany House Publishers (2018), Praying with Jane is about 160 pages long, and can be appreciated by readers from middle school through college, and beyond. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, and probably in your local book store.

 

From Nancy–If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking about Christmas gifts. This book sounds like it would make a terrific one–a gift a beloved would savor throughout the long winter months ahead. And don’t forget, that someone could be you. 🙂

Last year at this time Pamela Walls recommended Suddenly Single Mom by Jeanette Hanscome, and I want to point you to that review and the book again. Single moms can have a really tough time of it during the holidays. Maybe you and this book can befriend one of them, giving them the gift of an understanding heart.

 

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.

Because I know you value reading and because I know you want your kids to enjoy good books, I thought you would want to hear about a recent article in Practical Homeschooling. Written by the editor, Mary Pride, More Books in Your Home = Higher Education Level for Your Kids appeared in the November/December, 2017, issue.

In the article she summarizes and quotes from a study, “Family scholarly culture and education success” that appeared in a 2010 issue of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. According to Ms. Pride the study included 70,000 cases from 27 nations and defined “scholarly culture” as “the way of life in homes where books are numerous, esteemed, read, and enjoyed.” (It sounds like your home, doesn’t it?)

She begins by stating that “a number of studies have shown children with books in their homes have a serious advantage when it comes to learning to read.” She continues, “It turns out books in the home have an even more powerful effect on educational achievement—one that works independently of a country a child lives in, its governmental system, the parents’ income level, or whether they went to college or not.”

Quoting from the abstract of the 2010 study, she explains, “Children growing up in homes with books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class.”

She goes on to say “what the authors [of the study] call a ‘book-oriented home environment’ can make a difference in ‘vocabulary, information, comprehension skills, imagination, broad horizons of history and geography, familiarity with good writing, the importance of evidence in argument’ and more.”

So did you and your child read today? I bet you did. Give yourself a smile.

BTW: Practical Homeschooling which is published five times per year has many more helpful ideas for parents, even if you are not homeschooling.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Pray this Way, written by Dr. Larry A. Vold and Rick Chavez, and published by Create Space Independent Publishing Platform (2016), will enlighten and deepen your prayer life. The book looks into “The Lord’s Prayer,” or as some call it The Model Prayer. After reading Pray this Way, I found myself praying differently.

A small, 180 pages, but mighty book, it has eight chapters on the prayer. Some of the chapter titles are “Proclaim His Glory,” “Desire His Reign,” “Do His Will,” and “Trust His Provision.” At the end of each of the chapters, there are helpful, thought-provoking questions for discussion. This is a great book to read and study on your own or to use with a study group.

Each chapter explains part of the prayer and how we can come to desire to pray more in the manner in which Jesus taught us. Pastor Larry gives examples of situations where “The Lord’s Prayer” has helped and strengthened others. He also gives examples of situations where people he has worked with failed to understand certain truths about what the prayer is really saying.

Pastor Larry also points out some difficult areas in our Christian walk. One of them is when the Lord asks us to forgive others. The prayer states, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” Matthew 6:12. Larry says that we are expected to forgive others if we want the Lord’s forgiveness. That is the only part of “The Lord’s Prayer” that has a condition. Forgiving is not always easy, and we need the Lord’s help to fulfill His request.

One of my favorite parts of the book is this quote, “When we make God’s holiness our focus in prayer, we are, in fact, worshiping. Do you consider prayer as an expression of worship? It is! When God is our focus in prayer, our prayers become beautiful worship. We open up and tell God what he is worth to us. That’s what worship is, extolling His worth in our lives.”

Pray this Way is a difficult book to put down. The points are so interesting and helpful, and the writing style is beautiful and meaningful. This book helped me to consider things about prayer I hadn’t really thought much about before. It has helped me to pray more for God’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done in my life, family, friends and church. I understand this more than I had before. The book greatly encouraged me, and I am sure you will be encouraged as well. Men and women, 18 and above, would benefit most from this book.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

I have waited until the dust settled (Black Friday, Cyber Monday) to post this column. I dislike, really dislike, all the hype and I did not want to be part of it. That said, I do suspect that you are gift-hunting or getting ready to gift-hunt like we are at my house. If you are, let me suggest that for kids you consider gift subscriptions to magazines.

There are some terrific magazines available for Christian kids. Focus on the Family currently produces two magazines for kids and one magazine for teen girls. Clubhouse Jr. is targeted for children 4- to-8 years of age, Clubhouse is written for 8- to 12-year-olds and Brio is for teen girls. The Upper Room produces Pockets for kids 6 to 12. Nature Friend is a special interest magazine for kids 8 to 16.

These magazines with their articles, short stories and games will bless a child or young person all year long. They are written with kids in mind and they present topics that interest kids. When the stories or articles wrestle with a life difficulty, the subject is handled in a way that kids can relate to and is appropriate for a child. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the mags are fun?

The websites below will give you more info.

Clubhouse Jr.http://www.clubhousejr.com/

Clubhousehttp://www.clubhousemagazine.com/

Pockets http://pockets.upperroom.org/

Nature Friendhttp://www.naturefriendmagazine. com

Briohttps://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/promos/brio-parents

Shopping savvy: I spoke with Focus on the Family’s subscription line and the agent said that a postcard will be sent to the gift’s recipient  and should arrive at about two weeks after you place the order. (So you still have time.) She also said it would be better to place an order by phone and she gave this number: 1-800-A FAMILY (1-800-232-6459). I looked at the website for Pockets and it looks quite good for ordering online.

If you are going to give a gift subscription to your child, you might also consider giving a gift subscription to the same magazine to  one of your child’s grandparents or a beloved aunt or uncle. This could give that adult and your child some good conversation starters. And if you are the beloved grandparent or aunt or uncle and give a subscription to your special child, why not get a subscription for yourself? The magazines are fun, informative  and interesting even if you grew up a while ago. — Nancy

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Suddenly Single Mom, written by Jeanette Hanscome and published by Worthy Inspired (2016), is a power-packed devotional with 52 messages of hope that will encourage single moms in any stage of parenting.

Each devotion begins with a Scripture to remind the reader there is a Heavenly Father who promises to stand beside her through every challenge. Hanscome also includes scenes from her own journey, an encouraging thought for the coming week, a prayer and a “practical survival tip.” As a visually-impaired single parent, Hanscome faced abandonment and an uncertain future armed with very little but her faith in God.  As a result, in each devotion she delivers remarkable depth that will touch hearts, promote healing and awaken faith.

While every single mom’s story is different, certain facets of single parenting are undeniably similar. Hanscome covers such topics as stress, exhaustion, financial hardships and loneliness.

There are lighter moments too, such as when she bands together with other single moms for a ”girls’ night out at Costco.”  One can smile along with her at the kindness of her supportive church family and laugh as she takes advice from her oldest son on how to avoid ‘creepy’ guys who try to hit on her.  Perhaps most importantly readers will relate to the sacrificial love she has for her children as they, too, learn to cope with their changed lives.

I highly recommend Suddenly Single Mom because the author’s transparency takes readers on a journey from shock to acceptance, and from anger to forgiveness. She does not shy away from difficult subjects, such as dealing with her ex-husband, the courts and even future dating. Hanscome’s unflinching self-assessments and course corrections give readers a godly friend with whom to travel.  The poignant vignettes prove single parenting is not an easy path, but her sage encouragements and trust in Christ’s continual grace reveal great gain.

This uplifting book would make a wonderful present for any single mom, especially during the holiday season when an understanding heart is the greatest gift of all.

Pamela Walls is the author of the historical adventure series for girls, “Abby and the South Seas Adventures.”  Abby–Lost at Sea (South Seas Adventures #1)  is the first novel in that series. Pamela has also written over 400 articles, which have appeared in such publications as “Woman’s World,” “Today’s Christian Woman,” “Guideposts,” “Angels on Earth,” and the “San Jose Mercury News.” Originally trained as a science writer, she began writing for God after finding Christ at the age of 28. 

Like Hanscome, Pamela later became a handicapped single mom who found God to be faithful, kind and generous–the best partner for life and all eternity!

The news has been full of scary stuff–storms, shootings and wildfires–these last months. I dearly hope you have not been directly involved. May God wrap His loving arms around you and comfort you if you have been involved. May you know His care and His provision in the deepest places of your heart.

I write to you from northern California. Wildfires are raging and have been since the early hours of Monday morning. And while we are seeing some good progress in the fight it has been so sad and frightening. I am re-running a post from last year that might help all of us.

July 12, 2016

When I opened my email on Saturday morning this was in my Inbox. It’s from National Center for Biblical Parenting. I thought the info was so helpful that I want to share it. I hope it helps you with the children in your life and I hope its thoughts encourage and strengthen you in your own life. BTW: I regularly receive parenting tips from this group. If you would like to get them as well, you may sign up. https://www.biblicalparenting.org/parentingtips.asp  –Nancy

Dealing With Fear After Tragedy

Day to day life provides opportunities to teach children about God. It’s the job of parents to frame the picture of world events, to help children understand life from God’s point of view. Teachable moments become available in times of crisis. That doesn’t mean that you preach or lecture. It means that you ask questions and carefully share information that can guide your children to right thinking.

Keep your child’s developmental stage in mind. Teens need to wrestle with conflicting values and benefit from open honest discussions. Younger children are concrete thinkers and see the world differently than adults. For example, a young child may not understand that the repeated videos on TV are all showing the same scene that is now over – it’s not happening over and over again.

So what do you say? How do you respond to their questions? How can you draw your children into productive discussions? What kinds of things can you do that will help your kids during this time?

Here are some ideas to consider when helping children deal with fear and questions about world events:

•  Explain that the world isn’t out of control and help put these events into perspective. Pray with your kids for those directly involved in the tragedy. Pray for those who are hurt, those who are grieving, those who are frightened, and those who are “the helpers” onsite caring for others.

•  Be careful about lying to your children by saying, “It’s all okay.” Your children can see that things aren’t okay. In fact, this kind of statement can be counterproductive and cause children to feel like they can’t trust you, further increasing feelings of insecurity.

•  God is with us always. We can trust him. His angels protect us. God loves us and cares for us and he is in charge (Psalm 46). God is not surprised or caught off guard. God is very present in times of tragedy and available to touch hearts and bring comfort.

•  Answer your child’s questions. Explain the details briefly in clear terms and then focus on the good that we see in God and in the people who are helping.

•  The solution for fear is to learn to trust. Trust is the ability to release control to another. Children can learn to trust when they take small steps of risk and have positive experiences over a period of time. Gently encourage children to take small risks of separation and then provide the comfort they need. During that process children need a lot of parental love, patience, encouragement, and support. Remember, it’s God’s presence that helps us through difficult times.

For other suggestions about helping children deal with anger, fear, and grief, consider the book Parenting is Heart Work, by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. After all, emotions reside in the heart, and learning to connect with kids on a heart level can help them explore emotions in a healthy way.

                                           

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

A new school year is beginning and I’m excited. I always am this time of year. It seems like life is full of promise. As parents, teachers or homeschooling parents you are probably excited too. But you and I know that there are some challenges ahead. There will be some frustrations and there will be setbacks before there are moments of insight and joy. I reviewed a couple of books a few months ago, What Do You Do with an Idea? and The Most Magnificient Thing. I think these “picture” books will help school-age kids emotionally grasp the journey of learning and creating. Take a second look at the books. They might just bless your school year.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) You can learn more about her and her books at www.nancyellenhird.com .

For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Are you trying to keep up with a voracious reader? and losing?  Are you feeling left out–in the dark–about the books your kid’s carpool buds are talking about? Do you need more info about the books your child will be reading and discussing in school this coming year?

Plugged In, on the Focus on the Family website, is not just about films and TV. Info on the site says they have more than 6,000 reviews of entertainment media– books, films and TV programs. I was told that the number of reviews/reports on the books grows by three books a week.

The books are listed alphabetically by title. Click on the title and it will take you to the report/review.

The info in the report/review is different from the usual info found in a review. Reviewers of books for Plugged In don’t give an approval or disapproval rating. A report/review offers a plot summary and then goes on to cover Christian beliefs (if there are any), other belief systems, authority figures, profanity, violence, kissing, sex and homosexuality. A link on the page will take you to discussion topics and questions especially created for that particular book. (I like this last feature a lot. Talking through a book with a child develops a child’s critical thinking skills.)

Here at Books 4 Christian Kids we love recommending books. We love imagining a young person discovering a terrific, uplifting book and being blessed by reading it, all because we let you know about it. We love being part of that chain. We strive to find and point you to worthy books; we recognize that a young person’s time and your money are limited. But we also recognize that there are a vast number of books available for children/young adults/new adults. I can imagine that you want more info. I think the Plugged In site will help.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) You can learn more about her and her books at www.nancyellenhird.com .

For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

From Nancy–My apologies. Something went amiss when we posted the following review. It was fine when we previewed it. It was only this morning that we noticed that the left edge of the post was being cut off. Ugh! (I like a mystery and maybe you do too, but not when I’m reading a book review.) I hope the post is fixed now, but if not please bear with me. I will climb this hill and reach the top.

From Nancy– Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14, and I thought it appropriate to re-run Patsy’s review of this book that celebrates motherhood.

21 Days of Joy, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC (2016), is the fourth book in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. This one is all about mothers. The most wonderful aspect of this book is that you don’t have to be a birth mother to find great joy in its pages. It is a wonderful read for those wishing they were mothers, those who have fostered or adopted children, or those who have lost children. It gives women hope that they can be used as a mother in a child’s life.

I loved reading the book and seeing how each one of the twenty-one stories was so varied and touching. The main thread that winds through this incredible little book is that God loves and honors mothers of all kinds. He loves our children and hears our prayers for them.

There were two stories in particular that stood out, and I would like to share about them. “Here With Us” by Nancy Ellen Hird is about an adoptive mother. I love the idea of adoption because my daughter has a desire to adopt someday. Kristie, an adoptive mother, has rushed home from a business trip after learning that she and her husband have been given a baby. She is overjoyed, but more than a little nervous as she reaches for the newborn in her husband’s arms.

She and Matt love their new little bundle of joy, a sweet baby girl. In a private moment with her sister Lisa, Kristie expresses fear that the birth mother might change her mind and want her baby back. Lisa reassures her, but also offers that all children go away someday, and that we are just borrowing them from the Lord. Kristie relaxes and rejoices at the amazing gift she and her husband have received. As our children grow, we need to learn to let go, and place them into God’s loving care.

Another story I particularly enjoyed is “Haiti’s Song,” by Deborah Raney. It is about a young woman, Valerie Austin, whose fiancé, Will, has just called off their wedding after most of the arrangements have been made. He comes to realize he never wants children, and yet Valerie does.

From a young age, Valerie had dreamed of having children. She had sewn many children’s clothes as a young teen, placing them in her hope chest for the future. Heartbroken when her wedding is called off, Valerie donates the clothes to charity.

In Haiti and working at an orphanage, she begins to love the children around her, and finds herself at peace with God’s calling. All of a sudden, she starts to recognize the clothes she had made years ago, worn by the children she works with. She knows that God is giving her a message. She believes He is pleased with her sacrifice and will use her in a mighty way, even if she never has children of her own. I found this story to be particularly heartwarming.

This little book is filled with all kinds of stories about mothers. It is sure to inspire you to do your best wherever God has called you.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

Lent begins next week on March 1st and so we begin to think about Easter and new life. I looked up “lent” (words interest me) and it came from a word that meant the time of year when the days lengthened. It  also was their word for spring, since that is the time in the Northern Hemisphere when days lengthen. Patsy has discovered a wonderful book that will enrich your days no matter what the sun and the earth are doing. – Nancy

Deeper: Living in the Reality of God’s Love, by Debbie Alsdorf and published by Revell (2008), will certainly jump start your walk with the Lord. An uplifting read, it will challenge you to get closer to God and go deeper into His Word, to discover the treasure of wisdom He has for you. After hearing Debbie speak at a women’s retreat, I have felt a revival in my own relationship with Jesus. She speaks on timeless truths. In the beginning of the book, Debbie shares the words her mother kept repeating at the time of her death, “Live like it is real, because it is!”

Debbie describes her youth, her struggle to feel worthy and “good enough” for parents who were difficult to please. She felt their acceptance was based more on her performance than on unconditional love. At a young age she became a singer, hoping and anxious to gain the approval of others. When she became a Christian in her youth and when she later married a pastor, she felt her worth depended on being “Pretty, Perfect and Polished.” She tried to live up to how church members and family felt the perfect pastor’s wife should be.

One day her husband came home and stated that he didn’t love her, he never had, and he wanted a divorce. Debbie’s perfect world crumbled. She was heart-broken. Her mother moved in with her to help her raise her two young sons. Shortly after, her mother had a stroke. Debbie became the caregiver of everyone, trying desperately to survive her emotional traumas.

Over time and through counseling, Debbie realized that God never expects us to be perfect. Rather He loves us unconditionally. We are secure in our position as His cherished, adopted children. A wonderful quote from the back of the book says, “It is time to get honest with God and live like his love for you is real–because it is!

Deeper shows you how to live four core truths from Psalm 139– God knows me; He protects me; He made me, and He values me.  Debbie expounds on each one of these truths, helping others to view themselves as God does. She gives many examples of times in her life when God’s Word changed her thinking. She shares how He worked all things out for the very best in her family and helped her to start a ministry for other women.

Debbie founded Design4Living Ministries. She leads conferences and retreats that encourage women in their faith. I found her to be an excellent speaker and author. This amazing book is particularly helpful for women age eighteen and above.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

Book Reviews

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