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OK, I’m being brash, overstating. It happens sometimes. Nevertheless, please don’t delete. Thriving Kids Connection, a ministry of National Center for Biblical Parenting, has run five articles on helping parents help their kids with anxious feelings. Below is the link to Part 1. The articles are good reading. They might even help you deal with your own anxious feelings. (And who doesn’t have one or two of those moments these days?!) I know the articles helped me. https://thrivingkidsconnection.com/two-quick-fix-anxiety-solutions-that-usually-dont-work/

 

If you go to the grocery store here in California, you might be tempted to get caught up in hysteria. Even people I know who are relatively unflappable, have been flapping.

While I think we do need to take precautions, I don’t think–let me say that again–I don’t think we should surrender to fear. (Trust me on this one; I’ve done a lot of surrendering to fears in my life and I’ve watched other people surrendering to fear. It is not a good place to be.) We need to submit to God and resist the devil. We need to do it for ourselves and we can help the kids do it.

A speaker, a pastor, on TV told a story of a mother and a daughter who had experienced a devastating loss. To help her daughter, the mother suggested that she create a blessings jar.

At night the girl was to write on a piece paper something good that had happened to her that day. At the end of the month, they would empty the jar and read out loud all of the good things that had happened.

I think this keeping track helps us to watch for God, to realize that He is active in our lives and that we are completely and truly loved.

A person doesn’t have to use a jar the speaker said. A notebook and a pen will work. Though I think kids might like the jar better, especially if it is clear glass and the paper strips are of different colors.

And remember you don’t have to be a kid to do this. Delight yourself in the Lord and His goodness.

Nancy

How to Stay Christian in High School was written by Steve Gerali and published by NavPress (2014). The title is straightforward but while parents might be attracted to the book because of it, I’m not sure about teens. And that’s too bad. (If you’re a teen reading this, call the title an error, come up with a better one if you must, but stay for the game.) Gerali has some thoughtful, helpful things to say about “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk” in the exciting, challenging and often confusing days of being a teen.

The author begins with questions that trouble teens (and adults as well). How can I can be a Christian and not become worldly?  How can I witness to friends about Jesus, if I should not have close friends who are not Christians? How do I deal with the expectations of others that I be perfect just because I’m a Christian?

The author tackles these questions head on, using the lives of some famous teens from the Bible–Mary, Daniel, Joseph, the brothers James and John, and Timothy. Giving them a little bit of a contemporary setting, Gerali makes them surprisingly relatable. Teens (and adults) will see just how similar these biblical people’s experiences are to their own.

In the first one about Mary he poses a problem whose answer will be the foundation of the book. He asks teens to consider where does their identity lie. Is it in their talents, skills, intelligence, friends, family? Mary upon hearing that she has been chosen to be the mother of the Savior must put all these aside and determine that her identity is first and foremost as a child of God. Every other part of her life pales before that position and must, if God and life require, be relinquished.

As the author looks at other biblical teens, he zeroes in on problems all too familiar in the teen world of today—who’s influencing you and how much, sexual temptations, competition and selfish ambition, and just how do you be an authentic Christian. I found Gerali’s thoughts on these difficulties honest, insightful and helpful. Each chapter ends with a group questions that will help the reader personalize the topic in the chapter and take the problem deeper into the teen’s everyday world.

I like How to Stay Christian in High School. It challenged me on a couple of the issues. (Do we ever get totally free of some of the issues we faced as teens?) And once your teen gets past the title, I think your teen will discover that time reading the book and thinking about it, is time well-spent.

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.

 

From Nancy–That we are recommending the following book at the height of summer may seem an odd choice. Summer is almost synonymous with page-turners and light reading. And yet . . . long, soft, star-filled nights can make a person’s heart yearn for more–feel that it’s possible to seek more. And so we offer this recommendation.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction written by pastor, poet, scholar, and author Eugene H. Peterson takes a good look at discipleship in an instant society. It was first published in 1980 by IVP and is being issued by them in 2019. This commemorative edition includes an Anniversary Preface and various Psalms before each chapter. It seems to be a guidance book, great for all adults eighteen and over. It could also be used as a study guide for small groups.

There are 16 chapters and an epilogue in the book. Some of the areas it explores, and some of the names of the chapters, are: Discipleship (“What Makes You Think You Can Race Against Horses?”), Repentance (“I’m Doomed to Live in Meshech”), Providence (“God Guards You from Every Evil”),  Service (“Like Servants . . . We’re Watching & Waiting”), Help (“O Blessed Be God! He Didn’t Go Off & Leave Us”).  With wisdom, Peterson instructs us about authentic discipleship and helps us see the excitement of living lives fully devoted to Jesus. He also helps the reader consider what constitutes genuine spirituality.

The author implies that spiritual growth and maturity take time and were not meant to be obtained instantly, like many things in our society. In one chapter, Peterson quotes Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is…that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” Peterson states that the world does so much to discourage this long obedience.

Peterson further teaches us that following the Lord does not mean that your life will be void of problems, but that the Lord will be with you in all things.

This is a really meaty book, filled with deep spiritual insights that take time to digest. It makes you think about your own relationship with the Lord and how to improve it. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction encouraged my soul and I would recommend it to anyone who is seeking a deeper spiritual walk with the Lord. It was practical and helpful. I know you will enjoy it.

 

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 and one-daughter-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 more than 35 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.”

 

From Nancy–I think a good book is such a lovely thing and a terrific gift idea. The right book for the right person will be read and re-read, its warmth and wisdom savored again and again. Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12, and I thought you might like to know about this short-story collection 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 and one-daughter-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 more than 35 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.”

Adventures in Prayer by Catherine Marshall helps readers to learn new ways to speak to God. There is so much more to communication with our Heavenly Father than telling Him our needs. This book offers ways to expand that dialogue.

Catherine Marshall’s life was not an easy one. She encountered joy, loss, frustration, hope, and victory. She pours lessons learned into eight chapters, each one ending in a sample prayer, which you can personalize. She explains the asking prayer, the prayer of helplessness, the prayer that helps your dreams, the waiting prayer, the prayer of relinquishment, the prayer in secret, the prayer of joyful blessing, and prayer that claims God’s promises.

Each example is steeped in scripture, and supported by personal stories from the lives of believers. Her world view is conservative, especially regarding societal roles, reflecting the norms of the 1950s.

We may not get all the results she describes. But the opportunity for stretching our view of God, for enriching our spiritual lives, for finding God’s will, and living in joy, is definitely worth the read.

This slim paperback is just the right size for you to keep with your Bible to read during your quiet time or to slip into a backpack for reflection on the go. It makes a great gift for teens or young adults.

Adventures in Prayer is available on Amazon.com and on Barnes and Noble. Other books with the same title have been written, but this review is specifically for the book written by Catherine Marshall.

I hope it lifts you closer to heaven.

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Days of Love, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by Broadstreet (2016) is a must-read for Valentine’s Day. It is creative, heartwarming and insightful. Not your ordinary collection of flowers and romance, this book shares true-to-life tales of all different types of love, focusing on God’s love as the primary and most important of all. Women, ages 18 and above, will find this a good read.

There are twenty-one amazing stories with a wide range of relationships–sweethearts, spouses, parents and children, grandparents, friends, pets, caregivers and couples from other countries. I enjoyed reading each story and learned something from each one. The main theme of the book is that God should be the center of all relationships. With His guiding hand, all love relationships will be greatly enhanced. I would like to highlight a few of my favorite stories.

The story I could relate to the most, A Finger and a Big Toe, by Nancy Ellen Hird, is about a young mother who is troubled because no matter how hard she tries, the woman she wants to have a significant relationship with, isn’t responding with equal interest. I think this is a common issue in the friendships among women. We often seek a friendship with someone and are disappointed when it doesn’t work out the way we had planned.

Becky and Carla are good friends, but Becky also is seeking the friendship of Jennifer, a woman she works with in a volunteer organization and whom she admires greatly. She tries unsuccessfully to reach out to Jennifer and make time for them to get to know each other. When Jennifer doesn’t respond, Becky is upset.

While at a church event with Carla, Becky sees Jennifer and learns that Jennifer and her family are planning to move in the near future. Becky is stunned. On the way home, she tells Carla about her disappointment.

Carla gives encouraging advice and shows Becky that perhaps God had a reason for preventing the friendship to blossom. Becky realizes how blessed she is with a friend like Carla, and learns an age-old lesson of trust and obedience to God’s plan. I believe this story can encourage others to place God at the center of their relationships.

Another story I particularly liked is Desert Crossing, by Dona Watson. It is the story of Lori, the mother of a nineteen year-old son named Josh. Her husband David is away with the military, deployed in the Middle East. As the story begins, Josh has gotten into some trouble with drugs and has had to spend a night in jail. Lori is hoping and praying for his safe return home. She settles into bed, praying and crying out to God for both her husband and son.

Soon she hears a door open. She believes Josh has come home. It turns out to be her husband David. Lori is thrilled he has returned and thankful they can face the challenges with their son together. After a happy greeting, she takes him to the kitchen to make him a meal and explain about their son.

Shortly after that, Josh returns and is overjoyed to see his father. He admits he was wrong and agrees to get help for his problem. The family is reunited with a sense of hope for the future.

Every story in this little book is encouraging and well-written. I loved the variety of characters. There is even a story about a little dog. This book would be a great one to read, and also would make a wonderful gift.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her children and grandchildren. Her two daughters, two sons, one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law and two granddaughters 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 more than 35 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.”

 

 

“We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all God’s people.” Colossians 1: 3-4, Good News Bible

From God–through Paul, through us–to You.

Remember who He is today–the loving Father and the Kings of Kings. Remember who You are–the  beloved of Him. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

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.

Book Reviews

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