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Parenting

Gentleness: a gift to your family

Do you want your children to see you as someone they can trust? Do you want your spouse to take comfort in just being with you? Are you easy to talk to? Is your family hesitant to talk to you when they are hurting? If someone in your family messes up or is in trouble are you the person that helps him feel secure and safe, the person that she knows will help make things right? You want to be able to answer yes to these questions. In fact, you sometimes get angry and hurt when those close to you don’t seek your help. Ironic, isn’t it? Here is a biblical quality that can help you become the go-to person for those whom you love. That quality is gentleness. Gentleness requires great courage. It is not for the faint of heart. Gentleness is the opposite of weakness. Gentleness is part of the Spirit’s fruit. Gentleness is the exercise of the Spirit’s power. Your anger is the exercise of your own self-centeredness. Gentleness defined: Gentleness uses only the strength or force that is necessary for any given situation. Gentleness is showing Christ to those you love. God wants you to associate gentleness with power not weakness. Why? Because Christ is gentle. If you want to be Christ-like ask him for the strength to follow his example. Christ does not treat you as your sins deserve. Ask him for the power to love your family as he loves you. Ask him to help you say and mean these words:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

What would your family think if you said these words to them? Give your family the Spirit’s powerful gift of gentleness.

Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk: Talking freely and Naturally about God with Your Children and Everyday Talk about Sex & Marriage. He blogs at ShepherdPress.com, where this article (reprinted with permission) first appeared.

News

Saturday Selections – November 30, 2019

Is surrogacy the same as adoption? (4 minutes) This short video offers three ways in which surrogacy is different than adoption:

1. Adoption seeks to mend a family wound. Third-party reproduction creates a family wound. 2. With adoption, the child is the client but with third-party reproduction- the adult is the client. 3. With adoption, adults support the child. With third-party reproduction, the children support the adult.

The why behind Christian education Trevin Wax shares 4 reasons to turn to Christian, rather than public, schools. Transgender teen regrets his "Frankenstein" transition Here's the story of one 19-year-old who regrets what doctors and others encouraged him to do to himself. His is a sad story, but an important one to know about so we can share it with confused friends, family, or neighbors. When your child looks at porn Four thoughts on how to help our children when, not if, it happens. How beauty in art points us to God There is a tension in great art. So will there be art in Heaven once the tension between good and evil has been resolved? How Big Government hurts women (6 minutes) God says He made us male and female, we're made in His Image, and it matters (Gen. 1:27, Deut. 22:5, Eph. 5:22-33). So, of course, our God-hating world says no He didn't, no we aren't, and no it doesn't. But their contrarian stance leaves the world scrambling to explain the equality of the sexes (what do we all equally share, if it's not being made in God's Image?), and to explain away the obvious differences that exist between the genders. The most obvious difference is that only women can carry and sustain a child for nine months and for the weeks that follow. Obvious, too, is that a woman who is away from the office caring for her child is not being as productive for her company as the man who continues to put in his 8-10 hours every day. So how does the world address the glaring holes in their worldview? By papering over them with government policies like mandatory maternity leave which requires an employer to keep a woman's position available for her while she is away recuperating and caring for her new little one. It means a woman won't have to quit her job to have a child, and won't have to start from scratch again when she gets back. But such a policy is premised on the idea that a woman at home is a wrong that must be righted, and that women are only doing productive work when they are working outside of the home, so we have to get them back out there. This policy also pretends that a woman who is away from her job for weeks or months is just as valuable to her employer as the man who never left. None of it is true, and as the video demonstrates, reality-denying policies like government-mandated maternity leave make women more expensive, less desirable employees. A better approach? We need to keep preaching, teaching, and living the truth that male and female are equal, not because we are interchangeable, identical, and called to the same roles, but because we are made in God's image.

Book Reviews, Children’s fiction, Teen fiction

BOOK REVIEW: Brave Ollie Possum

by Ethan Nicolle 373 pages / 2019 If you were ever a scaredy-cat, or if you might have one in your family, this could be a fun story to read together... though you might have to do so during the daytime, with all the lights on. It's about nine-year-old Ollie Mackerelli, who is so afraid of things that go bump in the night that he's taken up permanent residence in his parents' bed. This is about how he learned to be brave. But his transformation doesn't happen quickly. Things start off with cowardly Ollie running to his parents' bedroom yet again to crawl under the sheets with them. That's a safe place to be, but it does come with a cost: three people in a double bed leave his dad with bags under his eyes and a scowl on his face. He wants to know when Ollie is going to grow up and stop being afraid of imaginary monsters. Then, mysteriously. Mizz Fuzzlebuzzle, a very strange, very large lady shows up at the Mackerellis' door. She offers to take their son to a "special go-away fun place where children like Ollie can be taken and all his fears will be gobbled up." Who is this lady? Her card says she specializes in "professional anti-scary therapy and comfortology." Desperate, the sleep-deprived parents hand off their son to the expert, hoping she'll be able to help. But here's the twist: Mizz Fuzzlebuzzle isn't actually an expert in anti-scary therapy. She's actually an ogre. And all those bumps in the night? It's her pet monster making them. Ollie was right all along! But being right won't get him out of the clutches of this ogre. And to make matters worse, she wants to eat him. It turns out scared children are an ogre delicacy. But despite being scared, Ollie gathers enough courage to spray the ogre with one of her own magic potions. Sadly, ogres aren't susceptible to magic potions. People are, though, so when the ogre spits the potion right back at him, Ollie is transformed into a creature that passes out in the face of danger: Ollie becomes a possum. The rest of this rollicking tale is about Ollie, with the help of some animal friends, learning what true courage is: that it's not about being unafraid, but about facing our fears and going on anyway. The author of Brave Ollie Possum is one of the folks behind the Christian satire site Babylonbee.com so the book is every bit as funny as you might expect. Another highlight is the artwork. This is a full-size novel, but it could almost be called a picture book, with fantastic, fun illustrations every three pages or so. CAUTION The only caution I'll note is that this book about being brave is, at times, scary. I think it might be the book I am most looking forward to reading to my children, but there is no way I could read this as their bed-time story, or even in the middle of the day. I'm going to have to wait a bit, probably until they are all at least nine. CONCLUSION But for kids over ten and over, particularly boys, this will be so much fun. And for certain 9-year-old kids who are scared of what goes bump in the night, this could be a good day-time read with mom and dad to help a little one learn what being brave is all about.

Adult non-fiction

How does a Christian live in the midst of suffering?

A book summary of Kelly Kapic's Embodied Hope

****

Pain and suffering require good theology because often, during intense pain of any kind, the whole question of how God’s sovereignty and goodness relate becomes intensely personal. Often Psalm 92:15 – The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him – becomes a very difficult confession. Is God really good? Sometimes it’s an arrogant question, but when there’s suffering it is often something entirely different. In Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering, Reformed theologian Kelly Kapic considers physical pain and discusses “how a Christian might live in the midst of suffering.” That is, ultimately, what those in pain need, far more than abstract theories of the problem of suffering. THE NEED TO KNOW GOD AND KNOW THE SUFFERER Kapic, a professor with a wife who suffers severe chronic pain, insists that to help others with pain we need both pastoral sensitivity and theological insight. Without careful study of who God is – without theology – we often head into psychology and moralism. Conversely, without loving and knowing the sufferer, we may end up with harsh principles. Kapic’s deep understanding of the gospel, and of pain, and of the writings of godly men like Augustine, Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, and Bonhoeffer, enable him to explores how hope and lament are intertwined. He discusses how we can deal with the fact that God’s good creation has been compromised, how we experience that as we suffer, how to lament that biblically, and how God’s faithfulness ultimately shapes biblical lament. Vigorously rejecting the ancient and still common idea that the body and its pain are not important, Kapic points out that God created our bodies as well as our souls. Our bodies are essential to our identity as individuals, they are essential to our relationships, and essential to our worship. And all of that is tied to Jesus Christ, who is hope embodied, hope made physical. Jesus is the answer to the sufferer’s questions and he is God’s solution to the brokenness of the universe. Because of him our sufferings are not the final word, nor are pain, aging, forgotten memories, or death. [caption id="attachment_5333" align="alignright" width="200"] 2017 / 192 pages[/caption] GOD GIVES US EACH OTHER However, it is not only our individual relationship to Jesus Christ that counts; our relationships in the body of Christ are also vital. In fact, suffering shows how essential the body of Christ is to each member. Kapic states that we are in essence “members of a larger body, and thus also inherently unstable when isolated.” If this is true in general, it is even more important when someone is suffering. Being is pain is not a safe place to be alone. Lonely pain opens up temptations to despair, to dwelling on already-forgiven sins, and to questioning God’s care. A Christian who suffers chronic pain alone is vulnerable to Satan’s attacks, but a Christian who suffers in the body of Christ is, ideally, carried and encouraged by the faith, hope, and love of other believers. For example, when Luther was ill, he begged prayers from his friends that he would be saved “from blasphemy, doubt and distrust of his loving God.” Even so, sufferers must not ultimately look to other believers but to God’s revelation in Christ, since all faith, hope, and love “must ultimately point to and come from the triune God, and not merely from the communion of saints.” BEING THERE Of course, believers need to learn how to come along side those in pain. We often just want to help and, while this can be very important, our goal should not be to “fix” the other person. Rather we must learn to accept that pain is real and that the suffering person often just needs someone to be there. It can be very hard to watch someone suffer, and many people feel helpless and want to run away. Instead, we need to learn to share God’s love, perhaps with a glass of cold water, or a card, or a smile, or perhaps with endless hours of simply being there, suffering faithfully together, listening, honestly accepting the pain, and pointing to Christ, together. Just as the suffering person needs other believers, so other believers need sufferers. In loving and being loved by sufferers, those who are well are reminded that they, too, are poor and in need of God's grace. Otherwise it can become easy to imagine that they are self-sufficient and deserve their wellness because of how faithful they have been. Furthermore, those who suffer are uniquely able to witness that, though troubles are real, “God is unflinchingly faithful.” And, as Kapic points out, sufferers, too, have a responsibility. They can encourage and serve those who are well by loving them and being grateful and compassionate. They “need to beware of abusing others.”

“Those dealing with a great deal of pain often have to work hard to avoid self-absorption and cultivate neighbor love. It takes intentionality. It takes a missional focus. But it can be life-giving.”

CONCLUSION In Embodied Hope Kapic, as the husband of a wife with chronic pain, shares many practical insights. Yet he always comes around to this:

“Beloved, amid the trials and tribulations of life, let us have confidence not in ourselves, not in our own efforts, but in God. This God has come in Christ, and he has overcome sin, death, and the devil. While we may currently be walking through the shadow of death, may our God’s love, grace, and compassion become ever more real to us. And may we, as the church, participate in the ongoing divine motions and movements of grace as God meets people in their need."

This book has helped me come to terms with the fact that chronic suffering exists and has given me insight for supporting my daughter. I think it will be a blessing to every Christian who suffers physical pain or who loves someone who does, and I strongly recommend it. Embodied Hope would be a great addition to a church library, as well.

Annie Kate Aarnoutse reviews books at Tea Time With Annie Kate where this first appeared.

AA
Book Reviews, Children’s fiction, Children’s picture books
Tagged: Children's Book Review, featured

46 children’s books to foster the love of reading and learning

We are “People of the Book” so reading should be, and is very important, to us. The goal of all reading is to become readers of the Good Book. It is not enough to teach our children the ability to read; we must also nurture our children to be aware that the content of books should lead us to the author of the Good Book. The following is a treasure trove of books that tries to help with attaining that goal.

To make a list of favorite books is a daunting task. No sooner is the list completed and another treasure is found and could be added to the repertoire of great books. I hope you get reacquainted with some of your favorites and that your own list of great books will grow. Almost all of these selections are picture books that preschoolers and children in the early grades will enjoy, but there are several “chapter books” which are intended for children who are in at least Grade One or Two (these exceptions are noted in the reviews that follow).

Happy reading with your children!

OLDIE GOLDIES

Some books are timeless gems. Even though they have been written many years ago, these classics have stood the test of time and continue to appeal to children today. On occasion these classics have been updated – “Disneyfied” – and have lost a lot of their substance, so make sure your read the original version.

Make way for the duckling
by Robert McCloskey
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are looking for just the right place to raise their brood of duckling in New York City.

Caps for sale
by Esphyr Slobodkina
Some monkeys take on the saying of “Monkey see, monkey do” and get into monkey business with a hat peddler.

Tikki Tikki Tembo
by Arlene Mosel
Help is slow to come for a Chinese boy with a long name who falls into a well.

Frog and Toad are friends
by Arnold Lobel
Get every Frog and Toad book in this series and you will not be disappointed.

The story of Ping
by Marjorie Flack
First published back in 1933, this is the story of a funny duck and his misadventures living on the Yangze River.

The world of Pooh
by A.A. Milne
Watch out for the many Disneyfied versions of this story, as only the classic orginal retains the author’s lyrical charm. This is a chapter book, so it might seem to be something intended for grade school children, but even young children are likely to enjoy it.

Joseph had a little overcoat
by Simms Taback
Joseph’s worn coat becomes smaller pieces of clothing until he makes it into a button that he then loses, but that is not the end for, “You can always make something out of nothing.”

Stone soup
by Marcia Brown
When hungry soldiers come to a town of greedy inhabitants, they set out to make a soup of water and stones and the whole town enjoys the feast.

The tale of Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter
Mrs. Rabbit tells her bunnies not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden, but Peter does not listen and gets into all kinds of mischief.

BOOKS TO TICKLE THE FUNNY BONE

We have all hear it at one time or another: “I don’t like to read.” One way to hook your reluctant reader is to start with humorous books. No one can walk away from a book that makes them laugh and humorous books will then help build bridges to other types of books. A book that tickles the funny bone will help the child who doesn’t like to read become one who loves to read.

More parts
by Tedd Arnold
A hilarious book where a boy fears that the idioms he hears all around him (like “give me a hand”) are to be understood literally.

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs by Judi Barrett
Imagine a town where meals rain from the sky! Disaster strikes when the town is bombarded with massive-sized portions of food.

Knuffle bunny: a cautionary tale
by Mo Williams
A small girl, not yet able to talk, tries to get her father to understand that her beloved bunny has been left behind at the laundromat.

The principal’s new clothes
by Stephanie Calmenson
This is a respectable twist on the Han Christian Andersen fairytale The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Hairy Maclary from Donalson’s dairy
by Lynley Dodd
A rhyming story about a cheeky little dog and his pals who gets into mischief.

A FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS

Can your child recognize the names: Beethoven, Bach or Brahms? How about Monet or Michelangelo? Even if you are not the artsy type once you read these tales you will have to admit these artists lead colorful lives that make great stories to read.

Hallelujah Handel
by Douglas Cowling
Handel, living in the Charles Dickens era, uses his music to help some of the destitute homeless boys of England. This is 48-page book, so most suitable for children in at least Grade One or Two.

Camille and the sunflowers
by Laurence Anholt
Based on a true story of a boy and the famous painter Vincent van Gogh.

Berlioz the bear
by Jan Brett
A story based on the composer Berlioz and his strange sounding double bass.

Linnea in Monet’s garden
by Christina Bjork
A young girl visits Monet’s garden in Paris. This book contains many pictures of Monet’s paintings, and also quite a bit of text, so it is best read to slightly older children.

Katie meets the Impressionists
by James Mayhew
Katie visits the museum and becomes part of the famous painting of the Impressionists.

The Farewell Symphony
by Anna Harwell Celenza
Here is the story behind Joseph Hayden’s famous Farwell Symphony. This picture book has quite a bit more text than average so it is best suited to grade school children.

SNOOZERS

It is good to set aside at least one traditional time each day for reading. The best time to read to wiggly children is at night when they are tired and ready to go to bed. The snoozer books in this list deal with the ritual of going to bed and hopefully will help your active child relax and soon drift off to sleep.

The napping house
by Audrey Wood
Grandma takes a nap and her grandchild climb on top of her, and then one thing leads to another, and disaster leads to delight.

Goodnight moon
by Margret Wise Brown
A little rabbit is tucked in bed but he must say goodnight to everything in the room as it grows darker and darker.

Llama, llama, red pajama
by Anna Dewdney
Baby Llama has a hard time sleeping and needs his mama’s assurance that, “She’s always near even if she’s not right there.”

The prince won’t go to bed
by Dayle Anne Dodds
A little prince in a medieval world will not go to bed and nothing will help… except a goodnight kiss.

Russell the sheep
by Rob Scotton
Even sheep count sheep when they can’t sleep.

Goodnight, goodnight construction site
by Sherri Duskey
Even the equipment at the construction site needs to lie down and rest after another day of rough and tough work.

Ira sleeps over
by Bernard Waber
A little boy must decide if he wants to take his teddy bear to a sleepover at his friend’s house.

GIRLS WITH SPUNK

I like girls with attitude – the right kind of attitude that is. I’m not talking about the kind of attitude that is obsessed with ones’ self and with what’s popular in the world. No, I mean the sort of attitude that is determined to learn what it means to be an image bearer of God. Here are some of those sort of girls.

Fancy Nancy
by Jan O’Connor
Nancy is a girl who loves everything fancy; even the words that she uses are fancy.

The courage of Sarah Nobel
by Alice Dagliesh
A young girl journeys into the wilderness, in this chapter book, and there overcomes her fears of wolves and savage Indians.

Hannah
by Gloria Whelan
This 64-page chapter book is set in the pioneering days. When the new teacher persuades a family to allow their “poor, blind Hannah” to attend school, the young girl learns how to read and write.

The story of Ruby Bridges
by Robert Coles
This is the true story of an American six-year-old girl who was the first black to attend an all-white school; it is a story of courage and faith.

Ramona
by Beverley Cleary
There’s never been anyone quite like Ramona, a girl with boundless energy and mischievous antics.

My Great-Aunt Arizona
by Gloria Houston
Arizona was a girl who loved to sing, dance, read and dream of visiting faraway places, though she never did travel. Instead she became a teacher who influenced many children.

The gardener
by Sarah Stewart
Set in the Depression era, a young girl is sent to live with her crotchety uncle because her family is struggling financially, and she tries to brighten the world around her.

BOYS WILL BE BOYS

Readers often make connections to what they are reading. Children will identify with and want to be one of the characters in a story, which thus becomes a role model for the reader. Therefore, what your child is reading is also developing who they are becoming as an adult. A good book should have characters that we wish our children to emulate. Here are some such characters.

First flight
by George Shea
Young Tom Tate has volunteered to try out the Wright brothers’ first flying machine.

Flat Stanley
by Jeff Brown
Stanley becomes flattened when a bulletin board falls on him and he discovers that there are some things only a flat person can do.

The Kingfisher book of great boy stories
This 160-page anthology includes passages from such stories as Winnie-the-Pooh, Flat Stanley, The Jungle Book and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This is a great way to get a “taste” of children’s classic literature.

Zella Zack and Zodiac
by Bill Peet
A zebra and ostrich help each other survive in this zany tale.

ELDERLY HERO AND HEROINES

As a doting grandparent I have learned there is a unique bond between the young and the elderly – both understand that the other needs special care and attention, and both are happy to reciprocate. The following books beautifully portray this loving relationship. So grandparents, find a great book, cuddle up with a child, and read. You’ll be surprised what you have in common.

When lightning comes in a jar
by Patricia Pollacco
Grandma’s ritual of catching lightening bugs in a jar will be remembered for generations to come.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
by Mem Fox
Young Wilfrid loves his friend from the nursing home because she has a long name like him, and he wants to help her find her lost memory.

Grandfather and I
by Helen Buckely
Family life can be very busy. But Grandfather always has time to walk with his grandson and look around “just as long as they like.”

The old woman who named things
by Cynthia Rylant
An old woman who has outlived all her friends is reluctant to become too attached to anything she might outlive. So when a stray dog starts visiting she certainly won’t give it a name – she doesn’t want to become attached! However, when it goes missing she has a change of heart…

Grandpa’s teeth
by Rod Clement
It’s a disthasther when grandpa’s false teeth go missing.

Mr. Putter and Tabby catch the cold
by Cynthia Rylant
I smile and chuckle every time I read a Mr. Putter and Tabby book.

The Wednesday surprise
by Eve Bunting
A granddaughter teaches her grandmother to read.

Now one foot, now the other
by Tomi DePaola
Grandpa teaches Bobby to walk when he is young, and later in life when grandpa has a stroke Bobby helps his grandfather.


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