Archive for the ‘Book Reviews & Resources’ Category.

Must read for parents of kids 10 and up!

“Where, oh where, is the book that will help me through this new phase of parenting tweens and teens ,” I wondered with angst!  For reals….this is not me being dramatic.

I had survived the preschool and early elementary years and could see the shift towards adulthood happening before my eyes.  I was terrified (if I’m honest) and prayerful.  Admittedly, I’m a preschool person.  So how in the world do I learn to better parent these morphing kids?!

I started scooping up middle school and teen parenting books in my quest.   None of them were quite what I was looking for.  I honestly didn’t know what I was in search of, but knew I’d know when I found it.

That day came when a school administrator mentioned this book in passing during a meeting.  I wrote it down and am so thankful I gave it a try.  It was that “Ah Ha!” book I had been hunting for.  The author comes from a perfect background to write such a book and does an excellent job of backing her points with real life stories paired with research.  It’s a fascinating read. Click picture to purchase through Amazon.


Why do I think this book is so important to pass along to you?  
It’s helping me parent with an eye toward things like…
*protecting against “failure to launch”
*knowing better what over-parenting looks like through real life examples, so I can better gauge when I’m about to cross the line

*viewing college prep and choices more realistically
*seeing trials and failures during these years as necessary and positive growth opportunities
*tuning in more toward who God has created them to be rather than what I think they should be or do (ouch!)

It truly has shifted my thinking in how I go about parenting my kids and has played out in some wonderful ways in the time since I’ve read it.

It is not in the Christian book genre.  However, it makes me mindful that all the issues I’m bucking up against in parenting my aging kids are so much easier to deal with from a solid Biblical foundation.  If you have younger kids, keep pouring into them!  You have greater influence now than ever!  If you have older kids or teens, remember that it’s never too late!  Make your faith a part of life through daily time with Him, building deeper community with your church home, and using resources like Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments to help you capture and create teachable moments.

I’d love to hear your favorite book for parenting tweens and teens.  Please share!

Comments Off on Must read for parents of kids 10 and up!   Posted In:     |    Written By: Kara Durbin
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6 Resources to Help you Keep Current in your Christian Parenting

What do you do when your child/teen wants to watch a movie or read a book that you aren’t sure about?
How do you keep current with what your child/teen is being exposed to culturally?
What are my favorite websites for Christian parenting help or Christian content in general?

I’ll share my favorites and would love to hear yours!

This Focus on the Family resource is my go-to whenever I’m not sure about the something my kids want to see or read.  I appreciate that after the general review, it gives a break-down of questionable content.  That way, I can make an informed decision rather than just “judging a book by it’s cover” or hearsay.

Keeping up with the times:
This newsletter has been invaluable to me as I get a weekly heads up on what’s hot, current social media trends, music, etc.  It comes from a Christian perspective and often gives suggestions of how to dialogue with your kids about the topics.  It helps me not be “as” clueless.

Parenting advice:

This wonderful site categorizes parenting helps by age and by topic.  That way, you can quickly narrow down what you are looking for or just browse to do some “continuing ed” type training for your parenting skills.  I also recommend subscribing to the weekly newsletter.  You will get links for timely articles, helpful tips, and nuggets of parenting wisdom.

Shameless plugs…
Topical Bible verses for parents as dilemmas pop up –
Of course the best advice comes from God’s word!  That’s why I compiled topical verses into a quick and easy to use (only 2 pages per topic!) reference.  Hopefully, the combination of Scripture, discussion questions, take action ideas, and parenting tips (that I gleaned from watching other godly parents) will help you with those tricky teachable moments!  The beginning of the book gives you a simple how-to guide for creating and capturing teachable moments.  Grab your copy of Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments to help you bring more of God’s Word into your daily lives.

“Categories “list down right side of PWS blog –
I certainly never claim to be an expert on parenting…quite the opposite!  I’m learning and praying as I go just like every other mommy!  However, since I’ve blogged about a wide variety of topics, you might find what you are looking for by scanning down the categories list that runs down the right side of my blog page at I’m type A, so it’s quite a drilled down way to quickly look at what topics I’ve covered. 

Christian Media Resource:
Many churches, including mine, are using this site as our digital library.  It is an understatement to say that it’s a wealth of media for equipping  Christian families and Christian programming for kids.  Click on the link and watch the 1 minute video to learn more.  Pass it along to your church staff if you think your church would be interested, and so that your church families can be blessed by access to it.   


Hope you find this list of resources as helpful as I do! 
I’d love to hear your “go-to” sources.   Please share!



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Tired of frenetic, joy-sucking days?

Tired of frenetic, joy-sucking days?
I was, too!

That’s why reading Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do-List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! and Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More was a breath of fresh air. 

I was doing life in a way that made me oh. so. weary.  I clung to each chapter as if it was life support

I know this sounds melodramatic, but it’s absolutely true. 

Rachel’s words were so nourishing that I read only one chapter a week because I needed to let them sink deep.  I also wanted this new way of looking at and doing life to stick. Each Sunday, I looked forward to being reminded and renewed of my purpose for making these changes, along with discovering new points to chew on and helpful tips to implement.  

I’m not going to list specific ways these books helped or changed me, because I don’t want to pigeonhole them.  I believe that everyone will have different take-aways depending on where you are in life.  What I feel like she wrote just for me may not be the chapter that will blow your mind. 

God’s timing in my life for these books was perfect.  No surprise there!  I can honestly say that through Rachel’s books and other ways my precious Heavenly Father has worked on me over the last year, I’m in such a better place.  Frenetic no longer defines my way of life or mental state.  WHEW! 

The flip side of that is that when I look around, I can now see so many others in the same state I was in.  I’m afraid that if you looked up frenetic in the dictionary, one of the definitions would read…

FRENETIC:  adj.  – The state of the average American Mom

If you are feeling this way, I encourage you to take advantage of this offer to get your hands on this material and pray that God would help use it to reveal areas where you can grow, find healing, relief, and best of all, more joy in life!

Here’s how to get BOTH for the price of one! (and I highly recommend reading BOTH)
With any pre-order of HANDS FREE LIFE comes a free e-book download of the New York Times bestseller, HANDS FREE MAMA. The offer is good until September 7. Here is the link with all the details ==>

What does this have to do with Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments?
We parents can only do so much and keep so many things spinning in our heads.  I want to have the time and mental space to do a better job of parenting with Scripture!  Living Hands Free is helping me with that! 


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Can “50 Shades” be a teachable moment? You bet…for older girls AND moms!

About a year ago, a friend’s mom asked her, “What’s this term “mommy porn” that I’m hearing about?  She is a mentor mom for a young mom’s group and was surprised that this was an issue that needed to be addressed.

As my friend and I discussed her mother’s question, we both immediately thought of the best-selling book, 50 Shades of Grey.  I had heard enough to know that I needed to stay away from it, but was having trouble understanding this question –

How had that level of content become so mainstream? 

About that time, a suggested book appeared on my Amazon page because it’s by one of my favorite parenting authors and I knew it would help me find the answer.  Pulling Back the Shades:  Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart, by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery, deals with this subject from a Christian perspective.

After reading Pulling Back the Shades,
I think it’s important for Christians to be aware of the “Fifty Shades” genre for several reasons:

*Many (mostly women…of all ages) have been sucked into this genre and are as addicted as if it were visual porn.
*It absolutely can affect marriages, particularly in relation to unrealistic (fictional!) images of what men should be.
*We parents need to not duck our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not out there luring our preteen, teenage, college aged, single, or married daughters.  We need to encourage them to avoid it just as we would teach fleeing any other type of pornography.
*If you or anyone you know is struggling in this area, Pulling Back the Shades, could be a helpful resource.

Teachable Moment:
My tween daughter has seen us fast-forwarding through a preview of the upcoming Fifty Shades movies and asked about it.  I plan on using that as a launch pad for a teachable moment to discuss this issue at an age appropriate level.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23

Pulling Back the Shades

Being familiar with Scripture and helping our kids know how to regularly apply it to our lives, helps us in all areas of our lives!  My hope and prayer is that regular use of my book will help you remember look at all issues, such as today’s, from a spiritual standpoint. 
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments

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5 ways to help you “be IN the moment” with your kids!

Being IN the moment is something I struggle with, but am diligently working on.  “Struggle with” is putting it mildly.  True confession time (cringe…I’m going to take a deep breath and share this because I know I’m not the only one!):  My struggle with anxiety and borderline OCD is intense enough to need medication.  My wise doctor made me go to counseling for it, too.

I also know I’m not the only parent that has the magnetic pull to look at the smart phone or who feels the often overwhelming burden of a never-ending to-do list.    So, let’s look at some techniques and Scripture we can use to combat that.

At first glance, some of these may seem simple and easily dismissible.
However, as with most things in life, they are easier said than done.
These are some of the helpful things I’ve learned…

1.  Stop and take deep breaths, several times a day.

“Be still and know that I am God.”
  Psalm 46:10

2.  Take a few minutes each day to free yourself from all distraction and clear your head. 
This can look different for everyone, depending on what’s most helpful for you.  For me, one of my “refreshments” is walking my dogs. The fresh air does me good and it reminds me that there’s a world outside all the other things I’m trying to get done.  It is a fight to keep from immediately turning on the podcasts I love listening to during the walks.  But, I make myself spend at least the first few minutes taking those deep breaths and just clearing my head.  Sometimes, I enjoy using the rest of the walk lifting things up to the Lord in prayer as they pop into my mind.   When I don’t have as much time, I find that even a few minutes on my patio accomplishes the same thing.  What’s your refreshment?

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.”   Matthew 6:26-27

3.  Be conscious of being IN the moment. 
The beauty is in the simplicity of this.  Whenever I am feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or distracted, I remind myself to take another deep break and enjoy the moment I’m IN!  Even though it seems so obvious, this is a newer technique for me and is truly helping decrease my stress level and increasing joy in life.

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24
(To me, this is the Biblical version of “stop and smell the roses.”)

4.  Stay off the smart phone as much as possible.
I was going to write, “Stay off the smart phone when others are around” but broadened it because of how I’ve seen my phone to distract my brain in general.    Not being glued to our phone makes it easy to appreciate the bigger moments with our kids.  However, when my kids are all grown up, I don’t want to regret that I didn’t make effort to enjoy the little moments too.

I am a work in progress with this one.  It truly is a battle for me as I can tend to be OCD with checking e-mail, FB, weather, news, etc. on my phone.  NOT the example I want to be for my kids nor a good habit for my already too distracted brain!  A resource that I’ve been working my way through that is convicting, incredibly practical, and helping me along this journey is Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!  by Rachel Stafford.  Dads, a mom may have written it, but we can all learn from her realizations, truths, and tips!

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

I will not be mastered by anything.  1 Corinthians 6:12b

5.  Claim a helpful Scriptures!
I confess that distraction and stress are weakness of mine as I remember and draw from the power of these verses in this post.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

What’s your best technique for remembering to be “in the moment” with your kids?


Don’t forget to turn to your copy of
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments
when different issues pop up!
Most of the verses from today are in there under a variety of topics!



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This New Year, how are you going to start your day as Mom or Dad?

2014 has been a year of conviction and changes for me as a parent.

As my kids get older, I am growing ever more conscious of the example I am setting for them, particularly in the area of my phone.   I’m not just talking about while driving, during dinner or family time, or while helping them with homework.  Those are all real concerns for sure.

However, what hit me the hardest was how my cell phone was negatively impacting the start of my day.
How easy it is to turn off the alarm on my phone and start checking e-mail and Facebook.

Before I knew it, I was running late for my day and in a grumpy mood because of all the things that had bombarded me before I even got out of bed! 

Anyone with me?

I had always used the excuse of not being a morning person to put off my devotional time until later in the day.  Yet, here I was, regularly devoting a good 15 minutes to a small rectangular metal box.
And we mock those days-of-old idol worshippers!


When discussing electronic limits for our kids, a friend of mine shared that they have a non-electronic rule for the first hour they are awake.  What a wise pattern to establish that will serve her children well both now and later!

It was important for her to explain to them (and sometimes still remind them), that the reason for this family guideline isn’t that she’s just a “mean” mom restricting their fun!  Rather, it’s to help them remember the principle of

This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Hmmmm…we just read the words “rejoice” and “glad,” didn’t we? 
Sounds like fun to me…And it is!
Starting the day out with God’s Word and talking with Him is uplifting, encouraging, empowering, and a blessing….pretty much everything my previous routine of e-mail and Facebook is NOT!

So, fellow parents, as we think about this coming year, let’s consider how our daily patterns are impacting our lives and our children’s.   For me, that means more of putting down the iPhone after turning off the alarm and picking up my Bible.  

How about you?

A resource that has greatly helped my OCD self is Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!   Anyone else feel like the author had you in mind with that subtitle?  I enjoyed taking my time on this book, only reading a chapter a week.  That helped the principles soak in and give me time to practice before moving on.

Disclaimer:  Since this goes to such a broad audience and many of y’all don’t know me personally, I feel it’s important to add a couple of points.  While I share what I regularly strive for, I am not legalistic about any of this.  Some days I have to check my e-mail first thing.  Some days (and pretty much every Saturday morning) the tv comes on first thing for the kids.  Some days I enjoy putting off my time with Lord because I know I have a great window of time later in the day.  Some days I regretfully don’t make time for the Lord.  You get the idea.  Life happens.  This blog is always supposed to be non-guilt and non-ritualism inducing from an imperfect parent (me!) who enjoys sharing what she’s learned with others (you!) in hopes that it helps in some way!  To God be the glory if it does!


Looking for a new way to get in the Word with your kids this year?
Or, want a way to pray for your kids about specific issues using God’s Word?
Consider Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments  as a topical family devotional guide or topical parenting prayer guide.

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What does Modern-Day Manna for Preschoolers through Adults look like?

Preschool Kalli was not being inattentive (as I had assumed) when she went running off while I was reading the story of “God Gives His People Bread to Eat”  (Exodus 16:1-18, 31; Numbers 11:7-8) from Read-Aloud Bible Stories Volume 3.

She was on a mission.

She came back with a basket and white paper and asked if we could make manna!  I tore the white paper into strips and she and little Jake had a blast using safety scissors to cut bits of white paper into bite-sized manna.

Then, we re-read the story and acted it out using our props!  Quite a lot of time that week was spent with me strewing manna around the room for them to collect it in their baskets.

That’s one thing I love about preschoolers…
They help us adults think beyond the ink on the paper and make the Bible stories come alive

Manna was once again brought to life for me at our fall women’s retreat
A wise, godly women in our small group shared,

We like to get our manna a month supply at a time.
ut it spoils. 
God designed it that way. 
We need to get fresh food from the Holy Spirit every day.”  

Wow!  What a great reminder of why it’s important to spend time with God and His Word every day. 

This is wonderful wisdom to share with older kids and teens when helping them understand the importance of growing their own personal daily walk with the Lord!

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. T
he people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.”   Exodus 16:4a

Recommended Preschool Resource:
Our favorite Bible story books when my kids were preschoolers were the Read-Aloud Bible Stories, Volumes 1-4. (Link is for Volume 3, but will show the other volumes in the “Frequently bought together” section further down.)  Something about the pictures and way the stories are  written and simply enchanting to preschoolers.  And, it’s not just my kiddos that love them.  They’ve been a hit through the years as we’ve used them teaching our 2 and 3 year old Sunday School classes.

I so wish I could share the picture from my mind’s eye of my little ones
in action with their “manna.”
Instead, this will have to do.  Personally, I think this is hilarious. Hope it doesn’t offend anyone.
This is from
They have lots of similar greeting cards, playing cards, posters, etc.
if you enjoy their “where faith meets funny” themes.


Have you and your kids had your “manna” for the day?

Don’t forget to keep your copy of
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments
handy for when teachable moments pop up!

PS – I’m not if the company that makes these cartoons is still in business.  The website seems to not be allowing for orders and the last FB post is from ’13.

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Do you want to be a “Yes” parent?

I heard my wise friend, Julie Bridgeforth, once say,

“I want to be a “Yes” parent.”  

She explained that because there is enough that we have to say “No” to, she wants her kids to take more seriously the meaning and significance of it when she does have to use it.  Therefore, whenever her kids ask about something, she stops herself and considers whether there really is a good reason to say “No.”  If not, it’s a “Yes!”

Brilliant!  Totally agree with her reasoning!  Since I heard this, I’ve also often stopped myself from saying “No” just because it was inconvenient or easier…for me.  I realized more often than not, I’m simply being a kill-joy for no good reason.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
James 1:19-20

Do you want to be a “Yes” parent?

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for teachable moments to help you incorporate God’s Word into your daily parenting!
Make good use of your copy of Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments!

Julie couldn’t remember where she heard this.
However, in reading No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are, author Jill Savage mentions on page 104 that she has blogged about “Be a Yes Mom!”
Sure enough, click here to read one of them. 
I highly recommend this book

and her blog –


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May I rant about RSVPing? (plus Low Expections & Entitlement!) – Southern Hospitality Series

May I please rant a bit in this post?

I’m sure I’ve missed an RSVP or two in my day.  None of us is perfect.  There is grace.
However, not RSVP’ing is one of my biggest pet peeves.  It’s downright disrespectful to the host(s).  

Please, let us teach our children the importance of RSVP’ing, in a timely manner, I might add.  If you have ever hosted something, you know it is difficult and costly to plan if you don’t know how many people to expect.  It might be instructive to discuss this point specifically in relation to the next party your child is invited to.

I’m starting to teach my kids to RSVP for their own parties to help get them in the habit.

Evites, the invite of choice these days, are a bit tricky b/c they still come to me, the parent.   I have my kids help me check the calendar, type a nice note in the comment section, and write the event on the calendar as we RSVP online.  This way they still experience the process

Parents of littles, I wish I had started this as soon as they could talk, so it would be “just what we do as soon as we receive an invitation.” 

Case in point –
If I was only half-hearted about having my children RSVP for themselves when I drafted this post earlier this year, I’m certainly confirmed in that decision now.  As one of the hostesses for a high school senior graduation party,  I was horrified that only two of the invitees RVPD’d on time (or shall I say their mother’s did!) without prompting by the guest of honor.  Remember, we are talking high school seniors here.

I know, I know, I can hear the arguments now….it’s better for the mothers to do it then for it to not happen at all.  And, you can’t make  your teen be polite. True and True.  But since when did we start having such a low view of what can and should be expected of our kids?! 

Not RSVPing is just a small symptom of a muuuuuch larger problem of  low expectations and youth entitlement. 
I’ve read a couple of eye-opening and helpful books on the topic that I highly recommend!  They radically changed the way I think about parenting as my kids head into the teen years –

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris

Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement  by Kay Wyma             

To me, RSVP’ing is a form of being respectful…
Show proper respect to everyone. 
1 Peter 2:17

For more verses, discussion points, and take action ideas on the topic of Respect,
see your copy of
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments

 Who’s with me in this pet peeve?

Click here for more of my Southern Hospitality Series.

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A must read and a new listen…my interview with Dr. Gary Chapman!

Anyone else read Dr. Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages or one of the spin-off versions?
I can’t tell you how many times this information has helped me in all sorts of relationships.

For parents, I particularly recommend The 5 Love Languages of Children and The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers.  These have been instrumental in teaching me how my own children give and receive love.   For more valuable resources, see

As an author, it doesn’t get much better than being asked to have an interview with an writer whose work has been so influential in my life!

Recently, I had the honor and privilege of being a guest on Dr. Gary Chapman’s radio show, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

What a joy it was to speak with him and personally share how much his writing has meant to me!  And, what a thrill to hear how much he appreciates my book!

Gonna be in the car a while, doing laundry, or working out? 
Click here to listen online
 if you want encouragement, ideas, and practical help for learning how to parent with Scripture.   You’ll even get to practice by putting yourself in the shoes of another parent as I challenge you to think through what you would do and teach the easy steps to parenting with Scripture.

PS – This time, please disregard my “That’s a great question!” introductions to each answer!  I need to get a new stalling technique while trying to think quickly what to say!  Suggestions welcome!  🙂

5 love languages




Comments Off on A must read and a new listen…my interview with Dr. Gary Chapman!   Posted In:     |    Written By: Kara Durbin
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