Archive for the ‘Book Reviews & Resources’ Category.

Bible Story Gone Wrong!

Toddler Kalli looked at me sternly and yelled, “Go away!”  complete with shoving motions. 

Oh my!  Wherever did she learn that?!  I soon found out.   It was from her daddy and a Bible story!

That evening, I overheard Tim telling her a bedtime Bible story from The Story of Jesus  I was so proud to hear how he had turned that little picture book into an interactive experience for her…until I heard them yelling in unison, “Go away!”
They had come to the part of the story where children were coming to Jesus.  The book says that His friends said, “Go away” and they had been really getting into the part!

Go Away

Ha, it took a simple correction of just reminding Kalli that we don’t talk that way to other people.

But, my take-away was the value of turning a simple preschool Bible story into an active learning time! 
Here’s how Tim did it.

  • Motions and preschool words for The Story of Jesus:
    (Suggestions are page by page)
    *Hug yourself to show how much Jesus loves us.
    *Pat the nativity picture and say “Happy Birthday, Jesus!”
    *Walk in place going to church for Easter.
    *Point and count the 12 disciples.
    *Pat someone and say “Jesus loves you!”
    *Say, “Go away!” and make shewing motions (if you dare!)
    *Say, “Come on!” and make “come here” motions with your hands.
    *Pat boy in picture and say, “Feel better!”
    *Rub tummy like hungry.  Count rolls and fish in picture.
    *Say, “Here ya’ go!” and pretend to share with your hands.
    *Make praying hands.
    *Read the words and encourage your preschooler to repeat along as well.  This is based on 1 John 4:19.  With repetition of this book your little one will have learned this Bible verse!

We love because he first loved us.  1 John 4:19

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:13-14

For more ideas on bringing Scripture into the everydayness of every day,
see your copy of Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

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Last year, when my family was reading through the New Testament with our church, we decided to shake things up from our usual NIV and read from The Message Re-Mix.  One evening, a friend of my daughter’s was spending the night and shared our family devotional time with us.  As my husband was reading the assigned passage out-loud for that day, I remarked, “Wow, what a neat list that was!  Can you please read it again?”  The next day when I was sharing with the mother of my daughter’s friend about our devotional time, she asked what passage it was.  When I answered that I thought we were around Galatians 5, she said, “Oh, the Fruit of the Spirit.”  Ah ha!  No wonder that was such a great list!  My husband and I got a kick out of the wording being so fresh to us with the new version that we saw it with new eyes and didn’t even recognize it as that famous passage!  What a joy!  If we had read it in our normal version, we would have likely just glided by it.  I will always be an NIV girl because I love the familiarity of the wording I grew up with and memorized.  But, I now see the beauty in reading versions that help mix things up for a change! 

Galatians 5:22-23, The Message
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.  Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.

Galatians 5:22-23, NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


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Travel Time – Devotional for Kids Online

If your family is like ours, the hodge podge summer schedule has thrown off many of our routines!   Later nights out and road trips have made it easy for us to neglect our family devotional times that we enjoy so much during the school year.  So, as we were all in the car one evening, I googled “kid devotional online” and came up with a great resource!  The 20 or so audio devotionals that we have enjoyed through their site have been fabulous!
When you click to play, Uncle Charlie reads a Scripture passage (you can pick KJV, NKJV, or NIV) and then tells a story about kids that connects to the verses.  We have found the stories to be very relatable and they have brought up a number of great discussions.  Because we are usually in the car when listening to these, we have the luxury of taking our time to talk about any questions, issues, or similar situations the stories bring to mind. 



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Adventures in Odyssey – Audio & Real Life!

Focus on the Family puts out an amazing audio series called Adventures in Odyssey that our family has tremendously enjoyed.  The official website, says, “Created for ages 8-12 (see my note below!) but enjoyed by the whole family, Adventures in Odyssey presents original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience. These fictional, character-building dramas are created by an award-winning team that uses storytelling to teach lasting truths. Maybe that’s why over 20 million products have been distributed worldwide.”   Don’t let the target age turn you off.  I don’t know about teens, but my children definitely loved them from probably 4 and up…and still love them now at almost 9 and 11.  Most of episodes are light and fun, but some of them do contain heavier content such as death and divorce.  We only listened to them together in the car when they were younger, so I could be there to skip ahead when needed or discuss the topics they might not have been familiar with.  We have had many excellent teachable moments as a result of the values the stories present.   

If you aren’t familiar with these gems, try downloading a sample from the link on this page –
If you like what you hear, you can download more, listen to the broadcasts on the radio, or purchase cds.

This is a great list of ways to use Adventures in Odyssey with your kids –

AND, if you are ever in Colorado Springs, you can visit Odyssey in REAL-LIFE!  Focus on the Family has done an incredible job of making aspects of Odyssey come to life in their Visitor’s Center. 
Check out this page to learn more about the FREE fun if you are ever passing through or have Colorado Springs as a destination.  The children’s portion of the Visitor’s Center has become a must for us on road trips to Colorado for skiing.  We literally plan our driving around being able to stop and play for a bit…and to get a sweet treat at Whit’s End ice cream parlor!

Did I just inspire a road trip?  Or, maybe you’ll just get so hooked on listening to the stories that you can’t quit driving around!  We’ve been known to make an extra loop or two around the neighborhood to hear more before pulling in! 



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Finding Sabbath Rest

Do your Sunday mornings look like ours used to? Breakfast for hubby and kids in front of cartoons while I finish getting ready because I’ve slept til the very last minute, a hurry scurry to clean everyone up and scramble out the door, barely making it to church on time (if on time.) Whew! By the time we got in the car we were usually all frazzled and irritable. Not a very reverent or worshipful way to start our Sabbath.

Thus, I was intrigued after hearing Senator Joe Lieberman interviewed several times on the topic of Sabbath rest, relating to his book The Gift of Rest. Though the book is thick with his Jewish tradition, he makes effort to make it applicable for all. Having read his insights, I also now better understand the beauty and blessing behind the ritualism of the Jewish Sabbath. I wanted to incorporate some of the principles, so I appreciate that at the end of each chapter, he gives concrete ideas that anyone can apply to their lives, Jewish, Christian, or neither.

There is much that can be gleaned or applied from his look at honoring the Sabbath, but the main changes our family has made relate to having planned a more calm Sunday morning routine.

My Family’s Sabbath Day Changes –

Timing: First of all, we have committed to being dressed and ready to go and sitting down to breakfast 15 minutes before we need to get ready to head out the door.

Location: I love his suggestion to eat in the dining room. It’s a room we used to only use for bigger family gatherings or holidays. Now, it’s our special place for Sabbath meals, especially breakfast.

Blessing and Verses: We begin our breakfast with blessings similar to the Jewish tradition. Tim lays his hands on the children’s shoulders and says, “May you love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself…especially our family.” (Matthew 22:37, 39)

Then he sits down and we say together Lamentations 3:22-23. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

This is followed by –
Parents: God is good,
Children: All the time.
Parents: All the time,
Children: God is good.

Then he asks a short blessing for the food.

Aroma: Senator Lieberman shared how many of the scents of traditional foods lend to setting the scene for their Sabbath. We all know how particular scents trigger feelings within us. How special to have a scent associated with our Sabbath. Instead of the scent being associated with a particular food, we decided upon vanilla scented candles in a beautiful votive holder that we will only use on Sabbath.

On the way to church: We either listen to Christian music or more likely, keep it quiet while we talk. One of us also leads us in a prayer in preparation for the morning at church.

These simple changes have made Sunday mornings such a joy! Now when we head to church, we are already in a calm and worshipful attitude.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8 

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The perfect book at the perfect time!

Have you ever been reading a parenting book and been so grateful for it that you could just cry?  That’s the way I felt recently with Christian writer, Robin Jones Gunn’s Gentle Passages:  Guiding Your Daughter into Womanhood.  I stumbled upon this gem a couple of years ago when I was searching online for a new read from Robin’s fabulous Sisterchick series.  I ordered it to help me get to my Amazon free shipping minimum and tucked it away to read later.  Later came last week.  As I sat on the porch, I literally had tears in my eyes as I began soaking up the ideas.  That’s saying quite a bit because I am not typically a very emotional person.  However, my daughter is turning double digits (10!) this summer and my picking up the book could not have been more well timed…Thank you, Lord!  As my little girl heads into her pre-teen/teen years, I had been wondering how to help her transition.  This book has beautiful ideas for how to make passages into womanhood, such as body changes, a celebration rather than dreaded event.  With my pen in hand, I marked up the book with notes and dates for when to implement some of the ideas.  I’m going to mark them on my calendar too so I won’t regret these letting these precious years pass by without having been deliberate in blessing her with “gentle passages.”  If your daughter is anywhere between 6 and 12, I highly recommend this book.  Click on the link below if you are inspired to add it to your Amazon cart as I thankfully was years ago!

We have a young sister. . . What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for?  Song of Solomon 8:8

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How to mark parenting books for easy future reference –

Being Type A, I find that I develop a system for just about everything I do.  That includes marking books so that I can easily go back through them to find the content I found helpful without having to re-read the whole book.  As I read, I underline key points and then write one of these key words at the top corner of the page.


That way, when I finish the book, I can go back through and plan out how to put the “do’s” into practice, make a list of the things to “get,”  remember quotes for future reference, and know which parts I found helpful enough to want to re-read for the future.  Often, these re-read chunks are quite lengthy.  Therefore instead of underlining the whole thing, I simply draw a line down the side of the portion.  This is faster and cleaner looking than multiple underlines.

Another purpose for making these notations in the book is sharing the information with my husband.  After I finish a helpful book, we plan a time for me to review the information with him.  Together, we can discuss what those action items look like for our family and get on the same page for implementing them.

Here’s a visual from the book I’m currently reading –

Book Review

If you have any tips for how to apply this system to e-books, please let me know!  This is one of the things that keeps me from converting!

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Children’s Bibles versus Chapter & Verse Bibles

Confession:  I am a Children’s Bible Junkie!   
I have collected just about every children’s Bible there is on the market and we’ve enjoyed using them at different phases for the kids.  I love the age-appropriateness of wording and length that comes with them, bringing specially selected Bible stories to life.   That being said, there’s nothing like a child having his very own chapter and verse Bible.  

Thing to consider when picking out a chapter & verse Bible:
*Think about whether your child is old enough to responsibly care for a “real” Bible.  When we bought ours, I knew my daughter was old enough, but not sure about my son.  So, I kept the Bible highlighters in my room so he wouldn’t be tempted to do any unsupervised “coloring!”

*Choose a version from which you would like him/her to memorize.   I made the mistake initially of buying an “easier to read” children’s chapter/verse Bible.  But, I quickly realized this wouldn’t work because it wasn’t the version I wanted them to memorize.  So when we went to underline verses in my daughter’s Bible, the wording didn’t match.  Too confusing for an early reader…or any reader for that matter!

*Choose a version that is visually appealing to the child.  I researched online ahead of time and then gave my children a couple of choices that would fit my parameters. 

*Buy from bookstore or online site that offers free engraving with the child’s name.   Keep an eye out for sales!

*Consider waiting to give the Bible to the child for a special occasion, such as Christmas or birthday.  If neither of those are near and you aren’t wanting to wait, make a celebration out of the Bible presentation day in some other meaningful way. 

Stay tuned for more tips on how to help make your child’s own Bible come alive for him or her! 
These are the Bibles that my kids picked out and love:  Zondervan’s NIV Adventure Bible.
       Adventure Bible for Girls       Adventure Boys Bible

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How do you solve a problem like Maria?

I have a thoroughly new appreciation for that song now that I’ve read The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.  Though the movie Hollywoodized (I’m pretending that’s a word) some of “The Sound of Music,” I was surprised to see how true they stayed to the real story.  But there’s so much more!  If you have any love at all for the movie, I think you would enjoy this book.   The real Maria is a hoot and her personality comes through her writing, making the saga of her life seem more like fiction than reality!  What touched me most is the way she parented their children with Scripture and truly gave Glory to God at every turn. 
Story of the Trapp Family Singer

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Anger this week, Apathy the next…

Got your attention, didn’t I?   No, we’re not going crazy here at the Durbin household!  Those are just the topics we’re starting with as we tackle Parenting with Scripture topically this year.  Because the New Testament readings I recently blogged about are only five days a week, we decided that each weekend would be a perfect time to focus on a different topic from Parenting with Scripture.  The week days in between will allow us time to positively apply God’s word.  Stay tuned for highlights!

Apathy To Anger

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