Tag Archives: devotions

Holiday Musings

A few years ago I wrote a “Holiday Musings” article for Training for Triumph’s newsletter. It has a lot of the same ideals that you will find in this blog—in season and out of season! However, I want to share it with you this Christmas. I pray that you will be moved and encouraged by it.





                                                       “Holiday Musings”
                                                               by Donna Reish






I love Christmas! I love giving gifts to my children; I love lights and beautiful decorations; I love doing family activities over and over again every year; I love baking goodies and giving them away. I even have a verse to substantiate my desire to give good gifts to my kids at Christmas time: “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your father, which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). I mean, God knows that even we mere mortals love to give good gifts to our kids!




Although all of the things in my “I love” list above are somewhat “unspiritual,” we have found through the years there are some common threads that we try to emphasize/do during the Christmas holiday—some to remember and ponder what Christ has done for us more fully; some to deepen our relationships with each other; some to show Christ’s love to the world. Allow me to give you a list of my holiday musings.






1. Think about, talk about, sing about, and remember the true reason for Christmas as a family throughout the month. 

We have found many things that help us focus on the birth of Christ more and more throughout December: singing carols together; reading Christmas picture books with the littles in the afternoons; collecting nativity scenes; reading from chapter books that emphasize the birth of Christ, such as Max Lucado’s Cosmic Christmas, Gene Edwards’ The Birth, and Marjorie Holmes’ Two From Galilee; going to community events that point us back to the reason for the season, such as Christmas plays, live nativities, walks through Bethlehem, Christmas cantatas, movies, and plays that emphasize the coming of the Savior.




2. Create family traditions. 

We have too many holiday traditions to list in just one short article, but research has born out the importance of traditions in building a child’s outlook on many things—and it is so obvious when you hear children talk and repeat that mantra: “We always…” There is something about being able to say that “We always …” or “In our family, we… “

 Two of our favorite traditions are decorating the house together and reading inspirational Christmas stories throughout the month of December. Our older kids laugh until they cry as they give play-by-plays of each ornament making ordeal we have gone through. (Our tree is decorated with only home made ornaments—another tradition we have is that of making ornaments together.) Anyway, they have a joke of holding up the sample ornament (one that I bought that we were modeling after) and holding up one of ours and chiming, “Sample ornament; Reish ornament” over and over. Then they tell about the time I threw the cinnamon sticks across the room in a fit of Christmas stress as we tried to make the “ornaments in a minute” out of cinnamon sticks. Then we all laugh some more—and I try my best to keep from crying as I think about Christmases gone by—and wonder where the years have gone and long for just a day from a Christmas ten or fifteen years ago.






Traditions do not have to be elaborate or expensive. Some of ours (besides the decorating night and ornament making) are as simple as watching certain Christmas movies while we wrap gifts; eating shrimp alfredo while we watch White Christmas; reading about holiday traditions each morning; learning a new carol together each year (all the verses!); having the kids exchange their gifts with each other on Christmas Eve; reading inspirational stories each night before bed; reading one of the Gospels during the month of December; etc.






3. Think about Jesus’ entire life—his birth, life, death, and resurrection—not just his birth. 

Linking the Christmas story to the fact that without it we would have no hope of salvation is important, especially with younger children. Two ways that we do this include discussing, reading about, and singing about the names of Christ and what they mean throughout the month; and reading one of the Gospels—not just the Christmas story—during December. This helps us focus on our salvation even more. (Another thing we have done to focus on Jesus’ entire life is to listen to Focus on the Family’s radio theatre “The Luke Reports.” I will put links to some excellent resources throughout December, so check back frequently!)




4. Reach out to those less fortunate—and do so in a way that costs you and your children something.

 I know that doesn’t sound very “Christmasy”—good cheer and mistletoe and all (btw, I love mistletoe if the right “mistletoe-ee” is around!), but taking a can to a canned food drive or parents buying gifts for the children to leave at the angel tree are not sacrifices for our children—and do not do much to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas—and the true meaning of sacrificial giving.


When I speak of reaching out to those less fortunate, I am talking about giving up time (a few evenings or days?) and money (money with which a child could buy himself something). I’m talking about doing hard things. I’m talking about getting dirty, being inconvenienced, etc. I know that sounds strange, but honestly, what could we possibly do or give that would be too much for our Lord? Find true, meaningful service projects for your children—extensive time spent at a nursing home or group home caroling, making cookies with residents, reading to them, etc.; earning money to be used to give gifts to truly poor or forgotten people (like county home residents or the disabled); going out into the homes of people who never have a Christmas visitor; serving food at a soup kitchen; cleaning mattresses at a rescue mission. Focus on others more than ever before this Christmas—your children will thank you for it eventually. (For the new year, read the stories written by the author of Mandate for Mercy (also the founder of the Mercy Ship ministry) about how his mom made his family squeeze together in the car every week to pick up poor and desperate people to take them to church—and the impact this had on this man causing him to spend his life on the poor and desolate—this is the kind of reaching out we are purporting here.)




5. Reach out to your relatives.

 Yes, those strangers who are watching “bad” things on television the whole family get together while puffing away on their cigarettes. Teach your children to go to family get togethers to serve—not to judge. Start out teaching your children about this concept of serving relatives with a Bible study (ahead of time) on “being great in God’s kingdom by serving” and “doing for others asking nothing in return” and “being a light by your good works.” 

Then, if it is true, tell your children that you have been more concerned about yourself than you have of others at past family get togethers. And that you want your entire family to change all of that. That you want to “do your good works that others would glorify your father in heaven.” Discuss ways that you can do this during this holiday season: working harder to make good dishes to the gatherings (no lentil casserole, please—bless these people with fat and sugar!); helping with young cousins; encouraging grandparents; helping to set up and take down; being kind to each other as an example of family unity to those who might not have any idea what that looks like. 

(Note: Because I always get asked this, I will put a caveat here—I am not talking about reaching out to relatives in any way that would put your children in danger. We recommend that your children never be left with non-Christians and never be put in situations in which they could be harmed.)




6. Really talk to others this holiday season. 

Your ministry of bringing your relatives to Christ will begin not with your family’s judgment of them, but with your interest and concern for their lives in general. Jeff Myers, leadership specialist, founder of Passing the Baton, and current president of Summit Ministries (as of 2012),  gives the following list of things to discuss this year with relatives young and old. Some are one-on-one types of discussions while others would work well for group discussions**:






Express thanks to someone in the room for something they did for you.


“I’m thankful for…” Finish the sentence.


If you could have the attention of the whole world for 30 seconds, what would you say?


One thing I’m thankful for about our country.


What is the key to success in life? Why do you say that?


Tell about a lesson you learned the hard way.


What are some ways life is different now than in the old days?


Tell a story of a decision your ancestors made that changed the direction of their lives-and yours.


Tell about a lesson you learned by watching someone else.


“A person I would like to honor publicly is…”


“Time and money aside, I would rather be…”


Tell about an experience that changed you for the better.


Tell a story about something that started out bad but had a happy ending.


“My first hero was _________.”

Tell about a time when you showed courage.


Describe a teacher who had a significant influence on your life.


Tell about an invention that made your life easier.


“The most admired public figure when I was growing up was ____.” Tell a story.


Tell about a memorable event in your life.


“A famous person I’ve met is _____.” Tell about the experience.


“I got in so much trouble…” Tell the story!


(www.passingthebaton.readyportal.net/page/68289/;jsessionid=6rj638as0ohf7 )




**Note: These are good to print off and use as dinner discussion for your immediate family, too!






6. Express genuine gratefulness to God and others

December is a month to really display the quality of gratefulness—and to teach your children to do so too. Not just mere ”thank-you’s”—but sincere thanksgiving to God for His Son and for others for everything they do for us. Teaching children to say thank-you, write thank-you notes, etc. is a start. However, gratefulness begins with the realization that everything good we have comes from the hand of God. That we are nothing without Him. And that He knows what we need more than we do. It is deepened when we give up materialism—the idea that we have to have this or that in order to be happy—and focus instead on the good things God has done for us. Thoughts on materialism would require an entire article in itself, but when we have to have things to make us happy, when our mood and outlook change as a result of getting more and more, or when we cannot be happy in whatever situation we are in (materially speaking), we are probably steeped in materialism. Praying through this, sharing with our family the importance of giving up our ideas that we somehow deserve this or that, focusing on gratefulness for all that God has done for us outside the material things we are lacking—these are ways to feel and exhibit true gratefulness.






7. Spend quality time reaching into your children’s hearts. 

That’s a tough one, huh? I mean, the busiest time of the year, and we have to add another thing to the list. I remember vividly eighteen years ago when I had five kids ten and under. I still had younger siblings at home who would come and spend a lot of Christmas week with us. I made four Christmas dinners in a row for various relatives. I got up early in the morning to make home baked bread and rolls and went to bed late at night to get the overnight breakfast casseroles in the oven. I get tired just thinking about it. I was trying to serve others, but found myself distanced from my kids by the time the holiday week was over. I can remember looking at Joshua, then ten, one evening after the relatives had all left, and calling him over to ”sit in Mommy’s rainbow” (my bent legs as I lay on the sofa)—and he seemed so far away. I had been with him all week—I was usually with my older kids all the time as they did not have any older siblings to take them anywhere like my littles now have! However, I felt so far from him. I had let the busy-ness of Christmas keep me from those I love the most. Now I have to remind myself that one more home made goody or one more shopping day is not worth distancing myself from my children. Stay close. It’s Christmas!




This Christmas I pray that all of us can ”keep Christmas” in a way that glorifies God and teaches our children deep Christmas truths.


*Copyright TFT 2008

Christmas Story for You: “The Burglar’s Christmas”

Last week I posted a link to a favorite Christmas story (“Gift of the Magi”) that is available online in its entirety. I hope you and your family enjoyed reading that together!

Today I am thrilled to provide a link to another favorite, though lengthier one, by Willa Cather (author of “Oh Pioneers” and “My Antonia”) entitled “The Burglar’s Christmas.” It is rather long and may even require two reading sessions, but it is an incredibly heart-warming story of reconciliation, forgiveness, and a mother’s love.

You may find it in its entirety here: http://www.allthingschristmas.com/stories/BurglarsChristmas.html

Merry Christmas, Positive Parents who are “Character Training From the Heart”! 🙂

Homeschool Tip IX: Teach Like Jesus

 Twelve Tips for Homeschoolers: Learn to Teach Like Jesus


Many years ago we were introduced to the concept of teaching like Jesus taught. We have since delved into that further, realizing that Jesus was not only a model of how to teach concepts to our children, but he was also the epitome of relationship building with people. This has helped us in our parenting and discipling of our children in general (not just in “teaching” or homeschooling).

One of the things that has stuck with us the most is the concept of time in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus taught all the time! He taught Nicodemus late at night; he taught during meals via the last supper and other “potluck” style opportunities. This reinforced the concept in Deuteronomy 6:7 of teaching our children all the time—as we do everything—as we live. Along the lines of different time frames, we also noted that Jesus taught varying lengths of time. Sometimes he taught short and straight to the point (the woman at the well). Other times he had lengthy teaching sessions, such as the Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes he taught so long he went right on through meal times! We, too, need to be aware of our audience—and their time limitations, our scheduling needs, etc.

Jesus also used various types of teaching. This showed us that some kids need a certain type of instruction while others need something else. In Matthew 18:12, Jesus asked the question, “What do you think?” This has become a common mantra for our parenting/teaching. We have wanted to allow the kids to tell us what they already know or what they think—and then we could build on that. Asking open ended questions is a super method for academic training—and for heart training.

Of course, Jesus also taught one-on-one (again, Nicodemus and the woman at the well); small group (twelve disciples); and large group (five thousand). There have been many things in our homeschool that were perfectly suited to one-on-one instruction. Other things were great for small group—and we used unit studies and other “small group” instruction situations with our kids together. Some things were truly best suited to a larger group, such as speech and debate, drama, and choir.

Jesus used storytelling extensively. He used God’s word to tell stories. And he used nature to tell stories—pearls, fish, trees, water were all object lessons. We have taken his concept of using nature to heart. We have used animals via Answers in Genesis materials, zoo trips, etc. We have used Character Sketches books for twenty-nine years to teach character and Bible—half of the book is using nature to teach character! Sometimes we just look at the snow, clouds, stars, ocean—and an instant lesson in spiritual truth presents itself!

Jesus taught in unusual places—which we have found extremely effective and fun—for the kids and parents! Jesus taught in a boat, by a well, on a hillside, in a garden, on the water, under the stars. Kids love surprises and unusual things. And we have enjoyed providing surprises and unusual places to learn—zoos, parks, sleeping at the top of the jungle gym at Science Central, camping out on the “bunks” at the fort, and more have provided us with unusual and enjoyable learning opportunities.

Lastly, Jesus had characteristics of a superior teacher—that we homeschoolers should model after. He knew his audience—and he taught accordingly. He was teachable, even as a teacher: “I only do what I see my Father do.” He had his priorities in order: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).  And he didn’t “just teach”—he discipled: “Come ye after me” (Mark 1:17). Wow, “to be like Jesus”—to teach like Jesus! Now that would make me a successful homeschooler!

Twelve Terrific Times to Talk–#11: When You “Sit” in Your House

#11: When You “Sit” in Your House—Preferably in a “Techno-Free” Zone

Out of all of the times/places that we are told to teach our children diligently in Deuteronomy, “when you sit in your house” has got to be the most challenging. Over twenty years ago, Gregg Harris gave us the greatest advice in his parenting seminar (that we have used weekly and teach others to do the same): Whatever is important to you to do with your children should be attached to something that is already in the schedule. Thus, we attach reading together to rising/going to bed; we attach family prayer to meals; etc. However, finding time to “sit in your house” is another matter—and one that I would like to address as a talk time in this blog post.

How many of us “sit in our houses”? That is, we sit—not to watch television, pay bills, surf the web; play computer games; read the paper, etc., but just SIT. With my AOADD (Adult-Onset ADD—self diagnosed!!!), sitting is not one of my favorite things to do—unless I am doing something else at the same time (i.e. working!). However, this is an often-overlooked period of time that we truly need to tap into in order to talk with our children.

We have to force ourselves to “sit” with our children. We need to make it a habit to just take a seat next to one or more of them each day—no electronics, no work on our laps—and just “be.” These moments are when great communication times as we are “sitting in our house” will occur.

Not necessarily formal teaching, though there are definite times and places for that. But just “being.” Just saying, “Tell me about your day.” And truly listening. Times to listen to their hearts sing the “talking song” that our family adopted as a parenting cue many years ago: “Talk to me; show me that you care. Talk to me; listen to the words I say. Talk to me; there’s so much we can share. I know you love me when you talk to me.” Times to really look into their faces and observe their countenance—to read the signs that show that deep within that son or daughter is an ache, a question, an apprehension, an issue that needs Mom or Dad time.

Recent statistics indicate that teenagers spend an average of less than thirty minutes a week in a “meaningful relationship” with their mothers and fifteen minutes per week with their fathers. Fifteen to thirty minutes a week with Mom or Dad during some of the most critical years of a person’s life! (We have said for years that ages sixteen to twenty are the highest need years for our kids in terms of parental time and support.)

Another recent study of parents and children by an insurance company said that children WANT their parents to spend time with them. Eight out of ten said they resented being put in front of a television (instead of spending time with Mom or Dad); sixty percent said they wished their parents spent more time with them and worked less.

Parents who bring work home (instead of being available for their kids), put their own hobbies and interests before the kids; and are consumed with their home and possessions more than their kids are being coined as “Maybe later” parents. As a mom of six grown kids (ages seventeen through twenty-nine) and one younger (almost fourteen year old), I can tell you for sure that “later” never comes.

So…the first piece of advice we have for establishing talk time when you sit in your home” is to “sit in your home”! Set aside other things and make the time. Fire pits; bonfires; electronic-free rooms; porch swing moments; Mom & Dad’s bedroom for midnight meetings; family meals—all of these give opportunities to sit with our kids. Let’s make it happen!

Twelve Terrific Times to Talk–#8: Daddy Talks

(Sorry it has been a while since I posted. I have been busy with my dad who has been sick. The rest of the Twelve Terrific Times to Talk coming soon!)

#8: Daddy Talks

When our “little boys” were tweens, we wanted them to learn about/hear about sensitive things from their daddy—not from Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, movies, television, or peers! It was about that time that we instituted “daddy talks”—times in which the boys (one at a time or in pairs since they were close in age) would sit down and talk with Ray about these types of things. We called it “daddy talks”—and they knew that if they ever had questions or heard things, etc., they could call a “daddy talk” and Ray would be available. (Have I mentioned here how crucial our availability for our kids really is??)

 I can remember that we started going to a different church about the time one of our boys was eleven and going into sixth grade. At this particular church, there was a special class that took place for that age kids—boys went into one and girls went into another for a couple of weeks to learn about “the birds and the bees” and purity. A boy at church told Josiah that he had to go to the “sixth grade” class—that all kids at church had to if they wanted to go to Royal Rangers. Josiah puffed his chest up, marched right up to that boy, and said, “I don’t have to go to that class. I have “daddy talks”! Too cute!

Sweet stories aside, there was (and continues to be) something powerful in a young  boy’s life when he has “daddy talks.” Something about those talks and that availability keep that boy from straying too far—keep his heart in check and his activities and motives pure.

Twelve Daily Habits for 2012–Habit #3: Start Your Family’s Day With God’s Word

Habit #3: Start Your Family’s Day With God’s Word





When we start the day out with our children and God’s Word, we are telling them that the Bible is the most important book to study and its truths are the most important knowledge to obtain. We decided nearly two dozen years ago that we would not teach academic subjects without teaching the Bible–and that it would be first. If we had time for the other subjects, great. If not, at least we had done the most important subject.


We have taught the Bible and character dozens of ways. There is no one “right way.” Ray’s favorite way is to open the Bible, read it together, and discuss it. He also enjoys “discipleship teaching”—just teaching while he and the boys are talking. (When the boys were little, they called this “Daddy talks.”) They work together in our print center a lot, so they like to discuss life then—and when he discusses life, it always eventually goes back to living a life for God. He also loves to teach them while we’re driving down the road (what Bible verse does that cloud make you think of?) or while they are doing “driver’s education”—great time to talk about selflessness, attentiveness, etc.!


I personally like using “programs”–reading from creation science books, character based books (like IBLP’s Character Sketches), Bible story books for younger children (like our favorite, Family Bible Library), character booklets and other devotional type booklets, etc. Ray has read through “The Picture Bible” with each child when each little one was between the ages of four and six. I read through the entire Family Bible Library with each child around that same time.


We also enjoy reading devotional materials together: discipleship books, names of God books, Bible handbooks, and other “daily devotionals.” (One of my many fond memories of teaching “Bible” and “character” to the children is twenty years ago when the three oldest kids would eat breakfast at their “little table” every morning, and I would sit at the end of the table and read to them from our devotional as they ate. Oh, sweet, sweet days!)


If this habit has eluded you in the past, just pick up a devotional or other “daily” type book (even if it is just a few paragraphs in length for each entry), and read it at breakfast every morning. That will get the ball rolling. From that will likely spring discussions and applications galore as you build those truths and principles into your children’s lives.

Joni and Friends Wheels for the World “Miracle Story” of JAKE

Had to share this latest devo from Joni and Friends daily devotional. (You may subscribe to receive them in your email inbox or your FB feed at http://www.joniandfriends.org/daily-devotional/ )

There are many times when we can clearly look at a situation, and if we are people of faith, declare the action a complete miracle (as opposed to a “coincidence”). This JAF story is definitely one of those. Read it to your family at dinner tonight! 🙂

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. –Proverbs 19:21




Our Wheels for the World team arrived in a small town in Poland to distribute 225 wheelchairs and Bibles. Before the day had hardly begun, however, their plans were in shreds. The assigned room was tiny and cramped. But before anyone could come up with a plan B, streams of families with disabled children began pouring through the doors. The place quickly became packed and noisy. Everything was thrown into confusion. “Lord Jesus,” the team prayed together, “may your purpose prevail here.” Then they went to work greeting families, assessing needs, locating pre-assigned wheelchairs, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus at every opportunity.


The afternoon wore on. A tired father, carrying his little five-year-old disabled boy on his back, finally reached the head of the line. But when he lifted his son into the pre-assigned chair, his shoulders slumped. It didn’t fit! “I am so sorry!” our seating specialist exclaimed, “this is the wrong chair.” But there were only a few chairs left. Pushing aside several adult chairs, she reached for a child-sized one. But it was highly customized, with side supports-including blue leather backing with “Jake” stitched across the middle. In the end, there was no other choice. It was that chair or nothing. When the father lifted his boy into the new chair, it fit perfectly! An interpreter exclaimed, “It’s like it was made for him!”


“By the way, what is your son’s name?” someone asked the boy’s mother. “Jakob,” she replied-and everyone gasped! When an interpreter explained to the boy’s mystified parents that “Jake” is the shortened version of Jakob-they, too, cried for joy. The whole family-along with almost sixty others-opened their hearts to receive Jesus that day. The Lord’s purpose had prevailed!

















Teach Them Diligently….When You Sit in Your House: An Introduction

“You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” Deuteronomy 6:7






It is time. It really is. We have our mornings organized (!); we have the most important things first; we are “teaching ‘them’ (the things God gave to us already) to our children when we rise up”—and we need to move on and continue this throughout our day—in the other locations and times referred to in our Deuteronomy verse.


I love the next section! I love it because my husband is so good at it. I love it because we have found ways to really make it a reality in our home. I love it because it is so natural when you spend time together as a family. I just love it!


So to whet your appetite a little (and get you to invite your friends to join us!), I give you a partial list of things we will be discussing in this section of character training—ways that we have discovered to teach God’s Word, God’s Ways, and our family ways to our children when we “sit in our house.” Join us for more details!




-Story time


-Organization/upkeep


-Discussion


-Questions


-Listening together


-Parenthetical Parenting


-Expectation Explanation


-Teaching like Jesus


-Reading together


-Games


-Prioritizing it—making the time to “sit in your house”


-“Good report” time


-Songs/sayings to build relationships


-Family worship


-Treating Our Children Like Jesus Would


-AIM—Answer It More


–Notes


-Techno-Free Zone


-And much more! 









“When You Rise Up”: Faith in the Mornings— Read Aloud Collections Part II of III…List for “Biggies”

“You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” Deuteronomy 6:7



Today I will list (along with links and short annotations) some of the “collections” that we have used with our “biggies”—kids ages ten or so to twenty! (There will be some repeats and overlaps, but that just illustrates how wide of an age span some of the materials have!)

Some of these are spiritual in nature; some were used for Bible/character reading for morning devotions (“when you rise up”); some were used for story time and other fun reading times. I am going to put all of them here, regardless of how/when they were used, so all “collections” are together. Happy reading!

“Character Sketches”—the number one most age-spanning devotional that we have ever used; we started this with our four year olds and I still use it every week for our twelve and sixteen year olds; it is “individual entry” if you do all of the animal one on one day (about 15 mins reading) and all of the Bible one on another day (again 15 mins reading); my review of it is given at the provided link: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-136-character-sketches-review-faith.html

“In His Hands”—This nature devotional has been in our morning reading basket for nearly ten years! We never tire of it. Sometimes we take a few months off from it, then put it back into our rotation, but our kids enjoy it so much that they wouldn’t mind if it stayed in rotation permanently. This daily devotional (broken down into dates—May 5, May 6 etc.) has a little known fact in nature and applies it to a verse from the Bible or a spiritual truth. Fun facts and short snippets—win win. This book is out or print—but I highly recommend you snatch it up used. It is written by James and Priscilla Tucker.

“American Patriot’s Almanac”—This “devotional,” compiled by William Bennett and others, has become a family favorite since we got it four years ago. It is broken down by dates (June 10, June 11, etc.), and it has a short list of events that took place in America on that day in history—with one lengthy (three to five paragraphs) entry about one event that took place on that day that is especially noteworthy or inspiring. I ADORE this “collection” and wish every Christian family had it!
http://www.christianbook.com/american-patriots-almanac-daily-readings-america/william-bennett/9781595552679/pd/552679

“Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord”—this devotional has dozens of entries of one page each that give a name for God, the Scripture where that name is found, and inspiration about that name for God. This is just one of many of these books (names of God) that I have used for our devotional time through the years— http://www.barbourbooks.com/(S(u3injj45v4ehri45mc2acfza))/catalog/productinfo.aspx?id=3432&Tab=Books&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

“101 Hymn Histories”—we love learning about songs, hymns, and poetry. What inspired the author? What special stories are related to a certain song—people saved, comforted, or inspired? What was going on in the hymn writer’s life at the time he or she wrote it? Books such as this one (as well as many others we have used, including “Then Sings My Soul,” “The Words Behind the Song,”and many others) have provided much inspiration for the kids and me through the years. This one (and its sequel) are special favorites to me as they have the entire hymn’s with its musical score, which I can use to at least pick out the treble clef to hear the tune if it is one that I have forgotten: http://www.christianbook.com/101-hymn-stories-kenneth-osbeck/9780825434167/pd/34165

“Case for….” books by Lee Strobel—We must teach our kids to defend their faith! Not necessarily to defend it in debate with others (though that would be amazing some day!) but to defend it for themselves. They must know what they believe and why they believe it—otherwise they will likely fall for mistruths. These books teach that and more! We use them extensively in our kids’ high school years and quite a bit in junior high. (See the kids’ counterpart in the upcoming “littles” posts.)  www.leestrobel.com/store.php

“Answers” books—Again, our kids need to defend their faith. This company has books for toddlers through Bible scholars. We started out with dozens of their picture books then moved on to these more challenging, short-entry books that we have used in devotions, for assigned reading, and more.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/PublicStore/product/The-New-Answers-Books-all-three,6456,224.aspx

“Case for Christ Study Bible”— I just cannot say enough good about our family’s new “read aloud” Bible for this year. It has excerpts from Lee Strobel’s books as sidebars and insets within the biblical text–so we read the couple of paragraphs about the passage that is referenced, then go right to the Bible passage (New King James Version) and read it. It is amazing! Quick enough reads for 5-10 min devos–or on evenings that we have more time, we read a couple or few of the entries. I love not having to flip from a book to the Bible, etc. We love the “Case for” books–and love them even more having the Bible passage that it refers to right there in its entirety. Great for ten to twenty year olds—and their parents! 🙂
http://www.leestrobel.com/store.php

“Great Stories Remembered” and “Great Stories Remembered II” by Joe Wheeler—one of our favorite collections of short stories for all ages—our teens love this book! (We also love and use yearly his Christmas collections story book)– www.rainbowchristianstore.com/product.asp?sku=1561798355

“One Year Book of Poetry”— This daily “devotional” contains inspirational poetry from many, many years ago to current. It has classic authors that everybody should be familiar with, as well as some lesser known. Each poem is set up in a daily, two-page spread–with the poem (or stanzas of the poem) on the left and a one page description on the right. The descriptive text introduces you to the author and gives details of the time period, the struggles the author may have been experiencing as he or she wrote, how the poem was received, etc. Many of them explain some of the more complex aspects of imagery and vocabulary. Yes, it’s a Bible/inspirational/literature lesson all in one book! I highly recommend this as an addition to your “daily” read alouds! 🙂
For purchase in hardcover: http://www.parable.com/parable/item.One-Year-Books-The-One-Year-Book-of-Poetry-Comfort-Phil.9780842337120.htm

To see inside (you’ll love this!): http://www.amazon.com/One-Year-Book-Poetry-Books/dp/0842337121#_

http://www.amazon.com/One-Year-Book-Poetry/dp/0842337113

“The Power for True Success”—Forty-nine essential character qualities introduced, defined, and elaborated on—beautiful coffee table book–
http://tfths.com/character.php

“What the Bible Is All About”—I used to use this handbook to read aloud whenever we were starting to read a new book of the Bible aloud together. My kids have used it in various ways throughout the years. Excellent Bible handbook!
http://www.christianbook.com/what-bible-all-about-visual-edition/henrietta-mears/9780830743292/pd/43294X

Punctuation note: As the author of over forty language arts/writing books, I know that titles of major works (books, etc.) should be in italics when they are typed/keyed (and underlined when writing by hand) and that minor works (magazine articles, encyclopedia essays, etc.) are to be surrounded by quotation marks. In the blog, however, I generally put major works AND minor works in quotation marks because the blog seems to lose some of its formatting, including italics and underlines at times.

“When You Rise Up”: Faith in the Mornings— Read Aloud Collections Part I of III

“You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” Deuteronomy 6:7




We have been asked frequently about the “collections” that we enjoy reading from during morning devotions, as well as other times of the day.

There are many reasons that I enjoy reading “collections” to my children:

1. The entries are usually fairly short. We can read from any one of our “collection” books in under ten minutes, for the most part. While I like to have a lengthy “morning reading” time (we sometimes call it Bible/Character/Creation Science reading) of forty-five to seventy minutes since we only do it three days a week (we only do it on my non-work {teaching writing to homeschoolers to test our books} days), with my “collections,” I know that I can just pick up two or three and be done reading in twenty to thirty minutes on rushed mornings.

2. It allows us to read about a variety of topics all at the same time. We run the gamut in any particular reading session (Bible character in “Character Sketches”; animal in “Character Sketches”; weather in “In His Hands”; godly hero in “Hero Tales” or “Cloud of Witnesses”); American history in “Patriot’s Almanac”; character story in “Great Stories Remembered II”; and much more!).

3. Each entry is self-contained. When we do ongoing stories, biographies, history text, etc., if one of my kids is gone, I feel like I can’t read those that day because someone will be missing out and will be in the dark when we have our next reading. With collections, it doesn’t matter if somebody is missing that day or we take off for five days to travel (though collections are extremely portable—see point four!). There is no “catching up.” This aspect also makes “collections” great for family read alouds, evening devotions, bedtime stories, etc. for Dad. If Dad is gone, we aren’t “reading ahead” without him; he missed an entry or two, but not part of an ongoing story, etc.

4. “Collections” make for great travel reading. If we bring two small collections, we have a variety of interesting reading at our fingertips. Thus, devotionals, story time, etc. can often be continued in some form while we are on the road. When my kids were younger, I would often keep an “Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories” book in the vehicle, so we had a variety of stories handy should we get detained for some reason. (I’m smiling fondly as I write this, remembering a couple of times in which we huddled under an overhang at a professional baseball game reading “Uncle Arthur’s” while the game was on hold for rain and while in a long line at Disney World gathered around our “Bedtime Story.”)

The next two posts will contain lists and links of the various “collections” that we have used with our kids for all types of reading. While we are still on “when you rise up,” I will include “all times of day” collections in these lists and specify how we have used them.

Also, I will break them up into two posts—one for “littles” (though my “biggies” often like these too!) and one for ages ten to twenty! Lastly, if you do not receive PP on FaceBook (by “LIKING” us), you might want to do so. I will be putting links, one at a time on that wall over several weeks. Thanks for joining us! Tell a friend about Positive Parenting!