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Read Aloud Thursday–Easter, Take Two

I was all set to leave Easter behind after last week’s Read Aloud Thursday post, but I just couldn’t end the week without sharing one more Easter book.  This one is actually one I mentioned in last year’s Easter post, but last year the girls were just a little too young for it.  This year, though, it has been perfect for us!
Benjamin’s Box:  The Story of the Resurrection Eggs has replaced our usual Bible story this week, and the girls have loved it!  Benjamin’s Box is the fictional story of a little boy named Benjamin who lived in Palestine when Jesus was on earth.  His grandfather gave him a treasure box in which to keep valuable objects, and Benjamin becomes an observer of Jesus’ Passion and a collector of artifacts that help us remember the significant events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection.  It just so happens that most of the objects Benjamin places within his box are the same as the items inside Resurrection Eggs, so it works out nicely.  🙂  The story is episodic, so it’s perfect for shorter attention spans and/or pairing each episode with an activity.  I’ve been hiding the appropriate eggs in our living room or den, reading the excerpt from Benjamin’s Box, reading the corresponding Bible passage (which is noted in the story), and then letting the girls find and open the eggs.  After the first day, I’ve also hidden the eggs we’ve already opened so that we can review the events we’ve already read about and discussed.  This has been a perfect read-aloud for us this week.  They love taking the objects out of the eggs, and they can retell accurately what happened to Jesus in the last week of His earthly life.  Of course, we’ve read a few other Easter books, as well.  This one is the best one by far, though.  I want my children to really grasp the Easter story, and I think this almost makes it as tangible as it can be for them.  Yesterday’s focus on the physical suffering of Jesus put our week’s memory verse into perspective for all of us.  We’re memorizing John 15:13 as a part of our church’s Bible quiz ministry, which Lulu will officially be a part of next year. 

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

The reality of the crown of thorns, the scourging, etc., really seemed to strike the girls (Lulu especially).  Benjamin’s Box is not graphic in terms of illustrations or words, but it leaves plenty of room for parental explanation.  Plus, the pairing the book with the eggs makes it a lot of fun!

Benjamin’s Box  and the Resurrection Eggs have been a big hit at the House of Hope this week!

Has your family been enjoying anything special for Easter this week?  Or have you discovered a new picture book that you’ve all fallen in love with?  Please share it with us by linking your blog post below, or you may simply leave a comment.

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Next week’s Read Aloud Thursday will be at my new blog address!  Please update your links!  🙂

Have a beautiful Read Aloud Thursday and a blessed Easter!

Children’s Bible Hour::Seasons of Faith

As a member of TOS HomeschoolCrew, I have been blessed with the opportunity to review a great resource from Children’s Bible Hour Ministries.  The Seasons of Faith illustrated book series is a series of books based on Children’s Bible Hour radio scripts.  According to the CBH website, “[T]hese stories teach core truths of the Bible so that kids can easily apply them to their lives. Each book focuses on a season of faith-developing topics.”  The books are paperback and include a “read along CD” narrated by “Uncle” Charlie.  (Regular readers here know how much we love audiobooks here at the House of Hope, so these were very welcome!)  The stories illustrate Biblical principles and are kid-friendly.  So far, my girls and I have listened to Braving the Storm, which is the story of a young boy whose family has been dealt a series of difficult blows.  His grandfather helps him come to understand how such difficult times are the times to grow down deep roots in Christ.  I have also listened to Seventy Times Seven, which is the story of a boy who learns what it means to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.  Both stories are very practical and realistic in that they are about events that could really happen (and often do) in the lives of children.  Each story ends with the plan of salvation that is presented similarly to the way it is presented on the website.  These stories are very evangelistic or discipleship-oriented.  While I would not categorize these as fine literature, they do remind me of something I would’ve watched or listened to as a child in children’s church or youth camp.  I am more than happy to add them to our audiobook collection.  At $10 per title, these book-and-CD sets are comparable in price to any other that you would purchase. 

Be sure to visit the CBH website for a host of resources, including a video of the making of the Seasons of Faith series!

Visit the TOS Homeswchool Crew blog to read more reviews of this product.

This product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes.

The Human Body Resources

Self-portraits, with body systems illustrated

 My girls and I embarked upon a study of the human body several weeks (months?) ago now, and it has by far been their favorite thing we’ve done this year.  I was feeling a little guilty about not having done a whole lot of science with them this year (and their daddy a science teacher, no less!  😉  ), so one day I did a little searching over at The Well Trained Mind forums, and I hit upon the idea of a human body study.  Some of these books were recommended there; others of them were serendipitous library finds.  In addition to using these general books, we also read nonfiction series titles from the different libraries in our area.  These, however, are definitely the winners.  

This Janice VanCleave book has sold me on her approach and her various series of books!  Janice VanCleave’s Play and Find Out about the Human Body:  Easy Experiments for Young Children has been my guidebook throughout this unit.  So far we have done several of the experiments contained in the book, and we’ve managed to have a fairly thorough discussion of skin, the heart, and the skeletal system.  The experiments require fairly basic equipment, and they’re not very complicated to put together.  After all, they are for preschoolers!  🙂  I purchased this one used through Amazon, so I’m not sure if it’s still in print.  If you ever see a copy, snatch it up!  I give it a Highly Recommended! (The pictures below are all of our experiments based on this book.  Steady Eddie even got in on the action!) 


 First Human Body Encyclopedia from the DK First Reference Series is our “spine”; that is, it is the book we use for all of our basic information.  To be honest, before I used this book with my girls, I never understood what was so great about the DK books.  The huge pictures and the blurbs of information always seemed so disjointed to me.  Now, though, I see the value of a book written in this format.  The little snippets of information and the large, excellent photographs (and some drawings) are perfect for young children.  I would not hesitate to purchase any of the DK First Reference titles, and I would consider any of them money well spent.  I can see my girls using this book for many years.  


Me and My Amazing Body by Joan Sweeney is another book that I consider indispensible as an introduction to the human body.  This nonfiction book is written more as a story, so it draws the little ones in very quickly.  It covers the major body systems, and while it provides very few details, it provides the information in a very preschooler-friendly way.  I am guessing that any of Joan Sweeney’s “Me” books would be a winner, and I’ll definitely be using them for our future studies! 

It's a chicken leg bone! 🙂

Inside Your Outside!:  All About the Human Body by Tish Rabe bears mentioning mainly because it’s written all in rhyme.  It’s from the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library.  I find these books a little hard to follow (and so I assume that my children probably don’t comprehend them totally, either 😉 ), but the rhymes are fun and so are the illustrations.  It provides a good little educational diversion.  🙂
This last book is one I just spied on the shelf at the library.  It’s entitled Body:  An Interactive and Three-Dimensional Exploration, and that pretty much sums it up.  It’s really more of an upper-elementary or high school book, but I thought my girls would love the pop-ups it contains.  I was right!  These pop-ups are amazing–they’re all truly three-dimensional with moving parts and fold-outs, etc.  On the last page there’s a human body that opens up in layers.  Susan Ring is the author of Body, and Michele Graham did the amazing illustrations.  

Mainly what we’ve done with this unit is a whole lot of reading and looking and a little bit of playing.  I think this is just right for kindergarten.  

I do have to share one funny, though.   I had this exchange with Louise, who takes everything in just as intensely as Lulu: 

Louise:  Is Daddy taller than himself? 

Me:  No, he can’t be taller than himself.  He can be taller than someone else, but not himself. 

Louise:  What about when his root gets squished down? 

It finally dawned on me that she was talking about his spinal column (“root”) and how it compresses during the day.  One of the experiments we started but never finished due to the plague that hit our house was one in which I measured the girls first thing in the morning and then again that night.  Since the night-time measurement never happened, I simply explained to them that the discs between the vertebrae in our backs are compressed (“squished down”) as we stand and walk throughout the day, so we’re shorter at night than in the morning. 

We still have a couple more body systems to go, and I find that I enjoy it more if we take a little break with some FIAR titles, etc., between body systems.  However, the girls are quick to request the human body books and science experiments again, so I’m not off the hook for long.

ETA:  Oh, I forgot to mention one more thing we did during our (ongoing) human body study.  We’re always working on scripture memorization.  We primarily do this during our morning “couch time”.  For this particular study, we worked on memorizing Psalm 139: 13-18.

13 For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

 17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
       How vast is the sum of them!

 18 Were I to count them,
       they would outnumber the grains of sand.
       When I awake,
       I am still with you.

The girls did very well with this, and it was particularly appropriate since I’m currently a living example of the “secret place” where babies grow and develop.  😉  We’ve memorized several longer passages of scripture, but my problem is systematically reviewing them.  I have had a pretty family Bible memory notebook in the works for months now, but I never make the time to finish it.  Does your family have a particular method for keeping memory passages fresh in your minds?

Sick Days:: Retrospective

Thanks to everyone who responded to my Sick Day post.  I didn’t get around to responding to the comments, but I took them to heart, which is better.  You know, I’m finding out more and more about myself as we travel down this parenting and home educating path, and some of the stuff I’m finding is not so good.  I’m learning mostly, though, that perhaps this home education thing is as much about me as it is my children.  I believe that God uses everything in our lives, if we are His, to mold us into the image of Christ.  Unfortunately, sometimes I’m pretty unpliable.  But He keeps kneading. 

By Wednesday of last week, I thought Lulu was surely better.  Tuesday had turned out to be even “less productive” academically than Monday, but by Tuesday evening she seemed like her usual self–no fever, playing, etc.  On Wednesday I’d had enough of staying cooped up indoors, so I declared that day a “let’s each lunch with daddy” day and plunked both girls in the bathtub first thing.  I even insisted on washing their hair, despite Lulu’s complaints.  (Nothing unsual here, I thought–she never wants her hair washed!)  We proceeed to eat breakfast, and she ate a hearty one:  half of a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and a small glass of orange juice.  We did our morning tidy-up chores (minus the bed-making; I had stripped their beds for washing since sickness had fled our household!) and the girls settled onto the couch for our morning reading time.  They were finally both settled with their own blankets (there was a slight skirmish over this).

Parents of small children know where this is going.

We were in the middle of our Bible story:  a recounting of God giving the law to Moses, sort of an overview of the whys of all the little rules and regulations found in Exodus after the Ten Commandments, when the next thing I knew, Lulu had vomited all over me, her blanket, and our Bible story book.

The next few moments weren’t pretty, folks.  She and I both panic when this happens:  she wants to run everywhere but the bathroom, and I do everything within my power to get her into the bathroom.  She’s upset, I’m upset, it’s not good.  The next couple of hours are a blur:  put her into the bathtub; remake her bed; repeatedly ask Louise not to ask so many questions (yes, I did); take another shower myself and put on whatever I can find to wear since every one of my three outfits that I can currently fit into is dirty; mop the floors; call Steady Eddie numerous times to apprise him of the situation (yes, I did); contemplate how to remove the yucky stuff from the sofa cushions; etc.  Mostly, I felt guilty over how I handled the whole sick situation and how I had pushed her, due to my own selfishness. 

This isn’t about her education, is it?  It’s about mine. 

This is what I’ve learned:  when they’re little and they’re sick, let it go.  Reading to them, being patient with them, and loving them is enough.  As hard as it is, forget the agenda.  Forget the lesson plans.  Forget the human body unit that you’re falling even further behind on.  Forget where you want to be by the end of April.  Just let it go, and let them know that you love them and are taking care of them.

By Thursday, she was over all of the obvious symptoms of her sickness, and we actually completed everything I intended for us to complete, with an extra phonics lesson thrown in for good measure. 

At the risk of sounding more melodramatic than I already have, I just want to say that I’m thankful that God doesn’t give up on me, even when it seems that I am exceedingly slow at learning these parenting lessons.  He keeps kneading.

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Week in Words


Nothing from A Tale of Two Cities this week, ‘though I could.  (Yes, I’m still reading it.  Yes, I’m still enjoying it.  I’m just slow.  I’m savoring it.  😉 )

Instead, I thought I’d pull out some verses from Proverbs this week.  I found them convicting when I read them last week.  I need the reminder.

When words are many, sin is not absent.

but he who holds his tongue is wise.

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,

but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

The lips of the righteous nourish many,

but fools die for lack of judgment.

–Proverbs 10:19-21 NIV

Did something you read over the past week resonate with you (or convict you)?  Share it over at Breath of Life!

Better Late Than Never

Well, the tree has been packed away for another year, and thanks mostly to Steady Eddie, the house is beginning to look more like a place where people live rather than a giant dumping ground for toys, wrapping paper, and leftover Christmas treats.  However, before Christmas 2009 becomes little more than a faint memory and a few extra pounds on the scales, I wanted to share a few of the handmade items I made this year.  Actually, I’m still in the process of making a few of them, since a few of my far-flung friends and I manage to get together for Christmas whenever, which is actually nice for a person who is often struck by inspiration at the eleventh hour.   

First, the cards.  I actually did make and send these in a timely manner.  😉  However, if you happen to read my blog and normally receieve a Christmas card from me and you did not get one of these, I’m sorry.  My materials (and steam) ran out before I reached the end of my Christmas card list.  All materials are from Stampin’ Up, and the design is not original to me. 

I went to a crop at a friend’s scrapbook store early in December.  (For the uninitiated, a crop is simply a party of sorts in which friends get together and scrapbook.)  This was the first crop I had been to since September, I think, and boy, did I enjoy  myself.  For better or for worse, I also saw something there that caused me to throw all plans to visit Bath and Body Works at the height of the Christmas lotion frenzy out the window and opt for handmade gifts for a few friends and relations.  Now, Steady Eddie would likely argue that this was not less stressful than a run to the mall, but I did enjoy myself in the making of this file folder Christmas organizer.  Never mind the fact that as I told my cousin, the recepient of the gift below, that what she received just might be a one-of-a-kind limited edition.  😉  All ideas and inspiration for this little project come from the site Organized Christmas and this blog, in particular.  Materials are miscellaneous ones I’ve collected over the years. 

I’m actually working on one now for a young friend of mine which won’t be a Christmas planner.  I’m thinking I’ll make it a prayer/memory verse/praise/journaling folder.  A good idea, huh? 

I realize this post is rather anticlimactic, but I’m documenting these projects here for my own good as much as for anyone else’s.  I’m sorry about the size of the photos.  We uninstalled Adobe Photoshop Elements a few months ago, and since then I’ve been attempting to use Picnik.  I like it, but I just haven’t taken the time to figure it out.

This week I’m back in the saddle again, so be watching for some bookish posts!  🙂

Read Aloud Thursday & a Giveaway!

Have you guys given up on me yet?  Life is continuing here just as it usually does, only with the addition of one thing (nausea) and the lack of one thing (motivation).  Seriously, all I get done most days is schooling the girls, fixing their meals, and maybe a teensy bit of housework.  That’s it. 

But I have better things to discuss than my excuses for being a bad blogger.  🙂  Books!  🙂  And a give away!  (We’ll get to that in a bit.)

We’ve been continuing on with our annual tradition of unwrapping a Christmas book (almost) each day, and the girls continue to be excited about it.  That makes it worthwhile and oh-so-much-fun for me!  Some of our books are series titles or I-picked-this-up-at-Wal-Mart-because-it- looked-cute–that sort of thing.  However, some of them are worth mentioning, so I will.  🙂

Santa Mouse by Michael Brown is a simple rhyming tale with lots of appeal.  It’s the story of a lonely little mouse who has an original thought:  that no one gives a gift to Santa Claus!  (Actually, maybe it’s not so original, since Arthur had the same idea in Arthur’s Christmas , our book of the day.)  The little mouse decides to remedy this situation, and appropriately, Santa Claus shows his appreciation by taking on the little mouse as his mascot and dubbing him “Santa Mouse.”  First published in 1966, this book has very old-timey looking illustrations by Elfrieda A. De Witt.  If you’re in the market for a fun but touching story that focuses on giving, this one does just that. 

This next book is not one that ever actually made it to be wrapped up for opening this Christmas.  I first read about it on Janet’s blog and Heidi’s blog and scurried away to order it, a few days late to include it in the holiday tradition.  (I got it here because it was out of stock other places.) Like Janet, I went on Geraldine McCaughrean’s record (my thoughts on a couple of her YA novels here and here) and assumed that The Jesse Tree would be one I wouldn’t regret.  Although I can’t yet speak for the whole book, so far it hasn’t disappointed me.  We’re actually using it as a daily read-aloud, and along with these coloring sheets, we’re making ornaments for our own Jesse tree this year.  I’m trying NOT to stress about it, especially when we miss a day (i.e. weekends, etc.).  Last year we made an attempt at a Jesse tree but didn’t get very far.  I think reading The Jesse Tree might just be what keeps us more on target this year.  I’ll try to update next week on how things are going with our little tree.  🙂

And now, the giveaway!  Can you believe it has been one year since Read Aloud Thursday first appeared here at Hope Is the Word?  I can’t!  I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing our read-alouds, and I’ve enjoyed even more getting know a few of you who also share here.  I couldn’t let this anniversary pass by without something to commemorate it, and what better than a book to do this?  I came across a copy of one of our favorite anthologies back a few months ago, and I snatched it right up!  It is a used book and so is a little rough around the edges, but that just means it has been loved, right?  🙂 9780060080945

So, what do you have to do for a chance to win this awesome book? 

  1. Leave a comment and tell us the title of your favorite Christmas book.
  2. For a second entry, simply compile and post your own Read Aloud Thursday post and link it here.  Be sure to leave another comment if you do this! 

This giveaway will be open until 8 p.m. CST on Wednesday, December 16.  I will post the winner next Read Aloud Thursday.

So what are you waiting for?  Link up your post by clicking on the MckLinky link below.  🙂

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Have a terrific Read Aloud Thursday!

Amazing Bible World History Timeline

I received the Amazing Bible Timeline with World History for review as a part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, and let me tell you, it is something to see!  This poster is huge–it measures 37″ by 45″.  (See the picture below to get a feel for just how big this is. And no, I do not know the people in the picture.) 


This chart is literally covered with information, and the fact that this timeline is presented in a circular, rather than linear,  fashion makes it possible to go back to the beginning of Biblically recorded time and include the major eras and events of world history.  My favorite feature of this chart is that it makes it possible to grasp the overlapping of historical events.  For example, did you know that Confucius and Daniel lived at the same time?  They did!



This chart is rather daunting to look at at first glance, but it doesn’t take too long to at least figure out how to read it.  It lists twenty-two sources on its bibliography, so it is an amalgamation of a good amount of research.  Although my children are much too young to use it now, Steady Eddie and I are pretty impressed by it, so we will definitely be hanging onto this resource for future use in Bible study and history lessons.

This Amazing Bible World History Timeline is available for $29.97 + $6.00 shipping and handling.  If you purchase this chart, you will also receive a couple of free computer-based resources.

TOS HS CREW long banner



To read others’ opinions of this Bible timeline, please click over to TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

This resource was sent to me free of charge for review purposes.

Japan Go-Alongs and Some Ponderings

As a follow-up to this post, I wanted to mention a few other books we read as go-alongs to A Pair of Red Clogs and Grandfather’s Journey.  Both of these books are set in Japan, and I am attempting to introduce the Five in a Row (volume one) books to my girls geographically.  Using Stephanie’s list and my own library’s catalog, I found a few winners to read along with the primary titles. 

The Long Silk Strand:  A Grandmother’s Legacy to Her Granddaughter by Laura E. Williams has both the look and feel of a folktale.  The cut-paper illustrations by Grayce Bochak are gorgeous and really enhance the tone of the story. This is the very sweet story of a girl named Yasuyo who lives with her family, including her grandmother.  Grandmother begins creating a ball of silk thread by tying pieces of thread together, and with each piece of thread she ties, she tells Yasuyo a story from her life.  After many nights of work, Grandmother is seemingly too tired and weak to finish the ball of yarn.  As Yasuyo helps her, Grandmother tells Yasuyo that this last piece of yarn “is for tonight, when I tell you I love you.”  When Yasuyo wakes up the next morning, she learns that Grandmother has died in the night.  In her grief Yasuyo, goes out into the garden where she finds a long silk strand hanging down from . . . nothing.  She climbs this silk thread above the clouds until she finds her grandmother.  She longs to stay with Grandmother, but as she and Grandmother look down from “heaven” (?), she realizes that her family would miss her were she to stay.  She returns home, but now she has the beginning of her own silk strand to one day share with her own grandchildren.

I’ve learned that at least at my library, folktales abound when it comes to books about Japan for children.  We read Dawn by Molly Bang, which is an adaptation of “The Crane’s Wife,”  and even though I myself found it a little bizarre, Lulu in particular seemed to really like it.  Dawn is the story of a shipbuilder who rescues and nurses back to health an injured Canadian goose.  After some time, a young woman appears at his home looking for work as a sailmaker.  He hires her, and her sails are so fine and tough, they cause his boats to “almost fly.”  The man and the woman marry and she gives birth to a daughter, whom they name Dawn.  The man builds a special boat for his family, and the woman outfits the boat with sails which really are her masterpiece, so light, fine, and strong they are.  The fame of this boat is noised abroad, and a man comes to their home and insists that he must have a boat with sails like that.  The woman says she can only make such sails once, but her husband cannot let the idea go.  Despite the fact that she says making such sails again could possibly kill her, she gives in with the stipulation that her husband cannot come into the room while she’s working.  He agrees, and she begins her task. As the deadline for the sails looms closer, the husband begins to grow anxious over whether or not his wife will finish in time.  Finally, the man comes for his boat, and the woman is still working at her loom.  Her husband finally throws open the door to her room to hurry her along, and what he sees there is something he tells his daughter he will see until he dies.  Of course, his wife is transformed into that Canadian goose he rescued, and she is giving her own feathers for the making of her perfect sails.  The story ends with the goose being rescued by a flock of her own, and finally, with Dawn sailing off to look for her mother.  Dawn is a rather longish picture book with and mixture of color and black and white illustrations and with the text done in calligraphy. 

I am giving uncharacterstically long summaries of these books in order to provide the background for what transpired within my own brain as I was reading to my girls.  I had actually checked out a number of other books set in Japan, or based on Japanese folktales, or something about Japan, but with the exception of The Boy of the Three-Year Nap and the others I mentioned in this post, we didn’t read them.  Why?  I just began to feel a little uncomfortable sharing these books with my little girls, ages 5 and 3.  No, there was nothing in them that was inappropriate for their maturity levels, really.  However, at the stage they’re in developmentally in terms of spiritual matters, I began to wonder if I was doing more harm than good by introducing them already to alternative religious views.  Unlike much of the modern world (it seems–I know that’s not true, but bear with me), I do pray that my faith in Jesus Christ as my Saviour will be passed along to my children.  I am perfectly okay with them learning about other religions, and indeed I intend to teach them about other religions, but I’m not sure that this is the right time.  I also realize that folktales, fairytales, and the like are very important and I want them to be a part of our educational background, but I’m a little unsure now when to draw the line and when to decree “full speed ahead!”

Something happened one night as Louise was perched on the end of the buggy (that’s shopping cart for those of you who aren’t Southerners 😉  ) at Wal-Mart that really shed more light on this conflict in my own heart.  Out of the blue, she asked me, “Who are those other gods?” or something to that effect.  She was referencing what I had explained to her when we read The Boy of the Three-Year Nap and I had to do some fancy footwork to explain what I ujigama is.  This made me realize, if I didn’t before, how much they take to heart ‘most everything I tell them.

I know this isn’t a popular stance, and I am perfectly okay with that.  However, you Christian parents out there, share with me–how old were your children (or how old will they be) when you begin to explain the varieties of religion to them?  Let the discussion begin!

Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel

I admit it:  I am a parenting book junkie.  Parenting our two little girls is, to borrow a (now) tired old advertising slogan, “the toughest job we’ve ever loved.”   I feel like I’ve read them all, and really, I’ve gleaned something useful out of every one I’ve read. Dare to Discipline?  Check.  I’ve got the idea of consistency down.  Shepherding a Child’s Heart?  Oh, yeah.  This one helped further impress upon me the importance of obedience.   How to Make Children Mind Without Losing Yours?  Steady Eddie and I actually watched the video presentation of this one.  I’ve even read lesser known volumes like Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids! (read my thoughts here) and A Mother’s Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother (read my thoughts here), both of which deal more closely with the heart issues of the parent than the behavior of the child. 

To sum it up, we could almost write the book ourselves.  I realize that is a dangerous thing to say when our children are only five and three, but I actually don’t mean to imply that we are perfect in our execution of this parenting job.  In fact, most days I feel like a dismal failure at it, to tell the truth.  What I mean is we have all the requisite knowledge.  Every parent reading this knows that is the easy part.  It’s the ability to think on one’s feet and make quick-but-important decisions that absolutely wears me out.  I’m not a quick thinker. 

However, what I don’t need is more knowledge, and that’s really precisely what Grace Based Parenting doesn’t provide.  The basic premise behind this book is that children need three things:  love, purpose, and hope.  Kimmel profiles no fewer than seven types of parenting he says are rampant in the Christian community, including fear-based parenting, evangelical behavior-modification parenting, and high-control parenting.  (I mention these three because these are the ones I tend to err towards, I think.   Besides, these are the ones I see the most, too.)   He spends this whole 230 page book illuminating a parenting style that attempts to keep an even keel between legalism and permissivism, and he reminds the reader over and over that parenting this way is simply parenting our children the way God parents us.

I read this book with pen in hand, underlining and asterisk-ing as I went.  Of course, I want my parenting of my children to emulate the grace God gives me daily.  I want this more than anything else in the world.  This book captures the spirit of this type of parenting.  I will share a few excerpts that drives home this point:

Grace’s attitude is “Go for it!”  or “I love it!”  Having said this, I know there are times when children need to be told that they can’t have the buffet or they need to keep their shoes on, but it shouldn’t be an arbitrary thing.  It should be times when it’s the only workable option or makes godly sense.  Otherwise, it makes no sense–especially if you are trying to treat your child the way God treats us.  Kids inside homes where nonmoral issues are elevated to a level of big problems don’t get to experience the kind of acceptance that makes a heart feel securely loved.  Instead they live with a barrage of nitpicking criticism, receiving put-d0wns because they are curious, anxious, helpless, carefree, or absent-minded.  (61)

(I started with that one because it hit me right between the eyes.  Ouch.)

I’m urging you to raise your children the way God raises His.  The primary word that defines how God deals with His children is grace.  Grace does not exclude obedience, respect, boundaries, or discipline, but it does determine the climate in which these important parts of parenting are carried out.  You may be weird and quirky, but God loves you through His grace with all of your weirdness and quirkiness.  You may feel extremely inadequate and fragile in key areas of your life, but God comes alongside you in those very areas of weakness and carries you through with His grace.  You may be frustrated, hurt, and even angry with God, but HIs grace allows you to candidly, confidently, and boldly approach his “throne of grace.”  His grace is there for you when you fail, when you fall, and when you make huge mistakes.  (21)

One thing that I found curious about this book (probably because of my own sensitivity towards the subject, new homeschooling mom that I am) is that Kimmel almost seems to lean more toward the “don’t shelter your kids” camp, and he makes it a point to say that fairly often.  I actually don’t have a problem with that; sheltering, as such, is not the reason we homeschool at all.  However, it gave me a curious feeling to think that perhaps someone whom I consider to have this parenting gig figured out might think that homeschooling is a bad idea.  (He never says this at all, mind you.  In fact, he points out that education is another area in which God gives us grace.  It’s just my super-sensitive, highly introspective mind at work again here.) I do get what he’s saying about it, though.  In fact, I feel it all too keenly.  Why should we completely shelter our children from “worldly influences” when the sin problem is internal, not external?  Maybe the question is not “why should we,” but “how can we?”  Kimmel says it more succinctly that I ever could:

Grace-based families realize that their children will struggle with sin.  They consider it an honor to be used by God to show their children how to find true forgiveness in Christ.  They are not intimidated by the dialogue that brings the discussion of sin into the light.  In fact, they are grateful to be able to come alongside their children with an unconditional love during some of their toughest hours.  (220)

I would rank this book just below Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls (my thoughts here) as one of the best, most perspective changing books on parenting I’ve read.  To borrow a phrase from LeVar Burton (HT Carrie 😉 ), “But don’t take my word for it,” check out Jennefer’s thoughts on this heart-changing book, as well.