“Bible Trivia, Jokes, and Fun Facts for Kids” Book-Review

I might have called this “The Bible Joke and Quiz Book”. In places it’s not clear whether the author’s in joke or fact mode, and I’m not sure what age-group it’s aimed at. For instance, the most memorable joke – Why did Moses have a hard time as a baby? He was in de-nial – wouldn’t be easily understood by a 5-year-old. There are certain words the author explains, such as ‘Lame’, but then he’ll use ‘Prophet’ or ‘Apostle’ with no explanation. The reference to NFL teams is also a mystery to anyone living outside of the US.

On the positive side, it’s a very good concept to have questions parents can ask their children. I’m reviewing the eBook, and I don’t think it works in this format. It would work well as a hard copy so that someone could cover up the answers.

Considering the book as a whole, there were parts I liked, particularly the section on Jesus’ disciples, but there were also some discrepancies, E.G. Troy Schmidt says King Nebuchadnezzar saw an angel in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; however, many Christians believe this 4th figure was not an angel, but Jesus. Schmidt also claims Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Bible with 150 verses; it actually has 176.

Bethany House were kind enough to give me a complementary copy in exchange for my honest review. While I wouldn’t recommend this book in its entirety, it may hold some useful ideas for parents; they might just want to have a Bible handy to check the facts.

“Jesus Talked to me Today” Book-Review

“Jesus Talked to me Today” is a collection of over 40 short accounts of God moving powerfully in children’s lives. I was very glad to review this for Bethany House; there are some lovely stories in here. My favourites are the ones about the giant angels and the pink vanity set, but if I read it again, I would probably change my mind!

You’ll like this if you’re the sort of person who’s uplifted by other people’s stories of what God’s done for them. As you read, you could feel one of two things: Thankful and encouraged to ask God for similar displays of His power in your own life, or sad and discouraged about your situation. This book leaves the impression that even at your most broken, God is willing to come in at the eleventh hour and turn things around.

A Letter from Jesus

It’s awhile since we’ve had a Compassion-related post, so if you’re new to this blog, you might wonder why ‘Compassion’ features in the title. Compassion as an organisation seeks to bring children out of poverty through child-sponsorship. Maybe you’re sceptical about child-sponsorship and thinking: How would they make sure my money got to the right place? To answer that, Compassion is Christ-centred, child-focused, church-based, and committed to financial integrity, so Compassion’s centres are run by local churches – those on the ground, who are best-placed to know the specific needs of their communities. My own Compassion-family are all around the world and I love them dearly.

One area I’ve never sponsored in though is South America. I’m delighted to be a Compassion-blogger and this week, some of my fellow-bloggers have gone to Ecuador. They’re there primarily to put their experiences into words – to share with anyone who’ll listen what it’s like in one of the 26 countries where Compassion works. Perhaps their posts are aimed at newbies, but as a seasoned sponsor myself, I find them just as encouraging. Ashley met a man whose sponsor had asked what his dream was (I think I’m going to ask my eldest that), and Ruth’s post on the theme of letters reminded me of something Paul said in the Bible.

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone,” says Paul. “You show that you are a letter from Christ sent through us.” Every time we show love to someone, we’re a letter from Jesus straight to them. My fellow-bloggers get to show that love in person this week in Ecuador; I get to do it through child-sponsorship.

And the exciting part?

You can too. Bri wrote that she waited too long to sponsor her first child. I know it takes some thought because it’s a long-term commitment, but please, don’t wait too long. Maybe now’s the perfect time to choose a child and start writing those letters of love, from your heart to theirs.

“Atlas Girl” Sequel: “Making it Home” Book-Review

Emily offered her Facebook-friends a free copy of “Making it Home” in exchange for an online review. Having reviewed “Atlas Girl” for Revell last year, I was interested to read the next instalment.

Sadly, I didn’t enjoy the sequel nearly as much. The parts I most enjoyed were those that were others-focused. Since the days of watching “Home and Away” as a child, I’ve been interested in foster care, so I loved reading about Emily and Trent’s fostering experience, and I liked the ‘Daughter’ theme that ran through the book, but the spotlight was frequently on insecurities I felt she already covered in the prequel. It’s a great shame more wasn’t made of how The Lulu Tree came into being. As a founder, Emily could probably tell the story better than most, and it seems deserving of more than just the end of this book.

I’d recommend Emily’s memoirs if you’re a reflective sort of person, and she puts in enough backstory that you can read “Making it Home” as a standalone book, without having read “Atlas Girl”.

31 Jesus-Benefits: A Perfect Father

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Day 18 and I appreciate having:

A perfect Father, who delights in my wellbeing. As Melanie wrote in her post earlier this week, He’s for us. He’s got our best interests at-heart, and He knows better than we do what those are. It’s awesome to think that if something’s within His good plan for my life, nothing will hold Him back from accomplishing it.

“What are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them? Yet You made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:4-5).

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And here it is again – that link to the Dayspring.com $500 giveaway, if you want to enter as a thank-you for supporting Write31Days.

Absolutely Stunning: “Forgiven” Book-Review

(Interrupting my Write31Days just briefly to tell you about this book. When I signed up to review it for Bethany House, I really hoped I’d be selected, and they obliged by giving me a free copy.)

Terri’s autobiographical account of how a tragic school shooting rocked her family is a compelling one. She has you right from the prologue, and more than once, she’ll use a chapter’s final sentence to give a teaser about the next one. Great writing.

“Forgiven” is an apt title. This is the best book on forgiveness I’ve ever read, and if you want to learn more about Terri’s family, you can find her daughter-in-law’s story in “One Light Still Shines”. While it’s impossible to imagine how I would respond in Terri’s situation, I feel honoured that she would take readers on her own journey. Terri says, “Survival is not the only word starting with S.” She writes about surrender, but I can think of a third one: Terri shone through the pages of her story. It was an inspiration to read.

Pulling out all the Stops

I don’t know how to add photos to this blog, but if I could, I’d put one of me on my 18th birthday with Joan and Carol – 2 special people who helped me when I was at school. I attended schools for the blind for the majority of my education, but the last 2 years I spent at my local school. Joan and Carol were the ones who supported me and made sure I could access textbooks, diagrams etc. The diagrams I used in science lessons were basically black lines drawn on special paper, then put into a machine called a Ricoh Fuser, which raised the lines and made them tactile. Because Joan and Carol are both fully-sighted, I’d sometimes find the odd Braille page in a book upside-down and we’d have a laugh about it, but really they were brilliant. I’m always thankful I had the opportunity to go to my local school; I only wish I’d done it sooner.

It must be very different for children in Compassion’s centres. There was someone to make sure I had what I needed for my studies, but a Compassion-child may not even have a textbook of their own. I know how much effort went into producing my books, and I wonder if you might do something to help someone on the other side of the world have that same privilege. Will you donate to Compassion’s textbook fund?

If you’re not in a position to give financially, how about giving your time and your prayers? Compassion works in 26 countries. Why not go to their website, pick one, and pray for children in that country as they return to school? You’ll make a real difference.

Thoughts on Fathers’ Day

When I was very small and couldn’t sleep, it was my daddy I wanted, because those were the times he’d pick me up and walk me round the bedroom, singing this song, complete with whispers of my name when it said: “The wind will whisper your name to me”. Though it’s sweet to sing to a little girl about clinging to the warmth of her tiny hand, what means most is the fact that he sang to me, and how it reminds me of my heavenly Father. Zephaniah 3:17 says: “He will rejoice over you with singing”. I think of both God and my dad when I hear that verse.

Another special moment came much later, when I was an adult (probably about 19 or 20). I still lived with my parents, so we’d spend time together as a family, but it was rarely just my dad and me. One night though, we went to our favourite spring on the hills to get water, and Dad surprised me afterwards by asking if I wanted to go up the highest of the hills. This wasn’t a challenge for me; I’d climbed it lots of times, but I always enjoyed it. He drove to the side where a footpath would take us to the top, parked the car and off we went. We were still climbing at about 9:30 pm. It was getting dark, and I remember him saying if one of us fell and broke our ankle, the helicopter would have to come and rescue us! Spending time with people individually is one of my favourite things, and I feel better in my spirit when I spend time with God individually too.

I don’t know what this Fathers’ Day will be like for you. Thankfully, my dad’s still here and can read these words I’ve written about him, but I know not everyone’s in that position. Maybe your dad meant a lot to you and he’s not around anymore; why not thank God for a special memory you have of him? Maybe you never knew your dad and struggle to give him any sort of honour; could you thank God that your dad helped bring you into the world, and for the people who have shown you love in your lifetime? Maybe you are a dad, who’d like to have more contact with your children; take comfort from this verse: “And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). As your heart is turned towards your children, you can pray that God will also turn their hearts towards you.

I pray you have a hope-filled Fathers’ Day.

On Books, Children and Earthquakes

I love reading.  It’s taught me more about life than I would ever have learnt otherwise.  I heard just yesterday about the second major earthquake in Nepal in a matter of weeks, and it was the book “Little Princes” that helped me understand a bit about the region where these people are.  I heard reports of several feet of snow avalanching down from Everest, and I pictured staff from the orphanage trekking over rugged mountains, searching for families of trafficked children with a mind to eventually reunite them.  It was good to get the update that all children and staff were safe.

 

The earthquake 5 years ago with its epicentre in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, doesn’t make me think so much about the landscape.  Instead, it’s people who come to mind:  A family man trapped under the collapsed Hotel Montana, so far from his wife and sons; a pastor standing in the rubble that was his church, wearing a hat proclaiming “Jesus is my boss”; children still sleeping in tents years later, some without even a bed.  Hearing this week that there was a new Compassion-centre actually in Port-au-Prince, it was these tent-dwellers I thought of, happy to know there would be help for those families most-affected.

 

If you’d like to sponsor a child in this new centre, how about Abigaelle?  She was born on new year’s eve, 2011.  Mercifully, she wasn’t alive when the earthquake hit, but her parents would have been.  Nevertheless they chose to bring this little girl into the world, showing us all that Haiti still has a future, and she’s part of it.

 

If you’re too late to sponsor Abigaelle, you can search Compassion’s website for HA889 to find more children in Port-Au-Prince.

Stories from the DR

I’ve really enjoyed the latest Compassion Bloggers assignment to promote their trip to the Dominican Republic. I’ve read along as trip updates daily came into my inbox, and alternating between Facebook and Twitter, I’ve shared a few of these:

Ruth’s story about the boy going blind who needed glasses costing 5,000 pesos (which may as well have been a million). Bri’s post about Marlo becoming the man of the house. Holley’s thoughts on ways to express love. Bonnie’s tear-jerker (or, should I say, reminder to keep writing those letters). Lisa’s son has special needs, and because of him, she found herself letting her guard down when she saw Jazmin. It’s been heart-breaking to read that several children in the town of Bonao were born with special needs due to a nearby nickel plant, which the corrupt government allows to remain, despite its effect on the locals.

If you’ve been touched by any of these stories (as I have), and if you’re not already, will you consider becoming a sponsor? If you wanted, you could choose specifically to sponsor a child from the Dominican Republic. I don’t sponsor in the DR, but mine are very important to me and I know writing to them makes a real difference. Will you do the same and share your life with a Compassion-child?