young women

The Long Awaited Guilt-Free Book About Connecting with the Sacred as a Mom

 

Hello Moms! Perhaps you're like me, parenting teens and holding on to a faint memory of having the luxury of time and mental capacity to linger over the Word and in prayer. Many of us go back to work or increase hours as our kids get older, only adding to the depletion of those two valuable assets: time and mental capacity! Can you relate? This is why I love my friend, Catherine McNiel's book, Long Days of Small Things, which launches today! Removing all guilt and readjusting our expectations, she writes of how to turn the everyday, mundane and monotonous moments into something sacred. And it is beautiful!

If you're a young mom friend, beware: This is the book I'll be giving out at showers and sending as congrats this year!

Enjoy getting to know Catherine and her heart for the book in this interview. And pay attention to the last question if you're wondering if you should have pulled "it" together by now with older kids!

Catherine, introduce yourself to us.

Thank you! I’m a mom with three kids (and a few part time jobs). I love to read and garden. I love to study theology and ancient cultures. I’m always trying to learn something new.  I enjoy getting to know my neighbors and learning how different people see the world. I love to explore how theology impacts our real, physical lives…and how our real lives impact theology.  I’m enamored by the creation of new life but find that working in the garden is less exhausting than pregnancy.

Now, introduce us to your book Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline.

Long Days of Small Things is a book that looks at the real life work we do in our everyday lives, and finds God right here in the midst of it. It’s a book for moms (or dads…or grandparents…or caregivers…) who know they don’t have any extra time or energy, but still want a way to connect with God and discover how to find Him.

How do you do that in Long Days of Small Things?

In each chapter I tell stories from our real lives—the seasons and stages of motherhood, pregnancy and delivery, infant days, sleepless nights, caring for children of all ages—and the tasks that fill them. I look at spiritual tools that already hide there—like sacrifice, surrender, service, perseverance, and celebration—and consider how we can open our eyes to the spiritual boot camp we walk through every day. Without adding anything extra to our live or to-do lists, we practice so many disciplines every moment of the day.

Why did you decide to write Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline?

A few years ago I was a work-from-home mom with a baby, a toddler, and a preschooler. These precious, demanding children took me all the way to the end of my rope…and left me there indefinitely! My life changed in every way, yet I heard only the same spiritual prescriptions I’d always heard: spend quite time each day with God. Find 30-60 minutes each day to be in silence and solitude before the Lord. As I considered the classic spiritual practices (which I love!)—prayer, worship, fasting, meditation, service, solitude, etc.—it became abundantly clear that the realities of motherhood meant I was likely to fail. Or opt out entirely.

But my spirit didn’t allow me to do that. I heard a lament rising in the hearts of the women around me—I have nothing left, nothing left to care for myself or give to God. But as I looked at the actual seasons and tasks of motherhood, I was convinced that there was no better “boot camp” for my soul. Each day we mothers create, we nurture. Each day we are pushed to the end of ourselves and must surrender, sacrifice, and persevere. Each day we serve, pouring ourselves out. We empty ourselves for those in our care—and isn’t this emptiness the very reliance on God that the spiritual disciplines are designed to produce?

[bctt tweet="We empty ourselves for those in our care—and isn’t this emptiness the very reliance on God that the spiritual disciplines are designed to produce?" username="bethhbruno"]

I’m convinced that motherhood is doing an eternal work on my soul, even if I’m too exhausted and overwhelmed to notice just now.

What are the “Practices” that you describe in Long Days of Small Things?

At the end of each chapter, I list three things we are doing already—things like walking, eating, driving, changing diapers, going to work. And I explore how we can use these things, already in our daily routines and schedules, to awaken to God’s presence with us. Moms often don’t have time to add additional tasks and tools into our days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use the tasks already there! In fact, in many cases, I think these natural things are the most effective.

How has motherhood impacted your understanding of spirituality?

We think of spirituality as something that happens in our minds, in silence. We are taught that our bodies, our mess and complications and noise hold us back from being with God. That doesn’t leave a lot of hope for moms, whose pregnant or post-partum bodies, newborns, toddlers, and van-full of carpool kids have no end of loud, messy, physical, chaotic needs.

But God made us, didn’t He? Genesis describes Him getting in the dirt and forming us from the dust by hand, then breathing His own breath into our mouths. That’s pretty physical and messy! Then He actually took on a body Himself. The King of Kings wiggled around in a woman’s womb, surrounded by amniotic fluid. He entered the world through her birth canal. God was born, you guys. That’s our Good News.

All this physical stuff that we feel keeps us from Him is the same stuff He used to meet with us, to speak to us, to save us.

So Long Days of Small Things is a book for moms “who have neither quiet nor time” as the cover says—or dads, grandparents, and other caregivers.

Describe an experience that first caused you to understand motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline.

I was shopping with my three kids. Can you imagine the scene? Lugging my infant in one of those terribly unwieldy baby-carriers. Holding my toddler by the hand, while my preschooler zoomed around the store. The diaper bag was falling off my shoulders, and I clenched the grocery bags with the same hand that grasped my toddler.

And then…the door. I couldn’t figure out how to get us all through. The baby was wailing for milk and a nap, the toddler and preschooler needed lunch (and a nap). I wanted lunch and a nap too, truth be told. But mostly I just wanted to get us out the door. No one held it open for me, but plenty of people watched me make a fool of myself trying to wiggle us all through without banging any heads or pinching any fingers. It felt like a hero-feat, an epic win.

When I finally got everyone home, fed, and sleeping, I sat down to read an article I’d been saving; a short biography of a favorite Christian teacher. The biographer described this hero of the faith as so spiritual, he radiated peace just by walking through the door.

This stopped me in my tracks. The memory of how I looked going through a door was so fresh in my mind. I realized that if spiritual growth entailed developing an aura of peace and radiance, I was never going to arrive—at least not without getting rid of these precious babies!

The contrast between this teacher and myself was so stark, and I realized he and I were simply on two separate paths. I was seeking God through the chaotic but life-giving seasons and tasks of motherhood, and this was going to look entirely different from the classic spiritual practices. “Results may vary” as they say.

How is this book different from all the other books and conversations out there regarding motherhood today?

There are so many books out there for moms on the topic of devotion and spirituality.  Almost all of them have this in common: after admitting that moms are exhausted, stretched too thin, without any margin or time or energy, they look for a few extra minutes here or there which might be harvested for God; or offer a Bible study or prayer list that might fit in the tiny slots. Get up at 4:30am before the baby wakes at 5am! Read two minutes of the Bible each day!

I’m all for doing these things when it works, but I’m convinced that we don’t need to exit motherhood to have a spiritual life. Our children are what we create, and this is where our Creator God meets us. I’m certain of it. Without adding more “should’s” or “to-do’s” to our days, we can open our eyes to a unique spiritual journey, made just for us—and find him here. We’re already doing it. All that waits is for us to breathe deeply and being to drink.

How have you noticed the "practices" change as your kids get older? Can you give one example of how a mother of a tween might experience similar daily spirituality?

That's a great question. My kids are still on the younger side, my oldest is ten. It does seem like the practices change as they get older. Maybe I'm getting more sleep and more time to myself, but I still have ample reasons to lose my patience, or worry, or realize that the parenting task before me is going to require everything I have and probably a whole lot more. And this is where I think parenting becomes a spiritual discipline -- when we have to dig deep and rely on God through stages of suffering, surrender, service, perseverance, etc.

I think the key to everything I describe in Long Days of Small Things is awakening to see that God is already present in each moment we're in. And he invites us to remember him, to reach out to him right there, in the midst of all we're doing. So in my book, I describe what this might look like in the baby stages of breastfeeding and diapers, but I also describe what it might entail when driving carpool, cooking dinner, or punching in at work. Our daily tasks might change as the kids get older, but the key concepts stay the same.

Bio: Catherine McNiel survived her children's preschool years by learning to find beauty in the mayhem. Now, she writes to open the eyes to God's creative, redemptive work in each day. The author of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline (NavPress, 2017), Catherine cares for three kids, works two jobs, and grows one enormous garden.

*I received this book to review and help launch. 

 
 

Why You Should See "Queen of Katwe"

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Disney's Queen of Katwe opened in theaters on Friday and is a huge departure from the studio's typical films. Based on a true story, it is nothing short of stunning. I took my 10-year old daughter and her first request upon leaving was, "Can we own this one?" Here are 5 reasons this is worth watching:

1. Phiona, the protagonist, is an uneducated girl from the slums of Kampala, Uganda who discovers a talent and a passion embedded within. She is relatable enough to American girls (she argues with her mom) and yet different enough to stretch their familiarity. She is Ugandan! How rarely are we given a heroine from another country whose accent is even difficult to understand at times!

2. This is a story about Uganda: it's economic disparity, it's poverty, it's struggles and it's joy. There are no white people! It is filmed in country. And it does not shy away from the brutal reality of Phiona's life. In a way that is entirely age appropriate, viewers face the fear that Phiona's only future may involve being taken by a man.

3. It is pro-marriage. Phiona's chess coach is a loving, caring mentor as well as husband and father. His wife financially supports their household so he can work with the slum kids. Their relationship is a healthy example of marriage both for the chess club as well as the viewing audience.

4. There are strong female leads without debasing the male characters. Phiona's mother is a richly complex character. In her we see the fight to survive and provide for her children mixed with realism and cynicism. As we watch Phiona develop and change, we see similar growth mirrored in her mother. Theirs is a beautiful, loving relationship.

5. It is simply inspiring! You will find yourself cheering for a chess game and simultaneously crying and laughing with all the kids. They are delightful. (And for those of you with an intolerance to pain, it has a happy ending!)

Get thee to the movies!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4l3-_yub5A

When Broken Bones Resurrect a Heart

Summer began full of glory. I planted colorful annuals. Strung the bistro lights. Dusted off the swim towels.

Our first guest brought chilled wine and we enjoyed grilled chicken on the deck.

Work slowed. Our newly turned 16-year old drove himself to his job. The 10-year old walked to the pool alone. The new teen was babysitting.

It was the first week and all seemed divine.

Cue record scratching (the new teen argues the sound should be that of a pristine stained glass window crashing to the marble floor of a European cathedral). She should get to decide. After all, it’s her story.

On the last day of the first week, she played wildly with her babysitting charges, jumped high on the trampoline, splashed in the hose strung from above, and landed in all the wrong ways. Ten hours later, after x-rays, cat scans, morphine, surgery, and anesthesia, she left the ER with several screws, plates, and a cast the size of a ski boot.

Summer abruptly ended.

I left the hospital numb, but the emotions were not far behind. On day one, I snuck away to cry. Big fat tears streaming down my face for all the losses: her favorite camp, her first job, the 5 days my husband and I planned for ourselves. I also ate: big handfuls of chips and lots of bites of all the sweets family had brought.

On day two, I cleaned. Like a mad woman, I decided to empty our closet of old clothes and file cabinets of graduate papers from 8 years ago.

On day three, I realized I was feeling everything with far more intensity than my daughter. I wondered, perhaps the gravity of it all hasn’t set in. Maybe the deluge of grief will come soon. Yet she seemed happy, chipper.

We drove to the medical supply store to rent a wheelchair and I asked her, what’s going on? Why do you seem so at peace? Why do I seem sadder than you? Teach me.

And she did. My 13-year old injured child had found goodness in the hurt: she felt loved by all the calls, texts, gifts, and visits. Because of her pain, she felt embraced.

My new teen had a long approach to life: there will be more summers, more camp weeks and more opportunities. Life has not ended, though her previously planned summer had.

And this child who self-admittedly lacked gratitude, lay in bed thanking God. Thanking him that it was not her head. Thanking him that it was not the kids she babysat. Thanking him that she would heal and be well again. She had found the gift in the wound. In 3 days.

And so on day 3, I resurrected.

I decided to come out of the grave of grief and join my daughter in the land of the gospel, where hope reigns and the messy beautiful lives.

If my daughter could choose to see goodness despite her discomfort, dependence on help, and overwhelming loss, then who was I to remain melancholy and mopey? If her eyes were set on gratitude, how could I not join her?

Did it dismiss the pain? Did it remove the grief? Of course not. But it aligned our eyes to the one who offers comfort: to see the gift, and gaze upon the giver.

My daughter broke her leg and then she showed me the gospel.

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Discovering a Nation of Heroines in the Netherlands

We went to the Netherlands to bike. Amsterdamweb

We also went to see Corrie ten Boom's Hiding Place and Anne Frank's Annex. We went to experience their stories and immerse ourselves in their world, strong females whose voices still live. In a land that produced such women, I suspected there were more. I sensed we would discover them on the journey. Yet for all the heroines, I also knew the Netherlands had thousands of exploited sisters. Women from Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East sex trafficked in the infamous Red Light District. I wanted to experience their stories too. If I'm going to invite my daughter into the company of women as a finale to this rites of passage year, she needs to know the breadth of the sisterhood: pain and need coexist with strength and hope.

In Utrecht, we searched in vain for a statue of Trijn van Leemput, pick axe in hand, symbolizing her rally of other women to demolish a castle-turned-Spanish garrison at the onset of the 80 years war. Historians have picked at the veracity of this tale, but I guess that a people who valorize women can have all the legend they want.

In Gouda, we stayed with Jet and discovered a woman motivated by God's love to care for people in her home: foster kids, long-term residents, weary travelers like us, and entire families during transitions. She lived in a 19th century town home, so narrow the stairwell resembled a ladder. It had one small toilet closet and a newish shower room on the 3rd floor. She had recently been to Cambodia to learn more about IJM's work and we connected over human trafficking.

In Oudewater, we weighed ourselves on the official scales used to acquit Dutch women accused of witchcraft during a time in which thousands of women were put to death. It was thought that witches needed to be light enough to fly and if one could prove her weight was "normal" on Oudewater's official scales, her innocence was sealed. We were appalled at the crazy false accusations and hysteria around women who deviated in the slightest way from the majority.

The scales used to weigh women accused of witchcraft

Haarlem gave us Corrie ten Boom, a woman compelled by her faith to protect as many Jews during the German occupation of the Netherlands as she could. A woman who sacrificed her own security and ultimately, lost her father and sister in concentration camps. We learned about Hannie Shaft, 25-year-old Dutch Resistance fighter known as 'the girl with the red hair'. She was killed by the Germans just 3 weeks before liberation for her ceaseless fight to sabotage their efforts. And long before WWII, there was Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer, the fearless Dutch heroine who inspired Haarlem to rebuild the city's defense wall. Her statue stood proud in the train station courtyard, sword beneath her feet.

Corrie ten Boom's bedroom hiding place.  Six people hid and escaped while Corrie and her family were arrested.

 

Kenau: The Woman who Inspired a City

By the time we were back in Amsterdam, I was pretty convinced we were walking among giants. My daughter had easily named women who exhibited the categories we discussed all year: Jet loved, Kenau led, Hannie fought, Corrie sacrificed, Anne Frank created. And what about the women who have lived in the Begijnhof since 1150, the devout women (not nuns) who chose to serve the Lord in prayer and service within a circle of Amsterdam townhouses? Or all the brave women highlighted in the Dutch Resistance Museum for their courage during the occupation of Germany (in Holland) and Japan (in the Dutch East Indies/ now Indonesia)? What of the women we had met along our bike journey who went out of their way to escort us to the next path, stop others for assistance, and offer us shelter?

The Begijnhof: A Chosen Path of Quiet Service for Women

On our last day, we made our way to Dignita, Not For Sale's cafe and culinary training program site. I wanted to learn more about the state of the Red Light District and hear from on the ground experts. Secretly, I wanted my daughter to see the out working of a life lived with passion. My passion may never become hers, but I desperately want her to discover one as meaningful. In fact, I have a working theory that the antidote to a teen's obsession with boys, bodies, and besties is catching a vision for a bigger story.

[bctt tweet="I have a working theory that the antidote to a teen's obsession with boys, bodies, and besties is catching a vision for a bigger story."]

Dignita is committed to re-creating stories for the trafficked men and women they offer culinary certificates to. We didn't need to walk the district to learn about the women photographed like monkeys in a window; to hear that the majority are threatened to come under the rule of a trafficker. We were told the district is dying (because more tourists are voyeurists than paying customers), but that it is moving underground, online. Why pay 200Euros/ hour for rent when the sale of sex can be arranged online? My daughter was concerned about the laws (having heard all about human trafficking already). Why was this legal? Why were there not better laws to protect these women? Who is going to change this?

I saw her blood begin to boil. The first signs of a heart breaking is anger. Holy anger leads to passion.

[bctt tweet="The first signs of a heart breaking is anger."]

This is catching a vision for living a bigger story.

Experiencing the women of the Netherlands, the strong and brave and exploited alike, provided a framework upon which to hang meaning. These are lessons you can't just teach from a book or gain from a movie. Sometimes you have to walk in their shoes, see the places from which bravery sprung forth, imagine the moments in which choices were made.

[bctt tweet="Sometimes you have to walk in their shoes, see the places from which bravery sprung forth, imagine the moments in which choices were made."]

We've come from a beautiful global sisterhood. To this I invited my daughter: this, this is the company of women you join as you become a woman.

The Book of Womanhood. It exists!

 
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Women! Are you like me and doubted if it was possible to address the bulk of what we face as Christian women without alienating one end of the spectrum or the other? Did you wonder if there was a framework that could encompass, for example, the realities of our bodies or friendships in a deeply spiritual, yet tangible way? Fellow Redbud, Amy Davis Abdallah, PhD, has crafted such a "manual." It is a comprehensive exhortation to women to live fully into who we were created to be.

Now, here's the funny thing. As I struggled to design a yearlong rites of passage journey for my tween, one of my early thoughts was to organize it the same way Amy has: Relationship to Self, God, Others, and Creation. Some of my original scratch pads contain these wandering thoughts. In grad school, I learned that these 4 categories make up Biblical Shalom - the true meaning of peace.  I decided to go a different route, and I'm so glad I did! I could not have addressed them in the same beautiful and powerful way as Amy.

One of the things I appreciate about The Book of Womanhood is its lack of judgement. Topics such as "Femininity and God" and "Sexy Self-Care" could be rife with conflict, but are handled in a gentle, accessible manner. Another thing I wholeheartedly agree with is the journey mindset which invites the full spectrum of women to contribute and receive. Amy writes, "A rite of passage invites 'younger sisters' to journey together with 'older sisters' who offer wisdom and experience and are still continually growing."

This was written for college women at the college where Amy teaches and seems entirely appropriate for that audience and older. As I continue (6 more weeks!) to usher my own tween through an initial transition from girl to woman, there are solid principles I find helpful even if I won't cover them in detail with her. The only thing missing is a detailed plan of how the college women walked through this material over the course of the year. I want details!

So here's the cool thing women: for ONE WEEK, Wipf & Stock Publishers will offer 40% off The Book of Womanhood. Use the Discount Code "WOMAN" at check out. Don't miss this amazing opportunity to be affirmed and exhorted in your unique design as a woman.

 

Suicide and Teens: Coaching Your Child to Coach their Friend

I'm not going to lie. It can be a pain being married to a counselor. For one thing, it's the eyes- laser penetrating compassionate eyes that say, "I know babe. There's so much more in there. Just let it out." When you don't.want.to.let.it.out! Then you find yourself using words normal people don't use such as space, trigger, and deescalate or diagnosing friends even though you've never read the DSM. Not to mention the fact that 80% of his day you know nothing about and never will.

But then there are the times when having a live-in therapist is really useful, maybe even a life saver. For instance, when the girls would rather be "cliented" by Dad instead of running through the saga with me again. Or when he can break through to my friends and bring out the tears and then love them like a big brother.

Or the time he coached our tween daughter how to handle a live suicide threat via text.

I've already written about how to talk to your kids about suicide. It is alarming how close and personal this is, how young they are attempting, and how pervasive the threat. A few months ago, two 11-year olds committed suicide in our community. And yet, when our tween ran downstairs in a panic with her phone shaking in her hands, I had no idea what to do.

Cue live-in therapist.

taught me

I'll give you the bullet point strategy in a second, but here is what I learned that night: what he was essentially teaching our daughter.

1. Responsible To Not Responsible For You are responsible to your friend, but not for her. Friends should respond to pain and be good listeners and problem solvers. You are responsible to get her help, but you are not responsible for her mental health, her choice to follow through with that help, or the overall outcome.

2. Care But Don't Carry You need to care for, but not carry your friend. Teens muddle this. They huddle during recess, go on long walks during class, and spend hours on the phone thinking they are caring for their friend when in reality they are carrying them. Teens love to hear, "You are the only one I can talk to," but that is a sure sign you are carrying a burden that is not yours to bear.

3. Boundaries Don't Mean Banishment Creating good healthy boundaries is something everyone needs to do, but especially teens! Letting the friend know you will be going to bed soon and turning off the phone or will be gone all weekend communicates this boundary and forces the friend to develop other resources. This is not banishing the friend to her crisis, but once you feel she is in an okay place, a healthy boundary would be stepping out of the emotional funnel and getting other people involved.

[bctt tweet="Creating good healthy boundaries is something everyone needs to do, but especially teens!"]

In the midst of these amazing life lessons, my husband coached her through some simple steps to deescalate/ talk the friend off the cliff:

  1. After the initial threat comes in, ask who is there with her. Who does she feel closest to? Would she go wake that person right now please?
  2. Tell her how much you care for her and how sad you would be if you didn't see her at school tomorrow.
  3. Insist that she talk to the safest family member at home at that moment.
  4. Ask for proof that she is with someone. Ask for a selfie of her and that person.
  5. Tell her you can sleep better now and that in the morning you'll see her before class.
  6. Ask if she feels better.

After our daughter went to bed, we decided on a course of action. My point here is that every situation will be different and these thoughts are in NO way meant to be legal or therapeutic advice. I am merely sharing an example of how we engaged our middle schooler when suicide came close. It continues of course. These conversations are daily. But our primary concern is that our daughter doesn't carry a burden and then feel absolutely responsible if anything tragic happens. Our secondary concern is for her friend who is hurting and what we can do to help.

If you are hurting or know someone who is, please seek help. Here is the 24/7 English and Spanish National Suicide Prevention Hotline number: 1 (800) 273-8255. Don't wait.

For The Mom Who Aches For More

 
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Dear Mom,

Is this you?

You have battled thru the Mommy Wars and wrestled with sleep training and discipline methods and school choices and career/stay at home dilemmas. You have fought to find your own voice and now you know, in your bones- you are valued, purposed, wanted.

And more than anything, you want your daughter to know this too, beyond question.

You read Sarah Bessey and Addie Zierman and connect- your faith has taken a beating too. The same Evangelical space no longer fully holds you. You attend IF: Gathering and your heart swells- there are strong women speaking your language. Jennie Allen and Jen Hatmaker and Ann Voskamp remind you- you are strong, valued, purposed, wanted.

You are a mama to a tween. And you are wondering. How in the world am I going to raise her in this new spiritual space I find myself occupying?

You look out at what's available to your kind and you find princess archetypes, balls and promise rings, purity and covenants and spiritual weekends and you think, fine, good, but insufficient. The weight of your daughter's glory hangs in the balance and requires so.much.more.

You look out at her kind and you see young women living small stories, preoccupied with a world of their making of which they are in the center, being swallowed whole by the drama and gossip and narrative of teen culture. You wonder, is it stoppable? Preventable? Especially when you glance back at your kind and realize some of them never grew up. You have people in your spaces still living small stories.

[bctt tweet="You have people in your spaces still living small stories."]

In fact, you realize this is an epidemic. Too many peers have yet to discover their voice. Too many are preoccupied with a world of their making. They can't see past the immediate, the constraints, the hurdles, but worst- they don't believe they're needed, valued, purposed.

And so you look at your daughter. This young girl becoming.

She must know in the core of her being that God has purposed her. She must know He is the center of the story of which she is called to be a part. She joins the tale He is telling, through the passion he has placed in her heart. And the drama? The drama is the unfolding of redemption; the story of mercy poured out on a people. Who will be her people? What will be her place? Which problem will she embrace?

Because you realize, a girl living out her passion does not have time for drama of the teen sort. She is too busy growing in curiosity and wonder and being wrecked by a God who calls us to a story of epic proportions.

Is this you, Mom?

Is this you looking for hope for your girl-child-becoming?

Can you recall a memory of when you were first wrecked? When you were young and naive, did you ever get preachy and make everyone around you feel guilty? When were you so gripped with passion that you sacrificed time and money to advance your cause?

Mine? I became a right-wing, secular humanist-fearing activist in high school because of a camp I attended. I came home and raised my voice and got all heated about certain magazines in our public school library and went before our school board and landed front and center in our local newspaper. It makes me chuckle and roll my eyes now. I would love to take my principled 17-year-old self out for coffee!

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But you know what? I was passionate. I had been wrecked by God. My faith was young and naive and maybe I was hearing him wrong, but I loved him and wanted to align my life with the things he cared about. I did it in messy, broken ways... the way we do when we are following a story one chapter at a time.

Do you want more for your daughter? Pray that God would wreck her. Pray that she would develop a passion that sets her sights on a meta-narrative and gets her out of the small story of American teen drama. Welcome her into your own passion.

And mom? If you lack your own, well, you know where you must begin.

Together on the journey,

Beth

 

Kisses From Katie, A Book Review by a 12 year old girl

Girls and Books Kisses From Katie is one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time. It is about a girl in her upper teens who gives up her luxurious life in Little Rock, Arkansas for the rural regions of Uganda as a missionary and later, a mother of over 15 Ugandan children. At first, her stay was temporary, but the need for love in Uganda drew her in and wouldn’t let go. She began as a teacher, raising just enough money for her own food and a little extra to help those in need. With much effort and prayers, she succeeded greatly and ended up with many children, a nice home to host picnics and meals, and a well- funded organization to sponsor Ugandan children by giving supplies, uniforms, meals, and even money to the kids and their families. Nonfiction books normally don’t excite me, but Kisses From Katie hooked me in until the end.

kisses from katieMy favorite part from Kisses From Katie wasn’t her extraordinary success in her business for Ugandan kids, or her dedication to all of her children, but it was her attitude through it all that set her apart. Throughout the entire book, she continued to state “It was God who brought them to me” or “I wasn’t the extraordinary one. I was the host for the extraordinary One doing His thing” or something like that. Her face was always on the Lord, and never on herself. She’s humble and kind, which are the two most important things I look for in an autobiography. Katie also was relatable and easily connected with me as I was reading. She never said “I was strong” or “I never cried,” but she actually explained her sorrow and pain, like there was nothing to hide. It truly is Katie’s lovable attitude and humility that supports my claim that Kisses From Katie is my all time favorite nonfiction book.

Ella, age 12

Girls Who Rocked The World, Book Review by a 9 year old girl

Girls and Books Girls Who Rocked The World is a nonfiction book about heroines. It is packed full with women/girls who have rocked the world. From the age of the Egyptians to the 21st century, this book will teach you about past girls who have stood up for what they believe in. Along with all of this new knowledge that is included, many girls were interviewed and asked “How will you rock the world?” This will help girls come up with ideas for how they will change lives.

Girls Who Rocked I highly suggest this book to girls 8+ who love nonfiction and have a thirst for knowledge. Some of the girls included in this book you may know, such as Joan of Arc, Sacagawea, and Harriet Tubman. Some you may be just learning about, such as Laura Bassi, Coco Chanel, and Wilma Rudolph. I loved this book because it was very inspiring. This book inspired me by making me want to show everyone that men aren’t the only good engineers. Also, I liked this book because I can connect to some of the emotions felt by the characters. Another reason to adore this book is because each chapter is a good amount of pages so that you don’t get too bored, and don’t want too much more. This book is very good, and I hope you will try it out.

Sophie, age 9

When Suicide Comes Close @Today's Christian Woman

Suicide For my lovely readers, I wanted to direct you to my article on Today's Christian Woman, How To Talk To Your Kids About Suicide.

When our family hosted a young girl who struggled with suicidal thoughts, our kids came face to face with the 3rd leading cause of adolescent death. Later, when a classmate took his life, we knew we had to do better to prepare our kids to handle this new reality. Hopefully, our game plan encourages you to make a similar one in your homes. Read about it here.