26 March 2015

Brave Girls: Faithful Friends

"It's late, and the slumber party has quieted down.  Now the girls are in their sleeping bags on the floor, talking into the darkness to one another.

"'Hey, did you hear about Hannah?' a voice breaks into the quiet."

What should Kaitlyn do when the girls start to gossip about Hannah?

Brave Girls:  Faithful Friends by Jennifer Gerelds is a 90-day situational devotional for 8- to 13-year-old girls.  The paperback is 135 pages long and is on perhaps a third- or fourth-grade reading level.  I'd recommend it for a church lending library, as the basis of a small group Bible study for preteens, or as a stocking stuffer at Christmas.

I like the casual writing style in this book.  It begins with a Bible verse, a situation, some advice, and a one- or two-sentence prayer in the conclusion.

Rose is a first-grader and while she could easily read most of the devotional, she doesn't know the meaning of words such as imminent, armadillo, and Philistine.

One thing to keep in mind when selecting a devotional for children is the fact that smaller people are still learning all the "rules," whereas you and I usually already doggone well know when we're leaving people out, being dishonest or changing the way we act around different friends.  I think the book is perfect for preteens who are just starting to learn some of the more complicated rules and would like some guidance. 

I know girls in this age group want to start to take control of what they wear, where they go, and who they hang out with.  I think the advice offered in the book is pretty generic and balanced.  For example, when planning a party, hosts should "listen to what your guests want to do, not just what you want to do," and "help those who seem shy or afraid to join the fun," as well as to remember to "talk to everyone at some point."

It's not a short book, but it's an easy read, and it gives some good advice.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

25 March 2015

Atheists Can't Be Moral

Do you watch Duck Dynasty?  Phil Robertson seems like one of those people it would be interesting to know, but you wouldn't want him to be your uncle or your best friend.  I don't really get what Miss Kay sees in him, but ok.  Recently, he went off on some odd tangent about how atheists don't really believe in divine judgement.

Something about well, if an atheist's wife and kids are raped and decapitated, the perpetrators won't face divine judgement because they were just having fun and somehow this is all ok.


First off, they'd face divine judgement whether the atheist in this hypothetical story were kooky or not.  Second... what the hello?

Now, if he were to say that any moral code that isn't based on God's Word is imperfect, I'd agree.  If he were to say that even Christians disagree about some moral issues, and therefore we ought to try to have some grace for people - but that that grace doesn't include decapitation and stuff - I'd agree. 

I'm not a theologian but I think that we get much of our moral code from the people around us, Christian or not.  Do you think that a Christian in 2015 would have the same way of looking at the world as a Christian in 1368?  God's Word never changes, though our society sure does and I'm not sure I want to go back to 1368, thanks.

Not to mention, I don't know of any atheists who feel it's "ok" to rape and decapitate children and women.  I mean, probably some of them are out there.  But I don't know of any and I don't think that's a normal "atheist thing," ok?

If you watch the show, you know Phil Robertson just kinda rambles on about nothing in particular every now and then.  Ordinarily I just roll my eyes a little but I think he went a bit far this time.  If he wants to be a good Ambassador for Christ, he could at least apologize for being insensitive.

Up to him.  Because really, everyone needs to evaluate what they feel God's calling them to do, or not to do, or even whether there is a God.  That makes for scary times, maybe, but I don't want anyone else making those decisions for me.

20 March 2015

Start Talking.

Huntsville City Schools just contracted to spend $100,000 to make sure parents of infants and toddlers interact with their children properly.

You read that right.  See, lower-class people don't speak much to their children, and when they do?  They use simple, stupid words.  The LENA program the schools are using would change all that.  Basically, what they do is this:

1.  They yammer at the parents, particularly parents in poverty who might not feel they can say no to some do-gooder's project, and indoctrinate them into believing the way they're raising their kids is messed-up and wrong.  This so-called "mass intervention" is projected to reach the "90% of families in poverty not served by most current programs."

2.  Distribute goody bags containing a couple of books and what looks like a pedometer that measures words.  Data from these families is collected on a "LENA Mobile cloud-based tool for 24/7 access."  ( I can't make this stuff up.)

3.  LENA provides goal-setting and incentive plans/recognitions of achievement if the purchaser chooses (in this case, the schools).  (source for above)

So there you have it.  People who are lower on the socio-economic ladder are going to get talked down to, indoctrinated, pushed to accept this "help" and then tracked in their own homes in the hopes of "closing the achievement gap."

Allow me to adjust my tin-foil hat on just a little tighter before I say, it starts with "voluntary" programs for the poor, to "help" them.  It ends with mandatory programs for everyone "because if it saves just one child..."

The idea of mandatory kindergarten, zero tolerance, and monitoring what our kids eat in the lunchroom was crazy talk 30 years ago.  Here's today's batch of crazy, I guess.

Updated on 21 March to add:  today, Missouri Education Watchdog has also done a writeup on this development.

18 March 2015

Some Pictures.

Instead of throwing away my eggs from *January,* I left 'em in the fridge in a separate bowl.  Boiled them and let the kids decorate them and hide them outside. 

We never did find them all.  Maybe our handy yardwork guy (aka Dad) will see them later.

The realities of sharing a room.  When you want to stay up late and giggle about your Star Wars book, you have to sit in the hallway in your jammies.
Say hi to the Elf!  It's been a while since he allowed me to take his picture, but this time, he probably figures he owes me one.  Several calls to the plumber over what should have been an easy fix have been going on of late.  Finally, much panic happened downstairs as the older children were "fixing" the toilet themselves and knocked over the toilet tank lid.  I'm just glad no one was hurt, although with no lid, our downstairs toilet does look kinda... trashy.  Works now, though. :) 

17 March 2015

Henry Hodges Needs a Friend

"If we're lonely or sad, God knows just what we need."

This charming story from Andy Andrews may be a great source of encouragement for your four- to ten-year-old. It teaches children that our friends need us just as much as we need them!  The gift book comes with a presentation page, and I'd highly recommend reading this story aloud before any trip to the local shelter for a new furry friend.

Henry Hodges Needs a Friend is not only about how Henry finds the friend he needs, but about how his new friend finds acceptance and belonging and a home.  The end of the story makes moms sniffle!  Be warned!

It also features some zany imaginary characters.  Eight-year-old Woodjie was laughing at some of the illustrations Colleen Madden contributed.  They really brought out the emotion of the book.  I've read the story to Woodjie, but Woodjie is certainly capable of reading the story himself.  I'd recommend it for kids to read on their own from about first grade and up.

I'm hoping for a sequel, I really am.  I didn't want the story to end.

It's a nice-sized book with several pages, but short enough to make for a heavy rotation bedtime story.  Guess what we're reading again tonight?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

16 March 2015

Family Planning

Rose and Woodjie were playing Pokemon cards.  "It would be nice if we had another sister," Rose reasoned.  "Then, I won't be the only girl."

"I think we need another brother and another sister," Woodjie told her.

"But... we already have too many brothers, I mean lots of them!" Rose wailed.

Woodjie started whimpering.  "Then I'm not ever ever going to be your best friend in the whole world, not ever, Rose!  You won't even be my friend for one hundred days!"

"Oh, okayyyy," Rose rolled her eyes. "But they live in your room and not mine."