3 Ways to Remind Your Teens to Use Kind Words by Jesse Doogan

Tyndale Kids

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I don’t remember exactly what the argument was about, but I do remember that I alienated a good portion of my lunch table. I think we had gotten into a discussion about religion, and in my young-teen-self’s usual overzealous way, I had gone a little too far as I had explained the realities of heaven and hell to my non-Christian friends.

When I got home, I told my mom about the conversation and wasn’t quite sure where I had gone wrong. She told me that while it was good that I was “prepared to give an answer,” part of 1 Peter 3:15, I had forgotten the “with gentleness and respect” part. We talked about the importance of salt in cooking and how bland a meal is without seasoning. Then we talked about my very favorite seasoning, the garlic salt we got from the fancy spice store in the city. She read me Colossians 4:6, and we discussed what it means to have speech filled with grace.

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The next day, I opened my lunch and found a tiny baggy filled with garlic salt and a note that read:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with [GARLIC!] salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6, NIV)

I kept my little baggy of garlic salt and my mom’s note in my locker for years, and it was a helpful reminder to watch my words.

Another great reminder is this pneumonic from Girl Talk Guy Talk by Jesse Florea and Karen Whiting. They write, “There’s never too much kindness in the world, so choose to have a wise mouth” [emphasis added].

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Make an effort to control your emotions, so you can control your tongue.

Open your mouth only after thinking.

Use words to make a positive difference.

Touch someone with encouraging words.

Heal hurt feelings by asking for and giving forgiveness.

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I have one last way to remind your kids to use kind words. IOS stickers for their iPhones or iPods! I was a teen long before texting and social media were so prominent, but I’m sure if they had been around, I could have used some digital reminders to control my tongue. Download these free stickers for your kids to use in their texting conversations as reminders to stay positive and kind. There are fun stickers, such as paper airplanes and French fries, and serious stickers, such as Bibles and crosses. Sprinkle them into your texts like salt.


Jesse Doogan is an acquisitions editor for children and youth at Tyndale House Publishers. She graduated with a degree in Communications from Moody Bible Institute in 2009 and started at Tyndale in 2010. Jesse worked in e-book distribution and marketing for six years, where she kept a close eye on publishing trends. Jesse brings her experience managing details and relationships to the Kids Team, where she keeps track of books as they go through the publishing process and reviews new manuscripts. Jesse believes that the books you read as a child are the books that shape you for the rest of your life, and she is passionate about using literature to reach kids for Christ.


For more books for kids and teens, head to tyndale.com/kids.

The Best Habit to Cultivate When Joy Is Eluding You by Dandi Daley Mackall

Tyndale Kids

Katy wore her purple jersey proudly, thrilled to be part of the Dragons. The thump, thump, thump of a dozen practice balls echoed in the gym.

I watched my daughter smile at every player on the basketball court, even those on the opposing team, the Bears.

“Go, Ka—Dragons!” I shouted from the bleachers. Katy had coached her dad and me not to cheer, “Go, Katy!” Only, “Go, Dragons!”

She jogged out of sight. When she returned, she was pushing a wheelchair with a man I judged to be about forty, twice Katy’s age. He was wearing a Superman T-shirt, and his smile matched Katy’s.

I didn’t think he was on either team, but I wasn’t sure.

A whistle blew, and athletes were introduced as they ran to center court to the cheers of the crowd. Brian skipped onto the court, hands clasped above his head as if he was already the champ. Leslie pranced out, looking paler than the snow we all drove through to get here.

And Craig. Too shy, or frightened, to join his team on the court, he paced just out of bounds until Katy ran over and took his hand, leading him out as far as he’d allow.

Unable to help himself, my husband yelled, “Go, Katy!” She shook her head at him. Someone shouted, “Play ball!”

Katy didn’t come off the bench until third quarter. Even then, she couldn’t get her hands on the ball because the Dragons’ two best players were ball hogs.

Poor Katy ran up and down the court, arms outstretched, pleading for the ball. The boys paid no attention.

But it was obvious that one boy on the Bears team couldn’t keep his eyes off her. Each time they passed on the court, he stopped and smiled, mesmerized.

Someone passed him the ball. The kid’s smile turned back to Katy. He handed that ball to her.

Confused, Katy glanced up at us and shrugged. She returned the Bear’s grin, then shot the ball. Nothin’ but net!

It was the only shot she made all year. The gym erupted in shouts of joy. Even the Bears and their parents cheered.

The Dragons trailed by one. Katy had the ball with two minutes left in the game. Then a wonderful thing happened. Katy walked toward Craig, who still paced the out-of-bounds lane.

The gym hushed as Katy stepped out of bounds and took Craig’s hand.

The clock ran out, but nobody moved. Craig tried to squirm away, but Katy held on until he stepped across the line. She put the ball in his hands, and his arms sprang as if on coils. He missed the backboard. But the bleachers emptied, with both sides cheering their hearts out.

Every person in that gym experienced true joy, shared joy.

And I prayed that God would show me how to share joy in other areas, instead of competing for only one joy—mine.

That evening in the gym, joy poured out of me abundantly, spontaneously. But the truth is that joy doesn’t always come so easily.

Sometimes I find myself wishing that parenting a child with special needs brought with it more moments of straightforward joy. Or perhaps that my joy looked more like other people’s joy.

I knew a couple of weeks after Katy’s birth that she wasn’t developing the way other babies did.

By age two, she required speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

When she was three, she lost 40 percent of her hearing overnight and was diagnosed with nephritis and Alport Syndrome, a nasty neurological disorder.

I don’t recall feeling joyful as other moms chatted about their precocious toddlers.

I do remember my daughter, big grin and wide eyes, rushing home after kindergarten one day and shouting, “Guess what! Allyson can tie her own shoelaces her own self!”

She was ecstatic, but my first thought was: And you can’t.

Why is it easier to share the sorrows of others than it is to share their joy?

I’ve always marveled at Mary’s relative, Elizabeth, wife of Zachariah and mother of John the Baptist.

When Elizabeth received a visit from Mary, the future mother of the Messiah, wouldn’t Elizabeth’s natural response have been, Why not me? I’m from the priestly line of Aaron. I’m married. Zachariah is a priest and would make the perfect father. God considered me righteous. Yet my son will not consider himself worthy to tie the sandal straps of your Son? Jesus must increase while John decreases?

Instead: “Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, ‘God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.’” (Luke 1:42-44, NLT)

Elizabeth was overjoyed because she shared Mary’s joy.

And it’s not an accident that Katy is one of the happiest people I’ve met.

She gets more than her share of joy . . . because she, too, shares other people’s joys.

I am still learning from Katy.

Perhaps we all can.

Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. Philippians 2:18


Dandi Daley Mackall is an award-winning author of nearly 500 books for all ages. She is winner of the Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children’s Literature, ECPA Children’s Book of the Year 2015, the OCIRA (International Reading Association’s) Hall of Fame, the Edgar Award, ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Mom’s Choice Awards, and others. She was a missionary behind the Iron Curtain (the basis for Eva Underground). Her new book, Larger-Than-Life Lara, is a unique and multilayered story for young readers, with equal parts humor and angst. The central character, Laney, communicates the art of storytelling as it happens while weaving an unforgettable tale of the new girl, whose Christlike kindness and forgiveness transform the entire class…until nobody remains unchanged, not even the reader. This is a powerful and emotional story.


This piece was originally written as a guest post for Ann Voskamp’s blog. Ann is the New York Times bestselling author of The Wonder of the Greatest Gift, The Greatest Gift, and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.  

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Broken and Beautiful: Teach Your Kids to Embrace Differences

 

We live in a world where conflict is often celebrated, forgiveness comes with conditions, and love has sometimes lost its meaning. What can we do to counter the negative impact our culture has on future generations?

As parents and grandparents, we each have remarkable power and influence over the future of our children and grandchildren. Their ability to resolve conflict, forgive, and love depends on how we resolve conflict, how we forgive, and how we love. Most important of these is how we love. Because love forgives without condition and never celebrates conflict.

 

Our society is filled with messages that scream, “Be like him!” or “Dress like her!” Through news and politics that propagate fear and dissension, differences have become focal points for conflict and pain rather than something to embrace. But stepping into conversations about differences with love and grace is one of the most important and formative things we can do for the children we love. So where do we start?

We begin by acknowledging that we are all different and that our differences should be celebrated and embraced. We begin by acknowledging that we are all broken in our own way and that in our brokenness there is so much beauty. Beauty in overcoming challenges together, beauty in allowing others to do for us what we can’t do on our own, beauty in lifting others up knowing that they will one day do the same for someone else.

 

In Matthew 25, as Jesus tells the parable of the goats and the sheep, there are many lessons. But perhaps the most important is one that should influence how we lead our children.

Feed the hungry . . .

Give a drink to the thirsty . . .

Invite the stranger in . . .

Clothe the naked . . .

Care for the sick . . .

Visit the imprisoned . . .

Because we are all hungry and thirsty in some way, we will all be a stranger at some point, we will all be stripped naked by life’s circumstances, we will all experience sickness, and we are all prisoners to something. Fear, weakness, addiction, a diagnosis—we are all broken in our different ways. But when we come together to carry each other, we are beautiful. God created us in His own image, and that image shines brightly when we love as He loves.

The greatest beauty we can ever experience, the greatest beauty we will ever witness, can be known only through our brokenness.

What do we do to counter the impact our culture has on future generations? We embrace our differences through love and teach our children that we are all broken and beautiful.

*****

Written by Patrick Gray, author of The Push.

When Marcus moved next door to John, they knew instantly they’d be friends. Now John and Marcus do almost everything together. They go on lots of adventures, with Marcus pushing John’s wheelchair and John fueling their escapades with jokes. Through their friendship, the boys discover that their unique gifts make them stronger together.

Based on the friendship of real-life best friends Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck, The Push teaches kids that people of all abilities have important roles to play and that we’re all better together than we are on our own.

Learn more about the book HERE>>

Enter to Win a Spring Book Bundle

Easter is coming soon, and it’s time to adorn your child’s bookshelf with new titles! The First Bible Memory Series by Kathryn O’Brien is perfect for early readers and is now available as board books! Learn more HERE>>

We are giving away a spring book bundle in March to one lucky winner. Enter to win this list of books below!

God Made the World by Sarah Jean Collins

God Made the World board book tells the story of creation in simple, easy to remember rhymes with art that is engaging and fun for young children. And it is sure to become a classic introductory creation storybook that will be used by countless families and teachers. Learn more HERE>>

 

 

Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends by Rachel Anne Ridge

Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends is the heartwarming story of a not-so-ordinary donkey who needs a special place to belong. Inspired by Rachel Anne Ridge’s memoir Flash, named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Summer Books of 2015, kids will fall in love with this endearing donkey as they learn to appreciate the value of true friendship. Learn more HERE>>

 

Wow! The Good New in Four Words by Dandi Daley Mackall

For anyone looking for a fresh way to present the gospel to young children, Wow! The Good News in Four Words is a perfect resource. This whimsical and fun book outlines the gospel in a simple and memorable way (for both adults and kids!), using fun words to highlight the story. The book will present Creation/Genesis (Wow!), The Fall (Uh-oh . . .), Redemption/Jesus’ Life and Sacrifice (Yes!), Restoration/The New Heaven (Aaahhhh), ending with one last Wow because we get to go out and tell the Good News! Learn more HERE>>

 

Does God Take Naps? by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley

Kids ask a lot of questions. Some silly and some innocent. Some deep and some serious. The books in the I’ve Got Questions series address many of those childlike questions and offer satisfying answers. The content is lively and fun, yet meaningful and respectful of a child’s inquisitive mind. While the books have a strong educational component, the deeper purpose is to show parents how they can respond to their child’s questions with patience and love. Learn more HERE>>

 

The Character Builder’s Bible by iCharacter Limited, Agnes de Bezenac, and Salem de Bezenac

Featuring 60 Bible stories with colorful illustrations, definitions, and memory verses, The Character Builder’s Bible will show your little ones that God’s Word is relevant to their lives and will help you instill biblical character in their hearts. Learn more HERE>>

 

 

 

 

Your Magnificent Chooser by John Ortberg

John Ortberg addresses the ability to choose in a whimsical way by inviting children to use their “magnificent chooser” that God gave them to make right choices daily. Parents will love reading this book to their kids, and kids will enjoy the content while learning lessons that will stay with them throughout their lives. Learn more HERE>>

 

A Child’s Perspective on the Holy Spirit by Sharon Leavitt

Tyndale Kids

My granddaughter Emily is four years old and an interesting combination of cautious extrovert. She loves being on center stage but has a fair degree of anxiety about trying new things, and even randomly resists participating in normal routines at times. She internalizes stress, and it comes out as being clingy to Mom, refusing, resisting, etc. Not uncommon, I know.

I gave her a copy of Your Magnificent Chooser by John Ortberg when it first came out, and every time I’ve visited her, which is several times a year, she has me read it to her.

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Now to the part that made my heart sing.

Emily’s chronic anxiety surfaced recently, and she decided that she was finished with swim lessons.

My daughter Mary told her quitting was not an option because she needs to know how to swim from a safety standpoint. Mary said Emily could take her time getting in the water, but that she was going to learn how to swim.

Well, last Saturday, Emily called me to report, “Even though I was really scared and didn’t want to go into the water, I did! And it was okay!”

I asked her how she felt after doing that and how it happened.

She said, “It was fun. I heard something in my head say it was okay to go . . . It was my Chooser!”

Having had some training in spiritual direction and knowing that one of the most important things we can learn to cultivate is self-awareness and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, I was floored!

Little four-year-old Emily was proving that the goal of this book – spiritual formation and sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading – had been accomplished!

I told her that the Chooser was God’s Spirit in her, helping her, and I was so very proud of her because I’m still learning that.

For a Christian grandparent, there is nothing more important than seeing evidence that your grandchildren are “getting” it and the Spirit of God is pursuing our beloved little ones.


Sharon Leavitt has been a part of the team at Tyndale since 2001. She works with authors, partners, and agents in her role as senior author relations manager. Sharon considers her role a calling to represent and champion Tyndale to authors, and, at the same time, to advocate for and represent authors to Tyndale. Her desire is to be a practical help to authors throughout the publishing process, ensuring that the creation of their books from beginning to end is a pleasant and navigable journey. Sharon graduated from Trinity International University with a bachelor of arts degree in communications. Sharon loves and prays for people, is a trained spiritual director, and tells her husband, Ralph, that she has the best job in the house.